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Editorial: Civil resister

Howard's proposal for a network of nonviolence study and action groups

It’s still unbelievable that he has gone. Howard Clark has been a key figure in Peace News for several decades – as a co-editor, collaborator, contributor, (re-)organiser, trustee, director, defender. His 1971 essay Making Nonviolent Revolution, which we re-published as a pamphlet two years ago – over his modest objections – with a new, very valuable afterword by Howard, remains one of the most important explanations published of the liberatory politics that PN aims to help create.

In this issue, we publish an appreciation of Howard by his close friends Andrew Rigby and Michael Randle. We’ve also re-printed a characteristic PN article by Howard (we’ve posted several more on the PN website). While it is concerned with the challenges and opportunities of the British anti-nuclear power movement in the late 1970s, the challenges it invokes – of creating strategy and joined-up campaigning, of building solidarity between direct actionists and other campaigners, and of developing participatory group processes – continue to resonate today. The piece is forceful, honest, perceptive and constructive, just like Howard himself.

Howard was a dedicated participant in Peace News Summer Camp; this year we will make space to remember him and to address some of the issues he devoted himself to.

A commission

One of Howard’s last emails to us commended our support for the Campaign Nonviolence programme of nonviolence study/action groups initiated by Pace e Bene (see PN 2563). He wrote: ‘PN should consider the proposal to stimulate and serve a network of nonviolence study and action groups. This is a well-known model for development.’

As editors, we welcome your reactions to this suggestion.

Inspired by Campaign Nonviolence, we have founded a nonviolence study/action group in Hastings, where we live. (The group is named ‘Burning Gold’, after a line from William Blake: ‘Bring me my bow of burning gold, bring me my arrows of desire’.) We held an inaugural public workshop, ‘On Anger’, with 22 people on 19 January; and we’re holding an open workshop on ‘Communicating Nonviolently’ on 9 February. Thereafter we will have some open sessions, and private ones for a closed group that commits to working together for much if not all of the year. There was a tangible positive energy at our first workshop, where the lessons we’ve learned about training in recent years helped us to create an involving and empowering atmosphere.

Someone wrote afterwards: ‘Participation by all made everybody feel valued.’ That is the spirit of Peace News Summer Camp, which we hope to bring into all our activities, and to however many nonviolence groups we can stimulate or serve.