Editorial: My Favorite Issue

My Favorite Issue

Advocating revolutionary nonviolence is never easy. It’s adaunting task just to communicate the why and the how of turning the world upside down, of achieving profound social justice and peace using no weapons but our bodies and our faith in the rightness of the goal. The hours are long, the pay—when there is any—is low, and the task doesn’t come with an instruction manual. We who work at it can sometimes see, at a distance, glimmerings of that goal achieved; more often, it’s out of sight, maybe real in some distant future, and maybe existing only in our hopes.

And yet, the people whose words you’re about to read have given much of their lives to that task; indeed, the pages that follow, read carefully, may be the beginnings of such a manual.


As one facet of its resistance to war, WRL has been in the publishing business for a long time. It started sending members a news- letter, WRL News, in 1945. The New York Workshop in Nonviolence began publishing the first WIN in 1966 (its full name was WIN Peace and Freedom Thru Nonviolent Action). WRL News welcomed WIN as “constituting a sprightly new addition to pacfist literary endeavours,” and WRL became a co-publisher of the magazine. When WIN folded in 1983, WRL expanded its newsletter into a new magazine, The Nonviolent Activist, which was revamped in 2006 and re-named WIN, in honor of its great predecessor.

But this, as many of you may know, is the final issue of WIN. The changing economics of publishing have hit the publishing side of WRL, which can no longer afford the price of putting out a magazine. This is not to say the organization is giving up publishing altogether. It will still produce important resources like its annual Pie Chart flyer. There’s a new edition of “What Every Girl Should Know,” the brochure for young women, queer and trans youth, youth of color, and poor youth, about sexual and gender-based violence in the military (co-published with the Women of Color Resource Center). Right now, we’re proud to announce the upcoming publication (with Tadween Publishing) of Field Organizer Ali Issa’s new book, Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq. Beyond print, WRL will be soon putting more news and information online, in a more dynamic way. So stay in touch—there’ll be plenty to read.

Meanwhile, we decided to make this last issue of WIN one to remember. When I took on the task of coming back to put it together, I imagined that I was going to help create an extended obituary, a reflection on the highs and maybe some of the lows, the achieve- ments and the struggles, of that half-century of activist journalism.

I was wrong.


An obituary is the final word on a subject. It’s about the past of someone or something with no future. This isn’t an obituary because every piece in this final issue of WIN speaks to the future of this endeavor as well as of its past. As a print publication, WIN may be over, but the business of communicating the whys and the hows of revolutionary nonviolence will go on. And this extraordinary col- lection of articles by people who have toiled in the field for decades is, collectively, a broad and deep look at the multiple intersections of movement journalism and activism—activism in general, and specifically the project of nonviolent revolution—and the ways in which that history, those intersections, point us to the future. It may well have more pointers on how we can best communicate that goal than anything heretofore put between the covers of one magazine.

A roundtable conversation among five former editors looks at the nuts and bolts of activist publishing; four “continuities” pieces highlight current activist projects; and editors and “unin- dicted co-conspirators” from all three magazines describe their favorite issue(s).

That said, it’s by no means the last word on the subject. There are missing voices. The contributors are a diverse bunch, age- and gender-wise, but—reflecting the face of the U.S. peace movement over those same 49 years—far less diverse in race and class. (Reflecting the close-knit radical pacifist community that generated all three magazines, by the way, you’ll find a lot of names repeated Not a few of the writers of articles in this issue quote other writers appearing here.) There are missing subjects, as well. There are pieces here on Africa and the environment, on prison work and Palestine, on poetry and gay life in the ’60s, and on what defines an action as “nonviolent,” but space considerations, if nothing else, prevented a comprehensive look at all the subjects touched in those 49 years.

But it’s a start, and as a start, it covers an amazing amount of ground in its 50+ pages. More significant, it looks back at almost 50 years of activist journalism in order to point the way to the next 50 years. Which is why, out of the 60 issues I edited—59 Nonviolent Activists and this issue of WIN—this is my favorite issue.

— Judith Mahoney Pasternak

A necessary postscript: Among the chronicles of the broad community the magazines covered were activists’ obituaries. The revamped WRL website will, of course, continue to post obituaries for those we’ve lost; please look there for ongoing news, includ- ing obits for war-tax resistance pioneer Juanita Nelson, Narayan Desai, one-time Chair of War Resisters’ International and one of the creators of Peace Brigades International, and Living Theater co-founder Judith Malina, all of whom died as this issue was being put together. And please bring your thoughts, comments and reminiscences to WIN’s Facebook page.

Longtime writer and journalist Judith Mahoney Pasternak was the editor of The Nonviolent Activist from 1995 to 2005. She now lives in Paris, France, where she writes, edits, translates, and works for peace in Palestine.

Judith Mahoney Pasternak

Judith Mahoney Pasternak, Paris-based activist-writer, is a veteran journalist in the alternative media, author of several books on travel and popular culture, and the former editor of WRL’s The Nonviolent Activist, the earlier incarnation of WIN. Her activist training was in the Second Wave of the feminist movement; since then, she has worked for peace, for social and economic justice, and for justice and self-determination for Palestine.