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The Peace News log

Nuclear weapons states applied enormous pressure to try and stop the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, recalls Janet Fenton.Image

Castle Romeo nuclear test, 27 March 1954. PHOTO:United States Department of Energy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On 24 October, Honduras ratified the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), becoming the 50th state to signal its binding agreement with the treaty. Passing the 50-ratifications threshold means that the TPNW will now actually ‘enter into force’, 90 days from Honduras’s ratification.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, WILPF, as its known to its friends, has a unique perspective on the TPNW that has been a significant driver in bringing it to this wonderful moment of entry into force.

With the 50th ratification, the treaty is irreversible.

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ImageAndrew Bolton reviews Clare Stober's book about the Bruderhof: 'Another Life is Possible – Insights from 100 years of life together' (Plough Books, 2020; 320pp; £21.50)

There are activists seeking change nonviolently, protesting, getting in the way, being arrested. From Gandhi and Rosa Parks to Extinction Rebellion, we celebrate their courageous contributions. Then there are communal demonstrators, those whose lives together model a better world here and now. Both activists and communal demonstrators are important. This book is about the Bruderhof, a celebration of struggles and endurance over 100 years of a remarkable communal movement. Today there are 23 settlements on four continents totaling about 3,000 members, ranging in size from households in Harlem, New York or Peckham, London to communities around 300 people in size like Darvell in East Sussex, Beach Grove, Kent, or Danthonia, NSW, Australia.

The story begins in Sanherz, Germany in 1920 – Bruderhof means place of brothers in German. In the chaos and suffering of the end of World War I, threatening communist revolutions, and the moral bankruptcy of many Christians over war and capitalism, Eberhard and Emmy Arnold, their children, and a few others began to live together in full Christian community. They took very seriously the Sermon on the Mount and the example of living all things in common in the early Jerusalem (Acts 2 and 4:32-35). They also drew inspiration from the radical Anabaptists – the left wing of the Protestant Reformation, and later the Hutterians, communal Anabaptist descendants, now farming the prairies in Canada and the USA. 

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US president Donald Trump has been threatening for months to hang onto power by illegal means after the 3 November presidential election. Dozens of organisations are preparing to stop him, and to protect the fabric of US democracy.

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The Women's March on Washington, 21 January 2017, the day after Donald Trump's inauguration as US president. Photo: Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (CC BY-SA 2.0).

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ImageA review of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Rivalry that Unravelled the Middle East by Kim Ghattas (Wildfire, 2020; 400pp; £10.99)

I do find it shocking that Kim Ghattas uses the word ‘black’ in such a negative way in the title of her new book about the Middle East.

Ghattas, a former BBC journalist, describes the upsurge of fundamentalism in the region since 1979 as a Black Wave. She takes this phrase from Egyptian film-maker, Youssef Chahine.

For me, the title seems to reinforce the idea of blackness as evil and anti-human – which is how Ghattas, a mainstream Western liberal, sees Islamic fundamentalism.

Ghattas has a chapter on Egypt in the early 1990s which is also called ‘Black Wave’.

In this chapter, Ghattas writes: ‘The most dramatic visual of the black wave crashing over Egypt was the veiling of dozens of its beloved, beautiful actresses, who had delighted generations of Egyptians and Arabs’.

Perhaps Ghattas and Chahine would say that the expression ‘black wave’ refers to this change that they saw in women’s clothing.

However, I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the hijabs (headscarves) worn by newly-veiled Egyptian actresses were colours other than black. (A minority of actresses taking the veil wore the full-face niqab, which was most likely black.)

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Online and in-person activist events in the UK from 6 August to November 2020

Hiroshima Day 2018 Hastings, EnglandThe current issue of Peace News doesn't have an events page because most events in the time period it covers (10 August to the end of October) are online.

So we've put the events listing online instead. Please do check before attending an in-person event as the changing COVID-19 restrictions mean in-person/face-to-face events change also.

This is a list of the kinds of events below:

1) Hiroshima & Nagasaki events (in-person/face-to-face)

2) Hiroshima & Nagasaki events (online events)

3) Other in-person/face-to-face events

4) Other online events

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Kelvin Mason finds points of agreement with ideological opponents

Citizens of liberal democracies, at least those who at least broadly subscribe to the principles of liberalism and democracy, tend to regard science as an ally in political debate. Climate change deniers, for instance, are regularly denigrated via citing: “97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities” . Armed with such apparently incontestable evidence, “reasonable” people then find it very difficult to make space for scientific scepticism, and this constrains them from entering into debate: Climate change sceptics are accused of politicising the science [1]. Put more starkly, we (yes, I’m one) label our nay-saying adversaries as ‘idiots’ and shut the door to doing politics. Of course, we don’t just do this with respect to the natural sciences. Consider the divisive rancour in the UK around Brexit and how the economic and political absolutes of both sides of that non-debate were most often held to be incontrovertible. Living through the Covid-19 pandemic so far has kindled a new science scepticism in me. It has also led me to consider whether admitting scepticism more generally could help facilitate a regenerative politics, particularly in deeply riven societies such as the UK.

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UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon addresses 2010 NPT review conference. UN Photo/Mark Garten

 

On 23 January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock from two minutes to midnight to 100 seconds to midnight, which is the closest that it has been to midnight since the Clock was created in 1947 (midnight means the end of organised human life). The Bulletin consists of the world’s top physicists and its work is supported by experts on international peace and security such as former UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson and former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.

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Esme Needham reviews the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition about the women who helped to create the Pre-Raphaelite style

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Night and Sleep by Evelyn De Morgan, 1878. De Morgan Collection, courtesy of the De Morgan Foundation

There were seven of them, to begin with. Seven expensively-educated young men from wealthy families, whose decision to pioneer a new art style sparked an artistic craze which continued for decades. Whatever you know of Pre-Raphaelite art, the chances are that you have images you associate with it: Dante Gabriel Rossetti's baleful “Proserpine”, perhaps, or John Everett Millais's “Ophelia”, covered in flowers and staring helplessly at the sky. Images of women were always at the heart of the Pre-Raphaelite style, yet many of the real women who helped to create it have been almost entirely forgotten. This exhibition hopes to bring them back into the light.

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Image'Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action.' – Rebecca Solnit

 

In times of crisis, people often react by coming up with quick fixes, quick strategies and quick actions to address the challenges we face. Although quick responses are sometimes necessary, we need to be careful in how we articulate our demands and how we organise. Climate breakdown, white supremacy and so many other ‘crises’ in the news right now are not actually new. For many communities around the world including here in Britain, crisis is very familiar. You can see this in the profit-driven projects that impoverish and displace communities in the global south, and in the racist policies that punish migrant and refugee communities in the global north. Crisis is what many of us know.

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Extinction Rebellion (XR) deserves praise for the impact it is having in streets, in the media and in public discourse. The XR leadership should also be questioned for its approach to diversity and privilege, to climate justice, and to strategy. (This is part of a series of articles discussing XR.)

Extinction Rebellion 'nonviolence' bannerExtinction Rebellion (XR) has sprung upon us and is mobilising thousands of people to take direct action demanding radical action on climate change. They’ve filled the streets. Thousands of new people are taking action. Despite this most established environmental activists have reacted with criticism, much of which is justified.

 

Leaders

To understand XR, it is important to note that it has a defined leadership. Roger Hallam and a small group make key decisions, and those participating in XR do not have a direct say in these decisions. This is unlike many recent movements involving direct action, most of which have been non-hierarchical in some way.

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