Ted Grant

Lasers—New weapons for annihilation

Source: Militant, no. 123 (September 22, 1972)
Transcription: Francesco 2010
Proofread: Fred 2010
Markup: Niklas 2010

Scientists are studying better methods of exterminating the human race; Lasers (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation photons) are being developed in America and the Soviet Union to increase the power of the H Bomb.

They are not content with possession of the equivalent of 10 tons of TNT for every inhabitant of the globe, sufficient to exterminate the entire human race. During the last 2 years America has increased six-fold the number of scientists and increased the development budget to nearly £50 million working on lasers. The “prize” is the triggering of an H Bomb capable of producing the explosive power of 2,500 Hiroshimas! A pellet of deuterium, the isotope of hydrogen, will be heated by high-energy lasers to the temperature of the Sun, 10 million degrees!

One such bomb would exterminate the entire population of Britain. But there is one “consolation”. There would be no radiation fall-out to kill the survivors or pollute the atmosphere.

That is the madness o capitalism and the nation state. The Observer of 3rd September reports “Sponsors of the idea discern in this project some kind of ethical advance”!

Every decade, more than £1,000,000,000,000 (a million million) is spent on arms by the rulers of the nations of the world. This in itself if spent on factories, houses, schools, universities, roads and other constructive purposes would be sufficient in a matter of 2 or 3 decades to abolish want, insecurity and poverty on the entire planet.

Abolish disease

The amount spent on nuclear arms alone, if spent on research into the causes and cure, could eliminate diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and the sanitary diseases such as cholera, insect borne diseases like malaria and bilharzia.

The pollution of water, food and air is caused by the greed for profit. This could be abolished if the resources of the countries of the entire planet could be organised rationally to produce a healthy environment. This is shown by the suggestion of the production of electricity by building solar power stations in space which would produce 5 times the output of most large power stations today.

The technology of lasers and other scientific advances could be enormously fruitful. Lasers are used in the clothing trade, by doctors in eye surgery and on Rolls Royce engines. “The Russians have a beam that can carry thousands of telephones conversations or television channels” (Observer 3rd September 1972).

Use of resources: a political problem

However, it is not a technical problem as the rationalists and pacifists imagine. It is a class and political problem. While capitalism remains, the resources produced by the labour of the workers will be squandered on death-dealing devices. Ultimately, if reaction and racialism succeed they will be used in an H Bomb war resulting in the destruction of humanity.

All the resources for a world of abundance, without pollution, disease and squalor, exist at the present time in skill, technique and science. They are the same resources used to produce pollution and destruction.

They cannot be used for constructive purposes till the capitalist system of profit-making is overthrown. Grim reality teaches that the alternative posed by Marx, Lenin and Trotsky of democratic socialism or barbarism has been transformed into a united world socialist society or annihilation.