Peace Movement

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Peace Movement

 

an international mass movement against war and militarism, whose members are willing to fight for a stable and indestructible peace, regardless of the differences in their nationality and political and religious beliefs. The peace movement arose in response to the profound changes in the international situation after World War II (1939–45), when the forces of peace increased their activities, supported by the countries of the world socialist system, other peace-loving states, and the international working class and its vanguard—the Communist and workers’ parties—as well as by the national liberation movement and the popular masses in all countries.

After World War II (between 1948 and 1949) local and national organizations to fight for the preservation and strengthening of peace were founded in a number of countries, including France, Italy, Poland, the USSR, and Japan. Among the international democratic public organizations that came out in defense of peace were the World Federation of Trade Unions, the Women’s International Democratic Federation, and the World Federation of Democratic Youth. The World Congress of Cultural Leaders in Defense of Peace, which was held in August 1948 in the city of Wroclaw, Poland, on the initiative of progressive French, Polish, and Soviet intellectuals, was the beginning of the unification of peace advocates on an international scale. The Wroclaw congress issued an appeal to cultural leaders in all countries to fight against the threat of war and to join organizations fighting for the preservation of peace. The congress established the International Communications Bureau of Cultural Leaders in Defense of Peace.

The First World Congress of the Partisans of Peace was held from Apr. 20 to Apr. 25, 1949, a few days after the Western powers signed the aggressive North Atlantic Treaty. Attended by more than 2,000 delegates from 72 countries, the congress was held simultaneously in Paris and Prague, because the French government refused to issue visas to a large number of delegates. The congress declared that the struggle for peace was becoming a common cause of all peoples. Pointing out that the threat of atomic war was a reality, the congress appealed to all peoples to be vigilant. In order to promote the further unification and coordination of the forces fighting against the threat of war, the congress founded the Permanent Committee of the World Congress of the Partisans of Peace, which is the governing body of the peace movement. F. Joliot-Curie was elected chairman of the Permanent Committee, which was replaced by the World Peace Council in November 1950. J. Bernai was executive president of the World Peace Council from 1959 to 1965, and Isabella Blum was coordinating president from 1965 to 1969. The presidium has been the directing body of the council since 1959.

The World Peace Council unifies and coordinates the national peace committees’ fight for peace (there are peace committees in more than 100 countries) and closely cooperates in organizing international peace campaigns with several international public organizations, including the World Federation of Trade Unions, the Women’s International Democratic Federation, the World Federation of Democratic Youth, and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

The peace movement has persistently defended principles that, if faithfully observed under contemporary conditions, could avert military conflicts between states, regardless of their social and political systems. These principles, which were reaffirmed at the 1966 session of the World Peace Council in Geneva, demand the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction, cessation of the arms race, dismantling of military bases on other countries’ territory, and universal simultaneous and controlled disarmament. The council also advocates an end to all forms of colonialism and racial discrimination, respect of the right of peoples to sovereignty and independence, respect of the territorial integrity of states, and noninterference in the domestic affairs of other peoples. The council favors the promotion of mutually advantageous trade and cultural relations based on friendship and mutual respect, peaceful coexistence of states with different political systems, and renunciation of the policy of force.

These general principles were worked out in the daily struggle against warmongers. In 1950 the peace movement organized a campaign for the signing of the Stockholm Appeal, which demanded the unconditional prohibition of atomic weapons as weapons of intimidation and mass destruction of people, as well as the establishment of strict international controls over the observance of this decision. Furthermore, the appeal declared that the first government to use atomic weapons would commit a crime against mankind and should be considered a war criminal. Committees to collect signatures were established throughout the world in response to an appeal by the Permanent Committee of the World Congress of the Partisans of Peace. Millions of activists worked in these committees, and about 500 million signatures were collected throughout the world.

Taking into consideration the heightened danger of war stemming from the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1949, the advocates of peace organized a campaign of mass action to create a collective security system, emphasizing the importance of strictly observing the principle of peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems.

Because of the growth of revanchist, militaristic, and neo-Nazi forces in West Germany, the beginning of the armed aggression by the USA in Korea in 1950, and the intensification of militaristic propaganda in the USA and other imperialist countries, the Second World Congress of the Partisans of Peace (Warsaw, Nov. 16–22, 1950) appealed to all countries to adopt laws to preserve peace and prohibit war propaganda. The appeal evoked a broad response, and the supreme legislative bodies of the socialist countries adopted laws based on the appeal in the 1950’s. In particular, the Law on the Defense of Peace, which was adopted in the USSR on Mar. 12, 1951, states that persons guilty of war propaganda will be tried as war criminals.

In February 1951 a session of the World Peace Council issued the Appeal to the Governments of the Five Great Powers (the USSR, the USA, the Chinese People’s Republic, Great Britain, and France), asking the powers to conclude a peace pact. More than 612 million people signed the appeal. The Congress of Peoples in Defense of Peace, meeting in Vienna in December 1952, evaluated the results of this campaign and demanded the immediate cessation of all military activity in Korea, Malaya, and wherever else it was going on, as well as the unconditional prohibition of bacteriological warfare and atomic weapons. Disarmament, the prohibition of nuclear weapons, security, and the development of international cooperation were also discussed by the World Peace Assembly in Helsinki (June 22–29, 1955), the Stockholm Congress for Disarmament and International Cooperation (July 16–22, 1958), the World Congress for Universal Disarmament and Peace (Moscow, July 9–14, 1962), the World Congress for Peace, National Independence, and Universal Disarmament (Helsinki, July 10–15, 1965), the World Peace Assembly (Berlin, June 21–24, 1969), the World Congress of Peace-loving Forces (Moscow, Oct. 25–31, 1973), and several regional conferences.

The most important aspect of the peace movement’s activity is its support of the national-liberation struggle of the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America and the struggle against neocolonialism. Delegates to the World Congress in Helsinki pointed out that the chief task of the advocates of peace was to stop the aggression that the USA unleashed against Vietnam in 1964. The congress in Helsinki discussed a number of other problems, including the liberation of peoples suffering under colonial oppression, as well as questions related to apartheid, racism, and the protection of national sovereignty. The World Peace Council adopted many resolutions and conducted mass campaigns against US aggression in Vietnam and racism in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. The council also organized campaigns advocating the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Arab territories that they had seized and the liberation of the peoples of colonies ruled by the Portuguese and other colonialists, as well as campaigns against the aggressive aspirations of revanchist circles of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). From 1970 to 1971 the World Peace Council supported prompt ratification of treaties between the USSR and the Polish People’s Republic and the FRG. The council also demanded the speedy convocation of an all-European conference on security and cooperation.

Demonstrating the resolve of the popular masses to curb the rise of aggression and avert war. members of the peace movement have responded to the appeal of their governing bodies and have conducted simultaneously in many countries a number of actions supported by various organizations that are not directly connected with the peace movement. For instance, the Week for Stopping US Aggression in Vietnam, which was held in October 1968, was a great success and was marked by mass demonstrations and meetings throughout the world. The advocates of peace have also staged weeks of solidarity with the peoples of the Portuguese colonies, and they sponsor the International Day of Struggle for Disarmament and the Prohibition of Atomic Weapons, which is held every August in almost all countries.

Mass protests against the forces of aggression and war have become traditional in many countries. In Great Britain, for example, there are the annual Aldermaston protest marches against the US aggression in Vietnam and protest meetings on Trafalgar Square in London against the racist policy of the Republic of South Africa. Easter marches through many cities have been held in the FRG. Mass demonstrations by American students against the war in Vietnam were organized in the mid-1960’s outside the framework of the peace movement.

Peace demonstrations are often timed to coincide with important events in a country’s domestic politics. Thus, in the USA. demonstrations against the Vietnam war and the burning of draft cards by many young men took place simultaneously in New York and Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20, 1969. the day of R. Nixon’s inauguration as president.

The peace movement faces the opposition of the forces of international reaction. The activity of peace organizations is illegal in several countries (for example. Brazil, Greece, and Spain), and prominent advocates of peace have been harassed and imprisoned.

The international Communist movement considers the struggle for peace its most important task. The programmatic documents of the Communist movement and the decisions of International Conferences of Communist and Workers’ Parties of 1957, 1960, and 1969 point out that the unity of all forces fighting for peace, regardless of their political affiliation, may create an insurmountable barrier on the warmongers’ path.

REFERENCES

Pervyi Vsemirnvi kongress storonnikov mira, Parizh-Praga. Moscow, 1950.
Vtoroi Vsemirnyi kongress storonnikov mira. Varshava. Moscow. 1951.
Kongress narodov ν zashchitu mira. Vena. Moscow, 1954.
Vsemirnaia Assambleia mira. Khel’sinki. Moscow, 1956.
Chkhikvadze, V. M. Bor’ba mir—neodolimoe dvizhenie sovremen-nosli. Moscow, 1969.

B. S. KRYLOV

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