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I was there

How did PN end up 'for nonviolent revolution'?

Howard Clark, Madrid

ImageIt’s great news that PN is bringing George Lakey back to Britain, and I’m looking forward to meeting him again at the PN Summer Camp.

Also I have really enjoyed the two recent interviews with him. However, I do have one historical correction. If George tried to persuade PN in 1969 to adopt the slogan ‘for nonviolent revolution’, he didn’t succeed.

PN was discussing ideas about nonviolent revolution then (and even earlier), including George’s proposal for NRGs (nonviolent revolutionary groups – ‘energies’), but the subtitle ‘for nonviolent revolution’ wasn’t used until December 1971. It was introduced with hardly any discussion, let alone consultation outside the office, and yet stayed until 1988.

What happened was that we had reintroduced a masthead that left space for a subtitle. So I proposed filling it with ‘for nonviolent revolution’. We only discussed this informally – one colleague being quite happy with the suggestion, another preferring ‘the theory and practice of nonviolent revolution’ (which would have required tyre levers to make it fit the space) – and bingo, there it was.

Our new pose later provoked an excellent and thoughtful two-part article by former co-editor Bob Overy challenging us to come up with a more coherent nonviolent revolutionary theory, but by then the subtitle had become part of the paper’s identity.

Editor Response: 

Howard became a PN collective member in 1971, and has for many years been a PN board member. We should take this opportunity to correct a figure we’ve misprinted in relation to George Lakey’s work. George has led 1,500 workshops on five continents rather than training 1,500 people over the last 40 years.

Topics: PN-related