Pacifism: History, Successes and Perspectives

A recent trend in European historiography tends to describe Europe in the 20th century as the “dark continent” that has, according to Hobsbawn, “lived and thought in terms of worldwide war, even when guns were quiet and bombs were not exploding”. However, this tragic and violent interpretation of our history hides the dreams of peace and liberty - carried by men like Henri Lafontaine and many others - which strongly influenced our history. Even if a realistic appraisal of European history suggests peace movements have never been able to stop or prevent any war, they are an essential part of the process by which the paradigms and strategies of foreign policy change and become accountable. This paper shows that, even though pacifists may get frustrated in the pursuit of short-term political objectives, they are essential to influence social change over the long haul.