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Peace News log archive: March 2017

Articles from the Peace News log.
For archive articles from the whole site, look here

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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