Clam International by Anna Gyorgy

Clam International: Inspiration and Solidarity
by Anna Gyorgy

Even before the age of international listserves and multilingual websites, we had  international connections and cooperation, but they were more physical. We went there, they came here, lugging suitcases full of local leaflets and posters to trade. We felt deeply that we needed each other, for information, inspiration, and mutual  support.

The Clamshell Alliance’s strategy of direct action through non-violent site occupation was inspired by local residents living near the small German town of Wyhl on the Rhine River, near the French border. In 1975 their emergency sit-in blocking bulldozers from clearing a planned reactor site turned into an eight-month occupation. The reactor project was delayed, then cancelled. Victory was due to the public opposition which spread from the local community to universities and cities across the country. We were lucky that two western Massachusetts activists visited Wyhl and brought the story back.

Helen Caldicott from Australia informed us of radiation’s health dangers, and the social and ecological costs of uranium mining, fuel processing and waste generation.
Japanese Buddhists joined our protests, making the link between
atomic weapons and power through their country’s history. Activists from France and Germany joined our demonstrations. Anti-nuclear posters from around the world reflected the variety of creative protest. We circulated them around New England as part of our safe energy poster show; they were a strong visual impression of the
international extent of resistance to atomic and support for a solar-based future.

One effect of this international cross-fertilization was that we could counter industry claims that nuclear waste and other aspects of nuclear development were no problem, having long been solved in other countries. We could say: “not true.” And that is still the case.

As in the US, much research was done internationally on the various
long and short-term impacts of atomic energy. There was legal and
direct citizen opposition. And there was research, analysis and
experimentation on the safe alternatives to nuclear power, starting
with use of local resources and conservation and efficiency. The
Austrian historian Robert Jungk in his book “The New Tyranny” showed
how the nuclear establishment wanted us to ‘trade our democratic
freedoms for the illusion of security.’ In accepting the Right
Livelihood award in 1986 he said: …”if the new movements for real
change are going to succeed they will have to turn the ‘longing for a
very different future’ into a loud and powerful ‘YES’.” The
international case for decentralized, democratic alternatives was
powerfully made by the German Green Party co-founder Petra Kelly.

A generation ago already, the accident at the Three Mile Island
nuclear plant in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 seemed to
seal the fate of atomic energy, the so-called “peaceful atom.”
However the nuclear industry is well-funded (with large government
subsidies), well organized and can bide its time. Its members have
spent years working to extend reactor ‘lifetimes’ in the west, sell
reactors to China and other customers in Asia, and build the (false)
case that nuclear power is a solution to global warming.

Meanwhile the links made internationally during the 1870’s and 1980’s
have been carried on by hardy, underfunded souls at the World
Information Service on Energy, among others. See their website at:
http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/ to see the extent of safe energy action
worldwide, in the last century and today.

Anna Gyorgy, Bonn, Germany

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