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1 December 2018 Lawrence Cheuk

Lawrence Cheuk reflects on a recent weeklong activist training workshop in Brussels

European Trainers’ Exchange Cleaners’ Collective, 12–17 November, Brussels, Belgium. Back row from left: Edith Wustefeld, Lawrence Cheuk, Mathias Balcaen, Annalies Schorpion. Front row from left: Sarah Reader, Milan Rai, Herman van Veelen. Photo: PN

This diary describes one person’s experience of an international trainers’ exchange in Brussels from 12–17 November. The workshop was organised by three training collectives: Tractie (Belgium), Stroomversnellers (Netherlands) and…

1 October 2018 Cath Muller

How can we create strong and resilient communities that can change society?

Is it possible to change society? To put an end to capitalism and create a sustainable, liberated future?

When I was young, I thought it would be pretty quick – just tell people how they’re doing it all wrong and they’ll change and everything will be fine.

As the scale of the problem became increasingly apparent to me and my historical knowledge improved, there was a corresponding increase in my own pessimism.

I started to recognise my own limits and…

1 October 2018 Penny Stone

Penny Stone profiles two extraordinary activist-singers, one from Scotland, the other Chile

Hamish Henderson (Scotland), and Victor Jara (Chile), were both singers, songwriters and traditional-song-collectors in the mid-20th Century. They were both social activists working towards a more just society for all people, recognising the marginalisation of the working people of their respective countries.

The collecting and sharing of traditional songs was a political act for both singers, taking the time to listen to songs that might otherwise have been lost in time, and…

1 October 2018 Rebekah Grisim

Black women defeat pass laws

Goal: For non-white women in urban areas to no longer be required to carry documents proving formal employment.
SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING SPECIFIC GOALS: 4 points / 6
SURVIVAL: 1 / 1
GROWTH: 1 / 3

The anti-pass campaign took place in the Orange Free State in South Africa to protest against non-white South African women being required to carry documentation of formal employment. ‘Non-white’ is a term that was often used in South Africa to classify non-European ethnicities…

1 October 2018 Jeff Cloves

'as one war ends, another one begins / look at the children, look at them'

Via my friend the pianist, composer and singer Bill Fay, I’ve learned of the US project, ‘1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs’* with which he’s become associated. In my last column, I mentioned that I’d been challenged by a friend (not Bill) to write a poem a week for a year and I self-published the result in a little book of 52 poems titled once weekly (Ourside, Stroud, 2018.)

Compared with 1,000 songs, it was a modest undertaking, but there is a serendipitous connection. The US project was…

1 October 2018 Michael Randle

Renowned peace campaigner who ran for President loved cats and relished controversy

David McReynolds, who died on 17 August in New York at the age of 88, played a leading role in the US and international peace movements. He was one of the main organisers of the US anti-Vietnam war mobilisation, which not only contributed to the ending of that war but had a profound impact on US politics and society.

David was also involved in the civil rights and anti-nuclear movements and, though not a gay rights campaigner, he declared himself a homosexual at a time when this…

1 October 2018 Bruce Kent

Nationalism's days are numbered, says Bruce Kent

It is now well over a hundred years since czar Nicholas II of Russia invited other states to come to The Hague, in the Netherlands, in 1899, to discuss possibilities for world peace. It is almost 20 years since thousands of individuals and peace groups came also to The Hague, in 1999, for an event to plan progress in the direction that the first Hague pointed to. I still have the booklet with ideas that came from that centenary meeting.

In 1999, we believed that we could challenge…

1 October 2018 Milan Rai

A review-editorial of three important new books on campaigning

Matthew Bolton, How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power, Bloomsbury, 2017, 178pp, £9.99
George Lakey, How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning, Melville House, December 2018, 224pp, £tba
Jonathan Matthew Smucker, Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals, AK Press, 2017, 284pp, £14

All three of these books contain inspiring stories of effective, successful campaigning. All three present challenging ideas that deserve chewing over. And all three have…

1 October 2018 Claire Poyner

How will Brexit impact the rights of women in the UK?

Gender equality is one issue that doesn’t come up much when we’re talking Brexit. OK, fair enough, women’s equality is not nearly as important as trade deals and immigration, seeing as women are only 51 percent of the population.

OK, so how would, could, Brexit affect women? Well, for one, EU laws aim to protect maternity (and paternity) leave and seek to prevent discrimination against pregnant women in the workplace.

Also, rights for part-time, casual and agency workers (…

1 October 2018 Catherine Bann

A reader writes in as part of the trans rights debate

Image: Women’s Library, LSE

Last issue, we published a letter from Clare Bonetree explaining why she was ending her subscription to PN over our coverage of recent conflicts over trans rights. The last straw for her was our description of the conflict at the Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair (over an anti-trans leaflet) as a question of free speech. Clare’s letter prompted a response from another reader, Cath Bann, which is published below. We welcome responses to both Cath’s and Clare’s…

1 August 2018 Bruce Kent

Bruce Kent draws the dots between NHS funding and Trident replacement

What I was doing on 5 July 1948 I can’t remember. Marching up and down on parade in Aldershot I imagine, as a national service conscript.

I certainly did not notice that on 5 July 1948 something remarkable happened. Health minister Aneurin Bevan, in a Manchester hospital, launched the National Health Service. A very progressive step forward for the country. Bevan’s announcement came only a few months before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, agreed in December 1948 by the…

1 August 2018 Milan Rai

The peace movement should welcome the cancellation of the "provocative" US war games in and around South Korea, argues Milan Rai

Threat Tactics Report - North Korea vs the United States (2018), U.S. Army TRADOC

The US-North Korea nuclear summit in Singapore on 12 June was met with a wave of criticism and ‘disappointment’ from Western commentators, including from sections of the peace movement.

On the day, there was criticism from Beatrice Fihn, director of ICAN, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for its role in securing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Fihn tweeted: ‘We support…

1 August 2018 Susana Medeiros

Students force university reforms

Goals: University autonomy, the right of all university parties to elect university professors, modernisation of the curriculum, university education to be available and affordable for all, and secularisation of universities
SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING SPECIFIC GOALS: 6 points out of 6
SURVIVAL: 1 / 1
GROWTH: 3 / 3

Increased prosperity and the expansion of electoral rights at the turn of the century in Argentina precipitated significant growth of the middle class and…

1 August 2018 Claire Poyner

Why is the Trump administration praising women's activism in Iran?

It’s hard to believe that a man who openly bragged about sexually assaulting women cares much about women’s rights (it’s even harder to believe that such a man should be elected president but there we are). So it comes as a bit of a surprise to hear of the Trump administration praising a growing women’s movement in Iran.

Women in Tehran have been protesting against the compulsory wearing of the hijab by publicly removing their headscarves and standing in a public place. Now…

1 August 2018 Jeff Cloves

'If a cat and bird can co-exist / on such a day he thought / then why not us humans'

I’ve been writing songs and poems (often the same thing) since the mid-’60s but have never been prolific. Nearly two years ago, I told a friend that once I’d only written five or six in an entire year. The friend immediately set me a target: write a poem a week for a year.

I was apprehensive as I set to, but the first arrived on 15 November 2016 and I never missed in 52 weeks.

I found it challenging at first but as the year wore on I began to look forward to writing the next…

1 August 2018 Cath

Solidarity is a threat, so the powers-that-be divide and rule ...

I hadn’t slept much, maybe three hours, after talking until 4am in the hostel. I planned to sleep on the train, and that prospect helped me haul my luggage across the sauna that is New Orleans. It helped me stay upright and emotionally balanced even when there was no train or any information, 20 minutes after departure time. It’s Amtrak after all.

It turned out the train was going to be at least three hours late and I was suddenly exhausted and grumpy.

I moved to a discreet…

1 August 2018

A poem by Peter Phillips

Photo: Arun Kulshreshtha via Wikimedia Commons

Sun hangs over London, as if she’s stalking me. The lawn
has burnt patches, like a blister which won’t heal. The weather
forecasters are excited. The weather forecasters are lying.

In the arctic, a mammoth iceberg hunches its shoulders, splits,
topples over. The cast-off, a small country, floats towards
the warmth, its watery cargo melting.…

1 August 2018 Penny Stone

Penny Stone celebrates an extraordinary Nigerian woman

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti on her 70th birthday. Photo: UNESCO

On International Women’s Day this year, I was singing: ‘Sister, my sister, she’s walking with me, walking for equality, she’s walking with me…’, a song that was sung in the 1970s women’s liberation movement in the USA.

This song is a zipper song – just a word or phrase is changed to create a new verse, making it really useful for singing on marches and enabling people to join in. We added our own verses, singing to…

1 June 2018 Jeff Cloves

Jeff Cloves reflects on the work of a natural anarchist and pacifist

Dear readers, I’ve belatedly made the acquaintance of a remarkable US writer who died a month after I was born. I wish I’d encountered him years back but here’s a quote and you’ll see why he immediately endeared himself to me: ‘When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: “Whose?”’

Don Marquis, novelist, poet, newspaper columnist, playwright and (I insist) philosopher, was born in 1878 and in 1916 he began a famous column in New York’s The Evening Sun…

1 June 2018 Penny Stone

Penny Stone revels in a musical midpoint between East and West

A couple of years ago, I went to an international peace gathering in Sarajevo. Because of the place, there was a much greater proportion of people able to attend from Eastern Europe and from further east than is often the case in gatherings held further west in Europe. This was a great learning opportunity for me because I am used to being in ‘international’ spaces that are still dominated by Western culture.

When I am choosing songs to help bring many voices together in concert or…