A Bunch Abalone

The Diablo Canyon debacle sounded the death-knell of the official anti-nuclear movement. Abalone Alliance hierarchs — excuse me, “spokespersons” and “facilitators”— complain that the blockade was trivialized into a media happening. Surprise, surprise! What did the antinuclear top brass plot for years to produce at Diablo if not a spectacle?

Abalone’s purpose was never to physically interfere with plant operations but to be photographed appearing to try to. Didn’t it know that in Hollywood the director, not the actors, calls the shots?

Abalone staged a highly-hyped set-piece pseudoconfrontation with no possible purpose but manipulating the media. Obviously those who inform the authorities of their illegal intentions preclude in advance any kind of real direct action, nonviolent or otherwise, to shut down the plant. All along Abalone was looking over its shoulder at the journalists and politicians from whom antinuclear deliverance was sought. But the Hearst press and the rest aren’t as easily conned as they were in the 60s; evidently they learned more from that myth-enshrouded past than Abalone’s hippie retreads have.

No, this time the manipulators themselves got manipulated. And they had it coming—what with Jackson Browne-nosing around, and with anti-nuke checkpoints ringing the reactor to protect it from antinuclear activists reluctant to submit to “nonviolence” indoctrination and Abalone orders. In other places, Abalone’s clone/counterparts have actually turned refractory elements over to the police. No wonder the Diablo turnout was pitifully low... why get your head busted for nothing more than a changing of the guard?

Abalone and PG&E feel exactly the same about Diablo: each says that the reactor is its private property, with “No Trespassing” permitted. Just like PG&E — or the Pentagon; or the Catholic Church; or any Leninist sect — Abalone has its elite of organizers, enforcers and celebrities, just as it has its rank-and-file of passive, obedient anonymities. (This despite cult reverence rendered to the ideas of “democracy” and “decentralization.”) At an Abalone-owned demo you have it their way on a take-it-or-leave-it basis — or else. Thus New Age participatory passivity mirrors the miserabilist powerlessness of prevalent social relations. With enemies like Abalone, PG&E and its bourgeois/bureaucratic backers don’t need friends.

Ironically, Abalone opportunism is a failure even on its own demeaning terms. Jerry Brown and the law-and-order liberals have sold out the sell-outs, and it’s unlikely the latter will find another buyer. There ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between Abalone and Babylon.

As for the suggestion that Diablo Canyon was a victory, file it away with the fantasy of those hippies who have convinced themselves that they did levitate the Pentagon in 1968. The nuclear industry is everywhere collapsing under its own weight, and the technical snafus which have shut down Diablo may give PG&E a face-saving way to beat a tactical retreat. By making too much of the nuclear-reactor-on-an-earthquake-fault happenstance, Abalone dramatized PG&E’s utter indifference to human life but also weakened the general antinuclear case: the utilities can “compromise” by putting their pestilential plants elsewhere. Will Abalone’s Ecotopian insularity settle for a West Coast no-nukes ghetto? Like “socialism in one country,” California solipsism is a stupid and self-stultifying hoax, in matters antinuclear as in all others.

Thus “the counterculture’s instinctive hostility to establishment media” (Tim Conner) is, in the Diablo Canyon context, just sour grapes. The Abalone apparatus and others like it are fetters on the development of the antinuclear forces. The PR types on top like the masochistic masses below are running on empty. There’s no such thing as an anti-bureaucratic bureaucracy. You can’t eradicate nuclear power by doing tricks — or turning them — for pressmen and politicos.

The only way to abolish nuclear power is to abolish power altogether.

Part III: Appeal To Treason