Howard Clark, who died in Madrid on 28 November 2013, set the bar for (at least) two generations of nonviolent activists, moving from Britain’s anti-nuclear protests of the early 1970s, to the pacifist weekly Peace News, to the equally radical and pacifist anti-war network War Resisters’ International (WRI).
In 1990, I became editor of Peace News, which was about to relaunch in London as a semi-detached monthly publication under the WRI roof. Howard—then the WRI office coordinator—had persuaded both organizations that the “cohabitation” would give the WRI network a platform to examine its pacifist goals and strategies, at the same time saving Peace News from financial collapse.
Some of the paper’s most sparkling prose came from Howard. After one such article, which made fun of an upcoming weapons fair, we found ourselves with a libel suit. He led us as we defended the principle of fair comment, including a sit-down protest at the event itself. Eventually, the case was dismissed.
Howard’s work with nonviolent activists in Kosovo, which continued until his death, was the basis for his 2000 book Civil Resistance in Kosovo. He was also author of a seminal 1981 pamphlet, Making Nonviolent Revolution, which was recently updated to include Occupy and other movements of the 2010s. He also co-authored and updated the bibliographic study, People Power and Protest since 1945 (available online).
Howard was elected chair of WRI in 2006. Earlier in November, he had been in South Africa for two weeks, working to organize WRI’s July 2014 international conference in Cape Town.
Like anyone else who worked on a project with Howard for more than a few days, when I left Peace News in 1996, I knew I had a friend for life. I’d occasionally phone him up—officially to discuss a website issue or a Peace Magazine article, but that was usually just an excuse to catch up with him, talking about food, cycling, politics and sometimes football (a great passion of his; less so of mine). We’d just made plans to visit him during a family trip to Madrid this winter, which, alas, will not happen as planned.
He is survived by his partner Yolanda and their children Ismael and Violeta.