Power and Protest (social movements) in the 20th Century:
(4) The peace, anti-war and anti-nuclear movements:
Section 1: THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT.
Links to other documents:
Section 2 The Anti-Nuclear Movement.
Section 3 (Non-Violence – not completed)
Section 4: Peace and War Today
Section 5: Conclusion and References
Bombing in World War II Buddhism (and human nature: violent or non-violent?)
CAAT Campaign Against Arms Trade Christianity Conscientious Objectors 1 (definition) Conscientious Objectors 2 (WWI and today)
Conscientious Objectors 3 (WWII)
Lenin Nonviolence 1 Nonviolence 2
Pacifism 1 Pacifism 2 Philosophers political objection to war PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) PPU Pressure Groups
Shell-shock Socialism 1 Socialism 2
Outline of this section:
1. Introduction: the different “strands” in the movement. Link
2. Reasons for opposing war: Link
(i) Examples of religious opposition to war:
(ii) Politically, or ideologically-based opposition to war: Link
3. The history of the opposition to war: Link
(i) before the 20th century
(ii) the 20th century Link
World War I (1914 – 18):
World War II (1939 – 45): Link
Other Conflicts Since World War II that affected the peace movement. Link
1. Introduction: the different “strands” in the movement.
(Much of this material is to be found in April Carter’s very useful book: Peace Movements, Longman 1992).
It seems to me that the peace movement, like many social movements, is a complex entity, with many strands, and even within these “strands” there are further differences. The movement also, as I hope to show, has links with other social movements that we are dealing with in these notes (anti-colonialism, the environmental movement, feminism, anti-globalisation). More detail on each of these strands is given later in the notes.
I would identify the following three main strands within the peace movement:
1: Pacifism - opposition to all war, and the refusal to take part in war. Through much of history there has been opposition to war and to organized violence Note: pacifists are only human, and a pacifist may deliberately resort to violence if the circumstances demand it – e.g. to stop someone inflicting harm on someone else. Most of us are capable of losing our temper as well… What pacifists object to is the cold, systematic organization of violence by whole groups of people against others. Pacifism is often based on an individual’s conscience, or their religion, and nowadays, individuals who refuse to fight are known as Conscientious Objectors.
It is also based on the view quoted above, that “wars will cease when men refuse to fight” (Peace Pledge Union see below). However, because the refusal to fight is, for many, a difficult principle to live by, the pacifist movement has remained small, and doesn’t easily, of itself, form a social movement. I see pacifism as part of a wider peace movement.
Some who call themselves pacifist because they believed war was not the right way to deal with a particular issue, have found that when it “came to the crunch” they had to support war. This was particularly the case in World War II, when Nazism was seen as such a threat that any means should be used to defeat it (see below). Pacifist organizations would insist that opposition to war must be absolute.
2: Opposition to nuclear weapons – probably the most noticeable part of the movement, and clearly involving many more people than pacifism. Opposition to nuclear weapons is based on the scale of the destruction they cause, but many anti-nuclear supporters will be also anti-war. Even though some who oppose nuclear weapons are by no means pacifist, I would still include the campaign against nuclear weapons as part of the wider peace movement.
3: Non-violence. It is unusual for anyone opposed to war not to have ideas as to alternative ways of solving conflict. Non-violence goes beyond the “passive” refusal to fight, and non-violent activists have developed many techniques for resolving conflict or righting social or political wrongs without the use of force or violence. For example, Gandhi (perhaps the best-known example) used non-violence (ahimsa – non-harm) in the struggle against the British for independence for India; Martin Luther King and his followers used non-violence to oppose segregation and discrimination, and to claim civil rights for blacks in the USA).
There are different bases (grounds, reasons) for opposing war. That is, unless a pacifist is going to maintain that he or she “just knows” that war is wrong, pacifist views are usually based on some set of beliefs or kind of reasoning. The grounds for opposition to war may be expressed in religious terms, or as part of a political outlook:
(i) Examples of religious opposition to war:
- Christian pacifists: in the Sermon on the Mount Christ said we should “turn the other cheek” when violence is done to us, and that we should “love our enemies”, and one of the Ten Commandments is: “Thou Shalt Not Kill”. Carter (1992) identifies Christians (such as Quakers, Unitarians, freethinking Protestants) as the first to advocate non-violence. Among Christian groups the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) - founded in the 17th century - hold very strongly to a pacifist position, and individual Quakers have been conscientious objectors, as well as activists in the movement against war. In 1947 the Quakers received the Nobel Peace Prize. They also have consultative status (as a NGO) at the United Nations.
William Penn, the founder of
Ken Weller, in his 1985 book ‘Don’t be a Soldier!’ describes
the Brotherhood Church and its
involvement in opposition to the First World War. The church was a gathering
point for many Christians opposed to the war, including Quakers. The main
church was in
But some, while still regarding themselves as Christian,
maintain that the Sermon on the Mount represents an almost unattainable ideal;
and the Commandment is often interpreted as meaning not to murder. Another common view amongst Christians – a view derived
The Romans, of course, (not long before
Buddhists: the central Buddhist principle of compassion should lead to
non-violence (sadly in
‘The Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa used to speak of
“basic goodness”, the notion that human virtue is primordial and un-damageable;
it can be occluded but never destroyed.’ (Oliver Burkeman, Guardian Weekend,
The Cambodian Buddhist leader Maha
Ghosananda died in 2007, and these notes are taken
from the Guardian Obituary
Between 1976 and 1979 the Khmer Rouge killed all but 3,000 of Cambodia’s 60,000 Buddhist monks; despite losing his entire family Ghosananda was at the forefront of efforts to reconcile opposing factions and encourage forgiveness by their victims; as a youth he attended a Buddhist University in Bihar, India, and met the founder of a Japanese Buddhist sect who had stayed in Gandhi’s ashram and studied non-violence; he also studied (in 1965) with the Thai Buddhist Bhikkhu Buddhadasa; when the Khmer Rouge atrocities commenced he wanted to return to Cambodia, but was urged to make himself peaceful first, through self-mastery, in order to be able to bring peace to others; when the Vietnamese expelled the Khmer Rouge in 1978, refugees from Cambodia flooded into Thailand; Ghosananda set up “shack temples” to minister to the refugees, teaching them that “hatred cannot be overcome by hatred but only by love”; he went on to launch many humanitarian programmes and temples, and assisted the United Nations Economic and Social Council; though appointed supreme patriarch of the Cambodian Buddhists, he moved to the US; he inspired yearly peace walks (dharmayeitras) starting in 1992, starting with a walk accompanied by refugees through guerilla territory back into Cambodia; he was a key figure in the “engaged Buddhist” movement, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace four times; he believed that “From deep suffering[Buddhists believe that just being alive inevitably involves suffering] comes deep compassion. From deep compassion comes a peaceful heart. From a peaceful heart comes a peaceful person. From a peaceful person comes a peaceful family … communities… nation…and a peaceful world.”
See also: new ways of seeing and alternatives
[Note: all the above, on Buddhism and non-violence, seems to me to be quite close to Carl Rogers’ approach to therapy... notes to follow...]
- Jain: part of Hinduism, Jain monks will not kill anything, even insects. This had quite a strong influence on Gandhi who advocated ahimsa (non-harm). Yogis also advocate ahimsa: when practicing yoga you should take care not to harm yourself, as well as living a life in which you do not harm others.
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
(and some other small sects derived from Christianity) believe that at the end
of the world, Christ will return and there will be a final battle between His
followers and non-believers: until this day the Witnesses will not get involved
in earthly wars. In
(ii) Politically, or ideologically-based opposition to war:
Political philosophers have made proposals for peace in the past: e.g. Rousseau (who saw social conflict and war as originating in private property), and Kant, who proposed that disputes be solved by international law and international institutions. In the study of international relations, those who argue that peace is obtainable and war should be avoided are part of the “idealist” (or “rationalist”) school of thought. They are in opposition to the “realism” of, for example, Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes, who argued that war is inevitable (or even desirable, to encourage a strong state and noble national character).
Socialist: the “classical” Marxists argued that war is fought
between centers of capital, and by the bourgeoisie, not for the workers
(moreover, the workers are cannon-fodder!). However, when war arrives it seems
to sweep people up despite their socialist (or other) principles: Lenin was almost
alone amongst Marxists in opposing Russian involvement in WWI (see also below:
Imperialist rivalries). Stalin at first formed a pact with Hitler, for
strategic reasons, and then fought him when he had to.
Anarchist: since anarchists reject “power from above” and especially the power of the state, they have been opposed to state-sponsored warfare – if not always to violence. Bakunin is a good example, since he participated in the Socialist International and the Peace Congress of 1871. As an example of non-violent anarchism, there was Tolstoy, who also (along with Jain beliefs) influenced Gandhi. Tolstoy was a Christian, and both he and Gandhi stood for non-violent resistance: this is not the same as passivity, but rather it means active moral resistance to evil, using means other than physical violence (see Nonviolence below). On the other hand Kropotkin (on whom I have written some notes: Kropotkin) supported the First World War and was very anti-German.
Liberal-capitalist: there have been a few (what we
would now call “libertarian”) capitalists who have argued that the free trade
that capitalism is supposed to bring should mean that violent conflict between
traders would be counter to their desire to make money. They argued therefore
that there is a strong economic interest in peace. The movement was strong in
the 1840s, and was led in
Differing political points of view also lead to different analyses of the nature of war, and especially of the factors that cause war (Carter, 1992):
Imperialist rivalries - this is a “classical” socialist view: the nation-state is the “centre” of capital , and nation-states then have to compete with one another for
markets, and this leads to conquest of other lands (i.e. imperialism). For Lenin (Imperialism, 1916) imperialism was the “highest stage of capitalism”, and socialism could only come about once this stage had been reached, provided that workers saw the true causes of international conflict. A more recent formulation of this view stresses another consequence of capitalism’s tendency (as a result of ever more intense competition among producers) to over-produce goods: because workers’ pay must be kept down, and workers are also the main consumers, they will not always be able to buy the goods that they have themselves produced! The immediate consequence is a slump, but war may also serve to find a way out of this, and to “divert the people” (Michael Barrett Brown 1984).
The capitalist system
- there is another way of expressing the socialist/Marxist perspective that the
production of arms is, economically, essential to capitalism: capitalism is
bound to produce a surplus of goods, and the problem then, according to ‘under-consumptionist’ Marxists (Brown 1984) is how to use up this
surplus. The production, and sale, of arms is a means of doing this: military
equipment rapidly becomes obsolete and more money has to be spent (using up the
surplus) in replacing it. This view has been formulated, by Michael Kidron (1968) and others as the theory of the “permanent arms economy.” Defence
expenditure is also something the public can easily be convinced is necessary
(especially if propaganda is constantly put out about an ever-threatening
“enemy”, as during the Cold War). Brown points out that it has been estimated
that defence expenditure takes up around 8% of world output. In some countries
it accounts for a third of all government spending! In the
military-industrial complex - a phrase coined by Dwight Eisenhower, but
which is based on the work of C. Wright Mills (especially The Power Elite, 1956). Mills wrote from an “elitist” perspective
i.e. suggesting (but not approving of the fact!) that elites are the source of
power in modern society. Mills described a phenomenon that is surely even more
pertinent today: the links between
industrialists, the military, and politicians. This is perhaps more true of the
Arms manufacturers’ vested interests - the sheer scale of the sale of arms throughout the world is astonishing (see Section 4 ) and given its important economic role, it is argued, politicians are bound to protect the arms trade. Although arms manufacturers may claim they are opposed to war it seems to many of us that war is more likely the more weapons there are around! It is surely not unfair therefore to say that war serves the interests of arms manufacturers. This view would be upheld by socialists and by liberal opponents of war.
The arms race - this is a similar view to the previous one, but it emphasises the power of technology rather than the intentions of arms manufacturers: that is, technological innovations drive policies: we use new weapons because we have them. The current revelations about the updating of Trident could support be used the point of view that technology has a momentum of its own, even if we do not end up by using Trident! However, this seems to me to be a rather pessimistic view of the relation between humans and their inventions, since it suggests the power of the human agent to influence events is limited by the determining power of technology.
liberals and internationalists, as well as some socialists might take this
view. Certainly nationalism has played a large part in war in the past, and
much of today’s conflict is around the defining of national boundaries
(especially after the break-up of larger entities such as the
3. The history of the opposition to war:
(in addition to Carter (1992) I have found “Non-Violence” by Mark Kurlansky (2006) very useful here)
(i) before the 20th century
(note: although the main focus of these notes on social movements is on the 20th century, for me personally the anti-war movement holds a special interest, and I feel it is important to be aware of its history):
In terms of beliefs
(dealt with above), as Carter (1992) points out, the origins of (European and
American) opposition to war go back to the humanism
However, these ideas usually arise in reaction to the horrors of war. Despite Kurlansky’s (2006, p 5) provocative point that there is “in every major language” no positive word for “non-violence” (it is the opposite of “violence” – which therefore seems to be the norm), there is a word for the opposite of war, of course, and that is peace.
Organised peace groups
first arose (Carter 1992) after the Napoleonic
wars (which lasted for 25 years until 1815). As Kurlansky also notes (2006 p 112), the suffering caused in
these wars horrified many, and peace societies started forming in
The first pan-European peace organization, according to Kurlansky, was established in
We can see from many aspects of different cultures that it is the norm to try to avoid taking life, and often great lengths are taken to save lives. Witness, in our own culture, the way that the media make big stories out of murders, the number of stories of heroes and heroines who save peoples’ lives, the lengthy debates over abortion, euthanasia, and medical advances that prolong life. Kropotkin, in his Mutual Aid identifies tendency to mutual support (as against conflict) in many different human tribes and at many different points in time. (See Kropotkin and Anarchism). Many religions (not just Christianity) hold life to be “sacred” - Buddhism in particular, for example, is based on compassion - but non-believers do not automatically regard life as disposable! So surely there is something “hardwired” in human nature that wants to preserve life and avoid life-threatening conflict. When it comes to inter-state conflict, however, many seem to assume that violence is the only way…
In the 19th century there seems to have been a movement for peace. For example, 36 already existing peace societies merged in 1828 to form the American Peace Society (see also Kurlansky 2006), which also called for a Congress of Nations to deal with the issue. In other words, these societies argued that differences between states could be resolved without recourse to war. They were a minority voice, though.
In the mid-19th century a significant part of the movement in opposition to slavery was non-violent (see on William Lloyd Garrison, in Carter 1992, Kurlansky 2006).
(See also my forthcoming notes on Civil Rights). Much of this opposition to slavery was based on Christianity. The slaves and those who wanted to free them faced appalling persecution, but many of them still stood by non-resistance – influencing Tolstoy and through him Gandhi. (See forthcoming chapter on the anti-colonial movement).
By the mid-nineteenth century there were differences between, on the one hand, the British and American peace groups – with their emphasis on international congresses – and, on the other, the Europeans, who looked to a United States of Europe as the solution to war. In 1848 disarmament was added to the aims of the second Universal Peace Congress (Carter, 1992 p 4). It is interesting to note, as Carter points out, that The Times newspaper denounced the Peace Congress in very strong terms, regarding the idea of the abolition of war as a “delusion”. On the other hand, Kurlansky (loc cit) points out that the conferences never discussed complete disarmament or even arms reduction.
However, support for the European revolutions of 1848 - 56 meant that non-violence was replaced by violent rebellion, and when Garrison abandoned non-violence in the struggle to abolish slavery, and the American Civil War broke out, what Carter calls “the first international peace movement” collapsed.
However, despite the wars that took place in
Despite this several delegates from the Socialist International did attend the conference – among them Bakunin (though he was no pacifist, being in favour of violent revolution) and William Randal Cremer (who would become the first blue-collar worker to win a seat in the House of Commons). Cremer won the third Nobel Peace Prize in 1903. (Kurlansky, loc cit).
There were 20 such conferences between 1889 and 1914, and by 1900 were 425 peace societies, mainly in US and North-west Europe.
Now the main division (according to Carter 1992) was between the middle-class peace organizations, with their belief that war would be removed if governments were democratic and if they conferred together, and the more radical socialist and anarchist groups who sought fundamental political and social change. Kurlansky (2006) notes what might be called a third tendency – though it hardly constitutes a grouping – and that is individuals, such as Tolstoy, who believed that men must simply refuse to fight and war would cease.
The former was represented by Universal Peace Congresses,
held annually after 1892, and the setting up of the International Peace Bureau (which still has a secretariat in Geneva
) The IPB grew out of the London Peace Society, set up by Quakers in 1816, and
it helped to create the League of Nations. It was awarded the Nobel Peace prize
in 1910, and its members have won 13 Nobel Peace prizes. Inter-governmental
conferences for peace were held at
- in 1889, Baroness Bertha von Suttner (an Austrian writer and former secretary to Alfred Nobel) wrote a popular novel Die Waffen Nieder (Lay Down your Arms), which was translated into many languages and even made into a film in 1915. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1905.
- the Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie set up a $10 million fund to abolish war. (See also Philanthropy (CSR Ch 1) and Carnegie (CSR Ch 2)).
In 1896 the Dreyfus affair, in which a Jewish army captain
had been unjustly convicted of treason by anti-Semitic members of the army,
made many on the left (especially in France) begin to see a link between
right-wing ideas and militarism (Kurlansky loc cit).
Socialists and others met intermittently in the Socialist Internationals (see notes on the Labour Movement etc).
Sadly, when it came to war in the early 20th century socialists were
divided: some argued that victory for a powerful capitalist state such as
Also at the end of the 19th century two
<![endif]>In 1897 the Senate rejected a proposal
which had been successfully brought before Parliament by the British MP Cremer (see above), that
“We have pacified some thousands of the islanders and buried them. And so by these Providences of God – and the phrase is the government’s not mine – we are a World Power.”
At the start of the 20th century there were,
according to Carter (1992) 425 peace societies, mainly in the
World War I (1914 – 18):
“A bayonet is a tool with a worker on each end.”
As Kurlansky argues (op cit p 118) the war started because all the things the peace movement had warned against had been happening: “a buildup of armaments, secret negotiations, and excessive flag-waving nationalism”. To this I would add the prevalence of the phony argument that there could be a “balance of power” between nation-states, which would keep the peace.
Socialists would say that the nationalism (or, for Lenin, imperialism) was driven by capitalism: competition for markets and resources. In the end, at least 10 million people died and 20 million were wounded in the “war to end all wars”.
Despite the widespread support for the war, there was still opposition, especially when conscription (obligatory war service) was introduced.
The war was opposed by:
such as the Bloomsbury Group, which included art critic Clive Bell (who wrote a
pamphlet Peace at Once, in which he
argued the war was between the ruling classes of Britain and Germany), and the
economist John Maynard Keynes (who, after the war, warned in vain that Germany
should not be punished too harshly lest the resentment caused provoked more
hostilities). Lytton Strachey
(author of Eminent Victorians) lost his position on The Spectator because of
his anti-war views. Others such as Bertrand Russell who opposed conscription
were imprisoned. Bertrand Russell had collected the signatures of more than 60
- since many of those conscripted
were educated and literate, a group of poets
were able to express the horrors vividly in their verse. The “War Poets”
Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and the songs of the composers George Butterworth (killed on the
- pacifists, whose organisation the Peace Pledge Union (www.ppu.org.uk) had gained strong support in
the years leading up to the war, though much of this faded with the actual
outbreak of war. Some were Christian
pacifists, and an organization representing these was set up in
- conscientious objectors. There was strong opposition to conscription: in Britain
in 1916 there were 16,500 conscientious objectors (COs), of whom 6,000 were
court-martialled and 800 jailed for at least two years - a few were even
threatened with execution (Carter op cit p 7). For more details on
- conscientious objectors update: 2014 sees the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war... here is an article on those who tried to stop the war:
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/28/first-world-war-century-anniversary-peacemakers by Adam Hochschild.
The article contains a useful summary of the costs: More
than nine million troops were killed, and, depending on how you count them, as
many as 10 million civilians. In
Adam Hochschild's most recent book, To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain, is available as a Pan paperback
- socialists and anarchists. In
- an interesting example of revolutionary socialist or syndicalist opposition to the first world war is the poet Marcel Martinet (a book on him by George Paizis was published 2008, and reviewed [G 020208] by Michael Rosen: Martinet’s novel: La Maison a l’Abri reflects many views on the war, his play La Nuit can be seen as a precursor of Brecht, and his poems are like Sassoon, giving the horrors of war, but also criticizing the international socialist leaders who could have prevented the war. He also works on themes that were later to be written about by Sartre (in Les Mains Sales, and What is Literature?).
- a minority of members of the (Second) Socialist International, who met at Zimmerwald in Switzerland in 1915 – many socialist parties supported the war, arguing that it was being fought for national survival. At a meeting of the Second Socialist International in Zimmerwald, the parties agreed to oppose the war. The majority took a simple anti-war stance, and called on workers to oppose the slaughter. Lenin and others on the left argued that the war was in fact imperialist, and it was aimed at subjugating poorer countries, as well as killing millions of workers. This split marked the emergence of the left wing that was to become the Third (Communist) International – whilst the right remained social-democrats.
For more details see, for example: http://www.marx.org/history/international/social-democracy/zimmerwald/index.htm
- as the war went on and on, and thousands were slaughtered in the trench warfare, opposition grew, even among soldiers. In some armies there were mutinies, (see Dave Lamb: Mutinies 1817 – 1920 (1979), and Andrew Rothstein: Soldiers Strikes of 1919 (1985). A significant number of “deserters” were executed (shot). Some of these probably were suffering from what is now recognised as shell-shock (*). The mutinies are a rather hidden aspect of the war – except perhaps in the case of Russian soldiers, whose “voting with their feet” contributed to the Russian Revolution. (See Russian Revolution: desertions). Another colourful saying of the time among socialists - see the top of this section - was: ‘a bayonet is a tool with a worker at each end’….
(*) I am very pleased to see websites devoted to the atrocity of men being shot for cowardice when they were almost certainly suffering from shell-
shock. See, e.g.: http://www.shotatdawn.org.uk/
See also: Hundreds of first world war soldiers were shot for cowardice. Chloe Dewe Mathews's photographs of their execution sites provide a poignant
memorial, writes Sean O'Hagan (a book will be published, there will also be a Tate exhibition):
[Note: there is also much discussion these days about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) – see:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/18/collateral-damage-ex-soldiers-living-with-ptsd - where there are very disturbing figures concerning the number
of returning soldiers who have either PTSD or who are violent. My own reaction is that, as someone says in the article, the military train you to be violent, so
what can anyone expect, unless there is a re-training on returning to civilian life.]
- it is interesting to note how the
feminist movement was affected by the
war: at this stage, the movement’s main concern was extending the vote to women
(women’s suffrage). Some members put their patriotism above their feminism
perhaps, and supported the war. Others set up the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, after a conference
- to illustrate the overlap between
many of these groups and movements, Clara Zetkin
organised women within the socialist
movement with an International
Women’s Socialist Conference in
Other international organizations were set up:
Resisters’ International (
The Build-up to War, and Resistance to the War:
In the inter-war period, as noted, anti-war sentiment was high: leading scientists, in particular Albert Einstein, were pacifist; so were many church figures; and organizations such as the Peace Pledge Union and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom grew larger (rounded in 1915, the latter had 120 branches around America).
On the other hand fascism was also growing: Hitler came to
power in 1933 (as Kurlansky notes, this was four
years after the publication of All Quiet on the Western Front, the anti-war
novel by Erich Maria Remarque – which Hitler promptly
banned, ordering the novel to be burned. Its author fled to
The reaction of other governments was not to get involved in
Some prominent British politicians also took this view. Lord
Halifax, Foreign Secretary in the Conservative Government led by Chamberlain,
wrote in his diary how he had told Hitler that he “was not blind to what
[Hitler] had done for Germany, and to the achievement… of keeping Communism out
of his country.” Chamberlain himself
believed, (as did the economist John Maynard Keynes) that Germany was suffering
from the terms imposed after World War I. Chamberlain thought that because of
this Hitler could be persuaded to negotiate. The
Political and business leaders did nothing to oppose Hitler
in the decade before the
Chamberlain was however opposed at the time, and this was not only by pro-war figures such as Churchill and Eden, but also by some pacifists (e.g. Garrison Villard, writing in The Nation in 1938).
As is well known, it took the Japanese attack on
It is too easy to see this war in retrospect as a war to
save the Jews, and as a “just war”. In reality it was, like all wars, a
consequence of inter-state rivalry/geopolitics, nationalism and economic
factors (especially the slump in
More controversially, it can be argued that the war hastened
the mass extermination of the Jews. As late as 1940 the Germans were
considering moving the Jews to
It is also probable that the Allies knew about the death
camps as early as 1942/3, having deciphered documents and intercepted German
communications – as well as receiving information from a Polish agent, from the
World Jewish Congress in
A Brief Note on Bombing in World War II:
Kurlansky quotes Ralph DiGia: “in war one becomes what the enemy is accused of
being.” Of course, the Allies did not operate mass extermination camps (though
we did have POW camps, and camps for Germans on the
All this changed in World War II: in late 1940 the Germans
Other Conflicts Since World War II that affected the peace movement:
Along with the concern over nuclear weapons, in the 1960s
the Vietnam War
helped to revive the peace movement. In 1968 there were 500,000
It has to be said however, that not all this protest was
based on straightforward anti-war sentiment: the New Left, which arose when
western communists became disillusioned with the
Eventually the Americans were forced to withdraw, and in my
view this was due to a combination of factors: public opposition; the ongoing
economic costs of the conflict; and awareness that the war would probably not
be won. Of course, the Vietnam experience left its mark on US administrations,
and on the American public ever since – hence the unease that is provoked when
the current Iraq war is compared to Vietnam. (For example, Mike Marqusee [G260108] remembering the Tet
offensive of 40 years ago: 45,000 soldiers of the NLF of South Vietnam and the
North Vietnam army attacked military installations, police stations, prisons
government offices etc in the south – shifting the war from rural to urban
areas. The Americans fought back ferociously, destroying Ben Tre “to save it”. The chief of
The Soviet invasion
Other disputes, such as between Israel and Palestine, or within Northern Ireland, led to the growth of peace movements - such as
Peace Now in Israel, some tendencies within the Palestinian intifada
(see Carter 1992 p 237, Ackermann and Du Vall 2000 Chapter 11), and the Peace People in northern
Ireland. But their aims were not so tied in with the global movement. European
peace groups have also been involved in trying to resolve conflicts such as
Israel-Palestine (e.g. the International Solidarity Movement, see http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/),
and more recently
Within any broad social movement pressure-groups are frequently established (see Chapter 7: Youth and Counter-Culture). In the case of the peace movement, these groups flourished in the context of opposition to nuclear weapons – most notably CND, Committee of 100, and END. See further: Section 2.
As mentioned above, the extent of the world-wide arms trade has led to the setting up of an active and effective pressure group – the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT): www.caat.org.uk
It may well be that these groups, since they are established and have a long-term objective, are at least as effective as large-scale demonstrations, or direct action. The key does seem to be to find ways of persuading governments to change their behaviour. This conclusion might not be to the liking of anarchists or some pacifists, but it is surely the most realistic? I leave further appraisal to: Section 2, which focuses on the effectiveness of anti-nuclear protest, and Section 5 (Conclusion).
Peter Ackermann and Jack Duvall: A Force More Powerful: a century of non-violent conflict, Palgrave (2000)
April Carter: Peace Movements, Longman (1992)
Michael Barratt Brown: Models in Political Economy, Pelican (1984)
Michael Kidron: Western Capitalism Since the War, Penguin (1968)
Mark Kurlansky: Non-Violence,
Dave Lamb: Mutinies 1817 – 1920 (1979) (Solidarity pamphlet)
C. Wright Mills: The Power Elite, (1956)
Andrew Rothstein: Soldiers Strikes of 1919, Journeyman (1985)
Ken Weller: ‘Don’t be a Soldier!’ Journeyman/London History Workshop (1985)