Alexei Sayle interviewed me for his podcast about Rojava and what lessons it might offer us. The discussion also touched on some of the ideas that will surface in ‘What is to be done’. Access the podcast here: https://audioboom.com/posts/8156179-r-is-for-rojava
I was pointed here to find the full-length version of Accidental Anarchist on Kolektiva Media, an anarchist website, available for free. I would say this, but it’s better than the shortened BBC version which cut some of the narrative points Continue reading Accidental Anarchist: full-length version now free online
I’m writing a book, provisionally titled ‘What is to be done?’. I am posting updates about my progress on my Facebook writer’s page and Twitter (@carneross).
Today’s note on writing What is to be Done is about fear. I’ve been having a recurring dream. I’m appearing in a Shakespeare play. Vain as ever, I’m playing the leading role. In some versions of the dream, I’m playing Continue reading Note on Writing: Fear
Today’s note on What is to be done. This quote from Judith Butler: “Sometimes you have to imagine in a radical way that makes you seem a little crazy, that puts you in an embarrassing light, in order to open Continue reading Inspiration
Today’s note on What is to be done? I’m interested in aesthetics and in particular how format changes the way that readers take in information. I think traditional non-fiction books don’t really work anymore. They’re too long with paragraphs and Continue reading Aesthetics and format in What is to be Done?
What Is To Be Done? was the title of a nineteenth century novel by Russian philosopher and literary critic Nikolai Chernyshevsky. The story of an one woman’s struggle to seek independence and revolution was hugely influential and went on to Continue reading A note on the title
Today, to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee (not), I am starting to write a long-planned book, provisionally titled ‘What is to be done?’. I’ve been preparing it for years and am now finally getting to the drafting stage. It’s a book Continue reading What is to be done?
Accidental Anarchist is now available for viewing on YouTube. It’s the shorter, sixty minute, BBC Storyville cut. You can see it here
Metro newspaper ran this piece from me on 8 May 2019 as part of its ‘Future of Everything’ series. Here’s the link to the original piece on their site. The current way of doing politics and our economic life on Continue reading Politics as we know it should die and loving anarchy should prosper
In response to the Gilets Jaunes protests in France, I wrote this about some of the characteristics of Leaderless Revolutions: The link is here and the text is this: The gilets jaunes movement in France is a leaderless political uprising. Continue reading How to create a leaderless revolution and win lasting political change, The Guardian, 13 December 2018
A terrific discussion on a radical podcast, It’s Going Down. You can hear it here. It’s Going Down https://itsgoingdown.org It’s Going Down is a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements. Its mission is to Continue reading It’s Going Down: Twilight of Statecraft: Carne Ross on Crisis, Climate Change, & War
I was interviewed by Revolutionary Left Radio on 3 December, all the way from Omaha, Nebraska. It was a great discussion with a very thoughtful interviewer, Brett O’Shea, whom I thank. You can click below to hear it or go Continue reading Interview with Revolutionary Left Radio
Russell Brand discussed anarchism with me in this podcast. It was one of the best and most thorough interviews I’ve ever done.
This profile about me and my ideas appeared in The Observer in the run-up to the BBC4 broadcast of “Accidental Anarchist”. I’ve also pasted the text of it here (I hope The Observer will forgive me): Ex-diplomat Carne Ross: the Continue reading Carne Ross: the case for anarchism, The Observer July 2017
Demetri Kofinas interviewed me for his “Hidden Forces” podcast. You can hear our discussion here. Demetri has added a useful reading list too, covering some of the subjects we discussed. Thank you for a great discussion Demetri! (Note, the web-page uses a very old photo of me. I am unfortunately rather older than this pic suggests.)
1A, a show on WAMU on National Public Radio, interviewed me about the film. It was a full discussion of the ideas – anarchism, Rojava, the flaws in contemporary democracy. You can hear it here.
I thought I would post the chapter from The Leaderless Revolution called “Niine Principles for Action”. I welcome comments on anything here on my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/carnewross/.
Here is a short list of principles that may guide action, along with a few practical examples. The principles are by no means exclusive, nor comprehensive: mere pointers, not instructions.
I always really enjoy talking with students. A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at Cornell and was interviewed by Marc Masson, a French post-grad there. This was the result. The interview covers the UN (and the new SG), some of the problems with diplomacy and some advice for those interested in careers in international relations.
The Nation asked me to comment on Larry Summers’s notion of “responsible nationalism” as a response to the more toxic kind of Trump and the Brexiters. You can view the article on The Nation site here.
I returned to the UK for the publication of the Chilcot Report. I did a number of interviews, which are posted in the News/Media section of this site. I was asked by the New York Times to write about the report. You can see it online here. And here’s the text:
With the publication of the Iraq Inquiry “Chilcot” Report imminent, I am re-posting a blog I wrote at the ten-year anniversary of the war:
With the ten year anniversary of the war, I wanted to tell the story of the evidence I gave to the first official inquiry into the war, an event that led to my resignation from the British foreign servce.
Oped in today’s Guardian about the UN and what to do about it.
Die Zeit: I Was Part of It
“I Was Part of It”
This article was originally published in German for Die Zeit on 23 December 2015.
Mankind has the ability to destroy itself in two ways: climate change and nuclear weapons. This latter method provokes very little discussion these days, presumably because fashionable preoccupations like terrorism or the presidential elections take precedence. Continue reading We need to talk about nukes
The cult around the Japanese guru of tidiness Marie Kondo is bizarre but explicable. It is bizarre because it is absurd that people need to buy a book in order to be told why and how to tidy their houses. Continue reading The reactionary, anti-political cult of “tidiness”
Reuters, in Paris, on the work of Independent Diplomat. This is the fruit of six years of relentlessly hard work by an extraordinary group of young diplomats, led by the brilliant Dean Bialek:
“The Marshall Islands and the bloc of 44 island states rely on pro-bono advice from New York-based Independent Diplomat, a non-profit consultancy started in 2004 by former British diplomat Carne Ross.
Continue reading The Paris Talks and Independent Diplomat
Today’s news that the UK Iraq Inquiry’s report will be further delayed stimulated the journalist Peter Oborne to conduct his own inquiry. I was interviewed for this, as I testified to the so-called Chilcot Inquiry and the release of my evidence to the earlier Butler Inquiry is one of the reasons the full inquiry into the war (Chilcot) was established. The programme is good, and offers clear details and testimony about how the Blair people lied about the war and how it was illegal.
Power to the people: an essay on Bookchin, anarchism and Rojava, Syria, by me in this weekend’s Financial Times.
The Kurds in Rojava are testing a democratic model shaped by the political philosophy of an American eco-anarchist
Here’s a provocative talk I gave last week at UCLA Law School about the role of international law in diplomacy. Short version: it is power that makes the world, not law. And international law is often, although not invariably, a function of power.
Thrilled that the New York Times has run my oped on Rojava – I think the first time that name has been mentioned there. They need the attention. Here’s the article in full:
The Kurds’ Democratic Experiment – New York Times, September 30, 2015
The Failure to Question the bombing of Hiroshima means that nuclear war is more likely
The New Yorker has reprinted this remarkable John Hersey essay about survivors from Hiroshima. Until it was published in 1946, the American public had very little idea of what had taken place.
This is a good report on Mondragon, Spain’s massive coop in the Basque country. Teeth-suckers always argue that you cannot take coops to scale i.e. have big ones. Mondragon proves them wrong. It’s one of Spain’s largest companies, from buses to banking. The bosses are paid no more than eight times the lowest paid. Their philosophy is that jobs are more important than making as much money as possible. Radical. Buck’s report is about how Mondragon dealt with a part of its business that was failing. Read on. Continue reading Massive Mondragon shows that coops can work at scale
God, I’m enjoying seeing all the Blairite New Labour people writhing over Jeremy Corbyn’s success in the leadership campaign. I know Jeremy. He has been – by far – the most steadfast supporter of the liberation of the Western Sahara in the British parliament, for decades. I love him for that alone. The Western Sahara must unfortunately be close to the bottom of the list of fashionable international issues in the world. Continue reading What showing up for Western Sahara says about Jeremy Corbyn
I recommend this profile of Yanis Varoufakis by Ian Parker in the New Yorker. Parker clearly spent some time shadowing Varoufakis, yet the portrait that emerges is not wholly flattering (but not wholly disparaging either). Parker adroitly uses the personality of Varoufakis as a device to tell the dismal story of Greece’s debt debacle, although – typically – there has been way too much attention on the man rather than the detail of the issue. Continue reading Greece, Varoufakis and the danger to the European ideal
”I see the desire for decentralisation and in some cases separation as a very natural and inevitable response to globalisation, where power has not only left people’s hands but also no longer seems to belong to national governments. Just look at Greece. Everyone feels a lack of agency over the circumstances that affect them and that matter to them. That desire to reassert agency and control will be manifested in many different ways. But the paradox is that decentralisation or separation, as in Scotland or Catalonia, will not really recapture economic agency. Continue reading The reaction to globalisation – Stir magazine
Quote in Newsweek article by Adam leBor on Europe’s immigration crisis:
A while back, I spoke at the Carnegie Council. This is a clip comprising a short explanation of complexity theory as a means to understand what’s going on.
This was a panel I took part in at the Skoll World Forum, discussing political change with film-makers and activists.
This review appeared on a Catalan website Vilaweb in 2013, but was recently and generously translated by my friend and colleague, Jan Hartman. Please note that there are one or two inaccuracies about me in the article, including the timing of my work on Iraq at the UNSC, which in fact concluded several months before the 2003 invasion.
A rebel diplomat on the Catalans’ side
Published on Medium, January 28th 2015
Americans may just about have heard that Britain is to go to the polls to elect a new parliament in less than 100 days. Much about British politics is extremely obtuse and muddling, even to Brits. So here’s a short guide that may help pierce the fog.
There are three reasons why “The Imitation Game” is awful:
Published in Medium, 150111
There’s a lot to think about. Some preliminary reflections for today:
Some time ago Esther Dyson chose to write to me as part of a series of letters organised by the Artangel arts group for the Long Now Foundation. Letter writers were invited to consider the future – including up to 10,000 years hence (the perspective that the Long Now Foundation seeks to encourage). I chose to send my letter to the poet John Burnside. This is my letter:
The Washington Post recently published this discussion of self-determination in the aftermath of the Scottish referendum, quoting my views a few times. Here’s the article:
How Scotland’s Yes Campaign Won even when it Lost
Liam Barrington-Bush, the researcher for the forthcoming documentary “The Accidental Anarchist”, is collecting ideas for the film. He’s looking for contemporary examples of non-hierarchical and autonomous organization, both politically and in the workplace, such as participatory democratic processes and cooperatives. If you have suggestions, please submit them here. Thank you!
Steve Adubato had me on his “One on One” show talking about The Leaderless Revolution in 2013. It’s a good short interview on the main ideas of the book.
Rather remarkably, the OECD invited me to write – and then printed! – an article about trust and government. The article can be found here (http://www.oecdobserver.org/news/fullstory.php/aid/4371/Politics_and_the_trust_conundrum.html) and is pasted here.
Politics and the trust conundrum
Carne Ross, Founder and Executive Director, Independent Diplomat
The Guardian asked me for my views on US military intervention in northern Iraq. I took the chance to propose a new doctrine for western policy in the Middle East. (gu.com/p/4vk68/tw).
Here’s the text:
A friend from Pristina once told me that the happiest day of his life was when he heard Nato cruise missiles over his home town. This was in 1999 when Nato intervened from the air to stop the Serb campaign to drive Albanians from Kosovo. Often military intervention is wrong, but sometimes it is right. It was right in Kosovo, and Libya in 2011, and it is right today in northern Iraq.
Interview: Carne Ross
August 2014, Volume 70, Number 4
The former Foreign Office high-flyer talks about his new career as a diplomatic entrepreneur, the need to give a voice to the voiceless, and how he helped John le Carré create a fictional whistle-blower
You resigned from the Foreign Office a decade ago over the Iraq war. What is wrong with diplomacy?
Continue reading Diplomacy, Anarchism and the work of Independent Diplomat: my interview in The World Today
John Kerry must be cursing the neo-cons. “If you break it, you bought it”, Colin Powell once said. Iraq is spectacularly broken, with civil war on multiple fronts. And the US has no choice but to try to put it back together. Having backed al-Maliki despite his egregiously divisive behavior, it cannot now let him fall and with him any semblance of the state. This is the post-imperial burden Powell predicted (though did nothing to prevent). As the US sends a Continue reading US Fingers in the Mangle: my analysis of the Iraq crisis
The Guardian posted this piece by me today reacting to President Obama’s speech on foreign policy at West Point. And the New York Times later quoted the article in a review of (mostly tedious) reaction to the speech. Here’s the article in full:
The Artangel Project and Long Now foundation have collaborated in a project called the Longplayer Letters where various thinkers and activists from different sectors are encouraged to write to each other about their thoughts about the future, a sort of long form debate about the long term. Esther Dyson addressed her letter, No.4 in the series, to me. Here it is:
Annie Appel will soon publish a wonderful compendium of photographs of the Occupy movement. She kindly invited me to offer an introduction. This is what I wrote:
The struggle for the common good has a long past.
BY Noam Chomsky
This broad tendency in human development seeks to identify structures of hierarchy, authority and domination that constrain human development, and then subject them to a very reasonable challenge: Justify yourself.
Humans are social beings, and the kind of creature that a person becomes depends crucially on the social, cultural and institutional circumstances of his life.
Last October, I was invited to talk about “The Art of Performing Political Innovation” at an event called “Performing Change” at the Eyebeam Arts Center in New York City, at the invitation of the Italian artist Paolo Cirio (thank you, Paolo). Although the video is over 50 minutes, my talks is at the beginning and lasts about 15 minutes. I try to identify the common features of great art and great politics. What makes beautiful politics?
This is from the New Statesman’s “Guide to Political Studies”. They asked me what I would say to someone wanting to get into “international relations”. You can download the guide, including my bit, here. And here it is in text form:
The Guardian asked me to comment on the NSA revelations. I looked at this through the lens of anarchist concepts of democracy and complexity theory. The article is online here, and text is below.
Prepared by the Skoll Foundation, who gave us an award recently.
Big interview in LA Review of Books. Full text:
Rebel with a Cause: An Interview with Carne Ross
September 1st, 2013
Photo by: Ahmet Sibdial Sau
1. Rapid capital flight from so called emerging economies like Brazil and India demonstrates the profound and inherent volatility of global financial markets
2. Also shows Minsky-ian nature of markets: speculators get out because they fear others may do so first, creating self-sustaining cycle
3. And it’s not at all clear that tools of international cooperation, including the IMF, are adequate to mitigate this volatility and prevent negative consequences (indeed, there’s a strong argument that IMF prescriptions in eg Greece have made things much worse)
The Nation published an article about The Occupy Money Cooperative by Alissa Quart. I have taken the liberty of pasting the text below.
Occupy Bank Cards! A band of finance wizards take on the system they now say is corrupt. By Alissa Quart August 12, 2013
This is a great short video which puts David Harvey’s Marxist critique of capitalism into animated form. It’s a compelling analysis, but notably Harvey fails to offer any solution. For that, well, my views are in my book. In a few words: direct action, participatory democracy, recapturing agency.
In my Occupy banking group, we are gearing up to launch a fundraising appeal for The Occupy Money Cooperative. More details about this will appear on this site, and on the Coop’s own site, in the near future. Meanwhile, here’s a good article from 2012 about cooperative banks – and indeed an incisive critique of contemporary banks – by Ellen Brown.
Liam Barrington-Bush is exploring new forms of political action and organization, from Mexico to the UK. His book, “Anarchists in the Boardroom” is out soon. I met him at the Left Forum in New York City a few weeks ago, where he had invited me to a panel on horizontal forms of organization. This led to this interview in today’s Guardian, which I am also pasting below, with apologies to The Guardian’s copyright guardians (all property, including intellectual, is th Continue reading “Our forms must reflect our fundamental political values”, Interview in The Guardian
Rosie Gray has written a very generous profile of me and my work with Independent Diplomat and Occupy. You can see the original article on Buzzfeed here. I’ve also pasted it below:
At a recent private meeting of peace mediators, I had a conversation I thought it worth recording. My interlocutor, whom I shall call “C”, was someone with deep experience of the Middle East and terrorism: as a member of the intelligence service for a powerful country he had himself pursued direct contacts with Hamas, Hezbollah and others. Now retired, he continues to do so today, but now his aim is reconciliation and mutual understanding among often-warring groups. I asked him about something that has long bothered me. For a long while, the West “talked to terrorist Continue reading Why the West stopped talking to terrorists: a theory of the “Chicago Schools”
I was very lucky to be asked to speculate on the future as part of Triple Canopy’s series of lectures on this topic at the Museum of Modern Art, PS1 building in Queens, NYC.
I was invited to the Carnegie Council on International Ethics to talk about ethics and leadership. As you will see, I don’t feel very qualified to offer judgements on this, but rather to offer lessons from my past as a diplomat on what NOT to do.
Just for the record, and perhaps it keeps needing to be said for the record, here is a short interview I did today, March 15th, on the war, the alternatives and the lies. I am sick to death of saying it, but the liars keep hoping that if they lie often enough they will be believed.
My dear friend and Catalan speaker Jan Hartman has translated the review of “The Leaderless Revolution” that was published on Catalanweb a few days ago. I am naturally biassed but I found it an extraordinary discussion of the application of anarchist ideas to Catalonia’s independence struggle. It is also of course striking because Catalonia is one of the only places ever to experience anarchist self-government in practice.
With the ten year anniversary of the war, I wanted to tell the story of the evidence I gave to the first official inquiry into the war, an event that led to my resignation from the British foreign servce.
The book (and indeed its author) is much inspired by, and cites, Spanish repubicanism and the “Spanish revolution” when anarchism flowered in worker-run farms and businesses (and was snuffed out by fascism, of course). Here’s the link to the review.
The Oslo Forum is an unusual gathering of high-level political mediators, organized by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. They have gathered a book of essays on mediation, by authors including Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt and Norwegian foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide. I was very honoured to be invited to contribute. My essay tries to specify exactly what kind of conditions are necessary for successful mediation, in particular what kinds of access, to both negotiations and information. You can download the book, for free, Continue reading Building Peace: Five conditions for successful mediation
This is the first episode of “The World: Decrypted” a short video commentary on international affairs
An interesting video about Semco, an innovative worker-led company in Brazil. Very much the sort of thing that The Leaderless Revolution talks about as a new form of the company, the basic unit of the economy.
A very generous profile of me and Independent Diplomat in Foreign Policy magazine.
I have been very shocked by the impact of this storm on New York, and particularly the city’s failure to attend to the needs of the most vulnerable. The authorities were clearly unprepared for this disaster, and when it struck it was the poor and invisible who were hit the hardest, and were then the most ignored.
Hunger, ill health and poverty are simple to measure
From Mr Carne Ross.
This is the title of an influential essay by Jo Freeman aka Joreen about the many subtle and insidious risks of leaderless movements, including, for instance, the formation of unacknowledged and informal elites. Her recommendations on principles to avoid such dangers are interesting, and are pasted below. The essay does not discuss more structured systems of decision-making within leaderless movements (the Occupy General Assembly and Spokescouncil models are examples of such). But Freeman’s observations are importan Continue reading The Tyranny of Structurelessness
This has just been broadcast on the BBC in the UK, and will be soon on the BBC World Service.
Every year, the BBC holds the “Reith lecture” which is a major set-piece speech by some public figure on an issue of the day. Niall Ferguson this year gave a series of talks on “The Rule of Law”. He and I had a bit of a contretemps at the recording of the lecture a few weeks ago, in New York City.
Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)
Occupy Wall Street and a New Politics for a Disorderly World
Carne Ross | February 7, 2012
The global financial crisis has provoked a profound and necessary questioning of the prevailing political and economic orthodoxy. So pervasive is this disillusionment with the current order that it is hard to find anyone prepared to defend it. Disorder is the new order; disequilibrium rules, and old assumptions no longer hold.
Continue reading A New Politics for a Disorderly World
Article published online in The Nation on December 22nd, 2011:
Revolution through Banking?
Carne Ross | December 22, 2011
Continue reading Revolution through Banking: The Nation
This note was shared with members of the OWS working group on Alternative Banking today:
The Commons: A Good Bank
This note has been prepared by the alternative banking working group of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. The note is for discussion with the OWS movement and more broadly.