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The Peace News log

Jon Lockwood reviews Leon Fleming's recent play

Leon Fleming's new play concerns a brother and sister growing-up and living in Birmingham trapped in the clutches of an uncaring welfare system. The story is told with flasback scences from their childhood, mixed with the contemporary tale of two people being processed by The System TM and trying to survive.

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Playwright Leon Fleming on the biographical inspiration behind his new play 'Kicked in the Sh*tter' and why he believes that theatre is the greatest medium we have created for dragging thoughts out of a society.

ImageI’ve written a play, Kicked in the Sh*tter. Sounds a bit grim, but it's pretty funny.

It is.

That’s the plug over.

When I first wrote this play, I had no idea what I was writing. Or why.

But I soon realised I’d been writing about a world I know well; albeit one so much darker now, than it was when it was mine. The two characters are people I have known. More than that though; they are me, a lot of me; more than I would usually allow. That frightens me.  

My play exists in an unforgiving world - one we’d see every day if we didn’t choose to close our eyes to it. It revolves around two people with their own individual mental health difficulties, struggling to hold their heads above water; fighting with the government over back-to-work assessments and the minefield that is the benefits system in the UK.

Because I lived on a council estate for a year back when I was in my early twenties, I have some idea what I’m talking about. I worked in a pub on the estate and I claimed Job Seekers Allowance and Housing Benefit. This community was populated by very busy people. Warm, immensely generous people. Some were working, and some weren’t.

I was also surrounded by heroin addicts and people with a whole range of dependency issues and specialist needs that just weren’t being catered for as well though. These were a forgotten people. Actually, not forgotten; neglected.

This play has also forced me to acknowledge my own relationship with mental health; those unspoken of, invisible illnesses that affect so many of us.

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Ian Sinclair interviews activist and author Robert Jensen about his latest book The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men (Spinifex Press, 2017)

Ian Sinclair: How does radical feminism differ from other forms of feminism?

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Countries in the Global South have been forced into the large-scale extraction of natural resources (coal, oil, minerals, land) in order to export raw materials. It is corporations based in Europe and North America who generally profit. This 'extractivism' is happening even in Bolivia, where the government once presented itself as the protector of Mother Earth.

SALT, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.
At this time of year I am always in Cochabamba, in the middle of Bolivia, in the heart of South America. The first book anyone wanting to understand the structural dynamics of this region's history reads is Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, charting the colonial plunder of the continent's natural resources, from timber to rubber to tin to fossil fuels, and of course in the process always exploiting to death the indigenous peoples of the region, forced to labour in these industries. The veins to which Galeano referred are more open than ever (and not only in Latin America of course). Extractivism - the large-scale extraction of natural resources, including hydrocarbons, minerals and land base for crops, in order to sell raw materials on the global market - is the lifeblood of the modern global economy. 


In the UK, we are getting a little better at understanding the need to have a closer relationship with where our food is coming from, for our health and that of the earth. But we, as part of the industrialised Global North, are a long way by this point in the 21st century from making the connections between what happens at the place where energy and mineral industries tear up the ground, and our experience of the material world around us.

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A call for banner drops on 20 January, the date of Donald Trump's inauguration (as sent to PN)

Image

Photo: Fibonacci Blue

Donald Trump is being sworn in on 20th Jan. Does that make YOU nervous?

If so - don't just sit on your backside...gather together with like minded people all over the UK!

Colourful banners baring positive slogans will be hung from bridges across Britain, showing the world that this country stands defiant against populism & bigotry

Together we can create a unified voice, more direct and powerful than the negative messages we've been hearing

The day will be an opportunity to pool knowledge, build networks & friendships -- to support each other and display messages of positivity in the face of hatred

Together we will stand firm and move forward.....

So don't miss out! Register a banner drop in your town. 

Join The Resistance!

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A report from the Movement Against War youth delegation to the International Peace Bureau Congress on demilitarisation.

 

IPB Congress 2016

Young delegates stop nuclear missile launch at the IPB Congress!

From the 30 September – 3 October, MAW Youth (Jen Harrison, Becky Garnault, Maddy Ridgley) plus 2 competition winners (Ella Johnson and Khem Rogaly) attended the International Peace Bureau world congress in Berlin.

For 4 days we were immersed in fascinating panel discussions and workshops delivered by an impressive collection of academics, activists, writers, politicians and economists. In our spare time we engaged in stimulating, nuanced and informative discussions with fellow attendees of diverse ages and nationalities. Together, we created a breeding ground for progressive ideas and fostered a community intent on building a climate of peace, reducing military spending and challenging the destructive power structures pervasive to our world.

A theme common to many of the plenaries and workshops was the effects and causes of global military spending. Though the strapline to the conference was the “the world is over armed and peace is underfunded” (Ban-ki Moon), the economist Samir Amin pointed out that it would be more appropriate to say that “the West is over armed”, as Western countries account for 75% of the total global military spending ($1.7trillion). This shocking figure is made worse when the huge cuts to social and public services across Europe and the USA in recent years are considered. The speakers emphasised the extent to which war is a systemic problem intimately connected to global capitalism, European colonialism and patriarchy. Over the course of the conference, the nature of militarism as a metastatic cancer, infecting different levels of thought became ever clearer.

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An interview with Daniele Santi – secretary general of the Buddhist peace group, Senzatomica.

PN: What is Senzatomica?

Daniele Santi: Our aim is to raise public awareness about the threats of nuclear weapons and to empower each individual to speak out for a world free of nuclear weapons. In order to create an unstoppable force for peace, we launched a touring exhibition, believing that it is people’s right and duty to speak out.Daniele Santi of Senzatomica, Florence, Italy, 19 September 2016

Since we started in 2011, hundreds of thousands of people have visited over 70 exhibitions organized in towns and cities across Italy. We have also organized concerts, TV shows, flash mobs and so on. We really want to achieve a process whereby people can act and show that such a far-reaching goal is not beyond the grasp of ordinary people. Men and women have stood up for peace, countless people have done so. There are equivalent movements such as ICAN, Pugwash conferences and many others. We want to show that each individual has the power to change the world, to transform our behaviour and to share our humanity at its deepest level. We believe that if we campaign against nuclear weapons, we are fighting the root of powerlessness.

PN: How did Senzatomica start?

DS: We read the 2009 proposal, 'Building Global Solidarity for Nuclear Weapons Abolition' by Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda. It suggests five points for action. We felt we, as ordinary citizens, rather than politicians, could act on the fifth point which addresses empowerment. In order to empower people, we needed a shift of public opinion. In our Senzatomica campaign we reached out to up to a million people. Over 300,000 people have visited our exhibitions and 40,000 are signed up to our website.

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A member of the 'Jilted Generation' sees five factors re-shaping young people's sense of national identity....

In the wake of the June referendum result, newspapers of right and left are reporting that Britain has an identity crisis. As the demographic breakdowns of who voted what show, we are deeply divided in our attitudes, by class, by region, by nation, by colour, and by age.

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A call from a Center for Citizen Initiatives delegation as it visited Russia

On June 16, the New York Times reported :

'More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.

The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times by a State Department official, says American policy has been "overwhelmed" by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for "a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process".'

We are a group of concerned U.S. citizens currently (20 June) visiting Russia with the goal of increasing understanding and reducing international tension and conflict. We are appalled by this call for direct U.S. aggression against Syria, and believe it points to the urgent need for open public debate on U.S. foreign policy.

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A comic preacher from New York responds to the Brexit debate and vote - Earthalujah!

It sure is strong. Brexit pulls us in. My first response to the vote was to be glad – because we have been fighting for local power for decades here in New York. But Washington is not the same as Brussels. I got my localism confused with the complex struggle of the people the EU left out long ago. And I was (and am) moved by the UK youth who voted three to one to stay in, which has its parallel con-job here in the states. And then from there I exploded into 50 positions. Brexit is a potent tabula rasa.

It has succeeded as a pop phenomenon because it teases up in our souls the idea that we are facing a life-and-death question; except that the debate is led by clowns speaking in tongues. It turns us into over-heated Hamlets who go up on our lines at the point of 'To Be…' We’re doing this everywhere, repeating the question – 'Where do I live and where do you live?' but we know we’re getting it wrong. We sense that there is a far more crucial vote that we know we must soon face… Spoiler alert: The fact is that we can’t stay and we can’t leave.

Brexit has been fun to watch; has it out-polled the Game of Thrones? The nationalists love the sensation of being over-prepared for war, or even minor insults, while the EU business suits create blast-zones of identical details, all humor and music smoothed to consume. The Leaves want a wall to exercise their paranoia and they use that wall like a mirror preening like puffed-up Trumpish drag queens whiles the Remains use walls for 70 ft tall supermodels who look back at you like you just had nasty sex with them or are about to. Borders.

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