A Report (with lotsa links) by Ciaron O'Reilly
A few months ago the Catholic Worker network in England decided to embark on a series of "Faith and Resistance Retreats" as a basis of nonviolently confronting the war & the war machine and deepening our broader sense of community beyond our specific projects & living/working situations. The first was timed to mark the 30th. anniversary of the original Plowshares 8 action and to nonviolently confront Britain's ongoing production and refinement of nuclear weapons at Aldermaston.
As we gathered in Oxford last Saturday, word was coming through from Dublin that all wasn't going well for the Tony Blair autobiography book launch tour. The author was being greeted with a hailstorm of eggs, shoes and dissent.
See here for photos and footage
It sounds like it was an egg splat heard around the world. It has nourished a mass nonviolent movement in England & beyond of moving the Blair's bio into the "crime section" of whatever book store you find it in and has directly lead to the cancellation of the London leg of his tour slated for Picadilly this week.
We were gathering in Oxford to celebrate the 30th. annivesary of the Ploughshares 8 http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/webpa...8.htm who enfleshed the prophecy of Isaiah September 9th. 1980 at the General Electric factory in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. G.E. were working on a first strike nuclear delivery system at the time. U.S. friends are returning to the site this week which is now owned by Lockheed Martin and still developing weapons of mass destruction
We were hosted in Oxford by Stephen Hancock of the Upper Heyford Ploughshares http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/webpa...S.htm in a house once owned by the celebrated English author Graham Greene
On Saturday evening we sat down to a film recounting the Catonsville 9 draft board raid in 1968 "Investigation of a Flame" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5UWcjDNnmM The Plowshares movement was very much influenced by the draft board raids of the Vietnam War period. We look forward to a more expansive & detailed documentary "Hit and Stay" http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934604446/hit-and-stay
on this movement that should be released later this year. I think one of the major lessons drawn by the Plowshares movement from these earlier experiments with prophetic resistance is that community makes nonviolent resistance viable and sustainable
By Sunday morning our numbers included Australian, Dutch, English, Irish, Malaysian Swedish and U.S. folks, Catholic Workers, students, lecturers, musicians, mothers, fathers, priest, supporters of Totenham, Villa, Wednesday, Man United, Oxford F.C. and some people (believe it or not) with no interest at all in football!
We celebrated mass outside and this was followed by a go around and a check in - of introductions and how we felt presently about the war and the war machine and the potential for resistance to it. The general feeling was distress with the general disengagement with the war and gratitude that we could gather together to facilitate some resistance.
We then gathered in the rotunda for a talk on the Plowshares movement. I gave a talk using the academic work on the movement undertaken by Sharon Nepstead "Religion and War in the Plowshares Movement" http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isb...17670 . Based on surveys and interviews with plowshares activists, this is a fine objective look at the plowshares movement from the outside in and I can't recommend it highly enough. THIS IS A REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT BOOK! It is particularly good on the problems, and otherwise, of transfering the Plowshares actions outside the U.S. context. I also shared from personal experiences with three plowshares communities on 3 continents in which I have participated.
ANZUS Plowshares http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/webpa...S.htm
Jabiluka Plowshares http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/webpa...S.htm
Pit Stop Ploughshares http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/pit_s...s.htm
We also heard firsthand the insights and experiences of
-Chris Cole who shared from his BAE plowshare witness http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/webpa...S.htm
-Fr. Martin Newell from the Jubilee Ploughshares http://www.craftech.com/~dcpledge/brandywine/plow/webpa...0.htm
-Susan Clarkson from the Riverside Plowshares
Following lunch we were joined by Brian Larkin from Trident Ploughshares http://www.tridentploughshares.org/index.php3 who brought us up to speed on what is happening at the nearby Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment. The news is not good! We also heard more about where the Trident Ploughshares movement is at 14 years into their struggle to rid Britain of nuclear weapons.
We then broke up into action and solidarity groups to prepare for Monday at Aldermaston.
The day ended with a cabaret in the rotunda. Although Bristol Nick's Dylan/Rovics covers,
Martin's unaccompanied rendition of very early Tom Jones, Miriam's poetry and Soo Tian's Seeger cover offered stiff competition...it's pretty hard to beat the professionalism and onstage presence of "Lovers Electric" who have just signed with a German label. Check them out..... http://www.loverselectric.com/flash.html
By Monday evening a group of us were gathered at Newbury Police station to welcome out Susan, Martin and Chris. They return to court in mid-December as the Attorney General decides whether the will be charged under the SOCPA anti-terror legislation. They had cut their way into Aldermason nuclear bomb factory http://www.indymedia.ie/article/97586 The rest of us had gathered at the gate to reflect on the nature of this demonic locale and what nonviolent resistance we can offer to it.
Meanwhile good friends Kathy Kelly, John Dear and other fine folk are before the courts in Nevada September 14th. for their resistance to drone warfare
Disarm Now Plowshares have been recently indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in Washington state
The rhythym of nonviolent resistance and solidarity continues. It is our only hope against the escalating war and the war machine.
*For a photo of Chris, Susan and Martin arrested at Aldermaston and a group photo of the Faith & Resistance Retreat. Scroll down the following blog....