After Strasbourg: On dealing with violence in one's own ranks

“The more violence, the less revolution,” Bart de Ligt wrote in The Conquest of Violence in 1936. If we accept this, then there was very little revolution in Strasbourg, despite all the romantic revolutionary rhetoric from certain groupings. I put this first in order to make it clear that this is a critique from a revolutionary perspective, and not a criticism of violence from a Green or Left-Party state-reformist point of view which accepts the state's monopoly on the use of force.

Shut down NATO

Nonviolent action against NATO

Nonviolent direct action – a critical reflection

“A group of eight activists blockaded the entrance to AWE Aldermaston this morning at 6.45am. Using steel lock-on tubes the group have completely blocked the road. Thus stopping all construction traffic entering or leaving the site. This has called a large tailback and the police turned all traffic away from the site.”

(Aldermaston shut down, Indymedia UK, 3 January 2007)

Against all militarism

Why an antimilitarist perspective is important for all social movements

The World Social Forum is now 6 years old. Since its beginning in Porto Alegre in 2001, it grew, it inspired regional processes, and it changed. With the success of the World Social Forum came interest from the traditional left, and from leftist governments. Brazil's president Lula spoke at the World Social Forum, and the Venezuelan government made use of the "polycentric" forum in Caracas to promote the "Bolivarian revolution". So is the WSF embracing old-fashioned traditional left politics, and does it abandon its own principles? Does the WSF fall into the old trap of opposing one side of the political spectrum - (US) imperialism - and turning a blind eye on human rights violations and militarism when they occur on the left side of the political spectrum, according to the simple principle "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"?

General panorama of Conscientious Objection in the World

Presentation at the "International Meeting of Solidarity for Conscientious Objection in Colombia", Bogota, 18-20 July 2006


It is difficult to give a panorama of the right to conscientious objection within the available time - the world is big, and situations are quite different. Conscientious objection in Western Europe for example means something very different from conscientious objection in Eritrea, or South Korea, or Israel, or Russia, or Latin America. And you all know that even within Latin America situations vary, and it is hard to compare Paraguay with its more than 100,000 conscientious objectors with the situation here in Colombia.

Solidarity with war resisters in Turkey

Presentation at the international seminar "Unarmed Resistance: the transnational factor", Coventry, 15 July 2006

Introduction I myself am involved in supporting the Turkish war resisters movement since about 1995. This presentation is based on my own experience and discussions I had in the last 10 years with Turkish activists. It is therefore very subjective, and all views expressed are mine, and not the ones of the Turkish war resisters.

Reclaim the Bases

I want to talk about resistance to military bases in Britain, but will also say a few words about Spain. This might be surprising, but maybe it is less so when I explain my own role in this. I am not only working at War Resisters' International1 in London – an international network of pacifist and antimilitarist groups – but I am also part of the nonviolent direct action group D102, which was instrumental in setting up the network Reclaim The Bases3 in Britain. This network goes back to early 2003, before the start of the war on Iraq. The first call to reclaim the bases was taken up by War Resisters' International internationally, and was especially taken up by Alternativa Antimilitarista-MOC4 in Spain, with actions happening annually ever since.

One more fig leaf for the state

Why the Ministry for Peace is a particularly stupid idea

In PN 2472 Eddy Canfor-Dumas makes the case for a Ministry for Peace as part of the government. However, it seems he is so deeply rooted in government thinking that he does not even feel a need to explain why a ministry should be a good idea. We have ministries for everything that we (we? - or the government?) think is important, and obviously, peace is important, so we need a ministry as “part of government dedicated to pursuing and promoting peace”?

Celebrate, for now

Good news for a change from Turkey: on 9 March, gay Turkish conscientious objector Mehmet Tarhan was unexpectedly released from the military prison in Sivas, following an order by the Military Court of Appeal in Ankara. The reasons for his release remain unclear, but one possibility is that, even if finally sentenced, Mehmet Tarhan would be unlikely to serve more time in prison than he already has (he was arrested on 6 April 2005, and has spent almost a year in prison).

Socialism for the 21st century?

From 23 to 29 January the "policentric" World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Caracas in Venezuela, the country of president Hugo Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution". No surprise then that the WSF received organisational and financial support from Venezuelan state institutions -- almost all ministries and the Metropolitan police, plus the nationalised state oil company PDVSA -- and that Chavez addressed the forum, and used it for one of his usual anti-imperialist speeches.
However, not everything is bright in the Bolivarian Revolution -- especially when you come from an antimilitarist background -- and the small but beautiful Alternative Social Forum, organised by Venezuelan Libertarians and anarchists -- and which took place in parallel to the state-sponsored event -- provided space for a more critical discussion of present day Venezuela.


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