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Mobilizing for Peace

Mobilizing for Peace: The Antinuclear Movements in Western Europe

Thomas R. Rochon
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 254
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  • Book Info
    Mobilizing for Peace
    Book Description:

    The crusade against nuclear weapons in Great Britain, West Germany, France, and the Netherlands in the early 1980s dwarfed all previous protest movements in Western Europe in the postwar period. What produced the demonstrations against NATO's decision in December 1979 to base 572 cruise and Pershing II missiles in five West European countries? What generated the widespread support that the demonstrators enjoyed? Contrary to the frequent claim that such political movements are a symptom of governmental crisis in the advanced industrial democracies, Thomas Rochon develops the idea that they arise from a creative impulse and perform crucial functions of innovative criticism. He concludes that the West European peace movement has ignited a public debate in which reduction or elimination of certain categories of nuclear weapons is taken seriously for the first time.

    Among the topics examined are the sources of support for the peace movement in public opinion, the types of people who joined or supported the movement, and proposals they offered for a nonnuclear defense policy. The author discusses the organization of the movement and its choice of tactics, its impact on politics, and the links between it and other institutions such as churches, trade unions, and political parties.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5970-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
  6. 1 Mobilization of the Peace Movement
    (pp. 3-24)

    On 12 December 1979, the foreign and defense ministers of the nato alliance finalized their plans to place 108 Pershing II and 464 cruise missiles in West Germany, Italy, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands, beginning in 1983. Emerging from this meeting, American Secretary of State Cyrus Vance said, “I believe that our governments can be proud of this memorable achievement and that the free people of the alliance will show overwhelming support for the decisions made here today.”¹ His expectations were to be disappointed. The two-track decision allowed a lag of four years in order to give the...

  7. 2 Roots in Public Opinion
    (pp. 25-52)

    Without the support of public opinion, political institutions have little authority. Particularly in a democracy, but not confined to them, public opinion is the ultimate resource and the final arbiter between contending political organizations. This is as true of political movement campaigns as it is of political parties competing in an election.

    Some analysts would suggest a conspiracy theory of political movements in which they flourish without popular support. This projection posits activists whose loyalty is sustained with outside money, politically biased mass media that overplay support for the movement, and a passive public whose views may be swayed temporarily...

  8. 3 Security Issues and Alternatives
    (pp. 53-76)

    The fear of war among the West European publics in the early 1980s was a sensible reaction to international developments at the time. But the public did not have in mind any particular solution to the security problem when they worried about the outbreak of world war. Nuclear deterrence based on overwhelming nato superiority over the Soviet Union would have been as satisfactory to them as any other stable basis for peace. Public insecurity may be read as a mandate for a change in policy, but it provides no clues as to what that change should be.

    Peace movement leaders...

  9. 4 Peace Movement Organizations
    (pp. 77-97)

    “The peace movement” is a useful phrase that summarizes the wave of activity challenging West European security policy in the early 1980s. Peace movement organizations are concrete manifestations of that challenge. But these organizations are not the movement itself. Rather, they translate the movement into specific ideas and actions, bringing their own biases to the movement in the process.¹ The independence of organizations from the movement is indicated by the fact that many organizations both predated the contemporary movement and outlived it. It is the spread of protest against nuclear weapons, not the rental of an office and a duplicating...

  10. 5 Tactical Dilemmas and Responses
    (pp. 98-126)

    On Easter Sunday 1983 a crowd gathered round the proposed cruise missile base at Molesworth in Great Britain to celebrate the theme “From Death to Life.” The day began with religious observances of Easter and the marriage of two members of the Molesworth peace camp. This was followed by an afternoon of food, music, games for children, kite flying, and other group festivities. There was a planting of trees, shrubs, vegetables and flowers (“death to life”) and a display of banners from peace groups in various countries. Messages of support were read from individuals and peace organizations elsewhere.

    Five weeks...

  11. 6 Alliances
    (pp. 127-155)

    According to their popular image, political movements are isolated from the mainstream of politics. Their ideological intransigence and their extreme tactics make it difficult for movements to bargain with government officials, form alliances with other social interests, or take part in any way in the political process. The very openness of the advanced industrial democracies to conventional channels of participation tends to isolate interests when they are expressed as movements of protest.

    The peace movement was in fact anything but isolated. It was part of the strategy of the peace movement to cultivate allies, even in institutions that have only...

  12. 7 Political Parties
    (pp. 156-178)

    The extensive network of alliances forged by the contemporary peace movement is the thing that most sharply sets it off from its predecessors. And within that network of alliances, perhaps the most striking development is the acceptance that the peace movement has found among parties of the Left. Not only small parties of the extreme Left, but also the large social democratic parties that frequently participate in government have endorsed significant parts of the peace movement agenda. Of the many indications of the integration of the contemporary peace movement into mainstream politics, the acceptance of at least some of its...

  13. 8 Facing the State
    (pp. 179-202)

    It is a common presumption that the peace movement represents a challenge to the authority of the state. Certainly the rhetoric of both government leaders and peace movement activists suggests that neither movement nor state is interested in finding a mutually acceptable compromise on issues of nuclear defense. To Mary Kaldor, peace researcher in the British movement

    Nato governments are rattled. The cruise and Pershing 2 missiles were supposed to defend freedom and democracy. Instead, our governments are defending missile bases against their own populations. We are living in a state of semi-war in which the normal processes of democracy...

  14. 9 Movements as a Creative Political Force
    (pp. 203-224)

    The peace movement in Western Europe used both conventional and unconventional political channels to press for the removal of nuclear weapons from Europe. There is a very real sense in which the movement failed in this, for all five countries designated in 1979 to accept intermediate-range nuclear weapons ultimately confirmed their commitments to them. Yet, it would not be fair to say that there have been no policy results stemming from peace movement activities. The Dutch government, mindful that the cruise missiles were unpopular with a large segment of the electorate, decided in 1985 to reduce the number of other...

  15. Index
    (pp. 225-232)