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New Left Review I/165, September-October 1987

Luciana Castellina

The Peace Movement at Coventry

‘For years, elements in the Communist apparatus sought to interfere in the affairs of the Western peace movement, while some Western politicians sought to turn “dissidents” in Communist countries into their fellow-travellers. Then suddenly the psychodrama entered a different phase. The antagonists relaxed; new speech-writers were hired. To our considerable surprise, they broke into the peace movement’s files, carried off our speeches and demands, and presented some of them as if they were their own. Of course we were not given any credits. We did not even get any percentage on the Grand Reykjavik Production, which plagiarized the end Appeal and the Platform of the US “Freeze” but went further than us both—to announce the imminent abolition of all nuclear weapons from planet earth. Very good—very fine. We do not mind if we are overlooked in the credits. We shall be very happy if the powers can get rid of all nuclear weapons without our help. But nothing has actually been done. To be fair, one thing was done: the Soviet Union, over a long period, sustained a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, for which it deserves our congratulations—just as the United States, Britain and France deserve our condemnation for their total lack of response. But otherwise nothing. The superpowers and their allies and clients have achieved less in any true peace process than have the tiny Pacific island of Palau and nuclear-free New Zealand. In this last year, however, it sometimes seems as if the Cold War has walked through a mirror. Antagonists change places and swap each other’s lines. Communist economic reformers (we are told) admire the rigour of Western monetarism, while Mrs Thatcher—the Iron Lady and the inheritor of Churchill’s’ mantle—prepared for her General Election by rushing off to the Soviet Union for a series of photo-opportunities with Mr and Mrs Gorbachev. Mr Gorbachev is awaited with an expectant hush in Central Europe as the agent of possible liberation from regimes once put in place by Soviet tanks.’

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Luciana Castellina, ‘The Peace Movement at Coventry’, NLR I/165: £3

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