l'Readings in Nonviolence' features extracts from our favourite books, pamphlets, articles or other material on nonviolence, or reviews of important works in the field (suggestions welcome).
Josh Billings said "There are many people who mistake their imagination for their memory". The converse can also be true in political campaigning, "people who mistake their memory for their imagination", but this certainly cannot be said about the last year at the UK's nuclear weapons submarine base at Faslane, Scotland, and the Faslane 365 campaign. In fact there has been an incredible variety of actions and tactics utilised, most ignored by the media, and only some involving lock-ons and super-glue (important as these have been).
If you want to read about a whole roller-coaster of creative actions on the one issue (admittedly with a thousand different angles) in the one place, then please have a browse through the newsletter for Faslane 365 at http://www.faslane365.org/newsletter and click on the individual monthly newsletters. It may give you some ideas and that can't be bad.
If there had been larger numbers involved then of course there might have been more effective disruption of the work of the Trident base but this is nevertheless a campaign which succeeded in galvanising people from around Britain and Europe into creative action against Britain's nuclear weapons. As we learnt recently, Trident missiles can be fired without any code from the British Prime Minister, and Trident replacement is an enormous and prohibitively expensive, and violent, waste of UK taxpayers' money. Fighting the last (Cold) war has never been so expensive, and so counter-productive.
INNATE is proud to have supported the Make Trident History Group which made two visits to Faslane during the Faslane 365 year, and some members were there also during the Interfaith Peace Walk in May. As well as news we also carried reports in this slot in Nonviolent News 154 (Mark Chapman's look at the year) and NN 149 (a visit by AA-MOC). The campaign will go on. Make Trident History can be contacted, as reported last time, at email@example.com
Rob Fairmichael gives a short report on the recent INNATE programme with Suman Aggarwal and Tony Kempster
An Indian Gandhian woman and an English Anglican man on a double bill on nonviolent intervention - sounds promising. And so we had a programme in Belfast, Dublin, and Derry with a variety of co-hosts (including the Irish School of Ecumenics and South Belfast Friends Meeting). Suman Aggarwal came at it from a Gandhian perspective including defining nonviolence as a science, and the quote from Gandhi that "The law of nonviolence which is the law of love is the law of our species". Now 'law' is open to different interpretations, as in 'laws of nature' (usually no such thing) but Suman interpreted 'law' in this context as, simply, what is right (she pointed out Gandhi said 'law', not 'nature'). If we break the law we pay a price. Nonviolence is love applied to politics.
She felt it was foolish to ask "What would you do about the Middle East/Northern Ireland et cetera" when people need to learn about nonviolence first. She defined trust as the most important starting point, the basis of love. We need to move to a new level of humanity and consciousness. Gandhi said that democracy is when the people lead and governments follow.
Suman outlined her plan for nonviolent defence (see Nonviolent News 152 ) We should initially keep current 'defence' structures and add nonviolent defence, one step at a time, and have a nonviolence training academy. People would have the legal right to be trained in nonviolent defence as opposed to violent defence, and the legal option as taxpayers to direct their taxes to nonviolent rather than violent defence. When we have people properly trained in nonviolence they will know what to do.
Tony Kempster said we have 25 years to get ourselves sorted with four current negative factors combining; global warming, a marginalised majority world, resources running out, and a highly militarised world. He was sceptical that 'Love always prevails'. Some people are trying to liberalise even the 'Just War' theory to support pre-emptive attacks. What was needed most, Tony felt, was the proof that nonviolence works; we should get away from the idea of convincing the general population about nonviolence, rather we should persuade Nobel laureates etc to raise £250 million to raise and train an international peace force of 10,000 people. Unlike in Suman's model this would be an international force and it would have independence of decision making to choose where it intervenes. If successful this would make politicians and the world sit up and take notice but there was the risk that it might not succeed.
These are just some few points from various discussions which took place during the programme. The website of Shanti Sahyog, which Suman Aggarwal is President of is at http://www.shanti-sahyog.org
Tony Kempster is, inter alia, a Vice-President of the International Peace Bureau http://www.ipb.org , secretary of the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship http://www.anglicanpeacemaker.org.uk , and chair of the Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW) http://www.abolishwar.org.uk