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Women make up more than half of the human race. Yet civilization has been suffering for five thousand years under the aggressive oppression of male dominance and authoritarian patriarchy. Some of the great philosophers of peace, such as 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Gandhi, have seen hope for a peaceful world in the future because of the softening of masculine force by the feminine qualities of love, service, intuition, and moral power. The women's movement is well on the way to healing a society so afflicted by militarism that it teeters on the brink of mass destruction. Whereas war used to be a masculine "sport" for warriors, in the twentieth century the percentage of civilian deaths in war steadily increased until now everyone is imperiled by the threat of nuclear holocaust. At the same time women have become increasingly involved in actively working for peace, responding instinctively to nurture the human race for the sake of its survival. Previous chapters have discussed how women contributed to the abolition of slavery, suffrage, and women's rights. As early as 1891 the National Council of Women (NCW) and the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) petitioned the US Government to avoid war with Chile, and in 1895 women's groups urged that a Venezuelan border dispute with England be settled by arbitration.
Bertha Kinsky was born June 9, 1843 in Prague and married Baron von Suttner after serving as a governess in his house. She worked briefly for Alfred Bernhard Nobel, and he often supported her peace efforts with donations. She was influenced by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and the progressive ideas of Herbert Spencer and the historian H. T. Buckle. She suggested that human progress was leading toward disarmament and peace in her Inventory of a Soul. In The Machine Age she argued that war is the opposite of survival of the fittest, because it kills the most fit while allowing the defective to survive; thus instead of evolving the species, it causes degeneration. She prophesied that someday more powerful weapons would be able to destroy entire armies at once and would thus eliminate the strategies that make war feasible, though her friend Nobel with his explosives business continued to believe that deterrence would prevent wars. She could understand a few sacrificing themselves for the majority; but she felt that to sacrifice all for none is extreme madness. In 1888 she heard a call from Hodgson Pratt of the London Peace Society to form a great league with branches in all European cities. She believed that everyone must contribute to humanity's well-being, and she saw the peace movement as a way to do so.
By far Bertha von Suttner's most famous and influential novel was the two-volume Lay Down Your Arms, which was published in 1889. Written from a woman's point of view as she loses two husbands in the wars of 1859 and 1870, she dramatically exposed the superficiality and folly of men going to war for honor to show their courage. Politicians and generals are particularly criticized for promoting armaments. In the last chapter the main character wrote in her diary,
Today there is hardly any one left
who has not dreamed this dream,
or who would not confess its beauty.
And there are watchers too;
watchers conspicuous enough, who are longing
to awake mankind out of the long sleep of savagery,
and energetically and with a single eye to their object
collecting themselves for the purpose of planting the white flag.
Their battle-cry is, "War on War,"
their watchword, the only word which can have power
to deliver from ruin Europe armed against herself is,
"Lay down your arms."
In all places, in England and France, in Italy,
in the northern countries, in Germany, in Switzerland, in America,
associations have been formed, whose object is,
through the compulsion of public opinion,
through the commanding pressure of the people's will,
to move the Governments to submit their differences in future
to an Arbitration Court, appointed by themselves,
and so once for all to enthrone justice in place of brute force.1
Near the end of the book she predicted that the next war would not be a gain for either side but ruin for all. This novel was translated into dozens of languages and made the international peace movement a major topic of discussion throughout Europe. Leo Tolstoy hoped that it would have the same effect on the war problem that Harriet Beecher Stowe had on slavery with Uncle Tom's Cabin, though he called it "untalented" and believed that arbitration was not a complete solution. Nevertheless he did correspond with "Peace Bertha" as she came to be called in the satirical press.
Bertha von Suttner founded an Austrian peace society in 1891
and the next year attended the international peace congress at
Bern, where she suggested a European confederation of states and
last saw Nobel. It is widely believed that he included the Peace
Prize in his 1896 will because of her, and she became the first
woman to win this Nobel Prize in 1906. She also urged Andrew Carnegie
to do more for peace than merely donating libraries. She promoted
and attended the Peace Conferences at The Hague in 1899 and 1907.
Suttner traveled extensively, including a tour from New York to
California, and spoke to an estimated 400,000 people. She tried
to calm the conflicts in the Balkans; but she died on June 21,
1914, one week before the assassination at Sarajevo of Franz Ferdinand,
the crown prince of the Austro-Hungarian empire that touched off
the Great War. Suttner had also written a two-volume autobiography,
and in 1917 her political articles were published in two volumes
as The Battle for the Prevention of World War, which was
immediately banned in Austria and Germany.
In England in 1900 Kate Courtney (1847-1929) and Emily Hobhouse founded a Women's Committee of the South Africa Conciliation movement to urge settlement of the Boer War and the South African Women and Children's Distress Fund to help those made homeless by Britain's scorched-earth policy of burning farms. The British established large concentration camps in which 27,927 Boers died, mostly children and women. Also 14,000 African women died in black concentration camps. In 1911 Courtney complained that Italy's seizing Tripoli from the Turks would set back the Peace and Arbitration movement, and novelist Bertha von Suttner made the same point in her speeches in Bucharest and Budapest. Courtney objected to the imperialism of the French in Morocco, Austrians in Herzegovina and Bosnia, Russians in Persia, and the British in South Africa and Egypt; she noted that only poor Germany was still a "lion without a Christian." She complained that the secret Cabinet government could mobilize the nation without warning or consultation, that secret diplomacy was based on an "enemy psychosis," and that two rival imperialists were engaged in an uncontrolled and unstable arms race.
During the World War, Kate Courtney worked for an Emergency
Committee to help "enemy aliens," in the Union for the
Democratic Control of Foreign Policy (UDC), and with the emerging
international women's peace movement. In 1915 she arranged for
Jane Addams to meet with Robert Cecil at the Foreign Office. She
tried to intervene on behalf of UDC chairman E. D. Morel after
he was arrested and sentenced to six months under the Defence
of the Realm Act for sending two pamphlets to pacifist Romain
Rolland in neutral Switzerland. Courtney's War Diary expressed
intelligent views about the terrible war and described what she
was doing about it. After the war the first meeting of the Fight
the Famine Committee was held at her house, and she prophesied
that the humiliating terms being imposed on Germany were likely
to push Germans into another war.
Maude Royden (1876-1956) studied at Oxford and as a preacher tried to become the first woman ordained in the Church of England. In 1908 she became a speaker for the voting rights of women, and from 1912 to 1914 she edited the suffragists' weekly paper, The Common Cause. She embraced internationalism and peace and was appalled when the Great War broke out. She became an activist with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and in 1915 published her first pacifist pamphlet, The Great Adventure: The Way to Peace, in which she advocated non-violent direct action (NVDA). She argued that the Christ offered humanity an alternative to violent reaction in the Sermon on the Mount. She suggested how England could have used nonviolent methods to resist German aggression, because many Germans were socialists and would have supported them.
We could have called for the peace-lovers in the world
to fling themselves-if need be-in front of the troop trains.
If millions of men will go out to offer their lives up in war,
surely there are those who would die for peace!
and if not men, we could have called out women!2
Royden believed that the heroism of the cross is much greater than the heroism of the sword; the greater adventurer goes to the enemy with naked hands. The Christian ideal should not be sacrificed to national necessity because truth is better than victory. The Fellowship of Reconciliation organized a peace caravan, and they were nearly burned to death by a mob in Midland town; but police intervened and sent them away on a train. Royden realized that women could be as militaristic as men, but she believed that the women's movement could be a natural force for peace. Because they believed in moral force instead of physical force, they could work against militarism; the physically weaker sex would not agree that "Might is right."
When Royden attended the International Alliance for Women's
Suffrage conference at Geneva in 1920, she was allowed to preach
from Calvin's pulpit, inspiring people that only love can create
and build, because without love the world perishes. In the 1920s
she complained that the League
of Nations was being betrayed as the "balance of power"
once again was substituted for collective security. In 1931 Maude
Royden appealed to both men and women to form a Peace Army that
could intervene nonviolently between combatants. She was deeply
disappointed that "only a thousand people" volunteered
and that they were never organized, though she did initiate protest
meetings at the London docks against shipping arms to Japan. She
had compromised her pacifism to accept the collective security
of the League; when World War II began in 1939, she repudiated
Simone Weil (1909-43) was a child during the First World War in France and "adopted" a soldier, who was killed. She felt she was cured of nationalistic patriotism when she saw the French humiliate the Germans after the war. She studied with the pacifist philosopher Alain for four years and noted that the slavery of soldiers is much worse than the slavery of workers. After the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Peace Pact, in 1929 she circulated a manifesto calling for immediate and complete disarmament. The next year she participated in a peace march to support Briand. When French President Lebrun came to unveil a local war memorial in October 1933, she opposed war by speaking to her socialist and pacifist friends from a window ledge.
The next month Simone Weil published her "Reflections on War" in La Critique Sociale magazine. She noted that war always strengthens the state over the people regardless of ideology. War affects not only foreign policy but domestic policy as well because a massacre is oppressive. She argued that a revolution dies when it becomes a war. Whether the enemy is fascist, democratic, or communist, the adversary becomes the bureaucracy and the military. The "protector" that makes its citizens slaves becomes just as much an enemy. The worst betrayal is to subordinate oneself to the war machine, which destroys human values. War is not only the supreme example of inhumanity but actually is a competition in inhumanity. The state machine fights in order to maintain its ability to make war. She prophesied that future wars would be an insane destruction of wealth built up by civilization over generations until civilization itself perished.
In 1936 Weil believed that the socialist government of Spain deserved her support in its fight for survival against the fascists, and that summer she pointed a rifle at planes but primarily served as a cook. She observed how pitiless killing became a way of life. She left the war after she was scalded by burning oil. Weil soon returned to her pacifist principles as she asked if war could ever bring the world more justice, liberty, or well being. In 1937 she wrote her powerful antimilitarist essay "Ne Recommencons pas la Guerre de Troie," which was translated as "The Power of Words." She asked why nations waged war against each other century after century. In the Trojan War she saw Helen as an empty symbol that could be replaced by any abstraction in capital letters such as nation, security, capitalism, communism, fascism, democracy, etc. She astutely observed,
What a country calls its vital economic interests
are not the things which enable its citizens to live,
but the things which enable it to make war;
petrol is much more likely than wheat
to be a cause of international conflict.
Thus when war is waged it is for the purpose
of safeguarding or increasing one's capacity to make war.3
A government cannot appear weak in its external relations without weakening its authority over its own people. She perceived that only complete and universal disarmament could resolve this dilemma, but she realized that was nearly inconceivable. The illusion of national security by retaining the capacity to make war is practically impossible, because the only way to achieve it is to deprive other countries of the same security.
In March 1938 Weil signed a statement by French anti-fascists urging their government to negotiate with Germany for the sake of world peace, and she agreed to speak that summer with Maria Montessori for peace. Yet the next month she wrote an article how they could resist invasion by decentralized armed resistance. She urged the democracies to gain the moral advantage over Hitler by renouncing their colonies in Africa and Asia, and she criticized French imperialism in Algeria and Indochina. If they adopted the methods of Hitler, she felt that a victory would not be much better than a defeat. Reflecting on the Roman empire, she warned, "Every people which turns itself into a nation by submitting to a centralized, bureaucratic, military State becomes and long remains a scourge to its neighbors and the world."4 She believed that the League of Nations failed because it left in place the dogma of national sovereignty, and she proposed a federalist world order that would decentralize the nation states. She pessimistically predicted that if a just and magnanimous peace was not established after World War II, the continued mutual massacres would destroy all the states.
Simone Weil taught philosophy at various schools in France, but she refused to eat more than those people on relief. She worked in a factory to find out what that was like. Her essay "The Iliad: Poem of Force" explained the nature of violence as portrayed in one of the earliest and best examples of western literature. After the Nazis occupied Paris, she moved to Marseilles; though of a Jewish family, she had a mystical experience in a chapel. She went with her parents to the United States in 1942. She crossed back to England to work for the French resistance, but leaders would not let her parachute into France. Because of the Jewish victims in Europe, she ate little and died of tuberculosis on August 24, 1943.
Jane Addams was born on September 6, 1860 in Cedarville, Illinois. Her mother died before she was three, and she was raised by her father, who believed in Quaker principles and served eight terms in the Illinois Senate. Illness interrupted Jane's medical studies. Traveling to Europe, she was impressed by Toynbee Hall in the slum of London. In September 1889 she and her college friend, Ellen Gates Star, founded Hull House in Chicago to provide a social center for the poor working people in the neighborhood. This was the beginning of the social settlement movement in the United States. Hull House became a focal point for social reforms in child labor laws, protection of immigrants, labor unions, and working conditions as well as a meeting place for educational and cultural activities. Her excellent books Twenty Years at Hull-House and The Second Twenty Years at Hull-House described this experience.
In Newer Ideals of Peace, published in 1907, Jane Addams criticized the militarism in city government, the inadequate responses of legislation to the needs of an industrial society, the lack of immigrants and women in local government, the inadequate protection of children, and the social problems in the labor movement. Based on her experience in working with immigrants from various countries, she developed a cosmopolitan attitude she called "cosmic patriotism." She became an ardent internationalist and hoped that people could move beyond their narrow nationalist orientations toward a more universal human effort and affection.
Jane Addams was vice-president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1911 to 1914; but when the war broke out in Europe, she devoted all her energies to working for peace. In September 1914 Rosika Schwimmer, a Hungarian journalist and suffragist, came to America and spoke to President Wilson, Secretary of State Bryan, and then the general public about the United States intervening to negotiate a peace settlement. Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, an English feminist, spoke at a suffrage rally in Carnegie Hall about organizing a woman's peace movement. Crystal Eastman formed a woman's peace committee and suggested that Pethick-Lawrence contact Jane Addams in Chicago. Carrie Chapman Catt also wrote Jane Addams a letter complaining that the present management of the peace movement in the United States was overmasculinized. Addams agreed that women were the most eager for action, and she and Catt called a national conference of women's organizations.
They gathered in Washington on January 9, 1915 and formed the Woman's Peace Party with a Preamble that stated, "As women we feel a peculiar moral passion of revolt against both the cruelty and waste of war,"5 and with the following insightful platform:
1. The immediate calling of a convention of neutral nations
in the interest of early peace.
2. Limitation of armaments
and the nationalization of the manufacture.
3. Organized opposition to militarism in our own country.
4. Education of youth in the ideals of peace.
5. Democratic control of foreign policies.
6. The further humanizing of governments
by the extension of the franchise of women.
7. "Concert of Nations" to supersede "Balance of Power."
8. Action toward the gradual organization of the world
to substitute Law for War.
9. The substitution of an international police
for rival armies and navies.
10. Removal of economic causes of war.
11. The appointment by our Government
of a commission of men and women,
with an adequate appropriation to promote international peace.6
Thus to stop the current war they suggested a conference of delegates from neutral nations or at least an unofficial conference of pacifists. To make sure that the settlement terms would not sow the seeds of new wars they recommended self-determination and autonomy for all disputed territories, no war indemnities unless international law had been violated, and democratic control of foreign policy and treaty arrangements. To secure world peace for the future they suggested replacing the "balance of power" with an international congress, an international police force, and courts to settle all disputes between nations; an immediate and permanent League of Neutral Nations could use binding arbitration, judicial, and legislative procedures and an international police force for protection. The progressive national disarmament should be protected by the peace program; until disarmament is complete, munitions manufacture should be nationalized. Private property at sea should be protected by international and national action to remove the economic causes of war.
The national program for the United States included approval of the Peace Commission Treaties that require a year's investigation before any declaration of war, protest against the increase of armaments, and a recommendation that the President and US Government set up a commission of men and women to work for the prevention of war. Three thousand people attended the mass meeting, and Jane Addams was elected chairman. National headquarters was established in Chicago, and within a year 25,000 women had joined.
Crystal Eastman felt that a Woman's Peace Party was good because women are mothers, or potential mothers, and "therefore have a more intimate sense of the value of human life."7 Thus there can be more meaning and passion in their determination to end war than in an organization with both men and women. In an article for Survey Crystal Eastman explained how the Woman's Peace Congress at The Hague was organized by the Dutch suffragist Aletta Jacobs, whom she called, "one of a group of 'international' women who are challenging public opinion with the idea of world union for peace."8 The Woman Suffrage Alliance meeting scheduled for Berlin had to be canceled because of the war. Instead, Dr. Jacobs called a meeting in February 1915 at Amsterdam to plan a larger congress of individuals to focus on methods of bringing about peace. Leaders from Belgium, Germany, and Britain met with their Dutch hostesses and issued a call for an international Congress of Women at The Hague on April 28; they invited Jane Addams to preside.
Representatives of over 150 organizations from twelve countries gathered that spring of 1915, and 1,136 women voted to adopt twenty resolutions. These were similar to the program of the Woman's Peace Party. The International Congress of Women advocated universal disarmament secured by international agreement. They believed that the private profits from armament factories were a strong hindrance to abolishing war. In addition they decided to urge the neutral countries to offer continuous mediation for a peace settlement between the belligerent nations, and they selected envoys to approach the different governments. Jane Addams, Aletta Jacobs, and the Italian Rosa Genoni went to Austro-Hungary, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. Emily Balch, Chrystal Macmillan, Cor Ramondt Hirschmann, and Rosika Schwimmer were sent to the Scandinavian countries and Russia. In Sweden alone 343 meetings were held on June 27, and The Hague resolutions were signed by 88,784 women. In August, Jane Addams met with President Wilson, who said that the resolutions were the best formulation he had seen so far.
After having witnessed the war, Jane Addams explained why the young soldiers and civilians were revolting against war. She found that every nation claimed that they were fighting in self-defense to preserve their traditions. Though the elderly men believed that war was right and should be fought to the finish, the young men in the trenches were not convinced that it was a legitimate way of settling disputes. She quoted a young man who said,
We are told that we are fighting for civilization
but I tell you that war destroys civilization.
The highest product of the universities,
the scholar, the philosopher, the poet,
when he is in the trenches,
when he spends his days and nights
in squalor and brutality and horror
is as low and brutal as the rudest peasant.9
He went on to explain that in the trenches there was neither courage nor cowardice, as chance determined who was blown up. Addams found war to be so unnatural that soldiers had to be drugged to make the bayonet charge. The English were given rum, the Germans ether, and the French used absinthe. She believed that if peace were made by negotiation, the civil authorities of the western democracies would have more influence; but if it was fought to victory, the military authorities would make the final settlement.
Of the factors that Jane Addams believed caused the war to continue, she placed first the influence of the press, observing,
The press everywhere tended to make
an entire nation responsible for the crimes of individuals,
a tendency which is certainly fraught with awful consequences,
even though the crimes for which the nation is held responsible
may have originated in the gross exaggeration
of some trivial incident.10
She also noticed that the domination by the press prevented the mobilization of the advocates for peace. She began to believe that "the next revolution against tyranny would have to be a revolution against the unscrupulous power of the press."11 People of different countries were not able to get the information they needed to make sound judgments about the war, because the press selected the knowledge they wanted the people to have just as the church did in the past. The women at The Hague believed that the time had come to begin negotiations, or else the war would go on year after year until exhaustion. Some politicians called these women envoys foolish. However, one high official told Addams that hers were the first sensible words he had heard in his office for ten months; usually people just asked him for more ammunition and more money. To him the words "why not substitute negotiations for fighting" were the most sensible. Addams hoped that the breakdown of the philosophy of nationalism would bring about a new birth of internationalism, founded not just on arbitration treaties but upon governmental institutions designed to protect and enhance by cooperation a world becoming conscious of itself.
After visiting the capitals of the belligerent governments, Addams found they had no objection to a conference of neutral nations, even though they could not ask for mediation. To alleviate the fear of beginning a conference while one side had a military advantage, she argued "that the proposed conference would start mediation at a higher level than that of military advantage."12 Three out of five neutral European nations were ready to join in such a conference, while the other two were still deliberating. By fall all the leading belligerent nations were willing to cooperate in a Neutral Conference, and the neutrals Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Holland were eager to participate if the conference were to be called by the United States. Unfortunately the US declined for the reasons that Latin American countries could not be ignored nor was there room for many of them to participate; also the Central Powers had the technical military advantage at that time. Another neutral country would offer to call the conference if the United States would attend, but this made no difference. Even 10,000 telegrams to President Wilson from woman's organizations were of no avail.
In January 1916 the Woman's Peace Party became the United States section of the international organization which came to be named the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Henry Ford donated a chartered ship to take women to Europe for a private Neutral Conference, which was held in Stockholm on January 26. They formulated further appeals to the neutral and belligerent nations to begin mediation.
Crystal Eastman started in November 1915 the "Truth About Preparedness Campaign" sponsored by the Woman's Peace Party and the American Union Against Militarism (AUAM). She revealed the economic exploitation behind the industrialists' propaganda for military increases through public debates and numerous articles. In the summer of 1916 AUAM's private investigation of the facts in Mexico revealed that the American troops were the aggressors in a skirmish, and a massive publicity campaign changed President Wilson's mind, preventing the United States from entering into a misguided war with Mexico. In 1917 Crystal Eastman and Roger Baldwin founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to protect human rights. Alice Paul told Jeannette Rankin, "It would be a tragedy for the first woman ever in Congress to vote for war."13 Rankin said, "I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war."14 Rankin voted against entering the war, and in 1941 she was in Congress again to vote against another World War. After America entered the war, Crystal Eastman and other radicals struggled for an early peace, opposed conscription, universal military training, and other repressive legislation; they sponsored classes led by pacifists such as Norman Angell and Emily Green Balch.
Disappointed by Wilson's entering into the war, Jane Addams turned her efforts to the struggle for food. She urged international cooperation and demanded that food blockades, still in place after the armistice, be immediately lifted. She felt that women could do much for international organization especially in regard to such a basic issue as food for survival.
In 1919 the International Congress of Women held in Zurich criticized the peace terms for sanctioning secret agreements, denying self-determination, giving spoils to the victors, creating discord in Europe, demanding disarmament only for the losing side, and condemning a hundred million people to poverty, disease, despair, hatred, and anarchy because of the economic proposals. They welcomed a League of Nations, which four years earlier had seemed so unrealistic to many; but they criticized the plan for varying from Wilson's fourteen points.
The Women's Peace Society (WPS) was founded in 1919 by William Lloyd Garrison's daughter Fanny Garrison Villard. As the League of Nations was forming, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) established its headquarters in Geneva, where they kept a close watch on the League of Nations Assembly and Secretariat. WILPF helped to publicize its proceedings and offered frequent criticism. In lectures Jane Addams urged the United States to participate in the World Court.
In August 1921 Elinor Byrns was acting as chair of a conference that was held on the Canadian side of Niagara and formed the Woman's Peace Union (WPU) of the Western Hemisphere. They urged President Harding to work for "immediate, universal and complete disarmament" at the upcoming Washington Naval Conference. The WPU pledge was based on Garrison's 1838 "Declaration of Sentiments."
We women of the Western Hemisphere believe that
under no circumstances is it right to take human life
and pledge ourselves to work for world peace.
We affirm it is our intention never to aid in or sanction war,
offensive or defensive, international or civil, or in any way,
whether by making or handling munitions,
subscribing to war loans, using our labor
for the purpose of setting others free for war service,
helping by money or work any organization
which supports or condones war.15
In 1923 Elinor Byrns and Caroline Lexow Babcock of the WPU initiated a resolution for a constitutional amendment to outlaw war and remove the power of the US Congress to declare war, raise or support any military, or appropriate money for war. They promoted a "Declaration of Independence from the Tyranny of War" because war must be abolished before it abolishes the human race. They persuaded Republican Senator Lynn Joseph Frazier from North Dakota to present their resolution in every session of the Congress from 1926 to 1939. Elinor Byrnes published a pamphlet in 1927 entitled "Violence and Killing Always Wrong" in which she connected violence to ownership and the will to power. She condemned child abuse, capital punishment, and the use of force to break strikes. Jeannette Rankin worked for the WPU in 1929. The next year the WPU gained the support of the Women's Peace Society, the War Resisters League, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Pennsylvania Committee for Total Disarmament, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and WILPF to testify at the hearing on the Senate Joint Resolution 45.
In 1923 the WILPF board in a resolution urged the US Congress to pass a bill forbidding the use of the military for collecting private debts or protecting private investments in foreign countries. WILPF believed that the United States could help developing countries without imposing "occupation or overlordship." They opposed increasing the US Navy. In 1924 WILPF suggested that governments agree to the compulsory jurisdiction of the Permanent Court of International Justice. Their Congress held in Washington that year also recommended better education to avoid mass suggestion, the abolition of capital punishment and the improvement of prisons, and a better balance of influence between men and women. The National Committee on the Causes and Cures of War (NCCCW) soon became the largest woman's peace group in the United States after it was founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1924; as the most broad-based, it was the most conservative. In 1928 the NCCCW organized 14,000 meetings to urge ratification of the Kellogg-Briand Pact to outlaw war. WILPF considered this treaty a valuable step toward substituting law for war and achieving the disarmament of all nations.
The 1929 WILPF Congress in Prague warned that modern warfare threatened civilian populations and that the only way to safety is disarmament. NCCCW and WILPF worked together in gathering 600,000 signatures in the US to contribute to the eight million that were presented to the 1932 Geneva Conference for the Reduction and Limitations of Armaments. After Japan invaded Manchuria, WILPF sent a letter to President Hoover urging the United States to cooperate with the League of Nations Council in challenging this treaty violation and to work with the signatories of the Nine Power Pact, to publish its diplomatic notes with Japan, and to prohibit arms shipments to Japan. In 1933 WILPF stimulated North Dakota Senator Gerald P. Nye, chairman of the Munitions Committee, to investigate the profits made by arms manufacturers in the World War and that industry's role in bribing public officials to vote for larger military budgets and fix prices. WILPF's 1934 Zurich Congress formulated aims that became its policy for the next quarter century. The primary goals read:
Total and universal disarmament,
the abolition of violent means of coercion
for the settlement of all conflicts,
the substitution in every case of some form of peaceful settlement,
and the development of a world organization
for the political, social and economic cooperation of peoples.16
In addition they committed themselves to studying and alleviating the causes of war by nonviolent social reform. Jane Addams donated to WILPF the money she got for winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She had been International President of WILPF for twenty years when she died in 1935.
When Chamberlain appeased Hitler in 1938 at Munich, WILPF issued this strong response:
It is a sham peace based on the violation of law, justice and right.
It is a so-called 'peaceful change' dictated by four Powers
and forced upon a young and small State,
which was not represented
when its dismemberment was finally decided upon.17
The International Chairmen of WILPF sent out an appeal to help Czechoslovakia financially and economically. In it they declared,
Pacifism is not the quietistic acceptance
of betrayal and lies for the sake of 'Peace.'
Pacifism is the struggle for truth, the struggle for right,
the struggle for clear political aims,
for firm political will and action.
Pacifism is not weak acceptance of 'faits accomplis'
achieved by brute force.
Pacifism is courageous initiative
for a constructive policy of just peace.18
In 1951 WILPF considered a plan for a nonviolent national defense along Gandhian lines to deter aggression without the disadvantages and dangers of armaments. They discovered that nonviolent principles must be understood by the people before this can work on a national scale, recognizing that violence breeds violence, upholding truth before prestige, accepting the principle of equal rights, freedom of conscience and of information, and strengthening altruistic rather than materialistic values.
WILPF has supported the United Nations and criticized the Korean War, nuclear arms and testing, civil rights violations, the Vietnam War, and the nuclear arms race. In March 1983 WILPF representatives visited the NATO governments to protest the deployment of more nuclear weapons in Europe. WILPF holds to the Gandhian principle against war and violence, because a good end cannot be attained by a bad means. WILPF remains perhaps the largest and most influential of all the international women's peace organizations.
Another great peacemaker and social reformer was Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker. Dorothy was born in Brooklyn on November 8, 1897. A scholarship helped her to attend the University of Illinois, where she joined a socialist group. In 1917 she went to Washington to picket the White House with the suffragists. She was arrested and bailed out. When the thirty-five of them appeared in court, they were convicted; but their sentencing was postponed. That afternoon they picketed and were arrested again, going through the same procedure. The third time they refused to pay bail. The leaders were sentenced to six months, the older women to fifteen days, and the rest, including Dorothy, to thirty days. They demanded to be treated as political prisoners and went on a hunger strike for ten days until their demands were met. Day was so obstreperous that she was handcuffed and thrown in a cell with leader Lucy Burns.
Dorothy Day moved back to New York, and she was soon mixing as a writer and activist with Eugene O'Neill, John Reed, Louise Bryant, and Max Eastman. She wrote for The Masses until it was suppressed by the US Government. For many years Dorothy worked as a free-lance writer. She published an autobiographical novel entitled The Eleventh Virgin and even sold its movie rights. She fell in love with an older writer, who did not want to marry, and she had an abortion. Later she formed a common law marriage with anarchist Forster Batterham and gave birth to the girl Tamar. She raised her daughter, and in 1928 she became a Catholic. Dorothy once said, "I believe because I want to believe; I hope because I want to hope; I love because I want to love."19
In December 1932 Dorothy went to Washington for the Hunger March of the Unemployed that was organized by her Communist friends. There she prayed to God for some way that she could help the poor. Returning to New York, she found waiting for her a homeless French priest named Peter Maurin, who had been told that she had similar beliefs as his. He was full of ideas and shared them with her in an uninterrupted flow. He disagreed with Communism because he considered the dictatorship of the proletariat and class warfare to be unsound means. He said, "A pure end requires pure means. Christian charity and voluntary poverty are the pure means for the realization of a Communist society."20 He proposed publishing a newspaper to popularize his ideas for a communitarian revolution, round-table discussions to clarify thought, houses of hospitality as living centers to help the poor and provide hospices, and farming communes as "agronomic universities."
So Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin began the Catholic Worker movement in the depths of the Depression. They started publishing a newspaper called The Catholic Worker in May 1933. About twenty people moved into a house on the west side of New York; they fed the hungry, clothed the needy, and sheltered the homeless, not as an impersonal state agency but by personal sacrifice and care. Soon "houses of hospitality" were being started in Boston, Rochester, Milwaukee, and other cities. They lived in voluntary poverty, practicing Christ's teachings. By 1935 the circulation of the Catholic Worker newspaper went over 100,000. They moved into a large house on Mott Street and later also got a small farm outside of New York. Despite disagreement from Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day spent much of her efforts in the 1930s helping workers to organize unions. Dorothy traveled and spoke to groups. They picketed the German consulate to protest Nazi anti-Semitism and gave out literature criticizing Nazi policies. In May 1939 Dorothy and some friends formed the Committee of Catholics to Fight Anti-Semitism.
When the Second World War began, Dorothy Day still retained the Gospel teaching of human brotherhood and would not give up her pacifism. In June 1940 their "Peace Edition" of the Catholic Worker suggested they could use nonviolent means to resist an invader. Day wrote about the immorality of conscription, and she urged Catholics to be Conscientious Objectors. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Catholic Worker headline and subheadline read,
Our Country Passes from Undeclared to Declared War;
We Continue Our Christian Pacifist Stand.
In Addition to the Weapons of Starvation of Its Enemy,
Our Country Is Now Using the Weapons
of Army, Navy, and Air Force.21
Yet some Catholic Workers joined the army, and dissension within the community caused a precipitous drop in circulation of the newspaper. By January 1942 fifteen Catholic Worker houses of hospitality had closed because there were not enough people to take care of them. Day estimated that 80% of the Workers had "betrayed" their pacifist principles; but others formed the Association of Catholic Conscientious Objectors.
In 1955 Day organized a civil disobedience protest against New York City's compulsory air raid drill, and seven people were given suspended sentences. Another year Dorothy spent thirty days in jail for this simple protest. In 1957 she wrote,
We were setting our faces against the world,
against things as they are,
the terrible injustice of our capitalist industrial system
which lives by war and by preparing for war;
setting our faces against race hatred and all nationalist strivings.
But especially we wanted to act against war
and the preparation for war: nerve gas, guided missiles,
the testing and stockpiling of nuclear bombs, conscription,
the collection of income tax-against the entire military state.
We made our gesture; we disobeyed a law.22
In 1959 they were sentenced to thirty days but were released after ten days. They did this every year until 1961, when after 2,000 people refused to take shelter, the city decided to drop the requirement.
Dorothy Day also worked for the civil rights of African Americans and traveled to the South to do so. In 1957 she went to support the pacifist and interracial community founded by Clarence Jordan called Koinonia near Americus, Georgia. As they were threatened by Ku Klux Klan violence, she volunteered to watch their produce-stand at night in a car; someone from a passing car fired a shotgun into the car, but she was not hit. Dorothy also went to Danville, Virginia to pray, march, boycott, and suffer imprisonment in the civil rights struggle.
On April 22, 1963 the Mothers for Peace, a group made up of Catholic Workers, members of PAX (which became Pax Christi in 1972), Women Strike for Peace, WILPF, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and others, met with Pope John XXIII to plead for a condemnation of nuclear war and the development of nonviolent resistance. During the Vietnam War, Dorothy Day inspired the radical Catholic Left to protest. She continued to oppose conscription and taxes for war, and in October 1965 she spoke at the first draft card burning. A heckler shouted that they should burn themselves, not their draft cards. Three days later young Roger LaPorte, a student of religion and a Catholic Worker volunteer, poured gasoline on himself and struck a match in front of the United Nations building, dying 33 hours later. Dorothy believed that he knew it was wrong to take his own life; but in her column she explained his desire to end the Vietnam War. In the previous week six massive air strikes had killed the most since the war began. She called language satanic that described the Army's spending as adding extra "zip" to the economy. In 1948 Day had written, "Love must be tried and test and proved. It must be tried as though by fire. And fire burns."23
Day and many Catholic Workers had for many years refused to pay federal income tax because most of it went to pay for war. In 1972 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sent them a letter stating that they owed $296,359 in unpaid taxes, fines, and penalties for the past six years. In their newspaper Dorothy explained that they might lose their houses; but she remained firm in her belief, shared by the War Resisters International, that wars will cease when we refuse to pay for them. She wondered how much the IRS would think they owed if they had counted up all the way back from 1933! The Catholic Worker was too busy helping the poor to go through the legal hassles of becoming a non-profit corporation, which would also restrict their political activities. However, by verbal negotiation in June 1972 Government agents were persuaded that they acted out of religious conviction. Thus they were not prosecuted because officials realized that they would just continue to act as they had in the past. Ammon Hennacy was probably the best known of the Catholic Workers for refusing to pay income tax while publicizing his protest. He had been imprisoned for nearly two years by the US Government for refusing to be conscripted into the war in 1917. He worked as a laborer so that no tax would be withheld and lived simply.
Dorothy Day encouraged other radical Catholics to protest such
as the Jesuit brothers Dan and Phil Berrigan. At the age of 75
she was arrested for picketing with Cesar Chavez and the United
Farm Workers Union and spent twelve days in jail. She died November
29, 1980; the continuing Catholic Worker movement is her great
On January 1, 1953 a woman calling herself Peace Pilgrim began walking around the United States and Canada for world peace. By 1964 she had walked 25,000 miles, and she kept walking, praying, counseling and teaching until her death in an automobile accident on July 7, 1981. She owned only the clothes she wore, a comb, a folding toothbrush, a pen, and a few letters. She walked until she found shelter, and she fasted until she was given food. She discovered the golden rule as a child and believed she could make friends by being friendly. She had a deep belief in God and prayer and taught spiritual principles to all she met.
Peace Pilgrim described the steps of preparation for peace as taking a right attitude toward life, bringing one's life into harmony with universal laws, finding one's special place in life by God's inner guidance, and simplifying life. She recommended purifying the body by a good diet, purifying thought by reducing negativity, purifying desire by seeking only God's will, and purifying motive by being of service. Peace Pilgrim advised relinquishing self-will, the feeling of separateness, attachments to things or people, and negative feelings. Then the lightness beyond time and space of peace could be attained in the oneness that binds all life together and permeates all. Spiritual maturity is when God or the higher self controls the body, the mind, and the emotions. Her credo was to use good to overcome evil, truth to overcome falsehood, and love to overcome hatred, and the key, she said, is practice. She believed that those who use violence are still spiritually immature. She noted the extreme contrast of the two choices we face-either a nuclear war of annihilation or the golden age of peace.
Dagmar Wilson was the mother of three and worked as an artist illustrating children's books. She became concerned about the policies of the Cold War and was influenced by the ideas of Linus Pauling, Bertrand Russell, and Albert Einstein. After hearing a speech by psychiatrist Jerome Frank, she joined the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE). During the Berlin wall crisis she read about the protest of Bertrand Russell and was moved to do something about his arrest. When she learned that SANE was planning no response, she called her friends. On September 21, 1961 they came up with the idea that for peace women could go on strike for one day. The next day the women began issuing their appeal to "End the Arms Race-Not the Human Race," proclaiming, "We strike against death, desolation, destruction and on behalf of life and liberty."24 In October they explained that women devote their lives to raising children to be healthy and good citizens, but in the nuclear age all women, including mothers, have an urgent duty to work for peace so that their children will have a future. They were particularly concerned about reports that the levels of strontium 90 in milk had risen sharply since the atmospheric testing of hydrogen bombs. By the end of 1958 there had been at least 190 tests of hydrogen bombs including 125 by the United States. Now the US and USSR were arguing over who had broken the testing moratorium.
The women set November 1, 1961 as the strike day, and thousands of women in sixty cities refused to work on that day. Women Strike for Peace (WSP) gained much publicity, but the original initiators did not want to form a traditional "top-down bureaucratic peace organization."25 Instead, each local group was free to plan and carry out their own activities on the first-of-the-month strike day. Some WILPF activists worked with both groups; other women preferred the freedom of Women Strike for Peace, which was "intentionally simple, pragmatic, non-ideological, moralistic, and emotional."26 Instead of allowing the majority to rule by voting, they worked for consensus on decisions. Bella Abzug from New York became the chairperson of WSP's legislative committee. They used the slogan "Pure Milk Not Poison," and their numbers grew. In January 1962 Berkeley Women for Peace had a thousand women attend the California legislative session to oppose civil defense legislation. WSP urged women to boycott milk unless it was decontaminated, especially during periods of nuclear testing. This prompted the US Public Health Service to warn mothers on April 26, 1962 not to stop giving their children milk because of the protests. By then WSP had forty radiation committees pressuring dairies, milk processors, the US Department of Agriculture, and the US Congress to purify the milk.
In June 1962 the Midwest group met at Ann Arbor and formulated the following Women Strike for Peace policy statement:
We present a resolute stand of women in the United States
against the unprecedented threat to life from nuclear holocaust.
We are women of all races, creeds, and political persuasions
who are dedicated to the achievement of
general and complete disarmament
under effective international control.
We cherish the right and respect the responsibility
of the individual in a democratic society to act
to influence the course of government.
We join with women throughout the world to challenge
the right of any nation or group of nations
to hold the power of life or death over the world.27
The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) subpoenaed fourteen WSP women from the New York area for a hearing in December 1962. This absurd endeavor was satirized by a cartoon in the Washington Post showing a Congressman asking his colleague if these people are subversive because they are women or because they are for peace. A hundred women volunteered to testify and were refused. Three of the subpoenaed women refused to testify in secret, and two years later they were indicted for contempt of Congress; but their convictions were overturned by a higher court in August 1966. In his book Thirty Years of Treason Eric Bentley gave WSP credit for striking the crucial blow in the final demise of HUAC.
In 1963 Women Strike for Peace created a Clearing House on the Economics of Disarmament to publish an amateur bulletin, but they got expert advice from the dissident economist Seymour Melman, who skillfully showed how bad militarism is for the economy. United Nations Secretary-General U Thant recognized the influential role of Women Strike for Peace by personally thanking Dagmar Wilson, Lorraine Gordon, and Helen Frumin before going to Moscow to witness the signing on August 5, 1963 of the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space, and Underwater. Popularly known as the partial test ban treaty, this at least moved nuclear tests underground.
By 1964 Women Strike for Peace had become as concerned about the Vietnam War as they were about disarmament. On March 16, 1965 Alice Hertz, an 82-year-old founder of Detroit WSP, sacrificed her own life by setting her body on fire in a Detroit shopping center in order to protest the escalation of the Vietnam War. WSP organized many protests and sent Christmas cards signed by thousands of women to President Johnson in 1965. The next year WSP opposed the renewal of the draft. In the summer of 1966 two women from WSP and two from WILPF were arrested for blocking a napalm shipment from Santa Clara, California. The following winter 2,500 women gathered outside the Pentagon with photos of napalmed Vietnamese children. They demanded to speak to generals and banged on the locked Pentagon doors with their shoes. In 1970 WSP proclaimed a "Declaration of Liberation from Military Domination." That year Bella Abzug was elected to the US House of Representatives from New York. She and WSP called for the impeachment of Richard Nixon as early as January 1972, because he thwarted the Congressional mandate and the will of the people to end the war.
The tremendous influence of feminism on the peace movement in the 1960s and 1970s is perhaps best typified by Barbara Deming. Writing for The Nation and Liberation magazines, she described her participation in various nonviolent protest movements. She visited Cuba and North Vietnam and reported the viewpoints of the other side. She explained the philosophy and methods of the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA) and their recommendation of unilateral disarmament to all countries including the Soviet Union. In her account of the San Francisco to Moscow walk the mirror images of Russian and American fears and defense policies were revealed. At the same time the person-to-person effectiveness of nonviolent direct action was eloquently portrayed. By walking for peace in the South she combined the quest for civil rights and justice with peace and nonviolence. She was arrested for civil disobedience in Birmingham, Alabama and Albany, Georgia. During the Vietnam War she lectured and wrote about the atrocities the United States was perpetrating against the Vietnamese people. She particularly pointed out the Lazy Dog bombs that are ineffective against the "steel and concrete" targets but were designed to enter flesh. She told of how schools, hospitals, and homes were being bombed unmercifully.
Barbara Deming became a strong advocate of nonviolent revolution as the most effective way to transform a violent and oppressive society. Although she sympathized with revolutionaries who feel the need for violent methods of liberation, she argued that in nonviolent struggle there will be fewer casualties. She acknowledged that in standing up to violent power, some suffering is inevitable. Yet she believed that the nonviolent action of assertive noncooperation with the oppressors can be as strong and effective as violent struggle while maintaining the respect for everyone's human rights. She wrote,
This is how we stand up for ourselves nonviolently:
we refuse the authorities our labor,
we refuse them our money (our taxes),
we refuse them our bodies (to fight in their wars).
She went on to recommend blocking, obstructing, and disrupting the operation of a system in which people are not free. At the same time the adversary is confronted, their rights are respected, and they are made to examine their conscience about what is just. A violent response to a nonviolent action further reveals the injustice and loses sympathy from allies and supporters. Deming believed that nonviolent methods have barely begun to be used with their full power.
Like Andrea Dworkin, Deming came to believe that nonviolence must be combined with radical feminism, for the patriarchal male dominance over submissive women pervades the entire society in deeply ingrained ways. Women and everyone in the peace movement must insist on the equality of the sexes and live the revolution in their personal lives. Feminism and pacifism have much in common. Caroline Wildflower described how feminism improved the peace movement. She explained how in the 1960s the male leaders were reluctant to give women shared leadership. Instead, women were assigned to secretarial work. When the Women's Movement started raising the consciousness about these injustices in society, changes began to happen in spite of the resistance of habit. Not only were the authorities and hierarchies of society being challenged, but the same structures within the peace groups were being scrutinized and criticized by empowered women. The results of this continuing evolution are that the group processes are becoming more egalitarian, jobs are rotated so that everyone is broadened, women are expressing an equal voice with more emotional power, men are becoming more sensitive to their own feminine qualities, and a more healthy overall balance is emerging.
In the 1980s the military buildup under President Reagan stimulated the peace movement to mobilize. Women, minorities, and the poor were being neglected while the Pentagon budget accelerated. The issues became especially obvious to women when increased expenditures on nuclear weapons, missiles, bombers, submarines, aircraft carriers, etc. were compared to decreases in education, health, job training, family aid, food, housing, energy, civil rights, environmental protection, etc. The five-year military budget for the US alone was projected at 1.6 trillion dollars. World military expenditures average $19,300 per soldier while public education spending averaged $380 per student. The governmental budgets of the western powers allotted four times as much money to military research as they did to health research. The world in 1982 spent 1800 times as much on military forces as it did on international peacekeeping. In April 1982 the Women's Pentagon Action Unity Statement included the following:
Our cities are in ruins, bankrupt;
they suffer the devastation of war.
Hospitals are closed,
our schools deprived of books and teachers.
Our Black and Latino youth are without decent work.
They will be forced, drafted to become cannon fodder
for the very power that oppresses them.
Whatever help the poor receive is cut or withdrawn
to feed the Pentagon which needs about $500,000,000 a day
for its murderous health....
We women are gathering
because life on the precipice is intolerable.29
Many women, such as Ann Davidon, spoke about breaking through the "macho mental barrier" and demilitarizing society by shifting resources to useful production. Sally Gearhart believed "the rising up of women in this century to be the human race's response to the threat of its own self-annihilation and the destruction of the planet."30 She called upon the world's women to take the responsibility for sustaining life.
The women's peace movement is truly international. In October 1981 over a thousand women from 133 countries met in Prague, Czechoslovakia on the themes Equality, National Independence, and Peace. They all agreed that the nuclear arms race must be stopped and that women and men of good will can prevent nuclear war. The Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF) reported on the activities of the women's peace movement in Europe and the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands of women were protesting the danger of war, not only in western Europe but in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as well. The Soviet Women's Committee reported that during the last week of October 1982 Action for Disarmament was celebrated in the USSR by fifty million people with over 80,000 events in protest of the arms race. According to WIDF, in the spring of 1982 women demonstrated for peace in Angola, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, West Germany (800,000 citizens), East Germany (77,000 women), Great Britain (100,000), Greece, Italy, Japan (30,000 in Tokyo on Easter), Yemen, Mauritius, Mozambique (20,000 women), Nicaragua (100,000), Netherlands, New Zealand (20,000 women), Poland, Soviet Union, Sweden, and the USA. Women's peace camps were established at Greenham Common in England and at Seneca, New York.
Ruth Sivard published statistics comparing government expenditures on the military to social programs. She noted that in 1986 the total spending on military forces reached about $900 billion as what the world spent per soldier had increased to about $30,000 but what was provided per school-age child for education had only gone up to $455. The two superpowers, the USA and USSR, were spending 60% of the world's defense expenditures but had only 11% of the world's population. Yet military spending in underdeveloped nations had increased 800 percent since 1960 after adjusting for inflation.
In 1988 Women for a Meaningful Summit from the United States and Soviet Union included Coretta Scott King, California Assemblywoman Maxine Waters, and Cora Weiss of SANE/FREEZE International. Their peace platform urged that the agreement to reduce strategic nuclear weapons (START) be concluded without delay, and they declared that war is obsolete, that nuclear and conventional weapons do not provide security, and that the "real enemies are hunger, disease, racism, poverty, inequality, injustice, and violence." They suggested that by a partnership among all nations the systems of war could be "dismantled and replaced by systems of peace and justice" using nonviolent means. Comprehensive security would include the "political, economic, military, humanitarian, cultural, and environmental spheres." They affirmed that "no nation has the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations."31 They demanded that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be fully implemented, and they called for strengthening international institutions so that the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, and other international bodies could resolve conflict peacefully.
In 1997 Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to get 121 nations to sign the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa. Before she died, Princess Diana had also worked on this issue. As of 2005 this treaty has been ratified by 143 nations, but the United States, Russia, China, India, both Koreas, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq are among the 42 nations that have refused. About a hundred million landmines exist in the earth, and despite these recent efforts about 15,000 to 20,000 casualties still occur each year. In her acceptance speech Williams explained how landmines, once they have been placed, do not discriminate between soldiers and civilians, and after the end of the war they remain deadly indefinitely unless they are removed. She estimated that seventy countries have been contaminated by tens of millions of mines. Cambodia still has about five million from the 1970s. The United States military reported that about thirty million mines were scattered throughout Afghanistan in the 1980s. Six million landmines were sown in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Angola has nine million; Mozambique and Somalia have a million each. The number of landmines stockpiled throughout the world is estimated at 100-200 million. The Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines.
Outstanding reporting on peace issues comes from Pacifica radio's Amy Goodman, who hosts Democracy Now! on weekdays broadcasting from New York City. Pacifist and conscientious objector Lew Hill founded Pacifica in April 1949 as a commercial-free community-supported radio network that is dedicated to peace and justice. The first station broadcasted as KPFA-FM in Berkeley. KPFK-FM began broadcasting from Los Angeles in 1957. The next year Nobel prize-winner Linus Pauling debated Edward Teller, the inventor of the H-bomb. WBAI in New York joined the Pacifica family in 1960. Pacifica radio has withstood numerous efforts to censor its content and an investigation by the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in the early 1960s. In 1970 KPFT began broadcasting from Houston, and it survived two bombings of its transmitter towers by the Ku Klux Klan in its first year. WPFW started broadcasting from Washington DC in 1977 after winning a six-year battle for the last available radio frequency in the nation's capital.
Amy Goodman won several awards for her courageous reporting of the Santa Cruz massacre in Dili, East Timor on November 12, 1991 for WBAI's popular Morning Show. Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, gave Goodman credit for publicizing this massacre of peaceful demonstrators that the Indonesia Government tried to deny even happened. She and Pacifica reporter Allan Nairn were beaten by the Indonesian army; but they were not killed probably because they said they were Americans. Goodman noted that the United States had supplied their weapons. Then they witnessed the soldiers open fire on the large crowd gathered for a funeral; 271 people were killed, and another 270 have "disappeared."
The Democracy Now! program that Amy Goodman hosts began in February 1996. In 1999 her program "Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship" resulted in her being banned from Chevron's public news conference. In October 2000 the Pacifica program director Stephen Yasko tried to interfere with the content of Democracy Now!, but Amy Goodman retained her independent journalism from "the embattled studios of WBAI." She continued to broadcast as "the exception to the rulers" her "resistance radio" that includes important news and interviews often ignored, neglected, or censored by the mainstream media. In August 2001 Pacifica took her program off the air, and Democracy Now! had to move out of the WBAI studio and broadcast from an alternate location for the one station that retained her program. After a struggle for power, a new Pacifica board was elected in December, and her program was fully restored in January 2002 along with its employees who had been banned and fired.
Amy and her brother Andrew Goodman wrote The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them, and it was published in 2004. Some of the outstanding people given a voice on her program include Mumia Abu-Jamal, Phyllis Bennis, Dan Berrigan, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Ani DiFranco, Phil Donohue, Ariel Dorfman, Robert Fisk, Michael Franti, Col. Sam Gardiner, Danny Glover, Jason Halperin, Jennifer Harbury, Chris Hedges, Seymour Hersh, Yolanda Huet-Vaughan, Dennis Kucinich, Rita Lasar, Michael Meacher, Michael Moore, Ralph Nader, Allan Nairn, John Perkins, Michael Ratner, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jeremy Scahill, Danny Schechter, Norman Solomon, Lynne Stewart, Maxine Waters, Howard Zinn, and Andreas Zumach. As of 2006 Democracy Now! is syndicated on weekdays on more than four hundred radio stations, satellite television, and on the Internet at democracynow.org.
Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Rangoon on June 19, 1945. Her
father Aung San, who led the independence revolution and was a
national hero, was assassinated on July 19, 1947. Her mother Khin
Kyi was ambassador to India 1960-67, and Suu Kyi was influenced
by the nonviolent philosophy of Gandhi. She earned a degree in
philosophy, politics, and economics at Oxford University in 1967,
and she worked for the United Nations Secretariat in New York
from 1969 to 1971. While working as a research officer in the
Foreign Ministry of Bhutan in 1972, Suu Kyi married Michael Aris,
a scholar of Tibetan culture. She was working on her doctoral
dissertation at Oxford on Burmese literature in March 1988 when
she learned that her mother had a stroke. Suu Kyi immediately
went back to Rangoon to take care of her and was later joined
by her British husband and their two sons. On July 23 General
Ne Win, who had ruled Burma as a one-party state since 1962, announced
his retirement and proposed a referendum on whether to have a
one-party or multi-party system. The central committee of the
Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) elected new leaders who
decided not to have the referendum.
Student demonstrations led to some arrests, curfews, and declaration of martial law on August 3 as 10,000 people gathered. Five days later on 8-8-88 at 8:08 a.m. the pro-democracy movement was founded, and a general strike began with tens of thousands demonstrating in Rangoon. On August 15 Aung San Suu Kyi proposed a People's Consultative Committee to act as an intermediary between the students and the government. Eleven days later she spoke to a rally of a half million people outside the Shwedagon Pagoda, calling for free and fair elections as soon as possible. On September 12 she, Tin U, and Aung Gyi suggested an interim government. Six days later army officers took over the government under the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). On September 24 Aung San Suu Kyi, Tin U, and Aung Gyi formed the National League for Democracy (NLD) with Suu Kyi as General Secretary as mass arrests and summary executions of pro-democracy activists occurred throughout Burma. The BSPP became the National Unity Party (NUP) and by threatening punishment and dismissal brought an end to the general strike on October 3. Aung San Suu Kyi sent two letters to Amnesty International, complaining that on October 15 more than six hundred men had been arrested in Rangoon while sitting at tea shops or eating stalls.
Aung San Suu Kyi traveled throughout Burma for seven months and spoke to large crowds in more than a hundred places. Aung San's widow and Suu Kyi's mother, Khin Kyi, died on December 27, and hundreds of thousands attended the funeral in Rangoon. Later in January 1989 Aung San Suu Kyi's tour was disrupted by the military, and 34 NLD workers were arrested. In February she criticized the human rights violations and the resumption of Japanese aid. In April, Captain Myint Oo threatened to kill Aung San Suu Kyi in Danubyu. Six soldiers jumped out of a jeep and pointed their guns at her. She calmly waved away her supporters and kept walking down the road. When The Working People's Daily launched fierce attacks on the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi in June, she began criticizing Ne Win openly at mass rallies in Rangoon. She announced that she would lead a march on Martyrs' Day, July 19; but eleven trucks with troops were stationed outside her house, and thousands of soldiers patrolled the streets of Rangoon to prevent the NLD from marching. The next day SLORC put Aung San Suu Kyi and Tin U under house arrest while scores of NLD workers were jailed across Burma. Aung San Suu Kyi asked to be held in prison with the other activists. She fasted on water for twelve days until she was assured that they would not be tortured.
In December 1989 a hundred political parties announced their intention to participate in the May 1990 elections. Aung San Suu Kyi's candidacy was challenged in January for her alleged connections with insurgent groups, and the Elections Commission barred her. In the election on May 27, 1990 the people of Burma elected the National League for Democracy (NLD) to 392 of the 485 seats contested. However, SLORC refused to transfer power, and Aung San Suu Kyi remained under house arrest for six years until July 1995. She did not even leave the country to accept the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize because she would not have been allowed back into Myanmar, the name given to Burma by the military authorities in 1989. She had the prize money put in a trust for the health and education of the Burmese people.
Aung San Suu Kyi has written about the need for democracy, nonviolence, and national unity. She countered criticisms that democracy is not Burmese. In "Quest of Democracy" she described the ten Buddhist duties of kings, which are liberality, morality, generosity (self-sacrifice), integrity, kindness (courage), austerity (self-discipline), non-anger, nonviolence, patience, and not opposing the will of the people. She argued that these Buddhist values and principles of accountability were more likely to produce democracy, respect for public opinion, and just laws than a ruling class that does not honor the will of the people.
In "Freedom from Fear" Aung San Suu Kyi suggested that fear corrupts more than power.
It is not power that corrupts but fear.
Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it
and fear of the scourge of power
corrupts those who are subject to it.32
She wrote that the Burmese are aware of four kinds of corruption.
These are desire (from bribes or for one's friends), doing wrong
from ill will toward enemies, committing errors from ignorance,
and fear, which she believed was the root cause of the other three.
She noted that public dissatisfaction with economic hardship was
the primary motive of the democracy movement in Burma since 1988.
She suggested that one must have determination to persevere in
the struggle and make sacrifices, that saints are sinners who
keep on trying, and that the free are the oppressed who continue
to work for a free society. She agreed with her father, who though
he founded Burma's national army, believed that army officers
should stay out of politics.
On August 14, 1994 the United Nations representative Jehan Raheem, US Congressman Bill Richardson, and New York Times reporter Philip Shenon were allowed to interview Aung San Suu Kyi, and the following month she met with two SLORC generals. She was depicted in John Boorman's film Beyond Rangoon in 1995. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from detention on July 11, 1995. The next day she asked international businesses not to invest in Burma until democracy was restored. She also started a tourist boycott. In October the NLD reappointed her General Secretary despite a SLORC ban, and she asked any organization working with the regime in Burma also to consult with the NLD. In 1996 the Ministry of Information conducted a propaganda campaign against Aung San Suu Kyi by having the state media portray her as an untrustworthy female, a prostitute of her body and the nation, and that her husband Michael Aris was manipulating her like a puppet at the behest of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). SLORC accused Aung San Suu Kyi of receiving $82,000 from the United States for her personal use while the US was providing $2.5 million through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Rescue Committee. A cult was developing that suggested she is an archetypal "Lady" and a powerful spirit (Nat) of Democracy, and she was portrayed by the media as an un-Buddhist animist.
On Human Rights Day, December 10, 1997 Aung San Suu Kyi asked why the government found it necessary to put their people in jail if they do not have the support of the Burmese people. In May 1998 Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD formed the Committee Representing People's Parliament (CRPP) based on those elected in May 1990. However, an effort was made to divide the NLD as 25 members criticized her for this. The NLD demanded that the elected government be seated by August 1998. In July and August 1998 the army blocked her car at a bridge twice to keep her from leaving Rangoon even though she spent several days in the car. Burma suffers from severe ethnic conflicts, but Aung San Suu Kyi believes that democratic institutions could provide the proper means of conflict resolution. One does not need recourse to violence in order to rebel against tyranny and oppression as long as human rights are protected by the rule of law. Her husband had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997; but he was not even allowed a visa so that he could visit her, and he died in March 1999.
Police stopped her car from leaving Rangoon on August 24, 2000, and a week later 200 riot police forced the convoy to return to the capital. The next day police raided her headquarters, seized documents, and arrested several members of the party. On September 23, 2000 Aung San Suu Kyi and other party leaders were detained in their homes. The next month the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) was persuaded by the Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to open a dialog with Aung San Suu Kyi. In January 2001 NLD chairman Tin U and 84 other members were released from custody, and Suu Kyi hoped that her talks with the SPDC would be productive. That month the military stopped the outrageous propaganda campaign against her in the state-run media. In April more than thirty US Senators warned President George W. Bush not to lift the sanctions against the Myanmar regime. Secret negotiations by the United Nations led to her release in May 2002. Eight other members of the NLD were also let go, but according to Amnesty International more than 1,500 others were still in Burmese jails.
In 2003 Aung San Suu Kyi still would not leave Myanmar to accept awards because she would not be allowed to return. In March she was interviewed by the BBC, and she said that she did not look upon the generals as the enemy but that she wanted to work together for a settlement that would be beneficial to everyone, including the military. She was so popular that it was difficult for the regime to arrest her in Rangoon. However, in May 2003 they got three hundred members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) to attack her caravan in the country near Mandalay. Three weeks later some of her supporters were killed when the army fired at her vehicle. She remained with her supporters but then was taken away by her driver. Later they were arrested and sent to Insein Prison. The government claimed that she was under protective custody. After undergoing surgery in September, she was moved back to house arrest. Large banks helped the Myanmar regime get around the tough sanctions imposed by the United States that went into effect in August 2003. International protests of her detention were held in June 2004, and the rock band U2 dedicated two songs to her. In November 2005 the NLD confirmed that her house arrest had been extended for another year, and in response the United States raised the issue in the UN Security Council.
Medea Benjamin worked for ten years as an economist and nutritionist
in Latin America and Africa for the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization, the World Health Organization, and the Swedish International
Development Agency. After being a senior analyst for Food First,
in San Francisco she co-founded Global Exchange in 1988. Ten years
later the Washington Post credited this organization with
putting labor rights on the human rights agenda. Global Exchange
helped to organize large protests against the World Trade Organization
meeting at Seattle in December 1999. Benjamin was criticized by
some activists for her statement that it was correct for Seattle
police to arrest "anarchists" who destroyed property.
Benjamin was instrumental in coordinating the anti-sweatshop campaigns
that have sprung up on college campuses, and she has led the effort
to get corporations, such as Nike and the Gap, to establish ethical
codes of conduct. In 1999 her work helped expose the indentured
servitude of garment workers in Saipan that led to a billion-dollar
lawsuit against seventeen retailers. She has also promoted worker
rights in China, the liberation of Indonesia from the tyranny
of General Suharto, and self-determination for East Timor. Benjamin
supported the peace process between the Zapatistas and the Mexican
government and has struggled to get the embargoes against Cuba
and Iraq lifted. In 2000 Medea Benjamin was the Green Party candidate
for the US Senate in California. She has written and edited books
to help link citizens of the first and third worlds, and she wrote
a biography of Brazil's first poor and black woman senator, Benedita
Code Pink: Women for Peace was founded by Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Starhawk, Diane Wilson, and about a hundred other women on November 17, 2002 in order to protest the impending invasion of Iraq by the George W. Bush administration. They marched through the streets of Washington and began a vigil in front of the White House that lasted four months. Their vigil was supported by Greenpeace, WILPF, WAND, Public Citizen, NOW, Women for Women International, Neighbors for Peace and Justice, and others. In September 2002 when Donald Rumsfeld was testifying at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Benjamin and Diane Wilson chanted, "Inspections, not war" and were removed. A month later Wilson scaled the fence at the White House and was arrested by the Secret Service; she was banned from Washington for one year. Wilson and two other protestors were arrested in Austin when the Texas legislature was passing a resolution supporting the war. In February 2003 Benjamin and eleven other women visited Baghdad to assess the likely impact of war, and they concluded that the UN inspections to remove weapons were working. On International Women's Day, March 8, more than 10,000 people marched in Washington, and about two dozen women were arrested for protesting the imminent war. By the end of 2003 there were more than a hundred Code Pink chapters which act autonomously. Code Pink Central sends out weekly Code Pink Alerts to more than 30,000 people. Code Pink activists have presented themselves in pink slips (women's lingerie) to warn politicians and other public figures such as Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and FCC director Michael Powell that the people may fire them from their jobs.
In 2004 Medea Benjamin was dragged off the floor of the Democratic national convention in handcuffs for having displayed a banner which read, "End the Occupation! Bring the Troops Home Now!" At the Republican convention she was also removed, and her sign read, "Pro-Life: Stop the Killing in Iraq." Benjamin was also ejected from Bush's second inaugural ceremony. After the destruction of Falluja in November 2004, Code Pink helped Global Exchange and Families for Peace to raise $600,000 in humanitarian relief for the refugees from Falluja. In 2005 Benjamin traveled to Iraq with military families who had lost loved ones in the war, and she organized the Occupation Watch Center to coordinate humanitarian aid to Iraqis. To protest the closing of the Salinas library in California because of lack of funding, Code Pink organized a 24-hour read-in in April 2005. That month women unfurled banners and spoke out at the Congressional hearing for UN ambassador nominee John Bolton.
In the book Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism, which she edited with Jodie Evans, Benjamin recommends the following ten actions for peace:
1. Educate yourself on the issues.
2. Demand truthful media.
4. Hold your leaders accountable.
5. Help the United States kick our oil addiction.
6. Build the peace movement.
7. Support members of the military who are speaking out.
8. Protect our civil liberties and oppose the backlash against immigrants.
9. Support the creation of a Department of Peace.
10. Teach peace.33
If men through their aggression, power urges, and rigid stubbornness have caused war after war, then women through their love, nurturing, and flexibility can help us to learn how to prevent wars in order to save our civilization. Western civilization in the twentieth century became pathologically destructive, endangering all life. Much therapy and healing is needed to cure the disease of masculine militarism. Feminist nonviolence is clearly the remedy recommended by the greatest of the peacemakers. Our society as a whole and each person individually must learn to revere the loving, sensitive, caring, empathetic qualities of our being. Women are excellent teachers of peace in this process that will evolve into a balanced, healthy, integrated, and just society. Feminism has enabled women to take their rightful place in the anti-nuclear movement, thus strengthening the power and health of the peace movement.
1. Lay Down Your Arms by Bertha von Suttner, tr. T.
Holmes, p. 424.
2. The Great Adventure by Maude Royden quoted in Women Against the Iron Fist by Sybil Oldfield, p. 53.
3. "The Power of Words" by Simone Weil quoted in Women Against the Iron Fist by Sybil Oldfield, p. 77.
4. "Europe's Colonialism in Africa and Asia" by Simone Weil quoted in Women Against the Iron Fist by Sybil Oldfield, p. 84.
5. Quoted in Women Strike for Peace by Amy Swerdlow, p. 27.
6. Quoted in American Women's Activism in World War I by Barbara J. Steinson, p. 35.
7. Crystal Eastman to Jane Addams, 28 June 1917, quoted in Women Strike for Peace by Amy Swerdlow, p. 31.
8. On Women & Revolution by Crystal Eastman, p. 238.
9. Women at The Hague by Jane Addams, p. 71.
10. Ibid., p. 84.
11. Ibid., p. 91.
12. Ibid., p. 164.
13. Quoted in Women Strike for Peace by Amy Swerdlow, p. 32.
15. Niagara Falls Conference Minutes, 19 Aug. 1921, WPU:NYPL, quoted in The Women's Peace Union and the Outlawry of War: 1921-1942 by Harriet Hyman Alonso, p. 19.
16. Women's International League for Peace and Freedom: 1915-1965 by Gertrude Bussey and Margaret Tims, p. 122.
17. Ibid., p. 162.
18. Ibid., p. 163.
19. By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day, p. 48.
20. Quoted in Dorothy Day by William D. Miller, p. 241.
21. By Little and By Little: The Selected Writings of Dorothy Day, p. 261.
22. Ibid., p. 280.
23. Ibid., p. 228.
24. Women Strike for Peace by Amy Swerdlow, p. 18.
25. Ibid., p. 49.
26. Ibid., p. 51.
27. Ibid., p. 88.
28. "Nonviolence and Radical Social Change" by Barbara Deming in Revolution & Equilibrium, p. 223.
29. Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence, p. 415.
30. Ibid., p. 266.
31. "Women for a Meaningful Summit" in Women on War, p. 66.
32. Freedom from Fear and Other Writings by Aung San Suu Kyi, p. 180.
33. Stop the Next War Now, p. 223-225.
This is a chapter in World Peace Efforts Since Gandhi, which is published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.