The belief that war could be abolished became a permanent feature of British political debate by the mid-19th century and remained influential within progressive politics well into the 20th century. The activists who campaigned for its acceptance comprised the peace movement in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. This book examines the outlook and activities of the most important peace associations which operated from 1870 to 1914. The ideological configuration of the peace movement (including non-specialised campaigning — by Radical Liberals and the Labour Party, for instance) is also discussed. The peace societies in fact provide an ideal starting point for such an analysis because it was at their level that the ideas and dilemmas of the peace movement were most thoroughly discussed. The terms ‘pacifism’ and ‘pacific-ism’ are also considered. The chapter concludes by arguing that most historians did not fully understood the reaction of peace activists to World War I.
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