Obituary: Jack Stevenson

Jack Stevenson passed away on Easter Sunday. An electrician by trade, and a keen gardener of vegetables on his allotment, Jack was prominent among London anarchists  in the 1960s. Among other achievements, he was the founder, treasurer, and inconspicuous donor to the Sit-Down-Or-Pay-Up fund, which subsidised legal expenses and fines of supporters of the Committee of One Hundred anti-bomb campaign, mostly charged with obstructing traffic.

~ Donald Rooum

Stevenson was a regular writer for both Freedom and its sister magazine Anarchy particularly in the 1960s, covering some of the many protests he’d attended, reviewing books and producing analysis for the movement. His reputation for reliability and hard work led to him being named the co-ordinating secretary of the Anarchist Federation of Britain in 1963. Below is a sample of his work, originally published by Anarchy Magazine in March 1964 in a special election issue.

I shall not be voting in the next election, and the reason I give is that of the old farmer who said, “At doan matter oo e votes for. Cos a government allus gits in.”

Yes a government always gets in. A government which governs with the same apparatus as the government before and the government that will follow them. The police that help old ladies across the road sometimes, and put bricks in people’s pockets other times. The judges that are always calling for some poor bastard to be hanged, and when you are up before them on a charge which involves principle, tell you that justice is NOT their business, they just administer the LAW. The army that is to fight the enemy that is always at the gates, and if the enemy is not at the gates, to back up the police.

I shall not be voting because I do not believe in this system I live under, called capitalism. Where one man is pitted against another, where competition is the norm and money is god. Where people sell themselves, and each other, chasing after an illusion. the illusion being that if they can gain more things, they will be better than other people. To vote for any party would merely carry this on, with my blessing.

If you believe that something is evil or stupid, it is ridiculous to take part. Government takes people’s power to think and to make decisions away from them, and it never gives them back. All governments are composed of men who look down on the people that they govern with scorn. They only time the government cares what people think is at election time, when they have a vote.

Finally for the most important reason of all. the people that you elect don’t rule the country. does anyone really imagine that a man can be Chancellor of the Exchequer one day, Prime Minister the next, and something else the day after, if he really ruled the country. If he did, there would be chaos under these kinds of conditions. But they don’t rule. They are the puppets, but others pull the strings: those who own the economic wealth of the country. It doesn’t matter who gets in, the capitalists will still rule.

The crimes of all the parties that are competing at the next election are far too many to count. Others will point them out, and they will point out each others. They are all the same types of crime because they are all committed for the same reason, and usually, come to think of it, by the same people.