Nuclear Safety Depends on the Social Control of Nuclear Power

Commentary By Rod Holt

The element of “social control” of nuclear power under a socialist society is the key to its safety. There can be neither rational advocacy nor damning of nuclear power independently of the politics of control, i.e., of who’s watching the store?

It has been clear for several generations that the American people are so suspicious of their government and so fearful of catastrophes that “nuclear power for fun and profit” was and is a suicidal slogan for any political purpose. It has been equally clear that every horror story about atomic energy can be profitably used by socialists to illustrate the need for social control; control must be in our hands where there is no such thing as profit, no corner cutting to make a buck, no bribing of inspectors. The socialist has the only persuasive argument that will serve as a foundation for a solution of the global warming/global energy crisis.

Although largely ignored in America, technical progress has been made with proven third generation reactors. These designs are suitable for production in factories, which results in much lower cost and the advantages of subassemblies, parts and pieces all being interchangeable. Fourth generation designs promise to use the by products (“waste”) of old designs as fuel.

It is pleasing that technological advances make the nuclear option practical and convincing, but alone those advances go nowhere. The scientist can only lead the horse to water. For the drinking part, the scientist must become part of a revolutionary political process.

The alternatives to nuclear power appeal to the mentality of the small capitalist. He or she doesn’t need a grand plan, or any plan at all. All he or she needs is a market, a vision of profit, of windmills; now ten, then hundreds, and then millions of windmills. And there’s a dollar to be made from every energy saving, energy producing gimmick. Build your own windmill. (Windmills for pumping water used to be sold throughout the Midwest in do-it-yourself kits—until the water table sank too low.) For some years now state and federal governments have been offering tax rebates to householders and grants to businesses and universities all with the intent of creating a profit driven market. In the end, this process will solve nothing, but instead will echo the history of the automobile. We will have a green anthill with overpasses.

Nuclear power literally screams for a grand plan. Throughout the world there are billions without jobs, without power, without water and with little hope. Isn’t it for us to present a vision where jobs, power, water and food can be had if the capitalist class takes a hike and takes its regressive petit bourgeois green mentality with it?