Why Movements Matter

Why Movements Matter,” [PDF], American Journal of Sociology, vol. 108, no. 2 (September 2002), pp. 509-10. (Review of Steve Breyman, Why Movements Matter: The West German Peace Movement and U.S. Arms Control Policy.)

In the early 1980s a trans-Atlantic antinuclear movement consisting of millions of protestors emerged seemingly out of nowhere to threaten the prerogatives of power. In Europe this took the form of massive protests against the deployment of Euromissiles—intermediate-range nuclear missiles placed on European soil. In the United States there arose the nuclear freeze movement, aimed at stopping the escalation of U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons. It is often claimed that both wings of this trans-Atlantic antinuclear movement failed. The European antimissile movement was unable to prevent the deployment of Pershing 2 and cruise missiles in Europe. Likewise the nuclear freeze movement in the United States did not stop the Reagan administration (its main political target) from escalating its nuclear arms race with the “evil empire.”

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