E.P. Thompson and European Nuclear Disarmament (END) : a critical retrospective

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


One of the more bewildering aspects of modern times is the speed with which the recent past is consigned to ancient history. The Cold War - a concept that must now be patiently explained to puzzled undergraduate students of politics - is little more than a decade away, yet already it seems to have assumed the status of a glacial age. Moreover, it is not only the Cold War that is becoming a distant memory. So too are the social movements and political organizations that sought to confront it. In this essay in political retrieval, I reexamine critically the programme of one such organization whose twentieth anniversary coincides with the millennium: European Nuclear Disarmament (END). Today, END offers the political scientist a case study of the relationship between ideas and politics and offers the citizen a chance to reflect on an area - foreign and security policy - far removed from everyday experience. I begin by locating the origins and rationale of END, and then proceed to reconstruct the theory of the Cold War that informed its activity. Since this theory was most powerfully formulated by E. P. Thompson - a founding member of END and, at least initially, its most influential voice - I give his version pride of place. Next, I deal with END's wider 'dealignment' strategy to advance beyond the Cold War and with the many criticisms to which it was subjected. A final section seeks to assess END's significance in the events of 1989, which signalled the collapse of the geo-political system END had been forged to oppose and of END itself soon afterwards.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution
Issue number2.5/3.1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes


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