World in Chains

World in Chains: the impact of nuclear weapons and militarisation, by Angie Zelter (ed), reviewed by David Mackenzie

December 1, 2014 · 2 min read

world-chainsPeople active in the nuclear disarmament movement are familiar with the jibe about single issue campaigns. A simple answer has always been to hand: that those most active in anti-nuke campaigning are also up to their eyes in other issues. This collection of essays adds another dimension by cataloguing in detail the way that nukes are intrinsically linked to many other ills.

The collection is not only hugely informative but also aims to persuade more people to get involved in the Action AWE campaign against the UK’s Berkshire atomic weapon plants. The Paul Rogers essay on the chances for peace is sufficient reason for reading World in Chains.

His analysis is crisp, lively and persuasive. He sketches a worldwide elite swithering between establishing itself as a gated community with the barbarians left out in the snarling dark, and ‘liddism’, rushing around in an attempt to put the lid on this crisis or that crisis. Rogers also includes a vein of genuine hopefulness, comparing this era to 1945 when the threat of global disaster was similarly real, and noting how the efforts made then to rebuild peaceably can be replicated now.

The other essays cover a range of themes, linking nuclear weapons to global finance, nuclear power, the arms trade, climate change, disarmament pressure from the non-nuclear states, refugees and migration. While all are worth reading they vary in effectiveness.

Mary Mellor’s section on finance does not quite come off, reading like an over-compression of the argument in her excellent 2010 book The Future of Money. Pete Roche is powerful and persuasive on the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapon proliferation. Sian Jones’ thorough account of the legal issues affecting protesters at nuclear weapon sites is slightly to the side of the main theme of the collection and would arguably fit better into an activists’ briefing manual. The cohesion so evident in Rogers’ essay is lost a little within the subsequent content, and although the essays are well referenced, there is no index.

But these are niggles. This is not only a very handy reference for activists but a fine eye opener for those ready to go behind the conventional façade of justification.


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