Issues around energy and peace between nations (or even the existence of nation states) have always been an important part of the Eco-Green movement.

resurgence 001 1966 05ecologist 001 1970 07Both Nuclear (power and weapons) and Peace concerns were essential elements of the precursors to the founding of the political green movement. For example the very first issue of Resurgence in May 1966 carried feature articles on Vietnam, Frodsham Peace Action Centre, War Resisters International, and Aldermaston. Satish Kumar, who took, over as editor in 1970, had made his name as a peace activist in 1962 by walking from India to Moscow, Paris, London and Washington (the then "nuclear" capitals) and speaking with the leaders of those nations on the need for detente and peace between nations.

The first issue of the Ecologist in July 1970 carried a major article by Peter Bunyard entitled "Is there a Peaceful Atom?" delving into environmental issues around nuclear power. The Ecologist continued to focus on both energy and peace issues for the next three decades. 

When "Blueprint for Survival" was published in The Ecologist January 1972 it was clear on the need to pursue policies of sustainability, and that nuclear power and nuclear weapons had no part in this future. Whilst it didn't directly address issues of international relations and the role of defence forces and spending, the background feeling was that the power of what was then called "the Military Industrial Complex" (MIC) was a corrosive factor in human societies.

micThe phrase "Military Industrial Complex" had been first articulated back in 1961 by outgoing president (of the USA) Dwight D Eisenhower in his farewell address to the nation. He trenchantly warned of the rising power of the MIC and urged his successors, and the nation as a whole, to guard against this danger. By the time of the major protests against the Vietnam war in the USA in the late 60's it was very clear to the activists and the wider "alternative" movement that Eisenhower had been absolutely right. 

volunteersAlready at that time America (or "Amerika") was seen by a wide section of young civil society both in the USA and across Europe as becoming a dangerous and destabilising Imperial force in the world. These were the people who went on to found the eco-green movement and organisations. Whilst their main focus had shifted to environmental issues, there was a deeply rooted understanding that, in the alternative new world order of a sustainable society, neither nuclear power nor nuclear weapons would have a role. 

On the peace front, and especially the issue of nuclear weapons, CND had led the way in the second half of the 20th Century. It had been founded in February 1958. During the late '50's and early '60s it grew rapidly, but by the end of the '60s it had somewhat faded as the focus of popular protest in the West moved to the Vietnam war and the alternative counter-culture spawned the rising ecological/green movement. By the late 70's, when the deployment of nuclear cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe was proposed by the USA, CND was ripe for a revival, and the Ecology Party was in the forefront of that revival.

pv bh0001 EcologyPartyMfSS1978The Ecology Party in the UK was absolutely clear on these points. Its 1978 (first edition) of the Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS) said that nuclear weapons should be unilaterally phased out and diplomacy should focus on removing them from the face of the earth. Nuclear power was not sustainable - the ecological hazards of resource extraction to build and fuel the stations and the long term environmental effects of the waste products did not warrant the short term gain in terms of energy production without apparent global warming impact at the point of generation. Better solutions were already available.

At this stage no explicit mention was made of NATO but the calls for the closure of all foreign (ie US) bases on UK soil as well as the unilateral disarmament (which went further than simply nuclear weapons - the call was for the removal of all offensive capability) make it clear that NATO and its like, even in one of the heights of cold-war tensions, was seen as a problem not a solution.

The increasing focus within the Ecology Party on pursuing electoral success did not preclude many members from engaging with non-violent direct action and other forms of non-electoral activity in pursuit of broad ecological aims.

One of the strongest early examples of this was the creation of an Ecology Party CND group (later Green CND) as a wing of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The announcement of the intention to deploy US nuclear ground launched cruise missiles at two bases (Greenham and Molesworth) in the UK led directly to the formation of Green CND as a specialist section of CND "which aims to build links with the wider Green movement”.

Green CND published a duplicated newssheet called "Peace Talk"[1] to distribute around the many different peace camps that had been set up around the UK. The intention was to share news and to develop networking between the groups, and distribution was wider than just the camps.

pv dt0001 EmbraceTheEarth GreenCND 1983Many of those involved were Ecology Party members. In 1983 "Embrace the Earth, A Green View of Peace" was published. This made explicit the links between nuclear weapons, 'civil' nuclear power, the permanent arms economy, the pursuit of growth and the limits to growth, the politics of peace, the need for a holistic approach to peace and the wider green movement.

At the time there was something of a gulf between the more anarchist/green-inclined grassroots activists of the peace movement, setting the agenda with camps outside military bases, and the CND hierarchy which included many Labour and Communist party members. Being an official specialist section of CND, Green CND was something of a bridge between these two ends of the peace movement.

During 1982 and 1983 most attention was on Greenham Common where a Peace Camp had been established in Sept 1981 and several mass protests took place. Green CND was active in promoting and taking part in these protests. A smaller camp had also been established at Molesworth, this was evicted during 1983 and then re-formed.

It is also worth adding that Green CND was not just anti-nuclear. They had an anti-militarist, pro-OSCE approach (Embrace the Earth covers much of it) and shared most of the philosophy of WRI and Peace News, the magazine of nonviolent revolution. Nonviolence starts with the individual, and in our relationships and way of life. That was where the work had to begin.

In 1982 the Green Collective and Green CND planned a small green gathering at USAF Greenham Common but didn't put a whole lot of work into it. They expected just a small gathering. In the event, however, various members and supporters at Stonehenge Festival persuaded that year's festival convoy to head for Greenham, once Stonehenge was over at the end of June. To pass the word around site a stencil with the words 'Peace Convoy' was used on vehicles.

The Gathering was planned to run over July 4th, American Independence Day. They wanted to use the occasion to declare their independence from the US. The dates coincided neatly with the end of Stonehenge and that's how the Peace Convoy was born. The term was initially intended for that one use but people didn't scrub off the stencilled motto and the 'peace convoy' continued after Greenham, albeit in an entirely random way as a generic, and much abused, label for new age travellers.

The intended small Greenham Green Gathering became a much larger, and more colourful, Counter Cruise Cosmic Carnival. Festival-goers attacked the base's fence and provoked not only a mass tree-clearing but also what was reported as alarm within the Pentagon, who complained to CND that they were 'being attacked with bows and arrows'; a reference perhaps to the presence of tipis and their own history.

Within Green-CND a plan was hatched to open a second front in the campaign against Cruise by building up activity at Molesworth. See articles here on the Green Gathering 1984, GreenCND 1983-85, and the Molesworth Peace camp.  For more information on CND itself see their article on the History of CND.

atomkraft nej takThe anti-nuclear power movement also grew very strong during the 1970s, and this fed into Ecology, and later Green party thinking. Despite repeated attempts by new tranches of members to dilute these peace and anti-nuclear commitments they remained in place throughout the 90s and noughties.

When the USSR collapsed in the early 90s most greens and many others believed that NATO was then redundant as a cold-war dinosaur and should be dismantled. That this did not happen is a tribute to the power of the MIC, which had since 1960 developed a strong and deep relationship with the political establishment. With the combination of "pork barrel politics" and the "revolving door" endemic in the system, the MIC had become a dominant hidden political force. In 2001 Russia asked if they could join NATO, President Clinton apparently agreed but this was vetoed by the MIC. 

In summary the founding principles of the Green Party were strongly against nuclear power, nuclear weapons, the permanent arms economy, the power of the MIC, and the organisations (such as NATO) that supported and promoted them. Instead the focus was on promoting what is now called a "multipolar" world were all nations are equal and independent and able to develop direct trading and cultural links with their neighbours rather than being beholden to one of two or three "Imperial" powers which are allowed to rule the world.

These principles were also embodied in the creation of the United Nations organisation after world war two, the charter of human rights, the OSCE and so on. Sadly the UN has become corrupted and poisoned by the desire of the US to be "in charge" of the world and other nations to be their vassals. We now see this corruption spreading into the eco-green movement with organisations like the German Green party and others in Europe openly promoting continuation of the war in Ukraine, and the UK Green Party shifting its stance on NATO, albeit in a nuanced way - the headlines "Green Party votes to ditch opposition to NATO" may be technically inaccurate, but sadly that is the perception that has been created.

President Eisenhower and all the pioneers of the eco-green and peace movements must be turning in their graves.


References & Footnotes
  1. Peace Talk : we are looking for examples of the Peace Talk newssheet, but as yet have found none - CAN YOU HELP