The Marxists Internet Archive has made available a piece by Raya Dunayevskaya on the politics of the hydrogen bomb, both east and west, circa 1961: “If This Isn’t Madness, What Is It?” The USSR detonated the most powerful nuclear bomb yet exploded in October of that year. This was a period of increasing opposition to both the detrimental health effects of atmospheric testing and to the oppressive threat to civilization itself represented by the arms race. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was founded in Britain in 1958 and in the US, Women Strike for Peace was founded in 1961 by Bella Abzug and Dagmar Wilson, who passed away this year.
In addition to the efforts of Linus Pauling, 1961 also saw the publication of the results of an important study of the impact of atmospheric testing by measuring residues of strontium 90 in baby teeth in the academic journal Science. Louise Reiss, a physician and researcher who conducted the study on thousands of baby teeth donated by volunteers also passed away this year.
While the east-west dynamics of the arms race are well known, Dunayevskaya’s piece is valuable for its emphasis on the bomb and the internal relations of the Communist world. Dunayevskaya argues that the October detonations were meant not only to intimidate the west, but also to assert the USSR’s dominance over its upstart rival China, and the latter’s sole European ally, Enver Hoxa’s Albania.
Readers interested in the Sino-Soviet tensions of this period should also see Dunayevskaya’s “The New Russian Communist Manifesto” (1961), also available on the Marxists Internet Archive.