McCann, Sam

Sam McCann
1 December 2010Feature

How the new anti-cuts group came to be

As Britain’s coalition government starts to trim billions of pounds of welfare funding, local organisations throughout the country are springing up in opposition.

A new body, the Coalition of Resistance (CoR), seeks to unite these groups under a national banner, protesting against the proposed cuts to health services, unemployment, disability and other vital government programmes.

These protests culminated on 20 October with a mass demonstration at Downing Street in opposition…

1 December 2010Feature

PN investigates how a small Indian tribal people gained international allies and defeated a transnational corporation

Earlier this year, the Dongria Kondh, an indigenous Indian people dubbed “the real Avatar tribe”, won a major victory over the British mining company Vedanta which had hoped to turn the tribe’s sacred mountain into a bauxite mine (see PN 2520, 2526).

While the Na’vi people in James Cameron’s Hollywood epic defended themselves in a violent clash, the Dongria Kondh’s real-life victory was the result of a well-coordinated nonviolent effort by activists in India and Britain.

Living…

1 December 2010Feature

An outsider’s perspective on recent peace news

As a US student spending a semester abroad, British coverage of my own country has been an eye-opening experience. Everything from November’s tumultuous mid-term elections to the national joke that is Glenn Beck gets airplay on this side of the pond, usually with a bit more perspective than the knee-jerk coverage we get back home. Perhaps a little distance is necessary to provide proper context.

So I’d like to return the favour. So here’s an outsider’s perspective on the most…

16 November 2010Feature

The overwhelming majority of people in Britain support the idea of a one-off 20% wealth tax on the richest 10% of the population that could pay off the national debt. The coalition government claims that the only way to start dealing with £800bn of national debt is through cuts in government spending (£64bn over the next five years).

Hitting the poor

Conservative prime minister David Cameron claimed on 21 October that the tax and benefit changes were fair, being hardest on the…

1 November 2010Feature

Can we stop climate change without first overthrowing capitalism? PN sought views from around the movement.

Climate scientists have reached an international consensus that devastating runaway climate change is inevitable unless significant changes are made. How radical do these changes have to be? Is it possible to make these changes within the current framework of industrial capitalism? Below are edited highlights of responses from a variety of activists from radical movements – the full text of the interviews are available on the Peace News blog.

PN: In your view, can we halt runaway…

25 October 2010Blog

<p>Climate change and capitalism: Six points of view</p>

PN: In your view, can we halt runaway climate change without overthrowing capitalism?

GC: I hope so – because if we can’t then it looks like we’re well and truly stuffed.

PN: Why?

GC: I think the burden of proof is on those who say that we can’t – not least because if they’re right then this severely limits the range of strategies that it’s sensible to pursue.

Some activists simply assert that it’s impossible, as if it’s a self-evident truth.

Too often the…

25 October 2010Blog

<p>Climate change and capitalism: Six points of view</p>

PN: How do you see the relationship between capitalism and climate change?

CC: I think they’re inherently linked because capitalism can only exist with continual growth based on turning natural resources, i.e. bits of planet, into money. And the way it does that is by chopping it up, excavating it, turning it into product, burning it, disposing of it. Basically whatever it takes, we’ll degrade, and that leads to climate change.

PN: Can we stop runaway climate change without…

25 October 2010Blog

<p>Climate change and capitalism: Six points of view</p>

PN: Can we halt runaway climate change without overthrowing capitalism?

BC: No, it’s impossible. Short answer. Well, I really don’t believe it’s possible at all, because, for a start, the way capitalism is set up is based on growth, and it would basically disintegrate without growing. And so, a planet is finite, and all the resources that capitalism depends on are finite, so it’s not going to last, it’s not sustainable. But before it’s actually stopped by the laws of the physics, it’s…

25 October 2010Blog

<p>Climate change and capitalism: Six points of view</p>

PN: In your view, can we halt runaway climate change without overthrowing capitalism as well?

PT: I think you’d have to take the first question, which is a quite valid one, which is: ‘can we halt runaway climate change.’ There are serious reasons to think that we won’t be able to and that we’re too late already…. It could be a more complex question in that, if we ever get into a situation in which something that dire is happening, we’ll be doing all sorts of things like geo-…

25 October 2010Blog

<p>Climate change and capitalism: Six points of view</p>

PN: Can we halt runaway climate change without overthrowing capitalism?

EJ: It’s interesting that you talk about overthrowing capitalism because I think there’s a commonly used expression—overthrowing or dismantling or smashing—and I think that can sometimes be a little bit inaccurate about the nature of capitalism, which is a social relationship, an economic relationship that we are all participating in and reproducing on a daily basis. So I liked John Holloway’s description of how…

25 October 2010Blog

<p>Climate change and capitalism: Six points of view</p>

PN: In your view, can we halt runaway climate change without overthrowing capitalism? If not, why not? Or, if we can, why do you think that is possible?

MA: In theory, yes – capitalism has a built in drive to accumulate – and a structural incapacity to count effects on the environment into market valuations. So left to its own, with regulation, etc., it is not just incredibly harmful and destructive of human potentials, productive of poverty, and so on – but it also so violates the…