Commonweal's Posts

Greta Zarro is Organizing Director at World BEYOND War, which works globally to counter the myth that war is unavoidable and to bring about a war-free world.

Greta Zarro

1) How would you summarise World BEYOND War’s mission and current activities?

Founded in 2014, World BEYOND War is a global, grassroots network of volunteers, chapters and affiliated organisations advocating for the abolition of the institution of war, and its replacement with a culture of peace.

Our work tackles the myths of war by demonstrating that war is NOT beneficialNOT necessary and NOT inevitable.

Over 500 organisations and 75,000 individuals from 173 countries have signed our declaration of peace. We follow a two-pronged approach employing both education and nonviolent direct action organising.

Our campaigns include the following: close military bases worldwidesupport global justice and the rule of lawdivest from weapons dealers, and opt out of military recruitment.

© World BEYOND War. Source: https://worldbeyondwar.org/billboardsproject/

©World BEYOND War. Source

Continue reading How can we live without war? An interview with Greta Zarro

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Mark Goldthorpe runs the ClimateCultures project, which showcases ‘contributions by artists, curators or researchers working on many aspects of environmental or climate change’.

Its strapline is ‘Creative conversations for the Anthropocene’ (the era when human influence dominates climate and environment), and we took the direct approach by starting a conversation with Mark himself about climate, culture, violence and imagination… 

Mark Goldthorpe ©Paul Musso 2017

Mark Goldthorpe ©Paul Musso 2017

1) In a nutshell, Mark, what do climate and culture (and activism) have to do with each other?

That’s a huge question, I think!

Continue reading If the Anthropocene is violence, what is nonviolence? An interview with Mark Goldthorpe

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the sea cannot be depleted‘ is an online artwork that uses sound and spoken word to call attention to the Solway Firth.

Why? Because of the depleted uranium (DU) buried beneath its surface. Because the UK Ministry of Defence fired many tonnes of artillery shells into the Solway Estuary over 30 years or more, from the 1980s onwards.

Essays and further information about the firings are also available here.

After encountering this stirring piece of work online, we put the following questions to the piece’s writer and producer, Wallace Heim.

Wallace Heim

Wallace Heim

Continue reading Art, activism and the nuclear sea: an interview with Wallace Heim

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Paul Rogers

Paul Rogers

Commonweal trustee Paul Rogers will feature at a Bradford Literature Festival event on 7th July 2018: Are We Over ISIS?:

Rewind one year and the headlines were all about the war with ISIS and the threat it posed to western society. Now, it has almost disappeared from daily news – does this mean that ISIS itself has gone away?

Book tickets

We asked Paul why he believes this question needs to be asked right now.

Continue reading Event: Are We Over ISIS? A talk by Commonweal Trustee Paul Rogers

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Michael Randle is Chair of the Commonweal Trustees. In this two-part post, we share some of the details of his extraordinary life and work.

Read Part 1 here

Michael Randle greeting Bayard Rustin at the War Resisters International Triennial in India in 1985. Copyright Michael Randle.

Michael Randle greeting Bayard Rustin at the War Resisters International Triennial in India in 1985 ©Michael Randle

Can you comment on your involvement in helping the spy George Blake to escape? Why did you do that?

George Blake was born in the Netherlands ­– his mother was Dutch and his father Egyptian, though his father had British citizenship, as did George.

As a young man he joined the Dutch resistance to the German occupation, but he had to flee to Spain via Belgium and France to Spain in 1941. He first came to Britain that year and joined the Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

In 1961 he was sentenced to an unprecedented 42 years’ imprisonment for passing classified information to the Russians, including the names of some British agents operating in Eastern Europe.

I and other members of the Committee of 100 met him in Wormwood Scrubs prison when we were serving an 18-month sentence for organising an occupation and sit-down obstruction at Wethersfield air base in Essex.

Although no one from our group agreed with what he had done, we felt that his sentence was disproportionate and wrong, especially given some of the outrageous special operations undertaken by British and US agents – as well as by Soviet agents.

For example, the CIA and MI6 jointly organised a coup in Iran in 1953 that overthrew the elected Mosaddegh government with the loss of around a hundred lives. Continue reading 7 decades of nonviolence activism: Introducing… Trustee Michael Randle – PART 2

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Michael Randle is Chair of the Commonweal Trustees. In this two-part post, we share some of the details of his extraordinary life and work.

Read Part 2 here

Michael Randle greeting Bayard Rustin at the War Resisters International Triennial in India in 1985. Copyright Michael Randle.

Michael Randle greeting Bayard Rustin at the War Resisters International Triennial in India in 1985 ©Michael Randle

You were born in the 1930s, Michael. What would you say has changed most about the world during your lifetime? What hasn’t changed at all?

I was born in late December in 1933. Some of the major events in my lifetime have been the Second World War, followed immediately by the start of the Cold War, and with it the threat of a nuclear holocaust.

Then in 1989 came the collapse of authoritarian-style communism in Eastern Europe, followed by the break-up of the Soviet Union itself, and the end, for a time at least, of the Cold War.

Today, unfortunately, we are witnessing the revival of the Cold War in what is in some respects a more threatening form.

No less significant historically has been the dissolution of empires – the British Empire among them – and the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

On another level there have been transformative social and political movements, such as the worldwide campaign against nuclear weapons, the US Civil Rights movement, the campaign for women’s equality, and anti-discrimination campaigns in various fields.

Particularly striking about so many of the campaigns against oppression and injustice has been the central role of civil nonviolent struggle. Continue reading 7 decades of nonviolence activism: Introducing… Trustee Michael Randle – PART 1

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Below you’ll find the 18 titles on nonviolence activism we selected to give away in March/April 2018.

They cover aspects of our core categories, which are –

  • Methods of nonviolent action (protest & persuasion – non-cooperation – nonviolent intervention)
  • Personal change (managing emotions – nonviolent communication – DIY culture & self-sufficiency – nonviolent parenting)
  • Equalities (tackling colonialism, slavery, racism, sexism, homophobia & transphobia – animal rights – the rights of nature)
  • Regenerative living (reducing waste and pollution – zero carbon initiatives – local food & energy production)
  • Peace & peacekeeping (disarmament – conscientious objection – resolving & preventing conflict)
  • Political & economic alternatives (redistributing wealth – free speech – freedom of information – democratic participation – tackling corruption)

For each area, we chose 3 titles that we hoped would inspire and inform activists old and new alike.

We asked entrants to tell us why they wanted to read these books, and we’ve included some of their comments below.

Continue reading The nonviolence bookshelf – an education in 18 volumes!

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Dr Alex Albans of the Reconciliation Ministry Team at Coventry Cathedral talks to us about war, peace and landscape design…

Alex Albans

Alex Albans

You recently visited the Commonweal Collection, Alex – how did that come about?

My colleagues and I were invited to visit the Peace Museum in Bradford by Clive Barrett, who is the chair of trustees of the Peace Museum, because the cathedral’s Reconciliation Ministry has a partnership with the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, which Clive helps to run.

On the trip we visited Special Collections at the University of Bradford’s JB Priestley Library to look at various documents, including some on the Bradford Reconciliation statue (there’s also one at Coventry).

Alison Cullingford of Special Collections also showed us up to the Commonweal Collection on the first floor of the library. Continue reading Faith in peace: the work of Coventry Cathedral’s Reconciliation Ministry

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First, a reminder of how Commonweal began…

As many of Commonweal’s supporters know, our founder, David Hoggett, began the Commonweal Collection after having a serious accident while volunteering overseas.

It left him paralysed from the chest down, and it was after this, in 1958, with help from his family and friends, that he began to channel his formidable energy into extending and sharing his collection of books and pamphlets on peace and social justice.

He continued this work until he died in 1975, by which time the Collection contained around 3,000 volumes. 

David Hoggett

David Hoggett

Introducing Matthew Hoggett

Matthew Hoggett

Matthew Hoggett

Matthew is David’s nephew. He kindly took the time to speak to us this week and share some of his memories of his uncle and of volunteering in the Commonweal Collection as a teenager in Cheltenham in the early 1970s.

Continue reading An interview with Matthew Hoggett, nephew of Commonweal founder David Hoggett

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If you’re an activist, student or researcher with an interest in nonviolence and civil resistance, here’s a site you’ll probably find useful.

CivilResistance.info is an independent website that is

maintained by people committed to opposing war and all forms of injustice, and promoting understanding of nonviolence and nonviolent social change.

It collates key resources and developments in nonviolent and civil resistance movements, past and present.

The background

In 2006, Housmans in London published People Power and Protest Since 1945: A Bibliography of Nonviolent Action, which was edited by Michael Randle, April Carter and the late Howard Clark. Howard Clark also set up CivilResistance.info and made the work available there.

People Power and Protest Since 1945: A Bibliography of Nonviolent Action

People Power and Protest Since 1945: A Bibliography of Nonviolent Action

Continue reading Civil resistance – a handy (online) guide…

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