Honour The Many Brave Conscientious Objectors Of WW1.

1916 – 2016

Military Service Act came in to force on March 2nd 1916. As a result many brave conscientious objectors ended up in Jail.

Next Wednesday [ March 2nd at 11.00. ] there will be an event to honour these men outside of Walton Jail in Liverpool.

That is where many of those brave men were incarcerated.

This includes people such as Fenner Brockway.

The event will involve a reading of the names of COs who were held in Walton jail, and some of the many WW1 COs from the Merseyside area.

After that there will be a brief name reading of just a few of the many COs who are currently held in prison throughout the world 

This will be a unique event.

Please lets others know about it and come to it if you can.

Remodelling The Campaigning Model

I shall continue to be an impossible person so long as those who are now possible remain possible.”Mikhail Bakunin

The Current Situation

One of the things I keep repeating is something which seems very obvious to may activists.

We have reached the tipping end of Climate Change, and there is very little we can do except to try to mitigate the most extreme aspects of that change.

The Pacific is dying.

&

We have a major long term problems with nukiller power & nukiller waste.

Yet the number of activists who are campaigning to stop these problems is extremely small.


Countering the campaigning myth.

One of the continual myths that abounds is that we can change things by organising big national demonstrations, lots of nonviolent direct action, and building a mass movement.

I’ve heard the same thing said many a time, and then watched people fall away with burnout, while stating that they need to ‘take a rest for a while’.

Thus campaigning goes in waves of activities, while the latest political crisis diverts a lot of individuals attention from these issues.

Yet the dangers posed by global warning, nukiller power, and radioactive waste grow by the hour.

Having regular rests might be good for the individual activists, but it’s not good for the those activists who keep going hour by day by month by year by decade on end. [ That comes with a financial and emotional cost which I’ll not go in to right now.]

For the long term activists it’s not just a question of keeping up with the issue, as the nukiller industry is multifaceted, but constantly working to share that knowledge.

Thus the best campaigners need have to a wide ranging knowledge of different subjects, be multi-skilled, and possess the ability to keep summing up that knowledge in different ways.

Just doing that while organising very small actions is the very most which most long term activists can hope to achieve.

This is particularly so as there are just not the numbers to sustain anything else.

Thus the line about ‘direct action is the only way’ becomes more of a chant than the reality.

Just keep in mind that:-

– Long term campaigning means we have to transcend both class and culture.

– Long term campaigning means constant self-education.

– Long term campaigning means just that.

– Long term campaigning means constantly campaigning for years on end without a break.

Constantly campaigning is the name of the game.


Just How do we do it?

The reality for most campaigning groups is that everything comes down to a few activists.

So:-

– How do we get away from only ever being able to organise regular pickets or leafleting sessions which just consist of 2,3, or 4 people ?

– How do we get away from meetings or public meetings at which we are only a small group of committed individuals ?

– How do we keep campaigning for years on end with little or no support?

&

Most importantly of all.

– How do we motivate people in to action ?

There are no easy answers to these questions.


A few workable options.

My thinking is that there is just not the money, people, or the resources around to think about any major national events.

Yet we can do the following:-

– Make sure to get to any pickets of demonstrations by other groups which are going on within the area or region one is living in.

– Hold more co-ordinated demonstrations or pickets on set dates.

e.g. During the next DRS open day will be held at their Carlisle depot on July 18th.

– Have more nukiller waste train leafleting sessions which are held at those times when regular commuters go through the effected stations.

That in turn could be used as a pre-requisite to setting up more local anti-nukiller groups.

– Encourage activists from other local groups to come visit & find out more about our own nukiller plants.

This is something which will both widen our knowledge base, and help to build support for each other.

For example: –

It would be very useful for more activists to go see all of those plants which will be effected by rising sea levels, such as Sizewell, Dungeness, & Heysham.

Or

Capenhurst & all those places through which Uranium Hex is transported.

&

– Getting away from thinking about supporting those these groups which have paid fund-raisers.

The real need is to pay for the leaflets which are handed out by activists, and getting people to these protests on a regular basis.

That means making a few small regular donations to cover paper, ink, and train fares.

All of this might not seem like such,

but it is a very basis need if we are ever going to sustain any long term anti-nukiller campaigning.


Re-penning the campaigning manuals.

As a last observation.

Many of these issues are just not covered in most campaigning manuals.

The presumption being that each campaign has an easily defined time scale.

Yet this does not apply to nukiller power, as we need to look at the many year which they will be around, and the long term impact they will make.

Even if we stop new build and close down all the nukiller plants in one go, then there will still be the decommissioning and radioactive waste issue which will need to be addressed.

There is real need for campaigning manuals to examine just how we might support long term campaigning, and thus how best to work in mixed aged groups.

Images Of War

Books.

Some books contain such horrific images that I would be very
reluctant to show them to anyone who has no need to view them.

Such books include: –

Ernst Friedrich.
Krieg Dem Kriege
( War against war ).

&

Lord Russel of Liverpool.
The Knights of Bushido: A Short History of Japanese War Crimes.

Both of these works contain very important information about the
horrors of war, but there they also have some very disturbing
photographic images.

The same also applies to those works which describe the effects of
Atomic Bombs dropped at Hiroshima & Nagasaki.

What applies to books about war also applies to those works
which show the medical effects of radioactive leaks from Nukiller
Power stations.

War is Not a Game.

Many media images of soldiers just show men in combat or
on military parades.

This also extends to the model soldiers which are on sale in toy
shops.  Most of these models either glorify war, or show soldiers
engaged in acts of violence.

This is why many pacifists are concerned with the sale of war toys.

It is very rare to come across model soldiers as the casualties of war, or in need of medical Help.

Veterans for Peace.

Veterans for Peace UK has recently been established with the following Aims:-

– To resist war through non-violent action.
– Support persecuted war-resisters.
– Counter militarism in society through education.
– Increase public awareness of the costs of war.
– End the arms race and to reduce and eventually eliminate
nuclear weapons.
&
– Abolish war as an instrument of national policy

As ex soldiers they have experienced the truth about war.

They deserve to be heard.

25 4 25

It was on December 15th 1985 that I first became a regular
volunteer with War Resisters International ( WRI ).

Being a volunteer does not mean that I do any of the exciting
project work, but it does involve me in working upon all of
these routine jobs around the office which need to be done in
order that WRI can function as a campaigning body.

If you have received anything in the post from WRI over the
last 25 years, then I might of worked on that mailing.

If you have been to any of the WRI gatherings over the last 25
years, then I would of been one of the  individuals who helped
print the background papers which you would of received for
the event.

I have also worked upon all of those unexciting, or repetitive
jobs which are needed in order to help support COs.

Aside from that I’ve keep the filing system up to date,
and helped out with many of these none project jobs which
keep the office functioning.

While many of these jobs are unexciting, they do require that I
have to know a lot in order to perform these tasks.

I keep coming in every week to do these tasks because they are
very necessary if we are going to build a Nonviolent society,
and will do so as long as this vital work needs to be done.

25 years is a long while to keep working this way,
and something which I want you all to celebrate with me.

So I’m asking you to participate in 25 4 25.

I’m asking that you too make a contribution to WRI by donating
25 units of your own local currency  in order to help fund this
work.

This could be in the form of 25 dollars, 25 Euros. 25 Krone, 25
pounds, 25 Yen, or 25 units of what ever your local currency
might be.

Just thinking it as giving something of what is a local for you
to the global work of WRI.

Stand Back , or Some Thoughts Upon Pacifism and Nonviolence.

Reconciliation or social revolution ?

I’ve always been somewhat reluctant to write a long and
philosophical article upon Pacifism and Nonviolence,
as most of what I would like to say has been written about
before now.

Yet I still find myself reading a lot of works that confuses
Nonviolent principles with those ideas which exclude any
references to humanitarian social justice. Continue reading Stand Back , or Some Thoughts Upon Pacifism and Nonviolence.

Referencing the Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum ( IWM ) has changed a lot since I first
visited it some time around 1963.

I still have a very strong impression of just what the museum
was like at the time,
and the displays upon the horrors of World War One.

I’ve been back to the IWM several times over the years since
then.

I Recently went on a librarians visit to the new
Explore History Centre within the IWM.

The Explore centre replaces what used to be the Museum
Library, and is a good starting place for anyone who wishes to
learn more about the various aspects of the various wars
which Britain has been involved in since the turn of the 19th
century.

Not only can one access the books and papers which are held
within the museum,
but it’s audio visual materials too.

This is also the starting point from which one may undertake
some research in to ones family history,
but find out about how wars have been waged during the 20th
century.

The idea behind the Explore Centre is that what is held within
the Museum should be easily available to everyone.

Both World War One & Two were ‘peoples wars’,
and the collection is a reflection of this very fact.

Thus the Museum has a vast collection of books, documents,
and other items upon the subject of Conscientious Objection,
together with many sound recording made by COs.

e.g.
by Harold Bing.

Amongst the items I was shown the last letter of Edith Cavell,
whos statue Women In Black hold their vigils,
&
a collection of letters from people who were on the Lusitania
when it was torpedoed in 1915.

The IWM has a holding of over 5 miles of books,
50,000 badges,
and the largest collection of paintings within the UK.

So you should be able to find something of interst for
everyone.

Pensions & Library Workers.

Here is The Deal.

Library & Information workers get below average incomes,
but most will get a pension after years of service.

Such pensions are based upon years of hard work on low pay,
and the below average wage which they may be receiving at
the point of retirement.

The deal being that one will put up with such low pay in
exchange for a pension that will lift one above the penury
which is the state pension.

Now some clever investors are claiming that this is an
unreasonable deal for the tax-payer.

Well you can’t have it both ways!

Either you start to pay the real economic worth of library
workers during a working life,
or
you pay what is not an unreasonable pension.

Though it might also be remembered that:

– All pensions are paid for over a working life time by those
who receive these pensions.

&

– A pension is a form of savings during ones working life, which is withdrawn in stages after one retires.

So it is not the tax-payer who is funding these pensions,
but the workers themselves.

If anything does need to be done in terms of pension reform,
then it should be the ending the spouse or partners
allowance.

Such an allowance is a form of Discrimination against single
people.

This would also release a lot of money which could be better
used to make sure that everyone who has a pension might
continue to do so,
and increase the level of pension pay-outs for all.

Enough said …….. We are not all overpaid bankers.

An Inequitable Taxation.

Be it the window or Poll tax,
the question as to what is an equitable or a reasonable
taxation has always excited a lot of protest.

That is why the question of tax exceptions is one which should
concern us all.

We all think that we are over taxed,
but just how many of us think about how just the payment or
none payment of taxation may be.

At present within Britain all religious comminutes are except
from paying any council ( local authority ) tax.

While most of the churches or religious bodies are registered
as Charities,
and thus gain many tax advantages.

Yet Pacifist bodies, ecology action groups have to pay their
taxes in full.

Why should this be so?

Because under the present law Churches are deemed as being
charitable bodies,
while Pacifist and Eco action organisations are considered to
be ‘political’.

If a group of atheists were to establish a community or body to
combat the extremes of any religion, then they would not be
able to be registered as a charity,
or get all of the tax benefits which go with this.

That would be deemed to be a political activity.

Yet Religious bodies who campaign against good atheist values
do get these various tax benefits.

Now just tell me that this is not political?

This makes no sense at all,
as all religions involve themselves in politics,
even if they hide it with the expression:
‘ Spreading the word of god ‘.

Just to take two examples:
– They campaign against the rights of women to make their own
decisions upon contraception and abortion.
&
– Interfere upon just what may or may not be taught within our
schools.

Just look at the website for the
Charity Commission for England and Wales
and you will see just how many religious bodies are registered
as charities.

This includes such controversial bodies as the
Universal Church Kingdom of God.
A church whose activities has aroused a lot of concerns over
the last few years.

On the other hand we have the case of many pacifists who are
taken to court for refusing to pay any war taxes.

This is despite the fact that Pacifists have a legal right to
exercise a conscientious objection to conscription.

Clearly there is an urgent need to change this system,
and give one the right to exercise a conscientious objection to
all war taxes.

Though the long term aim should really be to abolish all
military organisations.

Equally importantly: –
The whole question as to the charitable status of all religious
bodies should be examined,

They should be made to take pay their share of the tax burden,
as it is inequitable that we should all be forced to subsidise
them this way.

Nonviolent Resistance to the Falkland War.

The overriding mood in Britain the during spring of 1982 was
that of Jingoism, nationalism, & militarism.

The Falkland Islands had been invaded by the Argentina
military,
& Britain was at War.

In between the Jingoism, nationalism, & militarism: –
There were a few of us who were engaged in
Anti Falkland War Activities.

Over the few months of the war there were a lot of small
scale demonstrations,
and three national marches against the war.

Upon one of these demonstrations I was photographed in the
company of my comrades from Greenpeace ( London ).
This photo appeared on the front page of the Morning Star –
Monday May 10th 1982.

During the period between may day 1982 & the ‘victory parade’
on oct 12 of that year:
Some circa 118 people were arrested for Anti-Falkland war
activities.

Most of these arrests were for small scale,
or symbolic actions against the war.

Some £515 was raised in donations to cover their fines &
other legal costs.

These figures come from bulletin no 6 of the anti-Falklands
war support network (March 1983 ), in which I was involved.

This support network was founded on may 24th 1982,
and held its last meeting on February 28th 1983.

The Peace Pledge Union ( P.P.U. ) was engaged in activities
against the war,
as was London Peace Action,
&
Greenpeace ( London ).

Peace News published various news stories and back ground
articles upon the situation during the time of the war.

Since then very little has been published about this small
grass root opposition to the Falkland War.

The archives of the anti-Falklands war support network are
now held by the P.P.U.

A statement marking the 25th anniversary of the war was
published in Information for Social Change 2007.

What I would like to happen is an oral history project upon
the resistance to the Falkland War.

Would anyone be interested in undertaking such a project?

Some Notes Upon Pacifist Activities in Bulgaria During the 1920s & 1930s.

On July 3rd 1924 a young man was beaten up in the Bulgarian
village of Bujinci-Vasil. His ‘crime’ was that of refusing to be
conscripted.

This was in contravention of the provisions of the peace
treaty which came in to effect at the end of world war one.

The reporter upon this incident had no idea upon what had
subsequently happened to the young man.

Thus we have the 1st of a number of reports upon the pacifist
movement in Bulgaria which were published in the various
newsletters of War Resisters International ( WRI ).

In September 1924 it was reported that a group of Bulgarian
Tolstoyans had formed a new section of WRI.

At the same time it was reported that their situation had
become much more difficult. Continue reading Some Notes Upon Pacifist Activities in Bulgaria During the 1920s & 1930s.