Tocsin News Forum

From the Shelf

Happily, this month's Tocsin News Forum shuns the strident, there's no time, brother tone which undergraduate writers on Berlin and disarmament so readily emit.

Probably the most cogent piece is Marc Fasteau's article on the economic problems of disarmament. He first disposes of the fear that economic factors alone would lead to general depression in the event of disarmament. The government, he notes, could continue to pay arms producing corporations after production of weapons had ceased, thus maintaining the status que. In proposing various less costly courses of action for the government, Fasteau eludes the traditional trap for budding economists; disregard of the political verities. He recognizes the widespread tendency to identify Keynes with Communism and temporary deficit spending with personal insolvency. Unlike most of his elders, however, he stresses the value of a public information program as an effective means for eliminating these misconceptions. Flitting from dislocation in Southern California to foreign exchange difficulties, Fasteau surveys the specific problems in terse, but able fashion.

Schelling and Halperin's Strategy and Arms Control (discussed at length by Ken Porter) was a good selection for a book review. The book's imaginative treatment of a complex and poorly understood subject drew huzzas when it came out last year. It continues to deserve all the publicity it can get.

Weakest of the issue's articles is an editorial on disarmament and the individual. The author serves up the old cliches about how much more remote nuclear war appears to the average Joe than fluoridation. Further, he expresses undue optimism about the recent disarmament proposals. It's hardly time to send in telegrams congratulating the Administration yet.

The handling of the Berlin situation also lacks depth. One article merely summarizes the events of the summer. The other provides a good, but hardly novel synthesis of Khrushchev's position. In short, the authors address the apathetic and blissfully ignorant ("The Berlin crisis arose at the beginning of last summer and has dominated the news since.") But at its current price of ten cents, Tocsin's forum will never reach beyond a very select minority. All undergraduate pamphleteers would do well to remember that they are writing for a relatively well-informed audience. Goading the masses is not a proper Tocsin function, though urging concerned Harvard students to goad them may well be.


Again, all praise to the editors for rejecting the flaming unilateralist approach. In this era of sifting strontium such temperance from Tocsin is truly commendable.