Features

5 July 2021 PN staff

It’s being processed by an arms company... again!

The contract for processing UK census forms has been put in the hands of Leidos, one of the world’s biggest military companies. We invite you to take action through the census form itself, to suggest to others that they do the same – and, crucially, (a) tell your local paper about what you’re doing and (b) tell us what you’re doing!

In 2011, the contract for processing the census in the UK was awarded to the US arms company Lockheed Martin, leading to quite a lot of protest, including…

5 July 2021 Adam Eliott-Cooper and Milan Rai

An interview with Adam Elliott-Cooper, a co-founder of one of Britain’s leading anti-racist groups

Coming to the end of a long and fascinating conversation about Black Lives Matter UK, I asked Adam Elliott-Cooper what parts of the history of UKBLM he was most proud of, as a co-founder.

Adam answered: ‘One of the things I’m really proud of is that one of the things that the movement has done is the mainstreaming of questions of abolition and defunding the police.

‘Whilst previous generations demanded enquiries and inquests, or democratic control over the police, or community…

5 July 2021 Andrew Simms and Peter Newell

Creating a new level of climate activism

On 22 January, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force. This marks an incredible achievement for activists and movements committed to ridding the world of these abhorrent and destructive weapons.

What this shows is the power of a moral ideal to ignite public imagination and mobilise action.

There are lessons here for climate activists.

The TPNW came after decades of trying to get the nuclear powers to fulfil their commitments under the…

5 July 2021 Milan Rai

Let’s stop more lethal, vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variants developing anywhere

There is a powerful case, both on moral grounds and out of pure self-interest, for the rich nations of the Global North to ensure that everyone on the planet receives publicly-funded tests, treatments, and effective vaccines, free at the point of delivery: the People’s Vaccine.

Otherwise, the global population will continue to breed dangerous variants of the virus that might threaten even people who’ve been vaccinated, for reasons explained below.

On 17 February, the UN…

4 July 2021 Nick Dearden

Corporations want trade deals that deregulate and marketise society

A part of Britain’s Establishment has always looked to the United States for leadership. They view the US as a model economy in which the market rules, big business can behave as it sees fit, and rich individuals are free from irritating ‘burdens’ – such as taxes which are ‘redistributive’ (they take more from the rich and less from the poor, as a percentage of their income).

We have more than a few such figures in our government, including the trade secretary, Liz Truss. That is…

4 July 2021 Ann Kramer

Ann Kramer reflects on International Women's Days past, present and future

International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on 8 March and has done so for well over 100 years. Women worldwide still experience discrimination and exploitation. The gender inequalities that prompted the first International Women’s Day are still very much alive and kicking. 

International Women’s Day exists to celebrate women and women’s achievements and there have been fantastic achievements: the vote, access to education, employment and health, the arrival of successful women in all…

4 July 2021 Richard Barnard and Huda Ammori and Henrietta Cullinan

An interview with two founder members of Palestine Action

Recently, Henrietta Cullinan sat down with Richard Barnard (RB), 47, and Huda Ammori (HA), 26, who helped start a new direct action campaign last year. Palestine Action focuses on Elbit Systems, an Israeli military drone manufacturer with UK factories.

PN: Tell us about the founding of Palestine Action. 

HA: Last summer, a few of us who had already done one-off direct actions against Elbit Systems – maybe once a year we would have a blockade – realised that, to be…

4 July 2021 Lisa Fithian

Veteran activist Lisa Fithian reflects on what really threatens the powers that be

From the Central America peace movement of the 1980s to the movements resisting Trump, US activist Lisa Fithian has been on the frontlines of social change for decades. This is an extract from her recent book Shut It Down: Stories from a Fierce, Loving Resistance (Chelsea Green, 2019) – reviewed next issue – in which Lisa reflects on the power of nonviolence.

When people ask about my approach to nonviolence, I like to say that I’m committed to strategic nonviolence,…

4 July 2021 Emily Johns

A PN staffer struggles with an anti-racist book

I am white.

My earliest memories of being conscious of race and racism are from when I was 10 years old. 

I remember standing in the school hall and some boys taunting Stephen, calling him a ‘black and white minstrel’. I didn’t know Stephen well and I had never heard of a minstrel show but from the words I worked out that one his parents was black and the other was white and because of this he was being teased. [The Black and White Minstrel Show was a musical variety…

4 July 2021 Betsy Leondar-Wright

Middle-class activists often don’t see that their version of anti-racism can be classist

The recent surge of anti-racist activism and consciousness-raising in the US has been thrilling to see and to participate in. I feel hope that racism will diminish in the near future.

But I found in my research that the way most social justice organisations have done diversity work and advocated for anti-racism is infused with professional middle-class culture. And that’s alienating a lot of potential working-class and poor supporters of all races. 

At the 2016 White Privilege…

4 July 2021 Shelley Tochluk

If you don’t want white nationalists to recruit clueless young white people, you need to create a movement that welcomes clueless young white people

Speaking to a public meeting on white nationalism in Los Angeles in August 2019, white anti-racist educator Shelly Tochluk said: ‘I have to be honest and tell you that I don’t think white anti-racist people have been paying enough attention to how savvy and effective white nationalists are at taking advantage of the shame that continues to be a foundation for many white anti-racists’ approach to conversations about our racial identity.’

Shelly pointed out that white…

4 July 2021 Shelley Tochluk and Christine Saxman

Two white anti-racist educators argue for a different approach to working with white folk 

On 18 November, Shelly Tochluk and Christine Saxman appeared on Eyes on Whiteness, a US anti-racism, anti-patriarchy podcast hosted by Maureen Benson (also a white woman). Here are some edited excerpts from their conversation.  

Christine Saxman: As you both know, I have always struggled with being kind of righteous in my anti-racism work as a white person. I name that as whiteness! The competitiveness that comes up in me.... 

I think about how intentional I have to be, myself…

4 July 2021 Milan Rai

The Roman empire - Britain included - was culturally and ethnically diverse

Many people seem very attached to the idea that ‘the Romans were white’ – and that ‘Britain before the Second World War was an entirely white country’.

This is a still from a video, Roman Britain, which is part of a BBC educational series called The Story of Britain. In 2017, this BBC animation led to national controversy when a right-wing commentator objected to the picturing of a Roman commander as black. …

4 July 2021 Milan Rai

This issue aims to provide information that may help lead to further exploration and learning and action, writes Milan Rai

This issue of Peace News is a ‘no blame, no shame’ zone. 

African-American psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum has written: ‘Prejudice is one of the inescapable consequences of living in a racist society. 

‘Cultural racism – the cultural images and messages that affirm the assumed superiority of Whites and the assumed inferiority of people of color – is like smog in the air. Sometimes it is so thick it is visible, other times it is less apparent, but always, day in and…

4 July 2021 Milan Rai

This issue isn't just for white people, says Milan Rai

There’s no way of getting away from it. This is a special issue about white people, about how white people came to be white.

That doesn’t mean this issue is just for white people. 

My goal in this issue is actually to help ‘de-centre’ white people, to help all of us have a better framework for seeing whiteness by seeing white people more at their proper size and status in the human story. Well, in a few thousand words, it’s more about pointing towards how that…

11 December 2020 Norman Finkelstein

A response to the decision by Facebook and Twitter to ban Holocaust denial

It would make a mockery of truth and academic freedom (it is said) if a university granted Holocaust deniers a platform. But, to begin with, it’s not obvious what exactly is being denied.

Does the Nazi holocaust denote the extermination of European Jewry or all categories of people systematically put to and slated for death? If only Jews, then why? If the criterion is quantitative – fully five-to-six million Jews perished – why then does the Nazi holocaust enjoy a privileged status,…

11 December 2020 CAGE

A new report from CAGE looks at 20 years of the Terrorism Act 2000

Over the last 20 years since the introduction of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TACT), the British counter-terrorism (CT) regime has expanded to historically-unprecedented levels.

Successive, almost annual reviews of legislation within a racist, fear-based environment have resulted in a near-limitless policing apparatus, and a two-tier justice system that undermines democratic governance.

Only 11.6 percent of ‘terror arrests’ have resulted in terrorist convictions since the TACT…

11 December 2020 Dr Emily Grossman

A new scientific overview of the climate crisis ends with suggestions for action

‘Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within this system are so impossible to find then maybe we should change the system itself.’ — Greta Thunberg.

How long do we have and is it already too late? According to the best scientific understanding, it is…

11 December 2020 Pat Gaffney

Study sessions, days of action and a new book - an update from Pat Gaffney

I am a cup-half-full sort of person – not, I hope, naïve – but encouraged by the hope-filled actions around me.

In the last year, this includes the strengthening of the Black Lives Matter movement, the persistence of the Campaign Against Arms Trade in continuing their legal challenge to UK weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the long-awaited coming into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Also in October, we had another hope-filled action. Pope Francis…

11 December 2020 Leslie Barson

New 'consultation' is driven by the state's fear of loss of control says Leslie Barson

It’s been a crazy time as this disease and the government’s response to it has created so much misery: job loses, debt, isolation, rise of domestic violence, mental health breakdown and the stress of living in fear for your own life and your loved ones’ lives.

But there have been some unintended benefits... the silence in the city except for birdsong, meeting your neighbours and sometimes helping them, the change from ‘because I’m worth it!’ to ‘let’s help others’ and ‘aren’t we lucky…