(NB: Readers in Hungary and Germany should be aware that some content in this post is technically illegal in your country. We won’t be offended if you toddle off this week.)
People have been making wars for a very long time. A very very long time. Looking back in history it seems fairly likely that it took about ten minutes of living together for the first humans to have a fight amongst the town, and I imagine it took about two weeks of discovering that there were other human collectives for war to break out amongst our forebears. We are, despite being very social creatures, really rather bad at living together. Which is unfortunate since we have just the one planet, and an awful lot of modern warfare shows promise of taking out half of it. Thus for as long as there have been those fueled by testosterone, lust for power and righteous anger fighting each other, there have been other humans trying to temper the whole thing.
Pacifism, the peace movement and anti-militarism have long histories. Though they sound like the same thing, they come from very different ethical and philosophical positions. The peace movement is most likely what people picture when discussing peace, pacifism or conscientious objection.
In the UK it is often related to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. As their name suggests CND are primarily interested in removing nuclear weaponry such as Trident and those mysterious weapons of mass destruction. A product of the late fifties they are heftily associated with socialist politics (indeed they have branches for Labour, and Trade Union) and more obviously Christianity (the CCND). They also have a specfic group for former service people…nothing like war to make you like peace.
Where pacifism and the peace movement are generally opposed to war for its destructive processes (though this does not mean pacifists are necessarily opposed to violence) anti-militarism is generally opposed to war as a mechanism of state. Anti-militarists do not necessarily dislike the whole killing people business, they just oppose the government making that decision. Like pacifism it is more popularly associated with the left hand side of the political stage, particularly Marxism, the military and police being particularly handy tools of the state to go about opressing and all. However, both pacifism and anti-militarianism have just as much popularity of the right hand side of the political spectrum, and the no particular hand side.
In the UK peace is often related to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, not least because CNDs logo has come to represent the whole peace movement. And that symbol, which is so clearly associated with peace campaigns mades its public debut 54 years ago today. It is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world; certainly the western world.
Apparently if you move your arms in the directions of the lines (sequentially of course, unless you are an octopus) you spell out CND
The power of CNDs symbol takes them strangely close to the organisations that they would least like to be associated with. For the logo is one of the most powerful propaganda tools any army has.
At some point every middle class dinner party has played host to someone explaining in detail the “irony of the German National Socialists choosing the swastika as a symbol” when it comes from Indian cultural traditions (said guest will then move onto the theft of the term Aryan too usually). Though its not really ironic, the Nazis really only would have had an issue with Indians if they were in Germany…
The symbol of Nazism is so powerful that it has been banned in much of Europe, but it isn’t the only powerful political symbol…
So now it’s time for a quiz…just for fun, you win the satisfaction of being a smarty pants…
Three skulls and crossbones, but three very different organisations…who are they?
Two birds…but which bush does each live in?
All contain weapons, but who is using them for what?
Sometimes simple is best…
Finally…who likes the sharp crescent shapes…?
Have you, particularly those of you who play in 6mm scale and similarly tiny little chap sizes, ever selected an army based on how identifiable their logo is? Do you have a favourite symbol?
Answers And Picture Credits (Highlight from X to X to read) X
1. Queens’ Royal Lancers (17th), 3rd SS Division, US Marines 2nd Reconnaisance Batallion
2. Peace dove, Facist Eagle/Roman Aquila ( Picture by R-41 )
4. communism and socialism, Anarchism, Pax cultura Movement (Peace movement focussed on protecting cultural artefacts in war)
5. United States Marine Corps, Communism/Soviet countries X