Rai, Milan

Milan Rai
25 November 2014Feature

What happens when the founders of a radical organisation move on, new people come in, and the strict entry standards that were put in place originally are set aside? How does it affect who joins the organisation, and how does it affect the politics of the organisation?

'Flickr - Laenulfean - crossroads' by Carsten Tolkmit from Kiel, Germany. Photo: Carsten Tolkmit CC-by-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

After 26 years supporting its activist membership in taking over £4m-worth of housing out of the private property market, the Radical Routes network of radical housing and worker co-ops deleted a fundamental membership condition in the summer of 2014 and may well abolish another before the end of 2015.

Shortly after being formed in 1988,…

25 November 2014Feature

The long story behind current debates about principles in a radical co-op network

The pink house, Walden Pond Housing Co-op in St Leonards-on-Sea. photo: Milan Rai

Radical Routes has been an amazing radical success story, proving that democratic radical institutions can survive and thrive, operating by a modified form of consensus decision-making, and turning private property into collectively-owned, activist-controlled spaces. For some, the success of Radical Routes (RR) has proven that ‘anarchists can deal with money’.

Today, Radical Routes is changing…

25 November 2014Comment

To halt the rise of UKIP, white anti-racists need to reach out to their white neighbours and communities – to break racist myths about immigration and Islam, and to organise white people against the real problems in society.

There is something hopeful about the rise of UKIP (UK Independence Party). Yes, it is a racist far-right party; yes, the mainstream parties have responded to its increasing strength by becoming more repressive and racist; and yes, it may win several seats in the general election in May 2015 – all frightening developments.

On the other hand, UKIP is part of a global anti-establishment phenomenon which in Europe is represented not only by far-right parties like Golden Dawn in Greece…

25 November 2014Feature

Can we stop the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapon system?

Trident submarine. Photo: Paul O’Shau/MOD

Different groups are using different strategies to try to make an election issue out of Trident replacement. The British decision on whether/how to replace the Trident nuclear weapon system is scheduled to be made in 2016, which means the 7 May 2015 election will elect the government that takes this £100bn decision. This has been described as ‘a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to scrap Trident and ban all nuclear weapons’.


25 November 2014Review

Zed Books, 2012; 256pp; £14.99 (Ricketts) and Beacon Press, 2011; 232pp; £13.99 (Mann)

Here are two books by two longtime campaigners (both men, both white), trying to pass on lessons to younger generations, to folk newer to political engagement. As I was reading them, I was inevitably comparing them to two related, brilliant books that I think everyone involved in social change should read, that I’ve reviewed here before: Strategy & Soul, by Daniel Hunter; and Towards Collective Liberation by Chris Crass.

(So this is a review about being…

28 September 2014Comment

The editors explain PN's upcoming internet tool

Have you ever been in this situation?

You’re in a grassroots, very-low budget campaigning group. You have a group website.

Then the person who set the website up – and who has been maintaining it – moves away, or they move onto another issue, or they withdraw from activism completely.

Suddenly, you find out no one knows what the passwords are, and you can’t actually use your own website. Or, if you do know what the passwords are, no one else in the group is…

28 September 2014News

Pacific Islanders take to the seas in climate change blockade

On 17 October, 30 Pacific Climate Warriors from 12 different Pacific islands are arriving in Australia to paddle traditional canoes they have built themselves into the harbour of the world’s largest coal port – Newcastle – to stop coal exports for a day.

Newcastle port shipped 150m tonnes of coal in 2013, and is set to expand its capacity by another 70m tonnes a year. The Pacific Climate Warriors, supported by 350.org, describe the carbon emissions of the coal and gas industries…

28 September 2014Feature

The sixth glorious year of PN Summer Camp

End of camp photo in front of the main marquee, 4 August 2014. Photo: Roy St Pierre

This year’s Peace News Summer Camp yet again enjoyed magnificently-sunny weather, marvellously-enriching workshops, and a spirit of warmth and inclusiveness that is hard to find.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell brought decades of activist experience to bear in his workshop on ‘The ABC of Campaigning — How we won same-sex marriage’; Kofi Klu scrutinised the concept of…

28 September 2014Feature

Green jobs, anyone?

On 20 September, the British Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group launched a revised, expanded and updated edition of its excellent One Million Climate Jobs booklet at an ‘International Fight for Climate Jobs’ conference.

Speakers at the launch event included Kjersti Bartos, vice-president of the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions, Fernando Losado from the US Nursing Union, and Philip Pearson, the TUC’s senior officer for energy and climate change. There…

28 September 2014Review

PM Press, 2013; 300pp; $20

When I’ve heard white people committed to social change start talking about racism and activism, the conversation has often veered rapidly to the question: ‘How can we get more of them to come to our meetings/activities?’ In Towards Collective Liberation, a powerful, humble and thought-provoking book that deserves the widest possible readership, white US activist Chris Crass poses very different questions: ‘How can white radicals work with other white people against racism?’ and ‘…

28 September 2014Review

OR Books, 2014; 150pp; £9. Purchase online here: http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/jihadis-return/

If you want a concise, thoughtful background briefing on the ISIS crisis, this is it – written by a journalist with three decades of experience in the region. This is a compelling account of how the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has managed to conquer an area the size of Britain. Patrick Cockburn knew something was coming: he nominated Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, as the Independent’s ‘man of the year’ for the Middle East on
1 January, days before ISIS…

21 July 2014Comment

The First World War was not a war for Belgium, it was a war for empire.

The British view of the world, even today, is fundamentally shaped by a 100-year-old lie, a powerful myth that contrasts German aggressiveness with the US-UK defence of small countries and high principles. In reality, it is a documented fact that the sovereignty of ‘plucky little Belgium’ was irrelevant to Britain’s decision to enter the First World War. In reality, it is a documented fact that the military alliances that Britain entered into were born of a desperate need to shore up…

21 July 2014Feature

Milan Rai recovers the hidden background to the current crisis

The crisis in Iraq has reached truly frightening proportions, with the brutal ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS) controlling a large swathe of territory in both countries – something that may trigger the partition of Iraq.

It is easy to get the impression from the mainstream media that violent conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Iraq is something that goes back millennia, and has merely re-surfaced in the recent conflict between Sunni ISIS and the Shia-dominated…

21 July 2014Feature

Training for Change’s powerful three-week ‘Super-T’ training for trainers

Why travel thousands of miles (chucking over a tonne of carbon into the atmosphere) to a strange city on a different continent to spend three weeks with people you’ve mostly never met in order to learn about facilitation and training?

There are plenty of facilitators and trainers in Britain to learn from – plenty of activist trainers. There are a lot of books available about different approaches to facilitation and training.

Training for Change have loads of material on…

21 July 2014Review

Cornell University Press, 2014; 288pp; £12.95

I cannot recommend Missing Class too highly. Studying this book – and acting on its insights – will make our movements stronger.

Some books stimulate you intellectually – you end up seeing the world a different way. Some books deepen awareness – you finish them with a greater understanding of yourself, and of the web of relationships that you are part of. Some books are practical; full of immediately-useable how-to tips.

It’s rare to find a book that does one…