Tuesday 30 December 2008

Comment from Les, now released from custody

Three arrests occurred yesterday at the nerve centre of british power (Northwood, North West London) where questions were asked about the authorisation of killings of civillian, and any militarised obedient persons from Gaza, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A number of nonviolent creative anarchists vigilled and memorised the killings of military and civillians and three were arrested for alleged criminal damage. Priest Martin Newell, Susan Clarkson and Les Gibbons were arrested for the direct entry of top secret NATO base.

Questions were aimed at asking who is responsible, who approved and who authorised the killings, the many killings - ..the ability to observe objectively is universal if blame is not apportioned through questions - this creates the climate for reflection and inner questioning.

We asked those authorising others to go to war, kill and be killed to reflect on Gaza and disobey to come forward instead they stayed hidden - maybe they make themselves the gods of earth doing fine in their killing mandates.

This nonviolent calm intervention - forced by starvation, injustice and need to breach in a flint faced fashion the inner circles of empire and low quality power for the sake of preserving innocent, the real treasures are people not oil or security.

Hope will be Happening on 4th January in the first Palestine Cafe in Southampton - messages in arabic greatfully received for cards and pictures - no violent messages will be authorised for dispatch. Please ask your friends to assist with this - this is a human rights shout for assistance for palestine and particurly Gaza.

For further details please contact Les: 07766904547

Image: Les by Lizzie Jones

Monday 29 December 2008

Three arrested at Northwood: two for praying one for chatting

Catholic Priest, former British Marine and Catholic Worker Arrested in "Peace Break In" at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters.

Two Catholic peace activists were arrested Monday 8 a.m. after cutting through a perimeter fence at Northwood Permanent Joint Headquarters in suburban London. Fr Martin Newell 41 and Susan Clarkson 62 are from the London and Oxford Catholic Worker communities where they live and work with refugees from wars in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. While the two were arrested praying inside the base, other members of Catholic Worker communities held vigil at the front entrance reading the names of British and Afghani war dead. Former British Marine Les Gibbons was arrested while engaging armed guards, M.O.D. police and other Base employees making their way to work at the base. During the arrests, sirens and public address messages from within the base could be heard announcing "Operation Round Up" and a return of all staff to buildings as the base's security response was put in place.

Northwood Military Headquarters is the command centre for all British forces deployed abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a 43 acre site in suburban London accommodating over 2,000 military and civilian personnel. In recent weeks, two British soldiers committed suicide in Basra while the 136th. British soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on Christmas Eve. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission estimates over 750 Afghani civilians have been killed by Western forces in 2008.

The Catholic Worker is an international pacifist movement focused on work with the homeless and nonviolent anti-war activity. The Catholic Worker has sustained a constant peace presence and nonviolent resistance at Northwood Headquarters since the initial 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan. This recent action coincided with the Catholic "Feast of the Holy Innocents" that commemorates the massacre of the children by King Herod who saw the birth of Christ as a threat to his power.

The three arrested have been taken to Watford police station.

(Image: Les and police at Northwood)

Sunday 28 December 2008

Jewish Voices for Peace

Jewish Voices for Peace tell me that around 1,000 Israeli's took the streets in peaceful protest at the ongoing genocide the Israeli state is inflicting in their names.

They write:
"Israel's slow strangulation of Gaza through blockade has caused widespread suffering to the 1.5 million people of Gaza due to lack of food, electricity, water treatment supplies and medical equipment. It is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world.

In resisting this strangulation, Hamas resumed launching rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel, directly targeting civilians, which is also a war crime. Over the years, these poorly made rockets have been responsible for the deaths of 15 Israelis since 2004."

Israel is not alone all states use the protection of their citizens as an excuse to ignore the real needs of the same and use innocent people as scapegoats.

Jesus was the scapegoat for the Roman and Temple authorities of first century Palestine. The temple authorities continue to crucify the innocent in Palestine today in the name of "peace and security."

but St Paul warns:
While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." (1 Thess. 5:3).

More and more Israeli's are refusing to take part in this genocidal state fundamentalism. Christ is risen. A group is linked on the image above.

To donate please follow this link.

Thursday 25 December 2008

Blessed Christmas

Two hymns in the tradition of the lands where Christ and christianity were born

A Chaldaeic hymn

A Rum-ortodox hymn

For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.

Monday 22 December 2008

An intentional community

Two glasses of their fine wine made me reckless and I can cowardly blame these for landing on my wrist in a hellishly reeking ditch, such as there are so many in my country... (It may have been the slippery grass, it had just started to rain).
Maybe it is my wrist which took a long time to heal - I still cannot bear my watch, which miraculously survived the mud and water - which prevented me from writing more about the intentional community of Longo mai - a community of communities nowadays. By putting on this posting I commit myself to doing it in the very near future.

Radical young starting a communal life in places abandoned by Empire - now that does sound familiar, does not it? They did it in 1973, in the longlasting post-1968 days. I read an interpretation of their name which according to some means "longlasting May" - but it actually is a Provençal wish meaning "May it last long". They managed to survive as a community, still radical, still doing agricultural work and participating in all kinds of actions "in the outside world": against persecution of immigrant workers, for organic farming - traditional farming, as a matter of fact, which Empire has made "an alternative lifestyle"- and much more.

Here is a report about them in English, more on them soon.

They did not have and still do not have connections to any religious denomination, but members of the community are studying French personalism at the moment, which is one of the driving ideas behind the Catholic Worker. Swiss philosopher Denis de Rougemont studied the movement and wrote sympathetically about them, which sparked their interest in his ideas.

Two Longo Mai-communities are included in this story about concrete utopias in Europe.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Nuclear Bomb factory sold to American's

The sale of a British National Fuel Limited's share of AWE Aldermaston means it is now completely out of the hands of UK government and owned by two USA based private companies. There is no reason to think that the government has abandoned its plans to plough billions into the development of the site and of more nuclear weapons.

All this despite the states historic committment to arrest and regress our nuclear weapon programme (International Non-proliferation treaty).

Money and violence has been partly contracted out it seems but you and I will still be paying for the right of US companies to profit massively from our fear.

What is our fear based on? Are we scared that other nations hate us because we are so rich? Perhaps it would help if we were a bit less rich.

Jacobs Engineering group, who bought the state's third of AWE Aldermaston.

If you want to know where your nearest Jacob's office is so you can let them know you know and what you think about there latest acquisition in some creative and loving way.... then click here.

Friday 19 December 2008

New monasticism

We are not tolstoyans, we are christians, was the objection of Dutch christian anarchists a century ago against a way of labelling which is still common nowadays. They however used the label of christian anarchists for themselves. In the USA these days there is a current manifesting itself, rejecting any other description but christian, which fits completely to the paradigm of christian anarchism. So much even that I have to conclude they are wilfully avoiding the term. People quoting - amongst others - Jacques Ellul, Peter Maurin and the Jesusradicals must be familiar with the expression.

It takes some swallowing when you follow this current with attention and sympathy - they are so-called evangelicals, christians calling themselves reborn, a brand (!) of christianity which does not give the USA a good reputation at the moment. They themselves write that it is difficult to be christian in the US these days. And this they say referring to their actions against imperialist warfare, discrimination, death penalty and other things furthered by a government which likes to call itself christian. Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw reject identification with worldly politics in Jesus for president! (a title based on a song of Woody Guthrie's).

It is a catching manifesto, a kind of Christian anarchism for reborn, against which nothing can be objected viewed from the commonly held standpoint of older christian anarchist currents, quite the contrary. To quote Maurin: these ideas are so old they look new.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove in New Monasticismdescribes a tendency in the US – we apparently should not call it a movement – toward communal living in the spirit of the early christians. This tendency he places in the perspective of older communal strivings such as the (Anabaptist) Bruderhöfe and the Catholic Worker, a spirit which is also moving the reborn – Claiborne is a prominent example of someone living in such a community. It is called new monasticism, and to be part of it you may be married, you do not have to vow to keep silent - above all it is about the idea of living together in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount and having property in common. Christian anarchism is well and truly alive, even if it does not call itself that way. Signs of hope from the heart of Empire.

- Shane Claiborne & Chris Haw, Jesus for president! – politics for ordinary radicals. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. 335 p.
- Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, New monasticism – what it has to say to today’s church. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2008. 147 p.


Back in June 2006 at the conference of the UK Jesusradicals in Leeds somewhere somehow the decison was made by a few people to revive the paper A pinch of salt, a former Christian anarchist journal from Britain. I would or should have been correspondent from the Continent.

Now is the time for me to be that correspondent. Before placing a serious entry I thought it to be appropriate to introduce myself. I should have been the Northern Soul deejay at the conference mentioned above - especially went to Chicago to buy loads of danceable gospel 45s for the occasion (the phrase "especially" is used for dramatic effect - the rest of the sentence is true) - and then there were no wheels of steel at the conference... There were two guitars, however, so we had no lack of music.

So here I am, starting a rare Indorocker record from 1963, sometime early 2006, in my capacity of RG de 50-quidman. And I am the man behind christianarchy.org and Christianarchie. It may be a pity you cannot understand most of what is on there, but never fear - AdR tries his best over here in a language that is not his. I understand English is not Keith's first language and there is a fair chance that it is not your first language either, dear Reader. Let's away with the first entry of the day...

Thursday 18 December 2008

Hammered by the Irish

I've just finished reading Hammered by the Irish: How the Pitstop Ploughshares Disabled a US Warplane - With Ireland's Blessing by Harry Browne.

It charts the wider build up of Irelands various anti-war groups leading up to and after five Christian peace activists disabled a US military plane costing millions of dollars and saving lives.

The book honestly and frankly charts their four courtroom dramas (pre-trial and twice thrown out due to judges prejudicing the case) and their evetual acquital.

These five who began as near strangers but together risked up to ten years in prison give the reader a gripping read and an honest opportunity to reflect on the good and bad of direct action.

Political police

What would happen if the police were politicized and what are the principalities and powers so afraid of? It's the same fear that means the military have been traditiaonally banned from unionising.

If you get the sharp end of state-violence discussing their views and values, forming into groups, thinking about their rights and the rightness of their actions. If you had a grown-up autonomous police force doing some serious introspection then how could you maintain it's present role as living out someone else's agenda? You just couldn't.

"We need to be on the beat more?"
"It's what the voters want."
"It's not what we want we get hurt and abused"
"Why do we get hurt and abused."
"Because of all the fascists."
"What's a fascist?"
"Someone who subsumes there identity into a group in order to gather enough force to impose their morality on others and .... oh,.... I see."

Monday 15 December 2008

Politicians spin Kingsnorth protest

Well done to the Lib' Dem's for forcing the issue when the home office claimed that heavy-handed police presence at the climate camp was justified by the 70 police officers injured by protestors.

It now turns out there were 12 reportable injuries none of which was caused by a protestor but one was caused by a bee and another by sitting in a car!

Monday 8 December 2008

BBC spin airport protest

Whether it's rare industrial action or action on behalf of our marginalised evironment the BBC, like much of the media like tell a very different story.

So today the focus is not on why so many people would suffer hours in the cold, certain arrest and probable custodial sentence for blocking a runway. Oh no, the BBC website headlines with the inconvenience to passengers suggesting, without good grounds, that with one voice the passengers considered the protest pointless.

It used to be religion that lay down and mystified the sacred stories of empire. Now the new media of state is the "media": text, radio, t.v., internet. These are the High Priest's whom Jesus challenged in his own propaganda of the deed.

Wednesday 3 December 2008

The Politics of "Change"

"Even before the election was decided, we already knew a few things about the next president of the United States. First, we knew that he would be the commander of the world’s largest and most dangerous military state. Second, we knew that he would protect the interests of global capitalism with any means at his disposal. Third, we knew that he would implicitly present himself as the first bishop of the American civil religion—a religion that has always assumed that Christianity is the founding philosophy of American militarism and laissez-faire capitalism. But to go even further, we know that neither major political party will now seriously question the president’s current job description, making it obvious that the imperatives of the militarized and now hypercapitalized American state will disallow the procession of any fundamental changes from Washington itself."

- Michael van Dyke in his essay, "Anarchist imperatives and fundamental change" in which he outlines in story-form some of the important religious and political events that shape US worldviews to this day. A fascinating read for those new to the subject and those who already know a thing or two.

Saturday 29 November 2008

The frontline of globalisation

"A worker died and at least three people were injured after being trampled by a crowd of shoppers at a Wal-Mart in the New York suburbs." News.bbc

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Nurses: In their own words!

The BBC reports that the government is giving nurses guidelines on what language they are to use when addressing patients. This suggests many things about government attitudes to both nurses and patients and the conservatives have given their usual cross-patch response.

But New Labour may be addressing a real problem at the heart of the NHS. In hospital I have always been cared for but never by friends and family. In fact friends and family are strictly managed in their care for patients. Only professionals are allowed to care for the sick.

My friends no whether I like being called "dearie" or "shit head" nurses can only guess... or follow government guidelines.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Think Tank Challenges government on Asylum

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas should be publicly investigating his own government's bias against asylum seekers rather than attacking charities, human rights groups and lawyers for giving vulnerable people support, says the religion and society think tank Ekklesia.

"Mr W
oolas' claims that there is an 'industry out there' with a vested interest in taking asylum claims and appeals forward, with the implication that people should be denied access to justice because they are from another country and seeking refuge, is false and shameful," says Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow.

Vaughan Jones, director of the agency Praxis, which works wit
h displaced people across London, who is also a United Reformed Church minister and an Ekklesia associate described the statement from the new Immigration Minister as "a disturbing development."

"Asylum seekers and migrants are human beings with rights and it is quite proper and legitimate for the law to defend those rights and for people of good will to advocate for and support people in need, vulnerable to exploitation and potential victims of miscarriages of justice," said Mr Jones.

He continued: "Attacking the defenders of human rights is not the most edify
ing of stands, although it is regrettably not without precedent.

"There are many highly respected voluntary organisations and faith based organisations operating with integrity and within the framework of the law. Their work is well acknowledged and scrutinised by funders and regulators. Their activities should not be repudiated simply because they take a different stance on migration. A mature debate does not begin with mud-slinging."

Ekklesia's Simon Barrow added: "Governments attack human rights workers when they have something to hide. The UK authorities have been rightly criticised for dawn raids, removal of children and other abuses of justice in relation to people seeking asylum - even refusing to accept the legitimacy of their own numerous legal defeats. It is this that needs public investigation."

Image: Phil Woolas, Member of Puppetry

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Visitation to Shepherds in the Holy Land

On 15 November 2008, around 9:00 a.m., approximately fifteen masked Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma'on attacked three Palestinian shepherds who were grazing their flocks in a valley south of the outpost. The settlers came running down from a ridge above the shepherds, hurling rocks. The shepherds were able to get their flocks away before the rocks injured them.

During the incident, the settlers were able to steal two of the shepherds' donkeys. The settlers killed one donkey with a knife wound in the chest area. They slashed another across the throat, but the donkey survived.

You can read more and see a video of the attack here:


Sunday 16 November 2008

From Right to Left and beyond the state

From Right to Left and beyond the state: Rethinking Indian Church and Mission is now available as a pdf online at the ASIRA page of the ASN website.

This e-book traces the relationship between the theology of the privileged and the growing formation of the colonial enterprise in India.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Rules for Radicals

Sorry about the typo in the Saul Alinsky bit: should read "threats" not "treats". Reads very differently!!!

Tuesday 11 November 2008


Mark Engler makes the important point that Obama's adivsors give us some indication as to his intention to bring about "Change" - real or imagined. If this is a return to the Clinton approach to global and domestic economics than we're still screwed just with less "shock and awe". The election of a new emperor does not mean the end of imperialism. Indeed, how could it.

Friday 7 November 2008

Stories of Peace

Four members of Fellowship of Reconciliation, England are travelling to Israel and Palestine for a two week delegation from Monday 10th to Saturday 22nd November as part of a joint delegation with Interfaith Peace Builders and American Friends Service Committee. With 20+ other British and American delegates, we will be visiting Palestinian and Israeli grassroots peacemakers. We will be experiencing and engaging in nonviolent peacemaking in a region where violence has prevailed as the solution to conflict. It is our hope to be empowered as peacemakers, to gain a first hand understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, to learn new peacemaking skills, and to make lifelong friends.

We really hope you will want to hear about our experiences and the people and places we will be visiting. If so, please visit our blog, ‘Stories of Peace’ at http://storiesofpeace.blogspot.com/ and feel free to leave comments for us. We hope to be able to read any comments and update the blog every few days while we are away.

Martha Beale

on behalf of all of the delegates (Martha Beale, Joff Williams, David Masters and Rachel Smith)

Thursday 6 November 2008

AWE recruitment at Birmingham University continued...

AWE Recruitment presentation at Birmingham University 5 November

Sophie and Keith Hebden attended the AWE event as recruiters for AWE; dressed in smart suits with fake AWE identity badges we looked the part. Our badges read “Human Resources Dept” with our names, “Amanda Hugenkis” and “Dan Teshell”. We arrived half an hour before the event began to properly check out where the presentation was to be held.

Our intention was to intercept students going to the AWE recruitment drive by pretending to work for AWE. There is a long glass-walled lobby with sofas downstairs at Staff House; the presentation was to take place two floors above. We settled ourselves on the sofas with clipboards and fliers ready to intercept any students coming to the AWE recruitment presentation. We then asked people to sit with us to chat about ‘recruitment’, which gave us the chance to tell them the bare facts of what goes on — bomb-making — in an up-beat and ironic way. We wanted unguarded conversations with people who were considering working at AWE but were wrestling with the morality of doing so.

The first jobseeker was a bit of a red herring: he wanted to meet the AWE staff to talk about his marketing company to help them recruit. We took some information from him, thanked him and sent him home. Later we discovered that he was a ‘fake’ as well!

The next to arrive, a physicist, sat and chatted with us for a while. We saw him becoming more confused and concerned as we spoke enthusiastically about the destructive potential of nuclear bombs. It was when Keith told him about the “cultural exchanges” possible if working at AWE – “Hirsohima survivors often hang around the gate and you can wave at them as you drive into work,” – that he grinned and said, “OK, I get it.” We chatted with him for another five minutes as he admitted that he had been unsure as to whether to attend this event but had justified it to himself and wanted to hear them out. He decided not to go to the presentation and to go home. We shook hands and he thanked us.

The next man told us he was studying medical nuclear physics but was wondering about going into defence instead, “because there’s more money than in the NHS”. He spoke about the moral dilemma he faced in choosing between medical and defence. We said after AWE had dropped a bomb we would certainly need medical experts.

We chatted; he looked concerned but took our flier and went upstairs to the presentation.

A couple of girls said they were interested in working in human resources. At first they were hesitant about sitting down, partly because there were late for the presentation, but when they did they looked at us suspiciously from the start. A few minutes later one girl interrupted to ask if we were “Socialists” we said not and carried on for a minute before she interrupted again: “Excuse me, but we’re from ‘People and Planet’”. We all burst out laughing and sent them on their way to the presentation.

Finally a girl set on studying the radiation hazards of the site spoke with us for five minutes. She was very serious and intent on working at AWE; nothing we said could deter her. We listed about how AWE contravenes international treaties, how the UK is considering working on ‘useable nuclear weapons’, and how nuclear weapons target civilians because of their enormous destructive power, to name a few. She hurried off the presentation clutching our leaflet.

All in all, we felt there were some wonderful moments where we really connected with people, but perhaps the most encouraging thing was that hardly anyone came, and more protesters attended than jobseekers. Among the protesters were Gary Hall and John Hull, staff at Queen’s Foundation.

SPCA Gathering

G'day and kia ora to all peoples from the land of the white cloud to the deserts of the Australian wilderness and the rest of the earth,

The SPCA Christian Anarchist Gathering for 2009 will be held on the dates of

Thursday: August 6th 2009 Start around 7ish but all welcome sooner.
Sunday: August 9th 2009
finish lunchtime ish

At the CAVE (78 St Leonards Rd, Ascot Vale Melbourne)

Please feel free to invite anyone as all are welcome!
So start preparing for a great journey together as we seek to discover the christian anarchist spirit within us and what this means....

For now if you have any questions buzz me at philyew@gmail.com or call my mobile +61 414321451 (international) or 0414 321 451 (local)

Friday 31 October 2008

AWE recruitment at Birmingham University

The Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston are recruiting at Staff House, Birmingham University Wednesday 5 November at 6 p.m.

The making of weapons of mass destruction is stupid, immoral & illegal.

Friday 24 October 2008

Martin Luther King workshop at St Ethelberga's


Martin Luther King – Spirit Led Prophet

An activist leader and ardent advocate of peaceful nonviolent social change, Martin Luther King was described as a “Spirit led Prophet” by his biographer, Richard Deats. Forty years on from his assassination come and find out what sustained and drove King in his commitment to nonviolent social change and how his peacemaking lessons can be applied to our lives today.

Cost £15. Drinks provided. Bring lunch to share.

Helen Gilbert +44 (0)20 7496 1610


Tuesday 21 October 2008

Queen's visit to Aldermaston

To challenge the powers is in part about generating the stories that go on to reproduce themselves in other peoples' lives as the kingdom of God is established.

Here are some of the stories generated at Queen's this week. Ekklesia; Inspire; Church Times; Birmingham Mail; BBC Midlands;

Queen's Foundation trains people for ministry in the Church of England, the Methodist Church, and other independent Churches. As part of the Anglican and Methodist training students are expected to take part in at least one Prophetic action during each year and to reflect on this action in their own spiritual formation and in the life of the worshipping community.

"For many it has already become a radically conversion experience. As I stood at the fence at AWE and received the 'ash of repentance' I cried for the futility of state violence and it's totem - the Trident missile and won't ever be quite the same."

Friday 10 October 2008

Banksy's Village Pet Store: Apocalypse Now

Hat's off to Banksy. His new exhibition in New York is a brilliant satire. Far better than his elephant in the room gag.

Banksy's new 'Village Pet Store' holds up a mirror to western civilisation and our freakish relationship to our own bodies, the rest of the animal world, and food.

There are glass cases with wriggling or humping sausages of various breeds. There's a leapord skin coat, basking in the sun and switching it's tail about. There's plenty more besides all aimed to hit home at a very emotive level of our engagement with the world we live in.

Even for those who feel they have a pretty sound grasp of their ethical sensibilities when it comes to animal welfare would do well to see some of this stuff. It is revealing in the most apocalyptic sense.

Saturday 4 October 2008

Old Logo

Forgotten about this then found it today: floating around cyberspace.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Power and the Academy - Conference in Manchester

Power and the Academy
The 8th Conference of the Discourse, Power, Resistance Series

6-8 April 2009Geoffrey Manton Conference Centre
Manchester Metropolitan University , UK

Keynote speakers:
Zygmunt Bauman
Cameron McCarthy

What is the relationship between power and the academy? Academics are
effectively government employees, told what to do and how to do it. In
research they are told what matters and what does not, and this tells them
what they will get research funding for and what they won’t; and they
are told what methods to use – what will count as evidence and what
won’t. In teaching they are told what to teach and what not to teach,
how to teach it and how to assess it. Teachers and learners tick boxes,
performing as trainers and trainees with constant reference to the demands
of the workplace, and subject to a Byzantine apparatus of monitoring and
surveillance. If they transgress, punishment follows, normally in the form
of the withdrawal of funding.

Please submit ABSTRACTS to: dpr@mmu.ac.uk

Friday 26 September 2008

Think Tank calls on Church of England to re-examine it's economic heart

The call comes after revelations that Church finance managers have been using similar tactics to the ones the Archbishops of Canterbury and York condemned City traders for, to maximise profits on the Church's £5 billion assets and investments.

"The key thing is not to apportion blame - either on traders or the Church - but to open up a realistic discussion about economic alternatives", says Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley.

Jonathan has a good heart. How many of us are able to stand aside from Economics and criticise. The truth is we're all culpable and must work to undermine the system within ourselves.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Catholic Worker released

Martin Newell was released from prison after two and half days of his seven day sentence. A new book from the Catholic Workers "Hammered by the Irish" is due out soon telling the story of Irish peacemakers defying the military might of the US and winning the support and vindication of the people of Ireland.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Anglican Priest Under Surveilance

Chris Howson has been under police surveilance at his home / Chaplaincy in Bradford, the Church Times reports. (Articles, Church Times 19 Sept 2008).

This is not the first time Chris' home has been under surveilance by the police. He had similar experience when living in a squat in Bradford many years ago.

It is interesting that this time it was provoked by his criticism of the relationship between the UK and US military and planned a protest which, among other things, highlighted this relationship.

There is also a suggestion, after a phone call from the MOD, that Chris' emails were being intercepted and read. A very cautionary tale!

Friday 19 September 2008

Tax the poor to give to the rich!

It's semi-official that the US government has decided to tax Americans to the tune of £440bn in order to bail out the rich who will walk away with their billions of dollars, big houses, and private jets to begin again tommorrow with nothing more than a little tutting and sighing from the government.

Meanwhile the droves of workers that crunch the numbers that feed the machine are carrying boxes out of high rise buildings are wondering how they'll pay their bills now their jobless.

And yet still I've heard two commentators (including Kenneth Clarke) re-affirming their statements of faith in neo-liberal economics.

Like fundamentalist Chrisitans, Fundamentalists neo-liberals are not swayed by reality or the harm they cause to others.

Alex interviewed on radio about Tolstoy

Listen here to Alex being interviewed about his research on Tolstoy. Alex holds his own well in a very long interview. Most of the questions are quite closed but the answers are always interesting.

Thursday 18 September 2008

London Catholic Worker sent down for stand against war-making

Yesterday Fr. Martin Newell of The London Catholic Worker was sentenced to prison for wilfully refusing to pay a fine at Highbury and Islington Magistrates Court. He has been given seven days. Martin is said to be "in good spirits" and not surprised by the judges decision.

On Dec. 28th 2007, on the Feast of Holy Innocents, Catholic Workers Scott Albrecht, Sr. Susan Clarkson and Fr. Martin Newell poured red paint symbolising blood on the sign at Northwood Military Headquarters. Northwood is the "Nerve Centre" for all British wars. The three knelt in prayer with banners reading "We All Have Blood On Our Hands" and "War Shall Cease All Over The Earth". They were arrested, placed in jail and each charged with £315 worth of criminal damage.

When called back to court for refusing to pay his fine, Fr. Martin stated that he had acted according to his conscience and that he had hoped that the judge would act according to his. Martin had the opportunity to decry the illegal invasion of Iraq, but the judge said Martin's stance was a moral one. The judge claimed that the "law must be upheld despite belief".

The invasion of Iraq, according to most international lawyers and Kofi Annan, was illegal. It was premeditated by those who formed the Project for the New American Century (Google it). Sadly, presidential hopeful John McCain's two top advisers formed this 'think tank'. If McCain wins the prospect of staying in Iraq "for a hundred years" is real and the possibility of invading Iran will grow stronger still.

At least 832,962 people have been killed on all sides since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. Fr. Martin and the other Catholic Workers live with people from Iraq in their Houses of Hospitality. If 1% of those who marched against the war did non-violent direct action, the war might not have been executed.

If you wish to support Fr. Martin then you can email or write to:
The London Catholic Worker
14 Deal Street
E1 5SU.
For more information you can call Scott on 07983 477819

London Catholic Worker website: http://www.londoncatholicworker.org/

Sunday 14 September 2008

ASIRA "Academics and Students interested in Anarchism"

After its welcome from the ASN, ASIRA has now been formed with a yahoo group and a sub-committee as part of the ASN.

Check out ASIRA here

Thanks to Alex for setting this up.

"Aims of this Group

Religious anarchism, especially Christian anarchism, has been around for at least as long as “secular” anarchism. The academic literature tells us that Leo Tolstoy is its most famous proponent, but there are many others, such as Jacques Ellul or the Catholic Workers. There are also anarchists in other religious traditions, but these are often omitted by anarchist literature.

The main aims of this group – which was born out of the Religious Anarchisms sessions at the first ASN conference in Loughborough in September 2008 – are to provide a forum for people interested in religious anarchisms to converse on the topic, to publicise their work, to advertise related events, and to plan events and joint projects themselves.

An underlying aim is to thereby help establish the religious anarchist voice within anarchist academic writings – hence this group’s affiliation to the ASN and through it to the PSA. It is therefore both about bringing religious anarchists together as about placing religious anarchisms on the broader map of anarchist thought and practice.

Although the literature tends to focus more on Christian anarchism, this predominance need not be repeated here – indeed, the more anarchists from other traditions, the richer the conversations.

Moreover, activists and “practitioners” are just as welcome as academics and theorists. Both on the internet and in the streets, a number of people and groups have been discussing and exemplifying religious anarchisms. Their voice is important in any debate on the issue.

Finally, although not the primary focus of the group, contributors, conversations and events on the often uneasy relation between religion and anarchism are also welcome."

Friday 12 September 2008

Greenpeace 6 cleared of unlawful dammage

From the Independet

"The threat of global warming is so great that campaigners were justified in causing more than £35,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station, a jury decided yesterday. In a verdict that will have shocked ministers and energy companies the jury at Maidstone Crown Court cleared six Greenpeace activists of criminal damage.

Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a "lawful excuse" to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change. The defence of "lawful excuse" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire."

While any criminal act should "count the cost" of possible penalty its great to know that a jury of our peers is often on our side and that the law can ofen highlight its own injustices.

Thursday 11 September 2008

ASN Annual meeting minutes

Anarchist Studies Network (ASN) Meeting

Saturday 6 September 2008 14.15-16.00

Thirty-four ASN members present

Uri Gordon facilitated the meeting

Preliminaries to the meeting

Ruth Kinna acted as note taker

Patrick Turner provided live written documentation of the discussion

It was agreed to conduct the meeting by consensus decision making and the processes were discussed.

An agenda had been circulated and copies were passed around the group. Three additional items were suggested:

The possibility of an anarchist fringe at future conferences

The development of behaviours and practices discussed at the listening panel in future conferences

It was also suggested that an attendance list be circulated.

It was agreed to consider the idea of the fringe in the discussion of the annual conference and the issues raised in the listening panel in item 6, the discussion of the ASN. The list was circulated.

1. ASN report

Alex Prichard outlined the history of the group and referred new participants to the website http://www.anarchist-studies-network.co.uk for full information. There was a discussion of the aims of the group and the need to encourage participation from individuals outside academia. The agreed formulation of aim was: to facilitate communication and the exchange of ideas between researchers – students, academics and independent scholars - and to promote scholarly research into any aspect of anarchism.

Alex reported that membership (i.e. the email list) was now 100 and presented a brief financial report. It was not possible to give an accurate statement of current funds since conference accounting was still in progress. However, it was anticipated that the ASN would be in credit once the accounting was complete.

Alex explained that the journal Anarchist Studies was run independently of the ASN but was affiliated to it.

There was a reminder that members of the ASN were not required to be members of the Political Studies Association (PSA), but that they were encouraged to join it [details at http://www.psa.ac.uk/].

Finally, Alex explained the purpose of the meeting was to consider a programme of activity for the coming year. The idea of a second conference was mooted, but no decision on this was taken. Thanks were expressed to the organisers of this year’s conference.

2. Sponsorship of an Anarchist Film Conference

Alex spoke on behalf of Mitzi Waltz to propose the funding a stand alone workshop on anarchism and film, building on the success of the Projectile Film Conference. The funding would be earmarked to enable ASN members to travel to the conference.

The proposal was to submit costings to the ASN by the end of December and for the group to consider the detailed proposal by email.

After an objection that other proposals might be compromised by a decision at this stage, it was agreed to postpone the decision until all bids had been considered.

3. Religious anarchism working group

Alex spoke on behalf of Alex Christoyannopoulos to propose the establishment of a discrete section on the ASN website for a religion and anarchism working group. There were no financial implications. After some clarification of purpose, this was agreed.

4. Anarchism and Marxism joint conference

Alex outlined a working proposal to organise a possible conference or one-day workshop examining the relationship between anarchism and Marxism, drawing together scholars working in both fields.

It was agreed that the proposal was not at a sufficiently developed point of planning to discuss further but that there were no objections in principle.

At the conclusion of this item, it was agreed that the proposal for a workshop be taken forward on the agreed terms to the ASN list.

5. PSA annual conference

Alex had circulated a call for papers and emphasised the importance of maintaining an ASN presence at the conference and that one of the core purposes of the group was to fund attendance. All members were encouraged to consider the existing call and possible alternative panel proposals.

Alex also drew attention to the specialist group guest speaker competition. There was some discussion of funding ‘celebrity’ speakers and the need to ensure that proposals for guest speakers were designed to facilitate the attendance of individuals who might not otherwise be able to travel to PSA conferences.

It was also proposed that air travel would not be funded by the ASN. It was agreed to defer discussion of this proposal.

Niall Scott drew attention to the possibility of participation at the Association of Social and Legal Philosophy. A call for papers would follow.

ASN Fringe

The proposal was to create parallel spaces alongside the formal conference presentations at any future meetings to facilitate informal contacts and exchanges. The proposal was agreed, but as key feature rather than a fringe. A fuller discussion of future conference planning is summarised under item 7.

Proposal on air travel

There was extended discussion of the issues. It was agreed:

  • That a note would be put on the ASN site to emphasise the need for members to find sustainable means of transport
  • That the ASN would not in principle rule out funding of air travel but that applications for support would be scrutinised on a case-by-case basis and that funding would be granted where a case on financial, geographical and legal grounds was made.
  • That ASN members would be encouraged to organise activities locally to minimise the need for intercontinental air travel.

It was also agreed that any future ASN events would be organised with a view to minimising environmental impact.

7. Discussion of the ASN and debrief on the conference

There was an extended discussion of the relationships between ASN members from within and outside academia; about the inclusiveness of the group, of the conference and the publicity given to the conference. The issues all revolved around the need for inclusiveness. There was no disagreement about this and the conference organisers outlined the attempts that had been made to encourage wide participation in the conference. Members were invited to make proposals to extend and improve these developments, to encourage more open discussion and exchange at conference and to overcome the difficulties posed by academic conventions and habits.

Gwendolyn Windpassinger summarised the issues arising from the listening panel. There were two main issues: the presence and participation of women at the conference and the need for confidence building measures in the conduct of sessions.

Anthony McCann invited members to access his blog ‘re-imagining academic conferences’ http://rethinkingacademicconferences.blogspot.com/

A number of useful suggestions were made:

  • Open with an introductory plenary to discuss the conduct and aims of the conference.
  • To provide tips to chairs on the running of sessions (to help facilitate discussion)
  • To convene in non-academic spaces and environments: eg. the climate camp, the knowledge lab.
  • To provide space between presentation and question and answer sessions in order to allow time for individual reflection and/or circular discussion.
  • To encourage discursive (not necessarily consensual) practices and behaviours and to reduce conflict and antagonism by developing agreed practices at the start of sessions.
  • To include a collective conference debrief or space for reflection/contemplation.
  • To be pro-active in encouraging women’s participation and in particular to consider what provisions might be made (in terms of participant-relationships) to help confidence building.
  • To ensure that calls for participation continue to highlight the possibility of non-paper formats.
  • To desist from habitual applause.

The meeting closed. Thanks were expressed (with applause) to Veggies who had provided the catering for the conference.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Jim Wallis: Should Christians get involved?

I like Wallis in this recent interview for Premier radio. There is some room for interpretation in his words here.

Anarchism or Nihilism? The Buddhist-Influenced thought of Wu Nengzi

I've quoted below from a paper presented at the recent ASN. It's from the conclusion to Professor John Rapp's paper, "'Anarchism or Nihilism? The Buddhist-Influenced Thought of Wu Nengzi'". While the whole research was fascinating to me it was his conclusion that challenged me most and led to other questions: What is a 'lifestyle anarchist'? Do we hide our fear of commitment to an ideology behind post-modern irony and see irony as a greater mechanism of change than it really is? Do I live like life matters or like matter isn't life?

This dialogue between the many faith traditions and anarchism is going to blow upon all kinds of areas of our thinking as activists and disciples of Christ.

IV. Larger Problem: Is Post-Modern Anarchism Nihilism?

To this observer, the larger problem presented by the breakdown of Daoist anarchism in the thought of Wu Nengzi is the obvious lesson for post-Modernist thought, especially those post-modernists who call themselves anarchists. There is insufficient space here to spell out this lesson fully, so I will conclude only with what is intend to be a provocative suggestion. While they claim to deny any overarching “metanarrative” as valid for all other people, one must ask whether such post-Modernists reserve for themselves the right to be critical of all other narratives while preserving their own as something other than a true narrative and thus taking up a stance of “ironic detachment” that too easily smacks of intellectual superiority. Going beyond classical anarchists who viewed all religious and political doctrines as attempts to enslave people with metaphysical or real authority, one must ask whether post-Modernist anarchists go further to deny the existence of all truth, even truth that cannot be known objectively or imposed on others. If so, as many critics have asked about post-Modernism, how is one to criticize any political doctrine or state as evil, even fascist ones? This charge was most famously and perhaps for post-modernists most infuriatingly raised by Richard Wolin (2004), who tries to relate the collaborationist and even fascist background of some of the seminal post-Modernist thinkers to flaws in post-Modernist thought as a whole. While those who want to find a genuine liberatory critique in postmodernism may decry his attack as relying almost completely on guilt by association, it seems to this author that the shift among Daoist thinkers such as Wu Nengzi from anarchism to nihilism might have been based on a similar shift in emphasis. This charge against postmodernist and/or “lifestyle” anarchists who think their intellectual stance alone will serve to achieve anarchism may be the opposite side of the coin of those who find Daoist anarchism a metaphysical doctrine that relies on a supernatural authority and is thus inherently un-anarchist. Instead, a Daoist anarchist would argue, any doctrine based on the idea that some may know objective truths better than others and thus know also when to apply those truths for others, may lead to an equal and perhaps greater danger of leading would-be anarchists to acquiesce and participate in establishing authority over others. Only by embracing the whole, a Daoist anarchist would argue, that is, by accepting the underlying unity and thus equality of all things, even if by its very nature that whole cannot be objectively known and hierarchically organized, can one stay loyal to a fully anarchist vision.

The image above is of Lao Zi, the founder of Daoism.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

ASN vote favours Religious anarchism group

In the ASN conference meeting a debate and vote was held on whether to begin a sub-committee for those interested in religious anarchism. Sadly I had to leave the conference early for personal reassons but I'm told that although their were some voices of dissent the vote was carried (I would like to find out if this was by consensus of majority!). I suspect some key people will have spoken in favour of it since Sharif Gemie and Peter Marshall were both and the Daoism and Islam papers.

Watch this space for quite a few developments on this front including a potential publication of essays.

Prayer I58 Update

Prayer I58 have released a pdf update of events that members have been involved with.

Find it here.

Prayer I58 is "network of Christians involved in Direct Action"

An event to watch out for is their Climate Camp Café Debrief and
i58 Network Gathering 17th - 19th October 2008, Birmingham

For more details visit their website.

Monday 11 August 2008

Bouncing Cheque

I sent a cheque to the printers but it bounced. THey've been very good about it but I need to keep a better eye on the finances.

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Review: Christ and Empire, Jorg Rieger

Rieger does ambivalence and Christological surplus

Since 1998 Joerg Rieger’s has written prolifically in the field of liberation theology and Church history. His most recent book, ‘Christ and Empire’ has been most widely welcomed as an accessible work of thorough scholarship. Methodist elder and ministerial tutor Rieger writes lucidly for a western audience within an ear to the majority world and an eye to the encroaching principalities and powers that dominate and shape our culture and politics.

Like Colin Ward, Rieger finds “seedlings of resistance and alternative living growing in the very soil of empire” (12). Riger traces some of the small shoots of religious revolt through a selective history of how the Church has got to grips with the question ‘Who is Christ’ – Christology!

Rieger begins obviously enough with the ancient ecumenical councils and the contentious role of Emperor Constantine in guiding Christology. Then, perhaps by way of contrast he develops a critique of Anselm of Canterbury (Chapter 3) and Barolomé de las Casas (Chapter 4). The author sees both resistance and capitulation to empire in the Christology of both. Rieger develops a Las Casas as the original spokesperson for the the “softly softly” approach to neo-colonialism of some free-traders and Big NGOs.

By the time Rieger engages with the ‘Father of Modern theology’ Friedrich Schleiermacher he is getting into a greater depth of original criticism. The “softer” exclusivism of Schleiermacher reflecting a more coercive and subtle colonisation. However, as Rieger persists in looking for “Christological surplus” in his subjects the reader may be left with the feeling that the author likes to flog dead horses just to give his arm the exercise.

Throughout the author is drawn to the ever-present “ambivalence” of the Cosmic Christ of faith to resistance to the empire.

Rieger has hit on two vital factors in the development of Christology. First, if religion is a human project then the project directors are often agents of empire. Second : “The resisting Christ of the cosmos looks different than the cosmic Christ of evolution, especially evolution is understood in a social-Darwinist manner” (303). Christ is not fully human competitor fully imperious divinity. But who, then, do we say he is? Rieger introduces an understanding of Christ that goes beyond the Cosmic and tries to avoid projecting statist values onto him. But in the end, even Rieger’s Christ shows evidence of some “ambivalence.”

Other books by Joerg Rieger:
Theology from the belly of the Whale
Methodist and Radical
Liberating the Future

Monday 28 July 2008

Alex's paper at last years ASN

If you haven't read Alex's excellent paper on Christian anarchism at last years 'Anarchists Studies Network' eventI recommend it. It is available here as a .pdf.

The first conference will be at Loughborough university this September. Alex is facilitating a whole panel of faith anarchists for this conference.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Liz Jones Artwork

I love these two pieces of artwork by Liz. Her work will be on display over the summer and it will be well worth the visit. The T-shirt is inspired by a picture from a cake-box at the empire cafe. A place where many a weary and smelly peace activist has stopped for tea, toast, and a sneaky shower when the proprieter isn't looking. If you're ever in Newbury it's a friendly cafe who will happily tell you all about the role their pies have played in the struggle for peace to overcome fear.