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4 July 2021 Cath

Is living in desperately bad material circumstances a pre-requisite for a revolutionary society?, wonders our Leeds cooperator

Unlearning racism. Surely, Cath, you can’t be questioning such an obviously good thing to do? No, no, honest to god, I’m glad, I wanted to be part of a white caucus doing this stuff years ago, but, excuses, excuses, didn’t prioritise it. 

And the housing co-op is an excellent ready-made group of people who know each other well – it is clear that most of us want to be held accountable and want the skills to hold each other accountable. Fab!

But I do feel a bit defeated and glum…

4 July 2021 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

Trump's trial should be used to put the truth about Trumpism before the US people

On 6 January, something happened in Washington DC that has not happened since the US-UK War of 1812. The Capitol building, that instantly-recognisable symbol of US democracy, was stormed by Donald Trump supporters. 

I watched, agog, as many of the same people who called peaceful BLM protesters ‘thugs’ donned assault rifles, gas masks and body armour, and attempted to reverse the results of a legitimate federal election. 

Rhetoric has consequences. 

Just like the ‘Stab in…

4 July 2021 Claire Poyner

Our columnist takes on the pandemic conspiracy theorists

How are you all? I hope everyone is well. I know there’s one or two subscribers who will be thinking ‘What does she mean? Is there a reason I won’t be well?’ because after all, this pandemic is a hoax. Isn’t it?

Well, no, it isn’t. Anyone who works in health care will tell you that’s nonsense. Anyone who’s had COVID-19 will tell you that’s nonsense, especially those suffering ‘long Covid’, which seems to be somewhat like ME or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

And as for ‘it’s just flu…

4 July 2021 Emily Johns

Emily Johns looks at the ideas behind the Artist Support Pledge

In March 2020, as the COVID pandemic started, artist Matthew Burrows launched the Artist Support Pledge online, on the image-sharing platform, Instagram. It was a forward-thinking response to the economic collapse that artists were about to experience – it works with the principle that generosity is infectious.

The idea is simple: artists post an image of their work on Instagram and tag it with #artistssupportpledge so that the pictures can all be found in the same place. They offer…

4 July 2021 El Jones

A black woman marks the election of another black woman as vice-president of the US

A woman’s going to send the drones
So ready the covers of your Vogues
The food bank lines are now miles long
But a woman’s the one who sends the bombs
Liberal feminism can’t be wrong
When a woman’s the one who sends the bombs.
Can’t get workers PPE
But you go girl Nancy Pelosi
All hail the bipartisan war parties
Now Trump is gone we all agree
George W Bush has been redeemed
The war criminals are on our team
And there’s a…

4 July 2021 Milan Rai

The US has regularly opposed democracy, overthrowing democratically elected leaders it doesn't like, Milan Rai reminds us

‘To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins.’ So said US vice-president Mike Pence. 

Incoming US president Joe Biden said: ‘The scenes of chaos do not reflect the true America, do…

4 July 2021 Milan Rai

Whiteness was invented to hold white people back as well as to give them advantages, argues Milan Rai

One time, back in the 1980s, when I was hitching at the bottom of the M1 motorway in North London, a car pulled over for me, late, as if the driver had not been intending to pick anyone up and had made the decision at the last minute. 

I ran up the slope with my rucksack and my sign, and I crouched down by the window. The driver, an East Asian man, peered out and asked me: ‘Are you Chinese?’ 

I had to say, reluctantly: ‘No, I’m Nepali.’

He hesitated a second, and then…

11 December 2020 PN staff

The PN staff's best books and films of 2020

The PN staff have each chosen their favourite books and films they read and saw this year. Here’s what we came up with!

The best book I’ve read this year? Difficult one. How do you compare different genres? The most enjoyable was Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Hodder and Stoughton, 2015, £8.99) and A Closed and Common Orbit (Hodder and Stoughton, 2016, £8.99).

This is two-thirds of her ‘Wayfarer’ trilogy.

It’s feminist…

11 December 2020 Penny Stone

Penny Stone reminds us that we hear music and see human faces.

As global citizens, we want to change the reality on the ground for people in our immediate communities and those around the world.

We want to stop the pain, level the inequalities and stop the bombs from falling. And, so often, we can’t do that, or we can’t do it quickly enough. So often, we aren’t able to physically intervene to make things better on the ground for our neighbours.

Of course, there is a time for direct action. When we have energy, time and organisation to…

11 December 2020 Gabriel Carlyle

Gabriel Carlyle takes issue with Aaron Sorkin's new film The Trial of the Chicago 7

In 1969, the Nixon administration charged eight US activists with having conspired to cross state lines ‘with the intent to incite, organize, promote, encourage, participate in, and carry on a riot’ outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Infamously, the judge (Julius Hoffman) ordered the only Black defendant (Bobby Seale) to be bound and gagged, after he insisted on his right to represent himself.

Seale’s case was declared a mistrial but five of the…

11 December 2020 Paul Steele and Helen Martins

Peace campaigner and youngest known participant in Normandy landings who got arrested with Bertrand Russell

COVID-19 has robbed the world of a rare person. Still very much in his prime at a youthful 92 years old, Jim Radford passed away in Lewisham hospital before old age could catch up with him.

As a 15-year-old galley boy on the rescue tug, Empire Larch, Jim was the youngest known participant in the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

His song, ‘The Shores of Normandy’, recounting his experiences of that day, was brought to the attention of a wider public during two televised…

11 December 2020 Cath

Our Leeds-based cooperator fears we’re more worried than ever about disagreeing

‘I can’t speak openly’. This phrase has become a motif for me in the last fortnight. I’ve heard it from people involved in a messy social club conflict, from both sides in a housing co-op divided in two, and from people feeling bullied in their own co-op.

I’ve had it confided to me by friends and heard it in my own head.

It’s so frustrating, this (often justified) fear, which contributes to a vicious circle of lost trust, lack of communication, (sometimes wilful)…

11 December 2020 Rebecca Elson-Watkins

We must take COVID-19 just as seriously as our grandparents took polio

I’m going to say it – I love vaccinations. I was among the first generation of my maternal bloodline that did not have someone contract tuberculosis. The addition of the BCG vaccination to the British vaccination schedule in 1950, and the herd immunity it resulted in, is most likely the reason my peers and I were spared.

My grandmother, ‘Mam’ to me, suffered polio as a child. I grew up hearing stories of how her childhood was spent in calliper-style leg braces, her life a whirlwind of…

11 December 2020 Claire Poyner

Our columnist takes on the 'why should I pay'-ers

‘Parents are responsible for feeding their kids, not the government.’ ‘If they can’t afford to feed the kids they shouldn’t have them.’ ‘Trouble is, some parents prefer to buy fags and 50” TVs instead of feeding the children.’

All these comments I have read recently. The poorest children in society today have long been given free school meals during term time (including my own child for a couple of years) and the suggestion that they should also be fed outside of term time seems a…

11 December 2020 Milan Rai

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 2020 Lindsay Carpenter

Bringing down a 30-year dictator

GOALS:
(1) To legalise political parties, end single-party rule, and instate multiparty politics.
(2) To get political prisoners released, particularly Chikufwa Chihana.

SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING SPECIFIC GOALS: 6 points / 6
SURVIVAL: 1 / 1
GROWTH: 3 / 3
TOTAL: 10 / 10

By the early 1990s, Hastings Kamuzu Banda of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had been president of Malawi for 30 years, ever since the country transitioned from colonial rule. At the time…

11 December 2020 Robin Percival

Politician who played leadership role in Northern Ireland's civil rights movement and went on to help create, sustain and promote the Irish peace process

John Hume was one of four people associated with the recent conflict in Ireland to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Definitely he was the most deserving.

He secured the Peace Prize for his efforts in bringing the armed conflict to an end and the subsequent signing of the Good Friday Agreement, endorsed in an all-Ireland referendum.

Ten years ago, he was voted ‘Ireland’s Greatest’ in a poll conducted by RTÉ, the Irish public broadcaster.

And in death he has been…

11 December 2020 Penny Stone

Penny Stone explores the history of 'the Black National Anthem'

One hundred and twenty years ago, 500 African-American schoolchildren sang ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ for the first time in a segregated school in Florida.

In 2020, the song has been sung on countless Black Lives Matter (BLM) marches, on global stages such as the Coachella music festival (Beyoncé, 2018) and in sports stadiums and at graduations across the USA.

‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ began its life in 1899 when the school principal, James Weldon Johnson, wrote a poem to…

11 December 2020 Albert Beale and Gabriel Carlyle

Pacifist, engineer and BWNIC defendant

Albert Beale writes:

I got to know my friend and comrade Chris Roper 45 years ago when we were amongst a group of 14 pacifists and anti-militarists who spent nearly 3 months in the Old Bailey facing notorious conspiracy charges relating to the distribution of leaflets to servicepeople encouraging - and helping - them to 'down tools' [sometimes referred to as the BWNIC (British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign) trial, see …

11 December 2020 Cath

Our Leeds-based cooperator feels the tension between inspiration and reality.

Initially there was disappointment, frequently blended with relief, over cancelled events and the slowing down of social life.

Then came the realisation that space and time no longer matter when the only place you are is your bedroom desk at whatever time of day or night you choose.

It suddenly seemed not only sensible, but important to attend webinars, training, forums and socials all over the English-speaking world.

You came across more and more and more people doing…