Anti-Nuclear Fusion

Andrew S. Tompkins

in Better Active than Radioactive!

Published in print July 2016 | ISBN: 9780198779056
Published online August 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191826207 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

Anti-Nuclear Fusion

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Military History


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Though the opposition to nuclear energy is often caricatured as a ‘single-issue movement’, it attracted diverse participants who forged a shared critique of ‘nuclear society’. This chapter examines who protested and why in order to explain the emergence and intensity of anti-nuclear protest during the 1970s. The movement is conventionally divided into conservative, Nimby ‘locals’ and ‘outsiders’ from a left-wing, student milieu. However, each of these (constructed) categories was highly diverse: local activists were animated by material interests, environmental concerns, regional identities, and a sense of injustice that increased with time; outside activists might be associated with non-violence and anti-militarism, communist and anarchist wings of the radical left, or a hippie-inspired counterculture, all of which were deeply embedded within other ‘new social movement’ networks. Furthermore, the boundaries between ‘locals’ and ‘outsiders’ were fluid, and many individuals defied easy categorization. Over the years, diverse arguments cross-fertilized into a shared discourse.

Keywords: nuclear energy; Nimby; environmentalism; non-violence; radical left; écologistes; popular politics; mass movement; nuclear society

Chapter.  16532 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Military History

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