Disarmament and the Prospects of American Capitalism

Disarmament and the Prospects of American Capitalism

The problem of disarmament goes to the roots of society. Military force has been the right arm of the nation-state; it is as yet difficult to discern the power bases that will replace it. The social investment that both Russia and America have in the cold war and the arms race is vast and mere policy decisions cannot change this fact. They can at best cap a lengthy process rendering that investment obsolete, a drag on society.

Weapons technology has already made a military establishment based on nuclear arms a danger rather than an aid to the defense of the state. A major war, deliberately staged, is inconceivable. Yet the arms race, if continued, can lead to a kind of neo-barbarism.

Disarmament—and we think of it as a process, not a zero level of arms—requires an internal realignment of political forces. This realignment will not be definable in traditional and historically outdated terms of “liberal” or “conservative.” Its exact terminology will evolve in time. It would, in America, bring to full dominance the internationally oriented sector of American capitalism, although this would be but one feature of it. The very web of American society will need to be rewoven if disarmament is to become a reality.

The obstacles inhibiting this realignment and, with it, disarmament, loom at present as far more formidable than the pressures promoting it. Yet long-term factors favor these pressures. Let us evaluate the two contending sets of forces.