THE NUCLEAR FREEZE MOVEMENT AND PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE DIPLOMACY: 1980-1990
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The Freeze failed to mobilize the working class to its full potential. Instead, it tended to engage mostly white and middle-class people in its leadership. This is despite the fact that the support for the ballot referendums and for the candidacy of Jesse Jackson came especially from Afro-American and other working class people, and that 20 major national trade unions endorsed the Freeze (note 11). In fact, these union endorsements probably represent a greater percentage of organized labor than has ever taken a peace position in our history! Also, the massive peace demonstrations such as June 12, 1982, the Martin Luther King anniversary march of 1983, and the 1985 April demonstration were filled out by trade union marchers behind their colorful banners.
The leadership of the Nuclear Freeze movement came especially from women. This is not the first time that women have been in the forefront of the movement. The Women's Peace Party prior to World War I, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in the Twenties and Thirties, and the Women's Strike for Peace in the Sixties have all provided inspiration and leadership. The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom took the initiative in establishing the Second Disarmament Session at the United Nations and the June 12 demonstration in 1982; and the National Freeze has been organized largely by women. Their leadership reflects the fact that women have always been excluded from war and that they are the original peace constituency of the world (note 12).
Support for the Freeze reached into the capitalist class itself. This is indicated by a Gallup poll taken on Wall Street in 1982: 53% of capitalists from small companies favored the nuclear Freeze, compared to only 30% from medium-sized corporations, and only 17% from the largest corporations, which, of course, include most of the military-industrial complex. And there was strong support for the Freeze among the middle strata of American society, as indicated by the strength of the physicians' movement for peace and by the various peace campaigns among churches, including the Catholic Bishops Statement.
The ability of the Freeze movement to reach out and cooperate with other peace movements was hampered by anti-communism. Reagan red-baited the Freeze during the 1982 elections, saying that it was "inspired by not the sincere, honest people who want peace, but by some who want the weakening of America and so are manipulating honest people and sincere people." (New York Times, October 5, 1982). On the defensive, the National Freeze Campaign refused to publicize the fact that the Soviet Union had accepted the Freeze proposal because, to paraphrase their response, "if they support it, we can't demand that they support it, and we have to demand they support it so that those who oppose the Freeze can't attack us." Similarly, the Freeze was slow to link up with solidarity movements that demand an end to U.S. intervention in Central America and South Africa. As time went on, there was an honest struggle over anti-communism in the Freeze, as activists came to realize that in order to make peace, they would have to negotiate in good faith with communists in Moscow. In fact, a brief summary of the 1985 edition of this book, including a call for acceptance of communists as bonafide contributors to the Freeze Movement, was one of two articles requested for the Unity Book that was used in the merger of the Freeze with SANE, an older, more established peace organization.
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