Committee of 100 Draft Resolution: Aims, Policies and Methods

by Peter Cadogan

Aims: To ban the bomb. To prevent World War III. To rid the world of the power of militarists and military alliances. To understand the causes of war and to work out how to eliminate them. To identify the particular people, interests and factors making for World War III.

In face of the threat of war to alert people in Britain and throughout the world to the necessity of building a new kind of national and international movement against war. To achieve our purposes by direct action, without violence and by civil disobedience when need be. To give incidental support to conventional methods of opposition.

To secure recognition to our belief (not now a necessarily pacifist belief) that in the second half of the 20th century war is outmoded as a means of solving political questions. To begin to explore the meaning of the nonviolent society of the future, realising that at present nonviolent means are the elements of that future society in embryo.

Policies: That Britain should take unilateral action in getting rid of the Bomb and quitting NATO. That it is our hope that people all over the world like ourselves, shall take the same stand as we do over nuclear weapons and military alliances. That there is nothing to choose between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

That we have no faith in any of the present governments being able to do what we want to see being done. That our success will be the end-products of our own efforts and of people the world over in building the international movement. That we look forward to seeing the movement of direct action for unilateralism built everywhere including Russia and America and will do what we can to help it. That the movement will grow in different countries in different ways and at different rates according to the varying conditions that obtain. That the coordinating factor will be deepening understanding, greater knowledge and growing conviction aided by forms of ever improving international communication devised by ourselves.

We do not believe in any World Authority. It follows that the United Nations, as the agency of governments rather than of peoples, will not, in our view,  be able to solve the major problems of war and peace. At the same time it can serve as a useful international forum and as the organiser of valuable international social services like UNICEF. We do not believe in a United Nations Army. A non-military UN police force may conceivably have some value in certain circumstances.

We proclaim our belief in people not in governments or international governmental agencies.

Methods: To practice open politics as a principle in the belief that people, knowing all about us, may generate that confidence in us and in themselves that is so signally absent from Party politics. To maintain collective responsibility, fundamental to the foundation of the original 100. To accept that at some internal meetings, especially briefing meetings at which civil disobedience is being discussed, the press and the police will be excluded, thus ensuring by this that individuals cannot be singled out for what they have said and that collective responsibility is upheld in practice. The decisions taken by the meeting will not be secret. To accept that there are certain exceptional circumstances that involve strictly limited security precautions peculiar to those special circumstances, the setting up of a pirate radio station would be a case in point.

To practice nonviolence, recognising that to some of us this is a principle and to others a tactic. It is enough that we are agreed in our practice and that the discussion of the grounds of our agreement will continue freely amongst us.

To discuss the degree of non-cooperation in advance of any demonstration and to recognise the central importance of acting together as far as possible. At the same time to accept the right of the individual to do as he thinks best if he cannot be persuaded of the correctness of the collective decision.

To become a mass movement developing experimental forms of direct action suited to the circumstances of different people and places.

To be committed in principle to decentralised organisation, aggregate rather than delegate meetings, the prevention of elitist tendencies of any kind and the fullest and most frank criticism amongst ourselves .

By means of a growing association of Committees of 100, Working Groups and convenors in the closest possible touch with all supporters, to build an organisation without precedent, to face and accomplish a task without precedent.

To avoid the creation of any top-heavy bureaucratic machine without belittling the vital contribution of those who work fulltime for us in the capacity of coordinators.

To solve the financial problem by minimising overhead expenses, and by asking our supporters for money for specific purposes and in advance of the event. To avoid a formal membership contribution and to see finance itself as an aspect of direct action, expecting the supporters to give generously and according to their means so long as we are living up to our aims and policies. To accept at the same time that financial support cannot be taken for granted and that we can afford none of the expenses that follow from mistaken illusions of grandeur.

Reference: IISG/National Committee of 100: London Committee Archive, Box 16. We are grateful to IISG for their assistance and permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peter Cadogan (1921–2007) was an English writer and political activist. He studied history at King’s College, Durham and taught at Cambridge. On his demobilization from the Army in 1946, he joined the Communist party, but when in 1956 he publicly dissented from the party’s authoritarian style and support of the Soviet Union, he was ousted. He joined the Labour Party, only to be dismissed again, this time for his Trotskyist views. In the early 1960s he became national secretary of the Committee of 100. He self-published a political tract on direct democracy (1974), Direct Democracy: An Appeal to the Politically Disenchanted; The Case for an England of Sovereign Regional Republics, Extra-Parliamentary Democracy and a New Active Non-Violence of the Centre. He was a founder of New Consensus/New Dialogue in 1990, co-founder of Values and Vision, 1991, and chairman of the London Alliance for Local Democracy.

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