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New Left Review I/145, May-June 1984

Ken Coates

The Peace Movement and Socialism

In 1980, confronting a new upsurge of militarism, a number of us joined forces to launch an appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament. This began with a warning: ‘We are entering the most dangerous decade in history’, it said. There is a good deal of new evidence to show that this appreciation was exact, containing not a milligram of exaggeration. But there is now also confirmation that challenges call forth responses, and indeed that people are nowadays more ingenious and inventive than they used to be. The European Peace Movement, which has become a plain fact, has not only assembled its millions of adherents, but it has also unlocked the most remarkable talents and set loose a vast nuclear fusion of human energies. In the early days, New Left Review gave impetus to this process, when it published Edward Thompson’s powerful paper on ‘exterminism’, which subsequently provoked an important discussion in several major countries at once. Now again, NLR has sought to bring this argument to a new level by opening the question of the relation between socialism and nuclear war, and that of the interaction between socialist and peace movements.

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