Clam Magic: The Birth of a National Anti-Nuclear Movement
Article published on 9 June 2014
last modification on 7 December 2023

Über die Kampagne der Clamshell Alliance Ende der 70er Jahre gegen das Atomkraftwerk Seabrook in New Hampshire kamen wichtige Methoden des Zivilen Ungehorsams und des Gewaltfreien Widerstandes auch nach Deutschland.

"Klatschmohn" ,eine Gruppe von TrainerInnen aus Berlin hatte sich ein paar Monate in den USA aufgehalten und dabei Methoden wie das Bezugsgruppen-System mit Sprecherrat und Entscheidungen im Konsens kennengelernt. Mit ihrer Hilfe wurde dies erstmals bei der Vorbereitung und Durchführung des Bohrplatzes 1004, bekannter als "Freie Republik Wendland", angewandt. Im größeren Massstab wurden diese Instrumente demokratischer Willensbildung durch große Zahlen von DemonstrantInnen selbst in Situationen starken Drucks von Seiten der Staatsmacht realisiert und bekannt.

Der Bericht von Al Giordano :

Clam Magic: The Birth of a National Anti-Nuclear Movement

A Chapter from the Oral History of How the No Nukes Movement (1973-1982) Saved the United States and Maybe the World

schildert die Bewegung der Clamshell Alliance sehr anschaulich:

“The year 1973 was the worst year for nuclear power,” Bill McGee, a retired nuclear industry spokesman, told us when he agreed to be interviewed for this book. “It’s just astonishing when you look back on it. When we built the Yankee Atomic plant in Rowe, Massachusetts, in 1960, everybody thought it was a great idea. It was there because Senator Jack Kennedy said, ‘Please build it here.’ Presidents, senators, congressmen, local people—all thought it was great. And we built six other plants. New England had, prior to 1972, seven plants making one third of the electricity in New England. And everybody thought it was a great idea. What happened?”

President Richard Nixon told Americans on April 18 of that year that the US would build 1,000 new nuclear power plants by the year 2000, enough to supply half the nation’s electric power. He gutted environmental and regulatory requirements in order to fast-track their construction. A grateful electric power industry, in turn, doubled down on a nuclear future for the United States.

But from the mountains and seacoasts of New England, the region then most dependent on atomic energy, a movement was born that within a decade would cause the cancellation of the new generation of nuclear plants and begin closing down existing nukes.

Defendant Sam Lovejoy and attorney Tom Lesser at the Franklin County Courthouse, September 1974. Photo courtesy of Green Mountain Post Films.
When the Northeast Utilities Company erected a 500-foot weather tower on the plains of Montague, Massachusetts, in 1973, to collect wind data for the construction of the gigantic cooling towers that would accompany two nuclear power plants, local residents began to organize to stop it. On George Washington’s birthday, February 22, 1974, Sam Lovejoy, a 28-year-old organic farmer, toppled that tower using only a crowbar, and then turned himself in to local police. He represented himself during his trial, with attorney Tom Lesser seated by his side at the defense table. There, he put scientists on the witness stand to tell of the dangers of nuclear radiation, and historian Howard Zinn testified about the history of civil disobedience in America. Lovejoy was found not guilty. His trial took place in the context of a community organizing campaign that turned public opinion against the nukes, notably by opposing the utility company’s planned electric rate hikes for their construction, thus making an environmental issue also an economic one, tactics that forced the company to cancel the plants.

The victory in Western Massachusetts inspired citizens of the Seacoast of New Hampshire to organize their communities against two nukes planned for the town of Seabrook. When, in 1976, the townspeople voted against the plant but the company and state government pushed forward with it anyway, opponents formed a New England–wide organization they called the Clamshell Alliance, and they trained themselves to do acts of civil disobedience to block construction. To participate in the occupations, nonviolence training was a requirement. And every participant had to be part of an “affinity group” of between six and twenty people, which would organize itself autonomously at the local level while adhering to the nonviolence guidelines of the organization. The number of arrests at Seabrook grew rapidly from 18 on August 1, 1976, to 180 three weeks later on August 22,to more than 1,400 the following May 1. Those small steps by a handful of people inspired a national movement not just against nuclear power but also to end the nuclear arms race and the Cold War with it.

Fortsetzung/ continue to read:

Schon seit 1993 liegt eine spannende Studie vor, die ebenfalls sehr zu empfehlen ist
Barbara Epstein : Political Protest and Cultural Revolution
Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s.
Paperback, 332 pages ISBN: 9780520084339

From her perspective as both participant and observer, Barbara Epstein examines the nonviolent direct action movement which, inspired by the civil rights movement, flourished in the United States from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties. Disenchanted with the politics of both the mainstream and the organized left, and deeply committed to forging communities based on shared values, activists in this movement developed a fresh, philosophy and style of politics that shaped the thinking of a new generation of activists. Driven by a vision of an ecologically balanced, nonviolent, egalitarian society, they engaged in political action through affinity groups, made decisions by consensus, and practiced mass civil disobedience.

The nonviolent direct action movement galvanized originally in opposition to nuclear power, with the Clamshell Alliance in New England and then the Abalone Alliance in California leading the way. Its influence soon spread to other activist movements—for peace, non-intervention, ecological preservation, feminism, and gay and lesbian rights.

Epstein joined the San Francisco Bay Area’s Livermore Action Group to protest the arms race and found herself in jail along with a thousand other activists for blocking the road in front of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. She argues that to gain a real understanding of the direct action movement it is necessary to view it from the inside. For with its aim to base society as a whole on principles of egalitarianism and nonviolence, the movement sought to turn political protest into cultural revolution.

See also:

Harvey Wasserman
The Tower that Toppled a Terrible Technology

The Anti-Nuclear Movement of the 1970s

The birth of the No Nukes movement
About nonviolent resistance from Seabrook to Vermont Yankee

Sehr detaillierte Darstellung:

How change comes:
‘To the Village Square’ recounts anti-nuke movement’s beginnings in Franklin County

Legacy of Seabrook nuclear protest debated

Larzac, Wyhl, Brokdorf, Seabrook, Gorleben ...
Grenzüberschreitende Lernprozesse Zivilen Ungehorsams

Zur Studie über Movement for A new Society (MNS): Oppose and propose