The Story of C.N.D.
By HERB GREER
JUST over twenty years ago, on December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and his research team In Chicago raised paper cups of Chianti wine in a toast: they had achieved the first self- sustaining chain reaction in the history of man. This opening of the Atomic Age went unnoticed by the general public until it was announced, spectacularly, over Japan in 1945.
By August, 1949, the Russians had exploded their first atomic bomb, beginning a particu- larly terrifying arms race in which Britain took part on the Western side. Pacifists in this coun- try were not happy about British participation, and in January and March of 1952 a small group called Operation Gandhi staged two sit- down protests. One was outside the War Office. The other was at the main gate of an atomic research plant near an obscure village called Aldermaston. Like Fermi's toast, these protests had no publicity.
The race continued and grew in scope. America's first H-bomb lit up the sky at Eniwetok in November, 1952, and less than a year later the Russians showed that they could do it, too. Naturally the British were determined not to be left out.
The whole world knew by now, in great de- tail, of the sickening carnage after the American atomic attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The horrible and lasting effects of radiation— ghastly scars, the lingering fatal illness for Which there was no treatment or cure, the trans- formation of unborn children into mutants— all this caused widespread concern.
Then the American Pacific test of March 1, 1954, took place. The Japanese crew of the Ironically named fishing smack Lucky Dragon bore agonised witness to the peril of fallout. The Western public also learned that radio- active debris, drifting in the upper atmosphere, could settle to earth thousands of miles from the site of the original explosion, contaminate food and be absorbed into the bones of growing Children, where it might cause cancer in later life. A vague feeling spread that something ought to be done about the tests.
In 1955 a Salisbury housewife, Mary Harri- son, registered a lone objection to tests by walking ninety miles to London. In London itself, Arthur N. Goss, of Hampstead, Vera Leff, a doctor's wife, and a retired civil servant named Gertrude Fishwick were the core of the Golders Green Committee for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, which soon merged with other North London groups to form the Joint Local Committee for the Abolition of Nuclear Bomb Tests. Dr. Sheila Jones, of Hampstead, Was the secretary and the activities were run frorn her house in Well Road. The Committee distributed leaflets, held public meetings and Sponsored film shows and organised a etter-writing campaign which swamped them in an avalanche of mail. Gertrude Fishwick de- voted most of her time to talking with anyone "° would listen, pedalling all over North
London on her bicycle to gather support for the cause.
When the British Government announced in 1956 its intention to test a thermonuclear bomb at Christmas Island, the National Peace Coun- cil called a meeting to discuss the test. Several people from the North London group attended and proposed a national movement to oppose tests, but the Peace Council was reluctant to sponsor it. However, Eric Barker, of the National Peace Council, did offer a rent-free office in Fleet Street. Goss, Dr. Jones, Gertrude Fishwick, Hugh Brock and others accepted. They set up the National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests, hiring Peggy Duff as the movement's first full-time or- ganising secretary with a staff of two.
Meanwhile more prominent figures were taking an interest in the nuclear problem. As far back as 1954 Canon Collins, Fenner Brockway and Donald Soper had tried to mount an anti- H-bomb campaign. J. B. Priestley published a series on the question in 1956 and one of the National Council's sponsors, Bertrand Russell, wrote an open letter to Khrushchev which brought a reply—but no cessation of tests.
Small independent demonstrations popped up from time to time. On Christmas Eve, 1956, a little poster parade of four or five women filed solemnly down Kilburn High Road. Three days before the Christmas Island test in May, 1957, a procession of women in black sashes marched from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square in pouring rain. At the same time Harold Steele was on his way to Tokyo, intending somehow to sail into the Christmas Island area and stop the test. On his arrival in Japan he learned the bomb had ex- ploded on schedule. Returning to London, he joined Hugh Brock, Pat Arrowsmith, Michael Randle, Walter Wolfgang and Frank Allaun, MP, to set up a Direct Action Committee. They held meetings in a room at the House of Com- mons to decide on a public gesture against nuclear war.
In January, 1958, the National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests called a meeting of its sponsors at Canon Collins's house. A glittering collection of British cele- brities showed up, including Russell and Priestley, Kingsley Martin, Julian Huxley and a long list 'Like Hell 1 will—I've only just washed ill'
of others. A committee was assembled, with Collins as chairman, to organise a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament with the specific aim of unilateral nuclear disarmament for Great Britain. CND was formally launched at a heavily at- tended meeting in the Central Hall, Westminster, February 17, 1958. One faithful supporter was not there to see it. Gertrude Fishwick, her health broken by the strain of her work for the cause, had died two days before.
The time seemed to be ripe for an anti-nuclear movement. There was great public anxiety about tests. It was known that American planes were patrolling over Britain with H-bombs, and a Defence White Paper hinted that even a conven- tionally armed Russian attack would be met with nuclear forces. A treaty with the US for missile bases in Britain, coupled with the view that there was no real defence against nuclear attack, gave the Direct Action Committee and CND an ideal case to present to the public. The question was, how to put the case?
CND chose to do it with posters, pamphlets, meetings and what they called the constitutional exercise of influence, concentrating on the Labour Party, since much of CND's support came from prominent Labour politicians. DAC, after much discussion and argument, decided on a proposal of Hugh Brock's. Recalling the Operation Gandhi sit-down at Aldermaston six years be- fore, he suggested a march of perhaps fifty or sixty people from Trafalgar Square to the atomic research plant. It could be done over Easter weekend when everyone had four free days to spend on it. For a month the project hung fire for lack of an organiser. Finally Pat Arrowsrnith took over, working out of the Peace News offices in St. Pancras.
The available funds didn't amount to much- 13s. 8d. in the kitty plus £100 left over from Harold Steele's attempted voyage. It soon be- came clear, however, that DAC had fantasti- cally underestimated the number of marchers who would turn out. Supporters ballooned into the hundreds and it soon looked as though the Committee might have more than a thousand people on their hands. Political backing came from Universities and Left Review and 'Vic- tory for Socialism,' both of which joined the march on an agreed programme. The Com- munists became interested, too, so much so that Michael Randle had to spend much of his time keeping them out of the organisation.
Laurence Brown, who had originally mooted the idea of the march to Hugh Brock, disagreed with the way it was working out—he wanted to persuade workers at Aldermaston to down tools. But he helped anyway, planning the route and timetable. The number of marchers posed a serious marshalling problem, which was solved by a retired army colonel, Michael Howard.* One day a tall, quietly-spoken commercial artist from Twickenham came into the offices * Not the strategist.
of Peace News carrying a large roll of heavy paper. The artist was Gerald Holtom and on the paper he had sketched out a curious insignia in purple and white which he thought might be a useful symbol for the march. On a dark square was superimposed a white circle with a sort of cross inside it, only the arms of the cross had slipped and were drooping against the lower sides of the circle. Holtom had made the design by combining the semaphore letters N and D: N for nuclear and D, of course, for disarma- ment. The Committee were doubtful at first, but they decided to accept the symbol. Holtom was delighted and took over the banner arrange- ments for the march.
The police were also very co-operative. The Chief Constable of Berkshire promised to see that local pubs were open to furnish toilet facilities along the way, and he suggested Falcon Field, opposite the atomic plant, as a place where the mass meeting at the end of the march could be held.
Everyone was happy with the march and the way it was going—except CND. They kept aloof literally until Good Friday, when Canon Collins was persuaded to come down and speak in Trafalgar Square before the marchers left. Several thousands filed out of the square when the speeches were over, many carrying lolli- pop signs decorated with HoRom's droopy-cross symbol. None of them realised they were be- ginning a new Easter ritual whose name would become famous in Britain and, later, the world over.
The first Aldermaston March had the wonder- ful feeling of a spontaneous break-through, even a faint illicit flavour. The hard core of six or seven hundred who walked the whole way went out into the wilderness to shout against some- thing very big, and what they did was not quite socially acceptable. Men, women, students and children from in and around London and the west of England, with a sprinkling of foreigners and, at the beginning and end, a few thousand joiners, they stamped and chanted and sang bad lyrics to popular tunes or just plodded along over the fifty-odd miles to Aldermaston. They were soaked with rain, battered with abuse by the popular press and some bystanders, laughed at, and they had a few raw eggs thrown at them by fascists. Probably worst of all, they were subjected to dismaying blasts of political hot air at meetings along the way, climaxed with a numbingly boring marathon speech by the German pacifist Niemoller in Falcon Field.
. But when it was over one sensed that this sudden spurt of protest had broken through the helplessness which an ordinary citizen must feel in the presence of the vast, apparently senseless and evil forces of world politics. These marchers had done something which belonged to them, and it was good and right. This spiritual success transcended the immediate political futility of what a contemptuous Tory onlooker called 'Khrushchev's Bunion Derby.'
Altogether 1958 was a fair year for the anti- nuclear people. Their Mass Lobby Committee brought several thousands to the House of Commons in May. At Whitsun they opened a good exhibition in Hampstead on the horrors of nuclear war. CND appeared also to be gain- ;ng in influence in the Labour Party, and DAC activities stimulated a certain amount of dis- cussion among people who had paid little atten- tion to the issue before.
Then in October the United States stopped testing. In November the Russians did, too. DAC and CND could hardly claim much direct credit for these moves, but they could and did approve them and ask for more from Great Britain.
For instance, there were still the rocket bases. In December the DAC made two attempts to obstruct work on the North Pickenham rocket site. For their pains they were pelted with ripe tomatoes while marching out of Swaffham and thirty of them went to prison for two weeks. Undaunted, they gave their attention to Watton missile base in Norfolk. But the public was not, it seemed, ready for them yet, and work on both sites continued unchecked.
Through the winter and early spring of 1959 much thought was being given to another Alder- maston March. Not all the supporters of CND believed it was a good idea, but preparations began anyhow. This time the march would travel from Aldermaston to London, the centre of political power. That would show the marchers were not against the scientists, 'who must earn their bread and butter,' but that they disap- proved of the policies which hinged on nuclear weapons, especially the H-bomb. The organisers looked forward to perhaps 700 or 800 marchers. On Good Friday 4,300 streamed out of Falcon Field at Aldermaston.
The complexion of the march was much the same as the first one, with just more of every- thing. The bearded young men and lank-haired girls in jeans were along, but the bulk of the marchers were from factories, offices, schools and shops, with many students and a surprising number of children, some of them very young. A Chelsea girl art student began the march frivolously barefoot. She finished it grimly four days later, her lacerated feet heavily bandaged. But she was still walking.
Sponsored groups from Sweden, Germany and France took part, and a cloud of banners from other countries bobbed over the march: Aus- tralia, Spain, Denmark, Tanganyika, Venezuela, Iraq, Eire, Cyprus and many more. There were Americans, too, including an ex-bomber pilot who said, 'I'm here because I think bombs are bad. I've dropped enough of 'em to know.'
The size of the column—between 3,000 and 4,000 nearly all the way—was impressive, and the press was by and large more respectful than it had been the first time. Bystanders were more tolerant. One said, think it's a good thing we're able to do this, but if we didn't have the bomb we wouldn't be able to do this.'
What 'we' were doing was not quite the same this time, however. As before the intent was to protest, but another sort of spirit was rising out of the huge rank. It drifted over the march, suspended in the haze of banners and placards which stretched either way as far as one could see along the road. In all of the four days the ends of the procession were never, in sight of each other. Marchers followed those in front of them, more and more caught up and lost in the mass.
By the fourth day levels appeared in this great pile of humanity. A woman said at a lunch stop, 'I walked all the way, but she was given a lift when it rained. . . .' Officials assumed an im- portant air and exaggerated the number of• marchers less and less cautiously. They were soaring up from the subtly lawless sphere of protest into the rarefied atmosphere of righteous action.
The stunning crowd of 20,000 in Trafalgar Square completed the effect. The sight of people swarming like bees from the bottom of White- hall to the steps of the National Gallery was enough to make even a level-headed man giddY with power. London had seen nothing like it since the end of the Second World War. But this was not a celebrating mob. It had been led and assembled here in a political pilgrimage. Speakers rose variously to the occasion. TUC chairman Robert Willis attacked the police for allowing traffic through the march, and cool- pared the march (in which he had taken no part) with a presumably far more trivial 'proces- sion of gilded carriages.' Dr. Donald Soper, of the Methodist Church, and most of the other speakers, riding on waves of stormy applause. raked the press for its treatment of the previous year's march. He claimed that television and the newspapers deliberately played down this one, too, which was as close to a blatant he as anyone came that afternoon. Pumping the already excited crowd into a frenzy with effec- tive, nasty mass-movement oratory, enthusias- tically acclaiming Chairman Khrushchev's latest efforts toward peace, he said, 'To our friends the Americans, we object to being an occupied country!' This flatulent leftist wheeze brought a great roar of approval from the packed square' Canon Collins, speaking evenly and quietly, calmed the revolutionary fervour of the mob,' Politely he contradicted Soper over press an television coverage, and thanked the police for the heavy amount of work they had put into escorting the procession. Without indulging manic exhortation, he recalled the dignitY °`• the occasion and the gravity of the real issues at stake. At the end of his speech he asked for 3
moment of silence, and the great crowd of ove 20,000 stood still. During this reverent Pa.°. the crackle of power was hushed out of the alr• Just then one was able to remember thatthis. movement arose, not from the petulance aflO hate which was spat and shouted from the On° of Nelson's Column that afternoon, but from 3 love of mankind and a hope for its survival.
During the astonishing demonstration at end of the second Aldermaston March the anti nuclear cause achieved momentarily the wired tension of a genuine mass movement. After Easter Monday, however, the excitement died down. The public went about its normal busi- ness and it was clear the spark had failed to catch fire. But CND and their Direct Action companions were now recognised as a potential Political force to be observed, if not yet reckoned with.
In 1959 there was still considerable sympathy between CND and the Direct Action Committee. These militant disciples of ban-the-bomb-and-the- bases were not yet an embarrassment to their more sedate fellow-believers. The efforts of both groups were aimed at the coming general election. CND held apart from a DAC attempt to organise a voters' veto in a Norfolk by- election early in the year, but the two ranks mingled again in the Aldermaston March. with the same essential objectives—unilateral nuclear disarmament of Great Britain and the expulsion of American bases from the British Isles.
While CND accelerated its propaganda and persuasion campaign through the summer months, DAC was busy trying to interfere with the construction of Thor rocket sites in the East Midlands. Determined efforts were also made to entice building workers away from an H-bomb storage depot at Sutton Heath. The disciples picketed, pleaded with labourers and contractors to stop work and called a rally for workers at Polebrook base. This campaign, the Committee asserted, resulted in two workers leaving their jobs. Still, no workers came out to support the rally.
The Conservative landslide in the general elec- tion seemed to extinguish any real hope of anti- nuclear influence in British politics. The faithful kept doggedly at it just the same, boring away at the discomfited Labour Party, courting the unions and trying energetically and vainly to make a dent in the public at large—but, accord- ing to its own loud testimony in the election, the public had never had it so good: hardly a favourable mood for prophecies of doom. Also the atomic horrors of the end of the Second World War had faded in the popular mind, the fallout incident in the Pacific was all but for- gotten and the test moratorium was still un- broken. Things looked rocky indeed for the
°n a more distant horizon a new spectre loomed: led by de Gaulle and his determination t_°. join the atomic club, the French were plan- fling to to mount their own tests at Reggane in Sahara. And the American rocket bases here at home looked like staying for a long time, so there was something to do both in Britain and
abroad. A Summit conference was approaching, too, and that might make a good stage for a demonstration.
With CND plugging earnestly along in the background, some of the Direct Action people got themselves arrested early in 1960 for or- ganising a demonstration at Harrington rocket base. Abroad, the Committee initiated a small expedition which tried to enter the French Sahara testing grounds, but ran foul of French Army border guards. A spirited attempt was made to stimulate anti-nuclear sentiment among workers manufacturing bombers and missiles in Britain. Yet despite meetings at factory gates, poster parades, much leafleting, individual ap- peals and many speeches, the missiles and bombers kept rolling along. A revenue refusal campaign had no luck either.
A doughty band of Marchers to the Summit were refused permission to land in France. Some of them swam ashore anyway and were promptly and ignominiously deported. The third Alder- maston March, now under the auspices of CND, brought together a crowd estimated by the or- ganisers at 100,000 strong. Alas, the mass- movement fire was quite extinguished now. CND's Easter weekend protest had turned into a huge jamboree with nearly all the indignation puffed out of it.
None of these defeats bent the anti-nuclear morale even a little bit. Then at last, in October, 1960, Britain was shaken by an amazing CND victory. The unilateralist policies of its Labour Party supporters were adopted at the Scar- borough Conference, though by a narrow majority. This was the first real political event in which the anti-nuclear groups could claim a definite part, and it was the peak of the move- ment's success.
Unfortunately the victory was a sad one, due primarily to Labour's disarray after the general election. It accomplished nothing positive—only a damaging split in the Labour Party. Gaitskell was still the leader, and he was not with the nuclear disarmers. In fact he was positively against them. The following year he fought the unilateralists at Blackpool and, aided by a general fear that they might bring individuals like Frank Cousins into power if they won again, he defeated them by a smashing majority. This blow, coming in spite of strong support from such MPs as Michael Foot, Fenner Brockway and Sydney Silverman, bitterly disillusioned CND about the possibility of working through the Labour Party.
And beyond Labour, beyond the Govern- ment, the factories, the workers, and so on, there stood one barrier, the biggest rampart of all, forever slippery and unscalable. No matter where they marched, how often they sat down, no matter how much they picketed or how many times they got themselves arrested, no matter how many pamphlets and leaflets they published and distributed at any number of meetings, and whatever the support in the unions, which by now was Considerable, the nuclear disarmers simply could not strike up any large-scale public excitement over their aims. One reason for this was their unfortunate image, due partially to Direct Action projects, partially to popular press reporting of the Aldermaston March, and a bit to Communist attempts to weasel into the move-
ment. Not to put it too finely, the general public saw nuclear disarmers as an admirably sincere but misguided rabble, headed by eccentric cele- brities and subject to a definite fellow-travelling influence.
Inside the movement strains were developing among its leaders. Bertrand Russell, president of CND and one of the leading sponsors of the Direct Action Committee, found he could not work with Canon Collins. Without bothering to inform Collins, Russell planned behind the scenes for a new group. The Committee of 100 Against Nuclear War was announced pre- maturely and by accident in September, when an invitation to join it was sent by mistake to John Connell, a Tory military historian. He re- leased the letter to the press. It revealed that the Committee's purpose was to organise acts of civil disobedience involving at least 2,000 people at a time. After one last big demonstra- tion at Holy Loch, DAC was absorbed into the Committee of 100.
Though CND continued to express official sympathy with the aims of the Committee of 100, and Collins did not disavow civil disobedi- ence, the atmosphere of this split in the anti- nuclear party was not exactly cordial. From that time the two wings drifted farther apart until the Committee of 100 caused positive em- barrassment in CND ranks, expressing revolu- tionary aims well beyond the neutralist political objectives of CND.
The Committee of 100's surly militancy and the prickly Lord Russell cornered most of the publicity during 1961—except during the Alder- maston March, which was at least nominally run by CND. The big month for the movement was September. Russell and his wife were put in prison for two weeks. The Russians broke the test moratorium. And the authorities banned a Committee of 100 demonstration in Trafalgar Square. When the Committee held their sit-down anyway, the police mopped it up with a vicious- ness that caused both an outcry in the press and an investigation in the police force. A woman constable was admonished, for bad lan- guage. So was a sergeant, for allowing demon- strators to be sprayed with a fire-hose. After- wards, the fuss died down very quickly.
The anti-nuclear movement now received plenty of attention from the serious press, most of it pretty critical. Taya Zinkin in the Guardian suggested that these apostles of `non-violence' (a favourite catchword of the Committee of 100) should allow a selected demonstrator to starve to death beside a large florally decorated por- trait of Russell. The body could then be paraded from John o' Groats to Land's End via Thread- needle Street, the Ml and Barlow Moor Road. In the same paper Christopher Driver remarked on the movement's 'extensive failure to engage the energy and sympathy of many who share its premises. . . .' A Times leader suggested that the anti-nuclear cry of no war over Berlin 'and other propositions belonging to the demon- strators contain disputable assumptions about hard matters of diplomacy which in the utter- ances, and seemingly in the minds of the pro- testers, are masked by simple moral assertions.'
Early in 1962 five members of the Committee of 100 were convicted of conspiracy under the Official Secrets Act. The trial raised some com- ment, particularly on the court's refusal to allow the defendants to present their whole case. But the comment stimulated no large public reac- tion and the five disarmers went quietly to prison. The Committee carried on without them, demonstrating at the House of Commons, Wethersfield, Leeds, in Berkshire, Oxford, etcetera, and, as usual, Aldermaston. The end of the march got out of hand, blowing up into scuffles and messy incidents in Whitehall.
There were nasty scenes on May Day, too, when a furious Hugh Gaitskell faced brawling Glasgow hecklers who wore CND badges. The hecklers were later proved to be Communists, but Glasgow CND did not disavow them. On the contrary, its delegate to a national conference told Canon Collins to his face that Gaitskell could expect the same if he came to Glasgow again. The harm done at Glasgow to the anti- nuclear cause in the Labour Party didn't matter much in any case, since Gaitskell's decisive vic- tory at Blackpool had blotted out any hope of another unilateralist takeover. The incident did underline a central flaw in the anti-nuclear movement: anyone, but anyone, who says he supports it is automatically a full-fledged sup- porter, and with no membership or power of expulsion, CND can do exactly nothing about it. The Committee of 100 ploughed ahead. In July some of them tried to unfurl banners in Moscow. The banners were immediately con- - fiscated by several 'middle-aged, rather tubby men and women.' The Committee members had to be satisfied with talking and distributing leaflets to passers-by. Today Michael Harewood, secretary of the London Committee of 100, feels this was one of the most significant demon- strations ever staged by the movement. Once again, however, the public failed to appreciate its significance.
So far the anti-nuclear cause had never en- countered an ideal occasion for rallying public support. Tests were far away, and even with sporadic film shows about Hiroshima, news- paper reports about strontium-90 and eloquent appeals by Lord Russell and other prominent figures, the propaganda had mostly to rely on a jaded public imagination to conjure up any vision of a nuclear threat. The chilled bottoms of sitting demonstrators attracted more attention than the danger they were trying to advertise.
Suddenly, just after midnight on that scary October Monday, President Kennedy uttered the first direct threat of American nuclear attack since the end of the Second World War. Through the course of an increasingly tense week the Cuba crisis grew, along with the horrifying realisation that Britain was stuck in it, like it or not. The possibility of abrupt extinction for this country was no longer metaphysical but fright- eningly real. At long last CND and the Com- mittee of 100 had their ripe and golden chance. Mounting a wave of history, they could sweep the British public into the arms of the anti- nuclear cause.
What happened? Well, Pat Arrowsmith and Wendy Butlin, feeling that nothing meaningful was planned in London, went to the West of Ireland where they believed they might survive a nuclear attack. Clumsy handling of the in- cident by the Committee of 100 resulted in some ludicrous publicity. A march to Brize Norton by the Oxford Committee of 100 was called off when only twelve showed up. In London the Committee tried to hold a banned demonstra- tion in Trafalgar Square. Communists passed out leaflets industriously, the good-humoured mob was blocked by the police in Whitehall and a small batch of demonstrators sat down. The police tried to provoke violence, yanking sitting demonstrators up by their hair and half- heartedly charging onlookers. The passive crowd only surged away to Grosvenor Square, became penned by police in side streets and dissipated at dusk.
Meanwhile Russell was firing off telegrams to Kennedy and Khrushchev, rather hysterically attacking the Americans and pleading abjectly with the Russians not to do anything rash. The Committee, not all of whom were happy with Russell's approach, sent their own evenly phrased messages to both sides, asking for a peaceful settlement.
The crisis passed, a sigh of relief went up and some supporters of the cause began to have second thoughts. Philip Toynbee pointed out that CND disciples had argued for 1RBMs in Cuba as a defence against America, ignoring their own statement that such rockets were use- less to England. He also eyed with trepidation the strong anti-American bias in the 'Hands off Cuba' shouting even after it was obvious that plenty of the hands on Cuba were Russian.
Other formerly staunch backers slipped away even before the Cuba crisis. Vanessa Redgrave stated last November that she had not supported the Committee of 100 for months. She felt, she said, that although they preach non-violence, some of the Committee are violent in spirit and have little idea of what non-violence means. Prominent members of the Committee have themselves stated their desire to create a poten- tially revolutionary situation through chaos. But they offer no idea of what they would do in such a situation, one asserting that it is un- necessary to worry about that. For the present they plan to work for industrial action among dockers in London and on Merseyside, and they intend also to organise a large international body of volunteers who would fly to trouble spots and attempt to get between the disputing parties.
In January a conference was held on the Continent to organise international co-operation between anti-nuclear groups. ln Britain, CND, with an estimated backing of 300,000 to 400,000—its newspaper, SaMIY, claims a circulation of 40,000—continues this year with the now world-famous Aldermaston March. But the present tendency is away from demonstrations. The movement workers will concentrate more and more on propaganda for their neutralist-unilateralist aims. Neither CND nor the Committees of 100—some thirteen of them in Britain, with only five really active—is at all discouraged by the Cuba debacle. CND officials feel they actually gained support because of it. And they still persist in their starry-eyed view of how to bring East and West together, so reminiscent of Nehru's atti- tude to China before last year's, uh, misunder- standing in the Himalayas.
So these honest, dedicated, sometimes eccen- tric and cranky believers continue to work for what at least morally appears to be a good and honourable cause. Their record of failure has not embittered the faithful—excepting Per" haps Lord Russell, who, according to his secre- tary Chris Farley, replied to my request for an interview by uttering a stream of abuse. For the rest, neither just nor unjust criticism deters them, they manage in spite of it all t° remain warm, sympathetic and sincere Indl- viduals, and they are not put off by that most infuriating obstacle to their cause : a nubile which extends them every sympathy when arfr proached individually, but invariably fails to do anything. How do they do it? Where do they get their guts? Perhaps from their apparent and irritat- ingly self-righteous belief that only they and their followers are truly concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons. Another ansvvcr might lie in an argument which was used against them in an American professor's letter to The Times: A man, he said, 'is something more than flesh determined to survive.' This peculiar kink in human nature, which goes beyond reason, probably gives at least as much susten" ance to the anti-nuclear crusader as it does l° his opponents. At best it gives him the aura of a saint. At worst, the stigma of a fool. This may explain why these people have never secured any real political control in Great Britain, or even attained the status of an elfee" tive pressure group. In modern times the British have showered great respect and love upon their saints and fools, but they have preferred W cas,r that love from a certain distance—just enougn of a distance to keep the saints and fools, so far, from seizing power.