XR-BCAN Action-Learning Statement on Just Peace
Poster from OSPAAAL (The solidarity organisation of the peoples of Asia, Afrika and Latin America)
A decolonial and decolonizing sense of peace is found, not in conformity with and tolerance toward the neoliberal economy or toward the modern/colonial state, its neofascisms, conservatisms, and liberalisms, but in the love and rage of those who come together to make visible the war that has been perpetuated by profoundly misguided conceptions of law and order. - Frantz Fanon Foundation
Once again we are coming up towards the Peace Lotus Internationalist Solidarity Day of Anti-War Resistance (PLISDAWR) and we are busy working on how we can land the importance of this day in our communities. When looking back at many of the posters used to build solidarity with the vietnamese people during the war, such as the ones from OSPAAAL, and those from other people's struggles for self-determination and Just Peace, a common feature is that of the peasant farmer, mother or young person armed for guerrilla warfare, which would not automatically be associated with a movement for peace in the Global North today.
This highlights to us the need for an action-learning process to facilitate steps towards the building of internationalist solidarity with anti-war resistance, and we are writing this in order to:
Amplify Planet Repairs perspectives on militarism and reactionary violence - By using this as a tool for action-learning
Visibilise anti-war resistance - By highlighting freedom fighters past and present
Clearly articulate what just peace can mean in different contexts - By proposing to: invite communities to send videos of what Just Peace means in their contexts
Part 1) Planet Repairs and Peace
“It's well known that the first victim of war is the truth, and the struggle for the narrative is commonly understood as just as important as the war on the ground. And the narrative doesn't start when the first shot is fired, but long before that” - The People and Peace network (Folk och Fred)
In our world at war, in which many of the positions of NATO and its allies are becoming increasingly isolated from those of the Global Majority, and any form of critique of the war machine from within the Global North is dismissed as being ‘pro-Putin’, the hypocrisy is deafening. We are told that everyone needs to join the fight against the West’s chosen enemy, and that war is bad when its waged within the Global North, but that it's for the greater good when it's waged within and against the Global Majority. However, Western imperialism is on its way out, across the Sahel region of Afrika NATO troops are being kicked out, and in Havana declarations are made towards a New International Economic Order.
NATO’s militarism and Western imperialism’s outspoken policy of global domination is being confronted by global powers in such a way that the threat of nuclear war and escalation is getting closer. Rather than stopping the harm and moving for just peace, reactionary mainstream narratives are promoting the need to militarise, increase military spending, and support the militarisation of Eastern Europe threatening civilian communities, Mother Earth, and global stability.
The increasing militarisation increases the likelihood for ecofascism through preparing the war economy and military infrastructure to secure domestic and international fascism with the excess of military personnel and weapons. It also increases the direct attack on Mother Earth, with the military industrial complex being a huge consumer of Mother Earth resources and human labour, and the weapons of mass destruction causing direct harm and violations of peoples’ Mother Earth rights.
One term for the current era we are living in is the Plantationocene, referring to the systematic creation of plantations in both the past and present, including an estimated 75 million acres worldwide which during the past decades have been concentrated into the hands of modern day plantation owners. The Vietnam War itself was a response by US imperialism, actively backed by the british, to stop highly popular Vietnamese movements such as the Viet Minh from redistributing land back to the peasants which had been stolen through Western colonialism.
Peace is more than just the absence of war, and requires justice and the right for all peoples to their self-determination, and only through internationalist solidarity can this self-determination stop the imperialist war machine on the global level.
Olof Palme marching alongside the north vietnamese ambassador to Sweden in opposition to the Vietnam war
(notice the lotus flower placard in the background)
Part 2) Solidarity With Anti-War Resistance
“Peace is not quietness. Peace does not have to do with using violence or nonviolence in opposition to an unjust state of affairs either. Peace is, above all, an outcome of decolonial maturity: of a firm and wise opposition against war where our relationships with others announce and anticipate the formation of radically different, and truly peaceful, communities and societies.” - Frantz Fanon Foundation
As the posters produced by OSPAAAL shows, this kind of solidarity with those peoples who are Being The Change to stop the imperialist wars waged against them, is nothing new:
Swedish prime minister Olof Palme who broke diplomatic relations between Sweden and the US when he as prime minister compared the US bombings of Hanoi with crimes against humanity such as nazi concentration camps, and as the only western european government sent aid to the vietnamese resistance.
Rosa Luxemburg ended up in jail because of her opposition to WW1, and who also resisted Germany’s war against the Herero people in Afrika.
The Russell Tribunal was a People's Tribunal organised in 1966 which investigated and evaluated American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam, finding the US government guilty of genocide.
Margaret Stanton organised one of the most thriving local campaigns against the Vietnam war in Birmingham.
Examples from today include the struggle for life by the CIPOG-EZ against the war waged on them by transnational mining companies and narco-paramilitary groups, the students at the San Marcos University in Lima, Peru, who faced government repression using tanks, and the resistance by the peoples of Haiti against the proposed imperialist war to be waged against them.
Examples also from Afrika today include the March 2023 launch of the Ghana in Planet Repairs Action Dialogue (GIPRAD), facilitated by the XR-BCAN assisted Global Citizenship Education for Planet Repairs Action (GCEPRA) Collective, with the purpose of encouraging "Yenaraasasesemka" (Mother Earth for Us All) Conversations, focusing upon Being the Change for Planet Repairs amongst the broadest possible array of political, social and community interest groups, so as to catalyse paradigm shifting away from escalating Reactionary Violence in all spheres towards Peaceful, Free and Fair Elections in 2024 throughout the country. Linked to this is the ongoing building of a supporting Planet Repairs Internationalist Observatory (PRIO), the pilot task of which is to draw the scrutinising attention of the International Community to happenings in Ghana, so as to punctually alert interested observers, when asked, to provide assistance, through initiatives like the Operation Global Justice Internationalist Peaceguards, to GIPRAD Grassroots Activists to better glocally organise their Community Electoral Monitoring Support Action Learning Missions for Just Peace-keeping throughout Ghana during the volatile period of next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.
Extinction Rebellion is a nonviolent network, however we have from the very start clearly stated that “we also recognise that many people and movements in the world face death, displacement and abuse in defending what is theirs. We will not condemn those who justly defend their families and communities through the use of force, especially as we must also recognise that it is often our privilege which keeps us safe.”.
For many of us this will in practice mean a level of uncomfortableness. As a tool to investigate and to get a sense of perspective on this uncomfortableness, the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures collective are describing what it means to be engaged in both high intensity and low intensity struggles. Low intensity struggle has been the norm for XR, since most of us have not had to put our lives at risk or had to sacrifice a significant level of comfort. We have a choice to show up or not, to become visible or not, to be arrested or not, to take risks or not. We need to look at the uncomfort we might be feeling when seeing our siblings engaged in high intensity struggles , and move through it.
What has instead regularly happened in XR is that those close to high intensity struggles, such as the coordinators of XRISN, who have been working on bridging this gap for meaningful solidarity building, have themselves experienced racial violence within the movement because of challenging people's sense of entitlement to comfort.
Communities have the right both to a just Peace and also to self-determination when it comes to the methods of how to best oppose the wars waged on them. When looking at the narratives surrounding community self-defence we often see them being vilified or invisibilized, and that the White Glaze is currently serving as double-glazing which is insulating british movements from actually looking at folks across the world as defending themselves to secure a Just Peace.
Image: OSPAAAL poster festuring Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh
Part 3) Action Learning
“Everyone’s anti-war until the war propaganda starts. Nobody thinks of themselves as a warmonger, but then the spin machine gets going and before you know it they’re spouting the slogans they’ve been programmed to spout and waving the flags they’ve been programmed to wave and consenting to whatever the imperial war machine wants in that moment.” - Caitlin Johnstone
We are contributing a couple of questions in the spirit of Action-Learning and hope that they will be useful for the activities organised for Peace Lotus Day this year, and for the ongoing work which needs to happen:
The imperialist wars require new generations of young people to participate as soldiers, and a question which needs to be asked in climate and environmental movements in the Global North is: What is required of us in order to prevent our young people from being forced into the army to serve imperialism in its next war against our global human family?
This might include:
Sabotage - Based on the examples of Palestine Action and Trident Ploughshares
Breaking the Double Glazing - pushing this conversation into communities and further afield, especially into spaces of Whiteness!
Practical Solidarity - Such as fundraising to support the CIPOG-EZ to build community radio stations
Another question which needs to be asked is: What do Global South Communities of Resistance fighting for Just Peace need from us here in the UK?’
Its important that this includes:
Learning from the Decolonizational Pluriversality perspectives of Global South and other colonised peoples, as being articulated by the indigenous Scholar-Activists of their own Communities of Resistance; doing so by utilising the UBUNTUPACHAVIDYANKONSO Glocal Internationalist Solidarity Action Learning Engagement Series (UBUNTUPACHAVIDYANKONSO-GISALES) that are being offered at the GHOPPIS as from 1st May 2023 by the MWISCCCOR, with the support of XRISN and XR-BCAN;
Carrying out exploratory engagements with the PRALER to learn about what options there are for you in pursuing the Just Peace orientated deepening of Internationalist Solidarity Action Learning for Planet Repairs as may best interest you;
Finding out from the PRIO Convening Secretariat how best to go about pursuing culturally appropriate orientation, training and other preparatory courses, with the most relevant culturally competent Global Academy Commons institutions functioning under the umbrella of the UBUNTUPACHAVIDYA Peoples' Communiversity of Planet Repairs Action Learning (UBUNTUPACHAVIDYA-UPCOPRAL), with a view to qualifying for enlistment into the Operation Global Justice Internationalist Peaceguards (OGJIPs); in order to become eligible for deployment, when needed and wherever possible, to assist with the Community Electoral Monitoring Support Action Learning Missions (CEMSALMS).
We welcome people who want to join us on this action-learning journey to reach out to us in XR-BCAN or find out more about who we are through our website page.
In Solidarity and Power,
The XR Being The Change (XR-BCAN) Leadership Facilitation Team
XR Principle number 9: We are a nonviolent network
Non-violence keeps our movement alive. We use non-violence to reveal the true perpetrators of systemic violence that people suffer from daily all over this world. It is our strategy to bring light to the injustice that too many suffer each day. We feel pain from the abuses of the police and others, and we will keep exposing their violence through our discipline. Non-violence has unequivocally been demonstrated to be an effective tool in mass mobilisations and so we base a cornerstone of our movement on this.
At the same we also recognise that many people and movements in the world face death, displacement and abuse in defending what is theirs. We will not condemn those who justly defend their families and communities through the use of force, especially as we must also recognise that it is often our privilege which keeps us safe. We stand in solidarity with those whom have no such privilege to protect them and therefore must protect themselves through violent means; this does not mean we condone all violence, just that we understand in some cases it may be justified. Also we do not condemn other social and environmental movements that choose to damage property in order to protect themselves and nature, for example disabling a fracking rig or putting a detention centre out of action. Our network, however, will not undertake significant property damage because of risks to other participants by association.