1 June 2017Comment

We can't win radical change just by electing "the right people", argues Milan Rai

Peace News is here to encourage grassroots movements for justice and peace, and to champion revolutionary nonviolence. In the face of all the turmoil in the world, what does the title of PN Summer Camp 2017 really mean? ‘Surviving Politics – self-care, skill-sharing and community-building when nothing seems to make sense.’

Nuclear boundaries

British governments have always rejected unilateral disarmament in favour of multilateral disarmament. Now that…

1 April 2017Feature

A long-time US peace activist tours the US with his ground-breaking book

George Lakey giving a talk at Boulder Book Store, Boulder, Colorado, 13 February 2017. PHOTO: Boulder Book Store

Americans tend to be self-obsessed. That condition goes with being in the centre of a world empire, as British people with long memories may recall. How, then, can people inside an empire get enough of a broader perspective to be able to think well?

‘This guy is fucking relentlessly on point,’ one journalist tweeted in the midst of an author event I led in…

1 April 2017Feature

Jane McAlevey's new book is a shot in the arm ... and a challenge

Jane McElevey. Photo: Verso

Has the election of Donald Trump as president of the US got you down? Are there days you just don’t believe any more that we can win, that we can change big important things?

Jane McAlevey’s Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell) is the perfect antidote to Trump-era pessimism and despondency. I’m going to buy a bunch of copies for people I know, and I think you should too.

There are books out there filled with inspiring…

1 April 2017Comment

Class, unions and social movements

A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford during a strike (industrial action), 2006-03-28. Copyright © 2006 Kaihsu Tai

In May 2007, just after I started editing PN, we ran a front-page opinion piece by Dan Clawson, a US union activist and academic, on what trade unions and grassroots movements could learn from each other. He’d written a wonderful book about this, called The Next Upsurge.

Clawson gave an example of the new unionism he favoured: the…

1 April 2017Comment

The point of peacemaking is to change minds, argues Bruce Kent

I’ve never before heard of a paper called The Weekly Dispatch but it was clearly doing well in 1917. In September that year it published a furious piece headed ‘Traitors in the Parks’.

It was all about the anti-war rallies being held in Finsbury Park and Hyde Park – ‘long haired strapping youths... using language about Cabinet ministers which horrified all decent people’.

It got much stronger in the next edition. ‘Sedition mongers and their dupes – insidious…

1 December 2015Review

Veterans of Hope Project, 2015; 76pp; $8.99

Described by Cornel West as a ‘secular bible for a new social movement’, Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book The New Jim Crow argued that the US prison system – the destination for one-in-three Black US males during their lifetime, compared with one-in-17 of their white contemporaries – had become ‘a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control’, functioning in a manner ‘strikingly similar to Jim Crow’ – the system of government-sanctioned racial…

11 May 2013Feature

An interview with Seeds for Change

Consensus decision-making has been growing more widespread in a variety of movements, from environmental activists, to co-operatives, to the recent explosion of Occupy camps. Rebecca Smith of Seeds for Change told PN: ‘We have seen a change in meeting culture in Britain, towards a greater awareness of the value of participation and the methods that make it possible.’

“The first step is learning to be honest with yourself."

Seeds for Change, a training and support network, has…

11 May 2013Feature

The anti-roads campaigners take on the department for transport over Combe Haven

PN co-editor tummy-to-tummy with the forces of the State Photo: Marta Lefler

In the unlikely event that anyone were to ask where I was when I heard that Margaret Thatcher had died, I’ll be able to say that I was attempting to get into the department for transport (DfT) to search for secret documents.

Specifically, I was at their London HQ for ‘Operation Disclosure’: a two-day attempt by the anti-road group Combe Haven Defenders to find and distribute the DfT’s secret…

1 December 2012Review

ZBooks, 2012; 109pp; available for free download at

‘When I hear the word gun I reach for my culture’, quipped Malcolm Muggeride in response to Nazi playwright Hanns Johst’s infamous (and often misquoted) line that ‘When I hear the word culture... I release the safety on my Browning!’

‘When I hear the word social theory, I reach for clarity, simple prose and common sense’ could be the catchphrase for this volume, the first of three volumes about ‘winning social changes that reorient whole societies by altering institutions at the heart…

17 October 2012Feature

This article is only available in the paper version of Peace News.

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…

31 May 2012Letter

The debate around CND's remit continues

As a national member of CND [the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] since before 1970, and a member of CND national council, I am very interested to know in which direction CND is going. John Hemsley of Kent Area CND brought a motion to CND conference in 2011, asking if CND should concentrate more on core objectives. After a brief discussion, it was decided not to debate this, as it would mean conference finishing late, with all the problems of missing trains, etc.

As it was not…

31 May 2012Comment

Is it revolutionary - or counter-revolutionary - to attack the police?

The police march in London on 10 May was ‘supported’ by some radical protesters, holding sardonic signs: ‘Without us, democracy would triumph’, ‘Kettling: a transitional demand’, and ‘Not all cops are bastards’. People joked that the police might be less conservative than usual in their estimates of how many marched (in the event, Scotland Yard refused to give a figure).

The protest was against plans to cut police numbers by 16,000 over four years, as part of a 20% cut to the policing…

1 March 2012Review

2011; 87 minutes; available for £11.99 + p&p from TVF:

A common argument in the leadup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq was that Saddam Hussein could only be toppled by a foreign invasion, that it was impossible for Iraqis themselves to remove such a brutal dictator.

An insightful and stirring look at the life and work of Gene Sharp, How To Start A Revolution demolishes this argument. Countering the widely accepted view of nonviolence as hopelessly naïve, the 84-year-old professor of political science has spent his life documenting the…

24 January 2012Letter

I was really confused by your latest editorial on the Occupy movement. Has PN become victim of Occupy’s growing contagion of ambivalence about capitalism? (Has the movement been infiltrated by the London Stock Exchange?)

In the second half of paragraph seven, the paper for nonviolent revolution expresses the expediency of reform over revolution: “we can only hope to modify dominant institutions. For the foreseeable future, immediate modification rather than immediate revolution must…