Amovement for peace and disarmament has exploded in Europe in these last months that has stupefied even those—like ourselves—who believed from the start in the possibility of building one, and worked to bring it about. There are many reasons for that stupor. First of all, there is the range and variety of forces that have been mobilized. Bonn and London, Brussels and Rome, have witnessed the largest demonstrations ever seen, on any issue, in the whole post-war period. Quantity has also been quality: there is no way of gathering together hundreds of thousands of people in the streets and squares of our cities without finding side by side different generations, different political forces, different cultural traditions. This diversity alone has put the demonstrations above any suspicion of tactical or partisan calculation, and has multiplied the impact of each on society as a whole. Secondly, there is the geographical spread of the new movement. This is probably the first time that a mass movement has emerged simultaneously, with essentially similar demands and analogous protagonists, in virtually all the countries of Western Europe. Not even the great wave of 1968 had this European scale and this spontaneous kinship of language.

Thirdly, there is the new and unusual relationship in the peace movement between mass spontaneity and political organization. In the past we can recall either broad movements—in the fifties—that were highly structured and led by parties or trade-unions; or broad movements—in the sixties and seventies—that emerged outside and often against political institutions, and never succeeded in inter-acting with them. By contrast, the growth and impact of the new peace movement (similar in this perhaps only to the working-class revolt of 1968 in Italy) holds the promise of a fruitful dialectical convergence between the spontaneity—hence autonomy—of the masses and established political forces. It effectively selects those political organizations that are closest to it, which themselves become participants and promoters of a movement that by the same stroke tends to condition and transform them, and thereby to impinge directly on parliaments and governments.

Nevertheless all this, if it constitutes the initial novelty and strength of the peace movement, could also subsequently become a source of weakness. The tremendous variety of social and cultural forces that make up the movement, its rejection of political schemas that have long since become impoverished and sclerosed, are the grounds of its richness and of its first practical results. It can already be said that the super-powers themselves cannot ignore, in either their propaganda or behaviour, the existence of these struggles for continental disarmament, and their ability to influence the governments of Europe. But these advantages also contain the danger that the movement could remain arrested at a stage of relatively generic or amorphous protest. Such a danger would increase if and when these governments react by diversionary or obfuscating manoeuvres, casting blame on each other and postponing options for peace and disarmament behind a screen of solemn declarations of principle and good will; or if the major political forces closest to the movement, imbued as they are with a traditional ‘realism’, try to reduce it to a mere pressure of opinion to which they are not accountable and whose objectives are not to be taken literally. These are no mere contingencies: just such processes are already more than evident in Germany and Italy. Conversely, it is also possible that the more radical sectors of the movement—as happened in the seventies—react mistakenly, counterposing and isolating themselves from broader currents of opinion, by an exclusive and one-sided insistence on their own objectives and forms of struggle.

It is thus neither premature nor sterile, but rather urgent and necessary, to start common discussion on the ways in which the movement can both keep its unitary and pluralist character, and yet acquire a more permanent and organized basis, and above all a more definite political physiognomy. For this is the condition of its stamina and real autonomy. A mass political movement that does not have an organizational discipline holding it together, or consolidated ideological traditions giving it identity, precisely for that reason needs a set of concrete objectives and strategic priorities all the more.

So I would like to give our view of what—not ‘the movement should do’—but what the movement already potentially is (which therefore it is our duty to sustain with our analyses, to render explicit with our programmes); and also to say something of those problems which still remain absent from the consciousness of the movement but which the real world will not allow to be evaded in the long run. I will begin with the short and medium-term platform of the struggle for peace, with the problem of those objectives which can or cannot be achieved.