Democracy

Democracy

Democracy

1 June 2024Comment

Corporate and financial capture of the state, not peaceful protest, is the real threat to democracy argues Milan Rai  

In this issue, we look at some proposals for cracking down on protest, from lord Walney, the government’s advisor on political violence and disruption, in his report Protecting our Democracy from Coercion (see here).

Walney doesn’t actually deal with the major forms of arm-twisting that interfere with democracy in Britain.

Walney doesn’t, for example, make any proposals for how to stop…

4 July 2023Blog

Eritrea is a highly-militarised state, with at least 18 months' compulsory military service for all men and women aged 18 – 40 ('indefinite national service'). This is the text of a speech given by Helen Kidan, chair of Eritrean Movement for Democracy and Human Rights, on 17 June 2023 at Antimilitarist Roots, the War Resisters' International gathering in London. The material in [hard brackets] and embedded links have been added by Peace News to help the British reader. Helen Kidan has also made some minor changes to her text.

[Lying on the Red Sea coast in North East Africa,] Eritrea is a former Italian colony, and it was federated to Ethiopia after Italy lost the Second World War to allied forces. Haile Selassie [emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 – 1974] broke the agreement by forcing Eritrea to be annexed. Therefore, in 1961, the 30-year war for independence broke out, this became the longest conflict in Africa.

Eritrea and Eritreans were isolated during the war of independence and the outlook of Eritreans…

1 June 2023Feature

Macron’s heavy-handed pensions reform is undermining democracy

France is experiencing extensive violence and a seemingly broken political system, with increasing numbers of people feeling left behind or left out. There is a lot to feel unhappy about – while also trying to look for the positive signs which can emerge from times of crisis.

The immediate cause of the current political turbulence in France has been the government’s pensions reform plans, which are being passed into law despite widespread opposition.

Such turbulence is not new…

1 February 2023Feature

Strike-breaking: using the armed forces to undermine workers’ rights

The UK is in the midst of industrial action on a scale not seen since the 1970s. With key public sector workers walking out over below-inflation pay offers, the government have asked the military to plug the gap. Drafting in the armed forces may keep some basic services running but it is also designed to weaken the power of unions. With the government threatening new anti-strike legislation, we should remember how military confrontation with strikers was the weapon of choice until the Second…

7 January 2021Blog

The coup mob in Congress has led to an outpouring of propaganda about the US love for democracy. Actually, the US has regularly opposed democracy, overthrowing democratically elected leaders it doesn't like.

'To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins.' So said US vice-president Mike Pence. Incoming US president, Joe Biden, said: 'The scenes of chaos do not reflect the true America, do not…

1 December 2019Feature

PN scrutinises the parties' election manifestos

Here are the Peace News peace scores for the manifestos of the major political parties in the UK for the 12 December election. We’ve listed them in descending order of peacefulness, according to the peace issues that we thought were most important.

The top scorer was the Green party with 5.5 points out of 10 (largely because of their commitment to getting rid of Trident), with Plaid Cymru close behind with 5 points (again, mainly because of their anti-Trident position), and…

1 October 2019Comment

We need to work across the Leave-Remain divide, argues Milan Rai

ChiralJon [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

The Brexit process has passed from the farcical into the surreal. Things are happening which would have seemed unbelievable only weeks ago.

British parliamentary democracy seems to be discrediting itself. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, from a nonviolent anarchist point of view?

A lot of the chaos is the result of the government…

1 October 2019Review

New Internationalist, 2019; £11.99; 112pp

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last 10 months, there’s a strong chance you’re aware that this year marks the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo massacre.

On 16 August 1819, an estimated 40–50,000 people assembled peacefully on St Peter’s Field in Manchester to hear the well-known reformer Henry Hunt speak on ‘the most LEGAL and EFFECTUAL means of obtaining a reform in the Common House of Parliament’.

The crowd was attacked, first by the Manchester and…

1 August 2018Review

OR Books, rev ed 2018; 388 pp; £10.99; ebook £7. Purchase online here

Alex Nunn’s engaging style makes Corbyn’s journey from jam-making backbencher to leader of the opposition seem both exciting and totally rational.

Last year, The Candidate won the Bread and Roses award for radical publishing. That first edition traced Corbyn’s rise up to the attempted coup by right-wing Labour MPs in mid-2016.

This new edition includes a 100-page(!) chapter covering last June’s snap general election and the incredible surge of support for…

1 October 2016Comment

What lies behind the rise of the outsider politician?

By Gage Skidmore - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_5…, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48635435

What, if anything, links Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate in the US, and Jeremy Corbyn, just re-elected Labour party leader here in the UK?…

1 August 2015Feature

David Mackenzie resists the siren calls of PR and the comfort zone

The Reverend Billy preaching on the streets. Source: Brave New Films via Wikimedia Commons

Two recent interactions are behind this. One was finding (in the preparation papers for a meeting) an opinion to the effect that time and effort spent on attempting to educate the general public about nuclear disarmament is pissing in the wind, with the corollary that only the decision-makers are worth our attention.

“Open up little learning rooms with genuine give-and-take”

Two…

18 February 2014News

After a four-month campaign, the international Stop the Shipment campaign succeeded in stopping a shipment of over a million canisters of tear gas to Bahrain on 8 January.


Bahrain Watch and CAAT protest outside the
South Korean embassy, London, on 18 October,
demanding an end to exports of tear gas to Bahrain.
Photo: CAAT

The government of Bahrain has been using tear gas to repress pro-democracy demonstrations since the Arab Spring spread to the Gulf state in February 2011.

A Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) report in 2012 found that ‘Bahraini law enforcement officials routinely violate every UN principle’ in their ‘unusually…

9 November 2013Blog

Exclusive report from the Maldives on election day.

For the Maldives, indefinite political chaos remains the only certainty should presidential polling scheduled for today - the fourth attempt over the last two months to vote a new head of state to office - not be allowed to proceed.

Today's poll is scheduled to take place just days before the expiration of a constitutional deadline requiring that a new president be appointed by November 11.

The Maldives' fledgling democracy, ushered in following the nation's first ever multi-…

19 September 2013Blog

Report from the Maldives on the current elections and social crisis in the country.

At what point is it that an infant democracy can really say it is growing up?

For the Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, which held its first multi-party democracy in 2008, uncertainty remains over whether the country is on the cusp of realising some form of political maturity, or is rather facing protracted political instability, potentially violent clashes and continued name calling between…