Movement building

1 February 2024Comment

In the run-up to this year's general election, the UK peace movement must challenge the deep-seated militarism of the entire British political class

Noam Chomsky once wrote that activists had two options in relation to changing government policies (in the US): ‘One way is to try to influence the choice that will be offered by the two major political parties and to exercise this choice on Election Day. Another, very different approach is to try to modify the objective conditions that any elected official must consider when he [or she] selects a course of action.’

You can either work within the system, trying to persuade a party to…

1 December 2023Review

PM Press, 2023; 576pp; £23.99

In the poorest state of the US, with the largest Black population and a long, terrifying history of extreme racial violence, there is a truly inspirational movement towards political, cultural and economic democracy.

For the last decade Cooperation Jackson (CJ), based in Jackson, Mississippi, has been accessing land for food and housing, building a network of worker co-operatives, and creating autonomous People’s Assemblies in order to take back power and build grassroots democracy.…

1 October 2023Feature

How to carry out a strategy review in a peace organisation  

Every so often, any organisation or group will look at what it’s doing and see if it can be done better. Peace News is about to do this! Here are some thoughts on the subject from someone the PN staff respect very much (who wanted to remain anonymous) who has been involved in strategy reviews in different British peace organisations with paid staff. (The word ‘strategy’ can sound complicated but it just means ‘the plan we are following to try to achieve our goals’!)

Why now?

1 April 2023Comment

Mass non-cooperation alone is not enough

This note is addressed to the many people who are gathering in London in April, brought together by Extinction Rebellion (XR), hoping to contribute to positive action to tackle climate change.

In promoting this event, XR suggested that: ‘Gathering peacefully in such large numbers at the nation’s seat of power will create a positive, irreversible, societal tipping point.’ They referred to ‘the power of people power’, as shown by the success of nonviolent mass demonstrations in the…

1 December 2022Feature

Three possible joint campaigns for the peace and climate movements  

Should the peace and climate movements be trying to work more together and, if so, how?

These were two of the key questions posed at the recent ‘War and the climate emergency’ dayschool in Oxford that brought climate and peace campaigners together to learn and reflect in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It’s not hard to find common ground shared by the two movements.

For example, as PN’s editor, Milan Rai, has noted, Russia’s criminal invasion of…

1 August 2022Feature

Campaigning wisdom from the heyday of CND, one of Bruce Kent's first pieces in PN

1982: Since I have been asked to do so, and not because I have any exclusive wisdom, experience or success in this field, I would like to share a few thoughts on the work of trying to mobilise public opinion for disarmament.

In recent years, public opinion for disarmament has been mobilised on a massive scale. That process has now to continue to the point when public opinion actually forces changes in national policies. To gather in a park is a most impressive act of witness. To…

1 February 2019Feature

In a new book, two Labour left-wingers draw on post-1945 European history to prepare radical movements to make a Corbyn government a radical success

The biggest danger facing the left today is no longer a shortage of ideas or a lack of positive vision.

The biggest danger is lack of preparedness – that we are not yet ready for the hard work of turning that vision into reality. If the left has been unused to being propositional, it has been even less used to holding and wielding power.

If we are serious about fundamentally transforming our economy, we must rapidly build our understanding of the scale of the challenge…

1 December 2017Comment

Activists need to find better ways to struggle with each other and to fight with each other, argues Milan Rai

'People ask me how we would defend the bookfair from a fascist attack, but I’m not worried about them out there. I worry about what we might do to each other in here.’ – one of the organisers of the London Anarchist Bookfair, on 28 October.

A few hours later, a group of trans rights activists stopped some feminists handing out leaflets that they found oppressive to trans women. A nontrans woman, Helen Steel, objected to this censorship. About 30 trans rights activists then surrounded…

1 August 2016Feature

Activists need to examine the unspoken assumptions and power relations already at work in our movements, argues Julia Downes

Content note: rape, sexual assault, sexual violence

In social justice movements, we often encounter forces of the state who seek to quash radical dissent. The police, as agents of the state, are called on to contain and disperse demonstrations and protest camps, infiltrate and surveil our movements, profile activists, evict and shut down occupations.

This can take a distinctly gendered approach.

Several studies have indicated that women are at an…

21 February 2014Review

Zed, 2013; 256pp; £16.99

Many readers of Peace News will be familiar with one kind of protest camp or another – but this book may find more readers in your local Social Studies department than it will on the streets of the next Occupy.

That doesn’t mean it has no value for activists. Far from it. It is a rich source of information both on camps too far away or too long ago for today’s young Occupier to know, and on lots of theoretical issues that recur and revolve around such camps.

24 January 2013Blog

Following a brutal arrest and an IPCC complaint being upheld, Mani Hamid is seeking a movement to support victims of miscarriages of justice.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have upheld Mani Hamid's complaint – “the police had wrongfully arrested him, assaulted him and violated his human right to protest.” (please see back history below (1)). He is currently pursuing prosecution of the police for misconduct and solicitors for negligence. Mani is teaching himself about Human Rights law and is determined to take these cases up to the International Human Rights courts.

17 October 2012Feature

Cameron commits £2bn to drones while chopping disability benefits

The Conservative-led government is committing billions to military spending while forcing through massive cuts in jobs and services, and reducing support for badly-needed green technologies.

The government has already spent £2bn on developing and deploying pilotless drone aircraft over the past five years, using some of them to kill an unknown number of Afghan civilians…

26 September 2012Feature

The practical advantages of nonviolent strategies in mobilising for revolution. 

In July, I participated in a Peace News Summer Camp workshop which discussed 'diversity of tactics' — the idea of including violent tactics in our actions and strategies for change. I was a little surprised when my fellow panellists wanted to turn it into a conversation about pacifism and whether violence can ever be justified.

Although I'm a pacifist, I didn't get their point. Most people who participate in nonviolent campaigns aren't pacifists; they choose nonviolent action…

25 September 2012Feature

A secular tool for sustainability.

Every time I tell someone about 'anarchist sabbath', they're intrigued, curious, sometimes envious – the conversations start exploring lifestyle, family, personal decisions, community, spirituality, emotional support, political strategy.

This is rather gratifying. So what is it?

Most Sundays, my friend, whom let's call 'Jack', and I meet up in my kitchen and pour ourselves a cup of tea. We take our tea down to the garden pond and sit next to each other without talking for…

2 July 2012Comment

The pros and cons of 'rebel countercultures'

We’re still digesting the long interview we carried out with veteran US activist George Lakey earlier this year, the last part of which appears on p8. We’re bringing George to the UK for a two-week speaking tour (which culminates in a day-long whole-camp workshop at Peace News Summer Camp) and we’re very much looking forward to learning more about the multi-dimensional Movement for a New Society that he initiated, which, among other things, took a number of buildings into collective…