For the last few months, I’ve been getting up early to join striking nurses as well as postal, BT, rail and ambulance workers on their picket lines in Hastings. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
1) Claps don’t pay the bills
These groups are all essential workers. And now is the moment that they really need our support.
Paris Marx is a Canadian tech writer and host of the 'Tech Won't Save Us' podcast – a view which more or less sums up this enraging and englightening book. Electric cars, autonomous cars, ridesharing apps, Elon Musk's tunnels, beyond-batshit ideas like flying cars. What do they all have in common? They're 'solutions' to our transport problems dreamt up by men who have no interest in the vital issue of how we do transport such that it is equitable, safe, affordable and low-carbon.
At the outset of this short book, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies note that the complex nature of the conflict in Ukraine has ‘made it particularly confusing and difficult for the Western peace movement’ to respond to, with many citizens of NATO countries ‘largely oblivious to their own governments’ share of responsibility for the crisis and the carnage’.
In 1942 the American government forcibly relocated and imprisoned at least 125,284 of its own citizens, purely on the basis that they were Japanese-Americans. Among them was five year old George Takei and his family. Known to the world as Star Trek’s original Mr Sulu, and in recent years as an LGBTQ+ activist who has also brought joy to the internet with his catchphrase ‘Oh Myyyy!’, George’s boyhood experiences inspired Allegiance.
Having campaigned for many years against nuclear weapons and the arms trade, I have often wondered how I would react to a violent attack on me or my family. I was drawn to this book in a search for what I see as the hardest kind of peace activism: to understand forgiveness among individuals.
In the prologue, Marina Cantacuzino explains that she chose storytelling as a tool with which to resist the mainstream narrative of redemptive violence during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Peace News once organised an activist training in which the participants had to stand on a stepladder in Tavistock Square and deliver a speech to the passers-by.
It is a skill that people with a political opinion should have. But these days, few do.
Many quail at the simple political tool of door-knocking.
At 875 pages, including a 50-page bibliography and 90 pages of references, this is a huge tome, and a serious investment of time.
Those looking for a much shorter primer covering much of the same ground may want to check out John Newsinger’s The Blood Never Dried: A People’s History of the British Empire (Bookmarks, 2006).
However, those who persist will discover a hugely impressive tour de force, providing a deep dive into the massive violence that ‘was endemic to the structures and systems’ of the British empire.
In my work as a community musician and singing teacher, I am a member of the Natural Voice Network (NVN).
As a community of teachers, we believe that everybody has the right to use their voice, that sound and movement are innate expressions of the human animal, and that it is the constrictive societal structures and attitudes surrounding us that prevent many people from feeling able to exercise this right.
We teach songs from all over the world, sharing in the oral tradition of teaching that exists globally.
Time and time again, history has shown us that the language politicians and the media use when talking about vulnerable groups can have dangerous consequences, says Julia Tinsley-Kent, policy manager at the Migrants’ Rights Network.
An example she gives is home secretary Suella Braverman’s description of ‘an invasion’ for the people who are making dangerous journeys, in rubber dinghies and small boats, across the Channel, in an effort to reach Britain so that they can claim asylum.
Back in November, I finally stopped paying rent to Cornerstone Housing Co-op in Leeds and moved my remaining things to a rented house in Bentley (Doncaster) – rented not by me, but by A Commune in the North. How did that feel? Well, having dragged it out for nearly a year, moving over in dribs and drabs and staying in Bentley for days or weeks at a time, it didn’t feel like a big deal – much more like a relief that my crap has all finally been cleared out (well, you know, mostly).
Nostalgia, as the old joke goes, ain’t what it used to be.
I was reminded of this a while back when I read a Guardian ‘Long Read’ on nostalgia, or as they called it ‘binmenism’. I’ll explain that in due course.
There are a few nostalgia Facebook pages with posts urging people to ‘share if you remember this’. ‘This’ being random things such as wicker shopping baskets on wheels (my Yorkshire Nana had one), four fruit salads or black jacks for a penny (an old penny), and TV’s Watch with Mother.
Could the anti-war movement have prevented the US-UK invasion of Iraq in March 2003? I think there was a real possibility, slim though it was.
In my view, the British anti-war movement came very close to halting British participation in the invasion – and derailing the war entirely.
Well, that’s not only my view. Just days before the war began, the British government told the US government that it might be forced to pull out of the invasion force. Britain’s ministry of defence frantically began preparing plans for this scenario on ‘Wobbly Tuesday’.
The independence of Britain’s top thinktanks working in the area of nuclear weapons policy has been brought into question, after an academic survey found they had accepted funding from companies who manufacture or maintain nuclear weapons.
Researchers from an elite French university, Sciences Po, surveyed 45 of the world’s leading thinktanks specialising in foreign policy and national security. They all admitted that they received financing from nuclear arms contractors and/or from governments whose military policies are based on nuclear weapons.