An anti-war movement (also antiwar) is a social movement, usually in
opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an
armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term
can also refer to pacifism, which is the opposition to all use of
military force during conflicts. Many activists distinguish between
anti-war movements and peace movements.
Anti-war activists work
through protest and other grassroots means to attempt to pressure a
government (or governments) to put an end to a particular war or
Antiwar rally of schoolchildren in Pilathara, India
1 History of modern movements
1.1 American Revolutionary War
1.2 Antebellum Era United States
1.3 American Civil War
1.4 Second Boer War
1.5 World War I
1.6 Between the World Wars
1.7 World War II
1.8 Vietnam War
1.9 South African Border War
1.10 2001 Afghanistan War
1.12 Possible war against Iran
1.13 War in Donbass
1.14 Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
2 Arts and culture
Anti-war intellectual and scientist-activists and their work
3.1 Philosophical possibility of avoiding war
3.2 Leading scientists and intellectuals
3.3 Manifestos and statements by scientist and intellectual activists
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
History of modern movements
American Revolutionary War
Substantial opposition to British war intervention in America led the
British House of Commons on 27 February 1782 to vote against further
war in America, paving the way for the
Second Rockingham ministry
Second Rockingham ministry and
Peace of Paris.
Antebellum Era United States
Substantial anti-war sentiment developed in the United States during
the period roughly falling between the end of the
War of 1812
War of 1812 and the
commencement of the Civil War, or what is called the antebellum era (A
similar movement developed in
England during the same period). The
movement reflected both strict pacifist and more moderate
non-interventionist positions. Many prominent intellectuals of the
time, including Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (see Civil
William Ellery Channing
William Ellery Channing contributed literary works
against war. Other names associated with the movement include William
Ladd, Noah Worcester,
Thomas Cogswell Upham and Asa Mahan. Many peace
societies were formed throughout the United States, the most prominent
of which being the American
Peace Society. Numerous periodicals (e.g.,
The Advocate of Peace) and books were also produced. The Book of
Peace, an anthology produced by the
American Peace Society
American Peace Society in 1845,
must surely rank as one of the most remarkable works of anti-war
literature ever produced.
A recurring theme in this movement was the call for the establishment
of an international court which would adjudicate disputes between
nations. Another distinct feature of antebellum anti-war literature
was the emphasis on how war contributed to a moral decline and
brutalization of society in general.
American Civil War
Rioters attack federal troops.
Further information: Opposition to the American Civil War
A key event in the early history of the modern anti-war stance in
literature and society was the American Civil War, where it culminated
in the candidacy of George McClellan for President of the United
States as a "
Peace Democrat" against incumbent President Abraham
Lincoln. The outlines of the anti-war stance are seen: the argument
that the costs of maintaining the present conflict are not worth the
gains which can be made, the appeal to end the horrors of war, and the
argument that war is being waged for the profit of particular
interests. During the war, the
New York Draft Riots
New York Draft Riots were started as
violent protests against Abraham Lincoln's Enrollment Act of
Conscription plan to draft men to fight in the war. The outrage over
conscription was augmented by the ability to "buy" your way out; the
amount of which could only be afforded by the wealthy. After the war,
The Red Badge of Courage
The Red Badge of Courage described the chaos and sense of death which
resulted from the changing style of combat: away from the set
engagement, and towards two armies engaging in continuous battle over
a wide area.
Second Boer War
Further information: Opposition to the Second Boer War
William Thomas Stead
William Thomas Stead formed an organization against the Second Boer
War: the Stop the War Committee.
World War I
The Deserter by Boardman Robinson, The Masses, 1916.
Further information: Opposition to World War I
In Britain, in 1914, the Public Schools Officers' Training Corps
annual camp was held at Tidworth Pennings, near Salisbury Plain. Head
of the British Army Lord Kitchener was to review the cadets, but the
immenence of the war prevented him. General
Horace Smith-Dorrien was
sent instead. He surprised the two-or-three thousand cadets by
declaring (in the words of Donald Christopher Smith, a Bermudian cadet
who was present) that war should be avoided at almost any cost, that
war would solve nothing, that the whole of Europe and more besides
would be reduced to ruin, and that the loss of life would be so large
that whole populations would be decimated. In our ignorance I, and
many of us, felt almost ashamed of a British General who uttered such
depressing and unpatriotic sentiments, but during the next four years,
those of us who survived the holocaust-probably not more than
one-quarter of us - learned how right the General's prognosis was and
how courageous he had been to utter it.  Having voiced these
sentiments did not hinder Smith-Dorrien's career, or prevent him from
carrying out his duty in the First World War to the best of his
With the increasing mechanization of war, opposition to its horrors
grew, particularly in the wake of the First World War. European
avant-garde cultural movements such as
Dada were explicitly anti-war.
Espionage Act of 1917
Espionage Act of 1917 and the
Sedition Act of 1918
Sedition Act of 1918 gave the
American authorities the right to close newspapers and jailed
individuals for having anti-war views.
On June 16, 1918,
Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs made an anti-war speech and was
arrested under the Espionage Act of 1917. He was convicted, sentenced
to serve ten years in prison, but President
Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding commuted
his sentence on December 25, 1921.
Between the World Wars
In 1924 Ernst Friedrich published Krieg dem Krieg! (War Against War!):
an album of photographs drawn from German military and medical
archives from the first world war. In On the pain of others Sontag
describes the book as 'photography as shock therapy' that was designed
to 'horrify and demoralize'.
It was in the 1930s that the Western anti-war movement took shape, to
which the political and organizational roots of most of the existing
movement can be traced. Characteristics of the anti-war movement
included opposition to the corporate interests perceived as benefiting
from war, to the status quo which was trading the lives of the young
for the comforts of those who are older, the concept that those who
were drafted were from poor families and would be fighting a war in
place of privileged individuals who were able to avoid the draft and
military service, and to the lack of input in decision making that
those who would die in the conflict would have in deciding to engage
In 1933, the
Oxford Union resolved in its Oxford Pledge, "That this
House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country."
Many war veterans, including US General Smedley Butler, spoke out
against wars and war profiteering on their return to civilian life.
Veterans were still extremely cynical about the motivations for
entering World War I, but many were willing to fight later in the
Spanish Civil War, indicating that pacifism was not always the
motivation. These trends were depicted in novels such as All Quiet on
the Western Front,
For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls and Johnny Got His Gun.
World War II
Protest at the White House by the American
Further information: Opposition to World War II
Opposition to World War II
Opposition to World War II was most vocal during its early period, and
stronger still before it started while appeasement and isolationism
were considered viable diplomatic options. Communist-led
organizations, including veterans of the Spanish Civil War, opposed
the war during the period of the
Hitler-Stalin pact but then turned
into hawks after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
The war seemed, for a time, to set anti-war movements at a distinct
social disadvantage; very few, mostly ardent pacifists, continued to
argue against the war and its results at the time. However, the Cold
War followed with the post-war realignment, and the opposition
resumed. The grim realities of modern combat, and the nature of
mechanized society ensured that the anti-war viewpoint found
presentation in Catch-22,
Slaughterhouse-Five and The Tin Drum. This
sentiment grew in strength as the
Cold War seemed to present the
situation of an unending series of conflicts, which were fought at
terrible cost to the younger generations.
Further information: Opposition to the Vietnam War
U.S. Marshals arresting a
Vietnam War protester in Washington, D.C.,
Organized opposition to U.S. involvement in the
Vietnam War began
slowly and in small numbers in 1964 on various college campuses in the
United States and quickly as the war grew deadlier. In 1967 a
coalition of antiwar activists formed the National Mobilization
Committee to End the War in Vietnam which organized several large
anti-war demonstrations between the late-1960s and 1972.
Counter-cultural songs, organizations, plays and other literary works
encouraged a spirit of nonconformism, peace, and
anti-establishmentarianism. This anti-war sentiment developed during a
time of unprecedented student activism and right on the heels of the
Civil Rights Movement, and was reinforced in numbers by the
demographically significant baby boomers. It quickly grew to include a
wide and varied cross-section of Americans from all walks of life. The
anti-Vietnam war movement is often considered to have been a major
factor affecting America's involvement in the war itself. Many Vietnam
veterans, including the former Secretary of State and former U.S.
John Kerry and disabled veteran Ron Kovic, spoke out against
Vietnam War on their return to the United States.
South African Border War
Main article: South African resistance to war
Opposition to the
South African Border War
South African Border War spread to a general
resistance to the apartheid military. Organizations such as the End
Conscription Campaign and Committee on South African War Resisters,
were set up. Many opposed the war at this time.
2001 Afghanistan War
Further information: Opposition to the 2001 Afghanistan War
There was initially little opposition to the 2001 Afghanistan War in
the United States and the United Kingdom, which was seen as a response
to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was supported by a
majority of the American public. Most vocal opposition came from
pacifist groups and groups promoting a leftist political agenda; in
the United States, the group
A.N.S.W.E.R. was one of the most visible
organizers of anti-war protests, although that group faced
considerable controversy over allegations it was a front for the
extremist Stalinist Workers World Party. Over time, opposition to the
war in Afghanistan has grown more widespread, partly as a result of
weariness with the length of the conflict, and partly as a result of a
conflating of the conflict with the unpopular war in Iraq.
Further information: Opposition to the
Anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., March 15, 2003
Thomas on the White House
The anti-war position gained renewed support and attention in the
buildup to the
2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and its allies.
Millions of people staged mass protests across the world in the
immediate prelude to the invasion, and demonstrations and other forms
of anti-war activism have continued throughout the occupation. The
primary opposition within the U.S. to the continued occupation of Iraq
has come from the grassroots. Opposition to the conflict, how it had
been fought, and complications during the aftermath period divided
public sentiment in the U.S., resulting in majority public opinion
turning against the war for the first time in the spring of 2004, a
turn which has held since. Many American writers against the war,
like Naomi Wolf, were labeled conspiratorial due to their opposition,
with others choosing to post their anti-war writings anonymously, such
as the anonymous conspiracy author Sorcha Faal. The financial website
Zero Hedge offered its anti-war writers the protection of the
anonymous pseudonym Tyler Durden for those exposing war profiteering.
The American country music band
Dixie Chicks opposition to the war
caused many radio stations to stop playing their records, but who were
supported in their anti-war stance by the equally anti-war country
music legend Merle Haggard, who in the summer of 2003 released a song
critical of US media coverage of the
protested during both the Democratic National Convention and 2008
Republican National Convention protests held in St. Paul,
Possible war against Iran
Further information: Opposition to war against Iran
Organised opposition to a possible future military attack against Iran
by the United States is known to have started during 2005-2006.
Beginning in early 2005, journalists, activists and academics such as
Seymour Hersh, Scott Ritter, Joseph Cirincione and Jorge
E. Hirsch began publishing claims that United States' concerns
over the alleged threat posed by the possibility that
Iran may have a
nuclear weapons program might lead the US government to take military
action against that country in the future. These reports, and the
concurrent escalation of tensions between
Iran and some Western
governments, prompted the formation of grassroots organisations,
including Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran
in the US and the United Kingdom, to advocate against potential
military strikes on Iran. Additionally, several individuals,
grassroots organisations and international governmental organisations,
including the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy
Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, a former United Nations weapons
inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter,
Nobel Prize winners including
Shirin Ebadi, Mairead Corrigan-Maguire and Betty Williams, Harold
Pinter and Jody Williams, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament,
Code Pink, the Non-Aligned Movement of 118 states, and the
Arab League, have publicly stated their opposition to a would-be
attack on Iran.
War in Donbass
Main article: 2014 anti-war protests in Russia
Anti-war/Putin demonstration in Moscow, 21 September 2014
Anti-war/Putin demonstrations took place in
Moscow "opposing the War
in Donbass", i.e., in the Eastern Ukraine.
Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Main article: Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen
Protest against U.S. involvement in the Saudi Arabian-led intervention
in Yemen, New York City, 2017
Arts and culture
See also: List of books with anti-war themes
English poet Robert Southey's 1796 poem
After Blenheim is an early
modern example of anti-war literature — it was written generations
after the Battle of Blenheim, but at a time when
England was again at
war with France.
World War I
World War I produced a generation of poets and writers influenced by
their experiences in the war. The work of poets including Wilfred Owen
Siegfried Sassoon exposed the contrast between the realities of
life in the trenches and how the war was seen by the British public at
the time, as well as the earlier patriotic verse penned by Rupert
Brooke. German writer
Erich Maria Remarque
Erich Maria Remarque penned All Quiet on the
Western Front, which, having been adapted for several mediums, has
become of the most often cited pieces of anti-war media.
Pablo Picasso's 1937 painting Guernica, on the other hand, used
abstraction rather than realism to generate an emotional response to
the loss of life from the fascist bombing of Guernica during the
Spanish Civil War. American author
Kurt Vonnegut used science fiction
themes in his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five, depicting the bombing of
World War II
World War II (which Vonnegut witnessed).
The second half of the 20th century also witnessed a strong anti-war
presence in other art forms, including anti-war music such as "Eve of
One Tin Soldier
One Tin Soldier and films such as M*A*S*H and Die
Brücke, opposing the
Cold War in general, or specific conflicts such
as the Vietnam War. The current American war in
Iraq has also
generated significant artistic anti-war works, including filmmaker
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, which holds the box-office record for
documentary films, and Canadian musician Neil Young's 2006 album
Living with War.
Anti-war intellectual and scientist-activists and their work
Various people have discussed the philosophical question of whether
war is inevitable, and how much it can be avoided, as well as how this
can be achieved i.e. what are the necessities of peace. Various people
have discussed it from an intellectual and philosophical point of
view. Various intellectuals not only have discussed in public but have
participated or led anti-war campaigns despite it is different to
their main areas of expertise. They went out of their professional
comfort zone to warn against or fight against wars.
Philosophical possibility of avoiding war
Immanuel Kant: In (1795) "Perpetual Peace" ("Zum ewigen
Immanuel Kant booklet on "Perpetual Peace" in 1795.
Politically, Kant was one of the earliest exponents of the idea that
perpetual peace could be secured through universal democracy and
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel suggests, war can never be ruled out, as
one can never know when or if one will occur. However, A peaceful
revolution is also possible according to Hegel when the changes
required to solve the crisis are ascertained by thoughtful insight and
when this insight spreads throughout the body politic. (See
Hegelianism) Some people claim that Hegel glorified war, this is
disputed heavily. This claim has always been based on interpretations
only. Hegel's views are often mistaken with the characters of his
books, who are the subjects in history.
Leading scientists and intellectuals
Here is a list of people who outside this field have authority and
used their influence and intellectual rigor favour of in the cause of
enlightening against the warmongers.
Linus Pauling was awarded the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize for his peace activism
(his second nobel prize). circulated multiple petitions among
Sigmond Freud and
Albert Einstein had correspondences on violence,
peace, and human nature.
Bertrand Russell mostly was a prominent anti-war activist; he
championed anti-imperialism. Occasionally, he advocated
preventive nuclear war, before the opportunity provided by the atomic
monopoly is gone, and "welcomed with enthusiasm" world government.
He went to prison for his pacifism during World War I. Later, he
campaigned against Adolf Hitler, then criticised Stalinist
totalitarianism, attacked the involvement of the United States in the
Vietnam War, and was an outspoken proponent of nuclear
disarmament. In 1950 Russell was awarded the
Nobel Prize in
Literature "in recognition of his varied and significant writings in
which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of
Manifestos and statements by scientist and intellectual
Bertrand Russell and eight other leading scientists and
intellectuals signed the Russell-
Einstein Manifesto issued July 9,
Mainau Declaration of July 15, 1955 was signed by 52 Nobel Prize
The Dubrovnik-Philadelphia Statement of 1974/1976. was signed by
Linus Pauling and others.
List of anti-war organizations
List of anti-war songs
List of peace activists
Swords to ploughshares
War Against War
War Is a Racket
Women Against War
^ Beckwith, George (ed), The Book of Peace. American
^ Merely For the Record: The Memoirs of Donald Christopher Smith
1894-1980. By Donald Christopher Smith. Edited by John William Cox,
^ Volunteer for Liberty Archived 2006-12-06 at the Wayback Machine.,
newsletter of the
Abraham Lincoln Brigade, February 1941, Volume III,
^ "CNN Poll: Support for Afghanistan war at all time low".
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Seymour M. Hersh
Seymour M. Hersh (January 24, 2005). "Annals of National Security:
The Coming Wars". The New Yorker.
Iran plans, Seymour Hersh,
The New Yorker
The New Yorker Mag., April 8, 2006
^ a b Sleepwalking To Disaster In
Iran Archived 2007-03-17 at the
Wayback Machine., April 1, 2005, Scott Ritter
^ Fool Me Twice, March 27, 2006, Joseph Cirincione, Foreign Policy
^ Hirsch, Jorge (2005-11-01). "The Real Reason for Nuking Iran: Why a
nuclear attack is on the neocon agenda". antiwar.com.
^ Heinrich, Mark; Karin Strohecker (2007-06-14). "IAEA urges Iran
compromise to avert conflict". Reuters. Retrieved 2007-06-21.
^ a b "For a Middle East free of all Weapons of Mass Destruction".
Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran.
2007-08-06. Retrieved 2007-11-03.
^ Knowlton, Brian (2007-09-21). "Kouchner, French foreign minister,
draws antiwar protesters in Washington". The New York Times. Retrieved
Non-Aligned Movement (2006-05-30). "NAM Coordinating Bureau's
statement on Iran's nuclear issue". globalsecurity.org. Retrieved
^ "Immanuel Kant, "Perpetual Peace"". Mtholyoke.edu. Retrieved 24 July
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Bennett. 2010–2015 
^ "Immanuel Kant: Zum ewigen Frieden, 12.02.2004 (Friedensratschlag)".
Uni-kassel.de. Retrieved 24 July 2009.
^ Hegel's Views on War H. G. ten Bruggencate The Philosophical
Quarterly (1950-) Vol. 1, No. 1 (Oct., 1950), pp. 58-60
Hegel on War Constance I. Smith Journal of the History of Ideas Vol.
26, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1965), pp. 282-285
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of Temporal Things: Hegel and the Ethics of War Andrew Fiala
(California State University, Fresno) (Published February, 2006)
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^ WAR AND PERPETUAL PEACE: HEGEL, KANT AND CONTEMPORARY WARS MARIA DE
LOURDES ALVES BORGES Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil)
^ Tyler, Colin (2004). "Hegel, war and the tragedy of imperialism".
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^ Richard Rempel (1979). "From Imperialism to Free Trade: Couturat,
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atomic age : in memory of Albert Einstein, Max von Laue, Otto
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Farrar Jr, Lancelot L. Divide and Conquer: German Efforts to Conclude
a Separate Peace, 1914–1918 (London: East European Quarterly, 1978).
Jarausch, Konrad H. "Armageddon Revisited:
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Patler, Nicholas. Norman's Triumph: the Transcendent Language of
Self-Immolation Quaker History, Fall 2105, 18-39.
Patterson, David S. The Search for Negotiated Peace: Women's Activism
and Citizen Diplomacy in
World War I
World War I (Routledge. 2008)
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Essays and speeches from the Antebellum Era peace movement
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Soviet influence on the peace movement
International Day of Non-Violence
International Day of Peace
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List of places named Peace
"Make love, not war"
Monuments and memorials
Promoting Enduring Peace
Opposition to or
aspects of war
American Civil War
Military action in Iran
Military intervention in Libya
Second Boer War
Sri Lankan Civil War
War of 1812
War on Terror
World War I
World War II