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The Peace News log

Online and in-person activist events in the UK from 6 August to November 2020

Hiroshima Day 2018 Hastings, EnglandThe current issue of Peace News doesn't have an events page because most events in the time period it covers (10 August to the end of October) are online.

So we've put the events listing online instead. Please do check before attending an in-person event as the changing COVID-19 restrictions mean in-person/face-to-face events change also.

This is a list of the kinds of events below:

1) Hiroshima & Nagasaki events (in-person/face-to-face)

2) Hiroshima & Nagasaki events (online events)

3) Other in-person/face-to-face events

4) Other online events

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Kelvin Mason finds points of agreement with ideological opponents

Citizens of liberal democracies, at least those who at least broadly subscribe to the principles of liberalism and democracy, tend to regard science as an ally in political debate. Climate change deniers, for instance, are regularly denigrated via citing: “97% or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities” . Armed with such apparently incontestable evidence, “reasonable” people then find it very difficult to make space for scientific scepticism, and this constrains them from entering into debate: Climate change sceptics are accused of politicising the science [1]. Put more starkly, we (yes, I’m one) label our nay-saying adversaries as ‘idiots’ and shut the door to doing politics. Of course, we don’t just do this with respect to the natural sciences. Consider the divisive rancour in the UK around Brexit and how the economic and political absolutes of both sides of that non-debate were most often held to be incontrovertible. Living through the Covid-19 pandemic so far has kindled a new science scepticism in me. It has also led me to consider whether admitting scepticism more generally could help facilitate a regenerative politics, particularly in deeply riven societies such as the UK.

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UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon addresses 2010 NPT review conference. UN Photo/Mark Garten

 

On 23 January, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock from two minutes to midnight to 100 seconds to midnight, which is the closest that it has been to midnight since the Clock was created in 1947 (midnight means the end of organised human life). The Bulletin consists of the world’s top physicists and its work is supported by experts on international peace and security such as former UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson and former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.

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Esme Needham reviews the National Portrait Gallery's exhibition about the women who helped to create the Pre-Raphaelite style

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Night and Sleep by Evelyn De Morgan, 1878. De Morgan Collection, courtesy of the De Morgan Foundation

There were seven of them, to begin with. Seven expensively-educated young men from wealthy families, whose decision to pioneer a new art style sparked an artistic craze which continued for decades. Whatever you know of Pre-Raphaelite art, the chances are that you have images you associate with it: Dante Gabriel Rossetti's baleful “Proserpine”, perhaps, or John Everett Millais's “Ophelia”, covered in flowers and staring helplessly at the sky. Images of women were always at the heart of the Pre-Raphaelite style, yet many of the real women who helped to create it have been almost entirely forgotten. This exhibition hopes to bring them back into the light.

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Image'Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action.' – Rebecca Solnit

 

In times of crisis, people often react by coming up with quick fixes, quick strategies and quick actions to address the challenges we face. Although quick responses are sometimes necessary, we need to be careful in how we articulate our demands and how we organise. Climate breakdown, white supremacy and so many other ‘crises’ in the news right now are not actually new. For many communities around the world including here in Britain, crisis is very familiar. You can see this in the profit-driven projects that impoverish and displace communities in the global south, and in the racist policies that punish migrant and refugee communities in the global north. Crisis is what many of us know.

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Extinction Rebellion (XR) deserves praise for the impact it is having in streets, in the media and in public discourse. The XR leadership should also be questioned for its approach to diversity and privilege, to climate justice, and to strategy. (This is part of a series of articles discussing XR.)

Extinction Rebellion 'nonviolence' bannerExtinction Rebellion (XR) has sprung upon us and is mobilising thousands of people to take direct action demanding radical action on climate change. They’ve filled the streets. Thousands of new people are taking action. Despite this most established environmental activists have reacted with criticism, much of which is justified.

 

Leaders

To understand XR, it is important to note that it has a defined leadership. Roger Hallam and a small group make key decisions, and those participating in XR do not have a direct say in these decisions. This is unlike many recent movements involving direct action, most of which have been non-hierarchical in some way.

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Students march against climate change on Rue de Treves next to the European Parliament in Brussels on 24 January 2019. Bence Damokos [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

 

Many schools and sixth-form colleges across the UK are unwittingly helping to fund climate change through their contributions to Local Government Pension Schemes. These Pension Schemes have £16 billion pounds of people’s pension monies invested in giant oil, coal and gas companies like Exxon and BP. By taking action in their schools, students, parents, teachers and staff can help to break the hold these companies currently have on economies and governments around the world, and make way for a just transition to renewable energy.

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Benjamin reports on Global Justice Now's recent one-day conference

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On Saturday 23 February about 200 activists met in South London to discuss 'Growth, Degrowth and Climate justice'. The one day conference, organised by Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) proved hugely popular with tickets selling out. A larger venue was found and filled, proving that a subject which has been the preserve of university economists can now draw a non-specialist audience.

If the financial crisis of ten years ago has taught us anything it is that we cannot leave economics solely to economists. Climate campaigners too understand that the mantra of economic growth is a major obstacle to meaningful emissions reductions. The growth obsession drives ever increasing consumption and resource use. To date, no country has been able to decouple economic output from greenhouse gas emissions.

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Speakers at a London book launch describe some of the many challenges we face around race and racism and connections with other oppressions.

ImageOver 50 people gathered in London on Saturday 10 November to celebrate the launch of a new book, The Fire Now: Anti-Racist Scholarship in Times of Explicit Racial Violence.  The event was a welcome mix of hearing from different authors (people of colour and also white) about the work they had contributed, followed by a thoughtful Q and A and discussion, refreshments and more incisive observations by the rapper Lowkey and professor Akwugo Emejulu

One of the book’s editors, Azeezat Johnson, who is a researcher at Queen Mary’s University (where the event was held) welcomed everyone and explained that the impetus for the book, which contains 23 essays by a wide variety of researchers on topics from climate change to 'Laughter and the Politics of Place-Making', was the aftermath of Brexit and the upsurge in racial vilification and violence. 

Then it was over to some of the authors to explain what their chapters involved.

Remi Joseph-Salisbury, one of the book’s other editors, explained that his journey into academia had stripped him of some illusions about the connection between academic work and activism.  He pointed out that talking the talk must be matched by walking the walk.

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In some ways it is hard to believe it has now been over a century since the guns of the First World War fell silent. The 'war to end all wars' is so deeply engraved on our national consciousness that even now, when there is no living memory of the conflict, people gather to speak, remember and reflect on that awful, bloody war.

I observed the two minute silence at 11am in front of my television at home, unable to face the militarism (not to mention the crowds) taking place down the river at the Whitehall Cenotaph. The service in Tavistock Square, politely timed at 1pm for those who wished to attend both services in person, is far more my speed. Here there is no marching, no saluting, no talk of the glorious dead. Instead there is quiet reflection, poetry, and a deep sadness that far from ending all wars, 'The Great War' sowed the seeds for the next major conflict, and the Cold and proxy wars that followed. There was a theme this year at Tavistock Square, and a pledge – 'No More War – Let's Make Peace Happen'.

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