Activism and

1 February 2024Comment

Alcoholism and Messiahs

Here are two examples from what was a long-running column on this page. Oldies but goodies.

From PN 2502 (October 2008): Activism & alcohol

On 17 September, the department of health announced that it had identified nine personality types of heavy drinkers who are at risk of liver damage and other alcohol-related illnesses. By pure chance, on that same day, Peace News announced that it had identified nine…

1 December 2016Comment

'Not a big issue, then!

What comes to mind is everybody complaining that Donald Trump is the president of the United States and everything is over because one man has a minimum of four years in that office.

I think it’s funny that everyone is freaking out that the world will end because of Donald Trump not believing that climate change is real.

It may be true that he will undo a lot of climate agreeements and so on, but he has only got four years. He won’t destroy the world in four years.


1 October 2016Comment

Well there are various kinds of dirt, but I often think of something: when you’re planning to do some direct action, and when it’s going on, and then you’re arrested, you’re often very dirty because you can’t get washed.

There is another thing that’s occurred to me because that’s what you want! Twice I’ve been involved in digging a peace garden and that was good because you’re engaging with the dirt of the ground, the soil, and that makes you dirty. It’s a good kind of dirt.

1 August 2016Comment

A reader rages

As usual, we rang people up to talk anonymously about a topic. This time, something came up for one person that needed more space.

Can I caveat this right before I agree to do this? I feel I am poor on my feet. I don’t do social media partly because I can’t get my head round how people do that. I have a bit of anxiety around this.

The other context is, depending on your topic, really good for your piece or really bad.

I have just been through the most enraging experience…

1 June 2016Comment

It doesn’t feel like the right combination of words! Activism is not about running away, it’s about running towards.

I have often felt like running away, I suppose, like the nervousness before you’re about to enter a base or something.

- Woman, Leicester

I think what comes to me is ‘not taking responsibility’. Day to day, in my day-to-day living, with various aspects.

When you first said it, what came to mind was: Never!

- Woman,…

1 April 2016Comment

'One or two won't hurt'

I think activism for me means acting in accordance with my own values and trying to live my own values.

For some years of my life I was vegan, and I’m not now, and eggs is still something I’m not sure around the ethics of.

I try to buy organic free range eggs or preferable from a local farm that I know.

Eggs also makes me think of Easter, a time of fertility and spring and hope.

- Woman, Colchester

Erm.... Well, I suppose eggs and Easter is about…

1 February 2016Comment

Baths, time and Nintendo

Oh wow. ‘Activism and luxury.’ Very good. No specific question for me, just whatever comes into my mind....

I feel the word raises great feelings of guilt! I suppose I feel I should never enjoy luxury. To be an activist, one rejects luxury: while so many people have so little, that you can have luxury is anathema. It undermines everything we’re trying to do.

Having said that, I do luxuriate in my sofa, and my TV, and my glass of wine.

I suppose one of the greatest…

1 December 2015Comment

Is it an effective form of protest?

Is it an effective form of protest? Is the effort worth the results? A lot of them seem to be online these days and I don’t have much to do with that. They might have more effect, I don’t know.
- Woman, London

Oh no, I think hopelessness and pessimism. Actually that isn’t quite true, I am torn between hopelessness and feeling that things can be changed by things like this. I sign a fair few. And the online things like Avaaz are proving to be effective becasuse of the…

1 October 2015Comment

I have two words for you. ‘Jeremy Corbyn.’  Woman, Hastings

Well, everyone has to get through having movement messiahs. It’s a process of inspiration followed by disillusionment.

People always say about Evo Morales [president of Bolivia since 2005], he came from the movements, and the movements kept him in check, and he understood that role.

Obviously, Julian Assange had the best comment on this when he arrived at St Paul’s [Cathedral, London] on the first day of Occupy. We were in the middle of the first general assembly, and I was…

1 June 2015Comment

What keeps coming into my mind is ‘Red Ken, Red Ken’, but I’m not having him in here. He’s not allowed.

That chair is red. That top is red. Ketchup is red! There’s a lot of red things in the world.

I don’t know if I can talk about this for three minutes....

Okay, well, the obvious thing is, I guess: ‘Communism!’

For me, red is anger. Which can be destructive, but can also be a positive force, a driving force.

I guess what it’s making me think about is: the…

1 February 2015Comment

What comes into my mind if you say ‘activism and Valentines’? Russell Brand! I dunno.

Man, 20s, London area

Whoa! That’s a tricky one. I’ve never associated the two. People do activism out of the goodness of their hearts for the love of people, maybe?

I think that’s what it’s generally done for, activism, for the love of the planet and love of the people. Oh, hang on, my friend has got a good one. (See below.)

Man, 20s, Glasgow area

25 November 2014Comment

That just makes me think of... nearly everybody. You feel like activism isn’t something you choose to do, it’s somethig you have to do. You’re thinking of the outcome rather than clocking in and clocking out. So there’s no obvious place to stop or to end; so that’s when it can be easy to be overwhelmed. That happens quite often to people I know.

Where I live, it would be good to find ways to make it into a place where people can go to recover. I see that as one of the main reasons for…

28 September 2014Comment

Failure? I don’t like thinking about my failures. I don’t like thinking about when groups fail either, or movements. If I’m honest, I do enjoy thinking about failures by people I don’t like. It’s important that some people fail in what they try to do – certain people!

I’ve failed at a lot of things in activism, and some of them it was right that I didn’t succeed because I was trying to do something stupid or counter-productive. Something that was actually bad for the cause.


9 June 2014Comment

Ah. (Laughs.) I’ve not had very good experiences with meetings. Well, I mean, on the whole they are quite important and useful ways of spending time. But you do get meetings which drag on. People taking the opportunity to quote Marx endlessly or other things they’ve read. They’re just taking the chance to make speeches. It can be quite a frustrating experience. If they could just stop doing that, it would be fantastic!

3 April 2014Comment

For a lot of people I know, spring is about planting seeds, growing, nurturing, green stuff. It’s very hopeful, there are lots of metaphors there for making a better world, starting the revolution, taking control of your own food, give us bread but give us roses, etc etc.

For me, spring means spring cleaning – the spring cleaning I ought to do, but don’t. The tottering piles of things-not-done and things-not-tidied-away shine more brightly in the sunshine.

Spring means getting…