Open letter on the future of the peace camp
CORRECTION: The open meeting on the future of the peace camp will now be held at 4pm in the Kinning Park Complex on Saturday 13th April.
For the last two years, there has been a small group of us rebuilding Faslane Peace Camp as a community of anti-nuclear action. We came together with a shared vision that if we maintain the camp as a safe and alcohol and drug free space with regular actions and campaigning, we could create a strong, autonomous community active in the fight against Trident and the militarisation of the West coast of Scotland.
Part of our vision has been achieved in making the camp a safe and welcoming space with facilities to support anti-nuclear action, low impact living and skill sharing. We have worked to sustain resistance to nuclear weapons as central to this space and our collective reason for being here through our own direct action campaigns and active involvement in wider Scottish anti-nuclear and anti-military movements. However, our main hope that we would grow, in terms of strength through numbers, has not been achieved. Maintaining this space whilst having an active campaign with so few of us has put us under such pressure, personally and as a collective, that we can’t continue.
This letter is our issuing a notice of this, identifying potential outcomes for the camp, our own limits in achieving these and, hopefully initiating an inclusive discussion on the future of Faslane Peace Camp that does not see the four current residents assuming this responsibility.
We feel, as a group, our limit on being here is 12th June 2013, the 31st anniversary of the Camp. If the responsibility on deciding and enacting the future of the camp is to be ours,(i.e. if this notice does not provoke wider constructive discussion on the future of the camp or encourage a new wave of residents) then we will enact the following proposal:
we will start taking the camp down on 12th May to create a garden space (to be finished by 12th June) that will both celebrate the 31years of resistance here and act as a site facility to support future action camps.
We feel that leaving the camp empty and open to chance is not an option because we have seen it having “fallen into the wrong hands” and feel that this is much more detrimental to the peace movement and activism in general than the camp not being here.
The camp’s potential, capacity and support and the potential for continuing:
We feel that the camp’s capacity to support a self-sufficient community of resistance should not go understated. Despite ups and downs, for the last thirty years the camp has been an active challenge to the stationing of nuclear weapons on the Clyde. Many of the people who have passed through here have learned and continued to practise so many skills in active resistance and low impact living. Those of us here have grown and learned so much, from a personal level to an understanding of the nature of the state sponsored terrorism of nuclear weapons and the banality of the everyday running of this evil. This is a space to learn, grow and challenge a very fundamental human willingness to tolerate societal corruption (in this case, that of nuclear weapons) as well as maintaining a degree of living “outside the system” whilst we make attempts to challenge it.
The facilities here are indicative of the ingenuity of thirty years of creative and resourceful individuals who have simply found ways to create alternative ways of organising that challenge so many of the negative learned behaviour in society.
Ideally, we would love to see this continue, not least because so many have worked so hard to continue it but also because the symbolism of dismantling the camp at this potentially crucial time in the struggle for nuclear disarmament (in the context of the ongoing Scottish independence and Trident replacement debates) would be the worst possible timing.
We believe that maintaining supportive community living here, as well as active campaigning, can only be sustainably achieved with a significant increase in numbers, possibly eight residents. The potential and capacity of the camp is also severely limited by the lack of wider input and practical support for it’s inhabitants. We have felt like caretakers of a souvenir. We have felt a strong and increasing sense of moral support for what we are doing but with this has come inadequate and dwindling practical support.
In short, we feel that the camp can only have a future if a larger group of people decide they wish to be based here and the wider peace movement assumes a degree of collective responsibility to support these people, emotionally and practically and take active measures to ensure their welfare. The current residents would be committed to providing long term support to any group or individuals that wish to continue the Camp.
What happens next:
So many people have given so much of their lives and energy to the Peace Camp and anti-nuclear movement so we expect our proposal and thoughts contained here to have mixed responses. We have therefore decided to call an open meeting on Saturday 14th April at 4pm in the Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow as part of the Scrap Trident weekend and welcome any constructive input on this day or via email from this point onward (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Whatever the decision on the future of the camp, we will continue with campaigning and an active presence at Faslane, but perhaps not in the form of continuous occupation. Nevertheless, we want to avoid the symbolism of taking the camp away at this crucial and hopeful time for disarmament and will actively support any viable alternative to this.
On 13-15th of April, there will be an unprecedented demonstration in Glasgow and mass blockade of Faslane with Scrap Trident and we expect this to be the beginning of a new wave of anti-nuclear and anti-militarist action. The future is disarmament!