Editorial

1 October 2021Comment

Milan Rai pieces together the story of a crucial moment in the Cuban Missile Crisis

Nine years ago, we wrote about a Russian naval officer named Vasili Arkhipov who saved the world.

We’ve learned since then that the story of Arkhipov’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis was a little more complicated than we thought. Even so, it is clear that Arkhipov played a key role in preventing a confrontation at sea turning into global nuclear war.

On 27 October 1962, 12 US warships surrounded a submerged Soviet submarine, the B-59, a began dropping hand grenades…

1 August 2021Comment

Stop the spread of speedy, more lethal, vaccine-resistant variants

England is entering a dangerous period. British prime minister Boris Johnson is knowingly creating the perfect conditions to breed stronger variants of COVID-19 that can overcome the vaccine.

A group of experts warned in a letter to the medical journal, the Lancet on 7 July that the complete lifting of almost all COVID restrictions in England on 19 July was ‘dangerous and premature’.

One of the concerns of the expert group was the long-term health of the millions of…

20 July 2021Comment

'If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.'

I’m writing this as we’re approaching the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, and I’m thinking about racism and anti-racism and solidarity.

There’s a thing that a lot of activists call ‘being an ally’ or ‘allyship’. What this means is that you’re not the target of a particular oppression, but you want to challenge that oppression and be actively on the side of people who are the direct targets of that oppression.

So, for example, there was a wave of solidarity…

4 July 2021Comment

How can white anti-racists stay motivated for the long struggle ahead?

I hope that you found the Whiteness issue useful. I have one more thing to say to white readers, to folk who want to prioritise anti-racism.

If you are a white person who aims to be in this for the long haul, then you may need to dig deep and find some ways that you personally can benefit from the rooting out of racism.

White US philosopher Shannon Sullivan ends her thought-provoking book on White Privilege by pointing out that there are problems with white people…

11 December 2020Comment

It’s only by rooting out racism and establishing genuine equality and racial justice that we'll be able to bring about deep changes in our society, argues Milan Rai

‘I have quit a large organisation I’ve belonged to for many years, for various reasons, but their unthinking public support for the BLM slogan finally made up my mind.... If I was a member of the ruling class, I’d be very happy with the BLM movement from a “divide and conquer” perspective.’

‘I, personally, have not [taken part in any activities related to Black Lives Matter] because I think that George Soros has a sinister hand in B>L>M.’

‘True grassroots activists know…

11 December 2020Comment

Racism and colonialism are at the heart of the peace movement's main issues, argues Milan Rai

Imagine that you’ve just packed a whole lot of people into a crowded hall for a public meeting you’ve organised.... And then you get the feeling that behind you is yet another person who wants to get in, who you’re somehow going to have to squeeze into standing at the back of the room.

Imagine a situation when you realise that, actually, this extra person who you sensed was there – an indigenous woman from Indonesia maybe, perhaps an Iraqi man from the southern marshes, someone of…

9 December 2020Comment

We need to remember the real history of Britain's nuclear 'deterrent' argues Milan Rai

There is a powerful taboo in British culture around the connection between nuclear weapons and intervention in the Global South.

There is no official ban on discussing this link, but historians and journalists censor themselves, as predicted by the Chomsky–Herman Propaganda Model of the mass media and Western culture more generally.

Unfortunately, this taboo also affects the British peace movement.

I don’t think that the peace movement here has even begun to digest the…

18 September 2020Comment

Doing the right thing isn't always the same as doing the thing that makes you feel right, argues Milan Rai

The other day, a friend told me she was sick of being bombarded with evangelical veganism on Facebook.

Posts that feel like they’re saying: ‘If you don’t become vegan, you personally are destroying the climate!’ ‘You must become vegan! Or you are a bad person!’

‘I got a message like that,’ she said, ‘and I suddenly had a very strong urge to eat a bacon sandwich. I don’t even eat bacon! I’ve maybe eaten one bacon sandwich in my life!’

Having done a lot of urgent-…

1 June 2020Comment

Gabriel Carlyle examines the possibilities - for good and bad - opened up by the mother of all 'trigger events' 

For all its horrors, the coronavirus pandemic has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a shift to a more equitable, socially just, climate-resilient and zero-carbon world – if we can grasp it. The current wave of protests in support of #BlackLivesMatter – and the groundwork that campaigners have laid for them over the past six years – provide crucial pointers as to how we might do this.

In …

1 December 2019Comment

A democratic and unifying way of sorting out the Brexit crisis

Tim Reckmann from Hamm, Deutschland [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Here is a proposal for dealing with Brexit that does something for Leavers and for Remainers – and does it democratically. It can be put into action either after we leave the EU or while we’re still stuck in this half-way-divorced phase.

This is a two-part plan. It would take time. It’s not simple, but it’s thorough.

1 October 2019Comment

We need to work across the Leave-Remain divide, argues Milan Rai

ChiralJon [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

The Brexit process has passed from the farcical into the surreal. Things are happening which would have seemed unbelievable only weeks ago.

British parliamentary democracy seems to be discrediting itself. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, from a nonviolent anarchist point of view?

A lot of the chaos is the result of the government…

1 August 2019Comment

How the US anti-war movement has helped to restrain Donald Trump

It was the strength of the US anti-war movement that helped us to avoid US military action against Iran on 20 June.

A lot has happened since Iran shot down a US surveillance drone that day (including the seizure of an Iranian tanker by British warships), but it's worth remembering that US president Donald Trump called off a retaliatory air strike that he had approved hours earlier.

Various reasons have been given for Trump's U-turn.

Journalist Alex Ward…

1 June 2019Comment

Recent elections in Australia and Spain hold lessons for UK campaigners, argues Milan Rai


Climate strikers in Melbourne in March 2019. Takver from Australia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]

Why should campaigners of any kind in Britain care about the May elections in Australia? Well, because there’s an important lesson for all activists in the defeat of the Labour party there, which had an ambitious climate agenda, and which everyone expected to win. These results showed again the…

1 April 2019Comment

Signs of the power of grassroots action is all around us, argues Milan Rai

A lot of encouraging things have happened recently. The vast wave of climate strikes by young people all around the world, the militancy shown by women in so many countries on International Women’s Day, the mass of voices of ordinary Indians and Pakistanis on social media that helped those two countries to avoid war at the end of February, the amazing power of the youth-led Sunrise movement pushing for a Green New Deal in the US, the Stansted 15 anti-deportation activists managing to avoid…

1 February 2019Comment

We need to break the huge visions that we have into smaller, winnable struggles, argues PN editor Milan Rai

There is a farmworkers union in Oregon in the US called Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN). The union campaigned for a year to get Kraemer Farms to be the first growers in the area to accept collective bargaining.

After that failed, PCUN got student groups to put pressure on NORPAC, which purchased vegetables from Kraemer Farms.

After seven years of failure, PCUN changed focus again. They chose to pressure the veggie burger firm, Gardenburger,…