1 October 2023 Cath

'If we don’t take ourselves seriously, why would anyone else?' asks our South Yorkshire-based anarcho-communard

One thing you have to do if you’re setting up a commune (especially a big one) is to meet a lot of people. Not just meet them, but meet them, really engage – compare what each other loves, what makes each other angry, dazzle them with the brilliant idea, ask about their financial and family situation, share some vulnerabilities, find out what makes them tick in time with your clock (or doesn’t).

We’ve just had one of our quarterly (there, I’ve said it in print, it is…

1 October 2023 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Things have not gone far enough – not by a long shot, argues Rebecca Elson-Watkins

The other day, while speaking to a US friend online, I described the UK as ‘a damp little island with a tea fixation, and a deeply-entrenched class system.’

Now, we all know that the weather and the tea are non-negotiable elements of 21st-century Britain. If we can fix the climate emergency, I strongly suspect that they will be non-negotiable elements of 31st-century Britain – I’m fully okay with this.

But what of the class system?

Anyone who has spent half an hour with…

1 October 2023 Claire Poyner

Should we really expect the RSPB to spend time actively campaigning on the arms trade?

There’s one thing which really irritates me (what do you mean, just the one thing?). It’s when people say ‘that person/organisation is silent on the issue of….’

Often, that person/organisation isn’t silent on that issue and it doesn’t take long to find out just what they’d said on the issue, particularly if it’s an organisation with a website.

For example, some years ago, when there was a terror attack by a Muslim fundamentalist, someone said: ‘UK Muslims are silent on this…

1 October 2023 Chris Booth

Gentle but tireless campaigner for peace and justice

In November 2006, after a blockade at Faslane, the nuclear missile submarine base in Scotland, I found myself sharing a cell with a gentle, erudite, bearded American called Brian Larkin. We talked pacifism, politics, and theology, and shared songs most of that night….

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, and growing up during the Vietnam War, Brian came to St Andrews university in Scotland in the late 1970s to study theology. There, he met Lindsay, a feminist and a Peace News reader…

1 October 2023 Milan Rai

Where should PN put its creative energies next year?

Where should PN put its creative energies next year? Are there some ‘experiments with truth’ that you would really like to see us try out, or that you would be willing to be involved in? Are there obvious holes that we should fill in?

Here are some of my thoughts about the year ahead.

There are some things that go without saying. We will continue to argue for radical nonviolence; for a rapid negotiated end to the Ukraine War; for a deeper understanding of British…

1 October 2023 Milan Rai

Milan Rai reflects on the recent Active Resistance to the Roots of War (ARROW) reunion

In September, there was a reunion in London of the nonviolent direct action (NVDA) affinity group ARROW, something like 20 years after the group folded. Folk who had not seen each other for decades came together to catch up; it was a wonderful afternoon.

For me, ARROW was where I learned how to work with other people in a non-hierarchical group, or a group that was trying to put equality into practice. ARROW was my peace movement university. We didn’t just do actions, though we did a…

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…