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Swords to Ploughshares

by nanne Tue Dec 1st, 2009 at 05:26:26 AM EST

Some nights ago I was watching the yearly Bambi awards on the ARD. The terminally boring ceremony did have a few highlights. Notably, Kate Winslet, who was beautiful, gracious, and actually managed to sit through the entire thing looking like she was intensely interested. What an actress.

The most memorable parts, though, came when the media award tried to tie into the celebrations of the fall of the wall, 20 years ago. An award was given to Helmut Kohl, for his role in driving the reunification that came a year afterwards, and in driving European integration. Another award was given to three 'silent heroes': Christoph Wonneberger, then pastor and co-instigator of the 'monday demonstrations' in Leipzig, that flowed out of his 'peace prayers'. Siegbert Schefke, a member of the 'environmental library' at Berlin Zionskirchplatz and cameraman. Aram Radomski, theatre worker and photographer.


The three had conspired to film the monday protests in Leipzig on the 9th of October, 1989. They got the images into the public television in the west, which meant that a lot of the people in East Germany, watching illegally, could also see the mass protests against the communist regime.

Here's a picture of Wonneberger at the ceremony, with Radomski behind him on the left and Schefke on the right:



(from the FAZ (de))

The opportunity was used by Schefke to call against including former Stasi employees in the state government of Brandenburg. Wonneberger, meanwhile, called for 'radical' disarmament.

I was reminded of this scene when I read the following attack on Catherine Ashton's ties to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the Economist:

[T]he lack of fuss about the real life Catherine Ashton's involvement with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in the 1980s looks puzzling. Ms Ashton (as she was then) was a paid organiser for CND in the late 1970s and its treasurer from 1980-82.

It is worth remembering that CND was (and is) a legal organisation. It encompassed a wide range of views. Some supporters simply wanted Britain to get rid of its outdated and expensive "independent" nuclear deterrent. Others thought that the Reagan administration's decision to put medium-range cruise and Pershing nuclear missiles in Europe was mistaken. Some idealists believed that a strong peace movement in Western Europe would inspire those behind the Iron Curtain to demand disarmament from their rulers too. Some were outright pacifists; others argued that nuclear weapons were so dangerous that "better red than dead" was the only rational approach.

[...]

Most CND veterans see their peacenik days, at worst, as romantic youthful idealism. Warm-hearted but soft-headed, maybe: but better than being cold-hearted and hard-headed.


(via Yglesias)

The rest of the article consists of constructing a far-fetched analogy to a hypothetical Tory female politician who had worked as an anti-communist with covert support from the South-African Apartheid regime and assorted dictators, and quoting Vladimir Bukovsky as an 'expert on Soviet penetration of the west' -- whose word is enough to prove that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was really a Kremlin operation.

Not realising, at first, that I was reading an Edward Lucas column, this got me somewhat worked up. However, as they continue to employ that fruitcake, it is worth repeating that the broader lesson from the Economists' reporting on the revolutions 20 years ago comes down to the following:

There was no peace movement in the east. There were no labour unions in the east. There were no intellectuals in the east. There was no environmental movement in the east. There were no artists and students in the east. The overthrow of the communist states in Central and Eastern Europe was not a victory of the people over an oppressive one-party rule.

Capitalism won.

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Prior to this episode, I didn't know the peace symbol was originally drawn up by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

A video recording of the award can be seen here (de). Mind that Wonneberger had to re-learn speaking after he had a stroke, shortly before the wall fell.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 05:16:38 PM EST
IIRC, the sign was based on the letters ND (as in nuclear destruction) in flag-speech:

Put them over each other, a circle around and add some style and you get:


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 06:15:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ND = "Nuclear Disarmament" (as in CND).
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 30th, 2009 at 02:05:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Right you are.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 30th, 2009 at 04:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the early '60s in Britain, the symbol was firmly attached to the CND. By the end of the '60s, it had migrated in the direction of a more general and international peace symbol any self-respecting DFH might wear.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Nov 30th, 2009 at 02:04:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]

There was no peace movement in the east. There were no labour unions in the east. There were no intellectuals in the east. There was no environmental movement in the east. There were no artists and students in the east. The overthrow of the communist states in Central and Eastern Europe was not a victory of the people over an oppressive one-party rule.

Capitalism won.

Well said.

The frightening thing is that both the liberal and conservative-nationalist narratives in Central Europe deny that history, too. And if it comes up, "there was no other alternative" and "the Third Way was an illusion"1 come up as very strong memes. (See for example Adam Michnik's astute yet doctrinaire account of the events 20 years ago, quoted in the Salon here.)

  1. This refers to an earlier use than the Clinton-Blair-Schröder Third Way: a Third Way between socialism and capitalism, an idea that was popular in 1989 but ultimately rejected by the former dissidents who founded the election-winning parties and opinion-setting newspapers.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Nov 30th, 2009 at 03:24:31 AM EST
an idea that was popular in 1989 but ultimately rejected by the former dissidents who founded the election-winning parties and opinion-setting newspapers

It wasn't completely dead, but it's representatives today aren't nice people, though: see the Kaczyński twins and their even madder former coalition partners in Poland, or much of the present coalition in Slovakia (even if neither rattled much on the capitalist status quo when in government).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 30th, 2009 at 03:29:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PIC_0008

Proudly stuck on there since 1986.

by PeWi on Tue Dec 1st, 2009 at 10:54:07 AM EST


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Dec 1st, 2009 at 05:01:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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