Features

9 December 2020 PN staff

Let’s support people who’re trying to change the United States for the better!

For those of us outside the US, it’s hard to know what we can do to be useful to folk in the US who’re being attacked by state forces, who’re trying to bring down an appalling president, and who’re trying to build a more just society.

We have decided to try to raise £1,948 to send to the Poor People’s Campaign, an enormously impressive multi-racial, multi-issue coalition whose civil disobedience led to 2,500 arrests in mid-2018. (…

9 December 2020 Ian Sinclair

It’s time to celebrate how the peace movement has managed to limit British inverventions from Afghanistan to Syria

After interviewing more than 36 senior officials in the Johnson and Nixon administrations for The War Within, his 1994 book about the movement against the Vietnam War, US historian Tom Wells concluded that ‘the movement played a major role in constraining, de-escalating, and ending the war.’

Admiral Thomas Moorer, the chair of the joint chiefs of staff during Nixon’s presidency, told Wells the movement ‘had a major impact… both in the executive and legislative branches of…

8 December 2020 Rakesh Prashara and PN and David MacKenzie

PN and friends reflect on the UK's December 2019 general election

On 12 December, the Conservative party won a landslide victory in the general election in Britain, turning Boris Johnson’s minority government into one enjoying an 80-seat majority. It is widely believed that two of the biggest factors were the public’s desire to ‘Get Brexit done’ (the Conservative slogan) and its distrust of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (after years of lies and smears directed at him).

The parties most in favour of nuclear disarmament did quite well.

The…

8 December 2020 Milan Rai

Another 3 January victim: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

In the past few weeks, there has been much outrage in the British media at Iranian ‘meddling’ in Iraq over the past 17 years. Iran’s interference in Iraq was directed for most of that time by Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, probably the most powerful non-Iraqi in Iraq until he was assassinated in Baghdad by the US on 3 January.

There has not been much attention paid to the fact that Iran could only intervene because of the disintegration of Iraq because of the US-UK invasion of 2003…

8 December 2020 Milan Rai

Censoring the destruction of Iran Air Flight 655

Even after an Iranian air defence unit mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 on 8 January, killing 176 passengers and crew, the British press failed to remind readers of a relevant incident involving Iran.

On 5 January, Ali Larijani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, compared the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani to the CIA-organised coup of 1953 that overthrew parliamentary democracy in Iran, and to the shooting down of an Iranian…

19 November 2020 PN

Pre-war art by Emily Johns

On 3 July 1988, Iran Air Flight 655, a commercial flight inside a commercial air corridor, was shot down by one of the US navy’s most technologically-advanced cruisers, the USS Vincennes. All 290 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including 66 children. Few of the bodies recovered were complete. The US government never admitted wrongdoing and never apologised for the destruction of Flight 655.

This image is from Drawing Paradise on the ‘Axis of Evil’ an exhibition by…

28 September 2020 Milan Rai

Before the US murdered him, it formed an alliance with the Iranian general – twice

Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman, who developed the Propaganda Model for understanding the western mass media, once explained: ‘That a careful reader looking for a fact can sometimes find it, with diligence and a skeptical eye, tells us nothing about whether that fact received the attention and context it deserved, whether it was intelligible to most readers, or whether it was effectively distorted or suppressed.’

In the case of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, there were a lot of…

28 September 2020 PN and misc activists

In January, we asked activists and groups around the country what they thought campaigners should be doing – this year and over the next 10 years. These are the responses we received.

Ali Tamlit (pictured right)

I’m interested in questions of: What does care look like? How can we support one another as whole people and communities – rather than seeing each other’s value in ‘productive’ activist times and then disappearing in times of burnout. And also how to balance accountability within this care?

Beyond this, as we go into the 2020s, although many positives will also happen, I think it’s important to acknowledge some trends which are likely to get worse: the…

1 August 2020 Kelvin Mason

The pandemic has broken down barriers for some activists

Doing politics outside of our ideological bubbles was never going to be easy. Between excluding people and/or leaving in an over-dramatic way, on the one hand, and staying silent in the face of irrational, immoral or even malicious views, on the other, lies the thorny territory of discussing, questioning and challenging.

Radical academic Paul Chatterton has a name for interactions between dedicated activists and non-activist communities: encounters on ‘uncommon ground’, recognising…

1 August 2020 Catherine Barter

How our much-loved sister project downstairs has been handling the pandemic

Activists, radical authors, publishers, zine-makers, book-lovers and all friends of Housmans Bookshop: we are still here, and as long as we are able we will continue to do everything we can to support you.

We’re conscious that, whatever happens in the next few months, the way that people shop and buy books, especially in central London, might not go back to ‘normal’ for a very long time. So we are working to re-imagine the ways the shop can operate, find new ways to engage with people…

1 August 2020 Veruschka Selbach

How one independent radical publisher is coping

It’s now four months since we closed the Pluto office. We’re all still working at home and we’re not sure when we’ll be able to return. We’ve come through the worst of the crisis, but there is a long road to full recovery ahead.

It all happened so fast. Everything changed in the course of just a few weeks. Things that we never expected were possible – happened.

When I look back on those weeks, one word fills my memory. Unprecedented. It dominated the media and our conversations…

1 August 2020 Helena Silvestre and and others

Extracts from Pluto's new book surveying mutual aid across the globe

While much of the media has focused on selfish individualism (empty supermarket shelves and con artists) in the time of COVID-19, a new book from Pluto Press, Pandemic Solidarity, has collected stories of community and self-sacrifice from 18 countries and regions around the world, including India, Rojava and Iraq. Here are a few extracts, chosen by PN.

Brazil

Pandemic Solidarity carries several stories from Brazil, including that of the Abya Yala…

1 June 2020 Folabi Olagbaju and Nadine Bloch

A look inside the creativity fuelling the US struggle to defund the police

It’s hard to keep up when the world lurches from pandemic to racial justice uprising seemingly overnight. After months of living in a quarantine pressure cooker, amidst a global pandemic that’s thrown millions out of work, exposed the vicious inequities of our current capitalist system and killed hundreds of thousands, masses of people hit a breaking point.

Fuelled by their righteous rage about the videotaped killing of George Floyd, people have flooded the streets and taken the fight…

1 June 2020 Gabriel Carlyle

From French farmers who resisted the Nazis to ‘just banking’ and the idea of utopia: PN's reviews editor provides a quirky selection of on- and off-line activism-related resources for anyone who’s feeling the hours drag.

It goes without saying that everyone is dealing with the pandemic – and the UK’s 'lockdown' – in their own way and as their own specific circumstances dictate. Some of us have been left with little or no spare time and headspace, while others now have surpluses of both.

And there is, of course, no single ‘correct’ way for these latter folk to be employing their time. If a combination of jigsaws, long walks and Gogglebox is what’s getting you through it all then more power to your…

1 June 2020 Ismael Clark Juarros

A view of the pandemic from Madrid

It is becoming increasingly clear that those who have the most to lose from COVID-19 have been placed at the bottom of the list of priorities in most countries.

“It’s shocking how many people are suddenly out of a job and are (therefore) embarrassed to ask for a little help,” says one of the volunteers helping register people on the Association’s database.

Spain holds a special position for epidemiologists: one of the first European countries to deal with the coronavirus on a…

1 June 2020 Ian Sinclair

Ian Sinclair lays out the case for the prosecution

Due to the extraordinary nature of the crisis, the UK government has had an unprecedented opportunity to control the narrative about their response to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the daily Number 10 press briefings there has been a months-long, multi-faceted public information campaign using television and radio spots, social media posts, billboards, wrap around messaging on the front of all major newspapers and a letter to every household in the UK.

Despite this…

1 December 2019 Sergely Sandler

A view from New Profile, the movement for the demilitarisation of Israeli society

One of New Profile’s central projects is our Counselling Network – a network of volunteers accompanying young Israelis through the process of avoiding or discontinuing their compulsory military service.

One foundation that bills itself as politically radical has informed us that they’d fund other work we’re doing in education, but never the Counselling Network, because, you see, it is not radical enough.

As context, consider that, while we have always supported, and…

1 December 2019 Joe Glenton

Getting the word out through online audio

This year, ForcesWatch produced the first season of a podcast titled ‘Warrior Nation.’ (A podcast is a radio programme turned into a computer file that people can download from the internet and listen to on their smartphone or computer – ed.)

Our aim was to create a platform for anti-militarist thinkers who might otherwise not be heard. We interviewed academics, activists and artists.

For our season finale, on 4 December, we will interview the political hip-hop artist Lowkey…

1 December 2019 Co-operation in Mesopotamia

New British arms exports to Turkey suspended after tens of thousands march in London

Dancing on 28 September at a women’s food festival in Tirbespiye organised by the Women’s Economy Committee shortly before the Turkish invasion of Rojava. Photo: Co-operation in Mesopotamia

People in North East Syria– the region commonly known as Rojava – are collectively building a society based on principles of direct democracy, ecology, and women’s liberation, with co-operation playing a crucial role in rebuilding their economy.

On the morning of 9 October, Turkish state…

1 December 2019 Kevin Blowe

An XR act of gratitude to Brixton police officers was painful and racist

My work as coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) has kept me busy for some months now supporting the rights of Extinction Rebellion (XR) campaigners to exercise their freedom of assembly.

XR activists have been out on the streets since 7 October and over 1,400 have been arrested so far. Now the police have abandoned any pretence at facilitating their rights and have imposed a blanket ban on XR protests covering the whole of London.

As well as…