Anti Nuclear Weapon Protests By Leo Matlock
2 Waves of Protests • First Wave – 1958 – 1963 - Creation of CND and use of famous peace sign. Anti weapon emotions still high following US attacks on Japan. • Second Wave – 1980 – 1989 • CND revived, END Created. Furthered by deployment of missiles by US on European soil in opposition to Russia.
First Wave 58-63 • Britain announces intention to develop H Bomb, triggers anti nuclear emotion. • CND created, initially intends to liaise with Labour party to create change. • CND momentum & lack of support from Labour means CND becomes a movement in itself. • CND support decreases greatly after Test Ban treaty and start of Vietnam war distracts activists.
First Wave – Protest Methods • March to Aldermaston, a weapons base, from London. • Attempts to obtain parliamentary/political support from Labour party. Labour in 1960 passes unilateral opposition to nuclear weapons motion after pressure from CND. • Committee of 100 was a ‘militant’ ally of CND. Supported by most members, not leadership. Practiced illegal activity - civil disobedience, sit down protests, marches. Preached non violent methods, urged members to be non violent, and for the most part this was followed. • First Wave – All significant theory and practice was non violent
Second Wave 80-89 • Revitalised following USA plan to deploy Pershing II missiles in Germany to combat the USSRs development of Cruise missiles – Europe as a whole threatened. • END created – focus on Europe. • CND members, 4000 in 79 – 100’000 in 84 • CND fragmented slightly and became more of an umbrella focus for smaller groups, Green CND, Student CND Trade Union CND etc etc.
Second Wave Protests • CND abandoned anti civil disobedience stance, although remained non violent. • Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, sit in protest and civil disobedience next to intended nuclear weapons site. Non violent to people, although property was attacked and vandalised. • European unity – organised simultaneous demonstrations across Europe & USA. Protesters totalled millions on various days between 81 and 83 and against visit of Reagan in 82. • INF Treaty between US and Soviets meant anti nuclear weapons protests were not longer urgently needed and the issue fell quickly out of mainstream politics. • Compared to First Wave - More radical, more people involved, wider variety of forms of protest, more support from organised groups but remained non violent.
Conclusions • Pretty much all non violent. • The fact that it was generally pacifists that were demonstrating was a key reason for this. Although helped by sporadic promotion of non violent methods by organisations • Variety of forms of non violent protest, sought political support, marches, sit ins, petitions, protests, when coordinated across Europe saw great success • Protests took part in developed, and mostly democratic countries, more freedom of movement/speech. Campaigning against a policy rather than government itself helped focus the protests on matter at hand, controlling influence. • Saw major successes as a whole. First Wave set precedent and mobilised support, important in the successes of second wave. Pressured US & USSR into INF in 87. Millions of protesters during 80s peaking in 83. “During the 1980s, a strong anti-nuclear war movement made the notion of a world without nuclear weapons seem possible”