The Bulletin … and Tributes
The Bulletin has been an extremely useful organ of Science for Peace and with our growing membership its value should continue. The present intention is to enlist a number of people to assist with the production of future numbers, which will appear at quarterly intervals. Names of those who have already agreed to act are listed in this number. Anyone who wishes to communicate ideas and information they believe to be of interest to Bulletin readers should contact the editor or editorial assistants. Letters relevant to Science for Peace will be especially welcome, though they may require editing for publication.
Sincere tribute is paid here to Brydon Gombay and to Gwen Rapoport who edited the Bulletin for years, doing a prodigious amount of work and building its character and reputation. Since Gwen’s resignation several people have combined to put out the Bulletin; these include the late John Dove, John Valleau and Derek Paul in Toronto, and Tony Arrott in Vancouver. These people deserve the members’ warm thanks for their efforts under difficult conditions.
Things look better! Undeniable. Canadian nuclear submarines cancelled; the US and USSR talking disarmament; China and the USSR rediscovering a misplaced amity; NATO nations mutually and critically reassessing their position. It may be that some members of peace organizations are beginning to hum a refrain to themselves: “We have a partial thaw, at least; things may get better; perhaps we can dare to revise our priorities; the environment needs healing; there’s a hole in the ozone; the world’s warming up; big things to get our teeth into — but not things that will destroy all life before the next millennium …” Most members of peace organizations are amateurs with other jobs and interests. Not enough of them are young people. It is easy to feel tired and want to move on to other concerns. But we can’t get tired. Not yet! The long haul is what will count. After all, the peace movement of the 1950’s with such marvelous intellectual leaders as Einstein and Russell somehow lost its way — and we had the Cold War.
If we do need a new dynamic, a fresh strategic objective to revive us, we have one — the actual possibility of global disarmament. Though popular consensus in many countries at least appears to favour it, we cannot assume that governments will consistently pursue and embrace it without a multitude of urgings and promptings. Organizations like Science for Peace can influence the disarmament process by consistent, rational, apolitical appeals, addressed to all nations. Remember that politicians repeatedly ask: “How can we possibly arrive at a rational disarmament process? Row can we trust the Other Side, or even persuade them to trust us? How can mutual obligations be safeguarded unless we have perfect surveillance systems and true goodwill?”
One way Science for Peace members can contribute is by attempting to devise both basic ideas and complete detailed scenarios on how world states can disarm. Already some of our members are very active in considering such measures (see the list of publications on page 6 of The Bulletin vol.9, no.1). But we need much, much more such activity. If all the peace organizations can exert such efforts governments will have less and less excuse for a posture of “despair” at the absence of such scenarios. Let us try to diminish the complaints of governments that “we have to maintain assured might because the rosy idea of world disarmament won’t work, since nobody is able to tell us how to do it.”
Let Science for Peace members try to become pre-eminent among those producing comprehensive plans on how to achieve international disarmament, conversion of the military-industrial complex into agencies for peace and security. And let the plans be of such a quality that citizens, diplomats, politicians, militarists and weapons vendors will all be compelled to recognise them as genuine possible ways out of the traps 20th century humans have built for themselves.
Science for Peace has already organized several very useful conferences relating to national and international peace and security matters. But we might also consider the establishment of study groups — “think tanks” — within our own organization to deal with particular questions on which our members can claim special expertise. These study groups could be so structured as to deal with a significant continuing problem — e.g. the global disarmament question, already noted — and the object would be to spend a period of several days to a week, with perhaps up to a dozen interested members of Science for Peace intensively considering all aspects of the problem. Their product would be a publication (book or detailed paper) which could be sold, but which would, above all, be aimed at the policy makers of Canada and other countries. There are a lot of people with marked, even extraordinary, scientific skills in Science for Peace. We should be seeking more creative ways to put their brains to use.