Campaign for Peace and Democracy Left Forum Panel New York City – March 17, 2012
" What Are the Lessons of 1989's East European
Transformations Today? "
Panelists: Joanne Landy, Jan Kavan, Antonio Morandi
Moderator: Thomas Harrison
INTRODUCTION BY THOMAS HARRISON
Can be seen at
First, let me say a few words about the Campaign. We started out in 1982 as the Campaign for Peace and Democracy East and West. We were inspired by the simultaneous emergence of Solidarity, the independent trade union movement in Poland, and the mass opposition to nuclear weapons represented by the Freeze movement in the U.S. and END — European Nuclear Disarmament — which protested NATO deployment of new missiles in Europe.
The Campaign formed around the idea of détente from below, a phrase coined by the British historian and leader of END, E.P. Thompson. At that time, it meant promoting political independence from both Cold War blocs, by bringing together grassroots movements for peace, human rights and social justice on both sides of the Cold War divide. So, for example, we organized campaigns to enlist dissidents in the Soviet bloc to oppose Reagan administration policy in Central and South America – and we got Western anti–intervention activists to support struggles for democratic rights in the USSR and the other nations of the Warsaw Pact.
Our friends were in Polish Solidarity, Charter 77, the West German Greens, the East German peace movement. They included Jan here, as well as many who played important roles in the Revolutions of 1989.
Of course in 1989 we welcomed the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War. But what we hoped was that Communism would be succeeded by the radical democracy that was always implicit in the long, courageous struggles of Polish Solidarity and human rights groups such as Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia. Instead, as we know, the former Soviet Bloc very quickly fell under the sway of a savage shock–therapy capitalism and a servile allegiance to the imperial power of the US and NATO.