Activism

1 October 2021Review

Luath Press, 2021; 224pp; £12.99

For me, the most interesting chapter in Activism for Life was ‘Answering questions from a young activist’, in which Angie Zelter reflects on what makes for effective action and on her support for the direct action tactics used by current movements.

Most of the book, though, is storytelling along with an archive collection. Zelter covers 50 years of nonviolent direct action campaigns – from Greenham Common to the founding of XR Peace.

As she recounts her own experiences…

1 October 2021News

Palestine Action campaigner freed as campaign continues

A Palestine Action (PA) activist was released from Foston Hall prison after a 37-day hunger strike soon after our last issue went to the printers, on 23 July.

Yogi Bear had been remanded to prison on 17 June after refusing to accept extremely restrictive bail conditions following a PA occupation of the Arconic Factory in Birmingham. (See PN 2655.) They were released after the conditions were reduced to simply remaining in one fixed abode, which they were willing to accept.…

28 September 2020Feature

In January, we asked activists and groups around the country what they thought campaigners should be doing – this year and over the next 10 years. These are the responses we received.

Ali Tamlit (pictured right)

I’m interested in questions of: What does care look like? How can we support one another as whole people and communities – rather than seeing each other’s value in ‘productive’ activist times and then disappearing in times of burnout. And also how to balance accountability within this care?

Beyond this, as we go into the 2020s, although many positives will also happen, I think it’s important to acknowledge some trends which are likely to get worse: the…

1 June 2020Feature

A look inside the creativity fuelling the US struggle to defund the police

It’s hard to keep up when the world lurches from pandemic to racial justice uprising seemingly overnight. After months of living in a quarantine pressure cooker, amidst a global pandemic that’s thrown millions out of work, exposed the vicious inequities of our current capitalist system and killed hundreds of thousands, masses of people hit a breaking point.

Fuelled by their righteous rage about the videotaped killing of George Floyd, people have flooded the streets and taken the fight…

1 December 2019News in Brief

The Metropolitan police more than doubled their spending on policing the protests against the DSEI arms fair in East London, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The cost this September was £2.4m, whereas it was only £978,000 the last time in 2017.

The Met spent £21m dealing with XR in October, much more than the £16m it spent in April.

By 10 October, XR itself had raised just over £2.5m in 12 months, according to the Financial Times.…

1 December 2019News

Bexhill meeting explores UN Charter

At a meeting on 26 October, Bexhill and Hastings United Nations Association (UNA) explored the UN’s meaning of peace by working through the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations.

Bruce Kent (Movement for the Abolition of War) discussed how ‘We the peoples’ can actually ‘save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’.

Chris Coverdale (Make War History) suggested ways to end Britain’s perpetual involvement in war, including persuading taxpayers to obey the…

1 December 2019Feature

An XR act of gratitude to Brixton police officers was painful and racist

My work as coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) has kept me busy for some months now supporting the rights of Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners to exercise their freedom of assembly.

XR activists have been out on the streets since 7 October and over 1,400 have been arrested so far. Now the police have abandoned any pretence at facilitating their rights and have imposed a blanket ban on XR protests covering the whole of London.

As well as…

1 December 2019Comment

Cath Bann is caught up in the maelstrom

I never made an actual decision to join XR Peace; I was caught up in the maelstrom that is Angie Zelter. One minute I was in a meeting about blockading DSEi, the next we were discussing the finer details of using Yorkshire CND’s mock Trident missile to block the MoD on the Embankment on 7 October.

I hadn’t previously been involved in Extinction Rebellion as I had little time and some misgivings. These stemmed from the fact that I broadly share Peace News’ critique of XR,…

1 October 2019Feature

Another extract from the Climate Resistance Handbook

Demonstrations for democracy in Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, in 1990. Photo: Mongolian Democratic Union

This is an extract from The Climate Resistance Handbook – or, I was part of a climate action. Now what? written by Daniel Hunter with a foreword by Greta Thunberg. Published by 350.org, this 68-page book is being mass distributed in the UK at cost…

1 August 2019Feature

Some thoughts on how to improve meetings from a fed-up campaigner

Franz Sedlacek, Ghosts on a Tree (1933) via WikiArt

I think there are two major reasons why people come to public meetings (and, to a lesser extent, organising meetings). First, they come to learn facts and perspectives about ‘an issue’ – to get beyond the headlines. If you’re not particularly confident around the skills of tracking down different sources and perspectives and comparing and contrasting them, then this can be a relatively efficient way of getting information.

1 February 2019Review

Adam Hochschild, Lessons from a Dark Time and Other Essays, University of California Press, 2018; 296pp; £22Rebecca Solnit, Call Them By Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays), Granta, 2018; 188pp; £12.99

The United States’ April 1917 entry into the First World War sparked a massive wave of internal repression that was to last until 1920.

US radical newspapers and magazines were targeted, with postmasters ordered to be on the lookout for anything ‘calculated to … embarrass or hamper the Government in conducting the war’.

The former secretary of war, Elihu Root (who would go on to co-found the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations) told a gathering at New York’s Union…

1 December 2018Review

University of California Press, 2018; 152pp; £17.99

On 15 February 2003, during the the famous million-plus-strong march against the US-led invasion of Iraq, I was handed a newsheet by an anarchist. Its gist, none too tactfully expressed, was that such mass demonstrations were pointless and that we were all fools for taking part. Whether or not he was right is one of the many questions about protest explored (in a US context) by LA Kauffman in this short but insightful book.

The mobilising director of some of the largest…

1 December 2018Feature

Activists need to go on the offensive argues veteran campaigner George Lakey

Women’s March, 21 January 2017, San Diego, USA. Photo: Bonzo McGrue (CC BY 2.0)

Protests are well known, and popular. The trouble is, when I look back on the one-off protests I’ve joined over the years, I don’t remember a single one that changed the policy we were protesting against.

In February 2003, I joined millions of others around the world on the eve of US/British war on Iraq. The BBC estimated that a million protested on 15 February in London alone. In the US,…

19 November 2018Blog entry

The Inaugural Alternative Claudia Jones Memorial Lecture 2018

In a tucked away corner of Rotherhithe, down a little cobbled street oozing with history, stands Sands Film Studios. Well-known amongst lefties and radicals, this unique corner of London was the perfect place to hear from a unique, leftie and often radical character, Kerry-Anne Mendoza.

Mendoza began by talking about the namesake of the lecture,…

1 October 2018Comment

A review-editorial of three important new books on campaigning

Matthew Bolton, How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power, Bloomsbury, 2017, 178pp, £9.99
George Lakey, How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning, Melville House, December 2018, 224pp, £tba
Jonathan Matthew Smucker, Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals, AK Press, 2017, 284pp, £14

All three of these books contain inspiring stories of effective, successful campaigning. All three present challenging ideas that deserve chewing over. And all three have…