Forty-Nine Years Ago This Month

May 1958 was, without doubt, a turbulent time in history. Britain had detonated its first successful thermonuclear weapon the month before, joining the U.S. and Soviet Union as credible nuclear powers, while diplomats of the latter two contries tried to reach agreement on nonproliferation, and the world at large demonstrated against nuclear testing, suddenly very much an issue, and the madness of what would later come to be termed “mutually assisted destruction.”

At or near the forefront of those opposed to the Bomb, its testing, and its spread across the globe was Nobel Prize-winning philosopher Albert Schweitzer, who made a series of impassioned pleas on European radio, urging, almost demanding international oversight over nuclear weapons and arguing that the young but rapidly escalating Cold War served no country’s long-term interests.

The TCUEC got ahold of, in a roundabout way, copies of those prepared statements sent to an American newspaper a few days ahead of time, and very recently put them online for your enjoyment. Asked to help decipher some of the FBI markings on the documents, we were more than happy to help – and snagged an excerpt of the long-defunct weekend edition of The Daily Worker in the process, largely because it amused us.

Conservatives still like to decry the perceived bias of the “liberal” media; in this country, at any rate, it’s been many a year since there was an actual leftist paper in regular circulation, so it’s sometimes fun to look at what a real liberal media outlet – in this case, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the United States of America.

More Scientists in Anti-Bomb Plea; Casals Backs Schweitzer’s Stand
The tempo of American, and world, civilian protest against continuing H-bomb tests quickened this past week as British labor groups, British and U.S. scientists, and figures like Pablo Casals, the world reknowned musician and personal friend of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, made their views public.
The 2,000 members of the Federation of American Scientists appealed to the Government to break up its disarmament “package proposal” and agree to limit nuclear tests under UN inspection. This, scientists and engineers said, is “an achievable first step” towards breaking the “long disarmament deadlock.” Their statement concluded a spring meeting in Washington.
Casals joined his old friend and fellow-musician Dr. Schweitzer, in his appeal for an immediate end to the nuclear armament race to make this “a happier and more beautiful world.” He was “very happy”, he said, that Schweitzer had taken the stand he did.

This week’s New Statesman of Lodon [sic] carries a significant editorial on the action of 69 Fellows of the Royal Society of Science, 93 professors “and 455 of their colleagues” who took a stand similar to their American counterparts. The New Statesman said “After the explosion of yet another British ‘nuclear device’, Mr. MacMillan (the Prime Minister) continues to insist that the British tests must go on. This week, however, powerful support for a cessation of tests came from a large and important group of British scientists.”
The public declarations of such outstanding figures render ludicrous the TV complaint of Lewis L. Strauss, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, who said he thought protests against U.S. nuclear tests were being prompted by individuals who had not “operated in the open.” Interviewed on “Face the Nation” he said he had “no idea” who was conducting the “deliberate” propaganda campaign. He wanted an investigation.
Strauss, an unyielding protagonist of continued H-tests, revealed his mentality of “government by investigation” at the same moment that Cyrus Eaton, one of the nation’s leading capitalists, charged that scientific development in the USA had been “enormously retarded” because “the scientist is conscious that the FBI is just one of scores of agencies in the U.S. investigating citizens.”

These, and similar declarations around the world, came as the 15 NATO foreign ministers met in Copenhagen and heard a diatribe against Soviet sincerity concerning peaceful co-existence. A policy statement saw “little hope of East-West accord.”
Such views did not correspond to most public statements, both here and abroad, as masses of the Labor movement in Britain, the Continent and elsewhere continued pressure for a summit meeting. As John Williamson writes from London for this paper, “If Dulles and Acheson think they will be able to turn the British people away from their demand to stop the tests and get on with the summit talks they are gravely mistaken.”
Among the facts Williamson cites was an editorial in the Daily Express which said concerning the Soviet proposals to include the Polish and Czech ambassadors in the preliminary talks, “Nobody in the West should contest the Russian claim.”
The newspaper added: “One issue is vital: that the Summit should be reached with all possible speed so that the passionate desire of the people for peace may be realized.”
In this atmosphere, Williamson pointed out, the discussions and decisions of the Scottish Trades Union Congres [sic] assume prime importance. Five hundred delegates representing 800,000 members heard J. J. Cullion, chairman of the Scottish Council of the Labor Party, declare: “There are hundreds of millions of people in the Near and Far East who are clamoring for the kind of goods we in this country can produce. Here is one way to help full employment… the development of better trading relations with these countries.” The Congress demanded an end to all East-West trade bans.

– “The Worker”, New York, May 11th, 1958, as preserved, unserialized, in an “administrative” FBI file entitled “Fallout”, number 62-104074-A.

Published in: Geekiness, General, History, Security | on May 27th, 2007| Comments Off on Forty-Nine Years Ago This Month

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