Mothers of the Revolution: Former Soviet Leader
The history books attribute to the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev the end of the Cold War and the movements towards democracy and freedom of the press, which led to the collapse of the USSR. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding role in the peace process.”Credit is also given to US President Ronald Reagan, since many historians believe that his escalation of defense spending and harsh speeches — he called the USSR an”evil empire” — put unbearable pressure on the Soviet economy. But when Gorbachev was asked what enabled him to trust Reagan enough to lead peace talks, he gave credit to a group not mentioned in the history books or recognized in Oslo: the women’s peace camp at Greenham Common in the United Kingdom.
Media and historians focus on the stories of powerful individual heroes and villains because it’s easier, and perhaps because we imagine that we can bring about change by getting up at the right time. But as anthropologist Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and dedicated citizens can change the world; in fact, it is the only thing that has ever existed.””Mothers of the Revolution” is the story of one of those groups that Gorbachev gratefully recognized, and it is a welcome and long-awaited opportunity to recognize their contribution.
Peace began in 1981, when 96 American Tomahawk cruise projectiles were sent to Greenham Common Air Force base in the south-east of England. Each was four times more powerful than the boom dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. They were part of a critical national defense and security strategy called mutual annihilation. The idea is that the best deterrent to the use of weapons of mass destruction is to ensure that they are also finished when a country uses them. Dr. The acronym Strangelove-esque is CRAZY, originally intended to be ironic when it was first used by military analyst Donald Brennan, but after adopted as a legitimate policy.
The opposite against the Tomahawk projectiles in particular and nuclear accumulation in general began with a small group of mothers in Wales who decided to organize a march to Greenham Common. You covered 120 miles in 10 days. In the beginning, they didn’t have much influence. The headlines of the time were more about the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer and the birth of a panda baby. Hilariously, when they showed up at the base, they were taken for a cleaning team. They were inexperienced. “I was out of my comfort zone,” it says. “I had never done anything political.”They invented it when they left.
The first indicator that they had some support was when they made a call for a demonstration “Embrace the grassroots,” a “crazy and bold idea,” with enough women to surround the entire facility. That was long before social media, before mobile phones. But they had the floor and 35,000 women tied their hands and surrounded the base. And then they had another crazy and bold idea: “I think we should go to Russia.”It was risky for them and more risky for the women’s group in the USSR calling for disarmament. But while world leaders, especially Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, used extreme rhetoric about the USSR, and the Doomsday clock was approaching midnight, the women of Greenham Common “took a more nuanced view.”
They had this nuanced view for almost 20 years, during the arrival of the projectiles and after their withdrawal and the return of the land to the community. There will be a memorial in the Women’s Camp for Peace.
Lady Glenda Jackson, a two-time Oscar winner and former MP, delivers the film’s fine, sometimes moving narrative. But it is the voices of the women themselves, in some archival images and contemporary interviews, that are the focus of the film. Their voices are steady as they remember the challenges of the campground, from seize and police brutality to the heartbreaking decision to leave custody of their children to others as they action for a world where these children can grow up safely. They talk about how challenging expectations by working for change in the world has opened up new ways to change in your own life.
However, some re-creations in the documentary oscillate between superfluous and distracting; they do not approach the mere dignity and the immeasurable courage of women.
There are dozens of illuminating little details and surprising appearances in the film, especially in the credits, when the peace camp is linked to today’s opposites by the likes of Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg. “Mothers of the Revolution” reminds us to appreciate all those whose dedication and courage are too rarely recognized.