1 August 2023 Barbara Deming

Extracts from two of her most famous essays

The most effective action both resorts to power and engages conscience. Nonviolence does not have to beg others to ‘be nice’. It can in effect force them to consult their consciences - or to pretend to have them.

Nor does it petition those in power to do something about a situation. It can face the authorities with a new fact and say: Accept this new situation which we have created.

If greater gains have not been won by nonviolent action it is because most of those trying it…

1 August 2023 Penny Stone

'Remember Chipko and embrace the trees.'

‘Oh, bonny Portmore, I am sorry to see such a woeful destruction of your ornament tree.…’

These words begin an Irish lament from Country Antrim, sung for an aged oak that fell in a great storm in 1760.

It is the oldest ‘environmental justice’ song (as we might call it today) sung in the English language that I’ve been able to source. (Please do let me know if you know of other early songs with this theme!)

As with all issues of environmental justice, the critique in this…

1 August 2023 Chris Cole

Chris Cole considers a podcast looking at violent resistance to US imperialism in the 1970s

Mother Country Radicals is a fascinating ‘family history’ of the 1970s US radical left focusing on the Weather Underground and the Black Panthers. The 10-part podcast is thoughtfully narrated by Zayd Dohrn, the son of Weather Underground leaders Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. The series reflects on the consequences for him and his brothers of his parents’ involvement, and what it means to be willing to fight back, whether violently or nonviolently, against a racist and unjust…

1 August 2023 Cath

Our South Yorkshire-based anarcho-communard turns the risk register on its head

It’s taken us a while, but today, at last, the members of Doncaster Skate Co-operative finally played Co-opoly, the game of setting up a worker co-op. Several ‘chance’ cards mirrored real life – being featured in the paper, getting co-op governance training and the unexpected costs of asbestos removal all elicited squeaks of recognition.

I’ve been pushing to do this since before we took over the skate park in March, because it’s such a good exercise in practising collective…

1 August 2023 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The Tories are making it harder for anyone who isn't part of the Ruling Class to get an education, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The latest Tory nonsense is yet another attack on university education. The phrase ‘low-value degree’ is being thrown around. I’m not entirely sure such a thing exists. Well, except maybe ‘PPE’ (politics, philosophy and economics); the Tory career politician degree of choice does not appear to equip folx to lead.

University was not easy for me. An undiagnosed, dyslexic, autistic: burnout and sensory overload followed me around university like my handy wheeled book bag. But it was a…

1 August 2023 Claire Poyner

Have we 'moved beyond judging people for being rich'?

A couple of months ago, the prime minister claimed that ‘we’d moved beyond judging people for being rich’.

I’ve thought about that a bit since then. I’ve thought about my auntie saying how she resented footballers’ and pop stars’ massive salaries (when compared with for example, NHS workers). I didn’t say much at that time but I did wonder why footballers? They surely have a career of limited length even if they then go into management or training.

And why pop stars, given that…

1 August 2023 Kerris Casey-St Pierre

Gentle peace campaigner with a 'rainbow soul'

How can I write or think of my dad, without the image of a rainbow coming to mind?

Yoga to Pink Floyd, peace flags, CND, a trip to Greenham Common, quirky nursery rhymes and funny poems (that still fall out of my mouth at random times), steam trains, stamps, museums, family history, follies, postcards, bird-watching, wild flowers, maps, reading, jigsaws, vegetarian, atheist, long hair, long beard, a twinkle in his eye, a smile on his face and rainbows, rainbows, rainbows. A gentle,…

1 August 2023 Kate Hudson and Ken Butigan

Former nuclear war planner who leaked the Pentagon Papers and joined the peace movement

Kate Hudson:

We were saddened to hear of the death of whistleblower and peace campaigner Daniel Ellsberg, who died last Friday, aged 92. Daniel was a staunch anti-nuclear campaigner as well as a powerful voice for peace over many decades.

An expert in nuclear weapons planning, Ellsberg was perhaps most famous for his role in leaking 7,000 pages of classified military files in 1971, while working as an analyst for the Rand Corporation.

The Pentagon Papers revealed for the first…

1 August 2023 Andrew Rigby

Iron-willed writer and activist who played key role in the first wave of British anti-nuclear protest

April Carter’s father was an engineer with the British colonial service and April spent the first 10 years of her life in East Africa. Returning to the UK in 1947, April was enrolled at a public school in Gloucestershire, not far from the family home in Cheltenham. The staff at the school recognised April’s outstanding intellectual abilities and fast-streamed her through the English secondary school examination system – resulting in her being offered a place at Oxford university. Deciding…

1 August 2023 Milan Rai

Andreas Malm's book 'How to blow up a pipeline' - and the film it inspired - are both asking the wrong question, argues Milan Rai

Reluctantly, I finally read How to Blow Up a Pipeline (author: Andreas Malm, Verso, 2020) and went to see the feature film of the same name (director: Daniel Goldhaber, 2022).

When I finished the book, and when I walked out of the cinema, I had the same feeling. I was sad.

I felt sad that hundreds, maybe thousands, of committed young activists are going to come away from these experiences feeling that they ought to be taking on the climate criminals with high…

1 June 2023 Milan Rai

British nuclear weapons are there to protect investors’ interests

‘For 77 years, nuclear weapons have not been used at all. We should not allow the current situation to negate that history.’ – Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, 28 April

‘We underscore the importance of the 77-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons.... Our security policies are based on the understanding that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war and coercion.’ – G7 leaders’ ‘Hiroshima…

1 June 2023 Penny Stone

'We will break the siege, and we will bring down the wall with patience and steadfastness'

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba: 75 years since hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes; 75 years since over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed, since ‘home’ was taken away. Palestinians call this ‘the Nakba’, which translates as ‘the Catastrophe’.

We mark the Nakba on 15 May every year, which is also International Conscientious Objectors Day.

There is a poetic beauty in this, as increasing numbers of…

1 June 2023 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa talks to community activist Cecil Gatzmore about the politics of reggae

In 2018, following an application from the Jamaican government, UNESCO recognised reggae music as an ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’ that contributes to ‘international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity’.

In the same statement, UNESCO described reggae music as ‘at once cerebral, socio- political, sensual and spiritual’ and observed that the genre serves ‘as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God’ and…

1 June 2023 Jane Graham

Conscientious objector who formed the Vegan Organic Network

A supporter of Peace News from the 1950s, my husband David Graham died peacefully at home in April, aged 91.

From the time he was called up for National Service and decided to be a Conscientious Objector (CO), David committed himself to working for peace and social justice. After a year in prison in 1955 for being a CO, where he read about Gandhi, David decided to go to India to meet Vinoba Bhave, Gandhi’s spiritual successor.

David and his friend Ian Dixon wanted to…

1 June 2023 Cath

Our Bentley-based cooperator extends an invitation

Revolutionary eco-anarchist food producers, bookkeepers, cafe managers, visual communicators and documenters – there are free homes and unpaid commune jobs for you here in sunny Doncaster!

Just go through our two-month political education programme and two-month joining process and maybe we’ll accept you :-).

Hmm – perhaps it’s not surprising that recruitment is a bit slower than planned.

Given our very low capacity (managing Bentley Urban Farm, Twisted skate park,

1 June 2023 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

'I really am as cross as a bag full of badgers about this nonsense.'

So, we have a king. That still feels strange to say, never mind sing, come the football, but here we are. Readers who remember my column about the late queen’s state funeral and all the pomp and circumstance and expense around it, can probably guess where I’m going with this. I’m sorry, readers, but I really am as cross as a bag full of badgers about this nonsense.

The figure that has been bandied about regarding the cost of the coronation is £100mn. Let that sink in.

In the…

1 June 2023 Claire Poyner

Our columnist takes aim at angry motorists

Two wheels good, four wheels bad. Or is it the other way around?

Depends on where you hear comments reflecting the belief that one is inherently better than the other.

‘Four wheels’ implies a motor vehicle which, even if it is electric, is not completely pollution-free (and certainly the production of electricity is not carbon-neutral). Evidence shows that electric cars still emit harmful PM2.5 particles. Yes, EVs are better, but not as good as reducing the volume of motor…

2 April 2023 Penny Stone

'Hearts starve as well as bodies'

I first heard the song ‘Bread and Roses’ sung by Edinburgh folksinger Eileen Penman. In 2009, we were collating a booklet of songs as part of the ‘Gude Cause’ project celebrating 100 years since the first women’s suffrage march in Edinburgh. ‘Bread and Roses’ was one of the songs she brought to the table, a song that strongly connects women’s movements with labour movements.

James Oppenheim wrote the poem ‘Bread and Roses’ in December 1911, possibly after reading a speech by Chicago…

2 April 2023 Ambrose Musiyiwa

Ambrose Musiyiwa interviews independent publisher Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts says she started Arachne Press, just over 10 years ago, out of a fit of rage with her then publisher: ‘I’d worked out on the back of a fag packet how much she owed me and it was about three grand. And it clearly was never gonna come. So I withdrew my books from her and said: “You may not continue publishing them.’’

Since then, she has published more than 50 books, mainly short stories, poetry, a few YA (young adult) novels and a photographic portrait book.


2 April 2023 Cath

Our Bentley-based cooperator and her fellow communards buy a skate park

Usually when I sit down to write this column I try to scrape up ideas and make connections between completely random things happening in my life and then shoehorn in some kind of significant observation or realisation.

But this month there are just too many exciting things to tell you, all filling my brain with new twists and turns and deadlines, leaving no space for reflections and ponderings.

We bought a skate park!

One of our new communards, who joined us via Bentley…