1 April 2024 Milan Rai

Anarchism is not just 'spontaneity and structurelessness', argues Milan Rai

Back in the 1970s, Peace News used to advertise itself in the pages of Freedom, the anarchist paper with these words: ‘“Peace News” – the other anarchist weekly.... “Peace News” for the theory and practice of nonviolent anarchism.’

Freedom no longer exists as a printed paper, sadly – that disappeared 10 years ago – but its online version continues to carry reports of anarchist action around the world.

Peace News has long been committed to…

1 April 2024 Daniel Hunter

Seven behaviours to help us stay active and effective

To be in shape for the long haul, we have to get our minds and spirits ready, as well as jump into action.

When we’re in bad shape, our power is diminished – we’re less creative, more reactive, and less able to plan strategically. If we intend to stay active and effective in the world, we have a responsibility to tend to our spirits.

Here are seven behaviours we can use right away to strengthen ourselves, so we can keep taking more and more powerful and strategic actions.

1 April 2024 Cath

'It's guilt-inducing to say no'

Since communicating with each other and ourselves honestly seems pretty critical in a fully income-sharing, revolutionary community, our commune has decided to undertake co-counselling training. 

Co-counselling is sometimes described as egalitarian counselling, where both parties get to talk for an equal length of time. But it’s not really counselling at all – the witness shouldn’t ask leading questions or delve into what’s being said/not said. Instead, their role is largely to say…

1 April 2024 Penny Stone

'A call for one group's liberation does not imply another's destruction'

I remember Charlotte Church’s rise to fame as a very young classical singer, and I was vaguely aware of the diversity of musical voyages she embarked upon as she grew into an adult. 

Years later, I re-encountered her in a new light when Welsh friends began talking about her as a grounded and committed activist voice. I heard about her support for local community, wellbeing and environmental campaigns, and for the Palestinian people.

Côr Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Reds)…

1 April 2024 Virginia Moffatt

Which TV show regularly reminds us that people are 'for the most part ... kind, caring and empathetic'?

When Gogglebox first started back in 2013, I was not immediately wowed by the concept – a TV show about people watching TV sounded like television was finally eating itself. To my surprise, the programme took off and after a while I thought I’d take a look and see what the fuss was about. 

10 years later, it’s become a regular fixture in our house, because the seeming banality of folk in front of the telly has proved to be anything but. In fact, much like the fictional show…

1 April 2024 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We all need to get a little rest sometimes, says Rebecca Elson-Watkins

For the very first time since I began this column in January 2019, this month I have struggled to write. There are of course easily 100 issues I could champion, each as worthwhile as the others. 

But I am tired, PN readers. So tired. 

When our leaders are not the personification of political stagnation (I’m looking at you, Keir Starmer), they are Tories veering dangerously close to the right-wing in the hopes of capturing The Gammon Vote. The fact that already…

1 April 2024 Claire Poyner

Do mobs rule?

There are a few popular phrases which really set my teeth on edge. I covered ‘the nanny state’ last time. And ‘hard-working families’ results in my doing a Marge Simpson growl. 

Here’s another: ‘mob rule’. Ah yes, mob rule. Let’s unpack that a bit. Let’s start with ‘rule’. 

Who rules? The king? The prime minister? The government? A school headteacher or the boss? You could argue all of these rule to some extent in some circumstances. But they all have some authority, wouldn’t…

1 February 2024 Milan Rai

In the run-up to this year's general election, the UK peace movement must challenge the deep-seated militarism of the entire British political class

Noam Chomsky once wrote that activists had two options in relation to changing government policies (in the US): ‘One way is to try to influence the choice that will be offered by the two major political parties and to exercise this choice on Election Day. Another, very different approach is to try to modify the objective conditions that any elected official must consider when he [or she] selects a course of action.’

You can either work within the system, trying to persuade a party to…

1 February 2024 PN staff

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 February 2024 Penny Stone

'Make us live as brothers and forget that we were foes'

Some years ago, I recorded my best friend’s grandad, Stuart Gilbert, talking about his experiences as a conscientious objector and of doing voluntary work at home and overseas with Service Civil International (SCI).*

I asked Stuart why he refused to participate in national service in 1948. The most common reasons for conscientious objection to military service were either religious or connected with a specific political ideology.

For Stuart, it was something different. ‘You…

1 February 2024 Virginia Moffatt

Our new arts columnist takes a look at The Crown

I’ve decided to begin this arts column by talking about the Netflix series, The Crown, which has recently ended. Though I’m an ardent republican and had to be persuaded to watch it by my husband, Chris, this is such compelling drama, I quickly overcame my loathing for the Windsors and became hooked.

It begins in 1947, with king George VI (Jared Harris) coughing up blood in the bathroom, as he prepares for the wedding of his daughter Elizabeth (Claire Foy) to Philip (Matt…

1 February 2024 Cath

'The power of personal capital has moved [us] onto step three of our journey of a thousand miles'

It’s late and I’m sitting in a lovely big bedroom, in a (mostly) old farmhouse. As I write I can hear the sound of young communards and commune visitors training in the shed across the yard – the rhythmic sounds of the punchbag getting hit and then the whoops and laughs at the end of the exercise.

My new partner-in-crime is reading in bed: Black Against Empire, an analysis of the Black Panthers. And although the church bells mysteriously stopped ringing the hours some days…

1 February 2024 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Which tier of society you experience comes down to one thing in modern Britain, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The phrase ‘two-tier society’ has become a fairly commonplace one. We hear it in reference to healthcare, housing, education, and the North/South divide. But the phrase is wrong. British society has at least five tiers. Which tier of society you experience comes down to one thing in modern Britain. The same thing it has always come down to: social class.

We have the Ruling Class, the monarchies, the elite of the Conservative Party, we all know the sort. Unaccountable and untouchable;…

1 February 2024 Claire Poyner

Does nanny actually know best?

Recently, a politician moaned about something or other, calling it ‘the nanny state’. It got me wondering. When does a particular policy get to be called (some might say ‘dismissed as’) the nanny state? Who gets to decide? Is it a Good Thing or a Bad Thing? Does nanny actually know best?

‘The nanny state’ suggests that a government or its policies are overprotective, like a nanny towards their charges.

NB: by ‘nanny’, I mean a person employed to look after children, and not a…

1 December 2023 Penny Stone

'The children are always ours, every single one'

Sometimes the song is silence.

In the context of radical singing, I’ve only felt this once before, during the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in 2020. At that time I felt that sharing my voice in song wasn’t the right element to bring to some of these protests and gatherings; that as a white person my job in that moment was to shut up and listen, and then to amplify the voices of black people at home and internationally, alongside participating in conversations within…

1 December 2023 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The way propaganda uses language is both insidious and dangerous, says Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Language is important. It’s one of the things, particularly written language, that sets us, as a species, apart from the animals. Having done a little wordsmithing in my time, of course I’m going to think that. But the science backs me up.

When I Google ‘the importance of language’ there are 3.6 billion results. When I narrow my search to ‘the importance of language in propaganda’ I get 61 million results.

The way propaganda uses language is both insidious and dangerous. It can…

1 December 2023 Penny Stone

'I couldn't contain my empathy, my anger, or my amazement'

I have spent most of my adult life engaged in solidarity and justice work with and for Palestine, and alongside the small yet vital Israeli peace movement. I have mostly lived and travelled around the West Bank, but the last time I saw Gaza, I was standing beside the border with hundreds of Israeli and international peace activists protesting a heavy Israeli bombardment of that small place and the people in it.

I don’t have the words to even begin to understand how it must feel to be…

1 December 2023 Claire Poyner

Why are we all working so much?

Readers may have noticed that I am no longer PN administrator. So, how’s retirement? Thanks for asking! OK so far, not bored yet.

I now have plenty of spare time to indulge in a little art appreciation, organised by the Mary Ward Centre in London. A little group of us go round small art galleries; from tiny ones in posh places like Mayfair (which I would never have thought of visiting because, frankly, they do look a bit intimidating) to the community- or charity-run…

1 December 2023 Peace Pledge Union

Pacifist imprisoned for 'incitement to disaffection', renowned for his knowledge of peace movement history

Bill Hetherington, who was at the centre of pacifist activism in the UK for more than half a century, has died at the age of 89, after playing key roles in the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) and in War Resisters’ International, of which the PPU is the British section.

Bill took part in many nonviolent direct actions from the 1960s onwards, at military bases and events.

He spent time in prison in 1975 as one of the BWNIC 14, people tried for ‘incitement to disaffection’ for handing…

1 December 2023 Peace Museum and PN

'Force of nature' peace campaigner who served eleven prison sentences

Pat Arrowsmith was a force of nature. Among her many contributions to peace and justice, Pat took part in a nonviolent ‘interposition’ delegation to Indochina during the Vietnam War. The group tried to enter North Vietnam to share the dangers of bombing (they got to Cambodia and also protested at a US base in Thailand). This experience later inspired her to call together the Gulf Peace Team (GPT) in 1990, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The GPT brought 73 peace activists from 15…