Recent articles

Jottings of an anarchist book-freak

01 Oct 2023


A classic piece by Dennis Gould

After many decades of selling Peace News (and a few books) on his street stall in Stroud, Gloucestershire, notorious poet-activist-letterpress-printer-footballer Dennis Gould is hanging up his boots/books. To mark the occasion, we’re reprinting most of an article Dennis wrote for PN in December 1973 (PN 1953) based on his experience of running ‘Books and Things’, a bookshop in Cornwall.

Art the Arms Fair & Demilitarise Education (dED), We Ain’t dED Yet

01 Oct 2023

Review by Henrietta Cullinan

At Gallery 46, a carefully renovated Georgian house in Whitechapel, curator Zayna Al-Saleh has gathered big names in art activism such as Vivienne Westwood, Gavin Turk, Adam Broomberg and Jeremy Deller.

Far from street protest, where Art the Arms Fair has its roots, some pieces are expected to fetch tens of thousands of pounds at auction.

Just as the DSEI arms fair four miles away offers luxurious hospitality to its corporate and military clients, this exhibition comments, with irony or not, on the art world, a luxury business in itself.

Graham Smith, Abolish the Monarchy: Why we should and how we will

01 Oct 2023

Review by Rebecca Elson-Watkins

In this book, Graham Smith argues that the assumptions that allow monarchy to continue – that it is popular, profitable and does no real harm – are all false.

Beginning with ‘profitable’, Smith tackles royal tourism, patronage and schedules.

Not only is the monarchy not good for tourism (an oft-quoted figure that it generates £500mn a year in tourism revenue has long been debunked), but the royals are also phenomenally expensive, costing taxpayers around £345mn a year.

Cynthia Cockburn and Sue Finch, Women in Black: Against Violence, for Peace with Justice

01 Oct 2023

Review by Henrietta Cullinan

I first joined Women in Black (WiB) after the pandemic when people were still cautious about gathering.

Every Wednesday, we stand for an hour at the foot of the Edith Cavell statue in Central London. The passers-by are tourists, school trips, commuters in suits, daredevil cyclists, people dressed-up for a night out, theatre-goers, street homeless.

A few, usually men, react strongly to our standing there, apparently affronted by our call for an end to militarism and war.

Leon Rosselson, Where Are the Elephants?

01 Oct 2023

Review by Penny Stone

‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when it lands there, it looks out and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.’ – Oscar Wilde

This is one of three quotes from different thinkers that opens Leon Rosselson’s new book, which combines a 130-page memoir with a long-form interview by fellow songwriter Robb Johnson.

Sophie K Rosa, Radical Intimacy

01 Oct 2023

Review by David Gee

This perceptive book sets out to release our intimate relationships from the economic forces that twist them out of shape. From the medicalisation of mental health to the truncated kinship of the nuclear family and even the commodification of funeral rites, Rosa traces the long arm of a profit motive run rampant, bending our everyday lives to its will.

How to respond?

With revolutionary politics, Rosa argues, but also by trying to step out of self-defeating structures of belonging.

Jeremy Deller, Art is Magic

01 Oct 2023

Review by Erica Smith

The blurb of this book is a short hand-written note by the artist. It ends by saying: ‘It will bring you good luck and help you do sex better.’

That’s exactly the kind of schoolboy humour – from the biro of a white, 57-year-old man who was educated at Dulwich College with Nigel Farage – that might put a Peace News reader right off.

But I recommend that you put your prejudices aside, turn the book over and have a leaf through the pages, which document over 30 years of funny, thought-provoking and revolutionary visual art.

Vincent J Intondi, Saving the World from Nuclear War: The June 12, 1982 Disarmament Rally and Beyond

01 Oct 2023

Review by Ian Sinclair

Concise, accessible and well-referenced, this is a wonderful book about a protest I wasn’t previously aware of.

Vincent J Intondi, professor of history at Montgomery College in Maryland, USA, sets the scene: surrounded by ‘advisors who believed nuclear war was a reasonable option to deal with adversaries’ in the early 1980s newly-elected US president Ronald Reagan massively increased both military spending and his warmongering rhetoric.

Radical Music: 'A Child of Our Time'

01 Oct 2023

Comment by Penny Stone

'I walked home in tears after the first two rehearsals because it felt so pertinent'

Last month, I sang Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time as part of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. It is a large choral and orchestral work that was sparked by Tippett’s reaction to the Nazi pogrom of 1938 called Kristallnacht, and which he described ‘as an impassioned protest against the conditions that make persecution possible’. It was informed by Tippett’s complex personal history, exploring deeply at different times Communism, Socialism and pacifism.


01 Oct 2023

Comment by PN staff

The Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes are currently at the centre of the fight over artificial intelligence (AI), where US-based writers and actors are trying to stop their work from being replaced by AI systems.

Here at PN, we’re wondering about our own resistance to the new digital overlords.

Diary: 'I call it "the bureaucracy of the revolution"'

01 Oct 2023

Comment by Cath

'If we don’t take ourselves seriously, why would anyone else?' asks our South Yorkshire-based anarcho-communard

One thing you have to do if you’re setting up a commune (especially a big one) is to meet a lot of people. Not just meet them, but meet them, really engage – compare what each other loves, what makes each other angry, dazzle them with the brilliant idea, ask about their financial and family situation, share some vulnerabilities, find out what makes them tick in time with your clock (or doesn’t).

What else

01 Oct 2023

Comment by Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Things have not gone far enough – not by a long shot, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The other day, while speaking to a US friend online, I described the UK as ‘a damp little island with a tea fixation, and a deeply-entrenched class system.’

Now, we all know that the weather and the tea are non-negotiable elements of 21st-century Britain. If we can fix the climate emergency, I strongly suspect that they will be non-negotiable elements of 31st-century Britain – I’m fully okay with this.

But what of the class system?

Poynted remarks

01 Oct 2023

Comment by Claire Poyner

Should we really expect the RSPB to spend time actively campaigning on the arms trade?

There’s one thing which really irritates me (what do you mean, just the one thing?). It’s when people say ‘that person/organisation is silent on the issue of….’

Often, that person/organisation isn’t silent on that issue and it doesn’t take long to find out just what they’d said on the issue, particularly if it’s an organisation with a website.

Obituary: Brian Larkin: 3 January 1960 - 26 August 2023

01 Oct 2023

Comment by Chris Booth

Gentle but tireless campaigner for peace and justice

In November 2006, after a blockade at Faslane, the nuclear missile submarine base in Scotland, I found myself sharing a cell with a gentle, erudite, bearded American called Brian Larkin. We talked pacifism, politics, and theology, and shared songs most of that night….

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, and growing up during the Vietnam War, Brian came to St Andrews university in Scotland in the late 1970s to study theology. There, he met Lindsay, a feminist and a Peace News reader, who persuaded Brian to join Student CND. Lindsay was to be his wife for 25 years.

The man who made it all possible

01 Oct 2023

Feature by Emily Johns , Tom Willis

Emily Johns interviews the curate who made the purchase of the Peace House possible.

Tom Willis was a curate in Hull in 1958 when he inherited £10,000 (worth over £180,000 today), the money that would buy 5 Caledonian Road for Peace News and Housmans Bookshop. PN production worker Emily Johns interviewed reverend Willis at a 50th birthday event for Number 5 in 2009, five years before he passed away.