The Marxist cultural critic Raymond Williams once described TV as “flow”. He was writing in the days when you had to watch everything live, as it was broadcast, before even VCR was invented, and obviously we don’t watch TV like that so much any more. (Even though we use the word ‘streaming’). But there is a deeper truth all the same in Williams’ account: that sense that all television washes past us, each of its genre conventions so tightly defined that nothing ever surprises us or breaks out of the screen. Watching Channel 4’s documentary ‘Is it time to break the law?’, about the limits, or not, of environmental protest, was for these reasons and others a complete surprise.
Chuck Collins’ new book “Altar to an Erupting Sun” may be fiction, but it poses a very topical, real-world challenge for readers: What’s the right way to act when facing an existential challenge like climate change? Right off the bat, in the first chapter, we learn that the novel’s central character, Rae, is a climate activist who has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer. Having done her research to know the “carbon barons” responsible for so much destruction, she decides to “take one with her” by wearing a suicide vest. It works as intended, taking the life of a fossil fuel company CEO.
A Pride event designed for children and families took an ugly turn in Rancho Cordova Saturday. Protesters showed up shortly after family festivities got underway at the Sacramento Children’s Museum. Drag princess Suzette Veneti says she wasn’t surprised, she was disappointed and wanted answers. One sign read: “Groomers are not welcome in California.” Another read: “Protect white children.” “You’re standing there with a megaphone and signs, you’re scaring kids,” Veneti said. “They could’ve protested at Pride. They could protest anywhere they want, but to pick a children’s museum with children, like, this is for kids.” “There were a lot of young volunteers just in tears, because they had never experienced something like this,” said Andrew Gibout with the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus.
What took place between May 2021 and May 2022 is nothing less than a paradigm shift in Palestinian resistance. Thanks to the popular and inclusive nature of Palestinian mobilization against the Israeli occupation, resistance in Palestine is no longer an ideological, political or regional preference. In the period between the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and only a few years ago, Palestinian muqawama – or resistance – was constantly put in the dock, often criticized and condemned, as if an oppressed nation had a moral responsibility in selecting the type of resistance to suit the needs and interests of its oppressors. As such, Palestinian resistance became a political and ideological litmus test.
It was appropriate today, as we mark the national holiday for Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, to re-read ‘A Time to Break the Silence,’ his most powerful speech, given on April 4, 1967, just a year before his tragic murder in Memphis. It is a speech that stands the test of time; much of it is as relevant today as it was in 1967, when war was raging in Vietnam. I would urge people to read or listen (link above) to that profound and prophetic speech in its entirety. He said, “There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war.” With climate catastrophe and nuclear madness moving at a rapid rate towards a potential apocalypse for all humanity, King’s words resonate with, as he said, “the fierce urgency of now.”
What an exciting time for the Nonviolent Cities Project! For years, Pace e Bene has fostered the vision of communities that promote nonviolence in schools, businesses, cultural events and more. We organize with local cities/towns to implement nonviolent solutions and alternatives to physical violence as well as systemic, structural, cultural and other forms of violence. From Nonviolent Carbondale, Illinois, to Nonviolent Springfield, Massachusetts, groups are working to transform their communities. Here’s what’s happening in this ever-expanding effort. We’re welcoming new groups in Nonviolent Opelika, Alabama, and Nonviolent Rochester, New York. We’re celebrating inquiries from Salford, in the United Kingdom; Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, Ohio; Lakewood, Ohio; Gresham, Oregon and more.
An organizer and analyst we deeply respect, “Training for Change” co-founder George Lakey, recently suggested Voices help maintain a list of organizations in the U.S. which are helping people prepare for the possibility of a stolen election, a rigged election, or an outright coup following November 3rd voting in the U.S.. In a nation with rapidly dwindling concern for democracy, the principle of nonviolent community organizing for democracy has seldom seemed so urgent. We’re impressed by the quality of outreach and organizing which has already developed in cities and states across the U.S.
A few years ago, I was walking in Minneapolis, just a few miles from where George Floyd was murdered, when a panicked, young Native American man ran by me and into the street. Immediately afterward, a Minneapolis Police squad car pulled next to me. One officer jumped out, tackled the young man in the middle of the street and started pounding his face into the pavement. I approached the officer and told him that he was using excessive force and I had his badge number. His partner quickly escorted me back to the curb while informing me that I would be arrested for interfering with the arrest. I stood, yelling, while the beating continued. Recently standing at the memorial in front of the Cup Foods where Mr. Floyd was murdered, I recalled my earlier experience.
The Autonomous University of Barcelona's Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) published a study that shows that 13 percent of environmental activists are killed and another 18 percent are victims of physical violence worldwide. Research reveals that citizen movements halt ecological degradation by up to 27 percent of environmental conflicts, despite the high rate of criminalization, violence, and murders, especially in conflicts related to mining. The Environmental Justice (ENVjustice) scientists analyzed 2,743 cases of environmental conflicts from around the world recorded in the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice (EJAtlas), an interactive map that identifies and locates existing ecological conflicts.
Injustice and discrimination tend to be described in binary terms: good vs. evil, female vs. male, Black vs. White. However, at one of the at least twenty anti-police violence demonstrations held across the country on Thursday, an act of alliance disrupted that line of thinking by showing White bodies on the line to protect Black lives. In an image captured by photographer Tim Druck, scores of White women in Lousiville lined up arm-in-arm to form a human shield separating the Louisville Metro Police from protestors expressing their angst about the murder of Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people at the hands of the police). Taylor was fatally shot by police as they barged in her home in March with a no-knock warrant and killed her while she was laying in her bed.
Inscribed on a wall across from the United Nations in New York City are ancient words of incalculable yearning: “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” – Isaiah 2:4 I’ve stood with activists in front of that same wall singing Down by the Riverside, a song promising we’ll lay down our swords and shields, -“and study war no more, no more.”
A US Air Force veteran of the US war in Vietnam and two other nuclear weapons protesters were found guilty of trespassing and damage to property in Cochem District Court May 11, 2020, as a result of July 2018 protest action at Germany’s Büchel Air Force Base, where the United States positions 20 of its nuclear bombs and where German pilots train to use them in possible attacks against Russia. There have been repeated arrests and detentions of US citizens during protests at the Büchel base since 2017, but no charges have been brought to trial until now. The judge sentenced all three to fines equivalent to 30 times their daily income plus court costs. The fines ranged from 150 to 900 Euros ($165 to $990). Refusing to pay could see the defendants jailed for up to 30 days. The three were among 18 war resisters.
Across the world and across history, oppressed, marginalized, poor, and working-class people have used a variety of tactics to further their goals and fight back, and this includes things that could be considered violent. Overall, this means that when people refuse their roles within society and instead force the system into a state of crisis, that’s when we can create a situation in which we can forward our own agenda. This often means that people refuse to do the things that allows the system to reproduce itself. In the case of workers, people strike. In the case of renters, they go on rent strike. For the poor, they refuse to be passive: they riot. In the case of all, they defend themselves against the violence of State repression and the police: they fight back.