(2001) 'Anti-nuclear Movements: Failed Projects or Heralds of
a Direct Action Milieu?'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 6, no. 3, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/6/3/welsh.html>
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Received: 7/2/2001 Accepted: 30/11/2001 Published: 30/11/2001
National Direct Action Coalition of autonomous local groups
|Stop Torness by all Non-violent means necessary.||400 groups inc. peace, anarchist, separatist, liberal, students, counter culture, SWP.||Consensus|
Resource Group (NARG) National journal and resource group.
|Promote and report non- violence||Pacifists -' young', |
Global 'experts' via presence at Seabrook USA, Whyl Germany etc.
|Full time Occupiers |
Of reactor site cottage and founders of Dunbar Outreach Office. Full time activists
|Stop Torness, live a non-violent life style (inc. non-sexist practices)||Predominantly Women, children, few men, feminist.||Consensus|
National i.e. Scottish SMO
|Stop nuclear power & Torness. Maintain SMO status.||Circa 8 full time volunteer workers + membership||Consensus at public meeting|
|1978 May||First Occupation of the Torness Point Reactor Site||SCRAM / Torness Alliance (TA) founded|
|1978 July & August||Non-violent Direct Action Training Schools held by Peace and Conflict Research, Lancaster||Peace and Conflict Research Staff, Direct Action Trainers from Seabrook USA, UK nvda trainers, Peace News. Participants in May 1978 occupation at Torness from NW England, Nth Wales, SW England, Scotland.|
|1978 September||Half Moon Cottage Occupied by Torness Alliance Members||Key individuals from NVDA Summer Schools and members of TA|
|1978 November||Half Moon Cottage bulldozed into North Sea following BBC Scotland Open Door broadcast. Mass Direct Action on reactor site mobilized using TA 'telephone tree'. Activists shift focus to Dunbar Campaign Office.||SSEB, Contractors members of TA, Lothian & Borders
Torness Alliance Groups, London Greenpeace, Socialist Workers Party, Anarchist, Pacifist, Environmental and Direct Action Groups.
|1979 May||Mass Direct Action on Torness Site Called, focusing on a festival site and mass occupation of construction site.||Torness Alliance, SCRAM, London Greenpeace, Socialist Workers Party, Anarchist, Pacifist, Environmental and Direct Action groups.|
|1980 May||Attempted Third Occupation of Torness Point Reactor Site. Activists outnumbered by police.||Torness Alliance, Anarchist and Direct Action Groups.|
This is a chance to actually do something to show my opposition to nuclear power and all it stands for (Milkman' interview with author 15.8.81).
This is a once in a lifetime occurrence and you have got to do your bit, the opportunity will probably never arise again . . . I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. (Smallholder interview with author 15.8.81)
We wanted this to be a protest not only over nuclear power as a technology but also over the abuse of democracy. (Full-time local activist interview with author 14.8.1986)
First, they took away the Communists and Jehovah's Witnesses, but I was not a Communist or Jehovah's Witness so I did nothing. Then they took away all the Trade Unionists, but I was not a Trade Unionist so I did nothing. Then they took away all the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did nothing. Then they came and arrested me and there was no one left to do anything. John Alderson Broadcast on BBC South West, 9.10.81.
I've never had particularly strong views about anything before. Its' quite good, for once I know the way I feel and I'll do whatever I can about it.
I'm absolutely amazed and shattered by just how difficult it is to fight the establishment. I mean I have no doubts now ... I know that they classed us - say as troublemaker, communist, anti-establishment, subversive. And I know, like all people that are branded that way . . . that you are not, you are doing something that you believe in very much.
As soon as you start to challenge the establishment you are branded and I think there is very little you can do about it. I think you just have to be strong and carry on.
that's another thing you lose confidence in once you start reading about inquiries. It really shatters you when you think about democracy. You become, I think, anti-establishment, they force you that way. (Interview with author 14.4.81).
I sometimes think that, despite all the direct action, all the law breaking, all the arrests, we were not tough enough. We were just a matter of a few years, maybe only a few months, ahead of public opinion. If we had found the strength and energy to persist with serious direct action after the 1979 gathering, if we had found more ways of preventing work on the site, could we have forced a longer delay, long enough to lead to cancellation? (Edwards 1994:12).
This is why you don't work from the inside because you work - you know - if you work from the outside you can start now rather than waiting for your twenty years of apprenticeship. You start now and your effect is huge so you ask for revolution now and what they give you is the compromise that you would have got twenty years later if you worked from within. Twenty years later they might have started taking the formation seriously. We start doing this now; they do it straight away. (Interview 'A', ESRC Grant R000223486, 'Towards an Evidence Based Approach to Global Social Movement: The Prague IMF Action')
2 Here I am differentiating between the mass Aldermaston Marches and non-violent direct action that unmistakably breached the limits of the system such as the sit down protests of the 'Committee of 100' that resulted in the imprisonment of high profile members of this select group.
3I am grateful to Alex Plows, Sociology Dept., University of Wales, Bangor, for supplying me with copies of the newssheets 'Sometimes' and 'The Pipes of Pan' that circulated such material in North Wales at this time illustrating the importance of such network multipliers.
4 In the mid 1990s Derek Wall found similar processes operating amongst councillors confronted with controversial road developments. Childhood memories were also given as an explanation for the initial activism of one of the founding members of UK Earth First! (see Wall 1999).
5 The presence of the editorial office of The Ecologist in the nearby village of Camel ford was significant in beginning the direct action with Teddy Goldsmith setting up his office in a field entrance. This initiative was quickly taken over by a range of local people.
6The idea of an engaged actor is used by Touraine (1995) amongst others to differentiate between individuals and those actively engaged in a conflict. The distinction has parallels with the difference between reflexivity and reflection in theories of reflexive modernisation (Lash, Beck & Giddens 1994).
7 This is not to overlook the continuing role of critical expertise, SMO and union involvement in this process. It is interesting to note the role played by local print media in this example, something that studies based on national press sampling cannot easily access (see Kreisi 1995).
8 Localities that have experienced the premature closure of prestige factories built via inward investment in South Wales and the North East represent one example. Farming communities challenged by BSE, milk and livestock price collapses, and changing subsidy practices is another. According to Tony Blair, unstoppable global restructuring resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs in the steel industry including the end of steel production at Llanwern. Local sources claim that a buyer existed for the furnaces at the plant but Corus did not want to sell to a competitor.
9 The erosion of the original Kyoto climate change protocols during the process of ratification stands as a stark example here. American intransigence and refusal to compromise a way of life with the highest per capita energy use of any society reinforces the sense of urgency amongst activist groups producing further innovations in means of intervention.
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