History

Democracy and the NHS

The mythology regarding the 1945-51 Labour governments dies hard on the left, particularly in the era of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour which often sees itself taking up the mantle of an older, less compromised, form of state socialism. The foundation of the welfare state and the National Health Service is a special touchstone, with both it and its founder, Nye Bevan (pictured above with nursing staff at Park Hospital, Davyhulme) seen… Continue reading

Double book analysis: Peter Davison on George Orwell

In this review and analysis piece, Raymond S. Solomon discusses works by George Orwell and annotations by Peter Davison in two of the Orwell expert’s books, exploring the turbulent 1930s including issues around Palestine, the Spanish revolution, and the beating of Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists.

BOOKS REVIEWED

  • Davison, Peter (ed.) (2013) George Orwell: A Life In Letters, Selected and Annotated. New York, London. Liveright Publishing… Continue reading

Book interview: Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist

An annotated edition of Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist has just been published by AK Press. Jessica Moran and Barry Pateman who edited it are both part of the Kate Sharpley Library team, so KSL took the chance to ask them a few questions. This interview and many other articles appear in Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 89:

KSL: Prison Memoirs is a classic,… Continue reading

Crimethinc: A History of Anarchist Counter-Inaugural Protest

Thousands of protesters will stream into the streets of Washington, DC on January 20 to oppose the incoming presidency of Donald Trump. As they march, chant, unfurl their banners, and attempt to disrupt the inauguration, they step into a decades-long history of protests against the presidential spectacle.

 

 

What follows is a history of anarchist counter-inaugural activity from its first stirrings in 1969 to the high point of the… Continue reading

Sowing seeds of hope

In this article written for the new issue of Peace News, peace activist Andrea Needham reflects on her experiences on the road this year talking to peace activists about Seeds of Hope, the group she was part of which in 1996 broke onto a military base and destroyed a Hawk Jet to stop it from being exported to commit atrocities in East Timor. The story of the action and… Continue reading

Book Review: Roses and Revolutionists

ISBN: 978-1-910170-17-5 Price: £6.99 Pages: 106 Publisher: Five Leaves Books

Nominally a work of history, Nigel Todd’s book on the founding, growth and eventual collapse of the Clousden Hill anarchist co-operative feels as though it could be written now with only a few technological twists. For anyone with more than a passing interest in the libertarian co-op scene, largely organised through Radical Routes these days, the internal tensions… Continue reading

Arguments against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party

We are in a period when the Labour Party is, again, pretending that it can protect people in Britain from the ravages of a crisis-ridden capitalist system. The best arguments against the Labour Party will arise when strikes, occupations and street protests take place and then the Labour Party denounces them. But until then, here are some arguments from history:

1. In 1914, The Labour Party actively supported the First… Continue reading

The gang system in Coventry

The gang system

in Coventry

REG WRIGHT

REG WRIGHT is a Coventry engineering worker who has spent a life-time in the motor, aircraft and textile industries, One of the pioneers of the gang system in its present form, he has even written a play about it. In a forthcoming article in ANARCHY he discusses Erosion Inside Capitalism.

THE GANG SYSTEM AS OPERATED IN COVENTRY is modern and yet traditional. Its… Continue reading

Education, equality, opportunity

Education, equality, opportunity

John Ellerby

ULTIMATELY THE SOCIAL FUNCTION of education is to perpetuate society: it is the socialising function. Society guarantees its future by rearing its children in its own image. In traditional society the peasant rears his sons to cultivate the soil, the man of power rears his to wield power, and the priest instructs them all in the necessity of maintaining a priesthood. In modern governmental society, as Frank MacKinnon put it in The Politics of Education:

“The educational system is the largest instrument in the modern state for telling people what to do. It enrols five-year-olds and tries to direct their mental, and much of their physical, social and moral development for twelve or more of the most formative years of their lives.”

To find a historical parallel to this situation you would have to go back to ancient Sparta, the principal difference being that the only education we hear of in the ancient world is that of ruling classes. Spartan education was simply training for infantry warfare and for instructing the citizens in the techniques of subduing the slave class, the helots, who did the daily work of the state and greatly outnumbered the citizens. In the modern world the helots have to be educated too, and the equivalent of Spartan warfare is the industrial and technical competition between nations which is sometimes the product of war and sometimes its prelude. The year in which Britain’s initial advantage in the world’s industrial markets began to wane, was the year in which, after generations of bickering about its religious content, universal compulsory education was introduced, and every significant development since the Act of 1870, had a close relation to the experience, not merely of commercial rivalry, but of war itself. The Acts of 1902, 1918 and 1944 were all born of war, and every new international conflict, whether in rivalry for markets or in military techniques, has been the signal for a new burst of concern in different countries over the scale and scope of technical education among the rival powers. Thus the explosion by America of the first atomic bombs was a signal to Russia to hasten the pace of technical and scientific education, and Russia’s success in putting the first sputnik into space, led to an outburst of self-criticism in America about the shortcomings of the American educational system, and to a concern about the quality and availability of technical education in both Britain and America which is still in full swing. Continue reading

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An Anarchist in Love with Mao’s China – Herbert Read’s ‘Letters from China’.

Plus a list of dubious accounts of ‘successful’ revolutions, from Russia to Rojava

In the second year of the Great Leap Forward famine – in which perhaps 30 million died – Herbert Read visited China on an official delegation.

Read’s acceptance of a knighthood for his literary achievements had already discredited him amongst many anarchists. But, at the time of his visit in 1959, he was still the most prominent… Continue reading