A peace movement is a social movement that seeks to achieve ideals such as the ending of a particular war (or all wars), minimize inter-human violence in a particular place or type of situation, often linked to the goal of achieving world peace. Means to achieve these ends include advocacy of pacifism, non-violent resistance, diplomacy, boycotts, moral purchasing, supporting anti-war political candidates, creating open government and transparency tools, demonstrations, and national political lobbying groups to create legislation. The political cooperative is an example of an organization that seeks to merge all peace movement organizations and green organizations which may have some diverse goals, but all of whom have the common goal of peace and humane sustainability. A concern of some peace activists is the challenge of attaining peace when those that oppose it often use violence as their means of communication and empowerment.
Some people refer to the global loose affiliation of activists and political interests as having a shared purpose and this constituting a single movement, “the peace movement“, an all encompassing “anti-war movement”. Seen this way, the two are often indistinguishable and constitutes a loose, responsive and event-driven collaboration between groups with motivations as diverse as humanism, environmentalism, veganism, anti-racism, anti-sexism, decentralization, hospitality, ideology, theology, and faith.
Diversity of ideals
There are different ideas over what “peace” is (or should be), which results in a plurality of movements seeking diverse ideals of peace. Particularly, “anti-war” movements often have short-term goals, while peace movements advocate an on-going life-style and proactive government policy.
It is often not clear whether a movement or a particular protest is against war in general, as in pacifism, or against ones own governments participation in a war. Indeed, some observers feel that this lack of clarity or long term continuity has represented a key part of the strategy of those seeking to end a war, e.g., the Vietnam War.
Global protests against the US invasion of Iraq in early 2003 are an example of a more specific, short term and loosely-affiliated single-issue “movement” —with relatively scattered ideological priorities, ranging from absolutist pacifism to Islamism and Anti-Americanism (see Human shield action to Iraq). Nonetheless, some of those who are involved in several such short term movements and build up trust relationships with others within them, do tend to eventually join more global or long-term movements.
By contrast, some elements of the global peace movement seek to guarantee health security by ending war and assuring what they see as basic human rights including the right of all people to have access to air, water, food, shelter and health care. A number of activists seek social justice in the form of equal protection under the law and equal opportunity under the law for groups that have previously been disenfranchised, such as the founding fathers of the United States.
The Peace movement is primarily characterized by a belief that humans should not wage war on each other or engage in violent ethnic cleansings over language, race or natural resources or ethical conflict over religion or ideology. Long-term opponents of war preparations are primarily characterized by a belief that military power is not the equivalent of justice.
The Peace movement tends to oppose the proliferation of dangerous technologies and weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons and biological warfare, for example the 43rd president of the United States efforts pursued nonproliferation in the middle east. Moreover, many object to the export of weapons including hand-held machine guns and grenades by leading economic nation’s to lesser developed nations. Some, like SIPRI, have voiced special concern that artificial intelligence, molecular engineering, genetics and proteomics have even more vast destructive potential. Thus there is intersection between peace movement elements and Neo-Luddites or primitivism, but also with the more mainstream technology critics such as the Green parties, Greenpeace and the ecology movement they are part of.
It is one of several movements that led to the formation of Green Party political associations in many democratic countries near the end of the 20th century. The peace movement has a very strong influence in some countries’ green parties, such as in Germany, perhaps reflecting that country’s negative experiences with militarism in the 20th century.
The anti-nuclear movement in the United States consists of more than seventy groups which have acted to oppose nuclear power and/or nuclear weapons in the USA. Initially, the nuclear debate was mainly about nuclear weapons policy and was located within the scientific community. Professional associations such as the Federation of Atomic Scientists and the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs were involved. In 1962, Linus Pauling won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to stop the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons, and the “Ban the Bomb” movement spread throughout the United States.
The anti-nuclear power movement has delayed construction or halted commitments to build some new nuclear plants, and has pressured the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to enforce and strengthen the safety regulations for nuclear power plants.
The American public were concerned about the release of radioactive gas from the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and many mass demonstrations took place across the country in the following months. The largest one was held in New York City in September 1979 and involved two hundred thousand people; speeches were given by Jane Fonda and Ralph Nader.
Day of Silence for Peace
Also known as the Peace Movement, the Day of Silence for Peace follows the tradition of rallies that use silence to be noticed. Participants wear a piece of white cloth across their mouths with Peace written on it to symbolize their unity and readiness to change their world. It means they are tired of the status quo, and are willing to challenge it. It hopes to achieve unity and a sense of empowerment for its participants – including the knowledge that they can have an impact without traveling to the far reaches of the earth. The first Day of Silence for Peace took place on October 23, 2007.