Expand use of nuclear power for world energy needs

By Brian Williams
July 11, 2022

For all their pious talk about the climate crisis and the need to end the use of fossil fuels, most capitalist rulers worldwide, as well as middle-class environmental groups, oppose much-needed steps to expand the use of nuclear power. This is the one source of energy available today that can provide clean energy safely and help advance electrification across the globe. The Socialist Workers Party and its candidates fight for its development, under workers control.

Electrification is an essential precondition for modern industry and for the development of culture and political life among toilers in the semicolonial world and worldwide. It’s crucial for workers and our unions to fight for this course on a world scale, the road to narrow the gap between workers and farmers in the U.S. and EU and those in so-called developing countries — many of whose economies are distorted by exploitation and oppression from the imperialist powers — as well as between working people in urban and rural areas here at home.

Across the world, 940 million people have no access to electricity, most in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. There are also 3 billion with no access to clean fuels for cooking, resulting in millions of premature deaths each year from indoor smoke and other air pollutants.

But the world “energy crisis,” exacerbated but not caused by Moscow’s assault on Ukraine’s independence, has pushed the U.S. capitalist ruling families, EU governments and other ruling classes to ramp up production or import of coal, oil and other pollutants. While much of the climate hysteria is overblown, working people need to fight for a road forward.

Given the realities today, wind and solar power generation are not a viable alternative to fossil fuels. The only means of safely generating the quantity of electricity needed is nuclear power. There are safety issues posed by nuclear energy and the disposal of radioactive waste, but compared to the current energy and social crisis workers face, they are manageable.

What is needed is a labor movement that fights for workers control of all aspects of production, backed by the power to shut it down if it poses a risk. It’s the capitalist bosses and their governments and their dog-eat-dog drive to maximize profits at all cost that toss aside workers’ safety in every aspect of production.

In Germany the government shut down three of its six nuclear plants at the beginning of this year and plans to shutter the rest by its end. These plants have provided electricity to millions of people for almost four decades.

The rulers in Berlin are now responding to Moscow’s aggression by reversing their overwhelming reliance on Russian pipelines for fuel. Are they switching course by restarting their nuclear power plants? No, they’re ramping up coal production! And they’re discussing natural gas rationing, which will hit working people hardest, in Europe’s largest economy.

In the U.S. there are 93 operating commercial nuclear reactors at 55 nuclear power plants across 28 states. The average age of these facilities is about 40 years old. Only one new nuclear reactor has been commissioned in the last 26 years. As of November 2021, 23 are in various stages of being decommissioned. There is no serious alternative to nuclear power for the production of electricity sorely needed today.

The Socialist Workers Party says, “Our politics start with the world.” The interests of workers and farmers in the U.S. are intimately tied to those of toilers worldwide. This includes fighting for nuclear power to generate electricity.

In the course of building the kind of working-class movement that can win this battle, we will also create the weapon needed to defend ourselves against the profit drive of the capitalist rulers that makes all industry and power generation dangerous to humanity. This requires building a movement of millions of workers and farmers, independent from the capitalist rulers and their parties, that can fight to take political power into our own hands.

That’s why the SWP exists.