Things Can Change, But Not By Me Living In the Past.

Things can change,
but it might take some time for radical social changes to
become really noticeable.

I was thinking about this the other day as I reflected upon just
how few people smoke these days.

One of the things that I have always noted about politics is
that a lot of what goes on is very much based in terms of
debating the struggles the past.

Now it might all be very fascinating to a debate what we ( I ) did
in the past, but you just can’t keep doing this and expect to
maintain a clear view upon just what the current issues or
political problems might be.

Having been involved within the peace movement for over 40
years I recognise this danger within myself, but the question is
just how do I get rid of the kind of historical baggage which
comes with a long history of activism?

One of the reasons that I gave my own archive to IISH in
Amsterdam, was so that it might free me from this kind of
looking back on the past,
and thus free myself up in order to get on with some new

By and large this seems to of worked for me,
but it would still be worth while if I could do a couple of oral
history recordings within the next year or so.

That way I wouldn’t be tempted to start playing the grand old
veteran in about 20 years time,
but still get to record what I’ve done in the past.

What I don’t want to do is write up my own autobiography.

Now I might like us to note various dates in my own history,
but I would not like to write them all up.

Writing up ones own history is very much like trying to proof
read ones own work:
It’s best left for someone else to do it for one.

So now I’m looking for someone to sit down for a few hours
with me in front of a microphone.

After that it will be time for me to really concentrate upon
something new.

I’ve seen too many activists surrounded by their old paper
documents, which can hold them to thinking about the past.

I’ve also noted just how nice it is to live in a place which is not
ones own political archive.

I know just which of these two lifestyles I want to enjoy in my
old age.

Just FYI :-
What sparked me to write this has been some of the recent
work I have been doing in terms of changes with some of the
projects in which I am currently involved,
but more on them at some other stage.

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,
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

Such an allowance is a form of Discrimination against single

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.

Renaming and Rethinking the world.

I have a small undated J Bartholomew atlas of the world,
which must of been published around the start of World War

Looking at the maps in this work is a lesson in history,
for within this atlas you will find the following places: –

East and West Prussia,
St Petersburg,
German South West Africa,
German East Africa,
The Belgium Congo.

Though the more knowledgable of you may be able to place
these counties, regions, or towns upon the map,
it might prove be very difficult for those individuals who are a
product of our modern education system to be able to do so.

The point being that many of those places have changed their
names since the publication of this atlas,
much in the same way as national boarders have oscillated
over the centuries.

This is turn might be a very good starting point for a lesson in

Even a fleeting glance at this atlas will confirm just how
much the political map of the world has changed over the last
100 years.

It all goes to show that there is nothing static about politics,
or just how we see and name the world about us.

Yet while the Russian, Japanese, Dutch, Austro-Hungarian,
French, Spanish, British, and German Empires
of the last century have long gone,
we are still exploiting the world in the very same way.

We need to start thinking about the world in global terms,
and not via the names of states which will continue to come
and go.

Only then will we be able to start dealing with global issues
at a local level,
and not be bound to thinking about the short term shifting
needs of the nation state.

The Sharpness Action.

The Shapness Action was a Nonviolent Airect Action that
many people know nothing about.

Sharpness Docks is at the enterence to the Gloucester Canal.

It was there on the Fourth of July 1979 that I took part in an
action which held up the loading of low level nukiller waste
which was destined to be dumped at sea.

It was this action, and the following one in 1980,
which focused a lot of attention upon the issue of how
nukiller waste was being dumped at sea,
and helped to stop this practice.

While the action managed to generate a lot of publicity upon
the issue, there were many unplanned aspects to it.

These included:

– being held by the police on the way to the docks.

– Having no one in their pre-planned locations when the
shipment was transported in to the docks.


– A spontanious sit down in front of the dock yard train.

I wrote a long report upon this action which appeared in the
Anarchist paper Freedom on July 28th 1979.

The photos I took during the action are now with my archive at
the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

I recently wrote a long analytical piece about just what
happened on the action,
or just what went wrong at the time.

I’ll write more upon this subject once this article is published

Books to Love & Keep – Library Books to Pulp.

Having a love for books does not mean that I don’t pulp old
books from time to time.

This happens in all public libraries,
and I do it with some of my own outdated books too.

I recently commented upon just why this is something
that needs to be done.

Here is a summary of just why library books get pulped :

– There is a major difference between a lending or reference
library, and an archive.

– Libraries are not archives.

– Any outdated medical or legal book will provide dangerous

– Technologies change.

– New editions get published.

– Our thinking upon various issues,
such as works of art,
changes over the years.

– We constantly discover more and more about the world
about us.


– Libraries are places in which people find books to educate

To sum this all up:

– People want to be able to access what is the best current
information upon any subject,
as opposed to looking a dangerously outdated data or ideas.

– Library stock should be the very best possible in order to
achieve these various ends.

Books are not sacred objects,
but a medium via which to spread information and ideas.

If only more libraries were to explain any or all of the above,
then we wouldn’t get such a bad press every time that a book is
withdrawn from stock.

This needs to be said – time & time & time again.

A Walk In The Urban Wild Life Park.

There is something which I keep noticing:
a lot of areas of waste land within our city centres.

Areas that have been flattened after various buildings have
been pulled down, and which currently serve no socially
useful purpose.

These are places which are surrounded by fences, and that
are now starting to turn in to urban wildlife areas.

Such patches of waste land are very indicative of just what
has been happening to society over the last few years.

– How certain parts of the economy slowed down and came to a
complete standstill.

We now keep being told how the recession is on the turn,
yet I’ll not believe that the economy is starting to work again:

– Not until there are signs that all of these waste grounds are
being opened up and new buildings are being constructed.

Yet that is not the end of this story………

Continue reading A Walk In The Urban Wild Life Park.

The Last Rotten Borough.

I keep reading about just how important it is to vote,
or what some people call ‘exercising ones democratic rights’.

Why Bother ?

You may well ask ….

I’ve always thought that if one really believes in exercising
ones rights,
then one should do much more than vote for someone to
‘represent’ one every so many years.

The truth is that a real involvement in politics involves a lot
more than just voting.

I’m also very critical as to just what the various political
institutions are able to achieve.

I’ll skip yet another lecture upon parliamentary corruption,
state repression, state surveillance, or how the voice of
protest is constantly being ignored.

I’ll just give one example of how the voice of the people is
constantly being ignored:
the 2 million people who marched in London again the second
gulf war.

There is an old myth you may recall:
about how voting can change the system.

Yet you should always remember that when voting changes
the system, then the system may well be abolished,
and I am not just thinking about military coups.

This happened with the GLC ( Greater London Council ) when it
started to make some real social changes.

The GLC was abolished.

Yet the ‘last rotten borough’ has still to be challenged.

I refer to the ‘city Vote’ which exists with the City of London

I was born within the City of London,
and so this is a question which is very close to my heart.

Only when the city vote has been abolished will I believe that
any voting will be worth while.

Only then will I start to believe that voting can make any
difference to the way in which we live.

It is the difference between being governed,
and that of taking part in a process of social change.

If the City of London Corporation represents democracy,
then the whole concept of democracy needs to be rethought.

There Was Once A Saying.

During the 1960s there used to be a saying:
‘We are the people our parents warned us against’.

Now we might just of turned this saying in to:-

We Are the People We Warned Our Parents Against.

Both of these sayings are warnings about both change for the
sake of change, and not having a fluidity of mind to change
things as they need to be changed.

The problem being that as a lot of people become older they
become more conservative.

Yet this is not so much a conservatism,
as a reaction to all of those new dangers that abound,
or it could just be a very human inability to adapt to the
changes in the world around one. Continue reading There Was Once A Saying.

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

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.