Blog posts

    30 Jan 2011

    Milan Rai

    <p>A paper submitted to the Movement for the Abolition of War</p>

    This violation of conscience may occur as much in the pacifist society as in the munitions factory or the research laboratory.

    Having said this, different institutions and different social frameworks make different kinds of behaviour more or less likely. In professor Philip Zimbardo’s famous Stanford Prison Experiment, college students were randomly allocated the roles of guard or prisoner in a mock prison. Zimbardo wrote later: ‘We selected only those judged to be emotionally stable…

    30 Jan 2011

    Milan Rai

    <p>A paper submitted to the Movement for the Abolition of War</p>

    It turns out that it is quite hard to train soldiers to kill.

    Former US army ranger, and later professor of military science at Arkansas State University, lieutenant colonel Dave Grossman has written two books dealing with the psychology of inflicting lethal violence: On Killing – The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society (1995); and (with Loren Christensen) On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace (2004).

    Grossman…

    30 Jan 2011

    Milan Rai

    <p>A paper submitted to the Movement for the Abolition of War</p>

    The argument of this paper is that for a long time we in the peace movement have been looking in the wrong places when we’ve been looking for the deepest roots of war. This has led to misdirection in creating strategies for abolishing war.

    The common argument against the effort to get rid of war is that violence is innate in human nature, and that therefore there will always be war.

    I would like to suggest that arguing against this position is the wrong move.

    If we as…

    24 Jan 2011

    Milan Rai

    <p>Milan Rai reports from the WRI Triennial in India</p>

    One of the most poignant moments of the conference so far was Samarendra Das’s cry to the audience: “We do not want your research! It is not useful to us. We have simple questions, such as: what should the price of bauxite be?”

    The interesting things here are “useful research” and “we – you”. What is that polarity?

    Before talking about that, I should explain about the pricing question.

    Bauxite is often found on mountain tops; it’s the raw material for aluminium. In India…

    24 Jan 2011

    Virginia Moffatt

    <p>Virginia Moffatt reflects on having a partner imprisoned</p>

    To all intents and purposes, last Wednesday was a normal day. I dropped my husband, Chris Cole, in Headington and watched him walk away in the darkness to the London bus, as I often do. Then I  headed back home for the usual morning routine of breakfast, sandwich making, and the school run.

    But last Wednesday was different in one respect. For the second time in four years, Chris was returning to Westminster Magistrates to “wilfully refuse” to pay a fine he’d incurred during  an …

    23 Jan 2011

    Sareena Rai

    <p>Rai Ko Ris, A punk band from Nepal, toured Europe last autumn. Frontwoman <strong>Sareena Rai</strong> describes how the anarchist scene surprised her.</p>

    “To exist as a band without the corporate music industry is in itself a political feat” – sticker stuck on a wall at a venue in North Germany

    Sitting in a village on the edge of Kathmandu happily listening to the Subhumans, I had this yearning to go to Europe.

    A good friend of ours from Holland calls the West “the fortress”; he said the people, the culture, and the way the whole place works is like a fortress, sealed and intimidating. I agreed with him and so…

    22 Jan 2011

    Jill Gibbon

    Jill Gibbon draws spooks and arms dealers in B'ham

    This month’s drawings come from a graduate recruitment fair, held at the NEC, Birmingham at the end of October. The impact of the recession was clear – the show barely filled one of the twenty exhibition halls, and it was dominated by defence. Exhibitors included BAE Systems, EADs, Rolls Royce, Selex, the army, air force, GCHQ and M15. In spite of this, defence was curiously absent from the list of careers in the show guide.

    BAE Systems appeared, instead, under almost every other…

    25 Oct 2010

    Sam McCann, Ewa Jasiewicz

    <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…

    25 Oct 2010

    Sam McCann, Michael Albert

    <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…

    25 Oct 2010

    Phil Thornhill, Sam McCann

    <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…

    25 Oct 2010

    Sam McCann, Barry Cager

    <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…

    25 Oct 2010

    Sam McCann, Cornerstone Cath

    <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…

    25 Oct 2010

    Sam McCann, Gabriel Carlyle

    <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’…

    22 Oct 2010

    Dariush Sokolov

    Dariush Sokolov reports from No Borders' camp

    25 June 2010, Steenokkerzeel by the airport outside Brussels, 60 people occupy the building site of the new 127 tris immigration detention centre, shutting down work for a day, taking direct action against the construction site, and upping the ante in a campaign of resistance against the border regime in Belgium.

    Over the past year: successful blockades of most of the six existing detention centres, including the simultaneous blockade of Bruges and Vottem by over 150 people last…

    25 Jan 2010

    Milan Rai

    <p>Milan Rai reports from the WRI Triennial in India</p>

    On the second morning (the third day) of the Triennial, we had our first “reflectors” session. The reflectors were five people who had been chosen to give their reaction to the conference so far. There were four women (all English-speaking, one African, one Australasian, one European, one North American) and one man (Spanish-speaking, Latin American).

    Incidentally, this reminds me of something Jai Sen said about the book he co-edited: World Social Forum: Challenging Empires. They set…