Anarchy: a journal of anarchist ideas

A complete online archive of scanned issues of Anarchy magazine, edited by Colin Ward and published monthly by Freedom Press from March 1961-December 1970. It is particularly known for its stunning covers by anarchist graphic designer Rufus Seger.

After it ceased publication, there was a second series of Anarchy magazine published later on by the Anarchy Collective.

Most of these issues taken from The Sparrows Nest and

Anarchy #001

The first issue of Anarchy magazine from March 1961.


anarchy-001.pdf13.38 MB

Rescuing Galbraith from the conventional wisdom

Analysis of the ideas in of John Kennedy Galbraith's book on economics, The Affluent Society.

We have yet to see that not the total of resources but their studied and rational use is the key to achievement — J. K. GALBRAITH.

But as soon as we look at Political Economy from this point of view, it entirely changes its aspect. It ceases to be a simple description of facts, and becomes a science, and we may define this science as: The study of the needs of mankind, and the means of satisfying them with the least possible waste of human energy. — PETER KROPOTKIN.

JOHN KENNETH GALBRAITH'S The Affluent Society is the only modern book on economics to become a best-seller. Comparisons have been made with Tawney's Acquisitive Society and with Keynes's General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, and praise has been lavished on the book from the political right, left and centre. The Financial Times found it "a stringent and stimulating piece of social analysis", the Daily Telegraph thought it might provide the 'sixties with "the popular tools of thought for handling the unfamiliar problems of our already rich society". Even the warring factions in the Labour Party were united in praise of it, from Mr. Crosland who declared that "I am wholeheartedly a Galbraith man" to Mr. Crossman, who believed it to be "the most entertaining and profound exposure of post-war Western society that has yet been published", and Tribune which saw in it a "magnificently iconoclastic assault on economic illusions". It even has its admirers on the other side of the iron curtain, where Galbraith himself is the only leading Western economist to have lectured on the economics of capitalism, and one of the only ones to seek an exchange of professional and personal views with his opposite numbers in Moscow, Warsaw and Belgrade.

The book's title has been bandied about so much as a description of contemporary Britain and America that we have already grown tired of it, while the phrase about "private opulence and public squalor" has provided the Labour Party with the succinct new campaigning point which it urgently needed. Ironically, since Galbraith so devastatingly attacks the Conventional Wisdom of accepted ideas, he has fallen victim himself to it. This part of his argument has been absorbed into the conventional wisdom of liberal thought, while his most radical, and from our point of view, most valuable, observations have been widely ignored.

This is partly his own fault. You cannot blame him for not being what he never set out to be, but when one week we see him on television, billed along with various beat writers and militant pacifists as a pillar of American dissent, while another week we learn of him as one of the eggheads in Kennedy's presidential campaign, we feel strengthened in our view that academic intellectuals are more useful as critics of politicians than as their aides. American liberals who voted for Kennedy on the strength of his intellectual entourage have only themselves to blame when they find their idols pushed into the background by the practical men of affairs. Margaret Halsey, in the October Liberation remarked that there was something rather touching about the belief that the qualities lacking in the presidential candidate could sneak in by the back door through his advisers. It reminds one, she said, of the Victorian theory that a drunkard can be reformed by the love of a good woman, and she observed that it is a theory that can work both ways. "Is there not an equal possibility that Jack and Bobby Kennedy's opportunism and ruthlessness might rub off on the Schlesingers, Galbraiths and Commagers?".

Now it is reported that Kennedy has decided to send Galbraith to India as American Ambassador, and the Guardian comments that “It is a tribute to Mr. Kennedy that a man of Professor Galbraith's calibre should be eager to serve under him." This is a different version of the Victorian theory, and we might again reverse it to say that it is no tribute to Professor Galbraith that he should be eager to serve under a man of Mr. Kennedy's calibre. Ambassadorships are one of the traditional spoils of office in the American political system, and while an economist of Galbraith's brilliance and unorthodoxy could be of service to India, this is the very role which as a diplomat he would be precluded from playing. And again, while his observations on the problems of a conspicuously non-affluent society would be valuable, they are the very observations which as a diplomat he would be precluded from making — except to President Kennedy.

* * *

Galbraith's dabbling in Democratic politics, his urbane and witty manner, and the relatively trivial nature of his more recent writings, have successfully concealed his book's revolutionary implications. Richard Crossman, in a recent review, regretting that The Liberal Hour is by no means the successor to The Affluent Society for which its readers had hoped, suggest that the new book's title

"is aptly chosen to explain how a man who is so rigorous and extreme in theory yet manages to remain the confidante of successive Democratic candidates. Like his predecessors, Hobson and Keynes, the two most subversive thinkers of our century, Galbraith shields himself from the logic of ideas by studying economics in isolation from politics and power. 'It is sufficient for me to master one discipline' he seems to tell us. 'I leave it to other academic revolutionaries to subject our political institutions to the kind of devastating analysis I have applied to the economic institutions of the Affluent Society'."

Crossman goes on to suggest that just as Hobson unwittingly provided Lenin with the ideas which "could be vulgarised into a revolutionary myth that destroyed the whole system of colonial imperialism" so Galbraith may have already performed "a similar historical role by providing the prolegomena to any modern socialist theory of capitalism, while remaining, in his political attitudes, staunchly anti-socialist." Crossman is referring to the development of Galbraith's view of the role of governmental intervention in the economy, as evinced by American Capitalism: The Concept of Countervailing Power (1952), The Affluent Society (1958) and the essay on inflation in The Liberal Hour (1960), but his assumption about the particular historical role of Galbraith's book is as questionable as his assumption about Lenin. Its importance lies elsewhere.

What is the book about? It is about the end of scarcity. The second thing every student of economics learns is the assumption that "goods are scarce: economics is a study of scarcity and the problems arising from scarcity". But what happens when scarcity is no longer a necessary condition? America's productive capacity, Galbraith observes, is so much greater than its needs that a significant slice of the gross national product — eleven billion dollars worth of advertising — is devoted to the frantic manufacture of wants which the actual productive machine has subsequently to satisfy. Want-creation through advertising has become the key to the whole economic system, and is the most important industry, since it alone keeps people and factories at work. And production is vital, not for the sake of the goods produced, but because the worker's income, security and purchasing power depend on it. "Production has become the solvent of the tensions once associated with inequality, and it has become the indispensable remedy for the discomforts, anxieties, and privations associated with economic insecurity". It is also

"buttressed by a highly dubious but equally accepted psychology of want; by an equally dubious but equally accepted interpretation of national interest; and by powerful vested interests. So all embracing, indeed, is our sense of the importance of production as a goal that a first reaction to any questioning of this attitude will be, 'What else is there?' So large does production bulk in our thoughts that we can only suppose that a vacuum must remain if it should be relegated to a smaller role."

The shortcomings of economics, he says, are not original error but uncorrected obsolescence. In the interpretation of social phenomena there is a continual competition between what is relevant and what is merely acceptable, and in this competition "all tactical advantage is with the acceptable". Audiences of all kinds most applaud what they like best, and people approve most what they understand best — "we adhere as though to a raft, to those ideas which represent our understanding. This is a prime manifestation of vested interest. For a vested interest in understanding is more preciously guarded than any other treasure. It is why men react, not infrequently with something akin to religious passion, to the defence of what they have so laboriously learned". This consensus of acceptable ideas is what Galbraith has named the Conventional Wisdom. There is a conventional wisdom of the left as well as one of the right, and it is to be found in economic theory as much as in any other field.

Adam Smith's classical formulation of economic liberalism was viewed with alarm when first published, but soon afterwards it became the conventional wisdom and "there were solemn warnings of the irreparable damage that would be done by Factory Acts, trade unions, social insurance, and other social legislation". Now, the conventional wisdom accepts the welfare state and holds that these measures "softened and civilised capitalism and made it tenable" though there have never ceased to be warnings that the break with laisser-faire was fatal. It has been the same story with the gold standard and the balanced budget and again it was only circumstances which defeated the conventional wisdom. The American budget never balanced during the depression, but it was not until 1936 that Keynes made the unbalanced budget respectable. Keynesian theory itself has now turned into a body of conventional wisdom, the obsolescence of parts of which, in Galbraith's view is now well advanced. He makes fun of the different conventional wisdoms, from Social Darwinism to Marxism, which substitute acceptable ideas for observable facts, and in particular, of the economic shibboleths to which all right-thinking Americans subscribe — most of which, however, are "cherished almost exclusively either in the second person or in the abstract".

Rugged champions of free enterprise thus scorn the quest for security, having first insured their own, and the advocates of bold risk-taking are often those who have never, individually or corporatively, taken a risk in their lives. "The preoccupation of workers with unemployment insurance or old age pensions has usually seemed most supine and degenerate to business executives who would be unattracted by companies in which they were subject to arbitrary discharge or which lacked adequate pension arrangements." The conventional wisdom is, indeed, selective in its preoccupation with production. It lauds it when it is sanctified by profit and gratifies private acquisitiveness, but deprecates it when its purpose is to satisfy social needs; thus cars have an importance greater than the roads on which they are driven. Education is unproductive but the manufacture of the school toilet seats productive. Vacuum cleaners are praiseworthy but street cleaners are an unfortunate expense. "Partly as a result our houses are generally clean and our streets are generally filthy."

This disparity, he points out, is not accidental. The economy is kept at an inflationary level, and discrimination against the public services is an organic feature of inflation:

"The line which divides our area of wealth from our area of poverty is roughly that which divides privately produced and marketed goods from publicly rendered services. Our wealth in the first is not only in startling contrast with the meagreness of the latter, but our wealth in privately produced goods is, to a marked degree, the cause of crisis in the supply of public services."

The relevance of this line of argument to what Mr. Macmillan calls the opportunity state and what Professor Titmuss calls the irresponsible society is all too obvious, but this is not the most important thing about Galbraith's argument.

The important thing is that the Professor of Economics at Harvard has come round to the point of view, not of the contemporary socialist economists, but of the "utopians", in espousing the principle of 'to each according to his need'. For he argues the case for divorcing income from employment, divorcing production from security. "We have seen," he says,

"that while our productive energies are used to make things of no great urgency — things for which the demand must be synthesised at elaborate cost or they might not be wanted at all — the process of production continues to be of nearly undiminished urgency as a source of income. The income men derive from producing things of slight consequence is of great consequence. The production reflects the low marginal utility of the goods to society. The income reflects the high total utility of a livelihood to a person."

You cannot seriously argue that we "miss" the goods which are not produced in a depression. It is the hardship due to unemployment which depresses us. Thus "good times" are identified with full employment rather than with high production. Galbraith therefore proposes to "break the connection between security and production" and to eliminate the hazard of depression unemployment for the worker by what he calls Cyclically Graduated Compensation — unemployment compensation which, as unemployment increases, is itself increased to approach the level of the weekly wage, and diminishes as full employment as approached.

Even worse, from the point of view of the conventional wisdom, he is no longer impressed by the cult of productive efficiency:

"If the modern corporation must manufacture not only the goods but the desire for the goods it manufactures, the efficiency of the first part of this activity ceases to be decisive. One could indeed argue that human happiness would be as effectively advanced by inefficiency in want creation, as efficiency in production. Under these circumstances, the relation of the modern corporation to the people who comprise it — their chance for dignity, individuality, and full development of personality — may be at least as important as its efficiency. These may be worth having even at a higher cost of production. Why should life be made intolerable to make things of small urgency?
"Can the North Dakota farmer be indicted for failure to labour hard and long to produce the wheat that his government wishes passionately it did not have to buy? Are we desperately dependent on the diligence of the worker who applies maroon and pink enamel to the functionless bulge of a modern motor-car? The idle man may still be an enemy of himself. But it is hard to say that the loss of his effort is damaging to society. Yet it is such damage which causes us to condemn idleness."

Now, if the cult of efficiency, like the cult of production from which it derives, is a hangover from the days of scarcity, what other social criteria are there? Galbraith suggests that "other tests — compassion, individual happiness and well-being, the minimisation of community or other social tensions" — now become relevant, and that what must now be counted one of the central economic goals of our society "is to eliminate toil as a required economic institution. This is not a utopian vision".

It might be objected that Galbraith's debunking of the religion of productivity ignores two important social facts: firstly that Western affluence is an island in a world of poverty, and secondly that in America itself there are large pockets of poverty. He has in fact a chapter on American poverty, pointing out that 7.7 per cent. of U. S. families had in 1955 incomes of less than 1,000 dollars, and that a very large number of individuals, not members of families, were in this income class, but he makes the point that neither the "case" nor the "insular" variety of poverty is susceptible to elimination merely by increasing production of goods and services. On the question of the poor countries and the responsibilities of the rich ones towards them, the point again is that the output of goods and services in America has, as such, little effect on their problems. He remarks that the obvious remedy to the "problem" of over-production of food in the United States is to give the surplus to people who can eat it, a solution regarded with horror by the conventional wisdom, which has invented the euphemism of "the soil bank" for its own remedy of taking acres out of production, while

"To wish to give milk to Hottentots became, for a while, a symbol of advanced economic irresponsibility. Ultimately the necessities of the case triumphed. Under the guidance of an impeccably conservative Secretary of Agriculture, world-wide gifts of food in large quantity became an established policy. But again elaborate disguise was essential. The receiving countries 'bought' the products with their own currency, which meant that they supplied money that cost them nothing and which the United States agreed not to use in appreciable amount."

Even the sharing of surpluses has to be disguised as an "economic" transaction in terms of the conventional wisdom. The rational distribution of the products of industry is not a matter of productive capacity but of social attitudes, and the spread of the appropriate social attitudes is just what the conventional wisdom of economics inhibits.

Galbraith enunciates two principles which strike at the roots of economic thought: firstly that we should break the connection between income and production and secondly that we should cease to regard productive efficiency as the test of utility in production. There is nothing original about this of course; the important thing is that it comes from a twentieth century economist, not a nineteenth-century socialist. In immediate terms the implications of the first of these two principles are governmental — his idea about Cyclically Graduated Compensation as a new foundation for unemployment compensation. This in itself is simply a refinement or extension of Keynesian remedies for depressions, and not one which would recommend itself to the ideologists of the present government of this country. Galbraith himself, in The Liberal Hour says confidently, "One day we shall remove the economic penalties and also the social stigma associated with involuntary unemployment. This will make the economy much easier to manage." And he adds "But we haven't done this yet". When it comes, either in America or here, it will come for economic rather than for social reasons, but undoubtedly it will come. In the long term perspective, the popularisation of this view represents a big step towards the recognition of the "free access" principle which Kropotkin heralded seventy-five years ago in his essay Anarchist Communism, declaring that

"There is a tendency, though still a feeble one, to consider the needs of the individual, irrespective of his past or possible services to the community. We are beginning to think of society as a whole, each part of which is so intimately bound up with the others that a service rendered to one is a service rendered to all."

Its ultimate implication is of course, as Kropotkin emphasised, the abolition of the wage system itself.

The consequence of the second of Galbraith's two neglected principles — the dethronement of "efficiency" is not of course to put a premium upon inefficiency, but to adopt a different test of efficiency, the test of human utility rather than that of economic utility. To the followers of his main theme it implies the irrelevance of arguments about the scope and nature of the public services based upon economic criteria, or arguments, for instance, about the railway system based on the idea that it should pay its way. To others it suggests taking a new look at the idea of industrial democracy — which is always written off because of its alleged (and unproven) inefficiency in economic terms. Others may observe that an acceptance of the idea is in such complete opposition to the realities of competitive capitalism that it is meaningless, in view of the unending pressure to reduce labour costs. To which students of productivity like Seymour Melman would answer that in unplanned societies a high rate of capital investment is only achieved by forcing the cost of labour above that of raw materials. To Galbraith's more radical readers it must imply the irrelevance of the whole idea of a market economy in a society which has the productive capacity for an economy of abundance. But what happens when we weave these themes together and combine them with the various models of a planned economy postulated by Western Marxist economists, or with the ideas of Polish and Jugoslav economists about a "socialist market economy"? Various economic writers like Ben B. Seligman in America or Peter Wiles here, have sketched out the paradoxical relationships between "capitalist" notions of marginalism and a market economy, and the feasibility of workers' control, but no modern writers have brought together the idea of industrial democracy, the idea of separating security from production, and the idea of an economy based on social needs without the intervention of the market. (Except perhaps Paul and Percival Goodman in their extraordinary and original book Communitas with its three alternative "paradigms" for (a) efficient consumption, (b) the elimination of the difference between production and consumption. and (c) planned security with minimum regulation.)

No-one is better fitted than Galbraith to undertake this new synthesis. But since it seems unlikely that he is going to elaborate these themes himself, we have to look for a new school of economic and social thinkers who will rescue his ideas from being submerged into the conventional wisdom of American liberalism or British Labour politics, and will develop and expand them with at least something of Galbraith's own wit and lucidity.

Sex-and-violence and the origin of the novel - Alex Comfort

Anarchist Alex Comfort on sex and violence in contemporary literature.

A few years ago the respective critics of the New Statesman and the Spectator described an adventure story by Mr. Ian Fleming as "without doubt the nastiest book I have every read"1 and as "providing sheer entertainment such as I, who must read many novels, am seldom lucky enough to find"2. Comment has been made on the popularity of this writer with Cabinet Ministers. George Orwell once wrote of the very different novels of Mr. Mickey Spillane and Mr. James Hadley Chase (who were supposed by Englishmen to have a similar social range of popularity in America) that "Freud and Machiavelli have reached the outer suburbs."

Mr. Spillane and Mr. Chase specialise in affectless violence. Mr. Fleming is more gentlemanly (it was his upper-class hero who provoked the New Statesman) and specialises in masochistic fantasy in erotic settings — he has given Bulldog Drummond a sex life. All three have attracted hostile notice directed at a genre; I would describe the genre itself as the erotic comic-book for literate adults. The pictorial comic-book reflects so well the psychodynamic state of its parent society (which it is often accused of producing) that it is not surprising to find non-pictorial comic-books written for the literate, or read — if the remarks about Cabinet Ministers are correct — by those who are themselves engaged in writing the comic-book of contemporary history. (I recently read that "Monk" Lewis was a member of parliament). Such books belong to erotic literature, but the erotic literature of a culture which operates a selective censorship against normal eroticism. They therefore deal, as a rule, not with love but with hate, the cult of sexual and general violence, and the ghoulish. This cult is distasteful, though the violence of the attack on it in some quarters has itself the appearance of excitement at the matter at-tacked: it is also traditional: — Mario Praz's catalogue3 of the morbid preoccupations of the Romantics — sadism, diabolism, the character of woman as Medusa and bitch, the exaltation of suffering and corruption — is a statement of the emotional handicaps which have affected Western art intermittently since the Second century, not the Nineteenth. When there is a critical row about them, it is still directed at those authors who dilute them with references to normal sexuality. They are now the predominant matter of commercial entertainment: in the comic-book they are reduced to pictorial psychosymbols without the literary cover they have previously had; in the literary-comic the psychosymbols go back into literary form, still indecently exposed. The essence of this form is that its effect depends on motif not manner, and that the plot is a pretext for the incident: this is equally true of more pretentious literature, but in the case of the literary-comic the fact is frankly recognised by all; the novelist's first need is a good knowledge or intuition for the natural history of human sexual response to situational symbols. Now and then he can be too good — part of the adverse comment on the three writers I have mentioned, especially Mr. Fleming, is due to their ability to free-associate (or read up and put in) really threatening psychoanalytical matter in a bare form. Part is due to uneasiness among liberal readers to see such matter made unpleasantly real at a time when history and psychotic fantasy are dangerously convergent. For them, the comic-book threatens both social morals and polite fiction — which already contains the same material, but better-wrapped.

Gothic Schauerromantik is by now a popular dissertation subject. The interesting thing about the literary "comic-book" is that it owes little to Gothicism — less than the modern serious or "unpopular" novel. The writers of the literary-comic are going further back, if not for their inspiration, at least for their precedent, for the novel did not generate the literary-comic: phylogenetically, the literary-comic generated the novel, in the society of second- and third-century Alexandria, which also generated our literary morals. Alexandrine novels include the most likeable of all erotic stories, Daphnis and Chloe, but the manner of Longus assorted ill with the growth of Christendom: the modern literary-comic mimics in incident, though not in spirit or style, other romances of the same period which are far more familiar in key. I am not so sure of Mr. Spillane, but Mr. Fleming has his ancestry there — possibly in Achilles Tatius, whose Cleitophon and Leucippe is the best and most characteristic of literary-comics, with something of the modern pace, and almost all of the familiar psychosomatic obsessions. This particular romance generated not only Candide but, by way of Sidney's Arcadia, a sizeable number of modern European novels. The effect of the original is neither Hollywood nor, as it could easily be, Evelyn Waugh; the whole performance is by modern standards quite un-nasty even when it is sophisticated, and never satirical, though now and then it is quietly ironic. Some episodes recall the disturbing but fabulous matter of the nursery tales, in which decapitated and revived princesses have their ancestry — others have echoes of The Magic Flute and the sham ordeals of the Masonic initiation: the sufferings of the lovers are a game, evoking no more protest than a children's game of captives and executions where the heroine will be called in from the stake to tea.

Yet compared with other romances, compared with Apuleius or Heliodorus, or even Xenophon of Ephesus — whose hero is crucified, falls into the Nile cross and all, and sails down the river on it, while his heroine is put in a pit full of wild dogs — Tatius is tangibly nearer the comic-book tradition. The comic-book is a story which is a pretext for sexually-coloured psychosymbolic incidents where the theme, not the treatment, is the selling point. Tatius is also closer to the comic than Longus or Apuleius in what he leaves out. This is supposed to be a love-story, but unlike Daphnis and Chloe, or The Golden Ass and the Satiricon, which are not love stories at all in principle, it is strikingly assexual. Tatius foreshadows the literature of conventional chivalry. but he also foreshadows the modern and pre-modern literature of impotence. This has been called a “panegyric of chastity,”4 and one is aware off-stage of a virulent contemporary monasticism which regarded women as evil and suffering as an acceptable substitute; in which martyrdom as a prelude to resurrection was the only decent form of sexual excitement, and in which Origen castrated himself physically as well as emotionally. Tatius rather than Longus sets the key of the literary-erotic tradition of Christendom: it is with suffering, not women, that his readers are already expected to be in love. In his choice of Andromeda and Prometheus to preside over the story, Tatius has accurately selected the tutelary deities of European Romanticism, and of the emotional disabilities which have perpetually haunted it. For Andromeda is not only the captive princess of chivalry who is there to be rescued — she is de Sade's Misfortunes of Virtue; she symbolises the ambivalence of literature towards tormented maidens. Tatius makes Prometheus Andromeda's male twin. They are unjustly condemned, male and female. In their constructive moments they have been pity and liberty, chivalry and revolution; but they have a number of darker avatars as the gratuitously ill-used heroine, and the victim of the tormentor-father — the revolutionary and erotic images which alternate so disconcertingly in The Revolt of Islam.

In Shelley, the gallery of unfortunate virtue is complete — Prometheus punished by Zeus, Beatrice Cenci exposed as victim, not of a decently reticent monster, but to the incestuous assaults of a father who talks very like de Sade; and finally the lovers of The Revolt of Islam, translated from the stake to a Baroque landscape in a fantasy of really alarming intensity, where sexual excitement, masochism, lyrical poetry and revolutionary politics are inextricable and interchangeable. This mixture was evidently not to everybody's taste: Shelley defended the work against the protests of his friends with the same well-justified candour as Flaubert — "The poem was produced by a series of thoughts which filled my mind with sustained and unbounded enthusiasm. I felt that it was in many respects a picture of my own mind." The same psychosymbolic material is exploited "in The Cenci, and finally tamed in Prometheus, but it is in the extended form of The Revolt of Islam that the self-identification is most whole-hearted. There is certainly no better example of a work, or a series of works, in which a compulsive fantasy has produced great literature. By the end of the century, the motif of shared bondage and death as a decent and more ecstatic form of coition has become completely explicit — in Hassan, or Les Noyades — and is even present in a muffled form in improbable works like The Last of the Mohicans.

Pegasus, the symbol of imaginative literature, sprang from the blood of the Gorgon. In psychoanalytical terms this seems to be abundantly true, at least of our own literature, but Freud might also have pointed out that it is this particular Gorgon which petrified the emotional development of an entire culture, to make Andromeda's chains more desirable than her person.

* * *

So much for the ancestry of the literary "comic" — what of its present and future? If Freudian concepts account for the content of literary forms, the reasons for their prevalence at a given time seem to be chiefly social.

The sub-sexual pulp novel, with or without an exotic cast, and still more its middle-class equivalents, seem to represent a thoroughgoing return of the European novel to one of its origins, and the arbitrary plot linking a series of sexually-coloured but technically chaste episodes, the displacement of physical sexuality by torments and misfortunes, and the typical irrelevance of the linking commentary, which are the features of this commercial genre today — were present in the works which set the key of the European novel. The Hays Code and its literary progeny were born together. There is no hokum in Hollywood which these early novels do not anticipate, and strikingly little difference in the formula they had to fill, apart from an added requirement of stylistic elaboration.

Hokum is the stock-in-trade of the story teller. It is as necessary to Hemingway as to Heliodorus. It never fails, even with those too highbrow to admit its appeal, and if it appears in Alexandrine rhetoricians it does so as freely in the Arabian Nights and in Shakespeare. When literary forms lose interest as literature, there is always hokum to fall back on, and it has played a quite remarkable part in providing inspiration for serious writers. The similarity between the late Alexandrine novel and the matter of pulp fiction and television — as well as the cause of its germinal influence on European fiction generally — is in the selection of permissible fantasies.

The natural history of the response to hokum, especially sexual hokum, in our society is more interesting than speculation about its psychodynamics. The cathexis attached to suffering, and especially masochism, seems to be more intense in the audience of "serious" than of popular literature. (A side effect of this is that the tragic dénouement has now a strong prestige significance — it is evidence of "serious" intention, even if it has to be dragged in quite as arbitrarily as the last- minute rescues of romance.) The "serious" work must end on a note of frustration — "happy" endings are stigmatic of a lower form of literature. The algolagnia of popular literature is by contrast of a robust kind. It prefers fights, beatings, bindings and danger-situations which are physical and have to that extent a genital reference: it avoids the much less healthy refinements of purely mental suffering; and masochism is popular only if it does not go too far. Popular self-identification will stand up to a threat of combustion or drowning in aphrodisiac circumstances, and find it agreeable, but it knows where to stop— ecstasies pushed to the point of decease, like those of Laon or Les Noyades, have no future in them. Women, perhaps for physiological reasons, seem willing to venture further: they will accompany the heroine up to and including her actual demise — “What a loverly death to die!”, as Nellie Wallace used to sing — but there must be at least a celestial choir between them and the darkness of annihilation.

These sex differences in response and readership have an important effect on popular erotic iconography. Kinsey pointed out that women do not respond erotically to printed matter anything like as predictably as men, and consequently do not read for direct physical stimulation — there is a whole literature addressed to them in which the erotic element is social. Many of the excesses of the "tough" commercial romance are due to the fact that it is addressed only to men: the heroines are expendable, and not for self-identification, while the two-seater fantasy of Tatius and the cinema, by contrast, is to some extent modified by the fact that it must suit readers of both sexes. Other heroines are sacrificed, quite arbitrarily, to an extension of the Hays convention on adultery: the wages of sexuality are death. Even Hemingway's Catherine goes this way.

We seem in one sense, so far as popular fiction is concerned, to be going back, in the inverse sequence which produced the dying lovers of Tatius and Shelley. They are losing popularity: we are back with Andromeda and, in place of Perseus or Prometheus, the gangster-policeman-special agent born under her constellation. Sometimes he will love her, sometimes he will kill her — not infrequently he will do both, and to a succession of women. We are also back (far more significantly) with a limited amount of genital sexuality among all the killings. The genre has been called "sex-and-violence" fiction. It is arranged pyramidically: soft-backed novels on newsprint at the bottom, glossy paper-covers for the middle class, hard-backs for Cabinet Ministers and the established, and even literature at the top.

At the bottom of the pyramid, rape now supplements murder — near the top, Bulldog Drummond has gone into partnership with Lautréamont and developed an explicit sex-life. With the second of these events I for one would not quarrel. From the point of view of mental health the objectionableness of the modern version lies not particularly in the erotic significance it gives to violence, and least of all in the return of some normal love-making, but in its quality of affectlessness in brutality. This is alarming because we have seen it recently in real life. Indeed, not all sadistic imagery is cruel, and not all cruelty is sadistic: a good deal of the violence in question is spiteful rather than erotic. The authors of paper-backs do not need to manufacture machinery to revive their corpses — the corpses are perfectly acceptable dead. These corpses, moreover, are not Elizabethan, or even Gothic — they are mechanically and affectlessly produced; they purge no emotions because they excite none. They are simply required as décor to produce potency. In older erotic romances, the plot, however arbitrary, is a means of preserving the decencies, and showing that the game, even if it is bloodthirsty, is still a game. The modern romance has no use for nursery games. Accordingly the better it is done, the more alarming it becomes. It may be that there is greater sincerity in accepting the fact that if, in real life, you shoot your woman she will die without benefit of coincidence: modern readers would probably be insulted by mummery with fake bullet-holes, though I think Mr. Fleming, who is nearest of his contemporaries to the spirit of Tatius, would consider them if he had to.

It is worth looking more closely at the sadistic component in this literature, for in reality critical anger over such matter still depends on the content of sex, not the proportion of violence. Let me make it clear that "sex-and-violence" is in all respects an improvement, in my view, on violence alone, even if sex has entered the firm only as a junior partner. Much of literary history since the time of Tatius has been taken up with the attempts of the public to get, and writers to give them, an erotic literature dealing with adult sexual behaviour, and the efforts of a disturbed minority to keep normality out in favour of decent sadism and masochism — to which, as long as they have no genital references, there is no moral objection. If Mr. Spillane had written a contemporary Daphnis and Chloe it would have been banned. Chastelard was indignantly attacked by our grandfathers, not for the hero's erotic rhapsody over decapitation, but because he hid under Queen Mary's bed; and the art of the pornographer, if one can call it that, has long consisted in trying to introduce among decent, patriotic, and even devout abnormality, the elements of normal sex which make it sell.

Sadistic fantasy in a frankly sexual content is itself less mischievous, since less likely to erupt in overt behaviour, than rationalised literary production of sadistic fantasy, and much less infectious by example. There are not many people who imitate Jack the Ripper, and those who do can be segregated; but there are a great many Conservative Party congress delegates who yell their support for flogging, as there are disturbed Americans who regret the decline of the Klan — and they can neither be segregated nor shamed.

We can see another and more specifically sexual origin for pulp novel violence in the stereo-type of the heroines — or the lay figures — with whom the routine of sex-and-violence is enacted. At least they are responsive. They rub themselves against the impending ravisher like cats; they throb, bite, scratch and emit ecstatic cries — they are the women of the Sanskrit erotic textbooks, which classify with great thoroughness several dozen varieties of love-bites, excitatory scratch-marks, erotic blows, and exclamations in intercourse. These women behave, in short, as women of some cultures appear to have behaved, as the reader's girl friend or wife does not behave, and as he very probably wishes she would. Geoffrey Gorer remarks of sex-and-violence literature that "despite all the prohibitions of convention and law people do acquire sexual experience, and for the greater part find out that they have been stuffed with lies — that though pleasant it is not such lasting ecstasy and final solution as art would leave us to suppose; and then they are ready for the other half of our myth, violence". (Bali and Angkor 1936).

* * *

It looks as if the hard-back and soft-back readers have one anxiety in common, whether they ravish women or only bite them: the object of the violence in each case is to secure response, unnecessary, one would have thought, with such provocative women, unless it is only a game. But whereas in real life these lovers would recover their breath, a little bruised and embarrassed by their own vehemence, the characters of fiction keep up the same pre-orgasmal frenzy in their other activities.

These activities are brutal, and either criminal or justified because the persons assaulted are criminals. This consequence flows directly from the other sources of the popularity of the genre at all levels of society. Society conscripts the unestablished reader and kicks him around — if we were not too well brought up we would kick society back: established or unestablished respectability has an ill-defined association with the disappointing frigidity of our women: rough stuff, in our folklore, at least makes women respond, if only by protest. Therefore let us imagine ourselves gangsters, able to kick society, occupationally brutal, whose women are disreputably responsive — if not the mis-fortunes of virtue, at least the prosperities of vice. Better, if we have something substantial to lose from gangsterism, let us be a law above the law — we can then beat the gangsters (who deserve it) and enjoy their women, with a genuflection to righteousness — we have a civilised dislike for violent criminals in real life, and in any case we do not want to be sent down as delinquents.

Erotic sub-fiction is getting steadily more sophisticated, and, at the same time, coming to reflect middle-class tastes in fantasy: — masochism instead of sadism, and modern plumbing. The heroines of paper novels in the 1900's were seduced by their creator's idea of a rich waster in their audience's idea of a Mayfair flat. The new conventions are increasingly those of readers with some experience of love-making in conditions of privacy and with running hot water. At the top of the pyramid the backs are no longer paper, and the experience of the fictional heroes greater. Mr. Fleming's "James Bond", the most experienced of these heroes, and an ex-Naval Commander, does not — I think I am right in saying — commit rape, nor imagine that he can conveniently undress a woman by brute force. He confines himself to willing subjects and has the sense to ask first if they are virgins, though he may bite them as a purely erotic stimulus. The rest of his time is occupied, not so much in killing people, as in being tortured. It is the tone of officerly experience which does the damage here, for it extends to all the masochistic routines which the eponymous hero undergoes, often in confined spaces which suggest a Rankian birth-trauma — or, more probably, memories of engine-room duty. That it is masochism, rather than sadism, is itself an indication of a genre rising in the world and covering-up a little; recently the fantasy is schizoid rather than doggedly mechanical. The soft-back reader, by contrast, still has a realistic perception that in matter of fact it is more blessed to give than to receive, whatever happens in fantasy.

I cannot help feeling that the masochism of the Establishment is not so much decency as cover. It has the ominous half-in-earnest air which "interrogated" persons describe in real-life tormentors. Mr. Fleming's hero chivalrously plays the victim, but I would not trust him to question any Cypriots, of either sex. The Alexandrine hero was spineless, perhaps, but decent and unofficial. The Elizabethan villain — Aaron or Vargas — was painfully moral in his Crowleyan protestations of deliberate wickedness. He does not stand for the approved conduct of society, nor represent the product of a bad upper-class school. But the "special agent" who tortures suspects, ravishes women and for preference shoots them afterwards, is the emissary of Society — or at least he stands for authority and its uses, for the unlimited rights of aggressive behaviour which it confers, and he is expected to carry the admiring acquiescence of his readers. The modern erotic hero at the establishment level is a professional, official, and, in Britain, upper-class bully with enough masochism in him to make him obedient and a little less aware of other people's feelings. When he is cynical, as in Mr. Spillane, one can take him as a satire; he is at his least loveable when he is attached to illiterate, contemporary political stereotypes — Bulldog Drummond's "pacifists" or Mr. Fleming's "Russians" and "chingroes" (half-Chinese, half-Negro), even in a schizophrenic background. Un-fortunately he is also at his most realistic; history is anticipating fantasy. If John Buchan's Richard Hannay was a secret agent and a gentleman, his duties did not in those days include conducting "interrogations" on the Algerian pattern, and taking turns at undergoing them, or inflicting them on his colleagues, by way of training. The world demand for such heroes seems to be increasing rapid as henchmen for chaster and better-rationalised delinquents. Literature will not create them, but it could conceivably educate them. No well-read adolescent, even if he has never been trained to fight "terrorists", would now need to go back to Damhouder's Praxis Rerum Criminalium to find out how to torture somebody. The attitude of such hero-villains to women is of a piece with the rest of their activities. The Greek Perseus left Andromeda on her rock while he haggled with her parents — Mr. Fleming's hero would certainly rescue her, but might make love to her in situ: Mr. Spillane's hero, who "specialises in shooting women in the belly" would presumably rape her first and give her to the monster afterwards.

Much has been made of the class background of the official hero. I doubt if he has any political planning behind him. He has appeared, like all literary figures, in response to the general climate of the times, even if that includes the class anxieties which George Orwell saw in him. But he meets a need of government (all government) which a genuinely erotic literature — one, that is, concerned primarily with the physical expression of love rather than hate — cannot meet. The selectivity of censorship towards sex and in favour of violence has for the most part unconscious origins — but, at the same time, it is no accident that the sort of people who demand an assexual literature are often also the sort of people who control governments and are willing to condone violence by proxy — the springs of prudery, of brutality and of ambition are very often the same. And even if leaderships are not drawn, like volunteer censorships, from emotionally-handicapped people, obedient violence will in any case be more popular with administrations than love. They need manly (and unscrupulous) men; it is not easy to fit the individual who "hugs his kicksy-wicksy here at home, that should sustain the bound and high curvet of Mars his fiery steed" into the machine of comic-book politics. He is lacking in proper offensive spirit — mushy, in fact. Men who get more pleasure from beating up Cypriots, Algerians or Hungarians than from staying at home with the girls are an administrative godsend — men in love, by contrast, tend to be at once tiresomely unwarlike in the cause of Civilisation and violently combative in resisting civic privileges such as conscription or deportation. In fact, when a man does hit back at the machine, love, not principle, is usually behind it.

To this extent the change from last century's recipe of violence alone, the prescribed material for generating manly youths with no sentimental nonsense about them, seems to represent an advance in erotic fiction if only a small one. If the authors of literary comics are working off abnormal preoccupations, I doubt if their readers are — to anything like the same extent. There are several possible reasons other than endemic formal sadism for the popularity of literary violence with the audience — conscripts, young industrial workers, clerks — who are the chief readers of paper-backed novels. (I am less satisfied about the readers of hard-backed novels.) One is the exasperation of current affairs, of life in a society which is two-faced, run by advertisers and confidence men who talk glibly about terminating human history if necessary, and who are equipped with powers of conscription — a society nonetheless in which, through the advent of order and of humane ideas, there are no accessible heads to punch. The bears, dogs and cocks which our ancestors maltreated are protected today against transferred aggression as effectively as Prime Ministers and Secretaries of State, and much more justly. Zeus had a police escort — even the vulture has the Wild Birds Protection Act behind it.

This is the result of a real and important gain in humane sensibility and in civilised behaviour. The ages of faith discharged their irrational aggressions in austerity and persecution; the eighteenth century, to judge from its sports and punishments, in public brutality. We have largely renounced these activities — the super-irrationalities and nuclear weapons and the Cold War do not replace them, because these are primarily the fabrication of a very small minority of persons in office, foisted by them on publics which are at least uneasy and at the most quiescent. There is no private outlet for irrational aggression compatible with our self-respect. The proper alternative is to trans-mute it into rational direct action, purposive and if possible level-headed resentment against abuses, and if necessary against persons, which will bring the rest of society into line with its own moral pretensions. But this is much too hard a discipline for most intellectuals, and the eighteen-year-old conscript, facing the entire apparatus of stage-management, beset by the traps set for him by political leaders, and unused to concerted action without orders, finds this task of transmuting mere resentment into political action intellectually difficult, personally dangerous, and often beyond him altogether. Could one help him? One could certainly try. Commercial popular art studies the natural history of its audience very carefully. More dedicated writers might learn to do the same.

Nordau predicted that humanity would eventually cease to produce art altogether and took as an example the way in which dancing, which is the most important and significant cultural activity in primitive societies, has steadily lost significance until it has become an amusement. Nordau was not a very amiable critic, and I think this view greatly mis-conceives the nature of art, but what Nordau says here of art in general is certainly true of individual art forms, and I think it might well be true of the novel. We now produce two kinds of literature, popular and unpopular. While in our public mind most of us wish to write unpopular literature, because it is honourable to do so, we hope at the same time that its unpopularity will not be enough to prevent it from being sold, or at least from being published. Art forms are subject to natural selection, and it is a matter of eventual fact that work which cannot be published will not be written: writing for a non-existent audience is as barren a satisfaction as praying to a non-existent God. Several factors are now conspiring to increase the unpopularity of fictional genres which could formerly hold their own — the economics of publishing, the disappearance of the audience to whom the former novels were addressed, and the change of public taste.

The novel is a story with some reference to real life — which may not be more than a starting point. I think there are fundamentally only three kinds of novelistic story, special cases apart — three essences, if you like, which can be used to flavour it. There is the social novel, the prose equivalent of comedy or of tragedy, which makes its effect by appealing to our sympathy and experience of ourselves and our neighbours: there is the picaresque novel, which appeals to our need for adventure and rebellion — and there is the erotic novel, which appeals to our sexuality, with its shadow, the anti-erotic novel. The blends and permutations of these themes have been sufficient to sustain the novel as an art form through its whole development. There is a fourth, which is getting common, and which it is in fact increasingly hard to avoid writing: that is the novel which is realistic, but the reality which it depicts is fantasy come to life and enacted in history. In our lifetime a writer possessed by an incubus — the obsessive-compulsive fantasy of Kafka, for example, or the sadistic fantasy of Mirbeau — does not need to invent a situation in which it can be expressed; other similarly preoccupied people in positions of authority are already busy expressing these fantasies in current affairs. Kafka depicting his prison camp, digging his burrow, or trying to get into the castle is relying on his imagination, but today he could equally well be writing documentaries. Mirbeau's erotic torture does not now need to be set in the imaginary Orient. He could almost be writing recent history or biography, and I suspect that one could find current documentary parallels within one day's flying-time of London.

The social ingredient in fiction has helped in the past to keep it on the rails, but it is becoming harder and harder to use, because it depends to some extent on a settled state of society and values. People today read the social novels of the past. If in a contemporary setting one substitutes individual psychology for manners, the result approaches one of the other genres I have mentioned. The picaresque ingredient, in so far as it concerns adventure, particularly the adventures of rebels and masterless men, is again being overtaken by actuality — and actuality is more to the taste of modern readers.

The neotechnic society may well have very little interest in the social novel based on class and character. It seems quite possible that it will prefer to polarise its literary interests between actuality on the one hand and comic-book fantasy on the other. If so Nordau's analogy with dancing will be more than apt, for the only social use which dancing retains, out of its many former uses, is erotic. That does not mean that society will be able to do without other serious art forms — Brave New World, in fact — it might well read the novels of the past, as we read epic poetry of the past, and re-use them in its own tradition. But for anyone to write epic poetry today is evidence of a lack of literary judgment: the unpopular novel of today may be written tomorrow only as the analogue to morris-dancing.

Huxley's prediction was perceptive, because his Brave New World had nominally got rid of psychopathology in private life and of psychopathology in office, albeit by means which reflect Huxley's own scepticism about the possibility of doing so. Future society with nuclear weapons must control both in fact if it is to survive at all, but its success may be partial only — the most frightening risk is that the fantastic-realistic genre of the future will go on being written as now in actual events, not ink, by deranged people who are enacting fantasy instead of discharging it in literature.

The characteristically modern genre of the fantastic is, I suppose, science-fiction. This was originally no more than an imaginative forecast of the possibilities of science, but it has been captured by its literary ancestors, just as the non-scientific romance has been captured by the erotic comic. At one extreme the two are not very different, with jargon playing the part of magic in pre-industrial fantasy, space travel as an erotic setting, and the mad scientist, who is a compound of Prometheus and Faust, playing the part of the wizard at the other, science fiction has become the vehicle through which more than one scientist who is not mad has tried to draw attention to the social activities of non-scientists who are. Nobody has yet made quite this use of the comic — except Voltaire. There is no room here to pursue the ancestry of Utopias and of science fantasy turned satire — it begins perhaps with Lucian and with the Golden Ass and reaches us via More and Gulliver, who stand in the same relation to comic-book science as Candide does to comic-book romance: both owe their sting to the convergence between fantasy and history. Just as Kafka and Mirbeau now sound unpleasantly factual, it is hard to tell whether some of the fantasies of science fiction are paranoiac or merely satirical — the slug-like invaders from outer space who parasitise the will and intelligence by attaching themselves to the base of our skulls come from the same source as the electrical waves by means of which unseen enemies influence the certifiably insane — until we read that as a protection against their activities the U.S. Senate agrees to meet stripped to the waist5, and we find ourselves if not in real life at least close to it,

As I see it, the novel-writer today faces this problem: he has an audience which is increasingly demanding a literary separation of actuality from imagination, but he has also to cope with a triangular relationship between fiction as a vehicle for pure fantasy, fantasy-fiction as a vehicle for satire on society, and a society which is compelled by its leaders to enact pathological fantasies in fact. I have been talking about popular fiction — it may well be that those who wish to write unpopular fiction will opt out, and we shall have the same situation as exists in poetry, which now makes little attempt to address any audience outside the lecture room. There is a certain amount of self-satisfaction to be had from accepting the Third Programme as a ghetto, but the tenure of a literary form which lives on these terms is, to say the least, shaky.

The alternative is to write popular fiction. I think it is safe to say that there is no functioning art form, however poor its execution, which cannot be exploited if one has enough ingenuity. And in any case the process is already in train. If the erotically comic-book genre is growing up from below, the unpopular novel is coming down from above to meet it. Ever since Freud, motif has been steadily gaining at the expense of manner. The notion of writing "popular" fiction as edification suggests the cleaned-up comic-book, in which, instead of secular bloodshed, David slaughters Goliath and Joan of Arc is burned at the stake. My intention here, though less specific than that, is more promising: if only the romance will be read, if motifs are to matter more than treatment, if literature is to be got in edgeways between them, at least the requirements are not more stringent than those stylisations which myth and ceremony imposed on Greek, or Elizabethan taste and politics on Tudor, drama. We need to study the natural history of literature today, not to acquire riches, or not only to acquire riches, but to accept the challenge which social changes always impose on writers; when the philistine says "You must," to reply "I have — see how you like that!" If I knew how to write the type of fiction which would fulfil these requirements today, I would write it — making the assumptions which I have made here, that neurotic anxieties and immaturity are common property, but that my audience is saner than its censors and its leaders, and that the destructive emphasis in literature, as well as in history, are to some extent imposed upon it. Godwin tried to do precisely this in Caleb Williams and St. Leon. If he did not make anarchism popular, at least he inspired Shelley. Graham Greene has attempted the same thing, but without using the crudely fetishistic techniques which the medium really demands. I would rather write like Longus than like Mr. Fleming, but if editors, readers or censors compel me to write like Mr. Fleming in order to be heard — or for that matter like the conformist colleagues of Pasternak — I would make a fair offer to turn any imposed restrictions into horrid arms against their originators.

Not all writers will share my assumptions. But most of them will recognise the symptoms I have described, the depletion, as it were, of the novel and the tendency for it to break up into its component literary genres, and to become a habit-forming drug. The novel has been the literary form par excellence of the period which gave us liberalism and science, but also industrialism and totalitarianism. How much it contributed as a social influence to these gains and losses I would not like to say. Any social influence it had might now be transferred elsewhere. At the same time, as long as stories are read, regardless of what is in them, fiction is still a possible medium.
If, moreover, like so many good people, we are depressed by popular fiction today, or by some alarming things in it, we should remember that Prometheus is not the only signal of cruelty, and Faustian competition to enact the fantasies of deranged people is not the only function of science. Shelley's answer is the right one. Science has made it possible for us to understand some of the relations between psychosymbolism in literature and behaviour in society, or at least to look for them. It has also, by the same token, made it possible to envisage turning psycho-pathology out of history, whether or not we can or should turn it out of literature. What we require is the will. And if indeed the audiences for whom we write are saner than their leaders, and saner than their literature, the writer today, like the doctor and the psychiatrist, has a duty of incitement as well as consolation — for, in Tatius' terms, if Herakles can unbind Prometheus we will not have to worry about the misfortunes of virtue.


1 New Statesman, 5 April, 1958.
2 Spectator, 4 April, 1958.
3 Mario Praz, The Romantic Agony (O.U.P. 1951).
4 F. A Todd, Some Ancient Novels (O.U.P. 1940).
5 R. Heinlein, The Puppet-Masters (New York: Doubleday, 1951).

ALEX COMFORT, born in London, 1920, is a former lecturer in Physiology at the London Hospital. He is now Honorary Research Associate in Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College. He was the author of a notable Freedom Press pamphlet Barbarism and Sexual Freedom, and of Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State (Routledge), several novels, of which the best known is The Power House, and several books of verse and criticism. He is a member of the Committee of 100.

Education, equality, opportunity - John Ellerby

John Ellerby's critique of the British educational system.

Censor gives pleasure to all

The news that a television adaptation of ARISTOPHANES'S Lysistrata has been banned by four West German broadcasting stations on grounds varying from pacifism and political bias to artistic failure and dubious morality will give satisfaction all round. In the first place it will please all who like to see things banned on principle, all haters of literature, and all for whom the faintest suggestion of immorality suffices, without further investigation, for an instant proof of guilt. Then it will please connoisseurs of the ridiculous. It will also please the anti-Germans, and it will please patriots, who will have an occasion for comfortable reflections on the superiority of our own brand of freedom to that enjoyed anywhere else in the "free world". It will please lovers of ancient Greece by its demonstration of the continued potency of Aristophanic satire; the great man was feared then, and he is still feared today. And it will please those who wish to see the message of the play more widely propagated.
—Times Educational Supplement.

Tender Trap

I would make little distinction in value between talking about middle-class youths being groomed for $10,000 "slots" in business and Madison Avenue, or underprivileged hoodlums fatalistically hurrying to a reformatory; or between hard-working young fathers and idle Beats with beards. For the salient thing is the sameness among them, the waste of humanity. In our society, bright lively children, with the potentiality for knowledge, noble ideals, honest effort, and some kind of worthwhile achievement, are transformed into useless and cynical bipeds, or decent young men trapped or early-resigned, whether in or out of the organized system. My purpose is a simple one: to show how it is desperately hard these days for an average child to grow up to be a man, for our present organized system of society does not want men. They are not safe. They do not suit.
—PAUL GOODMAN: Growing Up Absurd.

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.

There is no evidence that the distribution of intelligence either between nations, or among the social classes within nations is anything but random. We cannot really speak of the inhabitants of one country or one social class as being more or less intelligent than those of another. But the intelligence of an individual at birth exists not as a fact but as a potential which has yet to be developed (as the histories of so-called feral children show). The conditions for the greater or lesser development of this potential depend however, on social, economic or political factors. Access to education is unevenly distributed. If a society aimed at the maximum development of the latent talent of every member of its population for some supposed national or social end, it would have to reveal and foster it as early as possible in the individual's life. The principal obstacle to this is the existence of the family, which is one reason why the educational systems of elitist and totalitarian societies are hostile to the family as an institution.

The family is the basic social group, and within it members share the same social status and standard of living, which are determined by the position of the breadwinner in the social and occupational hierarchy. The children thus enjoy or endure a position in this hierarchy which they "inherit". But social and economic status derive in modern society from occupation which in turn derives from education and thus when the children cease to be children their status derives from their access to education. But those with high status have a parental vested interest in preserving the education considered appropriate to their status for their children. We see this very clearly in our own society, and it is equally obvious in theoretically more equalitarian societies. We cannot assume, in any case, that every individual child will put education, or the social fruits of education, high on its list of priorities in life. It has therefore to be presented to the child as a means to economic, or status rewards, or as a rewarding end in itself. The family which has these values will use them to motivate its children. The family which has other values — early earning and independence, working-class solidarity, non-postponement of satisfactions — will not. We may thus say that absolute equality of opportunity and the utmost exploitation of the nation's brain-power — the "pool of ability" as it is called, are not compatible with the continuance of the family system.

This explains why J. M. Pringle's article on the English "public" school system in the February issue of Encounter is called "The British Commune". Mr. Pringle notes that "in every age and in every country, those who have wanted to create loyal and disciplined servants for some cause or party or organisation have recognised that families — and especially the women in the family — are the great obstacle which must be circumvented". The obvious starting point for this argument is Sparta and those ideas in Plato's Republic which derived from Sparta. He sees the most successful of such attempts to be the Roman Catholic Church with its celibate priesthood and its monasteries. And he suggests that the English "in their own typical, unthinking, half-hearted, but efficient way" have evolved their own version of the Platonic idea.

"In the 19th century, when they began to realise the need for a loyal, disciplined class of public servants to rule their rapidly growing empire, they did not insist that the members of this class should remain celibate or should hold their wives in common. More gently — but quite as effectively — they simply took them away from their homes and families from the age of 9 or 10 to 18. They were rightly confident that, after four years in a preparatory school and five years in a public school, these boys would not only be reliable public servants: but would be immune to the persuasion of mothers, sisters and wives who might tempt them to put the interests of their families above the interests of their country. The English version of Plato's republic and the Chinese Commune was the Public School."

He describes the system as "one of the most striking and successful political devices ever conceived by a ruling class." Now you might suppose that, with the decline of empire, the widening of the franchise, and the gradual development of a state system of secondary education, the public schools would be in a state of decline. But this is very far from the case. With new endowments — and the 3½ million pound industrial fund for providing them with science laboratories — they are flourishing as never before. People do not pay three or four hundred pounds a year to place their children in the diminishing ranks of the empire-builders, they pay for the provision of a place in the élite for their children.

Education must always have been one means of upward social mobility for some individuals: the slave scribe in ancient society who became a free man, the young man in ancient China who was selected as qualified to study for the examinations leading to a place in the bureaucracy, the poor boy in mediaeval society who became a priest and the poor boy in the nineteenth century who became a pupil teacher. It is a commonplace that the more the barriers to mobility are removed, the greater the striving for mobility, and now that we have a theoretically complete educational mobility, people are very sensitive to the limits placed upon it. Hence the various investigations during the last ten years demonstrating that the middle-class child has more chance of attending a grammar school than the working class child, that the public school boy has a very much greater chance of attending one of the older universities than a grammar school boy, and that he has an infinitely greater chance of becoming a top civil servant, a captain of industry, an MP, a cabinet minister or a bishop. Here three of the functions which education plays in our society are in conflict: the notion of the maximum use for the state's purpose of the pool of ability, the use by one social class of education as a means of upward social mobility, and the determination of another social class to maintain its hold on the citadels of occupational privilege.

But let us suppose that the privileged private sector of the education system were abolished or transformed or absorbed in some way. Those whose passion was for equality of opportunity would then have to fall back on the "home background" argument which is already used to explain why the middle class draws so much more from the grammar schools than the working class. The next step, both in the interest of equal opportunity and of maximum use of the pool of ability, would be to withdraw children from home backgrounds which did not show the required level of aspiration, presumably by extending the already flexible notion of children being "in need of care and protection" to include being in need of an appropriate educational background, i.e. a middle-class home.

On January 9th the television programme Panorama described a private school which exists to cram children for the 11-plus examination, claiming 75% success in obtaining grammar school places for its products. "The earlier they start to live in a competitive spirit the better" said one parent. "It's too early for art and all that" said another. Art and all that — the basis of primary education in the progressive school has in fact become a consolation for the non-starter. Thus in a "streamed" primary school, the A-stream children bring home in the evening books of tests in arithmetic, English and "intelligence", while the B-streamers bring home models, puppets, baskets — art and all that, for it isn't only private schools which are affected by the parental urge for cramming. A whole series of reports on secondary education, from the Taunton Commission of 1868, the Hadow Report of 1926, the Spens Report of 1938 and the Norwood Report of 1943 have laid down what secondary education should be like, and the primary schools have developed accordingly. The Norwood Report divided the children of the country into three sorts, with three types of mind and three kinds of ability, which conveniently fitted the three types of secondary education available in this country, which were in essence the three grades of school recommended by the original Taunton Commissioners of 1868, who in turn declared that the distinctions between their three grades correspond "roughly but by no means exactly, to the gradations of society."

English education, quite apart from its built-in class bias, is as Michael Young put it, an obstacle race from start to finish, an endless process of selection and rejection with the implied question all the while: Will this horse run well enough to justify his place in the stable? In his radio investigation of "Pressure at Eighteen-Plus", Dr. Young concluded:

"If a child is put at the top table when he is five, he still may not get into the A stream at seven. If he is in the A stream at seven he still may be weeded out later. Many compete but most are rejected, and the sense of failure that results is sometimes psychologically crippling. The way things are going, the schools are in danger of making the Britain of 1960 a nation of failures with only a thin elite of super-trained people at the top."

In his Rise of the Meritocracy, a satire, the point of which consists in projecting into the future the pursuit of the doctrine of equality of opportunity, he looks back on our own day as one where "two contradictory principles for legitimising power were struggling for mastery — the principle of kinship and the principle of merit." Merit wins in the end, and with the perfection of intelligence testing, and consequently with earlier and earlier selection, a new non-self-perpetuating elite is formed of "the five per cent of the population who know what five per cent means." The top jobs go to the top brains, and Payment bybottom people. The people at the bottom are not only treated as inferior: they know they are inferior. But to select the few is to reject the many, and in the meritocratic society new social tensions arise. Although the new working class no longer has men of outstanding intellectual ability, since these have been creamed off by selection, a Populist movement arises, consisting of dissident intellectuals, mainly women, who declare in the Chelsea Manifesto of the year 2009:

"The classless society would be one which both possessed and acted upon plural values. Were we to evaluate people, not according to their intelligence and their education, their occupation and their power, but according to their kindliness and their courage, their imagination and sensibility, their sympathy and generosity, there could be no classes. Who would be able to say that the scientist was superior to the porter with admirable qualities as a father, and civil servant with unusual skill at gaining prizes superior to the lorry-driver with unusual skill at growing roses? The classless society would also be the tolerant society, in which individual differences were actively encouraged as well as passively tolerated, in which full meaning was at last given to the dignity of man. Every human being would then have equal opportunity, not to rise up in the world in the light of any mathematical measure, but to develop his own special capacities for leading a rich life."

This is regarded as merely sentimental by the meritocrats of the future. Today it sounds platitudinous to the mind nourished by the classical socialist and anarchist thinkers, but the immense distance that we are from such a society illustrates how the fertile aspirations of educational reformers have been perverted by social and governmental pressures in the opportunity state, and how disastrously we have lost sight of the individual functions of education.

How far the notion of the "pool of ability" is from the idea of enabling the individual "to develop his own special capabilities for leading a rich life". Who is to go fishing in the pool of ability? The state. For whose purposes is the pool to be dredged? The state's. Are we really worried about pursuing equality of opportunity if it simply means the opportunity to become Top people? How can we possibly talk of parity of esteem, when a grammar school child receives 70% more per year in expenditure than a child in a secondary modern school and nearly double per school life? Especially when we remember that four-fifths of the population attend secondary modern schools and not grammar schools.

We need to affirm today the values implied in the imaginary Chelsea Manifesto. It is not a matter of whether or not a classless society is possible or whether status can be divorced from occupation, but simply one of affirming that "the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as much as the greatest he". It means questioning the social functions that education plays in our society, and stressing the individual functions that it could play. It means affirming the autonomy of the pupil as a person, and not as a tiddler in the pool of ability, the autonomy of the teacher for what he can give his pupil, not for what he can produce to the specification of the government or Imperial Chemical Industries. It means focussing our attention on the classroom at the bottom of the educational hierarchy and not on the room at the top.

The 'new wave' in Britain - Nicolas Walter

A libertarian critique of the "new wave" of British literature, typified by the work of Kingsley Amis and John Braine.

A new wave is breaking on the shores of English literature — or, to be more precise, a new tide has been coming in during the last decade, and its waves are rushing up the beach one after the other. This is not to say that the traditional writers have in any way been superseded — in fact many pre-war writers are still producing work that shows no perceptible falling off at all. There are also many new writers who work in traditional or entirely personal patterns and have produced some of the best work to appear since the War. In the same way, the current vogue for the verse of John Betjeman shows the stamina of poetic tradition despite all the work of Eliot and Pound, Lawrence and Auden, the "Apocalyptics" and the "Movement". Nevertheless, it is possible to observe certain new literary methods and preoccupations coming into use, especially in fiction and drama, and it may be illuminating to see what — if anything — they have in common.

The two key novels in the New Wave are generally thought to be Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim (1954) and John Braine's Room at the Top (1957), but it would be highly misleading to suppose that they are the only significant ones. They are actually both very good novels, with strong plots and straightforward characters and situations, but their significance lies chiefly in the very wide publicity they attracted. It was in a review of Lucky Jim that Walter Allen first pointed out that "A new hero has risen among us" — the intellectual tough or tough intellectual, who has retreated from aestheticism into philistinism, from political commitment into non-committal dissent, from exquisite sensibility into simply decency, and who is sensitive not to what is cruel or wicked, but to what is bogus or phoney. This New Hero rides on the crest of the New Wave.

It was odd that Mr. Allen, who is himself a provincial writer of some distinction — his All in a Lifetime (1959) is an excellent novel — and who rightly compared Lucky Jim with John Wain's Hurry On Down (1953), did not also point out that the New Hero almost always comes from the Provinces and is often obsessed by the idea of London. (It should be noted that most of the writers in the New Wave themselves come from the Provinces, especially the Midlands and the industrial north.) And it was odd that he did not compare Lucky Jim with another earlier novel, Scenes from Provincial Life (1950) by William Cooper (the pseudonym of Harry Hoff, who is five years younger than C. P. Snow but is in every other way very much like him in his career and literary ideas). The sad thing is that none of these three writers has ever done anything as good as his first novel, though Amis and Wain have also written some good poetry and criticism.

Yet another novel with a New Hero before Lucky Jim was Under the Net (1953) by Iris Murdoch, who differs from the other writers in the New Wave not only by being a woman but also by subsequently writing more conventional novels of a very high standard. Even Under the Net was different, its hero being rather like Gulley Jimson in Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth (1944) and more like Murphy in Samuel Beckett's Murphy (1938). (This takes us back to the years immediately before the War, which is also the period in which the Scenes from Provincial Life take place — for the New Wave, the War exists only as an empty gap). It is possible at this point to make out two sides to the New Hero — the provincial ingénu who drifts, and the metropolitan pícaro who explores. The former appears as the hero of Scenes from Clerical Life and Lucky Jim, and then in Thomas Hinde's Happy as Larry1 (1957), Keith Waterhouse's Billy Liar (1959) and Stan Barstow's A Kind of Loving (1960); the hero of Hurry on Down is an ingénu who turns into a pícaro; and it is the pícaro who appears in Under the Net and then in J. P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man (1955) and Colin MacInnes's City of Spades (1957) and Absolute Beginners (1959).

The picaresque tradition is of course an old one in English literature, going back to the pioneers of the novel in the 18th Century and even further to the Elizabethans; so when the New Hero appears as a pícaro he is simply an old hero in modern dress. His importance in the New Wave is that in this guise he can represent an Outsider more thoroughly and convincingly than either the rather negative provincial ingénu or Colin Wilson's unoriginal invention. He may be an American in Dublin, or an Irishman, African or teenager in London; he may be a real person, like Brendan Behan or Frank Norman; and it is no coincidence that Angus Wilson and Simon Raven write, as it were, mental picaresque. With a little more courage Lucky Jim would become a pícaro himself. In every New Hero there is a rogue struggling to get out; and it is when he does so that some of the best post-war fiction has been written.

As well as going out, the New Hero may go up. Give him a dose not of courage but of ambition, and you get John Braine's Room at the Top (1957). This remarkable New Wave novel harks back to great work like Le Rouge et le Noir and has been very successful. What makes it even more interesting is that the right-wing journalist George Scott has already described his own life in Time and Place (1956), revealing himself as a person not at all unlike Joe Lampton. Braine, alas, is yet another author who has never produced anything as good as his first novel. There is no doubt that the "mechanics of success", described by such different people as Colin Wilson and John Osborne, have a damaging effect on the later work of a successful young writer.

It is here that journalists have played their part in the New Wave. At first it looked as if the theatre was unaffected by changes in fiction. Up to 1955 the biggest sensation on the British stage since the War was Waiting for Godot, and semi-nonsensical fantasy has been booming ever since. As well as the work of Ionesco and Beckett himself, there have been many plays by new writers — Nigel Dennis's Cards of Identity (1956) and The Making of Moo (1957), N. F. Simpson's A Resounding Tinkle (1958) and One-Way Pendulum (1959), John Mortimer's The Dock Brief (1958) and I Spy (1958), Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party (1958) and The Caretaker (1960). But in 1956 John Osborne's Look Back in Anger brought the New Wave roaring into the theatre, and it was at this point that the idiotic Fleet Street tag — Angry Young Man"2 — was adopted and used freely when any writer under the age of 40 wrote anything at all unconventional. Exactly the same thing has happened more recently with the word "Beatnik", and very much the same fate overtook the young writers in the Thirties. The really irritating thing is that while Osborne is an angry young man, very few of the other people who have been given the title deserve it at all; Kingsley Amis and John Braine, for example, could be called impatient or conceited, but hardly angry in the way Lawrence and Orwell were angry. One genuinely angry young man is Dennis Potter, whose revealing book The Glittering Coffin (1960) showed a real New Hero coming from the provinces to Oxford and also showed how bad anger is for coherent writing (though Osborne can do it, as in his contribution to Declaration). In general the New Wave is not really an angry movement at all.

There is another angry young man, though, who has written good stuff. This is Alan Sillitoe, whose Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1959) are two of the best things in the New Wave. His heroes have the courage to be pícaros, but they prefer the bloody-minded life of semi-delinquents (sometimes not so "semi" either). His attitude is revolutionary anarchism verging on sheer nihilism, more extreme than any other New Wave writer except Osborne; but, significantly, they both remain individualists, giving full allegiance to no party or ideology. Indeed one of the most interesting things about the New Wave is that, while most of its members are left-wing and some give qualified support to the Labour Party or the nuclear disarmament campaign, there is no organised political philosophy to be found among them — they are what Amis called "political romantics", instinctive nonconformists. Dissent is far more characteristic of the New Wave than anger.

Look Back in Anger was the first play in the New Wave, and one of the worst. Osborne followed up his success with The Entertainer (1957), which was even worse and was saved only by its nostalgic topicality and Olivier's acting. Since then his work — represented by a musical and a television play — has been more interesting than impressive. Probably his best work is to be found in his journalism (which resembles that of Kenneth Tynan) and in an earlier play written in collaboration with Anthony Creighton, Epitaph for George Dillon. Incidentally, it is worth noting that, had The Ginger Man been published in London rather than Paris, Donleavy might have received much of the publicity that went to Osborne, for he described a situation much like that of Look Back in Anger much more convincingly; the dramatised version of his novel didn't have nearly as much impact in 1959 as it would have had in 1956.

Osborne had been forestalled in another way too, for Brendan Behan's The Quare Fellow (1956), which opened in the same month as Look Back in Anger, was a better play and subsequently had more influence. The London theatres which produced these two plays — the Royal Court in Sloane Square and the Theatre Royal in Stratford — have been the double cradle of the theatrical New Wave (though the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry has also done valuable work). It is ironical that the predominantly provincial novelists and dramatists of the New Wave owe their success to publishing and theatrical companies in London.

Despite Osborne's example, things only began moving in 1958 — the year of Behan's The Hostage, Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey, Arnold Wesker's Chicken Soup with Barley, John Arden's Live Like Pigs and Willis Hall's The Long and the Short and the Tall (as well as plays of other kinds by Doris Lessing, Bernard Kops and Peter Shaffer, who are on the fringe of the New Wave). In 1959 came Frank Norman's musical Fings Ain't Wot They Used t'Be, John Arden's Sergeant Musgrave's Dance and Arnold Wesker's Roots. In 1960 the tide fell a little, but there were still Arnold Wesker's I'm Talking About Jerusalem, Alun Owen's Progress to the Park and Shelagh Delaney's The Lion in Love. No doubt many of these plays will never be produced again, since they often depend more on being lively than on being well-written, but at least the deathly cosy hush of the ten years following the War has been shattered.

Many of these plays have been foolishly criticised for dealing with low life — middle-class adultery is still thought to be more elevating than working-class fornication. The simple reply to attacks on "kitchen sink drama" is that there is still plenty of drawing-room french-window nonsense in the West End to satisfy all the people who are offended by Brendan Behan or Shelagh Delaney. It might also be worth inquiring why murder and sudden death are preferable to crime and prostitution.

It has been far more difficult for the New Wave to invade the cinema than the theatre, partly for commercial and partly for social reasons — films involve large sums of money and large audiences. In general the British cinema is deplorably deficient in good creative work. There have been some recent films like Woman in a Dressing Gown and The Man Upstairs, but farce and melodrama usually win — as in I'm All Right Jack and The Angry Silence. Nevertheless, there have been the Free Cinema productions, linked in particular with the names of Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz, and there have been films of some of the novels and plays of the New Wave. On the whole these have been disappointing; the Osborne plays sound dreadfully artificial on the screen, and Lucky Jim is best forgotten; but Room at the Top was good, and many others are on the way. By far the best to date is Karel Reisz's production of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which is certainly one of the best British films ever made. What one hopes for in the future is not so much a series of screen versions of books and plays as some creative film work along the lines of Free Cinema and the American film Shadows. The same is true of television, which could make up for the fact that serious fiction and drama are tabu for most of the population of the country, but shows few signs of doing so.

The first thing to say about what I have called the New Wave is that it is not in any way an organised movement — even less so than the Bloomsbury group or the left-wing poets in the Thirties. More than any comparable literary movement, perhaps, its members are highly individualistic writers and people; though there are of course some cliques, notably that surrounding Colin Wilson (but then he scarcely belongs to the New Wave anyway). But the names I have mentioned do have more in common than being born mostly between 1922 and 1932 and becoming successful between 1950 and 1960. To begin with, they write mostly novels and plays (though Christopher Logue is a poet), and — as we have seen — they tend to come from the provinces and to write about provincial people. Geoffrey Gorer has noted that their heroes tend to marry above themselves. Many people have pointed out that they like to cock a snook at the Establishment but appreciate the approval of the Establishment if they can get it; Somerset Maugham called them "scum" but they are glad to get his prize if they can.

They are constantly preoccupied with certain problems, such as nuclear and colonial war, the tension between generations and that between classes. It will be objected that these are old problems, but the point is the way they are handled — the generation-struggle is not the open war of Ann Veronica, but more a matter of bewildered incomprehension; the class-struggle is not between capitalists and workers (or prefects and fags), but between the cultured and the uncultured; the accentless and the accented, the whites and the coloured — the haves and the have-nots defined in a subtler sense than Marx ever knew; and the attack on war is made not in the direct terms of Sassoon or Aldington, but in indirect and often allegorical terms.

The plays are, as might be expected, more poetic and rhetorical than the novels, and they tend to be more urgent and disturbing. Even so their messages are usually oblique — The Hostage and Sergeant Musgrave's Dance are quite different from Death of a Hero and All Quiet on the Western Front. (When, however, we are given realism, it is frighteningly realistic — compare The Long and the Tall and the Short with Journey's End). It is true to say that nearly all comment in the New Wave is oblique. The only thing that is always condemned outright is the bogus; the worst thing a New Hero can say about someone is, after Holden Caulfield, that he is "strictly phoney". And even this condemnation must be spontaneous, for sophistication is nearly as bad as phoneyness — the New Wave owes more than it knows to Lawrence and Orwell. Its tone is personal rather than general, emotional rather than intellectual, insular rather than cosmopolitan (remember Amis's I Like It Here), wary rather than bold, ironical rather than idealistic.

But although the New Wave is not orthodox littérature engagée, it is "committed" all the same. It has already been noted that the authors are mostly left-wing, tending towards pacifism and individualism. Their commitment is essentially autonomous and antinomian, adhering to no ideology and demanding no shibboleths — it is commitment in the age of the Cold War, the Welfare State and the Affluent Society. The New Wave is above all an unorganised and muddled phenomenon. Even when it produces something more specific, the message is still highly personal — I'm Talking about Jerusalem is an odd socialist play, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner is an odd revolutionary story, Mankowitz's My Old Man's a Dustman (1956) is an odd anarchist fable and required reading for anyone interested in modern anarchism. Everything is likely to be stood on its head: failure is interpreted as a form of unexpected success; laughter is better than tears; irony is better than anger.

I think the New Wave may turn out to be important. It represents an attempt to bring literature back into contact with life as it is lived (this is a particular concern of Arnold Wesker), and in effect to free English literature from wholly aesthetic preoccupations and — as John Holloway has pointed out — from continental influences. By rejecting recent tradition, its members have unwittingly returned to a tradition older in this country than either artistic elegance or thorough-going commitment — the tradition of Dekker and Defoe and Dickens, a narrow but deep tradition, red-blooded and rich, obstreperous and soft-centred, noisy and affectionate. Teenagers and the New Left and the Aldermaston Marches are more human and humane than Bright Young Things and the Popular Front and the Hunger Marches. Perhaps the rather confused and careless writers of the New Wave have helped to make Britain itself more human and humane. The pícaro with the heart of gold may for all we know be one of the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

NICOLAS WALTER, born in London, 1934, is the third generation of an anarchist family. He learned Russian at the expense of the RAF, and Modern History at Oxford. After teaching for a year and working for several publishers for two more, he is now engaged on political research. He is a member of the National Council for Civil Liberties and the Committee of 100.

  • 1. where he is a Londoner, for a change.
  • 2. which did not apparently come from Leslie Paul's book of that name.

Anarchy #002

Issue of Anarchy from April 1961 with articles about workers' control, the building industry, syndicalism and more.

anarchy-002-OCR.compressed.pdf4.15 MB

Workers' control: looking for a movement

Anarchy magazine on the contemporary movement for workers' control.

The split between life and work is probably the greatest contemporary social problem. You cannot expect men to take a responsible attitude and to display initiative in daily life when their whole working experience deprives them of the chance of initiative and responsibility. The personality cannot be successfully divided into watertight compartments, and even the attempt to do so is dangerous: if a man is taught to rely upon a paternal authority within the factory, he will be ready to rely upon one outside. If he is rendered irresponsible at work by lack of opportunity for responsibility, he will be irresponsible when away from work too. The contemporary social trend toward a centralised, paternalistic, authoritarian society only reflects conditions which already exist within the factory. And it is chiefly by reversing the trend within the factory that the larger trend outside can be reversed. — GORDON RATTRAY TAYLOR: "Are Workers Human?"

Nearly everyone agrees with Rattray Taylor's view in theory: the differences emerge when we talk of the steps needed in practice. On one side there are those who talk of profit-sharing, co-partnership (not the co-operative kind), and 'participation' which may mean anything from co-opting ex-trade union officials to the boards of nationalised industries, to a suggestion box for ideas on improving the works lavatories. In the middle there are those equally vague slogans for making public ownership of industries more attractive, which come from Labour politicians or Marxist ideologists, when they realise that nationalisation either on the Soviet or the western pattern is hardly likely to harness the aspirations of those whose socialism means something more than state-controlled capitalism. Finally there are those who denounce as reformist illusion everything short of a revolutionary general strike, and regard the "day-to-day industrial struggle" purely in terms of its tactical value in preparation for a day which seemed imminent fifty years ago, distant thirty years ago, and infinitely remote today.

All these approaches have their counterpart in social thought. At one end there are what the Americans call "cow sociologists" — working on the theory that contented cows produce more milk, and that workers must be similarly tranquillized. In the middle there are those sociological and psychological thinkers who see the authoritarian structure of industry and the "subhuman condition of intellectual irresponsibility" to which the organisation of work in contemporary society is said to reduce the worker, as enemies of individual and social health. Finally there are those who, like Sorel (who welcomed syndicalist militancy in France not for the sake of the ends it sought, but because he thought that a revolutionary "myth" kept the workers from decadence), see industrial militancy as a healthy symptom in society, without regard to its aims. Thus in the recent television series Challenge to Prosperity, Dr. Tom Lupton of Birmingham College of Technology declared that the so-called restrictive practices were probably socially desirable since the perpetual battle of wits with authority fosters working-class cohesion and sense of community, and Mr. John Mack of Glasgow University remarked in January that the unofficial shop steward organisations were creating small centres of resistance to large-scale control both in industry and in the trade unions themselves, and went on, "They are sometimes mischievous, They are often a nuisance. They are also and mainly centres of social health".

Anarchists are interested in the idea of workers' control, not as a revolutionary myth nor as an indicator of the "health" of society, but as a manifestation of the struggle for personal and social autonomy which is the aim of every school of anarchist thought. But agitation for workers' control, as Peter Sedgwick remarks in a recent article,1 "can be rather like boxing with a statue of blancmange: the opponent yields so readily to the blow that one's fist may be trapped inside the mess of gooey assent." Nothing, he notes, is left from the torrential demand of the second decade of this century (chronicled in Branko Pribicevic's study The Shop Stewards' Movement and Workers' Control 1910-1922) except for

"some bottled samples of the dead flow, analysed painstakingly and labelled with care, the Guild Socialist library, the Independent Labour Party pamphlet, the article in FREEDOM. We have the brave resolution and the detailed blue-print; but the movement where is it?"

Where indeed is the movement? The first attempt, since the collapse of Guild Socialism in the twenties, to institute such a movement, was the formation at the end of 1948of the London League for Workers' Control. A new attempt is being made today following the Rank and File Industrial Conference sponsored by delegates from five small left-wing groups including the London Anarchist Group and the Syndicalist Workers' Federation, which was held on January 29th. The Conference was largely procedural. It voted itself into existence as the National Rank and File Movement, it voted in a long list of functions for its Liaison Committee and elected the committee members, and it voted its approval of an initial statement declaring, among other things that

"Workers must come together and lay the basis of an organisation which will fight to defend their present interests and, in doing so, organise to enable working people to run industry' themselves."

Whether or not this new movement is to have more than a nominal existence depends upon the Success with which it is able to link short. term and long-term aims. No justification need be made for rank-and. file movements in industry as such. The remoteness and bureaucratisation of the trade union structure is a matter of common observation. The "built-in" obstacles to reforming them from below emerge from such studies as Goldstein's The Government of British Trade Unions. The futility of setting up rival "militant" unions is shown by the history of the dockers' "blue" union. The failure of the unions to meet the challenge of the Government's carefully manoeuvred wages policy was illustrated in Richard Clements' Glory Without Power. The success within its own terms, of unofficial rank-and-file action is demonstrated in John Hughes' study "The Rise of the Militants" in Trade Union Affairs, where, discussing the Yorkshire coalfield strikes, he concludes that:

"The machinery of conciliation and arbitration had not safeguarded the earnings of the lower-paid men; the NUM is already moving to restore the official strike to its armoury. It is not entirely irrelevant, therefore that in the 1950's local and unofficial strike action wrested improved earnings that the machinery of conciliation and arbitration was unlikely to have conceded without such pressure."

The long-term aim, workers' control, was scarcely discussed at all at the Rank-and-File conference, except by a few speakers who remarked that the increasing responsibilities and technical "know-how" of the new kind of worker in advanced industries made the whole idea more. and not less feasible. The "movement" in fact does not yet exist, and if the vague aspiration is to be clothed with something more than lip- service, we have to re-examine the history of the idea and its applications, not as a museum of bottled samples, but in order to fill out the slogan with meaning and direction.
The point of view of most of our contributors can be summed up in Ken Alexander's declaration in his essay "Power at the Base" in the symposium Out of Apathy:

"it is from workers' desire to change the character of their lives — working and leisure — that the motive pawer for social change must come. The Guild Socialist policy of 'encroaching control' indicates how industrial action, economic power exercised by workers, can be used to set in motion basic changes in industrial organisation and indeed in society. A few simple aims — for example, control over hire and fire, over the 'manning of the machines' and over the working of overtime — pressed in the mast hopeful industries with the aim of establishing bridgeheads from which workers' control could be extended, could make a beginning. The factors determining whether such demands could be pressed successfully are market, industrial organisation and, more important, the extent to which the nature of their work compels the workers to exercise same control."

This kind of conclusion is reached by Geoffrey Ostergaard in his authoritative historical survey, since, like James Lynch, he recommends a wider exploration of the collective contract, and by Reg Wright in his account, from the inside, of the gang system. But even Allan Flanders, who is an eminent and not very radical thinker on industrial relations has observed that

"Whatever the virtues of the collective contract it is not an idea that is likely to rally a new crusade among those far whom industrial democracy is an ideal, vague perhaps but reaching beyond strong unions and collective bargaining. One can hear them asking: has a mountain laboured to bring forth this mouse and one with grey hairs at that?"

But the "pure" syndicalist approach has its pitfalls too, as Philip Holgate's study of syndicalist mass movements in three countries shows. (Hugh Clegg remarks that the revolutionary syndicalists were so concerned to preserve the virginal purity of their independence that they advocated no agreements with employers' and that if this advice had been accepted the unions would have remained impotent.) The attractiveness of the approach of "encroaching control" is that it could combine effective day to day means with radical ends.

  • 1. P. Sedgwick: Workers' Control (International Socialism 3, Winter 1960-61).

Approaches to industrial democracy - Geoffrey Ostergaard

Critique of various approaches to industrial democracy and workers' control by Geoffrey Ostergaard.

The ideal of industrial democracy is as old as the Labour Movement and has its roots in the conditions which gave rise to an organised socialist movement in the early 19th century. Of these conditions the most important was the destruction of the hitherto generally prevailing 'domestic system' of production, under which the worker owned his own tools, and its replacement by the factory system, under which the means of production were owned by others. A concomitant of this change was the widespread adoption of the wage system, The independent craftsman or peasant was transformed into the industrial proletarian who, in order to live, found himself compelled to sell his labour power to the owners of the new factories. Under this wage-system, capital employed labour, labour was treated as a commodity and, as part of his bargain with the capitalist, the wage worker surrendered all control over the organisation of production and all claim to the product of his labour.

The patent injustice of this system suggested to the first generation of socialists an obvious alternative. Instead of working for capitalists, the workers should work for themselves — not individually, as under the pre-industrial system, but collectively or, to use the then current phrase, 'in association'. They should pool their limited savings, invest them in the means of production, and institute a system of mutual self-employment. In this way, the workers would escape the wage system, together they would retain control of the product. Capital would be put in its proper place as the servant of labour; labour would employ capital, not capital, labour; and the worker would once more regain the dignity of being his own master instead of being treated as a marketable commodity.

This, in essence, was the first approach to industrial democracy — the co-operative approach. It is the approach favoured by none other than that doyen of mid-19th century bourgeois economists, John Stuart Mill. In a chapter of his famous Principles of Political Economy concerned with 'The Probable Futurity of the Labouring Classes', Mill predicted: "The form of association … which if mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief, a workpeople without a voice in management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with which they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves".

The history of the 19th century is studded with attempts by groups of workers to apply this approach to industrial democracy. Most of these attempts were unsuccessful, but not all. At the present time there exist in this country some forty or so worker co-operatives, mainly in the footwear, clothing and printing trades, which exemplify this original approach. These cooperative co-partnerships are of course, to be sharply distinguished from the more numerous retail and wholesale co-operatives which substitute democratic consumer for capitalist control but introduce no modifications in the wage system. Taken together the co-operative co-partnerships constitute an insignificant part of the national economy but they remain nevertheless the clearest examples of a form of socialised production which goes beyond the wage system.

The limitations of the co-operative approach are obvious. One of the major obstacles to the extension of the co-operative system of production was the workers' lack of capital and it is no accident that the industries in which co-partnerships have become established are those requiring comparatively little capital and where labour costs constitute a large proportion of aggregate costs. More important, the whole approach was grounded on the assumption that co-operatives could peacefully compete the capitalists out of existence. The workers were to build up the new system inside the capitalist framework with the object of eventually superseding capitalism: they were to build up their own capital, not to take over anybody else's.

The questioning of this social pacifist assumption led to· the development of a new approach to industrial democracy-that of the syndicalists. In essence, the syndicalist idea was simple. The workers had already developed protective organisations in the shape of trade unions to defend their interests vis-a-vis the capitalist employers: why should not these same organisations be used to supplant capitalism? Instead of merely fighting for better wages and conditions, the trade unions should, in addition, aim at winning control of industry. On this theory, the unions had a dual role to perform: first, to defend the interests of workers in existing society, and secondly, to constitute themselves the units of industrial administration in the coming socialist society.

It was this approach to industrial democracy which was adopted by the classical syndicalist movement in the decade before the First World War and by its successor, the guild socialist movement. There were some important differences between the two movements. Syndicalism was essentially a proletarian movement which pinned its faith on direct revolutionary industrial reaction culminating in the social general strike: guild socialism, in contrast, was largely a movement of bourgeois intellectuals which, while supporting direct action, hoped to see workers' control introduced as a constitutional reform through the State. There was a further difference in their attitude to management. Broadly, the syndicalists regarded the managers as mere lackeys of the capitalist class and saw no problem in the workers, through their unions, taking over the functions of management. The guildsmen, on the other hand, were more conscious of the complexities of industrial administration; they saw the need for managers and insisted that the democratically organised industrial union, to be transformed into a guild when it became a unit of industrial organisation, should include technical and administrative workers — 'the salariat' — as well as the rank-and-file manual workers.

Both movements, however, shared the same central idea — industrial democracy through trade union control of industry — and both may be seen in part as a reaction against State Socialist doctrines whether adumbrated by the reformist Fabians and Labourites or by the revolutionary Marxists. Nationalisation by itself, both the syndicalists and guildsmen declared would make no essential difference to the status of the worker. Under bureaucratic State ownership the worker would remain alienated from the means of production. He would be working for the State and not a private capitalist, but he would still be a wage-worker and, as such, treated essentially as a commodity, a factor of production, rather than as a human being with inalienable rights. In short, State Socialism was only another name for State Capitalism.

During the period 1912-1925 guild socialism exerted a considerable influence on the Labour Party's nationalisation policy. Bureaucratic nationalisation on the model of the Post Office was discredited and industrial democracy as the necessary complement of political democracy became an axiom of Labour ideology. But instead of guild socialism being swallowed outright, a compromise was effected between the old and the new. The form this compromise first took is best seen in the Miners' Nationalisation proposals laid before the Sankey Commission of 1919. A quasi-independent form of administration was to be set up, under which the State and the Miners' Federation would exercise 'joint control', the State appointing half and the Federation the other half, of members of management boards at all levels. This compromise was rejected by the syndicalists as a snare and a delusion but was accepted by the guildsmen and the miners as a step towards the establishment of a fully self-governing Mining Guild which would have complete control of the industry.

In retrospect it is now clear that the acceptance of this compromise was a fateful step for the protagonists of industrial democracy to take. It marked the beginning of a process of watering-down the concept of industrial democracy as hitherto understood and the development of a new approach — that of participation in management. In an effort to counteract the movement for workers' control, 'enlightened' employers, spurred on by the Government, put forward the idea of joint consultation. The right of workers to be consulted on matters outside the scope of the traditional areas of collective bargaining — wages and conditions — was admitted, while at the same time management was clearly to remain in effective control. Joint consultation represents in effect a spurious concession by management in the name of democracy to ward off challenges to its prerogatives.

It was not to be expected that industrial democrats brought up in the guild socialist movement would accept this concession at its face value. But, having promoted the idea of 'joint control', they found it difficult to combat joint consultation except in terms of workers' representation on management boards. Inevitably, the notion of workers control began to be associated with the idea of workers' representation and, perhaps equally inevitably, once the guild movement had collapsed. the industrial democrats found themselves committed to the view that any representation of the workers was better than none. For the last generation, in fact, the main debate on industrial democracy within the British Labour Movement has been conducted in terms of joint consultation versus workers' representation. And in this debate the 'radicals' have steadily lost ground.

When in the early '30s the Labour Party adopted the Public Corporation as its chosen instrument for the nationalisation of basic industries, it was round the question of the composition of the governing boards that controversy centred. The unofficial leadership, with Morrison as its chief spokesman, came out for the non-representative board — the so-called corporate board of ability — appointed wholly by the Government; the right of the workers to participate in management was acknowledged but it was to take the form of joint consultation with the trade unions having no more than advisory powers. The critics opposed this and claimed 50% direct representation by the trade unions. The claim was rejected, so the critics reduced their claim and have been steadily reducing it ever since. Over the past 25 years the idea of workers' representation has been successively whittled away. If not half the seats on management boards, then less than half; if such members are not to be appointed by the trade unions, then at least nominated by the trade unions; if not nominated by the trade unions, then at least one trade union leader to be appointed by the Government. Until we reach the feeble demand. expressed frequently in the post-war years at Labour Party and Trade Union conferences. for 'more trade unionists', meaning by that, of course, 'more ex-trade unionists', on the boards.

The reason why the idea of workers' representation has met this fate is not wholly explained by the superior forces of managerial socialism ranged behind the Morrisonian concept of the public corporation. There are many within the Labour Movement who are deeply conscious of the inadequacies of the present set-up in nationalised industries and who feel that no amount of joint consultation will suffice to give the workers a genuine sense of democratic participation in the control of their working lives. But the industrial democrats in choosing to fight over the issue of workers' representation — or, more strictly, trade union representation — have chosen badly. Intellectually, they have a weak case whose defects it has been only too easy to expose.

The case against trade union representation was most persuasively stated by Hugh Clegg in his Industrial Democracy and Nationalisation, 1951. To argue that the trade unions should appoint representatives to serve on management boards is to assert in effect, that the unions should be both in the government of industry and, at the same time, outside it. If the unions are to remain partly outside, as the system of joint control envisages, it must be because they have a function to perform: to defend their members' interests vis-a-vis those of management. But how can they perform this latter role effectively if, at the same time, they are partly responsible, through their representatives, for managerial decisions? The two roles — defending the workers' interests and participating in managerial decisions — inevitably conflict. The trade union representatives on boards would be faced with an insoluble conflict of loyalties. The trade unions, therefore, Clegg concluded, must firmly avoid accepting any responsibility for managerial decisions; the role cast for them is that of being the permanent opposition in industry. Industrial democracy, as well as political democracy, depends for its existence on an active opposition which is able to prevent the arbitrary exercise of power by the government — in this case, the management. At the same time joint consultation is to be encouraged by a means of improving relations between the government and the governed, but it must remain consultation: any attempt to go beyond it, to give the workers a share in executive responsibility. will simply result in the dilemma of a conflict of roles for the workers' representatives.

The plausibility of Clegg's arguments was undeniable. Both the Labour Party and the TUC have accepted them and repeated them in recent declarations of policy such as Public Enterprise, 1957. We may, apparently, hope and work for improved forms of joint consultation but the two side of industry — employer and employed, management and labour — are to remain as a permanent and inescapable feature of industrial organisation. Until eternity, it seems, the destined role of the trade unions is to oppose management in the interests of the employees, while at the same time supporting, wherever possible, co-operation between management and labour in the shape of joint consultation.

There is, it must be admitted, something ironic in the situation the industrial democrats find themselves in. It was the syndicalists and guildsmen who raised aloft the banner of industrial freedom and denounced the slavery inherent in the wage system. But it is their opponents who have stolen this particular piece of thunder. It is now the critics of workers' representation who present themselves as the defenders of industrial freedom. In stressing the opposition role of the unions, they can claim that they are preserving the rights of the workers vis-a-vis management, which the advocates of representation are in danger of conceding in return for a dubious share in control.

In this unhappy situation the appearance of another book by Hugh Clegg with the promising title, A New Approach to Industrial Democracy,1 encourages expectations. Perhaps here we might find a review of the earlier approaches, a systematic analysis of their deficiencies, and an attempt to explore a new path towards the realisation of the old ideal. Alas, these expectations are largely unfulfilled. With one significant exception, this 'new approach' leaves us very much where we are. The bulk of the book may be put alongside other socialist revisionist literature of recent years, all tending to demonstrate that what we have now is almost.(but not quite) the best of all possible worlds.

Clegg's essay had its origin in a conference organised in 1958 by the Congress for Cultural Freedom on the subject of Workers' Participation in Management. Clegg draws upon the material presented in papers by representatives from fifteen countries and part of his book, consequently, provides a useful introduction to post-war developments in this field in places like Germany, Jugoslavia and Israel. The rest consists of a not very satisfactory historical review of the idea of industrial democracy, in which the co-operative approach is wholly ignored, and the elaboration of a theory of industrial democracy, the principles of which, he asserts, have been gradually revealed in the behaviour of trade unions in Western democracies over the last thirty years.

The originality of Clegg's contribution to discussions of industrial democracy consists largely in this application to industry of recent developments in the theory of democracy. As formulated by 18th and 19th century radicals, democracy was seen as essentially a system of self-government, a mechanism by which the people themselves, either directly or indirectly, through representatives, made the decisions they had to obey. This classical theory, in its representative form, placed emphasis on the importance of elections and on majority decisions which were to be taken as the practical expression of 'the will of the people'. The theory rested on individualistic and rationalistic assumptions and made no provision for groups in the political process.

Partly as a consequence of the questioning of its individualistic and rationalistic assumptions in the light of increased psychological and sociological knowledge and, more especially, as a result of the rise of mass dictatorships in the 20th century using representative elections as plebiscites to justify their claims to express the will of the people, theorists in recent decades have rejected as inadequate the notion of democracy as self-government. In any large-scale organisation, they have pointed out, self-government is no more than a myth: the important decisions are inevitably taken by the few, not by the many. Wanting above all to distinguish Western political systems from the bastard 'true democracies' of Fascism or the 'people's democracies' of the Soviet bloc, some of them have seized upon the existence of legitimate opposition as the key concept of democracy. More recently, to this has been added the notion of a free play of independent pressure groups all seeking to influence government decisions and taken as a whole, providing a neat balance of social forces in which individual rights and liberty are maintained. Organised party opposition and pressure groups ensure, it is claimed that the few who do, and must, take decisions will not act arbitrarily: hence the system can justly be called responsible democracy.

Using this kind of intellectual apparatus, Clegg argues, in effect, that the older industrial democrats were pursuing an impossible ideal: industrial self-government. However, if we abandon the notion that democracy means self-government and realise that 'the essence of democracy is opposition', then industrial democracy becomes a live possibility. And, what is more, when we look at industrial organisation in Western countries, we find that we have already achieved industrial democracy! "In all the stable democracies there is a system of industrial relations which can fairly be called the industrial parallel of political democracy. It promotes the interests and protects the rights of workers and industry by means of collective bargaining between employers and managers on the one hand and, on the other, trade unions independent of government and management. This could be called a system of industrial democracy by consent, or pressure group industrial democracy, or democracy through collective bargaining."

Starting from this new conception of democracy it is not surprising to find that the three main elements in Clegg's theory of industrial democracy are: (i) that trade unions must be independent both of the state and of management, (ii) that only the unions can represent the industrial interests of workers, and (iii) that the ownership of industry is irrelevant to industrial democracy.

As a result of his survey of foreign experience, Clegg is prepared to qualify a little the first two principles. The German system of 'Co-determination' in which the workers elect one-third of the members of the Supervisory (not Management) Boards of firms and in which Works Councils have the right to exercise 'co-determination' over a wide range of matters, such as times of starting and finishing, training schemes, payment by results and hiring and firing, has not, apparently, undermined the position and influence of the trade unions. Nor, it seems, does the Histradut, the Israeli trade union federation which is that country's largest industrial concern, find itself in an impossible position because it is both a management and a trade union body. This suggests. that British trade unions could adopt a much less narrowly restricted view about their need for independence from management than they have done in the past. Independence from government is another matter.

page 43

Clegg is clearly sceptical about the large claims made for the Jugoslav system of 'workers' control'. The Workers' Councils there may be less dominated by the Communists than is sometimes supposed but the, latter's influence is pervasive. In Clegg's judgment, the Jugoslav trade unions lack sufficient independence to be considered adequate instruments for defending the interests of the workers. Despite their break with Moscow, the Jugoslavs have not abandoned the Marxist assumption that in a 'workers' state' there can never be any difference of interests between the workers and the government.

Although German and Israeli experience suggest that the trade unions generally could, without danger, adopt a more positive role towards participation in management Clegg doubts whether in practice German and Israeli workers have more influence in industrial decision-making than British or U. S. A. workers. Co-determination is more appropriately seen as a way of extending the pressure group influence of the workers when they lack a strong trade union movement. The whole tenor of Clegg's argument, in fact, is against the idea of 'participation in management'. In this respect, he has shifted away from the position he took up in 1951. He is no longer an enthusiast for joint consultation as a method of achieving industrial democracy. Joint consultation has not fulfilled the hopes of its protagonists: it is no more than 'an occasionally useful adjunct to existing practices'.

The weakness of Clegg's whole position is most clearly seen in his discussion of the third element of his theory — the irrelevance of public ownership to industrial democracy. Its irrelevance is, of course, a simple consequence of the theory of democracy he adopts. If all that industrial democracy means is a system of collective bargaining in which the trade unions act as influential pressure groups, opposing management in the interests of their members, then clearly ownership is irrelevant. One is as likely to get it in private as in public enterprise. This principle of Clegg's, which ties in so neatly with current revisionism, is a curious perversion of the argument of the older industrial democrats. The latter argued, correctly, that public ownership in itself would make no essential difference to the workers' status. At the best. it would simply involve a change of masters; at the worst, it would result in a more tyrannical master, since the State would be a more powerful boss than any private capitalist. From this, they concluded that the workers must become their own masters. They did not conclude that ownership was irrelevant but only that it was not a sufficient conditions of industrial democracy. The abrogation of the rights of private capitalists still remained a necessary condition, in so far as ownership carried with it the right to control.

The validity of Clegg's theory depends upon his conception of democracy. Even if we accept that Western political systems are properly to be described as democratic, it is doubtful whether the 'essence' of these systems lies in the existence of opposition. Their essence, if anything, lies in their maintenance of a system whereby, through elections, the mass of citizens can turn out of office one set of political leaders and put in another. Opposition only comes into the picture as a consequence of free competition among the political elite who are out to win sufficient votes to put their 'team' into office. And even then the system would not be described as democratic unless the mass of citizens had equal political rights, symbolised by the right to vote. Modem industry, with its machinery of collective bargaining. provides no parallel to this, The political system we find in industry is, on the contrary, one in which the government (the management) is permanently in office, is self-recruiting, and is not accountable to anyone, except formally to the shareholders (or the State). At the same time, the vast majority of those who are required to obey this permanent government have not citizenship status at all, no right to vote for the leaders who form the government. The only rights that the masses have in this system are the right to form pressure groups (trade unions) seeking to influence the government and the right to withhold their co-operation (the right to strike). Such a political system might be called pluralistic; it is not totalitarian; and, if the pressure groups are effective, the powers of the government will be limited. But it no more deserves to be called democracy, old style or new style, than does the oligarchical political system of 18th century Britain.

One is forced to conclude that Clegg has obscured not illumined the concept of industrial democracy. The one big redeeming feature of the book, however, is his somewhat grudging espousal of the idea of the collective contract. This idea, put forward by the syndicalists and guildsmen as part of a policy of encroaching control, championed for decades by the French writer Hyacinthe Dubreuil2, was recently revived by the late G. D. H. Cole in his The Case for Industrial Partnership. 1957. In essence, the collective contract system involves the division of the large work group into a number of smaller groups each of which can undertake a definite identifiable task. Then, instead of each worker being paid individually, each group enters into a collective contract with the management. In return for a lump sum sufficient to cover at least the minimum trade union rate for each individual, the group would undertake to perform a specified amount of work, with the group itself allocating the various tasks among its members and arranging conditions to suit its own convenience. Such an arrangement as Cole correctly argued, would have the effect of "linking the members of the working group together in a common enterprise under their join' auspices and control, and emancipating them from an externally impose discipline in respect of their method of getting the work done".

Clegg's support for the collective contract idea is, perhaps, surprising in the light of his general position. He sees it, however, not as par of a strategy for winning complete control but rather as a way of satisfying in some measure the aspiration for industrial self-government without challenging management. Management. he asserts, is indispensable in modern industry but there may be areas of industry in which management is unnecessary. It is in such areas that the collective contract system becomes a possibility. This is a curious approach to the subject, since clearly a self-governing group working under a collective contract system does take upon itself some functions usually regarded as managerial, albeit those of 'lower' rather than of 'higher' management. Clegg's inability to see this is a consequence of his failure to analyse the functions of management. Had he done so, his assertion that 'management is necessarily separate from the workers' would have been revealed as either a tautology or simply an obscure way of stating that (higher) management in modern industry is a specialised and indispensable function — propositions from which nothing can be deduced about the impossibility of industrial democracy in the traditional sense. For the question is not whether management is necessary but who shall appoint the managers and to whom shall they be responsible. If there must be a hierarchy of authority in a complex industrial organisation, there is nothing in the nature of management which precludes it from being a democratically based hierarchy — as are the hierarchies in co- operative factories.

For the anarchist who objects to all hierarchies of authority, including democratic ones, the attraction of the collective contract idea lies in the possibility that it could lead to a breaking down of the hierarchical organisation of industry and its replacement by a system of mutually co-operating functional groups knit together by contracts. In the long run, if the idea were fully developed, management might be reduced to the position of being just one other co-operative group within the larger enterprise, enjoying the same status as the others, but specialising in the functions involving control of the product, investment, control of raw materials (buying) and control of the finished produce (selling).

With this perspective, it is encouraging to learn that the collective contract is not merely an idea: it is already, in a small way, being practised in the Durham coalfield. A full report of this experiment is to be published in the forthcoming book by E. L. Trist and H. Murray, Work Organisation at the Coal Face. Meanwhile, Clegg's quotation from a paper by Trist must suffice as an outline description:

"In one coal-face unit recently studied by my colleagues and myself … a team of 41 miners undertook the responsibility of providing for the manning of the works groups on each of three shifts of just under eight hours. As a group, they accepted complete responsibility for this in such a way that there would be sharing between group members of jobs with different degrees of satisfaction and difficulty. Since the group were on a single collection payment agreement no questions arose over differential rates of pay. In developing their systems· of rotating members from shift to shift the initial interest of the group was to avoid the unfairness of a man being tied for a prolonged period — or even permanently — to an unpopular night or afternoon shift; they especially wished each to have an equal share of the 'good' day shift. Each man could also, when his turn came, have some choice with respect to which of the two unpopular shifts he would prefer on a particular occasion.
Later on, within each sub-group of 20, there developed a further system not of shift but of job rotation. Flexibility was provided within a basic pattern, and certain crucial jobs were shared amongst those best suited to them. This acceptance of responsibility for self-regulation of shift and job rotation has persisted throughout the life of this particular coal face — over two years at the present time."

In discussing the implications of this experiment, Clegg raises the question whether the collective contract could be generally applied as a means to industrial democracy. He suggests that there may be limitations on its general applicability but his main conclusion is: "It is impossible to be certain how far the transfer of managerial functions to self-governing groups of workers could be taken in modern industrial societies, because that can only be discovered by empirical investigation, and no-one has yet tried to find out. There are considerable technical and social obstacles. In many areas of industry they will probably be prohibitive. My own guess, however, is that there is room for progress before these limits are reached".

The conclusion is cautious as becomes a Fabian. My own guess is that it is too cautious. Seymour Melman's recent study of worker decision-making at Standards3 suggests that the system could be readily applied even in the most technologically advanced industries, The real obstacles are social not technical. Of these perhaps one of the most important is the conservatism of trade unions. This conservatism can be and must be overcome. In this connection, one great advantage of the collective contract approach to genuine industrial democracy over earlier approaches is that it does not involve a radical change in existing trade union organisation and practices, but only a willingness to extend the range of collective bargaining. For as Clegg points out, "A collective contract is clearly a form of collective bargaining, so that areas of self-government can exist within a system of democracy by consent." The moral is obvious: all those who wish to go beyond the prevailing forms of 'democracy' in industry would do well to concentrate their attentions and activities in furthering the idea and practice of the collective contract.


1 Blackwell, Oxford, 1960, 18s. 6d.
2 See his A Chance for Everybody, 1939.
3 Decision-Making and Productivity, Blackwell, 1958. See also Colin Ward's and Reg Wright's discussions of this book in FREEDOM, June 18, 25, July 2, 23, 30, 1960, and the articles on the subject in this issue of ANARCHY.

The gang system in Coventry - Reg Wright

Analysis of the workplace "gang system" as it functions in Coventry, and its collectivist nature.


If one accepts again the heritage of the old socialist and humanist tradition of worker protest, then the work place itself and not the market should be the centre of determination of pace and tempo of work. The "flow of demand" must come from the worker himself rather than from the constraints imposed from above. Even if costs were to rise, surely there is an important social gain in that the place where a man spends such a large part of his day becomes a place of meaning and satisfaction rather than of drudgery. Fifty years ago, few enterprises carried safely devices to protect workers' limbs and lives. Some protested that adoption of such devices would increase costs. Yet few firms today plead that they cannot "afford" to introduce safety devices. Is meaningfulness in work less important?
—DANIEL BELL: The End of Ideology.

The gang system is operated in Coventry is modern and yet traditional. Its roots lie among the bloody-minded craftsmen who, centuries ago, sent the King to hell — and paid for it afterwards.

They worked in groups — guilds. Later on in Coventry there was a prosperous ribbon-weaving industry. Semi-domestic groups by the thousand sent beautiful silk ribbons, flags and banners all over the world. My grandmother started work at 6 years of age, winding silk for the weavers. She told me: "We didn't look upon it as 'work' — we enjoyed it." She also carried tea (an expensive luxury) to the weavers. Ribbons were followed by watch manufacture. Again highly specialised family and neighbour groups made the various parts of the watches which were assembled by the master-watchmakers — who also worked in groups. It was all very informal and satisfying. The watchmakers always had a 'Saint Monday' — boozing all day, taking Tuesday to get over it, and working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Saturday morning they "cleaned up the shop". They grew most of their own food, kept pigs and fowl, grazed horses and cows on the commons (which were never enclosed — only built on in recent years), and nearly always married young — not because they had to, but because they liked it. Watchmaking died out from lack of standardisation — undersold by machine-made watches. The making of parts was highly specialised, but to make a cheap product an elaborate system of standards and gauging was necessary, as in engineering today. (Peter Kropotkin described a similar set-up among the Swiss watch-case makers of Jura — how they sat around and worked and talked and were natural anarchists).

Next came the manufacture of sewing machines, and then bicycles. Inventions by the thousands, mostly by unknown men, made bicycle-making into a precision manufacture, one of the bases of production engineering as we now know it. Again men formed groups around the job. Mechanics came from all over England and they learned that group work paid. As employers became capitalistic, groups were broken up, but they always re-formed, and re-demonstrated their virtues.

And so it has continued to the present day: right through the making of cycles, motor-cycles, cars, aeroplanes and machine tools, there has been a continuous warfare between the group idea and the individualistic-minded employer and his officials. Those firms today which have the knack of the gang system have a huge advantage over the others. Wages are higher (which attracts better workers), they turn out a good product, make larger profits and are very adaptable. Technical methods and tools used are the same in the American type' mass-production plant, but the human aspect is vastly different. Each worker contributes an effort, and idea, a pooling of knowledge and experience that is not readily forthcoming in the autocratically managed plant. Work is easier and people are happier. This is not a eulogy of capitalism — there are rows — fierce disputes that break the monotony of regular work. Disputes are often due to the clash of opposite mentalities — middle-class individualism in management versus working-class collectivism. Domestic disputes between gang members are settled on the spot — purely private scraps! Idle people are very severely dealt with by their mates — never from above. There is no 'idealistic' talk about these things, but the benefits are obvious. Rough talk and aggressive attitudes are usually poses — the real man underneath is usually quite reasonable. People rarely leave and the labour turnover is very small indeed. There are no secrets about earnings or wage rates — everybody knows all about everyone else. The facts of output required and achieved are common knowledge A car model will be in production for five years or more, a tractor for ten. Regular work, year in year out is thus essential — which can be horribly motononous for certain temperaments.

One of the compensations can be the company of other people. In addition to the firm's own social club activities, most gangs organise their own, some of them surprising. The firm's official sick-club reduces the amount of benefit paid to members as an illness is extended. To counter this each gang pays an increasing amount to the person as the period grows longer, on the basis that "the longer he is away from work the more his need grows". In another firm a man has been away in a mental hospital for over five years — he is still a gang member, recognised by the management and the trade union. The latter grants his wife periodic sums from surplus funds — the firm can provide for his rehabilitation should he be cured. He still belongs.

In another works, sheet metal workers were making car wings by hand (for high-class sports cars) and one man spoiled fifty — a week's work — through misreading a drawing. The gang had a meeting, took the foreman out to a pub, fifty men made one wing apiece, the scrap ones were 'lost' and no-one was any the wiser. The middle-class works manager would have had a baby had he known, but the gang saved him the inconvenience. There are thousands of such stories that could be told daily. This is the natural cohesion of workers when they are not stampeded by clever and cunning people. They don't profess to be good — just ordinary. Girls and boys enjoy ganging-up and so do men and women. And in Coventry the gang system has been forced upon employers who, at first reluctant, now concede it. But each new generation of clever young managers has to relearn the same old lessons. They start off determined to "put the men in their place" and end by accepting the gang system — even boasting about it as though it were their own creation.

Gangs are self-recruiting, nearly all new members being "recommended' to a trade union for the formalities. 'Green' labour (i.e. people with no special skill) is put on simple repetitive jobs and when the stage of boredom is reached are moved to increasingly complex operations. In effect the man or woman serves an apprenticeship of sorts while earning full pay as a gang member. No distinction is made between them as people. They are all paid the same regardless of skill. The clever man will do the clever job — because he can, and because he likes it. The not-so-clever (or even stupid) man will do the job that is within his powers, It has been proved long ago, that distinctions cause much more trouble than they are worth. Both management and men are agreed on this. Such agreement is tacit. These things I describe are not even mentioned — they have become social custom, commonplaces. Melman in his work continually refers to the excellence of the gang
system but the fundamentals of it, the human sense of it seems to be beyond him.

The whole method has evolved directly from the work, from the human and technical need for co-operation. The tough men who have given their whole lives to it have seized on every significant thing or event and turned it to their purpose, our purpose. Bit by bit a new form of industrial society is being built. However bad it may still be, it is far better than most autocratic systems and it teaches people better ways by practice and not by exhortation. When the gang system has worked out and stabilised a new step forward, then the local trade union officials come in and register the facts in an official agreement with the firm, One such man (known to me personally as a very clever negotiator) stepped in and formalised the entire scheme at the Standard works. It was a major achievement, and would have been, at the highest professional level. This man was self-taught, in workshop and trade union. There are some trade union leaders who try to claim credit for themselves for all that is done — they don't deceive us but the newspapers lap it up. They think and write of trade unions as the leaders, whereas in reality the achievements are those of the members and their ideas.

Technically the gang system is a method of payment for piecework - a form of collective contract. In practice it follows the natural tendency of men to group up around the job. Gangs can be of any size from three to three thousand — the latter being the approximate size of the Ferguson tractor team. Half-a-million tractors were turned out in ten years with practically no supervision — one gang for the entire works and yet there was still the piecework urge — still the initiative from below, in addition to the technical progress from above. This is the essential difference between the Midlands attitude to the job and the uniform and fixed wage system elsewhere, especially in the south of England. In the Midlands the men have the initiative and are the driving force — the rest of the staff have to keep pace, to provide for and assist the production team. Everything is done to make the job easier, every hint and suggestion from whatever source is heeded and used if possible — especially if it takes the strain from the job.

Thus men's energies are conserved for other things than work. But it is still work! Automation is a misnomer-there is just continuous production, some automatic, some semi-automatic, and much of it by hand. Greed is abolished because any increase in wages or betterment of conditions is due, and is known to be due, to the men's own effort and creative ideas. The result of continuous struggle and creative effort is seen in the finished product and enjoyed via the pay packet. People of lethargic temperament may loathe and dread the very idea of all this, but the workers concerned "don't die on the job". Neither do they worry or conjure up images of destruction. They are vigorous and healthy and are busy home-making and rearing families.

In other factories small gangs may be grouped around a machine that is being built, or an aeroplane component. In a car factory it will be a production line, or a group of machines, When the product is very complex and costly and is produced in small numbers the gangs will be very clever in adapting their skills to a variety of jobs. Individual skill of a very high order will be applied to a prototype and to the first few production jobs'. The individual will be guaranteed his money by the gang while he undertakes exploratory work-others will follow him, each taking a portion of the work and becoming specialists in it, while others will improvise special tools and gadgets to make it into a "production job". The variety of work and gangs is infinite.

The gang system sets men's minds free from many worries and enables them to concentrate completely on the job. It provides a natural frame of security, it gives confidence, shares money equally, uses all degrees of skill without distinction and enables jobs to be allocated to the man or woman best suited to them, the allocation frequently being made by the workers themselves. Change of job to avoid monotony is an easy matter. The "gaffer" is abolished and foremen are now technicians called in to advise, or to act in a breakdown or other emergency. In some firms a ganger will run, not the men, but the job. He will be paid out of gang earnings, and will work himself on a small gang. On a larger gang he will be fully occupied with organisation and supply of parts and materials. A larger gang may have a deputy ganger as a second string and also a gang-steward who, being a keen trade unionist or workers' man, will act as a corrective should the gangers try to favour management unduly or interfere with the individual in undesirable ways. Gang meetings are called, as necessary, by the latter and all members of the gang are kept informed and may (and do) criticise everything and everybody. All three are subject to recall. Constructive ideas on the other hand are usually the result of one or two people thinking out and trying out new things — this is taking place continuously — to the general advantage of the whole gang.

The fact of taking responsibility in any of these capacities is educative in every sense, and I have often been amused to see someone who is a notorious "gaffer's man" being persuaded into taking the gang steward position which will bring him into contact with other stewards whose ideas he will unconsciously absorb. He will attend meetings with management representatives at all levels and usually completely changes his ideas. Experienced stewards, with grim humour call this "educating the so-and-so's!" Some stewards have been known to use variants of this method in educating management representatives.

Similarly in car factories. A gang of 100 or more will have a charge-hand paid by the management. He will stand out from the gang. only working in the event of difficulty arising — any hold-up or breakdown. The gang-steward will stand out with him and settle with him all points of difference on the gang's behalf. He also will work as necessary. Sometimes they are idle (educating each other!) and at other times they will work like fiends, to keep the flow of work going.

Gang stewards form a reservoir from which senior stewards are recruited. There are thousands of such men and they are quite often engineering experts, usually holding their own with any rate-fixer, cost expert or other managerial type. Occasionally fools are appointed — the blustering wordy windbag — the 'rebel' who just fights — and the exponent of an ideology. Some ideologists are first-rate stewards but do not realise that their actions may be the reverse of their ideological aims.

There are many local variants of the scheme - some good, some indifferent. As in any other aspect of life, much depends on the quality of the people concerned, and on their experience. Ideas (that is, theories or ideological or political standpoints) do not enter into any of it — a person can think what he likes, say what he likes, except that he does not do anything against the gang or the trade union He is expected to be a trade union member — even if only as an outward and visible sign of toughness. In terms of the old working-class.motto, "he is either with us or against us". There is no half-way. Incentives are three: to get as high a rate of pay as possible (depending on out-put), having achieved a certain stability in that, there is a general urge to speed up production gradually so that hours of work can be reduced. The final aim (a continuously successful process) is to make the job itself, and the surroundings, as good as possible.

All these urges are everyone's concern. In such a production set-up it is natural that people in full health and vigour are needed. and sickly people are strongly advised not to take a job there. In a temporary indisposition it is usual for the person to be given some help, or if that is not possible; a transfer to a light job that is not urgent.

Most of this has been forced upon employers, but one must give credit to those managers who have genuinely tried to help the urge to better conditions. On the other hand one frequently finds amongst managers a tendency to "swing to the right". This may be the result of a new director or manager coming in from the outside, usually from firms with American ideas; occasionally he will have a strong political (Conservative) urge. Sooner or later he shows his hand-forthright and dictatorial. From that moment the "worker decision-making" apparatus works against him. His "education" commences. Once I finalised the process by warning the particular manager "You must always remember that a thousand men will wear you out quicker than you can wear them out". It worked. The moment something actually happens or is pending, there is a ferment right through the plant and the decision-making is carried out at shop-floor level, even to the point, if necessary, of contradicting or disowning the stewards' proposals.

It is difficult to convey in writing a whole way of industrial life, a subtle, yet obvious, development of capitalism, a different and better way of running large-scale industry. It is better — a vast improvement — a continuance of an age-old method in a modern setting. It has all those elements that could develop into a successor to capitalism. I can imagine some clever people dismissing all this as nonsense, mere sentimental drivel, etc., and going on to prove that it is only a temporary thing that could be wiped out when required, by a powerful managerial capitalist class, etc., or that when "the slump" comes and the workers are thrown out on the streets, etc. (all of which is outmoded thought). My answer is that if "disaster" comes to capitalism, we have at least done some preliminary rehearsing for the new play we may be called upon to produce. If capitalism goes on for a long time without disaster, we shall have tried to make life as good as we can for as many people as we can. If there is some day a general desire to push capitalism over, we shall do our share. I think we are quite as clever as the "intellectuals", only we have applied ourselves to the daily task instead of to theoretical disputation. As engineers we have changed the world, as social engineers we have improved our part of it as much as we can. We feel that we are reasonably well-equipped to go very much further, and if we do we shall need the co-operation of all those technicians and organisers who are at present on "the other side", and we know that some of them are already with us.

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.

Workers' control in the building industry - James Lynch

James Lynch on UK builders' guilds, and other attempts at workers' control in the construction industry.

What do building workers want? Like everyone else they want independence, security, and plenty to take home at the end of the week. All these depend on good times. You can be independent and secure so long as there are plenty of jobs, because someone always knows of another site with a better bonus. The fact remains that there is no other major industry so badly organised, few with such bad working conditions, or with so much uncertainty about how long a job will last. In spite of the Federation, there is little solidarity between trades and none between tradesmen and labourers. In the T.& G.W.U. there is an annual average of 84 per cent. lapsed membership and 85.7 per cent. new members among labourers who are signed up on the site and let their cards lapse when the job finishes. If ever there was an industry which needed a breath of fresh air in the unions and a new spirit of industrial solidarity it is ours.

All kinds of attempts at workers' control have been tried out in building at one time or another and it saw the most advanced practical realisation of the guild socialist idea. Raymond Postgate has summed it up in one sentence with a sting in the tail. "Perhaps the most important achievement of the Guild was that it gave the workers of the building industry confidence and showed them that they were competent to run and control the industry, if only they could lay their hands on it."

At the end of the first world war, when the slogan of homes for heroes was coined, the building workers seized the opportunity that the climate of opinion built up by the syndicalist and guild socialist movements offered. This was the time when the Sankey Commission was ready to support the miners' demand for workers' control of the mines, and the engineers were demanding it in the factories. Dr. Addison's Housing Act of 1919 made it possible for housing to be built with little capital, payment being made as the work proceeded. The building unions in Manchester formed a Building Guild under the influence of S. G. Hobson and in London, Malcolm Sparkes persuaded the operatives to form the London Guild of Builders. The movement spread and in no time there were 140 Guilds which joined forces in 1921 as the National Building Guild. The Guild was for legal purposes only, a limited company, which undertook centrally the work of finance, insurance and supply, the making of contracts being in the hands of Regional Councils, elected by the local guild committees and by the craft organisations of the region (including professional organisations of clerks, architects and engineers). Capital was borrowed at a fixed rate of interest, and full trade union rates paid during the currency of the contract "in sickness and in health, in good weather and bad" — something unheard of in those days. Surpluses were to be used for improvements, and development, not distributed to individuals. In cases when a job worked out cheaper than was expected, the saving on the contract price was handed back to the local authority employing the guild. Dr. Addison was sympathetic to the idea and so was Sir Raymond Unwin the famous architect who was chief architect to the Ministry of Health, and promised contracts if finance could be guaranteed. An overdraft was arranged with the C.W.S. bank and contracts for materials and joinery signed with the C.W.S. building department and loans were made by the Co-operative Insurance Society. Work worth more than two million pounds was taken in hand. The London Guild landed the £500,000 Walthamstow Contract and the Manchester Guild had contracts worth £1,428,918. By April 1922, in less than a year's actual work they had received £849,771 in cash and had spent £30,283 on plant.

The guilds attracted the best men, and there was genuinely effective workers' control. The independent investigator, Ernest Selley, after examining the contracts on each site, concluded that

(1) the Guilds have proved that they are organised on business-like lines and are able to carry out building operations in a workman-like manner;
(2) the quality of the work produced is distinctly above the average;
(3) The weight of the evidence goes to show that the output per man on Guild contracts is as good as that obtained by the best private contractors, and certainly higher than most.
(Ten years after they were built, the estates at Manchester built by the guilds were shown to have cost the local authority least in maintenance and repair work).

The end came as quickly as the beginning. The first of the post-war slumps came, the "Geddes Axe" was wielded by the government, housing policy changed, Sir Alfred Mond, later the ICI boss became Minister and determined to kill the guilds. The master builders' associations agreed among themselves to submit lower tenders and to share any loss from undercutting when tendering against the guilds. Richard Coppock (later Sir Richard of the NFBTO) remarked that "the guild eventually failed because of the power wielded by the banks, but it was not crushed before we had learned a valuable lesson in self-government in industry".

In considering why the guild experiment was not tried again after the second world war, the most striking thing is that one cannot imagine a modern Minister of Health (Labour or Tory) nor his chief architect, nor the union leadership, and least of all the CWS bank sponsoring any such venture — so far have we moved from popular acceptance of the idea of workers' control, and so completely have the bureaucrats taken over from the innovators.

But efforts have been made. Bro. Harry Law of the Battersea ASW sought to revive the guild idea in 1946 without much response. but by 1951 there were several productive co-operative building firms, affiliated to the CPR (Co-partner Builders, Co-partner Building Operatives, Northants Co-partner Builders). By 1960 they had all gone out of existence. Lack of capital, which helped to kill the old guilds, has killed the much more modest co-operative co-partnerships. What is the next step?

It scarcely needs saying that under a capitalist system the worker is a commodity (labour) to be bought and sold at a price (wages) according to the total number requiring jobs (supply) and the number of jobs to be filled (demand). The worker's only capital is his capacity for work. And this is what he has to capitalise, by collective action. This is the whole basis of trade unionism — collective bargaining, and it is also the basis of the collective contract. There used of course to be gangs in the building trade run by "labour-only subcontractors" but not by the gang-members. I am told that the gang system as described by Reg Wright is worked under some contractors (Wimpey's, Higgs and Hill) but what I am thinking of is the sort of group contract in which the worker is not paid individually by the boss at all. The group undertakes the job and arranges everything else for itself, including the share-out. The late Professor G. D. H. Cole says in The Case for Industrial Partnership that "The effect would be to link the members of the working group together in a common enterprise under their joint auspices and control, and to emancipate them from an externally imposed discipline in respect of their method of getting the work done".

I would certainly prefer to work this way; it would be a more genuine kind of workers' control than exists in any part of the industry today or seems likely to exist until the idea of worker's control permeates public opinion at least to the extent that it did at the time of the guild socialists. It would, if the gangs consisted of more than one trade, cut across the craft barriers and promote solidarity on an industrial basis. and once generally accepted it could be the lever for a wider extension of control. It is certainly more reasonable than either "mindless militancy" which collapses at the end of a job, or 'I'm all right Jack' apathy, and is more practical than trying to struggle along as undercapitalised would-be capitalists.

JAMES LYNCH, born at Liverpool, 1918, is a carpenter and joiner (ASW). His interest in labour history arose from reading Robert Tressell's Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, a classic of the jobbing building trade.

Aspects of syndicalism in Spain, Sweden and USA - Philip Holgate

A look at revolutionary and anarcho-syndicalism in three countries with sizeable syndicalist organisations in the 20th century.

ANARCHO-SYNDICALISM HAS BEEN DESCRIBED as the application of anarchistic ideas to industrial problems. Its basic ideas, described in innumerable pamphlets and in Rudolf Rocker's book, are that working-class organisations should be completely independent of politics; that their structure should be federal and non-bureaucratic; and that they should fight capitalism and the state without compromise, aiming to replace them by a free society based on co-operation.

The workers have not generally responded to syndicalist propaganda, and the unions based on it have been too small to play an important part in industrial affairs. However, in some countries conditions have made it possible for syndicalism to develop on a significant scale. The purpose of this article is to look at this development in three such countries, under widely different conditions, and to try to discover to what extent syndicalist ideas were borne out, and to suggest the lessons that these experiences have for libertarian industrial movements today.

Syndicalism in Spain dates back to 1868, when Bakunin's comrade Fanelli made a propaganda visit. His message was enthusiastically received. Spain is a country of varied cultures and several languages. Federalism was even then a respectable idea, and this, united with the workers' and peasants' desire for social revolution, was the very situation in which Bakunin's ideas took root and flourished.

A section of the First International was formed as a result, and it remained almost unanimously faithful to the anti-political point of view when the International broke up. Since then there has always been a syndicalist movement in Spain, either openly or underground, and in 1911 it crystallised in the foundation of the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (C.N.T.) at the Congress of Bellas Artes in Barcelona, by representatives of 30,000 workers. The strength of the CNT increased rapidly, so that on the eve of revolution in 1936 it counted on a million enrolled members.
Several suggestions have been made to account for the success of a revolutionary ideology which was relatively ignored elsewhere. In addition to the federalist tradition, which was just as unfavourable to socialism as it was disposed to anti-governmental syndicalism, there was a tradition of direct action. At every peasant rising in the 19th and 20th centuries the demand had been for a sharing out of the land. The peasants had a deep conviction that if only they were left alone to farm their land and reorganise their villages, all would be well. They could see the local part of their problems, and could not see what relevance Madrid politics had to them. Brenan has suggested that anarchism in Spain has been analogous to protestantism in the rest of Europe; a movement of reason against the church. While this is a dubious. theory, there is certainly an ethical content to Spanish anarchism which marks it off clearly from any other political movement. The un-philosophical working-class conviction that you can always tell right from wrong shows itself in millions of ordinary Spaniards concluding that the State and capitalism are wrong; a fact which seems so difficult for many people of supposedly better education.

Sweden had no long-standing libertarian tradition similar to that of Spain. As in many European countries, social democracy and anarchism developed side by side within the same organisations, and it was not until the turn of the century when the socialists were clearly within sight of parliamentary influence, that the theoretical differences between the two currents led to expulsions and splits. The Young Socialists, who developed into the continuing anarchist movement, began to go their own way from about 1893.

The year 1909 saw a general strike throughout the country, which ended in crushing defeat for the workers. The Landsorganisation (L.O.) had led the movement with characteristic half-heartedness, and as a result of the demoralisation following the defeat its membership was halved from 161 to 80 thousand.

In response, timber workers in the "red" province of Skaane got together in a committee, and in 1910 the foundation Congress of Sveriges Arbetares Centralorganisation (S.A.C.) was held in Stockholm. It had 696 members to begin with, but developed rapidly, to a membership of 4,500 in 1914, 20 thousand in 1818 and 32 thousand in 1920.

The Industrial Workers of the World was founded in 1905. Despite its name, and small groups of members in many countries, it has always been a predominantly American organisation. When it was founded the American labour scene was occupied by the A.F.L., which was a federation of craft unions, and numerous petty unions which spent their energy scrapping among themselves, engaging in legal disputes and organised scabbing, and providing a happy hunting ground for racketeers and power seekers.

The fact that syndicalist organisations developed in three countries where the national temperaments are so different, and the problems of industrial organisation so varied, counts against the theory that revolutionary syndicalism is only suited to Iberians. It also challenges us to find out why syndicalism rose to be a significant movement in some countries, but not in others with apparently similar conditions. Why did the S.A.C. grow in Sweden, but nothing on the same scale develop in Norway? Why was the Italian Syndicalist Union always numerically smaller than its rivals, while the C.N.T. was far superior? There is possibly a loophole for the answer, long buried under determinist ideology, that the success of an idea depends on the vigour with which it is propagated. Certainly, the specifically anarchist minorities played a major part in getting the syndicalist unions going in Spain and Sweden.

Looking for common features in the early years of the three organisations, we find that two of them, I.W.W. and S.A.C. were founded as a direct response to the failures of orthodox and politically-inclined trade unionism, a factor which is still present in the more comfortable conditions of today.

All the organisations found themselves immediately involved in bitter industrial disputes throughout the area in which they operated. In 1913 when the S.A.C. had only 3,709 members they were involved in 30 strikes. They took part in 80 strikes in 1916; 172 in 1917 and 262 in 1918. In 1923 thousand of its members took part in strikes in the forestry industry alone. The local strikes in Spain had a more revolutionary character, as the workers often made demands so high that they could only have been achieved by a social revolution. A wave went through Spain in 1905, in which peasants demanded the division of the big agricultural estates. These disputes were often directed against inhuman conditions of work, and sometimes secured the doubling of wages. The I.W.W. and all the unions claim that the overwhelming majority of these resulted either in victory for the workers or compromises favourable to them. The biggest strike of the period in America was undertaken by the textile workers of Lawrence, where the whole labour force of 25,000 came out in 1909 and after ten weeks of police violence won a substantial wage increase. The culmination of C.N.T. militancy during the period was the strike against the Canadiense, the electrical company of Barcelona, which involved 100,000 workers.

It was clear that for this type of activity, where direct action by small concentrations of workers against their respective bosses was the predominating form of industrial conflict, syndicalism was what the workers had been looking for.

The ability of the syndicalists to face up to violent attacks from the State and bosses is another feature common to them. The C.N.T. was declared illegal almost as soon as it was founded, and has been frequently forced underground since. It was subjected to actual assassination of its militants by police agents, as was the I.W.W. Police charges against workers' meetings, shootings, arrest and imprisonment of officials and prohibitions of activities were the lot of all syndicalists, and their ideas and organisation made them better prepared to meet this than the socialists.

The central feature of the structure of these organisations was their decentralism. They were composed of workshop branches federated into local federations, and these would in turn link up in regional and national federations. The local branches in each industry also federated to form industrial unions, an important pillar of the I.W.W. but one which was not introduced into the C.N.T. until 1929. It may be objected that this structure corresponds exactly with that of say, British trade unionism, but the difference is that in the syndicalist unions the power rested with the local groups, and they exercised it.

Linked with their decentralism the syndicalists had a mistrust of paid officials. Propaganda in the early days was carried out by dedicated militants who would be supported by comrades in the districts where they were working. Even when its membership was in the region of a million the C.N.T. only employed one full-time secretary. It is. also part of syndicalist theory that members of committees should be ordinary workers, elected to fulfil specific tasks, and subject to immediate recall. While this is an ideal which is most difficult to keep to, in practice, because of the way in which revolutionary mass organisations tend to throw up oligarchies and influential minorities, it did check the tendency for elites to develop, and in the I.W.W. and S.A.C. cases ensured the virility of the organisations even when they were numerically overwhelmed.

The organisational factors mentioned above are natural consequences of the fundamental assertion of syndicalism. That is that the enemy behind capitalism is the State, and that working-class struggles should not be waged through parliamentary and governmental channels, but must be directed against them, and aim to replace the oppressive State by a free federation of producers in a free co-operative community.

Only the C.N.T. openly used the word "anarchist" in its declarations. Its 1919 Congress in Madrid for instance, reaffirmed that the objective of the confederation was anarchist communism. The famous: preamble to the I.W.W. adopted by its foundation Congress, Chicago, 1905 declares that "the army of production must be organised, not only for the everyday struggle with capitalists but also to carry on when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organising industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old". The S.A.C.'s foundation manifesto similarly states that "the proletarian class struggle … should never, however, be regarded as an end in itself, but only as a means, to develop the weapons of the class struggle's real aim; the overthrow of the existing order and its rebuilding."

The theory and practice of the syndicalists then were united in: stressing the value of direct action. While unions throughout the world were using direct action as an alternative to constitutional methods, the: revolutionaries, being prepared for it, were consistently more effective.

Their attitudes to parliament varied. The C.N.T. was most strongly inspired by an anarchist opposition to government as such. During the 1933 elections it carried out a determined anti-electoral campaign. culminating in a mass meeting in Barcelona where the slogan "In place of the ballot-box, the social revolution!" was put forward, and they declared that if abstention resulted in a victory for the right, they would launch the social revolution. In 1936, as a result of compromises with political elements, the anti-electoral campaign was hardly noticeable.

The other two organisations were not so strongly influenced by pure anarchism, and their opposition to parliament derived more from the fact that democratic methods corrupted working-class militants and organisations. It is important to remember that whatever the views of the organisations were about parliament, they included in their ranks supporters of every political view from anarchists to members of the Socialist Party.

Syndicalism had its most notable successes when it was fighting against a decentralised enemy, in a period when the unstable nature of industrial conditions paralleled the unstable aspects of revolutionary organisation. The weaknesses of these were as apparent as their advantages. Accounts of the wildly hopeful local risings in Spain, where the anarchists in a small village would proclaim libertarian communism, and the end of money, property and exploitation, only to be bloodily repressed by assault police a day later make tragic reading. On occasion too, a strike would fail because only one region supported it, while the others who were not in favour, stayed at work.

The wildly fluctuating memberships of the syndicalist unions was a great source of weakness. The S.A.C. had had 200 thousand workers pass through its books of which most only remained members for short periods. After the successful strike at Lawrence in 1909, 10,000 workers joined the I.W.W. local. In 1913 its membership had dropped to 700. Generally, the I.W.W. was enthusiastic about numbers, and this led it to underestimate the fact that paper membership is not a good guide to revolutionary strength. One of the worst errors the C.N.T. made during its early period was to imagine that its membership could be relied on to support radical action, when in fact about one in ten was personally convinced of syndicalist objectives.

Capitalism, the State, and trade unionism have developed considerably since the days when syndicalism was developed, in theory and practice. This is most noticeable in the Swedish welfare state and the managerial society in America, and least in Spain. The problem facing syndicalism was how to respond to this development, so as to preserve its essential objectives, yet be able to carry on the struggles called for by contemporary events.

The peak year for the S.A.C. was 1924 with a membership of 37,336. After 1933 a gradual decline set in with membership falling from year to year. The I.W.W. had several peaks, and had different degrees of success in different industries. It had one peak just before the first war and another in the early twenties. Outside of Spain then, the history of revolutionary- syndicalism has been one of rise and decline.

Before examining the external factors which affected this, it is worth examining some of the internal difficulties of syndicalist ideas and organisations. It is inspired by anarchist and libertarian ideas which call for a high degree of personal conviction, yet it sets out to be a mass movement. In order to preserve its specific nature it should only admit to membership applicants who subscribe to its point of view, but in order to be effective it needs the support of all the workers. By basing itself on a distinct minority principle it introduces a division into the working-class movement, yet one of its aims is the unity of the proletariat. The fact that syndicalism has been relatively ignored in most of Europe, and has been scorned by many anarchists may be because these contradictions have been too much to face.

The anarchists of Spain and Portugal set up the Federación Anarquista Iberica (F.A.I.) in 1918. Its members had to belong to the C.N.T. which they regarded as their special field of action. Not all the anarchists belonged to it, as some felt that this committal to the C.N.T. involved a sacrifice of the universal appeal of the anarchist philosophy. The membership of the F.A.I. has been estimated at 10,000. The rest of the membership of the C.N.T. contained a certain proportion who personally agreed with the revolutionary syndicalist point of view. It also contained workers who joined it because it was the strongest union in their locality, or because of its obvious vigour in fighting disputes. Furthermore, these are very good reasons for joining a union, and particularly one in which action was regarded so highly in comparison to words.

The dangers inherent in such a situation were almost all realised in practice. It became plausible for reformist "leaders" to rise up and denounce the extremist "leaders" for sacrificing the immediate needs of the members by their "doctrinaire" policy. Such a movement against the alleged dictatorship of the anarchists was a constant feature of internal C.N.T. politics. The anarchists, in reply, found themselves devoting much of their energy to preserving the doctrinal purity of an organisation, many of whose passive members did not accept it, and it has been suggested that this deprived Spanish anarchism of its chance to playa really independent role in the social affairs of the time. When anarchists play such a part in a larger union they become involved in the importance of getting elected to this or that committee, of disputing the precise interpretation of documents and so on; the very features of political life that lead them to reject the reformist programme of freedom through government. In practice, all the prominent Spanish anarchists occupied leading positions in the C.N.T., and later on found it impossible to act as anarchists during the crisis of the revolution.

In Sweden, the founding of the S.A.C. was accompanied by a weakening of the Young Socialist movement, as many of its prominent and active members gave up all their other activities and concentrated on syndicalism. This did not, unfortunately, prevent the eventual rejection of revolutionary syndicalism by the S.A.C. The case of the I.W.W. is different. This union had suffered badly from the machinations of Marxist socialists during its early years, and developed an anti- political attitude which even made sure that anarchists did not have too much influence in its councils!

The tendency of capitalism to become centralised was met by putting more emphasis on the national industrial unions. This however was the cause of a split in the I.W.W. in 1924, which resulted in "most members dropping out in the middle" and was a hard blow. At the 1929 C.N.T. Congress too, some delegates opposed the national industrial unions on the grounds that they departed from the anti-centralist spirit of the Confederation.

Another feature of syndicalist tactics which could not be retained was the opposition to any form of wage agreement, binding for a fixed period of time. The S.A.C. had specifically declared against such agreements in its declaration of principles, and had proposed instead a "permanent state of war in the social field". When conditions of work are physically brutal, and open war is being waged on both sides, the revolutionary position has a natural appeal, which it unfortunately seems to lose when the employers feel safe and prosperous enough to bargain with unions, and the State realises that its interest lies in arbitrating between employers and workers rather than in attempting the brutal repression of the latter. Since there was a much stronger social democratic union in Sweden which did treat in terms of agreements the S.A.C. found itself pushed towards this position in order not to be at a disadvantage. This was in spite of the fact that official statistics showed for instance that forestry workers wages in the areas organised by the S.A.C. were consistently much higher than those where L.O. agreements were in force. As happens so often, the bad organisational ideas drove out the good, and at the S.A.C.'s 1929 Congress, industrial syndicates were given the option of signing binding agreements, and the 1938 Congress asserted that while the organisation somehow or other stood by its principled position, it would consider binding agreements, and accept the responsibilities they implied, in practice. The evolution of the I.W.W. on this question was parallel.

On the one hand, the desire to keep a syndicalist organisation on the right road has led to splits in the movement, and on the other hand desire for working-class unity has led them to seek agreements or amalgamation with other organisations. The split in the I.W.W. in 1924 has been mentioned. It was never an attractive take-over proposition. The S.A.C. suffered a split in 1929 when most of its locals in the South West broke away to form the Syndicalistiska Arbetarefederation (S.A.F.). This organisation stood for a more uncompromising position, at a time when intransigence was becoming increasingly unpopular, and it made no progress. In 1938 its residue re-amalgamated with S.A.C. From 1928 a committee of the S.A.C. and L.O. sat to determine a basis on which the two organisations could get together. In 1929 the executive of the S.A.C. agreed to this with only two opposing members. The basis for union was a document affirming that both organisations were based on the socialist class struggle, that they both aimed at the replacement of capitalism by a co-operative democracy, and that they were opposed to militarism and war. When this proposal was placed before the members it was decisively thrown out. For once, the rank and file of a union had saved it from a sell-out, and had recognised what their leaders were indifferent to, that the socialist paper declarations of revolutionary intentions meant nothing in practice.

The scission in the C.N.T. was precipitated by the famous Manifesto of the Thirty, which argued for a more flexible policy, which they claimed would be better able to serve the needs of the workers than one based on determined, principled declarations of intransigence. The movement of the Treintistas was closely connected with the ideal of working-class unity, seen in terms of an alliance between the C.N.T. and the socialist Union General de los Trabajadores (U.G.T.). In Asturias where this point of view had majority support a pact was signed just before the rising in October 1934. When this occurred the socialists tried to gain complete control, excluded the C.N.T. from committees wherever possible, and the socialists failed to initiate worthwhile supporting activities in the rest of Spain.

These activities in Spain were all being carried out under the shadow of fascism and in the hopes of a social revolutionary response to it, and they need far fuller discussion than is possible here. Readers are referred to the books listed at the end, and to a forthcoming issue of ANARCHY which will be devoted entirely to Spain.

In attempting to draw up a balance sheet for syndicalism it is inevitable that most of the praise or criticism will also fall on the heads of anarchists, for without the determined action and theoretical conviction of men holding anarchist or related views the syndicalist organisations would neither have come into existence nor remained.

However, the anarchists were acting in an atmosphere that was: limited, and while it has been asserted that the industrial syndicate is the place where anarchists should be active, it has not been shown that anarchists are most successful when trying to provide leadership for a mass movement.
The most effective way for anarchists, or people convinced of the rightness of syndicalist ideals to help a union to keep them as its inspiration, is to be at the same time independent and committed. This is a difficult position, as it throws them into the position of critics from the outside if they are not careful, but the problems which it raises are soluble within the anarchist frame of reference, while the problems of anarchists in positions of power, of the situation where they are denying others the right to adopt non-anarchist resolutions, and issuing manifestos in the name of thousands who have never seen them are not.

With capitalism developing towards a more centralised and stable structure, and the evolution of the modern State and the trade unions, the problems facing the workers have become broader and more complex. The syndicalists reacted to this in very different ways. The I.W.W., perhaps because of its early quarrels with the Socialist Labour Party, had declined to take up a not directly related to on the job organisation and class struggle. Even when it was itself engaged in a series of "Free Speech" fights in areas where its activities had been banned by the police, there was disquiet in case concentration on the freedom aspect of the case should divert the attention of militants from their factory and lumber camp organisation. A similar suspicion fell on anti-militarist propaganda during the first world war. One I.W.W. leaflet showed all other radical tendencies pointing to the stars, while the I.W.W. figure pointed to the factories and said "organise". It was part of their theory that as the workers became more independent and self-respecting their revolutionary consciousness would rise, and that success in day-to-day direct action would lead them straight to the social revolution.

That is where syndicalist theory has broken down most conspicuously. After winning striking victories in bitter struggles using direct action, the workers have not profited by their experience and extended the class war until final victory, as the syndicalists hoped they would. The bosses and the State have profited far more from their experience and have modified the economic structure of society so that the conditions in which syndicalism flourished no longer prevail.

This means that if a workers' organisation is to be effective it must take up attitudes, as an organisation, on all sorts of questions which did not come into the field of interest of the pioneers of revolutionary syndicalism. It is this need to change from a fighting organisation engaged in localised and short-lived struggles, to a movement of opposition opinion which has been the hurdle on which the I.W.W. and S.A.C. have been caught. The I.W.W. stuck to its traditional narrow field and declined to insignificance, while the S.A.C., finding at last that the pressure of the inactive card holders did not allow it to take up a conscious revolutionary position on issues such as the war crisis and the welfare state, slid into a position in which it is barely distinguishable from the L.O. which it was formed to replace.

It has been easy for anarchists to attack the reformists in the S.A.C., but they were trying to find some solution to the problem of a revolutionary organisation in a situation unfavourable to revolution. In the welfare state of today there are growing signs of revolt against the new, milder forms of oppression that it involves. The twin aims of the syndicalists of the past were effectiveness in the day-to-day struggle, and through it, the introduction of a libertarian communist society. They were remarkably successful in their first objective, but have not made any real progress with the second. The workers' movements of the future will have to fight different kinds of battles; against bureaucracy, affluent complacency and working-class bosses as well as against employers. They may be put in the position where they appear to be biting all the hands that feed them. They will therefore need far more social understanding than ever before, and the merits of mass organisations will be more doubtful. It should also be more clear that the building of a free society does not automatically follow the destruction of the old one.

In short, the most necessary development for a future workers' movement is not so much a revival of the old syndicalism, as the development and spread of anarchism.


Rudolf Rocker: Anarcho-Syndicalism.
Philip Sansom: Syndicalism, the Workers' Next Step.
Gerald Brenan: The Spanish Labyrinth.
Anselmo Lorenzo: El Proletariado Militante.
José Peirats: La CNT en la Revolución Española, I.
Vernon Richards: Lessons of the Spanish Revolution.
Karl Bergkvist & Evert Arvidsson: SAC, 1910-1960.
John Andersson: 40ars kemp med SAC.
Karl Fernstrom: Ungsocialismen.
Ralph Chaplin: Wobbly.
Fred Thompson: The IWW, Its First 50 Years.

PHILIP HOLGATE, born at Chesterfield, 1934, studied mathematics at Exeter and spent five years teaching in a progressive school. He is a member of the London Anarchist Group and the Freedom Press Group

Anarchy #003

Issue of Anarchy from May 1961.


anarchy-003.pdf6.68 MB

Moving with the times… but not in step

An examination of the key concepts of anarchism written in response to an interview in New Left Review in the early 1960s.

QUESTION: 1 know that you are not a member of the Labour Party, or even an orthodox Socialist. But when you call yourself an anarchist, are you not drawing on the anarchist tradition within the Labour movement rather than associating yourself with anything like a formal Anarchist position?
Do you not, therefore, feel some kind of allegiance to the Labour movement? It is not just that other people think it important, Surely it is important for you too. You can hardly draw upon an anarchist tradition in the Conservative Party.

ANSWER: I agree about that. I am somebody who comes very much from a Labour background: from South Wales, from a family that has always voted Labour and has known what Tory rule can be like. And yet I often find myself out of sympathy with the Labour movement. My sympathies are with the people not from the formal anarchist movement — I think it is a fair comment that the leading anarchist in this country should be a knight, and that the formal anarchist movement in this country is totally useless and an absolute disaster for any kind of serious anarchist thinking — but I have a sort of sympathy with what are called the 'emotional anarchists' — people like students, intellectuals, unattached people.

THESE QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS are taken from a long interview under the title "Direct Action?" published in the March-April New Left Review. The questions were asked by Stuart Hall and Paddy Whannel, and answered by Alan Lovell, a regular Peace News writer and a member of the Committee of 100. Although some good points are made, the interview as a whole is not particularly interesting — a clearer exposition of the strength and weakness of the Committee is to be found in the article by another member in this year's Aldermaston issue of FREEDOM. What is interesting for us is the view of anarchism held by Lovell and his interlocutors.

Three conceptions of anarchism emerge from the interview — emotional anarchism, formal anarchism, and the anarchist tradition within the labour movement. (There also emerges an alleged "leading anarchist", but how many of Lovell's anarchist acquaintances in the Committee of 100 or in DAC or CND regard Sir Herbert Read in this light?). Lest we should have here the beginning of yet another anarchist myth, it is worth while examining these categories.

Is there really a difference between the "formal anarchist movement" and the "anarchist tradition within the Labour movement"? Presumably, like ourselves, Lovell's questioners regard the Labour movement as something wider than the Labour Party, but if we do, where but in the Labour movement are the anarchists to be located? Where else, historically, would we place Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, Malatesta, Landauer, or the Russian, Spanish, French, Bulgarian or Latin-American anarchists? Was it not in commemoration of the Chicago anarchists of 1887 that the modern celebration of May Day as a labour festival began? Were Sacco and Vanzetti, Berkman and Emma Goldman, Durand or Durrutti, outside the Labour movement?

In this country, the "father of anarchism" William Godwin, was the intellectual father of such precursors of socialism as Francis Place, Robert Owen, Thomas Hodgskin, and you have only to read the history of the First International or the life of William Morris to see the extent to which the anarchists were, in the late nineteenth century, an integral part of the Labour movement.

The anarchists haven't changed, but the Labour movement, strait-jacketed intoone concept of socialism, the Marxist one abroad, the Fabian one here, has changed — to its cost. For us, the most interesting characteristic of the trend we call the New Left today, is the way in which some of its adherents have been groping towards an anarchist approach, taking their cue from some older socialist thinkers like Arthur Lewis, with his declaration that

"Contrary to popular belief, Socialism is not committed either by its history or by its philosophy to the glorification of the State or to the extension of its powers. On the contrary, the links of Socialism are with liberalism" and with anarchism, with their emphasis on individual freedom …”

or like G. D. H. Cole with his rediscovery towards the end of his life of the relevance of such thinkers as Bakunin and Kropotkin, and his re-affirmation of his early guild socialist principles.
Another rediscoverer was Iris Murdoch, in her contribution to Conviction, discussing the way in which the Labour Party has reduced every issue to a political formula, with a consequent starvation of the "moral imagination of the young" and a degeneration of socialist philosophy. The guild socialists, she said,

“were deeply concerned with the· destruction of community life, the degradation of work, the division of man from man which the economic relationships of capitalism had produced, and they looked to the transformation of existing communities, the trade unions, the factories themselves …”

It is now time, she declared, "to go back to the point of divergence …"

Similarly Charles Taylor, examining the quality of life in contemporary Britain in ULR 5, demands "viable smaller societies, on a face-to-face scale" and "the extension of the individual's power over the collective forces which shape his life", and E. P. Thompson (who has come a long way in the last five years), writes in NLR 6, that

"we can only find out how to break through our present political conventions, and help people to think of socialism as something done by people and not for people or to people, by pressing in new ways on the ground. One socialist youth club of a quite new kind, in East London, or Liverpool or Leeds; one determined municipal council, probing the possibility of new kinds of municipal ownership in the face of Government opposition; one tenants' association with a new dynamic, pioneering on its own account new patterns of social welfare — play-centres, nursery facilities, community services for and by the women — involving people in the discussion and solution of problems of town planning, racial intercourse, leisure facilities; one pit, factory, or sector of nationalised industry where new forms of workers' control can actually be forced on management …“

Here he is talking what is very like our own language. Yet among the writers of the New Left there are also strange inconsistencies and hangovers from orthodox socialism and Marxism. Some of its ablest-thinkers have learned nothing from the history of socialism in our time. Raymond Williams, whose book The Long Revolution is discussed at length in this issue of ANARCHY puts the formula thus:

"What is the alternative to capitalism? Socialism. What is a socialist culture? State control."

Such a mountain of analysis: such a political mouse! The New Left needs the lessons which it can draw from the anarchist approach; the question is whether it is capable of learning them.

The editor of NLR 6, discussing the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, writes of "the anarchist case, which I believe to be a felt but unarticulated strand in CND politics, and which is weak largely because it has not been put. In any event, that anarchism and libertarianism has been a most fertile element in the Campaign …" But the anarchist case has been put, for anyone who cared to read it. The point is that it does not appear to have been taken, and if the anarchist strand is weak, it is precisely because of the lack of what Lovell calls "serious anarchist thinking".

Like him we have a sympathy with the people he calls emotional anarchists — "people like students, intellectuals, unattached people", the people who have, as he suggested elsewhere in his interview, "an emotional bias towards anarchism, but it is very much of an emotional bias and completely unthought-out". We wish they would start thinking it out. We want in fact that serious anarchist thinking which the emotional anarchists aren't doing, and which, in his odd way, he thinks would be disastrous in the "formal anarchists", the people who actually call themselves anarchists, and who know the word's meaning, its history and its literature.


ANARCHISM (from the Greek an- and archia, contrary to authority) is the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government — harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilised being …

THE IDEA OF SOCIETY WITHOUT AUTHORITY has found expression throughout human history, from Lao-Tse in ancient China and Zeno of Kitium in classical Greece, to its first systematic formulation in William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice in 1793, and its elaboration in different directions during the nineteenth century by Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin. Today small and scattered groups of anarchists exist throughout the world, from Siberia to South America.

Their numerical strength is impossible to ascertain, for the anarchists are not a party, membership cards and voting papers do not appeal to them. Since they are seeking not power but personal autonomy, they are not concerned with counting heads or ballot papers, but in awakening men and women to personal and social independence and responsibility.

Looking at history, the anarchists see two recurring tendencies: the tradition of authority, hierarchy, the state, and that of liberty, free association, society. This distinction between the state and society, between the political principle and the social principle is crucial to anarchist thought. In Tom Paine's graphic antithesis,

"Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections; the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing; but government even in its best state is a necessary evil … Government, like dress, is the badge of our lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise."

The anarchists go further than this, seeing the principle of authority as an unnecessary evil, and to the objection that anarchy, however desirable, would only be possible if all men were angels, they reply with William Morris's phrase that no man is good enough to be another man's master. It is precisely because all men are fallible that none should surrender their own power over themselves to others.

Three main trends can be seen in classical anarchism: that of anarchist communism, associated with Bakunin and Kropotkin, which beside the usual criticism of the state, its punitive and property systems, postulates the commune, the local association for the organisation of social amenities, as the basis of a free society through territorial and regional federations; that of anarcho-syndicalism which reached its greatest practical application in revolutionary Spain in 1936, which sees the struggle for workers' control of the means of production as the key to the transformation of society; and that of individualist anarchism which puts its emphasis on the autonomy or self-realisation of the person. In this trend several schools of thought can be discerned, one of pure individualism, represented by thinkers like Thoreau and the German philosopher of 'conscious egoism' Max Stirner; another developing from the American Josiah Warren whose ideas, blended with the mutualism of Proudhon and the individualism of Herbert Spencer, formed the basis of the anarchism propagated in 19th century America by Benjamin Tucker, while there is also an ethical or religious anarchism represented by Tolstoy, and, to some extent, by Gandhi.

What unites these differing trends is their repudiation of the state and of the political struggle for the control of the state machine. Most would accept Marx's definition of the state as "the executive committee of the ruling class" but all would repudiate the Marxist metaphysic of the conquest of state power as the pre-condition of its "withering away". (And the history of the Soviet Union confirms Bakunin's prophetic analysis of the future of Marxism in his disputes with Marx's faction in the First International in the eighteen-seventies). In other respects the teaching of the classical anarchists differ. Proudhon, for instance, first attacked the notion of private property in his famous dictum "property is theft", but later took the view that "property is freedom", though it is obvious that in the first instance he was talking of the private ownership of social assets, and in the second, of a man's possession of his house or small-holding. The important thing however, in the consensus of anarchist teachings, is not the notion of ownership but of access/I] to the means of production. Similarly on the question of exchange: some anarchist thinkers have repudiated the idea of money, others have regarded money as the most convenient mechanism of exchange but have repudiated the notion of interest, others have evolved such ideas as that of 'labour tickets', while others have boldly proclaimed, like Kropotkin, that there is enough of everything for everybody, and have supported the principle of "to each according to his needs. from each according to his abilities."

Different stages in the social evolution of various countries during the last hundred years have reflected themselves in the changing emphasis in anarchist ideas. Free associations of independent producers, syndicalist movements among industrial workers, independent co-operative communities, campaigns of civil disobedience and war resistance, the formulation of social utopias, have all been responses to current social and political conditions, as were the desperate struggles of the anarchists in actual revolutionary situations in Russia and the Ukraine, Germany. Mexico and Spain.


TODAY IT IS NOT POSSIBLE to speak with the confident revolutionary optimism of our predecessors. The experiences of our own century have given us a healthy suspicion of rhetoric and of universal panaceas. We have seen too many and we know too much.

What are we to say here in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century? We are a tiny minority of disaffected citizens in the centre of a disappearing empire whose economic structure is still geared to an obsolete rôle, an appendage to one of the two contending military and economic power blocs. What is the task of the anarchists in such a society? Can we draw up, not a programme, but simply a list of those fields where anarchist activity is useful and in which, according to personal predilection or opportunity, we can promote our ideas?

War and Peace

One of the characteristics of governments is their maintenance of what Martin Buber calls the "latent external crisis", the fear of an external enemy, by which they maintain their ascendency over their own subjects. This has in our day become the major activity of governments and their biggest field of expenditure and effort, reaching the stage where they propose to decimate each others' populations at the touch of a button. War is the trade of governments, and obviously the anarchists support, in common with other factions of the left, all anti-war activities, but they can hardly be expected to see anything but illusions in calls for summit conferences or in the signing of petitions. The petitions go to the wrong address; they should be addressed not to governments but to people.

We have to build up a disobedient and unreliable public, widening and deepening the impulses which find expression in the three prongs of the nuclear disarmament movement. War is not the result of the H-bomb, the H-bomb is the logical outcome of the pursuit of war, which in turn is only possible because governments are able to harness their obedient subjects to it. But there are deeper causes; not merely the clash of ideologies, the division of the world into have and have-nots, but the dissatisfactions and frustrations which evidently make the idea of war acceptable for millions of people. Every day you meet people who look back to the last war not as a remembered horror but with a fond nostalgia. The general state of opinion on minor wars like the Suez invasion or the war in Cyprus which was switched off like a light when it suited the government, will tell you that war is tolerated because it is found tolerable. We have to uncover the dulled and muffled nerve of moral and social responsibility which will make it intolerable.

The Person and the Family

The mass of mankind, Thoreau observed tartly, lead lives of quiet desperation. Is this why we tolerate war — as an exciting break in meaningless routine? And yet who but ourselves has decreed the situation in which work is drained of meaning and purpose except as a source of income or status, marriage and the family a trap, leisure a desperate attempt to stave off boredom? Look around you at the domestic resentments, the glum faces emerging from factory and office into the tedium of the rush-hour journey home, the frantic consumption at the behest of the hidden persuaders. How desperately we need to find different ways of life which will liberate instead of imprisoning the individual. And how we need the anarchists to experiment with new ways of living, a new assertion of individual values, more dignity and more satisfaction in daily life.

Work and Industry

At one time, forty years ago, there was a strong syndicalist stream in the trade union movement, calling for workers' control or industry. It died away, as the industrial workers pinned their faith on the Labour Party's programme of nationalisation and concentrated on winning a bigger slice of the capitalist cake. One of the most formidable tasks before us is the re-kindling of the urge for responsibility and autonomy in industry: to put workers' control back on the agenda. (ANARCHY 2 was devoted to a symposium on this topic).

Crime and Punishment

To anarchist thinkers from Godwin onwards, crime has been, not the manifestation of individual wickedness, but a symptom of material or mental poverty and deprivation. From Kropotkin with his study of Organised Vengeance Called Justice and his dictum that prisons are the universities of crime, to Alex Comfort's modern study of political delinquency, the anarchists have opposed the system of retributive justice which creates more criminals than it cures, and have sought the identification and avoidance of the [I]causes of crime. A wealth of evidence has been accumulated, even officially which supports this view and there is here an immense field for anarchist effort in changing the social climate and public attitudes.


There have been in this century great changes in educational theory and practice, which represent a partial and incomplete, if unacknowledged victory for ideas which are libertarian in origin. We are however, now in a period when the more sophisticated educational theorists are almost joining hands with those who never got that far, in reacting against the alleged influences of the advocates of freedom in education. Social pressures and parental 'status-anxiety' are already impinging on those partial advances, (see ANARCHY 1). The anarchist movement, which has included some very astute educational thinkers, needs urgently to re-define and re-assert ideas, and to counter the counter-revolution in educational thought, pointing out that the trouble with 'child-centred' education is not that it has gone too far, but that it has not gone far enough, and in fact, in many schools, has not even begun.

Decentralisation and Autonomy

The modern state is infinitely more centralised and ubiquitous than that of the time of the classical anarchists. It has also adopted or usurped many of the functions which are those of society, and which Kropotkin, for instance, in his Mutual Aid, listed as evidence of the innate sociality of man which makes the imposition from above of state organisation unnecessary. In social organisation and in industry, and consequently in the distribution of population, centralisation has been the great characteristic of modern life, and one which militates against the possibility of anything like an anarchist society. The tendency itself is, however, one which changes in means of communication and in sources of motive power have already rendered obsolete, and there is a great deal of sociological data to demonstrate its undesirability in human terms. The anarchists and those who think like them on this issue, have to change the centralising habit of mind for one which seeks decentralisation and devolution, pressing for more and more local autonomy in all aspects of life.

The World Outside

Nothing stands still. The great monolith of the Soviet empire is by no means as monolithic as it was. A generation has grown up which is bored and dissatisfied with the chanting of Marxist slogans and which is equally unimpressed by the "free enterprise" of the West. The workers' councils which sprang up in Poland and Hungary in the revolutionary period of 1956, Tito's fears that his officially-sponsored version of syndicalism from above might get out of hand and turn into the real thing, the "silent pressures from below" in the Soviet Union itself, indicate how tendencies which have more in common with anarchism than with orthodox socialism are ready to spring into life where we least expect them. The trends in India represented by the Gramdan movement as the successor to Vinoba Bhave's Bhoodan, and by Jayaprakash Narayan's advocacy of "village democracy", the moral example of Danilo Dolci's activities in Sicily, all such movements suggest a possible role for the anarchist, outside and independent of the struggle for power which canalises the activities of so many socially conscious people into sterile political posturing.

h3]A Different kind of Socialism[/h3]

In the New Left, and among the people who have been roused into activity by the nuclear disarmament campaign, there is interest and concern for all these fields of activity. But as long as they ruefully give their support to the Labour Party as a lesser evil, or devote their energy to trying to influence its policies, they are simply evading the need to work out the implications and explore the possibilities of a different kind of socialism: the means of effecting social change without re-course to the conquest of the coercive machinery of the state.

From a South African notebook - Maurice Goldman

An eyewitness account of the brutality of South Africa's apartheid system.

ON MY FIRST DAY BACK IN PRETORIA I drove up to the hills of Waterkloof which is now the fashionable residential area. It was nearly six o'clock and in the beautiful rolling valleys below, the city streets and suburbs were almost hidden by the winter dusk. Then the street lights came on and each little light seemed to glide in the valley like ships on a sea of darkness. Higher on the hill where it was still light, it began to grow dark very quickly. A White girl out for a walk with her dog began to run to her home several hundred yards away. Two minutes later an African girl also sprinted for the shelter of a house.

Things were like that three or four years ago when I was last here, but how much worse today. The tension grips you even in Cape Town.

A century ago J. S. Mill wrote about the tyranny of social convention. And Whites in S.A. have learned to fear the whiplash of the majority will of Whites. The Nationalists, now at the receiving end of a Black economic boycott, have for many years exercised a boycott against the Indians. South Africans, the White ones, probably more so than many other peoples are born into a definite environment, a certain set of values. They have, for one thing, very definite ideas about the Blacks. Probably a lower proportion of them are mentally self-propelled on this subject than say, members of a Tory family are about trade unions and the Labour Party. The social pressure put on the Calvinist Afrikaner to conform to certain ideas on race is fiercer than the anti-homosexual pressure in Britain. Race in South Africa is translated into: "How would you like a Black man to marry your daughter?" Abuse that runs parallel to "queer" in Britain is kaffer boetjie (brother of the Kaffir) in the Union.

There is also a set standard of behaviour towards the Indian. He is the coolie and must be treated with contempt and condescension. He's a sly fellow and a bit too clever by half at business. If he comes to live next door to you your property values go down with a bump. And how would you like your daughter to marry an Indian? A cinema manager told me that when Rita Hayworth married Aly Khan, as far as the South African public were concerned she had married a coolie and her box office sank right through the floor.

There was a time when you saw the White farmer chatting away amicably to Ishmail in some little country store. The Indian shopkeeper would turn a blind eye or a long-suffering grin on Meneer van de Westhuizen as his apples and bananas were sampled. Meneer would enquire about Ishmail's family at home and at the same time, with steady contemplative hand and eye, sample a strip of biltong on the country. Meneer had something of the attitude of a Brooklyn cop on beat taking an apple from the Italian immigrant's fruit shop every time he passed. Nowadays social pressures have intensified. It wouldn't do for Meneer to be seen talking to Ishmail. His attitude must be "send 'em all back to India."

Behaviour patterns have changed radically over the last few years. The behaviour pattern of the overlords has changed from the paternal contempt of a superior to an inferior, to aggressive fear. In its main aspect, I believe, apartheid is an attempt to push back the black oceans steadily encroaching on the white islands. These islands are the cities. But even in the cities it's only the inner fastnesses that belong to the Whites … and then only by day. Walk up Adderley Street, Eloff Street or Church Street at the height of the rush hours and business hours and you might say to yourself, "Ha, here is a European land." But early morning and at night the streets belong to the non-whites. Even more so does this apply to the suburban streets. Only a fraction of the white population understand an African language. It's quite fantastic how two peoples, living a master-servant relationship side by side, can have so little human contact. To walk outside the gate of one's front garden is to find oneself in a world of strangers.

Now and then White strangers exchange nods like a fraternity of priests in a godless city. And now and then the Black buses pass, full to the brim. White buses pass, oh so often, with but a sprinkling of passengers. On the country roads the White man in his car is supreme. He may whizz along the excellent national roads at eighty miles an hour. But if he runs out of petrol or his engine fails he may find himself among a hostile people.

* * * *

When Bernard Shaw visited the shores of the Cape many years ago reporters went aboard the ship and plied him with questions. Of course the burning question has always been the 'native problem'. Shaw seemed such a know-all. "Answer this one," they challenged. "What should we do to solve the native problem?" "Marry them," Shaw replied. Throughout the country there was outraged indignation and contempt. If Shaw irritated the English, be infuriated the South Africans.

The warmth of touch of hand and eye is taboo in South Africa, and therefore the warmth of humility and humanity is absent in the everyday contact of masses of human beings. It is almost inborn in the White man to humiliate his fellow Black human being … so that often he doesn't notice it any longer.

When he sends to the butcher for meat, there is separate meat for the Africans called "boy's meat". It's not as good as ordinary meat and a bit better than dog's meat. Also there are two classes of dogs in S.A., Kaffir dogs and White man's dogs. The Kaffir dogs are curs, the others are noble — especially if they bite at the sight of a black skin. It's commonplace for dog-owners in South Africa to say, "No Kaffir can come near this place, Rex goes mad when they come along. They're scared stiff of him." Apartheid among dogs has existed ever since the days of Jock of the Bushveld.

There is something of a common mentality between the bomber pilot who indiscriminately scatters his bombs over enemy cities, and the South African who indiscriminately practises his apartheid and its pinpricks against all black skins. The bomber pilot can scatter his bombs because those below are absolutely impersonal to him, mothers, sweethearts, babies, pretty girls, their men. They are the enemy. They are not human beings. I once saw a film about a pilot who was given an assignment to kill a spy in occupied France. He had to get to know the man and kill him in the privacy of his flat. Now the pilot who had been responsible for countless deaths, but whose imagination stopped with the bomb button that he pressed, found out that his victim was a very human man. He loved cats, children, life, and even to the pilot who had come to kill him, he showed great kindness and hospitality. The task of killing him became suddenly impossible … grotesque … horrible. But he kills … and after-wards he has not even the dubious refuge of knowing the victim is a spy. He turns out to be innocent.

It will turn out that the South African, "killing" humanity with apartheid, will no longer be able to salve his conscience with the condemnation that the Black man is a savage … but that he is innocent. If he does become inhuman towards the Whites, it will only be because he has never been allowed to find the soul of the White. White and Black will only become human towards each other when they are not kept a bomb's toss away from each other.

It is an interesting fact that if you speak to Mr. Average White South African about the inhumanities of apartheid, he will immediately tell you how good he is to his domestic servants — indeed how he likes them and how much they like the children. This is told in a believe-it-or-not tone. Then you will hear how Jim wouldn't work anywhere else but in the home of Mr. Average South African. "He's part of the family — almost". Probably Jim is the only African whom Mr. A.S.F. has remotely got to know. Not that he ever rubs shoulders with him or goes out to the "boy's room" except to see if Jim is keeping it clean.

That's where the personal part of apartheid comes in. The leaders of this new religion know very well the impersonalising effect of remoteness. They will do everything in their power to prevent the rubbing of black shoulders with white. For years and years Black, White and Coloured travelled on buses in Cape Town side by side. Then the Government stepped in to protect the susceptibilities of the Whites. Many, many Whites weren't happy about the "big brother Nationalist's" good intentions. They got together a great petition saying they didn't want segregation on the buses … but the big brother knew best.

* * * *

The impression I gained is that the White heart, like Pharoah's heart, is hardening, not softening. To be soft is to be weak, to be hard is to be strong. And the Whites know that they can only maintain their privileged position by being strong and hard. They are, in another sense, like small boys who have been holding bees in a jam jar and tormenting them. They dare not lift the lid of the jar for fear of the consequences. The bees will have to lift the lid by their own strength.

The Coloured people are for their part humming round angrily in the jam jar (with no jam) trying to attract the attention of other bees in the outside world to help them … and also other small boys who might be of better heart than the tyrants who are holding them down with such gingerish fingers. The bees in the free world live mostly in the new free states of Africa, the boys of goodwill live mostly in opposition parties, the free press and the United Nations.

How are bees going to get out of the jam jar? Are the boys with fear in their hearts for bee stings, going to have a change of heart? Secondly, are the bees, who are getting angrier and angrier, going to be content to stay in the jar? Thirdly are the bees of the outside world going to help them? Fourthly are the boys of goodwill going to help them? Fifthly are the little bees going to adopt the line that has been followed in Algeria, Cyprus, Ireland and Palestine, in believing that God helps those who help themselves, and use the sting in their tails? Or sixthly, are the bees going to agree with the boy's offer of a preserving jar instead of a jam jar?

There can be little doubt that the bees want to get out of the jar. Hold any creature in confinement and it'll struggle to be free. Life is strong. Even the tender plant has been known to break through concrete. Africans will be free. How will it come about?

MAURICE GOLDMAN, born in Natal, 1918, is a pharmacist turned writer (his South African novels have been translated into four languages). He studied economics and politics at Witwatersrand University and philosophy at Cape Town.

Africa and the future - Jeremy Westall

Article about the relevance of anarchism to struggles in Africa, pre-and post-independence. We do not necessarily agree with all of it but reproduce it for reference.

AFRICA TODAY CAN BE DIVIDED into two differing spheres: Africa that is struggling for independence and Africa that is struggling with independence.

There was a time when I was very involved in the Africans' struggle, but as the obvious facts about the newly independent nations were faced, one had to recognise certain unmistakable trends if honesty was to be preserved. From a genuine excitement over the independence of Ghana, my feelings developed a less vigorous tone, and slowly the truth began to dawn. Although it is quite evident that Africans — given the technical knowledge — are far better at running their countries than were their white rulers, it is also plain that the changes in Ghana only took place at a very superficial level. With a growing number of people on the Left I am finding that in all the African countries with new-won independence, the basis of their society and the pattern of authoritarian rule continues, with Africans instead of white men in positions of power. Where I had naively supposed that the African "revolution" was heralding a new dynamic society, in fact a bourgeois elite of African middle-class nationalists has taken over the reins and no fundamental change has taken place. As far as the anarchist vision of a free society is concerned, the new ruling classes in Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea and the Congo are as much the enemies of freedom as are all other ruling classes.

In so far as the struggle for independence in Kenya, Rhodesia and Nyasaland gains my enthusiasm, it is because I recognise that the assertion of African independence must come before the possibility of a free society can even be considered. Yet the opportunity of turning the struggle for independence into a revolutionary struggle is being ignored by African politicians like Mboya in Kenya and Kaunda in Rhodesia because they only desire a political change of black for white rule. Dr. Banda in Nyasaland, in fact, only speaks English and is admired by his obsequious supporters for his "European" ways. Jomo Kenyatta was the only African leader with courage enough to inspire his supporters to revolutionary action but it seems that he is now attracted to political action, which is at least understandable after over seven years' incarceration.

Yet whatever one says or thinks of the African nationalist politicians, it is good to see a people throwing off the yoke of colonialism. To me the thought of one nation forcing its customs and culture on to another is so despicable that I rejoice in the fact that the Africans want to make their own way. This is what gains my qualified support for the various struggles for independence. What I do emphasise however is that the struggle is only for independence and is, sadly, nothing to do with freedom.

In South Africa the position is somewhat different: here I really feel involved in the anti-apartheid campaign and I believe that this is a radical movement of importance to libertarians. This is mainly because parliamentary action is out of the question for any real opposition to Afrikaner fascism. Direct action, passive resistance and civil disobedience are all leading South Africa in a revolutionary direction. And the Africans there, faced by the manifestly pernicious nationalism of the Afrikaners, and noticing the appearance within their own ranks of its African equivalent, are recognising the evils that nationalism must bring.

Racial integration is a desperate issue in South Africa and racial conflict is now more or less certain. Although I am not a pacifist I argue for a completely non-violent anti-apartheid movement because in any violent conflict the Africans would inevitably suffer very heavy losses. In fact there have been obvious examples of the South African government seeking to instigate violent action among the Africans. Racial integration is a world-wide problem, difficult to solve in any competitive society. I am quite convinced that racial harmony cannot result from legislation or from moral pronouncements; it can only come from a deep respect for the culture and people of another ethnic group. Libertarians, people who don't care about "getting on" have here a vital part to play, for it is only possible to be truly comradely with people who are not viewed as competitors or as potential competitors, but as friends who are likely to be interesting and who will widen one's outlook. We should be encouraging cosmopolitanism for the sake of the increased variety and added depth that it always brings to life.

For myself I always find it easier to sympathise with the coloured person who sees little to respect in our white civilisation than with the European who finds nothing of value in the heritage of non-European peoples. African culture is fascinating: the new writers who are emerging and have emerged since the war, the new music that is being played throughout the continent as well as traditional music, the sculpture, the vastly intriguing African history that is being unearthed. The writers of the French-speaking part of Africa, represented by the négritude school with its outlet Préscence Africaine impress me a great deal, yet two men Ezekiel Mpathelele and Jomo Kenyatta, from South Africa and Kenya respectively are of even greater interest, Mpathelele as the author of that most anarchic book Down Second Avenue and Kenyatta as Africa's first and foremost African anthropologist. Nigerian sculpture and the wood carvings that one finds all over Africa have always attracted me, as well as the basket weaving at which many tribes excel.

But the real art at the heart of Africa — the dance — is the finest and most warming attribute to come from Africa. It is thought-provoking to note the popularity of jiving in all Westernised countries, and of course, the overwhelming influence of jazz on the musical scene everywhere. The force of the Negro on European writers is very marked — the influence on Norman Mailer in America or Colin MacInnes here, are but two examples. In fact the whole movement of dissent both here and in America is impregnated with a desire to understand and get along with coloured people — not because of a sense of duty to the Great Democratic Institutions, but purely because young dissenters want to.

In this connection the differences between the characteristic European outlook and the African conception of life are of great importance, for they point to certain attitudes of mind which are taken for granted in the Western world and which we must consider critically if we are to appreciate the African outlook. In his book The African Mind in Health and Disease, J. C. Carothers writes:

"It was previously argued that the peculiar features of European mentality derived from a total personal integration which the African does not achieve. Yet, in another sense, the latter uses his whole brain more effectively than does the former; he uses phantasy and reason. European integration is essentially a conscious one and depends on a cleavage between conscious and unconscious elements of mind which is far less sharp in Africans. Advantage does not lie wholly with the former. The European technique depends upon the denial, in adult conscious life, of desires and phantasies which are thus relegated to a world of darkness and of dreams, but which emerge only too often, to determine patterns of thinking and behaviour which are incomprehensible or even incapacitating from the subjects' point of view. There is internal conflict, and a sacrifice of personal to social peace and happiness. There may be other sacrifices.

"Fromm says: 'Dreams can be the expression both of the lowest and most irrational and of the highest and most valuable functions of our minds.' The African is not asleep, but he does seem to live in that strange no-man's-land 'twixt sleep and wakening where fact and fancy meet on equal terms. If the hypnotic state is one in which awareness is heightened though restricted, then monoideic consciousness is a pre-hypnotic state; and it may be that certain mental powers of a social type — intuition, hypnosis and telepathy — are seldom fully realised except by those who spend their lives in that ill-surveyed land."

One begins to feel that Western man has done the most arrogant of acts in the process of acculturation in Africa: the teachers should have been taught by their "pupils". The concept of a White Negro may seem odd to some, but I feel that we have much more to learn than to teach. It all rather depends on your set of values.

The probable future of Africa is depressing. The probability is that Africa and Asia will ignore the best in their cultures and tend towards the worst. They will perhaps turn into imperialist powers seeking to dominate the world (always supposing there is one left to dominate). What could always happen is that proletarian revolutions will take place in the newly independent African countries when their peoples recognise their leaders for what they are. However it does seem likely that those very things that are so vital to Africa, the things that attract us in the West because of the lack of them in our own society — the throbbing vitality and the deep mystery of experience — will be snuffed out as the African continent becomes dictatorial, totalitarian, and then imperialistic, as it becomes industrialised and westernised.

Yet what would an anarchist hope might happen? What would he encourage an African who holds anarchist views to try to do in his country? For myself, I would encourage the preservation of the cultural heritage manifest in the tribe, yet the tribal system itself needs to be infused with a libertarian spirit. In some tribes before the European invasion, there were no chiefs. The Ibo in Nigeria, the Kikuyu of Kenya and the Tonga of Northern Rhodesia are three examples where we have already the basis for a fundamentally decentralist society. I should also emphasise the worthiness of African village life, and the evils of industrialisation, even though the rejection of all things Western would be a great mistake. I should encourage a critical absorption of those things considered worthwhile and important by Africans/I]. Technical assistance, though valuable should not be allowed to infringe on the freedom of choice of the people concerned. Africa[I] could/I] have a truly magnificent future from a libertarian point of view. Yet whether it [I]will be a magnificent future is another matter.

JEREMY WESTALL resigned his job in the Provincial Administration in Northern Rhodesia (after experiences which he described in University Libertarian No. 11) and returned to this country where he is now a student of sociology at Hull.

Culture and community - Nicolas Walter

A detailed critical review of Raymond Williams' book The Long Revolution, by anarchist Nicolas Walter.

Three Traditions

RAYMOND WILLIAMS BELONGS TO THREE TRADITIONS — puritanism, cultural investigation, and socialism. It shouldn't be misleading to call him a Puritan since the trial of Lady Chatterley's Lover last autumn, when Richard Hoggart and E. M. Forster both rightly insisted on calling Lawrence one. It is a bad mistake to suppose that Puritanism must necessarily take a religious form — social and political dissent spring from the same source as specifically religious dissent, but have grown away from it. Liberalism looks back to Paine and Milton; socialism to Owen and Lilburne; anarchism to Godwin and Winstanley. All three attitudes belong to the honourable tradition of British Puritanism; as Hoggart put it, "the distinguishing feature of that is an intense responsibility for one's conscience," and Williams, like Lawrence (and Forster and Hoggart too), comes at the end of the line reaching from the Puritans of the Great Rebellion down to our own day. He is a modern Puritan, with what Forster called "this passionate opinion of the world and what it ought to be, but is not".

He also belongs to another honourable tradition, that of cultural investigation: he is what might be called a modern "ethologist". In this tradition the great names — many of them Puritans as well — are Cobbett and Coleridge, Carlyle and Arnold, Ruskin and Morris, Wilde and Shaw, Tawney and Orwell, Richards and Leavis, Eliot and Read, and Lawrence and Hoggart again. It is probably in this role that Williams is best known. His previous books included an essay on Reading and Criticism (1950), an account of Drama from Ibsen to Eliot (1952), and then a brilliant examination of contemporary attitudes to Culture and Society since the Industrial Revolution (1958). This detailed and most interesting book, after dealing with the work of his predecessors from Burke and Cobbett to Orwell and Cauldwell, ends with a conclusion giving Williams' own ethological theories. His contribution to Conviction (1958) was a summary of his position, and The Long Revolution1 is essentially a very much expanded restatement of it.

Neither Culture and Society nor The Long Revolution can be considered without the other, So the Pelican edition of the earlier book is doubly welcome and should certainly be read first. Richard Crossman evidently and significantly failed to do so before writing his Guardian review of The Long Revolution, which hailed as "a new break-through on the Left" a book following closely and explicitly what the author has been saying for years, and managed not to mention Culture and Society at all. One wonders just how much old socialist leaders are interested in new socialist ideas which won't win any votes in the next election but might make socialism a living force again.

It is here that we see Williams in yet another honourable British tradition: he is a modern socialist. He was a working-class scholarship-boy from rural Wales — the background of his moving autobiographical novel Border Country (1960) — who won high academic honours at Cambridge, moved into and out of the Communist Party, and has been engaged since the last War in adult education and "committed" literary criticism, chiefly of modern drama. Hoggart's background is oddly similar, except that he comes from Leeds and began as a critic of modern verse (nor was he ever a Communist, as far as I know). The conversation between the two men printed in the first New Left Review shows how close they are; and Hoggart's book The Uses of Literacy (1957) is the ideal Pelican companion to Culture and Society.

Williams' strong but undogmatic brand of socialism is typical of the New Left, and he is in fact one of its elder statesmen, sitting on the editorial board of New Left Review and contributing frequent articles (including several chapters from his books) to it and to its predecessor, Universities & Left Review. He provides a valuable counterweight to the dialectical rhetoric of Edward Thompson and the youthful enthusiasm of Stuart Hall, and helps to give the New Left a certain air of academic respectability.

It is possible to examine what some writers say without bothering much about what they believe. This is quite impossible with Raymond Williams. He is the sort of writer whose whole work is deeply informed by his principles: the sort of ethologist whose view of culture is ultimately based on a moral attitude to people, on "an intense responsibility for one's conscience" and a "passionate opinion of the world and what it ought to be, but is not" — on puritanical socialism.

Three Questions

Raymond Williams is trying to find the answers to three questions: What is culture and how is it related to the community? What is wrong with our culture? How can it be preserved — and, more important, extended — for the common good?

His technique is always to use a great deal of material gathered by patient research to support his arguments. In Culture and Society he examined what other people had said about the problem during the 150 years before him; in The Long Revolution he examines English cultural life during a period about three times as long. About 80% of the earlier book was devoted to quotations from and comments on several dozen writers, and about 80% of the new one is devoted to a study of the ideas of creativity, culture, society and class in Parts One and Three, and to seven historical essays in Part Two. These essays in particular are meant to make the point of the title, which comes from a passage at the end of Culture and Society:

The forces which have changed and are changing our world … are industry and democracy. Understanding of this change, this long revolution, lies at a level of meaning which it is not easy to reach.

At the beginning of The Long Revolution he points out that as well as the industrial and democratic revolutions there is a third force changing the world — the cultural revolution; and each of the seven essays attempts to reach a level of meaning that can help us understand at least some of its aspects. As he says, "we have no adequate history of our expanding culture," and he has therefore set himself a twofold task:

Partly to get the record as straight as I can; partly to bring the questions of value involved in the history to the point where commitments can be open.

So this book is meant to provide some of the groundwork to a so far unwritten history, within the terms of Williams' own open commitment:

I see this cultural history as more than a department, a special area of change. In this creative area the changes and conflicts of the whole way of life are necessarily involved. This at least is my starting-point: where learning and communication are actual, and where through them we see the shapes of a society. What we see in this way we can then try to put to use in a much wider area. We can try to say how, where we live, we see growth and change, perhaps in new ways that are decisively altering our received social thinking.

It is "received social thinking" above all that Williams is attacking — what Matthew Arnold called "stock notions" and Professor Galbraith calls "conventional wisdom". His chief concern is to refute several fashionable but dangerous "formulas" used to describe our culture. He tries to reconcile popular pairs of opposites — such as "creation" and "perception", "individual" and "society", "culture" and "diversion", "work" and "leisure", "producer" and "consumer" — and to obtain a useful synthesis in their place. Thus he quotes Coleridge and J. Z. Young (but not Berkeley) to show that perception is itself an act of creation, and argues that the basic factor in culture is the mutual act of communication. Then he quotes Rousseau and Fromm (but not Aristotle) to show that we are essentially social animals, and argues that this communication between individual people is the expression of our "social character". From this it is a short step to an expression of political faith:

If man is essentially a learning, creating and communicating being, the only social organisation adequate to his nature is a participating democracy, in which all of us, as unique individuals, learn, communicate and control.

It is in the light of this attitude that we should consider his historical essays.

These show how far we are from a participating democracy in cultural as well as political and economic life. Williams points out, to begin with, that our system of educational apartheid, which is now dignified by the formula of "equality of opportunity" (as racial apartheid in Rhodesia is by that of "partnership"), is derived from the deliberately class-aligned school system established during the last century to preserve the status quo. We have not moved far from the situation described by Crabbe many years ago:

To every class we have a school assigned;
Rules for all ranks, and food for every mind.

He also points to the grave defects of the conventional syllabuses in which our children are still examined — no social studies except paternalist "civics", no non-literary arts except a little drawing and music, living languages carefully disguised as dead ones (and, he might have added, little genuinely experimental science) — and to the complete failure to solve the problems of "teenagers" and of further education. He is rightly disturbed by this situation:

It is a question of whether we can grasp the real nature of our society, or whether we persist in social and educational patterns based on a limited ruling class, a middle professional class, a large operative class, cemented by forces that cannot be challenged and will not be changed. The privileges and barriers, of an inherited kind, will in any case go down. It is only a question of whether we replace them by the free play of the market, or by a public education designed to express and create the values of an educated democracy and a common culture.

I wish that he had taken into account at this point Michael Young's idea of the Meritocracy, but I suppose there isn't room for everything.

He similarly points out that the response to the coming of universal literacy during the last century or so has been a largely class-conscious one — above all, "the fear that as the circle of readers extends, standards will decline", which leads straight to the formula of the "deluge". He lists the deluges that have successively overwhelmed traditional reading habits and have all been greeted with cries of alarm — printing around l500, popular drama around 1600, popular novels and magazines around 1700, radical newspapers around 1800, "mass" newspapers around 1900 (now we have television). In fact the cultural standards of most people have risen pretty steadily for about 500 years and look like continuing to do so, if the process is not halted by some external agency.

Then he describes the growth of the popular press over the last three centuries, showing in passing how the authorities tried to suppress the radical periodicals for the first two and the advertisers finished off most of the survivors in the last one. He also makes it clear that newspaper publishers have nearly always been speculators rather than leaders of opinion, and that the popular idea of the "Northcliffe Revolution" is yet another false formula:

The true "Northcliffe Revolution" is less an innovation in actual journalism than a radical change in the economic basis of newspapers, tied to the new kind of advertising.

Once more, he is disturbed by the present situation:

Is it all to come to this, in the end, that the lost history of the press in Britain should reach its consummation in a declining number of newspapers, in ownership by a few very large groups, and in the acceptance … of the worst kinds of journalism?

Then comes an interesting account of the growth of "Standard English", in which he traces the decline of dialect into accent and disposes of yet another formula — the belief that the language spoken by any class at any time is more "correct" than that spoken by any other class or at any other time. He shows how arrogance and deference have elevated various forms of vocabulary and pronunciation into a temporarily superior position, how fear of vulgarity and affectation has tended to preserve each form, and how social and cultural change has nevertheless pushed each form into the background — as post-war usage is doing to pre-war "Received Standard" speech now. "Thousands of people have been capable of the vulgar insolence of telling other Englishmen that they do not know how to speak their own language," and they still do so; but they do not speak like their parents, nor will their children speak like them. Unfortunately, whatever the prevailing standard may be, we can always be sure that it will continue to be "impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman despise him". I am sorry Williams doesn't quote this fine Shavianism, and also that he doesn't deal with the strange practice of swearing; in fact this chapter provokes more questions than it even tries to answer.

The next chapter is a summary of what looks like a Ph. D. thesis — an investigation of the social backgrounds of about 350 writers born between 1470 and 1929. This confirms what one might expect to find, such as the continuing importance of Oxbridge, the rising proportion of alien writers (coming either from outside England or from alienated groups within the country), and the increasing economic insecurity of professional writers as writing becomes increasingly professional. It is significant that the established social pattern always breaks at the same time as the established literary pattern — so that the Romantic Movement and the Industrial Revolution coincide not only with each other but also with a remarkable diversity in the origins of the writers involved. The chief lesson Williams draws is that writers' social backgrounds are always closely linked with social movements in general and with literary traditions in particular. I wish that this chapter had been much more detailed — and also that the statistical information given in pp. 231-239 had been represented on a simple table. This sort of quasi-Marxist analysis can be extremely valuable when it is done intelligently, and I hope Williams publishes fuller results of his investigation in the near future.

The last two historical essays are called "the Social History of Dramatic Forms" and "'Realism and the Contemporary Novel". Both are interesting, but both tend to become rather abstract essays in literary criticism and to obscure the implications of what they say — which is, more or less, that recent plays and novels have usually been confined by aesthetic formulas that make them socially dangerous or futile; so that drama and fiction should somehow be re-opened to contemporary life and thought. This is of course a moderate plea for social realism, not according to any ideological formula but in response to the urgent needs of society. In fact examples are more eloquent in this sort of situation than exhortations can ever be, and the sort of work described in ANARCHY 1 ("The 'New Wave' in Britain") is more effective than anything said in these two chapters; Williams has indeed made a more effective plea himself by writing Border Country. I always feel suspicious of appeals for this or that kind of art or literature, but Williams does manage to put the case for social realism fairly well, and as usual anything he says about cultural problems is worth listening to; most of us will probably agree with him over this particular point, though I think he is unfair to work that is not "committed" in the way he likes.

Three Answers

Raymond Williams finds the first question relatively easy to answer. Culture, he said in his Conviction essay, is not just "the arts and learning" (the usual idea), and is certainly not "the outward and emphatically visible sign of a special kind of people" (the idea of culture as a sign of grace or a status-symbol), but "a whole way of life". He admitted that "there is an English bourgeois culture, with its powerful educational, literary and social institutions in close contact with the centres of power" (the idea of culture as class ideology), but denied that this is in any real sense English culture as such. He has followed Eliot — who said: "Culture … includes all the characteristic activities and interests of a people" — in turning from the traditional ethologists to modern anthropologists and sociologists for a wider and more satisfactory definition of culture. (He has, however, rejected the modern psychologist's idea of culture as ritualised release from unconscious tension, and ignores the modern zoologists' idea of culture as highly organised play altogether).

In The Long Revolution he moves from "a whole way of life" to the vague phrase "structure of feeling". What he seems to be getting at is that culture is the collective activity of a community: culture is what society does, rather as the mind is what the brain does. It is culture that makes a human community more than either an aggregation of individual units or an instinctive association of big-headed two-legged ants. England is more than the sum of its inhabitants; and the difference is English culture, the structure of feeling of the English community.

Thus culture is the "pursuit of perfection" (Arnold's phrase) only to the extent that one of the functions of society is the pursuit of perfection — or the Good, or what you will. And similarly culture is the preserve of "a special kind of people" (the élite, or intelligentsia) only to the extent that the uncultured majority has been unable or the cultured minority willing to share it. For a long time, of course, the majority of mankind has been unable to share culture in any meaningful way; hunger, oppression and ignorance make up an infallible prescription for resentful apathy. What was wrong with English culture 500 years ago was that most people were scarcely members of English society at all, except as glorified slaves; what has been wrong with English culture since then is that the people who have gradually won a certain measure of life, liberty and happiness have been excluded from both culture and society by their former masters; and what is wrong with English culture today is that though we have nearly all the ingredients of a free and open society of equals we are still not prepared to get down to mixing them.

So the answer to the second question is that England could and should be one nation, and is still two nations — or is it three? A century ago Arnold said that English culture was divided into three parts — Barbarians, Philistines and the populace. These classes have merged into each other, perhaps, but they have divided again. Hoggart has commented on "the strength of our sense of class":

We don't need to feel it consciously, but simply to accept the notion of grades seeping all through society. We seem to have three-tiered minds: upper, middle and lower class; high, middle and lowbrow; Third, Home and Light.

As Tawney was complaining thirty years ago:

Here are these people …who, more than any other nation, need a common culture, for, more than any other, they depend on an economic system which at every turn involves mutual understanding and continuous co-operation, and who, more than any other, possess, as a result of their history [and their geography, he might have added], the materials by which such a common culture might be inspired. Yet, so far from desiring it, there is nothing, it seems, which they desire less.

So the first two questions have been answered. It is the third question — What must be done? — which is the most important one to ask and the most difficult one to answer.
There are two kinds of answer that are usually given — the nostalgic and the optimistic. The nostalgic answer is that there was once a common culture and our task is to revive it; the optimistic answer is that there is already a common culture in embryo and our task is to bring it to birth.

Nostalgic ethologists — including people like Cobbett, Ruskin, Morris and Lawrence — have in the past tended to relapse into rustic medievalism, but the modern version of cultural nostalgia can be seen in what Leavis and Denys Thompson said in Culture and Environment nearly thirty years ago:

Literary education … is to a great extent a substitute. What we have lost is the organic community with the living culture it embodied … Instead or the community, urban or rural, we have, almost universally, suburbanism.

They do not, it is true, share the reactionary passion of many of their predecessors, but even so their qualifications are not wholly convincing:

We must … realise that there can be no mere going back, but the memory of the old order must be the chief incitement towards a new, if ever we are to have one.

A closely similar attitude can be seen in the guild socialist, Penty, just after the end of the first World War:

Whereas a false culture like the academic one of today tends to separate people … a true culture like the great cultures of the past unite them. The moral is obvious: "The recovery of such a culture is one of our most urgent needs."

I am sure it is simply an evasion of our cultural difficulties to hope for a solution through a return to a golden age somewhere in the past — even more so when it seems on investigation to be a largely imaginary golden age. Leavis and Thompson put it in the last century; Cobbett put in the one before that; Goldsmith even further back; and most of the nostalgics, like Ruskin and Morris, have gone right back to the Middle Ages. It would help rational discussion of this idea if we knew when this "Merrie England" existed and what it was like. I don't believe it ever existed at all. I think that the Urkultur is sheer fantasy. People are always remembering the "good old days" with affectionate regret, even when there is ample evidence that they were really very bad old days indeed (consider the current vogue for the Edwardian Era). Remember Lucky Jim, who began by writing a lecture about "the instinctive culture of the integrated village-type community" and ended by saying: "The point about Merrie England is that it was about the most un-Merrie period in our history."

So we turn to the optimistic ethologists. These are of two kinds — "right" and "left". The former include Coleridge, Carlyle, Maurice, Mill and most socially conscious Victorians — above all, Matthew Arnold:

Culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light. It has one even greater — the passion for making them prevail. It is not satisfied until we all come to a perfect man; it knows that the sweetness and light of a few must be imperfect until the raw and unkindled masses of humanity are touched with sweetness and light.

He was careful to deny that he was being patronising about the masses or snobbish about culture:

It does not try to reach down to the level of inferior classes … It seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere; to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light, where they may use ideas … freely-nourished and not bound by them. This is the social idea; and the men of culture are the true apostles of equality.

This is all very well, but the trouble with the all-embracing benevolence of "levelling-up" is that it easily turns sour, as it had done with Carlyle and Arnold's own father, as it tended to do with Arnold himself, and as it has done since with Lawrence and Orwell and Eliot and Read and dozens of others. It is difficult to go on loving men if you expect too much from them in the first place, and no one is more bitterly misanthropic than the disappointed philanthropist.

The pattern is simple. The right-wing optimist expects the uncultured majority to take culture readily and gratefully from the cultured minority; when this doesn't happen, he blames not the élite or the class system, but the masses, and either retires into an ivory tower of indifference or relapses from paternal humanism into open authoritarianism. In both cases the last stage is snobbery and contempt. Hence Bloomsbury; hence the "posh" papers; hence Reith and the BBC; hence the repeated reinforcement of the old view that the living culture of the leisure class should be not shared but preserved intact; and hence the continued and even strengthened polarisation of English culture. In practice, Coleridge's "clerisy", Carlyle's "writing and teaching heroes", Arnold's "aliens", and so on down to Eliot's "élite" and Read's "artists", always tend to become a band of "top people" combining to keep precious "culture" out of the grubby hands of the masses. And this tendency is made even stronger when there is a class of professional "top people" with its own vested interests to protect, as we have now and as was prophesied by Adam Smith two centuries ago:

In opulent and commercial societies, to think or to reason comes to be, like every other employment, a particular business which is carried on by a very few people who furnish the public with all the thought and reason possessed by the vast multitudes that labour.

Incidentally, who are these "vast multitudes"? What are the "masses"? Williams demolished this cherished formula in Culture and Society:

The masses are always the others, whom we don't know …To other people, we also are masses. Masses are other people. There are in fact no masses; there are only ways of seeing people as masses.

And he added an important corollary:

The whole theory of mass-communication depends, essentially, on a minority in some way exploiting a majority.

"Mass" is really just a new word for "mob", and we can see how right-wing optimists come to feel about the mob when we turn to Eliot:

A mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed and well disciplined.

There is a strong strain of authoritarianism leading on to frank despotism in this kind of search for a common culture, and in the end it often does more harm than good by raising hopes that cannot be fulfilled.

The other kind of optimistic ethologists are the socialists who believe, after Marx, that proletarian culture is the living culture and will become the common culture when the proletariat destroys the bourgeoisie. This is the theory that elevates folk-songs and folk-stories into an absurdly superior position and consigns most of recorded European culture into a limbo of decadent formalism. I take it that we agree to dismiss the implications of this theory, even in its more

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subtle forms, while recognising of course that folk-culture is just as valid and valuable as any other other aspect of cultural activity. Williams certainly entertains no illusions about the necessary superiority of working-class life in general or art in particular. The real tragedy is that any aspect of culture should be judged in terms of class labels rather than of intrinsic merit and social worth.
But at its best left-wing optimism is something very fine — often an integral part of puritanical socialism — and while Williams does not in fact share such an attitude he has certainly been influenced (as I hope we all have been influenced) by the sort of thing felt by Morris eighty years ago when he was looking forward to

The victorious days when millions of those who now sit in darkness will be enlightened by an Art made by the people and for the people, a joy to the maker and the user.

So the first answer to the third question is a negative one — the common culture will not be created by a return to the past or a gift from above or an eruption from below. How will it be created? The second answer is also negative — it won't be created at all. Williams agrees with Eliot that culture cannot be forced — "These activities are probably by-products for which we cannot arrange the conditions" — and hopes that the coming of socialism will somehow involve the spontaneous growth of a common culture as the living expression of a free and open society of equals. This was already expressed in Culture and Society:

If, in a socialist society, the basic cultural skills are made widely available, and the channels of communication widened and cleared, as much as possible has been done in the way of preparation, and what then emerges will be an actual response to the whole reality, and so valuable.

In Part Three of The Long Revolution, which is hopefully entitled "Britain in the 1960's", he attacks the idea of culture as a market in which kicks of varying strength and sophistication are sold by shrewd speculators to faceless morons; and then he attacks the idea that private and public responsibility are separate categories. This is an ancient line of argument among social critics — the famous phrase Galbraith uses to describe the modern Affluent Society was used by Sallust to describe Rome two thousand years ago: Habemus publice egestatem, privatim opulentiam — but it is none the less relevant for that. The point of Williams' argument is that we all care about our unhealthy community with its private opulence and public squalor and our unhealthy culture with its private satisfactions and public apathy — but what are we, as members of our community and participants in our culture, prepared to do about it?

At the very end of his book, after a long and rather derivative discussion of contemporary economic and political problems, Williams says what he thinks we ought to do for the sake of a common culture. He proposes some sort of decentralised public ownership of the media of drama, cinema and broadcasting, and some sort of public councils for the book and periodical trades. At the same time, he calls for increased public patronage and informed criticism of the arts, more adult education and "new forms of education" for teenagers, and a public consumer service; and elsewhere he has also suggested an advertising tax and council. So we are presented with a programme of Fabian nationalisation and/or municipalisation, which is rather disappointing.

Williams' defence is that the long revolution must be continued and will die of atrophy if it is not pushed forward by decisive common action. The immediate danger he sees is that the "Establishment" will become more firmly entrenched and the people who are called "masses" will accept the title — then the "massification of society" (an American phrase) wiIl take place and "I'm all right, Jack" will be the true national anthem. We are back where Matthew Arnold began, when a revolution has reached a crisis and the choice is between culture and anarchy (which means chaos, not this magazine!). Our society, says Williams, is a changing organism, and our culture is similarly dynamic, not static. It is going to move in any case — which way do we want it to go? The only way he can accept is one of "conceding the practice of democracy, which alone can substantiate the theory". Hence his unappetising blue-print.

Three Criticisms

Before dealing with Williams' specific proposals, I should like to make two other criticisms of this book. The first is that its scope is far too narrow. It is insular, considering British culture only as a monad living in splendid autarky among other monads; foreign cultures are scarcely mentioned. It is insular even within the British Isles, taking no account of the variations that exist in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and in the North and South-West of England. It is limited in its treatment of even English culture — despite his repeated insistence that culture is "a whole way of life", Williams confines his investigations to verbal culture as expressed in speech and literature, and says almost nothing about such other aspects of our cultural life as films, broadcasting, music, painting, sculpture, architecture, museums, town and country planning, transport, clothing, sport, holidays, hobbies, hygiene, eating and drinking, sex, crime and religion. He pretty well ignores the problem of Snow's "two cultures" and the relevance of the scientific and technological revolutions that have accompanied the industrial and democratic ones; numeracy is as important as literacy. The book looks too much like a collection of essays on subjects that happen to interest the author. What is lacking is any hint of the breadth of view we find among English writers like Wells, Russell or Aldous Huxley, or among anarchists like Kropotkin and Rocker.

My second criticism is that The Long Revolution is nearly unreadable. I do not ask Williams to try to be a great writer like some of his predecessors, but I do ask him — and anyone else who wants to be heard — to say clearly what he means so that he can be readily understood. No doubt culture is a difficult and important subject, and no doubt Williams is more interested in saying exactly what he believes than in coining clever phrases (though I am sure the Long Revolution will now join the Affluent Society and Meritocracy and Organisation Man and Lonely Crowd in the modern pantheon of social criticism), but there is no need to write so that every sentence has to be read twice before it makes sense. Reading this book is like running hurdles across a ploughed field in pitch darkness.

This is a serious enough matter for any writer; for one whose whole subject is the problem of communication it is unforgivable, and it has already done Williams harm. One reason why so many reviews have been unfair to the book is that the reviewers haven't managed to get through it (goodness knows how the general reader will fare), and in their irritation they have poked fun at the author's solemnity and apparent self-righteousness — which is bad manners, perhaps, but he does ask for it. Williams and his publishers are guilty of giving bad service to their customers — incidentally, there are no notes at all, the bibliography is scrappy, and the index is quite inadequate; otherwise the book is beautifully produced. If the opacity and verbosity of the prose had been dealt with properly, it would have been possible to get the important ideas across more effectively, to back them up with more relevant material and to discuss the controversial issues at greater length. Style isn't everything, but it is still important, and a writer ignores the technique of communication at his peril.

My third criticism is that Williams has been betrayed by his socialist allegiance into making some unfortunate positive proposals for and some false assumptions about our culture. He outlines his programme so abruptly and briefly (on pp. 335-347) that its details will probably become objects of dispute rather than subjects for discussion. It is not simply that it is authoritarian and not libertarian; Williams' idea of socialism is probably as libertarian as anyone's — though I think he would prefer the word "communitarian" (we can't use "communist" in this sense any more), since his aim is neither liberty nor authority but true community. No, the trouble is that they seem to be the products of a formula (public responsibility = public ownership) in defiance of reality (public ownership = state control). Williams prefers bureaucrats to plutocrats in theory, but in practice I prefer America to Russia. The point is that we are trying to change existing society, not to create a new one from scratch. Ideally, a community should obviously control its own culture; but the inevitable result of public control of a class culture like ours is the reinforcement of the position of the ruling class. We have already seen public control of some of the means of production and distribution failing to improve our community and even, in some ways, making it worse. We seem to be caught in a dilemma: we cannot change the quality of society unless we change its structure, we cannot change the structure of society unless we change its quality, and if we try to change both at once we run the risk of upsetting the whole thing and being more badly off than before. (Perhaps it is impossible to make improvements by design?)

Williams is so anxious to persuade us that "the ordinary people should govern; that culture and education are ordinary; that there are no masses to save, to capture, or to direct" that he misses the mystery lying at the heart of culture. We need an equal society not because all men are equal but because some men are more equal than others. There are enormous differences between people, and these differences become more important as the community becomes larger. In the old days societies were small, or condemned most of their members to slavery, or both. Today we are committed to large societies with no slaves, but it will take more than wishful thinking or public ownership to make them work. We must recognise our differences as well as our similarities; we are individual animals and social animals at the same time. And it is when we are most different and most individual that the unique and inexplicable act of creation takes place, whether its purpose is communication or simply self-expression. Williams never seems to take this existentialist or romantic assertion into account. He is always honest and sincere — indeed this is one thing no reviewer has doubted — but he is seldom original or profound, as some of his admirers claim. He is not nearly as impressive when he turns to philosophy and politics as when he asks concrete questions about culture; when he does this he should certainly be listened to. We should not turn from what he says because we are bound to disagree with his conclusions. As he himself has said in another connection, "If Eliot is read with attention he is seen to have raised questions which those who differ from him politically must answer or else retire from the field." It is now up to us to find our own answers.

  • 1. The Long Revolution, by Raymond Williams (Chatto & Windus, 30s.).

Removal of guilt - Anthony Weaver

Anthony Weaver on progressive methods of working with troubled children and young people.

EDWARD GLOVER a few years ago condemned D. H. Stott's Delinquency and Human Nature because it was not peppered with the word guilt. He praises L. G. Lennhoff's book Exceptional Children (Allen and Unwin 21s.) because it is so garnished, and he seizes upon it to parade a theory which in a sense adds a missing dimension to the work. But it is questionable whether the theory fits the facts, and whether Lennhoff would not be wiser to carry on trusting to his intuition and the empirical deductions upon which his work has been based hitherto, without on the one hand being saddled with an ill-fitting and limiting philosophy, and on the other, in trying to formulate one for himself, being dragged back into the framework of thinking in which he was brought up.

He was brought up in Germany by a somewhat frightening father and a warm-hearted mother. That he came to this country as a refugee, without money, and has succeeded in establishing a school of his own is no mean achievement. Autonomy gives a rare quality to a man. Lennhoff confines himself to a description of his practice, and in so doing provides for the uninitiated an introduction to the symptoms and treatment of maladjustment and delinquency. Understandably for one not using his mother tongue, the writing is nowhere as lucid, systematic or humorous as that of other laymen who have described their community therapy. Indeed there is no index, no full case histories, and the contents of one chapter could just as well go in the next. Furthermore there is no bibliography: the writers mentioned in passing are Winnicott, Bettelheim, and the Underwood Report.

Shotton Hall is Lennhoff's demonstration of what he considers should be the role of an extremely enlightened father who devotes himself to the benefit of his family. He gets his thirty-five boys to call him Daddy and his wife Mummy. In his scheme of training an important section is reserved to the Family and its members: its foundation for healthy child development, analysis of the family, family structure, the family and the home, the family at work and leisure. He presents the facts about Shotton as objectively as any man immersed in this all-demanding work could be expected to do. Glover, in his Foreword, explains that "Lennhoff teaches us that an ounce of moulding is worth a pound of correction and that we cannot mould material that has become petrified. Moreover he proves to us that with patience, care and understanding the petrified minds of deviant children can once more be rendered plastic," and further, that "throughout his work he applies the touchstone of 'transference', a concept of repetitive attitudes and patterns of conduct which we owe to Freud and which Aichhorn was the first to apply in institutional work with the maladjusted. The friendly transference at first so difficult to elicit with anxious or anti-social children, he nurses carefully to the point where they offset, cancel out or liquidate the hostile transferences which are responsible for so much refractory conduct. Once this has been achieved the way is open for education, or in other words for the development of a comparatively stable, realistic and adaptable ego. And Mr. Lennhoff is quick to seize these opportunities".

Lennhoff himself, theorising in an off-guarded moment says (p. 29) that "a young child has no social conscience and if no incentive to social development nor the example of a moral code is given, chaos sets in from the start. Normal development requires a constant interchange of demand and fulfilment and if this is lacking, so is the foundation of social education." And he explains that the methods of Shotton are first analysis or gaining of insight, secondly Transference or Identification, and finally Re-education.

Aichhorn believed that Re-education was a means of modifying the super-ego and was therefore adequate in those cases whose problem arose from having a too compliant super-ego. Not merely however do we need to be clear which areas of a child's problem it is wise to attempt to tackle by this means, but also by what other means of therapy. Suttie for example in The Origins of Love and Hate showed that the success of a so-called transference and identification amounts to a cure by love, not due to the mumbo-jumbo of psychoanalysis.

The method advocated by Glover, but to which Lennhoff only gives lip service, is the authoritarian, totalitarian one, carved out of the family situation. It is through this that many generations of human beings have had their characters moulded, and knowing no other condition, have accepted and perpetuated it, much as they do a restricted diet.

Discussing Adrian Stokes' Three Essays on the Painting of our Time, Herbert Read explains the need of identification with the object. "The work or art," he says, "is the best kind of self-sufficient object with which we can identify ourselves and at the same time hold commerce. In fact the work of art is unique in this respect, and essential for individual sanity and social order. In painting a picture the artist is performing an act of integration that has a threefold significance. In the first place, he creates an object which resolves the contradictions of his own psyche, calms his nerves, as we say. In the second place, the work of art is part of a patient construction of what the psychoanalyst calls the ego: a coherent idealisation of existence in an apparently absurd universe. Finally, by these means the artist helps to create a civilisation or culture, a general body of symbolic objects to which a community can give its admiration and allegiance. Moreover, whatever philosophers and theologians may say to the contrary, it is only art that can perform this service for the community."

This argument leads to the particular doctrine associated with the name of Melanie Klein, a doctrine which is based on the analysis of the infant's early reactions to the breast. However far-fetched and improbable this doctrine may seem to those who have not followed Dr. Klein's analyses in all their patient detail, it must be said that it fits the facts of aesthetic experience in their widest range. The work of art can always be explained as a concrete object that saves us from the abyss — the nothingness that threatens us when we are deprived of the breast, and continues to threaten us unconsciously unless we find a substitute object we can love, and in whose concreteness we can find security.

Lennhoff does not seem to realise the truth he has stumbled upon. "We must arrange," he says (p.64), "that suitable teams work together. For instance, if Jim, who simply cannot start work in the mornings and is inclined to lounge on a radiator and 'just think', is teamed with Bill, who works quickly and well, Bill will see that Jim is doing his share. Help from the staff is often of great importance. Duties shared with people one loves and respects are part of the early maturing process, and this aspect is often worked out during tasks tackled with the help of the staff."

The process by which we are induced to share a common ideal, Read has shown, is none other than the creation of an emphatic relationship with our fellows by means of imitation of the same patterns — by meeting, as it were, in the common form or quality of the universally valid work of art. And it is with great ingenuity that Lennhoff provides a welter of activities for expression. These take mainly two forms. The first of these is craft (woodwork, gardening, puppet-making, book- binding, material-printing, basketry, leatherwork, modelling). The significance of much of this he explains as therapeutic — "the creation of craft work can be of great encouragement to children whose role in life has often been to destroy rather than to create … when a disturbed boy feels safe enough, he paints into his picture much of his own emotional situation, working through some of his difficulties as well as informing the adult of the precise nature of some of his feelings. Paul, for instance, shows his aggression clearly in his pictures. Frequently in the scenes he paints is the burning and torture of a woman. The woman is undoubtedly a symbol for the mother who has caused him so much unhappiness." This function of painting, demonstrated by Cizek, Aichhorn's contemporary in Vienna, is none the less valuable for being well-known. But it is only the beginning of the act of integration out-lined by Read in the passage quoted above.

The second form of activity is work. The therapeutic value of this is also well-known, and has been used by Makarenko, Homer Lane, and by Henrietta Szold in the Youth Aliyah Children's Villages in Israel. However, Lennhoff has had the nerve to buy a 60-acre farm eight miles away, which, on top of everything else, he administers from Shotton. That boys may get away there, to work I]as volunteers[/I], has incidentally reduced absconding to negligible proportions, and provides an essential contact with animals. He tells the tale of a boy whose mother went off to buy some magazines at a railway station just as they were setting off on an outing, and never returned. "Life had nothing more to offer him and his personality went to pieces. He began to steal and to withdraw from human contacts. After a long period of 'don't care' attitudes he regressed to early childhood: his most marked expression of this being the time when we found him underneath a cow, feeding from her udder. This enabled one of our staff to break through to him …"

Lennhoff understands that freedom is no negative state of existence but a qualitative one which makes demands upon the child. He and his colleagues show remarkable persistence in keeping up these demands providing opportunities. The first period at Shotton is a bewildering and testing time of learning what is right and wrong, and this means choice. In a more rigid system you can always blame someone else for what goes wrong, but where responsibility is shared (albeit not in the clear-cut and formalised David Wills method) the child slowly learns to make decisions for himself, and then to cope with the reality situation that his own action has created.

Lennhoff insists that it does not matter in what direction the child widens out, as long as he is successful and can be encouraged to go a step further. Not only is this far from Glover's claim of moulding character, but Lennhoff has the frankness to admit that some children, with whom they never succeed in making a relationship, nevertheless cure themselves. For example the boy Barnie writes about Shotton: "I never really found any particular adult could help me, but everyone was kind enough and understanding and somehow I felt trusted for the first time and so I could sort things out for myself. I'd never felt like that before in my life."

There are many examples in the book of the trust that is placed in the boys — they help to run the office, for example, and if insistent will be shown their own files: "the hunger for knowledge is generally centred on details about family background (mainly in the cases of illegitimate children), or to find out whether their misdeeds at Shotton are registered, which incidently they are not."

Similarly in dealing with parents the attempt is not made to tell a mother exactly how to manage her child, but how she can broaden and be more mature in her view of life.

Lennhoff's demonstration of Re-education in the present writer's opinion, deserves the highest praise. It complements, and reveals his understanding of, Aichhorn's exposition of the abreaction of his aggressive group and the working of individual transference. If he can extend the significance of art, that is to say dance, painting and drama as well as craft, in education and indeed in his whole scheme of things, as Lyward does, he can be spared Glover's backhanded compliments.

Ownership by Lennhoff (he calls himself "we") though giving him autonomy, marks him off from his colleagues who appear as his instruments. Can he shed his authority over them, as the nurses quoted at the Henderson Social Rehabilitation Unit have shed their uniforms? Will he allow himself to be supported emotionally by his fellow workers and thus remove a central figure upon which the children will otherwise identify themselves?


E. M. Bazely: Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth (Allen & Unwin).
Bruno Bettelheim: Love is not Enough (Glencoe, Illinois).
Michael Burn: Mr. Lyward's Answer (Hamish Hamilton).
A. Makarenko: The Road to Life (Foreign Languages Publishing Ho. Moscow).
David Wills: Throw Away Thy Rod (Gollancz).

ANTHONY WEAVER lectures in education at Whitelands, one of the teacher training colleges under London University. He was head teacher at a school for maladjusted children and then warden of a residential clinic which was eventually closed down as a result of Home Office disapproval. This work he has described in They Steal for Love (Max Parrish). A member of the Direct Action Committee, he is author of War Outmoded (Housmans).

Anarchy #004

Issue of Anarchy magazine from June 1961.


anarchy-004.pdf13.01 MB

Where the Shoe Pinches

There is a word in use among administrators, "institutionalization",
meaning putting people into institutions. It follows that there must
be an even more regrettable word "de-institutionalization", meaning
getting them out again. It has only one thing to recommend it : it puts
my theme in one word. By institutions, in the general sense, we mean
"an established law, custom, usage, practice, organisation, or other
element in the political or social life of a people", and in a special
sense, we mean "an educational, philanthropic, remedial, or penal
establishment in which a building or system of buildings plays a major
and central role, e.g., schools, hospitals, orphanages, old people's homes,

Since I am concerned with an anarchist approach, I must also define
the aims of anarchism, and for this purpose I will use a sentence from
Kropotkin :

It seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with
the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all
possible degrees, for all imaginable purposes, ever modified associations
which carry in themselves the elements of their durability and constantly
assume new forms which answer best to the multiple aspirations of all.

If you accept these definitions you will see that anarchism is
hostile to institutions in the general sense; hostile that is to say, to the
institutionalization into pre-established forms or legal entities, of the
various kinds of human association. It is predisposed towards de-
institutionalization, towards the breakdown of institutions.

Now de-institutionalization is a feature of current thought and
actual trends in the second or special sense of the word. There is a
characteristic pattern of development common to many of these special

institutions. Frequently they are founded or modified by some indivi-
dual pioneer, a secular or religious philanthropist, to meet some urgent
social need or remedy some social evil. Then they become the focus
of the activities of a voluntary society, and as the nineteenth century
proceeds, gain the acknowledgment and support of the state. Local
authorities may fill in the geographical gaps in the distribution, and
finally, in our own day, the institutions themselves are institutionalized,
that is' to say, nationalised, taken over by the state as a public service.
But at the very peak of their growth and development, a doubt arises.
Are they in fact remedying the evil or serving the purpose for which
they were instituted, or are they merely perpetuating it. A new
generation of pioneer thinkers arises which seeks to set the process in
reverse, to abolish the institution altogether, or to break it down into
non-institutional units, or to meet the same social need in a non-
institutional way. This is so marked a trend, that it leads us to specu-
late on the extent to which the special institutions can be regarded as
microcosms or models for the critical study of the general institutions
of society.

Institutional Maternity

A generation ago the accepted "ideal" pattern of childbirth was in
a maternity hospital. The baby was taken away from the mother at
birth and put behind glass by a masked nurse, to be brought out at
strictly regulated hours for feeding. Kissing and cuddling were regarded
as unhvgienic. (Most babies were not born that way, but that was the
ideal). " Today the ideal picture is completely different. Baby is born
at home, with father helping the midwife, while brothers and sisters
are encouraged to "share" the new acquisition. He is cossetted by all
and sundry and fed on demand. (Again most babies are not born that
way, but it is the new accepted ideal). This change in attitudes can
be attributed to the swing of the pendulum of fashion, to common-sense
re-asserting itself, or it may be the result of the popularisation of the
findings of anthropologists and psychoanalysts and of the immensely
influential evidence collected by John Bowlby in his WHO report on
maternal care. Professor Ashley Montagu writes:

there was a disease from which, but half a century ago, more than half
of the children (who died) in their first year of life, regularly died. This
disease was known as marasmus from the Greek word meaning wasting
away". This disease was also known as infantile atrophy or debility. When
studies were undertaken to track down its cause, it was discovered that it
was generally babies in the "best" homes and hospitals who were most often
its victims, babies who were apparently receiving the best and most careful
physical attention, while babies in the poorest homes, with a good mother,
despite the lack of hygienic physical conditions, often overcame the physical
handicaps and nourished. What was lacking in the sterilised environment
of the babies of the first class and was generously supplied in babies of the
second class was mother love. This discovery is responsible for the fact
that hospitals today endeavour to keep the infant for as short a time as

The conflict between the two "ideal" patterns of childbirth is
frequently debated in the press today, partly as a result of two recent
official reports, the Cranbrook Report (of the Maternity Service Com-
mittee, 1959) and the report on Human Relations in Obstetrics (1961).
Today between 60 and 70 per cent, of births take place in hospitals or
nursing homes, and a larger percentage probably would if more beds
were available, but it is still true that "Many mothers compare their
reception and management in hospital unfavourably with confinement
at home. Of one series of 336 mothers who had at least one baby in
hospital and one at home, 80% preferred home confinement and only
14% hospital confinement". (The Lancet 22/4/61). These apparently
contradictory percentages simply mean of course that mothers want
the advantages' of both "ideals"— medical safety and a domestic atmos-
phere. The real demand is in fact for the de-institutionalization of the
hospital. Thus in opening the new obstetric unit of Charing Cross
Hospital (23/2/60) Professor Norman Morris declared that "Twenty-
five years of achievement have vastly reduced the hazards of childbirth,
but hospitals too often drown the joys of motherhood in a sea of in-
humanity." There was, he said "an atmosphere of coldness, unfriend-
liness, and severity more in keeping with an income tax office. Many
of our systems which involve dragooning and regimentation must be
completely revised- No sister should be permitted to exercise her
authority by means of a reign of terror". And at the Royal Society of
Health Congress (29/4/61) he described many existing maternity units
as mere baby factories. "Some even seem to boast that they have de-
veloped a more efficient conveyor belt system than anything that has
gone before".

Children in Hospital

The widespread acceptance of the view which has become known
as "Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis" has profoundly affected
attitudes to the treatment of young children in hospital. The American
pediatricians Ruth and Harry Bakwin observed that :

The effect of residence in a hospital manifests itself by a fairly well-
defined clinical picture. A striking feature is the failure to gain properly,
despite the ingestion of diets which arc entirely adequate for growth in
the home. Infants in hospitals sleep less than others and they rarely smile
or babble spontaneously. They arc listless and apathetic and look unhappy.
The appetite is indifferent and food is accepted without enthusiasm.
Respiratory infections which last only a day or two in the home are prolonged
and may persist for weeks and months. Return to the home results in
defervescence (disappearance of fever) within a few days and prompt and
striking gain in weight.

Bowlby notes the same thing and remarks that the condition of
these infants is "undoubtedly a form of depression having many of the
hallmarks of the typical adult depressive patient of the mental hospital".
The pioneer of the de-institutionalisation of children's hospitals was
Sir James Spence who, in 1927, set up a mother-and-child unit at the
Babies' Hospital, Newcastle. In 1947, writing in the British Medical
Journal about the reforms needed in long-stay hospitals for children
he advocated the breaking-down of institutional hospitalisation of older
children, remarking that

it would be better if the children lived in small groups under a house-
mother, and from there went to their lessons in a school, to their treatment
in a sick-bay, and to their entertainment in a central hall . . .

The findings of Bakwin, Bowley and Spence, and of James Robert-
son, of the Tavistock Child Development Research Unit (who made the
films A Two-year-old Goes to Hospital and Going to Hospital with
Mother) were at last given official endorsement when the Ministry of
Health accepted the Piatt Report on "The Welfare of Children in Hos-
pital" which recommended that for young children institutional care
should be the last resort, that institutional care should be broken down
into small informal units, that the visiting of children in hospital should
be unrestricted and that provision should be made for admitting th
mothers of under- lives to help in their care and to prevent the distress
of separation. Two years later there have been several attempts to
gauge the extent to which these recommendations have been carried
out. Isabel Quigly {Spectator 24/2/61 and correspondence in subse-
quent issues) found that "one hospital and the next, under the sam
National Health Service, seemed as different as Dotheboys Hall and a
Montessori class", and James Robertson {Observer 15/1/61 to 12/2/61)
found both wards which were a model of enlightened practice and at
the other extreme many "in which practice is so rigid and, in effect,
so inhumane as to warrant the utmost concern".

Institution Children

The observations of the effect of the institutional environment on
sick children are also true of physically healthy children. One of the
first comparative studies of orphanage children with a matched control
group, conducted by the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station in 1938,
led the observers to remark :

No one could have predicted, much less proved, the steady tendency to
deteriorate on the part of children maintained under what had previously
been regarded as standard orphanage conditions. With respect to intelligence,
vocabulary, general information, social competence, personal adjustment,
and motor achievement, the whole picture was one of retardation. The
effect of from one to three years in a nursery school still far below its own
potentialities, was to reverse the tide of regression, which, for some, led to

In Britain during the war Dorothy Burlingham and Anna Freud
reported in Infants Without Families the striking changes in children
showing every symptom of retardedness, when their residential nurseries
were broken down to provide family groups of four children each with
their own substitute mother, and since then a great number of such
comparisons have been made in several countries, which Barbara
Wootton sums up in these words :

Repeatedly these children have been found to lag behind the standards
of those who live at home; to have both lower intelligence and lower
developmental quotients, and to be, moreover, relatively backward in both
speech and walking. Goldfarb, who has been one of the most active
investigators in this field, records that those who had spent their earliest
ye'ars in infants' homes were apt to be retarded both in general, and in
particular in speech. They were also more destructive and aggressive, more
restless and less able to concentrate and more indifferent to privacy rights
than other children. They were, in fact, impoverished in all aspects of
their personality.

The change in public and official opinion in this country began with
a letter to The Times in 1944, from Lady Allen of Hurtwood, who
followed it with a pamphlet drawing attention to the grossly unsatisfac-
tory conditions of children's homes and orphanages, giving examples
of unimaginative and cruel treatment. As a result an inter-departmental
committee was appointed in the following year, and its report, the Curtis
Report on the Care of Children was issued in September 1946, severely
criticising the institutional care of children, and making recommenda-
tions which have been so widely accepted that Bowlby was able to
write in 1951 :

The controversy over the merits of foster-homes and of institutional
care can now be regarded as settled. There is now no-one who advocates
the care of children in large groups— indeed all advise strongly against it.

It is not surprising that the methods and attitudes which have
proved most successful with normal children and 'normally' sick children
should be even more striking with children who are afflicted in some-
way, for example, spastic or epileptic children, and with mentally handi-
capped children. Dr. Tizard and Miss Daly of the Maudsley Hospital
are carrying out a three-year research project, financed by a voluntary
association, at Brooklands, Reigate, where a group of 16 'imbecile'
children from the Fountains Hospital, matched with a control group
at the parent hospital, are being cared for on 'family' lines. Even after
the first year they increased by an average of 8 months in mental age
on a verbal intelligence test as against three months for the controls.
In personal independence, measured on an age scale they had increased
by six months as against three by the controls and there were significant
developments in speech, social and emotional behaviour and self-chosen
activity. 'By contrast' comments Len Chaloner,

children cared for by changing groups of nurses in a ward of perhaps
thirty beds find it difficult to make close relationships with any one person.
They are apt to be provided for on a mass basis at all levels, and again
because of the numbers involved, the daily round has to be pretty closely
regulated. If these conditions tended to retard the normal "deprived" child,
as the Curtis Committee found, how much more must they affect the

Similar experiences of the benefits of small, permissive family groups
have rewarded those who have sought to de-institutionalize the residen-
tial care of 'delinquent* or maladjusted children— George Lyward at
Finchden Manor, or David Wills at Bodenham, for instance.

Institutional Old Age

For many generations the word institution meant, to the majority
of this country's inhabitants, one thing: the Institution, the Poor Law
Infirmary or Union Workhouse, admission to which was a disgrace and
a last refuge, regarded with dread and hatred. The Poor Law has gone,
but Brian Abel-Smith in his contribution to the symposium Conviction
reminds us that we are still surrounded by the Poor Law tradition
'which taught us that people in need were second-class citizens', and
that four out of five old people in LCC welfare accommodation are living
in the old workhouses.

After the war the Rowntree committee on Problems of Ageing and
the Care of the Aged noted that

The committee's field surveys have shown that of old people a high
proportion lead independent lives ... It is certain, however, that a con-
siderable number of old persons who are leading independent lives and
many who are living as guests of their children are really unfit on physical
or mental grounds to do so. Many cases have been encountered ... of
old people maintaining a hopeless struggle against adversity in order to
cling to their last vestige of independence. Such excessive devotion to
independence can be explained partly by the serious lack of suitable homes
for old people, partly by the regulated life which is widely believed, not
always with justice, to be the common feature of all Institutions.

Mrs. Margaret Neville Hill who was a member of the committee
remarks in her recent book An Approach to Old Age and its Problems
that the institutions and homes which it visited— only 14 years ago-
showed only too clearly why old people did their utmost to keep out
of institutions. After many years work in establishing a variety of
housing, homes and communities for old people, the first of her con-
clusions is clearly stated: 'All who can do so should, irrespective of
age, continue to live their own lives in their own homes as long as
possible, hence the need of adequate numbers of small convenient dwell-
ings.' She also illustrates the value of small homes run on hostel lines,
small residential communities, short-stay geriatric units and 'half-way
houses' bridging the gap between hospital treatment and the return home,
and she points out that one group of old people— the permanently infirm
who should not remain in hospital but cannot live alone— have needs
which are hardly ever met, simply because they fall between the respon-
sibilities of the Health Service on one side and the local authorities
on the other. Her book has many anecdotes of the startling change,
amounting literally to a new lease of life, which some old people have
experienced as a result of moving from a chronic hospital or from the
cver-solicitude of relatives, to a good residential home with an atmos-
phere of independence and tolerance :

Probably the first thing for anyone to learn who has old people to care
for is the need to allow them the utmost freedom of action, to realise that
their personality is still individual and that social significance is essential
to happiness. It is all too easy to take the attitude that the old are past
doing anything and encourage resting and doing nothing. This is mistaken
kindness, thought it may be an easy way of satisfying the conscience com-
pared with the more exacting way of continual encouragement to be active,
to go out, to find worthwhile occupation. The latter course, however, is
much more likely to promote happiness and to forestall the troubles which
may arise later on, from infirmity and apathy.

The End of the Asylum

The deinstitutionalization of the treatment of mental illness began
in the eighteenth century when William Tuke founded the York Retreat
and Pinel, in the same year (1792) struck off the chains from his mad
patients in the Bicetre in Paris. But in the nineteenth century with
what Kathleen Jones in her Mental Health and Social Policy calls the
triumph of legalism', the pattern was laid down of huge isolated lunatic
asylums as a sinister appendage to the Poor Law, which are the heritage
against which modern pioneers have ^ m ^^.^^%3
his remarkable lecture on prisons, delivered in Pans in 1877, took Pmel
as the starting point for the 'community care which is now declared
policy for mental health :

It will be said, however, there will always remain some people the sick
if vou wish to call them that, who constitute a danger to society Will it
not be necessary somehow to rid ourselves of them, or at least prevent
them from harming others?
No society, no matter how little intelligent, will need such an absurd
solution and this is why. Formerly the insane were looked upon as possessed
by demons and were treated accordingly. They were kept in chains in
places like stables, rivetted to the walls like wild beasts. But along came
Pinel a man of the Great Revolution, who dared to remove their chains
and tried treating them as brothers. "You will be devoured by them cried
the keepers But Pinel dared. Those who were believed to be wild beasts
gathered around Pinel and proved by their attitude that he was right
believing in the better side of human nature even when the intelligence is
clouded by disease. Then the cause was won. They stopped chaining the

Then the peasants of the little Belgian village, Gheel, found something
better They said: "Send us your insane. We will give them absolute
freedom." They adopted them into their families, they gave them places
at their tables, the chance alongside them to cultivate their fields and a place
among their young people at their country balls. "Eat, drink and dance
with us. Work, runabout the fields and be free." That was the system
that was all the science the Belgian peasant had And liberty worked a
miracle. The insane became cured. Even those who had incurable, organic
lesions became sweet, tractable members of the family like the rest. I he
diseased mind would always work in an abnormal fashion but the heart
was in the right place. They cried it was a miracle. The cures were
attributed to a saint and a virgin. But this virgin was liberty and the
saint was work in the fields and fraternal treatment.

At one of the extremes of the immense "space between mental disease
and crime" of which Maudsley speaks, liberty and fraternal treatment have
worked their miracle. They will do the same at the other extreme.

Very slowly public sentiment and official policy has been catching
up with ihis attitude. The first reform in the care of the mentally ill
in America put the insane into state hospitals' writes J. B. Martin in The
Pane of Glass, 4 the second reform is now in progress— to get them out
again'. Exactly the same is true of this country. Until the reforms
of 1930 it was not possible to be a voluntary patient in a public mental
hospital, and not surprisingly the great advances in effective treatment
were made outside them. Since then, there have been fewer certifica-
tions, more vountary admissions, more discharges, more cures, more
doubts about institutionalisation. A key piece of research was that of
Milliard and Munday ('Diagnostic Problems in the Feeble-Minded',
The Lancet 25/9/54). At the Fountain (Mental Deficiency) Hospital,
London, they found that 54% of the "high-grade" patients were not in
fact intellectually defective- Commenting in the light of this on 'the
false impression of the problem of mental deficiency' resulting from
present classifications, they added the significant observation that 'such
patients may be socially incompetent, but in many cases institutional
life itself has aggravated their emotional difficulties’

The successful experiments of some local authorities and regional
hospital boards were belatedly followed by the Royal Commission on
the Law Relating to Mental Illness and Mental Deficiency in 1957 and
the subsequent Mental Health Act of 1959, sweeping away the whole
process of certification and seeking the treatment of mental sickness
like any other illness and mental deficiency like any physical handicap.
Out-patient facilities, occupation centres and the variety of provisions
known as 'community care' are to replace institutions wherever possible.

The National Council for Civil Liberties which has been agitating
for years about the locking away in institutions of people who are no
danger to themselves or others, believes that the new provisions are
still open to administrative abuse and that they, will in effect legalise
the detention of the 3,078 men and women (at Feb. 1959) who, since
the case of Kathleen Rutty, have been shown to be illegally detained.
Norman Dodds says that most of these people had been sent to institu-
tions by local authorities as they had nowhere else to send them, and
that they were being kept as 'slave labour' since without them the
hospitals and institutions could not be kept running. You can easily
imagine what happens in such cases : a local authority put a child who
was a bit dim or a bit of a nuisance and had no parents into an institu-
tion, and the institution did the rest of the damage, so that by the time
he grew up he was incapable of making a decision for himself or of
going into the outside world, and stayed there as a useful and harmless
drudge until he was prematurely senile.

The new approach has had some exciting successes. The Worthing
experiment in community care, the Henderson Social Rehabilitation
Unit — a therapeutic community for psychopaths, the factory at Bristol
known as the Industrial Therapy Organisation, the new independent
factory at Cheadle Royal Hospital which is to grow from the workshop
there. The 'basic re-orientation' which Dr. Wadsworth, the Medical
Officer at Cheadle Royal describes as the first result of taking the locks
off the doors, was what he calls 'the replacement of a custodial authori-
tarian system by a permissive and tolerant culture in which the patients
are encouraged to be themselves and share their feelings'. Explaining
the purpose of the new wing at Coppice Hospital, Nottingham, as the
result of private subscriptions and a Nuffield grant, the superintendent,
said, 'It is to be run by the patients themselves. The hospital staff,
although ready to give advice and guidance, will only enter at their
express invitation. The patients will decide what they wish to do with
their time and organise themselves into doing it'

The research organisation PEP is conducting a three-year study of
the way in which the emphasis on community care works out in prac-
tice. The first report, in the broadsheet Community Mental Health
Services studying the plans and proposals of 120 local authorities is not
particularly encouraging. Community care ought to mean something
more than simply local authority care, and the report calls for a system-
atic study of public attitudes to mental disorder, which, it is thought,
have 'an important irrational component'. The same point was raised
last year at the conference of the World Federation of Mental Health,
where Dr. D. F. Buckle commented that there were strong psychological
reasons, hidden from the people in the community which caused them
to put away people they could not abide or who raised the level of
anxiety, and Dr. Joshua Bierer said

I and my collaborators are convinced that it is our own anxiety which
forces us to lock people up, to brand them, and to make them criminals.
I believe if we can overcome our own anxiety and treat adults and
and adolescents as members of the community, we will create fewer mental
patients and fewer criminals.

Institutes of Crime

In linking criminality with mental disorder (considering crime in
the psychologist's rather than in the legalistic sense), he brings us to
the most sinister of institutions, the prison. Karl Menninger, founder
of the Menninger Clinic, addressing the American Bar Association, said

"It is not generally the successful professional criminals upon whom we
inflict our antiquated penal system. It is the unsuccessful criminal who gets
caught— the clumsy, desperate and obscure, the friendless, defective and
diseased. In some instances the crime he commits is the merest accident
or impulse. More often the offender is a persistently perverse, lonely and
resentful individual who joins the only group for which he is eligible— the
outcast and the anti-social.

And what do we do with such offenders? After a solemn public
ceremony we pronounce them enemies of the people, and consign them for
arbitrary periods to institutional confinement. Here they languish until time
has ground out so many weary months and years. Then, with a stupidity
surpassed/ only by that of their original incarceration, they are dumped
back on society, with every certainty that changes have taken place in them
for the worse.

He calls for diagnosis of the offender, investigation of the most
suitable techniques in education, industrial training and psychotherapy,
noting the experience of mental hospitals of the desirability of moving
patients out of institutional control swiftly and concludes that 'once
we adopt diagnostic treatment directed towards getting the prisoners
out of jail and back to work, the taboo on prisons, like that on mental
hospitals, will begin to diminish'. The prison will in fact cease to be
a prison. In this country Barbara Wootton, in her Social Science and
Social Pathology discusses the institutionalization of crime in these

To be convicted of a crime (other than that which is condoned by the
prevailing mores) is to acquire a special experience; and shared experience
is the basis of a common culture. Graduation from a period of probation to
residence in an approved school, and thereafter to Detention Centre, Borstal
or prison is itself as much a way of life as is a graduation from Eton to
Oxford and thence to one of the professions. And more is involved in this
shared experience than contamination in the sense of exposure to explicit
suggestions for future criminal activities from offenders of greater experience.
. . . We have, indeed, to face the disagreeable paradox that experience of
what are intended to be reformative institutions actually increases the
probability of future lapses into criminality; it has, for example, been shown
that a previous residence in an approved school is one of the best predictors
of recidivism among Borstal boys. The effects of such exposure have,
however, been relatively little studied in criminal investigations: indeed they
tend to be discounted.

For anarchists, of course, this point of view will be familiar. William
Godwin wrote 170 years ago in Political Justice that

The most common method pursued in depriving the offender of the
liberty he has abused, is to erect a public jail, in which offenders of every
description are thrust together, and left to form among themselves what
species of society they can. Various circumstances contribute to imbue
them with habits of indolence and vice, and to discourage industry; and no
effort is made to remove or soften these circumstances. It cannot be necessary
to expatiate upon the atrociousness of this system. Jails are, to a proverb,
seminaries of vice; and he must be an uncommon proficient in the passion
and the practice of injustice, or a man of sublime virtue, who does not
come out of them a much worse man than when he entered.

And 80 years ago in his lecture in "Prisons and Their Moral Influence
on Prisoners", Kropotkin summed up the problem in these trenchant
words :

Whatever changes are introduced in the prison regime, the problem
of second offenders does not decrease. That is inevitable: it must be so — the
prison kills all the qualities in a man which make him best adapted to
community life. It makes him the kind of person who will inevitably
return to prison . . .

I might propose that a Pestalozzi be placed at the head of each prison.
... I might also propose that in the place of the present guards, ex-soldiers
and ex-policemen, sixty Peslalozzis be substituted. But, you will ask, where
are we to find them? A pertinent question. The great Swiss teacher would
certainly refuse to be a prison guard, for, basically, the principle of all
prisons is wrong because it deprives men of liberty. So long as you deprive
a man of his liberty, you will not make him better. You will cultivate
habitual criminals.

Penal policy today is a fantastic mess of conflicting theories and
practices: retribution, restitution, deterrance, therapy, desperation,
inertia, fear, and force of habit. The Home Secretary himself is a split
personality — half of him wants to get tough and the other half has lost
faith in the value of prisons. But who can doubt, that in spite of
primitive public attitudes and official parsimony, we are groping, in a
half-hearted and contradictory fashion towards the de-institutionalization
of the treatment of delinquency just as mental and physical sickness and
deficiency, childhood and old age are slowly being rescued from the
dehumanizing effects of the institutional environment?

Statistics and Reservations

To what extent is de-institutionalization
opposed to being merely talked about? The
this statistically was a paper given by Brian
Pinker to the Manchester Statistical Society in
they studied changes in the use of institutions
While they had to ignore changes in criteria and length
found (according to The Guardian) that
actually taking place as only attempt to answer
Abel-Smith and Robert Pinker to Manchester Statistical
Society in February 1960, in which
between 1911 and 1951. of stay, they found
(according to The Guardian) that

In welfare care the proportion of the population looked after in
institutions apparently fell by nearly 51% It appeared that between 1911
and 1951 the physically ill increased by 21% and the mentally ill by 26%
more than would have been expected from: demographic changes alone.
Errors of classification probably accounted for some of the difference; but it
seemed probable that the proportion of the population in hospital was
lower in 1951 than in 1911. In mental hospitals the proportion has increased
only by a small amount.

With law-breakers the most striking change was the decline in the age
of offenders. Among the most numerous group of single men the prisons
of 1911 contained 0.45% of men aged 45-64, 0.31% of men aged 65-74, and
0.21% of men aged 15-44. In 1951 the highest proportion came from the
age group 15-44 (0.38%) and the proportion declined as age increased.

In these 40 years there was a considerable increase in the proportion
of children in institutional care while the proportion of the aged fell.
In 1951 many sick people, many law-breakers .and many people needing
welfarie care were living at home with the support of district nurses,
probation officers, children's officers, and many other workers.

A few other figures : Of 61,580 children in the care of local authori-
ties in 1960 nearly a half are boarded out with foster-parents. (In 1950
the proportion was one-third). Of our 120,000 mentally handicapped
people slightly less than half live at home or in hostels and are self-
supporting in some industry. A fifth are partly self-supporting and a
tenth are useful at home if nothing else. Figures given in The Lancet
(1/4/61) show that it should be possible within 20 years to reduce the
number of mental hospital beds from 3.5 to 1.8 beds per thousand of
population. In Worthing, with its fine experiment in community care,
four out of five mental patients are out-patients.

What none of the figures can tell us of course is the very thing
we would really like to know: the extent to which institutions have
been or are being transformed into non-institutional units.

A great many good ideas have advocates who extend them beyond
their validity. Thus Bowlby's findings on maternal deprivation has
been extended by some people into a deterministic theory that the
deprived child is hound to become a maladjusted child who can never
develop affectionate relationships with others. The same thing is true
of aspects of the anti-institutional trend. In the name of keeping the
family together at all cost, there has already appeared a point of view
which would return a maladjusted child to the source of his maladjust-
ment, or would insist that the proper place for a handicapped child
is in his own family, even though he may be unable to get there the
remedial care and understanding that he needs, or even though he may
become an intolerable burden to the rest of the family. Or the argu-
ment may be that grandma ought to live with her relations even though
she may, on the one hand disrupt the whole family relationship by her
tyrannical demands, or on the other, may be treated with such indiffer-
ence and neglect that she feels she must apologise for still being alive.
Or that babies ought to be born at home regardless of conditions there
or the peace of mind of the mother. This kind of absolutist argument
is as foolish as its opposite, because both ignore the immense variety
of individual circumstances and temperaments.

Unfortunately too, the case for breaking-down institutions may be
put simply as a matter of reducing the cost of the social services rather
than for its effect on the lives of individuals. Possibly in the long run
it might be cheaper, but in fact the immediate cost is likely to be
greater, because so much needs to be done. What, asks Abel-Smith in
Conviction, should we do to rebuild the social services in such a way
that they really serve? He answers :

We would rebuild hospitals on modern lines — outpatients departments
or health centres, with a few beds tucked away in the corners. We would
close the mental deficiency colonies and build new villas with small wards.
How many could be looked after by quasi-housemothers in units of eight
just like good local authorities are doing for children deprived of a normal
home life? How many could be looked after at home if there were proper
occupational centres and domicilary services? We would plough up the
sinister old mental hospitals and build small ones in or near the towns.
We would pull down most of the institutions for old people and provide
them with suitable housing . . . We would provide a full range of occupations
at home and elsewhere for the disabled, the aged and the sick. We would
discharge prisoners into the psychiatric hospitals and try and cure them.
The criminal law would become a social service and stop being so bloody
majestic . . .

The Institutional Character

One of the things that emerges from the study of institutions is the
existence of a recognisable dehumanised institutional character. In its
ultimate form it was described by the psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim in
his book The Informed Heart (where he relates his previous studies of
concentration camp behaviour and of emotionally disturbed children,
to the human condition in modern "mass society'). Bettelheim was a
prisoner at Dachau and Buchenwald, and he describes those prisoners
who were known as Muselmanner ('moslems'), the walking corpses who
'were so deprived of affect, self-esteem, and every form of stimulation,
so totally exhausted, both physically and emotionally, that they had
given the environmental total power over them. They did this when
they gave up trying to exercise any further influence over their life and

But even the moslems, being organisms, could not help reacting somehow
to their environment, and this they did by depriving it of the power to
influence them as subjects in any way whatsoever. To achieve this, they
had to give up responding to it at all, and became objects, but with this
they gave up being persons.

At this point such men still obeyed orders, but only blindly or auto-
matically; no longer selectively or with inner reservation or any hatred at
being so abused. They still looked about, or at least moved their eyes
around. The looking stopped much later, though even then they still moved
their bodies when ordered, but never did anything on their own any more.
Typically, this stopping of action began when they no longer lifted their
legs as they walked, but only shuffled them. When finally even the looking
about on their own stopped, they soon died.

This description has a recognisable affinity to phenomena observed
in 'normal' institutions. "Often the children sit inert or rock themselves
for hours", says Dr. Bowlby of institution children. "Go and watch them
staring at the radiator, waiting to die", says Mr. Abel-Smith of institu-
tion pensioners. Dr. Russell Barton has given this 'man-made disease'
the name Institutional Neurosis (which is the title of his splendid mono-
graph on the subject), and has described its clinical features in mental
hospitals, its differential diagnosis, aetiology, treatment and prevention.
It is, he says

a disease characterised by apathy, lack of initiative, loss of interest*
especially in things of an impersonal, nature, submissiveness, apparent
inability to make plans for the future, lack of individuality, and sometimes
a characteristic posture and gait.

Permutations of these words and phrases, 'institutionalised', 'dull',
'apathetic', 'withdrawn', 'inaccessible', 'solitary', 'unoccupied', 'lacking in
initiative', 'lacking in spontaneity', 'uncommunicative', 'simple', 'childish',
'gives no trouble', 'has settled down well', 'is co-operative', should always
make one suspect that the process of institutionalisation has produced a

He associates seven factors with the environment: in which the
disease occurs in mental hospitals: (1) Loss of contact with the outside
world. (2) Enforced idleness. (3) Bos sin ess of medical and nursing
staff. (4) Loss of personal friends, possessions, and personal events. (5)
Drugs. (6) Ward atmosphere. (7) Loss of prospects outside the institu-
tion, and discusses the way in which these factors can be modified, and
the stages of rehabilitation by which the disease may be cured.

Other writers have called the condition "psychological institutional -
ism', or 'prison stupor, and many years ago Fenner Brockway, in his
book on prisons, depicted the type exactly in his description of the
Ideal Prisoner.

The man who has no personality: who is content to become a mere cog
in the prison machine; whose mind is so dull that he does not feel the
hardship of separate confinement; who has nothing to say to his fellows;
who has no desires, except to feed and sleep, who shirks responsibility for
his own existence and consequently is quite ready to live at others' orders,
performing the allotted task, marching here and there as commanded, shutting
the door of his cell upon his own confinement as required.

Authority and Autonomy

This is the ideal type of Institution Man, the kind of person who
fits the system of public institutions which we inherited from the nine-
teenth century, and it is no accident that it is also the ideal type for
the bottom people of that century's social institutions in the general sense.
It is the ideal soldier (theirs not to reason why), the ideal worshipper
(Have thine own way, Lord/Have thine own way/Thou are the potter/
I am the clay), the ideal worker (You're not paid to think, just get
on with it), the ideal wife (a chattel), the ideal child (seen but not heard),
the ideal product of the Education Act of 1870.

The institutions were a microcosm, or in some cases a caricature,
of the society which produced them. Rigid, authoritarian, hierarchical,
the virtues they sought were obedience and subservience. But the
people who sought to break down the institutions, the pioneers of the
changes which are slowly taking place, or which have still to be fought
for, were motivated by different, values. The key words in their atti-
tude have been love, sympathy, permissiveness, and instead of institu-
tions, they have postulated families, communities, leaderless groups,
autonomous groups. The qualities they have sought to foster are self-
reliance, autonomy, self-respect, and as a consequence, social responsi-
bility, mutual respect and mutual aid.
When we compare the Victorian antecedents of our public institu-
tions with the orpins of working class mutual aid in the same period,
the very names speak volumes. On the one side the Workhouse, the
Poor Law Infirmary, the National Society for the Education of the Poor
in Accordance with the Principles of the Established Church; and on
the other, the Friendly Society, the Sick Club, the Co-operative Society,
the Trade Union. One represents the tradition of fraternal and auto-
nomous associations springing up from below, the other that of
authoritarian institutions directed from above.

Peter Townsend, in an interesting discussion of the current trend,
N The Institution and the Individual', The Listener 23/6/60), suggests
that the phenomenon of institutional neurosis arises from the deprivation
of family life in the sense of the frustration of the 'need to give as well
as receive affection and to perform reciprocal services within a family
or quasi-family group'. But must we not also conclude that it is not
merely the non-familial, but more especially the authoritarian character
of institutions which produces institutional types, not only among the
inmates, but among those who administer the- institution?

The Hierarchy of Institution

Thus Dr. Barton declares that 'it is my impression that an authori-
tarian attitude is the rule rather than the exception' in mental hospitals
and he relates this to the fact that the nurse herself is 'subject to a
process of institutionalization in the nurses home where she lives'.
He finds it useless to blame any individual for 'individuals change
frequently but mental hospitals have remained unchanged' and he
suggests that it is a fault of the administrative structure. Richard
Titmuss in his study of The Hospital and Its Patients attributes the
'barrier of silence' so frequently met in ordinary hospitals to
the effect on people of working and living in a closed institution with
rigid social hierarchies and codes of behaviour.

. . . these people tend to deal with their insecurity by attempting to
limit responsibility and increase efficiency through the formulation of rigid
rules and regulations and by developing an authoritative and protective
discipline. The barrier of silence is one device employed to maintain
authority. We find it so used in many different settings when we look at
other institutions where the relationships between the staff and the inmates
is not a happy one.

and John. Vaizey, remarking that 'everything in our social life is
capable of being institutionalized, and it seems to me that our political
energies should be devoted to restraining institutions' says that 'above
all . . . institutions give inadequate people what they want — power.
Army officers, hospital sisters, prison warders — many of these people
are inadequate and unfilled and they lust for power and control'. In
The Criminal and His Victim, von Hentig takes this view further:

The police force and the ranks of prison officers attract many aberrant
characters because they afford legal channels for pain inflicting, power-
wielding behaviour, and because these very positions confer upon their
holders a large degree of immunity, this in turn causes psychopathic
dispositions to grow more and more disorganised . . .

Finally.. Dr. Bettelheim sees even Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz,
as a victim of the institution. 'That he never became a "moslem" was
because he continued to be well fed and well clothed. But he had to
divest himself so entirely of self-respect and self-love, of feeling and
personality, that for all practical purposes he was little more than a

Perpetuating Social Pathology

The profound changes which are coming or can be predicted in
the social care of the deprived, the disabled or the delinquent, cannot
happen in isolation. Just as progress in psychological investigation has
proceeded from the abnormal to the normal, so the process of critical
evaluation, must move from the special institutions to the general ones.
The criticism of the anti-human quality of institutions cannot remain
isolated in the field of social medicine or social pathology. Changing
attitudes in one must lead to the demand for a change in attitudes in
the other.

We may draw quite striking implications of this kind from a
Ministry of Education report, that of the Underwood Committee on
Maladjusted Children (1955). The Committee remarked that the
regime in ordinary schools is sometimes 'a precipitating or contributory
factor' in maladjustment Barbara Wootton makes extended comment
on this in her book Social Science and Social Pathology. Our reluctance,
she says,

to examine the imperfections of our institutions as thoroughly as we
examine the faults, failings or misfortunes of individuals has also other and
curious consequences. Among them is the fact that, in cases where
individuals cannot adjust themselves to what exists, it is often found easier
to invent new institutions than to improve the old . . . Formidable admin-
istrative complexities, as well as, on occasion, strange contradictions follow.

This process is well illustrated by developments in the field of education
and child training. One might reasonably suppose that the primary function
of the school was to train the child in the business of adapting himself to
the culture in which he has to live, and to help him to make the best
contribution of which he is capable in that culture . . . Notoriously, however,
a certain number of children fail to adjust themselves to the educational
institution which is thus intended to adjust them to life. Indeed it now
appears that the ordinary school, far from achieving the adjustment which
is its normal aim, sometimes actually has an exactly opposite effect.

She then quotes the findings of the Underwood Committee on what
she tartly calls "these risks of exposure to the educational system" and
she goes on:

An obvious way of avoiding these catastrophes would seem to be to
modify the regime in the ordinary school so that it might succeed better
in what it is intended to do. But that is too difficult. On the principle
that it is easier to create a new institution than to modify an existing one
child guidance clinics and schools for maladjusted children have to be
invented to deal with the misfits of the normal educational system. At
these clinics, we are told, "as the psychiatrist comes to be acceped as an ally
... the child is helped to bring his problems to the surface and face them,
and through his relationship with the psychiatrist he gains the confidence
needed to go forward and to meet whatever the future has in store for him"
(she is quoting the Report).

Yet "going forward with confidence to meet whatever the future has in
store" is, surely, just what schools of every kind might be expected to help
their pupils to achieve; and the teacher, no less than the psychiatrist, might
be expected to be the child's ally, not his enemy. If in practice schools and
teachers fail in these roles, commonsense and economy alike would suggest
that whatever is wrong with them should be put right, rather than that a
whole fresh layer of institutions should be created to make good the
deficiencies of those that we already have. Yet the latter is apparently the
easier course. So we end with schools designed to supplement and to correct
what ie done in homes, and clinics or special educational institutions designed
to supplement and to correct what is done in schools . . .

Though schools differ greatly from one another, it is probably fair to
say that those which are included in the public educational system (and a
high proportion of those outside it) are on the whole imbued with authori-
tarian values and employ authoritarian methods. The virtues which they
inculcate are those of discipline and hard work, of respect for, and
obedience to, properly constituted authority. Children are at least expected
to behave politely and respectfully towards their teachers.

But not towards their psychiatrists. Typically, the climate of the clinic
is permissive rather than authoritarian: the role' of the adults is to help,
indeed to serve, not to command the children ...

Her remarks illustrate graphically the collision of two opposing
trends of thought, libertarian and authoritarian. The result can either
be the abandonment of the therapeutic approach altogether because it
conflicts with the authoritarian values of society as a whole, or in change
in the schools and change in the social values which dominate them.

Science and Government

Alex Comfort, in Authority and Delinquency in the Modern State,
the most important anarchist contribution to sociology since Kropotkin's
Mutual Aid, makes a similar point in terms of criminology :

It is only within the last few years that psychiatry has been formally
invited by legal, administrative and executive authorities to intervene in the
problem of crime. It worked its way into penal and legal procedure from
the outside, by modifying public opinion and by throwing light on problems
of delinquency in the course of purely medical studies, and the formal
invitation comes when a generation of lawyers, prison commissioners, and
legislators has grown up in the intellectual tradition which social studies
have created. Psychiatry therefore brings into its contacts with law a
tradition of its own. cutting across the preconceptions of law and government
which come from the pre-scientific tradition of society.

The attempt to establish criminology as a distinct branch of knowledge
. encounters immediate difficulties. Anti-social conduct and delinquency, in
the sense of action and attitude prejudicial to the welfare of others, are
psychiatric entities: crime, on the other hand, is an arbitrary conception
embracing both aggressive delinquency, such as murder or rape, and actions
whose importance is predominantly administrative, such as the purchase of
alcohol after closing time. Since the concept of crime depends directly upon
legislation it may be altered at any time to embrace any pattern of behaviour.
Under modern conditions it is quite possible for the criminal psychiatrist
to be confronted with the task of reforming an individual whose conflict
with society arises from a high rather than a low development of sociality.
Refusal to participate in the persecution of a racial minority, or in the
military destruction of civilian populations, have recently figured as crimes
in civilised Western societies. Under these conditions the independent
tradition of the psychiatrist must lead him to decide at what point the
psychopathy of the individual exceeds that of society, which he should
attempt to fortify, and by what standards. More important perhaps is the
growing awareness that, great as is the nuisance value of the criminal in
urban society, the centralised pattern of government is today dependent for
its continued function upon a supply of individuals whose personalities and
attitudes in no way differ from those of admitted psychopathic delinquents.
Society, so far from penalising anti-social behaviour per sc. selects the forms,
often indistinguishable, which it will punish, and the forms it must foster
by virtue of its pattern . . .

In spite therefore, of the extent and seriousness of delinquency as a
social problem, its most serious aspect for humanity today is the prevalence
of delinquent action by persons immune from censure, and by established
governments. The importation of science into the study of crime is an
irreversible Mep, and its outcome can only be the suppression of science
itself or the radical remodelling of our ideas of government and the regulation
of behaviour.

Lady Wootton describes the clash between the therapeutic approach
and authoritarian values; Dr. Comfort puts it bluntly as a clash between
the therapeutic approach and government itself. Thus from the critic-
ism of the authoritarian, hierarchical, institutional structure of the
instruments of social medicine and social pathology, we move to the
challenge to authority and hierarchy in the institutions of society itself.

The anti-human characteristics of the general institutions give rise to
the existence of the special institutions. Paul Tappan remarked that
the fact is that we prefer our social problems to the consequences of
deliberate and heroic efforts so drastically to change the culture that
man could live in uncomplicated adjustment to an uncomplicated world.'
But it is not so much the complexity of our culture as its authoritar-
ianism which is at fault : we need if we are to achieve the most complete
development of individuality, a complicated society, a society (to go
back to Kropotkin's definition of the anarchist approach)

to which pre-established forms, crystallised by law are repugnant; which
looks for harmony in an ever-changing and fugitive equilibrium between a
multitude of varied forces and influences of every kind, following their own

`A Sort of Anarchy'

Are we ever going to make these 'deliberate and heroic efforts' to
analyse and open up the general institutions — family, the school, the
factory, the wage system, the social divisions of class and status, the
industrial and commercial structure, the physical environment, the
bureaucracy, the state and the war machine and punitive apparatus
which are inseparable from it?

Take, for example the school. The changing relationships between
parents and teachers, parents and children, teachers and children,
between work and leisure, between education and play, could lead to
an entirely different conception of the school, 'calculated' as Godwin
wrote (m 1797):

entirely to change the face of education. The whole formidable apparatus
which has hitherto attended it, is swept away. Strictly speaking, no such
characters are left upon the scene as either preceptor or pupil.

Or as Bakunin put it in 1870 :

From these schools will be absolutely eliminated the smallest applications
of the principle of authority. They will be schools no longer, they will
be popular academies, in which neither pupils nor masters will be known,
where the people will come freely to get, if they need it, free instruction,
and in which, rich in their own experience, they will teach in turn many
things to the professors who shall bring them the knowledge which they lack.

Nobody took much notice of them, but In our own day a number
of experiments have foreshadowed the changed school in one way or
more of its aspects — the Cambridgeshire Village Colleges and the ideas
of Henry Morris, the Pioneer Health Centre at Peckham before the
war, or Prestolee School (which was an elementary school in Lancashire
revolutionised by its late headmaster Teddy O'Neil) where

timetables and programmes play an insignficant part, for the older
children come back when school hours are over, and with them, their parents
and elder brothers and sisters.

Or the ideas and practice of A. S. Neill and other pioneers of the school
as a free community of children and adults. Or the idea of the school
as an extension of the family, as a family centre in which, according to
the needs of the individual, the cohesion of the nuclear family could be
heightened or its tensions loosened, as a source of autonomy and
reciprocity, as a community workshop, as a centre for the exchange
of skills and experiences. The Peckham Experiment and its findings
about the positive aspects of health, was an immense source of clinical
material. 'We had found from experience', wrote the Peckham biolo-
gists, 'that seven out of ten uncomplaining members of the public enter-
ing our doors had not even the negative attributes of health — freedom
from diagnosible disorder. Still less had they the positive attributes —
vitality, initiative and a competence and willingness for living.' It is
these very qualities that the special institutions we have discussed are
found to have inhibited. And significantly the social environment with
which the Peckham biologists sought to release these qualities was, in
the words of the founder, Dr. Scott Williamson, 'a sort of anarchy'.

The Irresponsible Society

Or take housing. One quarter of the population of England and
Wales live in the three-and-a-quarter million dwellings owned by local
authorities. But is there one municipal housing estate in this country
in which the tenants have any control over and any responsibility for
the administration of their estate, their physical environment? Or
industry, with its authoritarian structure, its hierarchical chain of com-
mand and its meaningless routines. Does not the industrial neurosis
(like the 'suburban neurosis' of lonely housewives) which has so often
been diagnosed bear a significant relation to Barton's institutional
neurosis? When are we going to evolve a programme for the de-
institutionalization of the factory system (see Anarchy 2 — Workers'
Control). When for that matter, are we going to de-institutionalize the
trade union movement? Or work itself. Occupation is so rigidly
institutionalized that it is impossible to move from one occupation to
another without being economically penalized, and virtually impossible
to enter many occupations at all unless you do so on leaving school.
Why should people condemn themselves to a lifetime in one occupation.
why not an outdoor job in. the summer and a nindoor one in the winter,
or an alternation of brain work and manual work? Why, in fact, do
we ask so little out of life?

Because of the process of conditioning that begins in infancy to
make us fit the institutions. Bettelheim noted that the 'old' prisoners,
those who adapted successfully, sought to look and behave as much
like their guards as possible and developed the same brutality and ruth-
lessness. And J. A. C. Brown in The Social Psychology of Industry
observed that the 'faithful servant' type of employee was the one who
had been so browbeaten throughout his life that he had adopted the
values and attitudes of management — which is precisely why he was
appreciated. Institutional society successfully imbues people with its
values so that they mindlessly perpetuate the institutions. They become
tolerant, in the medical sense, of the intolerable.

Rene Cutforth illuminated this point beautifully in his radio pro-
gramme about the motives and characters of people on the Aldermaston
March :

Consider for a moment the times we middle-aged men have lived through
in this monstrous century. First the huge terrible casualty lists of the First
World War. Then the mass unemployment, the misery, and the injustice
of the early Thirties. Then the spectacle of Europe under the heel of a
murdering maniac, Belsen, Auschwitz, the Jews in the gas chambers. Then
another war. Then Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And finally for us, an
exhausted, meaningless state, intent on the "lolly".

In medical matters there's a principle called tolerance. If some poisons
are fed to a human being over a long period he acquires a tolerance of them,
and can survive a lethal dose, though his whole metabolism may have to
change to meet the challenge. The young are those who have so far never
breathed the poisons we have had to try to contrive to survive, and their
minds are unclouded with them.

With every increase of tolerance we have lost a human sensitivity. And
now it seems quite possible that these marchers, whatever their impact on
the bomb, or the future impact of the bomb upon them, these Aldermaston
marchers may well already be the only people left alive in Britain.

The rest, he implies, like the institutionalised patients and victims,
have lost the capacity to react.

Anarchists and Bureaucrats

This is why the trend which we have examined in the philosophy
of social welfare seems to me so important, and to imply very much
wider conclusions. Social ideas, says Richard Titmuss, 'may well be
as important in Britain in the next half-century as technical innovation'.
We are moving away from an institutional philosophy, says Peter
Townsend, 'and have not yet found an alternative philosophy to put
in its place'. I believe that the alternative philosophy is one which seeks
to release the spontaneity, individuality and initiative, the unsuspected
human potentialities, which an authoritarian society has buried in institu-
tionalized life, and that the pioneers of the break-down of institutions
are part of a broader struggle between opposing values, which may
legitimately be called the struggle between anarchists and bureaucrats.

Conflicting Strains in Anarchist Thought

GEORGE MOLNAR lectures at the University of Sydney. His article
is based on a paper delivered at the annual conference of the Australian
Student Labour Federation.

On a liberal-democratic view the State is a harmonizer of social con-
flicts. Supposedly disinterested, it stands above classes and meliorates
their struggles in the interest of the common good. Anarchists have
often criticised the view that the State is a disinterested arbiter, that it
represents, in some sense, the common good. It is not possible for the
State to serve the common good, even if there were such a thing.

"If you see the State as it was in history and as it is in essence today",
wrote Kropotkin, "and if you consider moreover that a social institution
cannot serve all aims indiscriminately . . . you will understand why we desire
the abolition of the State."


The same point is made by Bakunin, according to whom :

"There is no intellect that can devise a social organisation capable of
satisfying each and all", 2 because "the State is government from above
downwards of an immense number of men, very different from the point of
view of . . . the interests and the aspirations directing them — the State is
government of all these by some or other minority ... it is impossible that
(this minority) could know and foresee the needs, or satisfy with an even
justice the most legitimate and pressing interests in the world. There will
always be discontented people because there will always be some who are

Malatesta held that

The government — or the State if you will — as judge, moderator of social
strife, impartial administrator of the public interests is a lie, an illusion,
a Utopia, never realised and never realisable.'4

and he went on to indicate the role of this illusion in the following

A government cannot rule for any length of time without hiding its true
nature behind the pretence of general utility. It cannot respect the lives of
the privileged without assuming the air of wishing to respect the lives of all.
It cannot cause the privileges of some to be tolerated without appearing as
the custodian of the right of everybody.5

Anarchists argue that in a society characterized by economic, cultural
and other inequalities there is no common good; that as long as, for
instance, the economic powers of various classes are disparate, no
political arrangement can be equitable, de-spits any liberality it may seem
to have.

Whatever may be the form of government, whilst human society remains
divided into different classes because of the hereditary inequality of
occupations, wealth, education and privileges, there will always be a minority
government and the exploitation of the majority by that minority. 6

Political rule is always rule by minorities. The system of parliamen-
tary electoral representation does not change this.

The people have neither the leisure nor the necessary education to
to occupy themselves with the matters of government. The bourgeoisie,
possessing both, has in fact if not by right, the exclusive privilege of

Anarchists endorse Proudhon's description of elected government as
oligarchical ("Universal suffrage is counter-revolution"). The concept
of self-government through elective representation is unreal because
elections vest actual control, i.e. the power to make decisions and see
them inforced, in the hands of a minority. A ruler, a member of this
minority, unless he

"is frequently reinvigorated by contacts with the life of the people; unless
he is compelled to act openly under conditions of full publicity; unless he
is subjected to a salutary and uninterrupted regime of popular control and
criticism, which is to remind him constantly that he is not the master nor
even the guardian, of the masses but only their proxy or their elected
functionary who is always subject to recall—unless he is placed under those
conditions", be he "the most liberal and popular man", will nevertheless
'undergo a complete change in outlook and attitude. "8

These essential popular controls are lacking in any democracy. Politi-
cians meet the people only at election time, for a "brief interlude of

On the day after the elections everyone goes back to his daily business:
the people to their work, and the bourgeoisie to their lucrative affairs and
political intrigues. They do not meet and they do not know each other
any more. 9

Large masses of people are frequently indifferent to their political fate,
and have no interest in controlling their rulers, even if this were possible.
The germ of power, wrote Bakunin, will develop

if only it finds in its environment favourable conditions. These con-
ditions in human society are the stupidity, ignorance, apathetic indifference,
and servile habits of the masses . . . When the masses are deeply sunk in
their sleep, patiently resigned to their degradation and slavery the best men
in their midst . . . necessarily become despots. Often they become such by
entertaining the illusion that they are working for the good of those whom
they oppress. 10

It is for reasons such as these that the State cannot be regarded as the
guardian of the 'common good', nor indeed as the guardian of the
interests of the majority.

The very existence of the State demands that there be some privileged
class vitally interested in maintaining that existence. And it is precisely
the group interests of this privileged class that are called patriotism.11

The State exists, say anarchists, in an inequalitarian society; and
in such an environment it cannot be impartial : its intervention in social
conflicts will be conservative, it will always tend to maintain an unequal
distribution of wealth, privilege, and power. In the Marxist tradition
the State is viewed as fundamentally trie upholder of economic inequali-
ties; the other differential distributions which it upholds (of privilege,
power, etc.) are treated as subordinate and incidental to its main task.
Anarchists escape this reductionism by recognising that the State, apart
from upholding the interests of the economically dominant classes, has
interests of its own which are not derived from the interests of the
classes surrounding it, interests which the State will continue to have
irrespective both of the legal forms of the government and of the plat-
forms of the ruling parties. Anarchists base their criticism of parlia-
mentary action by socialists on this fact.

The modern radical is a centraliser, a State partisan, a Jacobin to the
core, and the Socialist walks in his footsteps. 12

When they are elected to parliament,

those very workers who are now staunch democrats and socialists, will
become determined aristocrats, bold or timid worshippers of the principle
of authority, and will also become oppressors and exploiters. 13

On attaining to parliamentary power Socialists inevitably become con-
servative. This is no due to the personal weaknesses of individual socialists.

Usually these backslidings are attributed to treason (says Bakunin),
That however, is an erroneous idea: they have for their main cause the
change of position and perspective.14

The results of the exercise of political power do not depend on the
good intentions or sound policies of the parties, groups or classes which
rule, but on the inescapable demands imposed by institutions and organ-
isations on those who hold power within them. Speaking of sincere
republicans who wanted to utilise the institution that already existed,
Kropotkin remarked:

And for not having understood that you cannot make an historical
institution go in any direction you would have it, that it must go its own
way, they were swallowed up by the institution. 15

The State is not merely an instrument in the hands of the powerful,
it has its own way which cannot be circumvented by labour politicians,
or by anyone else. This point is central to anarchist theory. It enables
anarchists to explain some important features of modern political life
which other social theories of radical orientation can, at best, only
explain away. Contemporary States are not simply the upholders of
the interests of an economically privileged minority against the rest of
society; put in the language of class-struggle, modern States are, to
varying extents, at war with all classes. They are internally expansion-
ist, and far from always securing the gains of capitalists against the
demands of others, the Welfare State often promotes an exchange
whereby it increases the supply of goods to the underprivileged while
in turn depriving them of enacted or de facto rights. (The operating of
compulsory arbitration in Australia is an instance of this.) In general,
State control is never relinquished voluntarily or in good grace, but
always only under pressure and as a result of struggle. Since any
State's power depends on its ability to restrain as many interest groups
as possible from acting outside the confines of legality and of politics,
organs of the contemporary State have developed concealed police
functions along with their other functions : they have become watchdogs
of society. Proudhon already foreshadowed this development: "The
government must have laws," he wrote;

It must make as many laws as it finds interests; and, as interests are
innumerable, relations arising from one another multiply to infinity, and
antagonism is endless, law-making must go on without stopping. Laws,
decrees, ordinances, resolutions will fall like hail upon the unfortunate
people. After a time the political ground will be covered with a layer of
paper, which the geologists will put down among the vicissitudes of the
earth as the papyraceous formation.16

This domestic imperialism of the State frequently compels all parties,
despite any allegiance they may have to specific classes or groups, to
frame and execute policies, which, irrespective of the intentions behind
them, have the effect of extending state tutelage over wide areas of
society formerly not under central control. All parties, socialist, com-
munist or conservative, thus attack self-reliance and initiative among
all classes, and foster dependence and servility. A signal feature of
anarchism is precisely its early recognition and forceful exposure of
the bureaucratisation of social life which, from its slender start in the
days of Proudhon and Bakunin, has grown to universal proportions in
our days.

This point, that social institutions cannot be made the vehicle for
nay policy whatever but have their own ways, underlies also the criti-
cism anarchists have made of the Marxist doctrine that "Political power,
properly so called, is merely the organised power of one class for oppress-
ing another" 17 . On the basis of this theory Lenin adduced that the
emancipation of the toilers must take the political form of the dictator-
ship of the proletariat 18 . Organisationally this requires a party of pro-
fessional revolutionaries who would bring social-democratic conscious-
ness to the workers "from without" 19 . The aim of such a movement
is "the seizure of power — the political purpose will become clear after
the seizure" 20 . Against Lenin's theory of a revolutionary seizure of
power by a vanguard, anarchists argue that this will not result in the
dictatorship of the whole class.

If the proletariat is to be the new ruling class, over whom will it rule,
asked Bakunin. 21

To the contention that the dictatorship will be temporary and will
come to an end when the former ruling classes, the enemies of the
workers, are crushed, anarchists reply :

No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation
. . freedom can only be created by freedom. 22

The eventual outcome of the Bolshevik revolution, in terms of the
authoritarianism of the emergent regime, was indicated by the organisa-
tional precepts on which Leninists had based themselves: because
Bolshevism saw the working class as not spontaneously socialist in
aspirations, it commenced by bringing socialism to. the proletariat "from
without' and ended up. after the seizure of power, by imposing socialism
as the policy of the State. This imposition of socialism was unavoidable
because in Russia socialists were hopelessly outnumbered; the majority
of the nation was non-proletarian, and among urban workers Bolsheviks
commanded on overwhelming or lasting majorities. The barrack-room
socialism imposed by the State was no longer the socialism which
members of the vanguard had envisaged and in the name of which they
had seized power: it lacked precisely those liberating, emancipating
and ennobling features which gained it support in its struggle against.
Tsarist oppression 23. The dictatorship of the proletariat turned out to
be the government of

ex-workers, who once they become rulers or representatives of the people,
cease to be workers and begin to look down upon the toiling masses. From
that time on they represent not the people but themselves and their own
claims to govern the people. 24

Anarchists see in the Russian revolution a verification of their own
views: the institution of the State engulfed those who tried to use it,
the State asserted its own way. Even Lenin, in one of the last speeches
of his life, gave belated recognition to the fact that the autonomy of
political institutions can foil the revolutionaries:

Here we have lived a year, with the state in our hands, and under the
New Economic Policy. Has it operated our way? No. We don't like to
acknowledge this, but it hasn't. And how has it operated? The machine
isn't going where we guide it ... A machine doesn't travel exactly the way,
and often travels just exactly not the way, that the man imagines who sits
at the wheel. 25


Anarchists believe that

It would be impossible to make
such only because of this nature, and
to be a Stated
the State change its nature, for it is
in foregoing the latter it would cease to be a state.26

Consequently, when they came to frame their own, anarchist, policies
for the emancipation of the exploited majority and for the abolition
of economic classes and of political domination, they were committed to
a programme of attacking existing political institutions without, in the
process, substituting new ones. Their success, or failure, to work out
adequately the theoretical problems arising out of this requirement,
gives the answer to the celebrated question "Is anarchism practicable?"
All anarchists are revolutionaries, but not all have revolutionary
programmes. Thinkers such as Proudhon or Kropotkin give no instruc-
tions as to what should be done and how and by whom in order to
bring about an anarchist revolution. In the absence of such instructions,
in the absence of an organisational and tactical plan, the vision of
anarchist society must remain chimerical. Social changes cannot take
place without the action of social agencies, that is, of institutions and
of people; a plan for a new society which gives no answer to the question
"What social procedures will actually move us from the one situation
in the direction of the other?" 27 is, perforce, Utopian.

Not all anarchists, however, are Utopian in this sense. Two types
of anarchism, in particular, stand out as having a practical programme.
The first is anarcho-syndicalism, to which the overwhelming majority
of contemporary anarchists subscribe; the second, little known to modern
anarchists and not acknowledged by them, is the revolutionary organiz-
ational doctrine of Michael Bakunin.

Anarcho-syndicalism is revolutionary trade-unionism. In agree-
ment with Lenin, syndicalists hold that trade-union meliorism is not a
proper method of social emancipation, and that conventional political
parties are authoritarian in structure and achievement. According to
syndicalists the way to bring about a free society is by the organisation
of workers in autonomous, federated syndicates, whose aim is socialism
and whose revolutionary method is the general strike. The syndicates
are in principle completely independent, of all political parties, having
recognised "in a clear and penetrating manner ... the dangers of
bourgeois democracy" 28 . Internally, they aim at a non-authoritarian
organisation as an "antidote to oligarchy". In the words of a contem-
porary anarchist:

Syndicalists . . . adopt a federal organisation, in which local units are
autonomous ... In this way greater elasticity and speed of action are gained
and there is no chance of the betrayal of the workers by a governing
bureaucracy. Affairs concerning the syndicate as a whole are conducted by
delegates who are only allowed to voice the will of the workers who elected
them, and there is a minimum of officials elected for short periods, after
which they return to the bench or field, and subject to recall if their actions
dissatisfy the workers. In this way the rise of a bureacracy divorced from
the workers is avoided and the revolutionary nature of the syndicate

In practice syndicalism has failed to live up to these hopes. The
French C.G.T., at one time the most important of European syndicalist
organisation, was never completely revolutionary; and everywhere,
including in Catalonia where it became very influential, syndicalism
remained a minority movement in two senses : the industrial proletariat
was a minority among "the people", and the syndicalist workers were a
minority among the industrial proletariat. This fact immediately
assigned syndicalists to the role of a revolutionary vanguard which had
to initiate, and, if need be, to enforce revolutionary action since this
was not occurring spontaneously among the rest of the exploited. This
necessity to extend their influence forced syndicalists into making
political alliances. Syndicalism managed to abstain from politics only
on paper, in practice, especially in times of pressure, such as the Spanish
Civil War, anarcho-syndicalists were obliged to resort to those methods
which their own theory had shown them to be anti-revolutionary, 30 and
which they had on that account rejected. Similarly, safeguards on
internal freedom and self-government failed to insure against the rise
of an oligarchical leadership which "represented" the masses at decisive
moments, 31 edited the press, acted as spokesmen, and negotiated with
outsiders. The principles of autonomy and recall fell into disuse, 32 and
leaders who rose, from among the syndicates, had as a rule no difficulty
in consolidating their position. A number of these, in France, Italy
and Spain, have used the prominence they have gained in the syndicalist
movement as a stepping stone to a political career, sometimes a very
brilliant one . . . 'Usually these back-slidings are attributed to treason.
That, however, is an erroneous idea: they have for their main cause the
change in position and perspective.''

The theory of mass action professed by syndicalists rests largely on
fiction, for nowhere have syndicalists attained to influence over more
than a fraction of the people.

"Among organised workers," wrote Robert Michels in 1915, "it is once
more only a minority which plays an active part in trade-union life. The
syndicalists at once lament this fact and rejoice at it . . . They rejoice to be
rid of the dead weight of those who are still indifferent and immature . . .
If they were logical the syndicalists would draw the conclusion that the
general movement of the modern proletariat must necessarily be the work
of a minority of enlightened proletarians"


This is the actual conclusion that Lenin came to in 1902. In this
however he had been anticipated by none other than Michael Bakunin.
The anarcho-syndicalist prescription to revolutionize the trade-unions
does not, in practice, have the required consequences, namely elimination
of authoritarianism from the organisation of the movement, and the
emancipation of the whole of society from oppression. Bakunin clearly
recognised the second of these points, for he believed that

only a sweeping revolution, embracing both the city workers and the
peasants would be sufficiently strong to overthrow and break the organised
power of the state. 34

The general strike can never be general enough, even if it embraced
the whole of the urban proletariat. Oilier discontented elements, such
as the peasants or the declasse intellectuals, whom Bakunin saw as also
part of a revolutionary force, could not by definition take part in a
general strike. Besides, mass action, such as was envisaged by the
syndicalists, need not necessarily have revolutionary consequences.

Instinct, left to itself, and inasmuch as it has not been transformed into
consciously reflected, clearly determined thought, lends itself easily to
falsification, distortion and deceit. Yet it is impossible for it to rise to this
state of self -awareness without the aid of education, of science; and science,
knowledge of affairs and people, and political experience — these are things
which the proletariat compeltely lacks. 35

Here Bakunin, in phrases strikingly similar to Lenin's, is denying the
theory of popular spontaneity :

An elemental force lacking organisation is not a real power . . . the
question is not whether the people have the capacity to rebel, but whether
they are capable of building up an organisation enabling them to bring the
rebellion to a victorious end — not just to a casual victory but to a prolonged
and ultimate triumph . . . The first condition of victory is . . . organisation
of the people's forces.? 36

As a condition of organizing the people's forces, Bakunin, like Lenin
afterwards, envisaged a group of professional revolutionaries, who would

bring to the people the essential knowledge, the ability to generalise
facts, the skill needed to organise, to create association. This produces the
conscious fighting force without which victory is unthinkable. 37

This "conscious fighting force" is the organisation of the professional
revolutionaries which would be secret, few in numbers, but consisting of
"devoted, energetic and talented" persons, who

must devote their whole existence to the service of the international
revolutionary association. 38

The association would function as the "general staff", "the invisible
pilot" 39 of the revolution.

The internal organisation of Bakunin's association reveals further
similarities to the Bolshevik model. Membership was selective, a new
member must have proven himself not by words, but by deeds. 40

Bakunin was as anxious as Lenin to exclude those, in the words of
Eastman, "to whom ideas do not mean action". Unconditional accept-
ance of the association's theoretical premises; obliteration of all personal
interests: submission to strict discipline sanctioned by expulsion and
vengeance; the duty to divulge all secrets to the association including
the duty to spy on other members; unquestioning acceptance of actual
majority decisions of the Council of Directorium — these are among other
features of Bakunin's plan. 41 Within the association rigid centralisa-
tion was to reign, ideationally and tactically. Moreover the association
was not to disband on the morning after the successful revolution.

After the revolution the members will retain and consolidate their
organisation, so that in their solidarity their combined action may replace
an official dictatorship. 42

Although he would allow no "official dictatorship", Bakunin planned
an invisible dictatorship. He described it as

a power free in direction and spirit, but without freedom of the press;
surrounded by the unanimous people, hallowed by their Soviets, strengthened
by their free activity, but unlimited by anything or anybody .43

It needs hardly to be argued that this scheme is Leninist not only
in principle, but even in fine detail. Therefore it is subject to the same
criticism which anarchists levelled at the doctrine of the dictatorship
of the proletariat, namely, "No dictatorship can have any other aim but
that of self perpetuation . . . freedom can only be created by freedom".
These words are Bakunin's own, and we can now see that while in
expressing his anarchism he trenchantly criticised centralist, oligarchical
and other authoritarian conceptions found among revolutionaries, in
order to produce a realistic revolutionary programme of his own he had
to uphold these very principles. This not only shows that Bakunin's
political thought consisted of two incompatible parts, but it finally
forces on us the suggestion that anarchist theory as a whole is subject
to a fundamental, unresolved contradiction.

The central inconsistency of anarchism can be summed up, in the
light of previous discussion, as follows.

On the one hand anarchism presents a critique of social conditions
which takes up, in a realistic manner, some questions of the nature of
political domination. Fully worked out, this critique leads to the most
pessimistic conclusions, for implicit in anarchism is the contention that
all political action is by nature conservative, and no effective safeguards
can be devised which would combine the possession of social influence
with the absence of political authoritarianism.

On the other hand anarchists, although freely prepared to apply
their theories to the analysis of all other movements, stopped short of
applying their conclusions to anarchism itself. Instead they treated
anarchism as a potential mass movement with the aim of abolishing all
obstacles in the way of a free and classless society. Relative to this aim,
some anarchists remain Utopian (Kropotkin, etc.). Others (anarcho-
syndicalists) attempt to pursue a course of action outside accepted
political forms, in the belief that they will thus escape the odious effects
of politics, while still enjoying the power of being organised. This belief,
based on the false distinction between "free" and "authoritarian" forms
of mass organisation, has no substance : where anarcho- syndicalists have
gained sufficient strength to operate as a mass movement, there they
have exhibited unanarchist, political tendencies. Yet other anarchists,
now no longer influential, have subscribed to practicable revolutionary
schemes, which, however, if successful, would have produced not
anarchy but its exact opposite. Anarchism as a plan for the liberation
of society does not. work : in practice such plans always yield either
wishful thinking, or eventual regimentation.

This conclusion implies thai the conflicting strains in anarchism
cannot be resolved until anarchism is altogether purged of its association
with a programme of secular salvation, in order to consistently uphold
the libertarian and anti-authoritarian aspects of anarchism it will have
to be understood that these aspects cannot be secured by converting
society to them; that universal liberation is an illusion; that revolutions
always involve seizing and exercising power; that "the abolition of the
State", in the sense extolled by classical anarchism, is a myth. If, as
anarchists have always argued, many little reforms will not eliminate
authoritarianism, neither will One Big Reform. The muck of ages, as
Marx called it, clings to revolutionaries as fast as it does to the orthodox,
and anarchist revolutionaries are not exempt from this mournful
generalisation. It is only too evident, in any case, that the critical aspects
of anarchism will not attract large numbers of people, that anarchism is
not something which can assert itself over the whole of society.
Anarchism, consisently interpreted, is permanent opposition.

Peter Kropotkin: The State: Its Historic Role, London, 1946, p.41.
The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism, ed. and trans, by
G. P. Maximoff, Glencoe, III., 1953, p.299.
Michael Bakunin: Marxism, freedom and the State, ed. and trans. K. J.
Kenafick, London, 1950. p.31.
Errico Malatesta: Anarchy, London, 1958 p
ibid. p. 15. Anarchists share this criticism of the libera] notion of the 'com-
mon good' with conservatives e.g.; "The doctrine of the harmony of interests
... is the natural assumption of a prosperous and privileged class, whose
members have a dominant voice in the community and are therefore naturally
prone to identify its interests with their own. In virtue of this identification,
any assailant of the interests of the dominant group is made to incur the
odium of assailing the alleged common interest of the whole community, and
is told that in making this assault he is attacking his own higher interests.
The doctrine of the harmony of interests thus serves as an ingenious moral
device invoked, in perfect sincerity, by privileged groups in order to justify
and maintain their dominant position". E. H. Carr: The Twenty Years'
Crisis. 1919-1939, London, 1946 (2nd ed.), p.80.
Kenafiek : op. cit. p.36.
Maximoff: op. cit. p. 21 8.
ibid, pp.2 12- 13.
ibid. 219.
ibid, pp.248-49.
ibid. p. 232.
Kropotkin: op. cit. p.41.
Maximofl: op. cit. p.218.
ibid, p.218.
Kropotkin : op. cit. p. 42.
P. J. Proudhon: The General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth
Century, London, 1923. p. 132.
K. Marx and F. Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party, Marx and
Engels Selected Works, Moscow, 1915. Vol. 1, p.51.
cf. V. I. Lenin: State and Revolution.
V. I. Lenin: What Is To Be Done?, Moscow, 1952, p.52.
V. I. Lenin: A Letter to the Members of the Central Committee, Selected
Works, Miscow, 1951, Vol. I, Part 1, p.197.
Maximoff: op. cit. p.286.
ibid, p.288.
Cf. the remarks of a recent historian of the Bolshevik party: "All govern-
ments are concerned to retain power, though they may differ in the means
which they adopt to this end, and the government of the communist party
is no exception . . . there are many, many actions of the party in the course
of my story which would be quite unintelligible unless they were seen in
the light of the fact that over long periods the party's hold over the country
was precarious and a false move would have meant its downfall. To ignore
this factor, which runs like a thread of scarlet through Soviet history, is to
write about phantoms and not about what really happened ... I have
discovered many instances in which it seemed to me that the theoretical
considerations had to be sacrificed to the realities of the situation. I have
as yet discovered no single instance in which the party was prepared to risk
its own survival in power for considerations of doctrine." L. Schapiro: The
Communist Party of the Soviet Union, London, 1960. Preface, p.xi.
Maximoff: op. cit. p.286.
quoted by Leon Trotsky in The Real Situation in Russia, New York, 1928,
Maximoff: op. cit. p.224.
Max Eastman: Marx, Lenin and the Science of Revolution, London, 1926.
p. 133. Eastman makes some sound criticisms of Kropotkin, but identifies
all anarchist programmes with Kropotkin's Utopianism.
Robert Michels: Political Parties, London, 1915. p.362.
George Woodcock: Anarchy or Chaos, London, 1944. p. 58.
Cf. V. Richards: Lessons of the Spanish Revolution, London, 1953, esp.
Ch. 7, for a description of the "united front" practices of the C.N.T.-F.A.l.
and the results of these practices.
Michels: op. cit. pp.364 et seq.
Cf. Richards: op. cit. Chs. 6, 7 and 13. Cf. also A. Souchy: The Tragic
Week in May, Barcelona, 1937, for a revealing apologetic account of the role
of the C.N.T. leadership in the May '37 rising.
Michels: op. cit. p. 369.
Eugene Pyziur: The Doctrine of Anarchism of Michael Bakunin, Milwaukee,
1955, p.66.
Maximoff: op. cit. p.215.
ibid. p. 367, emphasis in original.
Pyziur: op. cit. p. 82. The sinister phrase "to create association" is worthy
of note here, especially in contrast to the other anarchist notion, emphasized
by Kropotkin, that association (co-operation, mutual aid) occurs spontan-
eously in social iife. Practical revolutionaries cannot base their plans on
the romantic conclusions Kropotkin drew from his observations: if, as
the practicalists see, associations of the kind they require do not form spon-
taneously, then they will have to be created by the revolutionaries. In the
course of creating associations however, revolutionaries forsake all pretence
that what they are doing fits in with the manifest interests of the masses in
whose name they speak,
ibid. p. 87.
ibid. p. 86.
pp. 87-89.
pp. 97-98. Cf. Max Nomad: Apostles of Revolution, London, 1939.
pp. 158-2 10, 224-234.

Africa and the Future

The paradox, described by Jeremy Westall in Anarchy 3, in the anar-
chist attitude to the struggle of colonial peoples for independence is
inevitable. For as Freedom once put it; even the newest nations 'face
a new life with hardened arteries; they have learned nothing from
the past, they think and act along the lines of their persecutors and
oppressors.' The tragedy is heightened by the fact that the educated
and articulate minority upon which so much depends, are shaped in
their thinking by the same assumptions which lie behind the political
systems of their former masters.

I am sure Westall is right in his qualified eulogy of the tribal system
before it had been broken up by European influences and perverted by
the strategy of indirect rule. Col, Meinertzhagen, an 'old Kenya hand'
who has known the Kikuyu longer than any other living European,

There was nothing solitary, cheap brutal or cruel in their tribal customs.
Their life was gregarious, innocent and healthy. There was no poverty, for
land was plentiful and work a joy; they were a delightful people, enjoying
life with their dances and singing, busy as bees with their intensive' cultiva-
tion and giving very little trouble; they enjoyed drunken orgies and free
sexual intercourse was practised as a part of ritual occasions; such vices
are not unknown in the most civilised countries. Polygamy took care of
the orphan and widow; filial piety alleviated the trials of old age; it was
a perfect society but with noe great flaw. Everything was so completely
integrated with everything else that European intrusion impinging on any
single part of this delicate tribal mechanism threw the whole machine out
of gear.

Take two aspects of tribal life in Ghana. Ntieyong Akpan writes
in his Epitaph to Indirect Rule:

In the Gold Coast . . . under the old system Village Councils usually
comprised all the male inhabitants of the Village concerned, normally sum-
moned to meetings by beating of gongs, ringing of bells or other traditional
methods of announcement. Under the modern system only a few people,
selected by election, constitute the Village Councils


And Richard Wright attempts in Black Power to describe the tribal
community :

You may never get rich, but you'll never starve, not as long as someone
who is akin to you has something to eat. It's communism, but without any
of the ideas of Marx and Lenin. The men with whom he shared his life
were his brothers; men of the same generation were brothers, not the sons
of his mother, but men to whom he felt a blood relationship, brothers
who fed him when he was hungry, let him sleep when he was tired, consoled
him when he was sad. He had a large 'family' that stretched for miles and
miles ... I. tried to visualise it and I could not.

Now obviously here are two facets of the old tribal culture which
could be built into a new social order, the first into a network of village
communes a great deal more successful than the local councils on the
British pattern which have been set up in Ghana, and the second into
a system of mutual aid more genuine and comprehensive than any
'welfare state'. What actually happened of course, is that the imposition
by the British of chieftaincies as part of the structure of indirect rule
destroyed the 'democracy' of tribalism, while the nationalist politicians
have made use of the most primitive and irrational features of the tribal
system for political purposes.

There are millions of Africans, moreover, for whom tribalism is
something out of the past, which they have escaped from, and they
associate with it, not those virtues which we see in it from the outside,
but narrow horizons, lack of economic opportunity, intolerable family
pressure to conformity, a warm and cosy Ghetto which you can look
back to with affection once you are safely outside.

The task for African propagandists of anarchist ideas is thus
doubly complicated. How to combine the virtues of the half-discredited
village society with the personal independence, the freedom of choice,
the wider outlook in occupation and consumption, which urban society
offers? Have we in Europe any answer to this question? J.E.

Anarchy #005

Issue of Anarchy magazine from July 1961 primarily about the Spanish Civil War.


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Brennan's Spanish Labyrinth

MARIE LOUISE BERNERl was an editor of War Commentary and
later Freedom, until her death at the age of 31 in 1949. She was the
author of Journey Through Utopia (Routledge) and Neither East Nor
West (Freedom Press). Her article was originally written for Now in
1944 as a review of the original edition of Brenan's book.

Books about Spain have been written either by learned professors who
write history ignoring completely working class movements and the
existence of the class struggle and who therefore put fanciful interpreta-
tions on events they are unable to understand, or by journalists who
feel qualified to write about Spain after spending only a few days or a
few weeks in the country and without having acquired any previous
knowledge of the historical background of the people. Such books
sometimes contain brilliant passages, like Borkenau's Spanish Cockpit
or George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, but are also full of inexacti-
tudes and hasty generalisations. They are also often written with a
bias to suit the political fashion of the moment Several books were
written about the Spanish revolution which did not mention the work
of the Anarchist movement or even its existence. On the other hand,
because it is popular to boost the Communists, most of the work done
during the revolution was attributed to them.

The Spanish Labyrinth* stands apart from all these books, both
for the erudition which the author displays and for his objective approach
to the subject. Gerald Brenan did not use any expedient method to
write this book. He has taken great pains to find the truth and to be
fair to all the parties he deals with, and if sometimes the book contains
inaccuracies one feels that they are due to misinformation rather than
to political prejudice.

Brenan's book is made interesting and penetrating by his sympathy
for the subject he has treated. He loves Spain and the Spaniards and
has a particular understanding of the Spanish peasants among whom
he lived so long, not as a tourist but as one of them, sharing their houses*
their food, their talk, their songs and dances. An historian should
attempt to experience in imagination the feelings and reactions of the
people he describes, and he is able to do this only if he can, so to speak,
put himself in their place. Brenan is extremely gifted in that respect.
He has dealt with his subject not only as a scholar but also as an artist
and a psychologist. This has enabled him to understand actions which*
not being a revolutionary himself, he cannot approve, such as the
burning of churches, the throwing of bombs, the killing of priests, the
expropriation of landlords and many other acts of revolt of the Spanish
workers. He sees these facts in their right perspective and makes fun

♦The Spanish Labyrinth by Gerald Brenan, (Cambridge Paperbacks, 13s. 6d.).

of the reactionaries who, at the slightest movement of revolt among
the masses, are prepared to see the whole working class as a mob of
criminals. He effectively debunks atrocity stories, a task which, unfor-
tunately, historians are not often willing to undertake, particularly
when these stories are used to discredit national or class enemies.
Brenan says that already in 1873 the most infamous stories were circu-
lated against the Anarchists. The Carlists, who were the equivalent of
the Fascists of to-day, issued two pseudo-anarchist papers to give more
weight to their atrocity stories. The front page of one of them, Los
Descamisados (The Shirtless), bore the following battle cry :

900,000 heads! Let us tear the vault of heaven as though it were a
paper roof! Property is theft! Complete, utter social equality! Free Love!

After the Asturian rising of October 1934 accusations of atrocities
were again circulated on a big scale against the revolutionary workers.
Brenan says :

The most incredible tales were solemnly told and vouched for. The
nuns at Oyiedo were said to have been raped: the eyes of twenty children
of the police at Trubia were said to have been put out: priests, monks and
children had been burnt alive: whilst the priest of Suma de Lagreo was
declared to have been murdered and his body hung on a hook with the
notice "Pig's meat sold here" suspended over it. Although the mose careful
search by independent journalists and Radical deputies — members that is,
of the party then in power — revealed no trace of any of these horrors, and
although the considerable sums raised for the twenty blinded children had
to be devoted to other purposes because none of these children could be
found, these and other stories continued to be repeated in the Right-wing
press for months afterwards.

Of the terrorist methods used by the Anarchists at the end of the
last century Brenan gives a very penetrating explanation particularly
important as these acts are almost universally condemned and are still
held against Anarchism :

The nineties were everywhere the period of anarchist terrorism. We
have seen how the loss of its working-class adherents and the stupidity of
the police repression led to this. But there were other causes as well. The
reign of the bourgeoisie was now at its height. The meanness, their Philis-
tinism, their insufferable self-righteousness weighed upon everything. They
had created a world that was both dull and ugly and they were so firmly
established in it that it seemed hopeless even to dream of revolution. The
desire to shake by some violent action the complacency of this huge, inert
and stagnant mass of middle-class opinion became irresistible. Artists and
writers shared this feeling. Onei must put such books as Flaubert's Bouvard
et Pecuchet and Huysman's A Rebours, Butler's and Wilde's epigrams and
Nietzsche's savage outbursts in the same category as the bombs of the
Anarchists. To shock, to infuriate, to register one's protest became the
only thing that any decent or sensitive man could do.

One could make many more quotations to show that Brenan's
attitude is not hampered by prejudices and that his judgments are not
delivered according to a fixed code of bourgeois morality.

* * *

The Spanish Labyrinth is divided into three parts. The first part
describes the history of the old regime, and that is to say the political
regimes in Spain from 1874 to 1931. This part is mostly a chronicle
of events.

The second part which, from a social point of view, is the most
interesting, deals in detail with the conditions of the working classes
and contains a careful analysis of : the agrarian question, the Anarchists,
the Anarcho-syndicalists, the Carlists, the Socialists.

The third part deals with the events in Spain after 1931, after
the fall of the monarchy and the institution of the Republic. It contains
a chapter on the history of the Popular Front and a short sketch on the
history of the Civil War from 1936-39.

It will be seen that the number of subjects treated justifies the sub-
title of the book: "An account of the social and political background
of the Civil War." All the forces which came to clash during the
revolution are analysed here from their birth and the study of this book
is indispensable if one is to understand properly the Civil War itself.

Parts of the Spanish Labyrinth are of particular interest to Anar-
chists and I should like to deal with them at length at the risk of giving
them a prominence which they do not attain in the book itself.

The first point of interest to Anarchists is the relation between
Anarchism and the communalist movement in Spain. Spain resembles
Europe of the Middle Ages, when communes had a great deal of auto-
nomy and when each member played an active role in the running of
the communities. Unlike the communes in Mediaeval Germany, France
and Italy, which flourished mostly in the towns and were composed of
artisans and merchants, the communes in Spain existed mostly in the
countryside and were composed of peasants, herdsmen, shepherds.
There were also communes of fishermen on the coast. Provincial and
municipal feeling was therefore very strong and every town was the
centre of an intense social life. This autonomy of the towns and
villages allowed the full development of the people's initiative and
rendered them for more individualistic than other nations, though at
the same time developing the instinct of mutual aid which has elsewhere
been atrophied by the growth of the state.

It is difficult to understand Spain if one has not read Mutual Aid,
and, indeed, some of the pages of the Spanish Labyrinth would form a
valuable supplement to Kropotkin's work. Spanish communalist insti-
tutions would have offered Kropotkin a tremendous amount of material
to illustrate his theory of Mutual Aid, but it is probable that the material
was not available to him at the time. Brenan's book has filled the
gap to a great extent by giving examples of agricultural and fisherman's
communities which have survived through centuries, independent of
the central authority of the government. While communes in the rest
of Europe were gradually absorbed by the state and had lost most of
their liberties and privileges by the middle of the XHIth century they
survived much longer in Spain.

There is of course nothing very remarkable about this communal system
of cultivating the land. It was once general— in Rusfeia (the mir\ in
Germany (the flurzwang), in England (the open-field system). What is,
remarkable is that in Spain the villiage communities spontaneously developed
on this basis an extensive system of municipal services, to the point of
their sometimes reaching an advanced stage of communism . . . One
may ask what there is in the Spanish character or in the economic circum-
stances of the country that has led to this surprising development. It is
clear that the peculiar agrarian conditions of the Peninsula, the great
isolation of the many villages and the delay in the growth of even an
elementary capitalist system have all played their part. But they have not
been the only factors at work. When one considers the number of guilds
or confraternities that till recently owned land and worked it in common
to provide old age and sickness insurance for their members: or such
popular institutions as the Cort de la Seo at Valencia which regulated on
a purely voluntary basis a complicated system of irrigation: or else the
surprising development in recent years of productive co-operative societies
in which peasants and fishermen acquired the instruments of their labour,
the land they needed, the necessary installations and began to produce and
sell in common: one has to recognise that the Spanish working-classes show
a spontaneous talent for co-operation that exceeds anything that can be
found to-day in other European countries.

When one takes into account the fertile growth of communistic
institutions, the mutual aid displayed among peasants, fishermen and
artisans, the spirit of independence in the towns and villages, it is not
difficult to understand why anarchist ideas found such a propitious soil
in Spain.

The theories of the Anarchists, and of Bakunin and Kropotkin in
particular, are based on the belief that men are bound together by the
instinct of mutual aid, that they can live happily and peacefully in a free
society. Bakunin through his natural sympathy for the peasants,
Kropotkin through his study of the life of animals, of the primitive
societies and the Middle-Ages, had both reached the conclusion that
men are able to live happily and show their social and creative abilities
in a society free from any central and authaoritarian government.

These anarchist theories correspond to the experiences of the
Spanish people. Wherever they were free to organise themselves inde-
pendntly they had improved their lot, but when the central government
of Madrid through the landlords, the petty bureaucrats, the police and
the army, interfered with their lives, it always brought them oppression
and poverty. The Socialist party with its distrust of the social instincts
of men, with its belief in a central, all-wise authority, went against the
age-long experience of the Spanish workers and peasants. It demanded
from them the surrender of the liberties they had fought hard to preserve
through centuries and for that reason never acquired the influence
which the Anarchist Movement attained.

Another cause for the rapid and extensive growth of the Anarchist
Movement in Spain was, according to Brenan, the intense religious
feelings of the people, particularly the peasants.
This may at first seem paradoxical. The Anarchists in Spain,
perhaps more than in any other country, bitterly attacked religion and
the Church. They issued hundreds of books and pamphlets denouncing
the fallacy of religion and the corruption of the Church; they even
went as far as burning churches and killing priests.

Brenan does not ignore this, but he distinguishes between the
Christian beliefs of the Spanish masses and their intense dislike of the
Church, and one must admit that his interpretation of the relation
between religion and Anarchism is very convincing.

He describes the Spaniards, and in particular the peasants, as a
very religious people. By religion he does not mean, of course, belief
in and submission to the Church but a faith in spiritual values, in the
need for men to reform themselves, in the fraternity which should exist
among all men.

At the beginning of the XIXth century a general decay of religious
faith took place, but religion had meant so much to the poor that they
were left with the hunger for something to replace it and this could only
be one of the political doctrines, Anarchism or Socialism. Anarchism
by its insistence on brotherhood between men, on the necessity for a
moral regeneration of mankind, on the need for faith, came nearer to
the Christian ideas of the .Spanish peasant than the dry, soulless, mater-
ialistic theories of the Marxists. The Spanish peasants took literally
the frequent allusions in the Scriptures to the wickedness of the rich;
the Church of course could not admit this. The Spanish people in
their turn could not forgive the Church for having abandoned the teach-
ings of Christ nor could the Church forgive them for interpreting to
the letter the teachings of the gospels. Brenan suggests that the anger
of the Spanish Anarchists against the Church is the anger of an intensely
religious people who feel that they have been deserted and deceived.

Brenan forsaw that his interpretation would give rise to many
criticisms (from the Anarchists and even more from religious people),
and he says :

It may be thought that I have stressed too much the religious element
because Spanish Anarchism is after all a political doctrine. But the aims
of the Anarchists were always much wider and their teachings more personal
than anything which can be included under the word politics. To individuals
they offered a way of life: Anarchism had to be lived as well as worked

This is a very important point. The Anarchists do not aim only
at changing the government or the system; they aim also at changing
the people's mode of thinking and living, which has been warped by
years of oppression.

Whatever the cause of this attitude, whether religious or otherwise,
it is important to stress it. Anarchists are always accused of having
a negative creed, but critics overlook that Anarchism through its attempts
to render men better even under the present system is in fact doing
some positive and very useful work.

Brenan has seen this very clearly and he refuses to judge the Anar-
chists through their material achievements alone. He does not consider
merely the number of strikes they have carried out, the rises in wages
they have obtained or the part they have played in the administration
of the country. Their role, he says, should be judged not in political
terms but in moral ones, a fact which is almost universally ignored.

For example, the role of Anarchists in educating the Spanish
masses is often overlooked. While the Socialists thought that education
was a matter for the state to deal with, the Anarchists believed in
starting work immediately. As early as the middle of the last century
Anarchists formed small circules in towns and villages which started
night schools where many learned to read.

At the beginning of this century Anarchist propaganda spread
rapidly through the country-side and it was always accompanied with
efforts to educate the masses. The Anarchist press not only published
books by Kropotkin, Bakunin and the Spanish Anarchist newspapers
were avidly read. The Anarchist movement had several dailies, but
more important perhaps was the great number of provincial papers.
In a relatively small province like Andalusia by the end of 1918 more
than 50 towns had libertarian newspapers of their own. The work of
editing these newspapers must have provided the members of the
movement with a good deal of education and experience. The work
of F. Ferrer in setting up free schools, the first outside the control of
the Church, is well known.

This education was not limited to book knowledge alone. Anar-
chists were expected to give a good example by their private lives.
Solidaridad Obrera, the Anarchist daily, in an article published in 1922,
says that the Anarchist should set out to have a moral ascendancy over
others. He should obtain prestige in the eyes of the workers by his
conduct in the street, in the workshop, in his home and during strikes.

They were equally anxious to bring honesty in the matter of sex.
Brenan says;

Anarchists, it is true, believe in free love — everything, even love, must
be free — but they do not believe in libertinage. So in Malaga they sent
missions to the prostitutes. In Barcelona they cleaned up the cabarets and
brothels with a thoroughness that the Spanish Church (which frowns on
open vice, such as wearing a bathing dress without a skirt and sleeves, but
shuts its eyes to 'safety valves') would never approve of.

The Anarchists tried to live up to their ideals within the movement
itself. They had no paid bureaucracy like the other parties. In a
country like Spain, where there is the greatest distrust for money and
those who seek it, the attitude of the Anarchists brought them the
sympathy of the masses. Brenan points out several times that the
Anarchist leaders were never paid and that in 1918, when their trade
union, the C.N.T., contained over a million members, it had only one
paid secretary.

Brenan's book carries an encouraging message for the Anarchists.
Though he himself considers Anarchism impracticable, he gives abun-
dant proofs that it is deeply rooted in Spain. Unlike Fascism and Com-
munism, it would not have to rely on foreign influences to come into

The practice of mutual aid which maintained itself in the village
and town communes, the aspiration of the Spanish people towards
liberty, justice and the brotherhood of all men, their love of indepen-
dence which gave rise to federalist aspirations, all point to the conclusion
that only an anarchist system of society will be possible in Spain.

Here I must say, however, a few words of disagreement with
Brenan's conclusions. Though he admits that the arbiters of Spain's
destiny must be the worker and the peasant, he believes that a govern-
ment (of the right kind of course) must control Spain. He does not say
where a good government can be found. He declares that a govern-
ment in Spain should not depend on the church, the army or the land-
lords; as on the other hand he does not seem to believe in the dictator-
ship of the proletariat (which he rightly condemns in Russia) it is diffi-
cult to see why he rejects so firmly the Anarchist solution.

He also advocates strongly the collectivisation of the land, but seems
to expect that a "sensible government" could carry it out, when history
shows that no government in Spain was ever prepared to go against
the interests of the landlords.

I think that Brenan has emphasised too much the agrarian nature
of Anarchism. This is probably due to the fact that he lived in
Andalusia, a completely agricultural region. Incidentally, he was criti-
cised on this point by H. N. Brainsford who reviewed his book in the
New Statesman, and who said :

I witnessed their (the Anarchists') astonishing success during the civil
war in running factories with high principles as their chief equipment,
and I was deeply moved by the schools they established for the sorely tried
children of Madrid.

Brenan also attaches, in my opinion, too much importance to the
rivalry between Madrid and Barcelona. In his opinion all Castilians
are authoritarians and all Catalans are independent and lovers of freedom.
To maintain his thesis he makes certain errors of facts which it is not
worth while to discuss here. He is again far from the truth when he
attributes practically all the burning of churches to Anarchists; in fact
the burning of churches occurred everywhere spontaneously, and took
place sometimes in villages and towns where there were no Anarchists.

However, these are mostly details, and do not prevent the book
from being a very serious contribution to the history of revolutionary
movements. Brenan, who lived so long in Spain, seems to have been
influenced by its communal institutions, and has written his book in
the spirit of the craftsman of the Middle Ages. Like them he has
produced his chef-d'oeuvre which is the test of his love for his art and
his respect for his fellow men for whom the book is written. The
Sapnish Labyrinth has been created with that painstaking and disinter-
ested love which characterises all lasting works.

The Congress of Zaragoza

On May 1st 1936 the CNT held a national congress at Zaragoza, in
an atmosphere of impending crisis. The Spanish general elections in
February had resulted in the replacement of the right-wing government
of the Bieno Negro (the 'two black years') by a parliament in which the
parties of the left held a decisive majority.

The internal position of the CNT was not a happy one. In January
and December 1933 it had been involved in unsuccessful revolutionary
action and in December 1934 the rising of the Asturian miners had been
savagely repressed. The Confederation was split, with one tendency,
represented by the 'Manifesto of the Thirty', the Treintistas, advocating
much closer ties with the socialist trade unions of the UGT, and a less
intransigent approach to the dilemma of reform or revolution. The
special problems facing the Congress were therefore to enquire into the
risings of 1933 and 1934 and evaluate the role of the CNT in them;
to discuss the continuing relevance of anarchist and revolutionary syndi-
calist principles to the critical situation then existing in Spain; to work
out some kind of relationship between syndicalism and socialism and
put it into practice in terms of a pact with the UGT; and to do all this
under the shadow of a split in the organisation which everyone felt had
to be healed as a matter of first importance. Besides these particular
issues there were the usual reviews of activity and publications and the
preparation of general statements on the Confederal attitude to the
agricultural problems of Spain and its ideas for the future liberatrian

It is therefore disappointing, in reading the published minutes of
the Congress,* to observe how much of it seems to have been spent
in personal disputes about the credentials of one comrade, the conduct
of another on a given occasion, whether the Congress should have been
held in Zaragoza or not, and similar matters. The important work
of preparing statements seems to have been referred to committees whose
reports were accepted after very short debates.
*El Congreso Confederal de Zaragoza, Ediciones CNT, 1955.

The scission in the CNT had come into the open shortly after the
advent of the Spanish Republic in 1931. The delegate of the Opposition
{Treintistas) of Catalonia explained that

Our current wanted to make use of the time put at our disposal to build
a powerful CNT. We felt that one of the prime tasks of that period had
to be to reach the young people who, without any ideological preparation,
were coming towards us, and to make them ready for the outbreak of the
revolution. We had to create in them a clear social consciousness which
would greatly assist the CNT in making its revolution.

The other current believed in revolutionary circumstances, believed that
the very conditions necessary for the transformation of society existed, and
they worked in that direction.

However, the very period which gave the CNT a chance to build up,
also gave the State time to put its house in order, a point made by the
delegate of Fabric and Textiles of Barcelona :

In 1931 there were circumstances favourable to the proletariat, to our
libertarian revolution, and to a transformation of society, that have not
been repeated since. The regime was in a state of decomposition; the State
was weak and had not yet consolidated itself in a position of power, the
army weakened by indiscipline; a poorly manned Civil Guard; badly organ-
ised forces of public order and a timid bureaucracy. It was the very
moment for our revolution. Anarchism had the right to bring about an
institute a genuine regime of libertarian comradeship. Socialism had not
attained the revolutionary prestige that it has today: it was a vaccilating
bourgeois party. We interpret this reality by saying, The further we are
from the 14th April, the further we go from our revolution because we give
the State time to reorganise itself and the counter-revolution'.

The real issue in everyone's mind was whether it was possible to
find any unity between these opposing currents which could be expressed
in terms of a declaration of unity, and a single organisation. The
declaration was drawn up and accepted, and the Opposition ceased to
exist on paper, although as later events showed, its spirit lived on.

Discussion on the unsuccessful popular movements of 1933 and
1934 revealed the same kind of cleavage in the movement, between the
comrades who looked on them as useful experiences, and only criticised
the organisation for not having made a more whole-hearted attempt
to exploit the opportunities which occurred, and those who were dubious
about the possibility of a rising bringing about libertarian communism
in such circumstances. Similarly when the subject of the alliance with
the socialist UGT came up, one of the important questions was whether
the CNT was or ever would be strong enough to make its own revolution,
or whether effective participation in day-to-day activities demanded com-
promises and collaboration.

It is almost impossible to sum up this part of the debate from mere
reading, and it could only be dealt with by someone who took part in
the events. The questions that need answering are: To what extent
were the mass of Spanish workers influencd by the CNT, and to what
extent was the card-holding membership of the Confederation inbued
with the libertarian ideology held by at least some of its militants?

When we turn to the actual statements drawn up by the Congress
it is clear that no simple formula can sum up the attitude of the anarcho-
syndicalists during this period. In its declaration on unemployment
the Congress states that this is 'ultimately a product of the multiple con-
tradictions of capitalism' and goes on to 'urge, then, that for the moral
and material health of humanity, that the working masses hasten to
put an end to the capitalist regime and to organise the production and
distribution of social wealth for themselves'. However, they did not
intend to appear as pure idealists and so the declaration ends with
demands for a thirty-six hour week, abolition of overtime, and the
development of municipal works.

The statement on the political-military situation draws attention
to the failure of parliament and the parties, the growing threat of
fascism, and declares that the only solution lies in educating the people
to want libertarian communism. It ends by calling for a revolutionary
general strike in the event of a declaration of war.

The problem of choosing between a revolutionary and a reformist
line also made itself felt in the declaration on agrarian reform. This
recognised that a reform passed by law would not liberate the peasants,
and it also recognised the possibility that its ameliorating effect might
weaken the influence of revolutionary syndicalism among them. With
this in view they proposed a programme of nine specific points demand-
ing radical expropriation of big farmers, abolition of rents, and the
introduction of irrigation schemes, agricultural colleges, and so on.

However, the most interesting of the resolutions of the Congress
was that on The Confederal Conception of Libertarian Communism'.
It is a powerful reply to the authoritarian socialist critics of Spanish
anarchism, whether Spanish or foreign, who claim that the anarchists
were just confused and generous-hearted people who did not know what
they wanted.

The resolution begins nevertheless by drawing attention to the two
currents of emphasis on the individual and social aspects of libertarian-
ism respectively. It also disclaims any desire to present a blueprint
for the future :

We all feel that to predict the structure of the future society would be
absurd, since there is often a great chasm between theory and practice.
We do not therefore fall into the error of the politicians who present well-
defined solutions to all problems, which fail drastically in practice.

It goes on to criticise the prevailing conception of revolution as being
a single violent act, and characterising revolution as beginning.

Firstly, as a psychological phenomenon in opposition to the state of
things which oppresses the aspirations and needs of the individual.

Secondly as a social manifestation, when that feeling takes collective
hold, it clashes with the forces of capitalism.

Thirdly, as organisation, when it feels the need to create a force capable
of bringing about its biological conclusion.

The first tasks of the revolution are defined thus :

The violent aspect of the revolution having been concluded, the following
will be declared abolished: private property, the State, the principle of
authority, and consequently, the class division of men into exploiters and
exploited, oppressors and oppressed.

Happy land!

Next comes a long section devoted to the details of the structure
of the communes and their federations. It is well-known anarcho-
syndicalist theory, but it is worth mentioning some points about which
individualist anarchists are not too happy, concerning the relations of
the persons with the federal structure. The economic plan takes

as base (in the work place, in the Syndicate, in the Commune, in all
the regulating organs of the new society) the producer, the individual as the
cell, as the cornerstone of all social, economic and moral creation.

However, there was no doubt left that all good men would welcome
the commune:

In accordance with the fundamental principles of libertarian communism,
as we have stated above, all men will hasten to fulfil the voluntary duty —
which will be converted into a true right when men work freely — of giving
his assistance to the collective, according to his strength and capabilities,
and the commune will accept the obligation of satisfying his needs.

Although no doubt meant in the best way, the imposition of 'volun-
tary duties' is not so appealing in the light of misplaced revolutions,
besides which:

It is important to make it clear . . . that the early days of the revolution
will not be easy . . . Any constructive period calls for sacrifice and individual
and collective acceptance of efforts necessary for overcoming problems, and
of not creating difficulties for the work of social reconstruction which we
will all be realising in agreement.

On the other hand it is pointed out that the National Confederation
of Communes will not be a uniform organisation. The example is given
of a commune of delightfully-named 'naturistas-desnudistas', enemies
of industrialisation, whose delegates attend a 'Congress of the Iberian
Confederation of Autonomous Libertarian Communes', which where
necessary enters into relations with other communes. Even if the
editors' tongues were in their cheeks in presenting the example, it is
important that they could, in all sincerity, include it. Furthermore,
although the network of federation is drawn in pretty closely, the follow-
ing paragraph is revealing :

We consider that in time the new society should assure each commune
of all the agricultural and industrial elements necessary for its autonomy,
in accordance with the biological principle which affirms that the man, and
in this case, the commune, is most free, who has least need of others.

Finally, after having described the ways in which the communes
will take decisions, the declaration states :

All these functions will have no bureaucratic or executive character.
Apart from those who work as technicians or simply statisticians, the rest
will simply be carrying out their job as producers, gathered together at the
end of the working day to discuss questions of detail which do not call
for reference to a general assembly.

Not only economic and social organisation, but the very ideas of
justice, love and education, are reviewed.

Libertarian communism is incompatible with any punitive regime, which
implies the disappearance of the present system of punitive justice and all
its instruments, such as prisons.

The committee considers.

Firstly, that man is not bad by nature, and that delinquency is the
logical result of the state of social injustice in which we live.

Secondly, that when his needs are satisfied, and he is given rational and
humane education, its causes will disappear.

Therefore we consider that when an individual falls down in his duties,
either in the moral realm or as a producer, it will be for the assemblies of
the people to find a just and harmonious solution to the case.

On the family and on sexual relations, the resolution points out
that the family has fulfilled many admirable functions of solidarity and
declares that the revolution will not involve an attack on the family.

Libertarian communism proclaims free love, with no more regulation
than the free will of the men and women concerned, guaranteeing the
children with the security of the community.

Education was discussed in two stages; one designed for the imme-
diate battle against illiteracy, and another the long-term development
of a human system of education.

The resolution ended by declaring that when achieved, the revolu-
tion would be defended by the people in arms.

This declaration on The Confederal Conception of Libertarian
Communism' carried unanimously by delegates speaking for a million
workers represents the height of anarcho-syndicalist expression. To
what extent did the individual members share its aspirations? To what
extent was it the expression of a handful of militant anarchists kidding
themselves that their own ideas were held throughout the CNT? How
representative was the other side of the Congress with its violent personal
and factional disputes? As the events fade into the past, these prob-
lems can only be unravelled by someone who shares a knowledge of
Spain, a feeling for anarchism and the skill of a historian.

However, the fact that the workers of the CNT, in the face of
oppression and persecution, and the imminence of a violent rising,
could present such a clear and humanistic view of what they wanted
society to be like, shows that they were the most socially conscious
people that recent history has seen, and makes it even more tragic that
circumstances conspired to prevent them from realising thir desires.


CNT {Confederation National del Trabajo— National Confederation of
Labour). Revolutionary syndicalist union influenced by the anarchists.
FAI (Federation Anarquista Iberica— Anarchist Federation of Iberia).
UGT (Union General de Trabajadores— General Workers' Union). Re-
formist trade union controlled by the socialists.
PSO (Partido Socialista Obrero— Workers' Socialist Party).
PCE (Partido Communista Espanol — Spanish Communist Party).
PSUC (Partido Socialista Unificat de Catalunya— Catalan United Socialist
Party). The combined Socialist and Communist parties of Catalonia.
POUM (Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista). Dissident revolutionary
Communist party.
Generalitat: the government of the autonomous province of Catalonia.

Some Conclusions on the Spanish Collectives

GASTON LEVAL spent many years in Spain and was the author of
Nuestro Programa de Reconstruction (Barcelona 1937), Social Recon-
struction in Spain (Freedom Press 1938), LTndispensable Revolution
(Paris 1948) and Ne Franco me Stalin (Milan 1952). His article is taken
from the concluding chapter of the last of these books, the most thorough
study yet made of the Spanish collectives.

I want to call attention to a curious fact: the failure of the top, the
directors, the guiding heads. I am referring not only to the socialist
and communist politicians, but also to the better-known anarchist mili-
tants, the 'leaders'. Spanish anarchism had a number of them. The
ablest, Orobon Fernandez, died shortly before the revolution. A real
sociologist, he had a broad and profound grasp of politics and economics.
Others were highly-cultured persons, fine agitators, some of them notable
orators, good journalists and writers; Federica Montseny was one of
the most intelligent women in the intellectual life of the country.

But from the start these militants were absorbed in the official duties
they accepted despite their traditional repugnance to government The
idea of anti-fascist unity had led them to this position : It was necessary
to keep quiet about principles, to make temporary concessions. Hin-
dered thereby from continuing to act as guides, they remained apart
from the great work of reconstruction from which the proletariat will
learn such precious lessons for the future. Without doubt they could
still have given useful advice, they could have offered general principles
for action and co-ordination. They did not. Why? It was because
they were primariliy demolishers. The struggle against State and
capitalism had led them to subordinate all their culture and prestige
to a political orientation. None of the best-known militants—apart
from Noja Ruiz, and latterly Santillan— was competent to meet the
economic problems of revolution. A constructive mentality, that can
grasp the essentials of a chaotic situation and harmonize them in a
comprehensive vision, is not improvised overnight.

Even some of the intellectuals who stayed out of official positions
took no part in the work of transforming the society. How then was
success possible? The reason was nothing else than the positive intelli-
gence of the people. This was our secret strength.

For decades, anarchist papers and reviews and pamphlets had been
forming in militants a habit of acting individually, of taking initiative.
They were not taught to wait for directives from above. They had
always thought and acted for themselves — sometimes well, sometimes
badly. Reading the paper, the review, the pamphlet, the book, each
developed and enlarged his own personality. They were never given
a dogma or a safe, uniform line of action. In the study of concrete
problems, in the critique of economic and political ideas, clear ideas of
revolution had gradually matured.

For some time, the problems of social reconstruction had been on
the order of the day. Some of the better-known militants were rather
scornful of the studies published by Puente, Besnard, Santillan, Orobon
Fernandez, Noja Ruiz, Leval. But many of the more serious, and
perhaps basically more intelligent, workers read them avidly. A great
number of the 60,000 readers of the libertarian review Studi followed
with interest the detailed articles on the problems a revolution faces,
in food supply, fuel, or agriculture. Many syndicalist groupings did
likewise. And when at the Saragossa Congress in May 1936, a
renowned militant, who always displayed an olympian indifference
toward such questions — later, he was just as good minister as bad
organiser — presented an exposition of libertarian communism which
revealed the lack of substance in his thought, the workers and peasants
assembled from all the provinces showed their disapproval; for they
knew quite well that social life must be thought of and organized in
a more methodical way. All this study, together with the need for
men of will and action in the social struggle, gave birth to the qualities
that made possible the marvellous achievements of the agrarian collec-
tives and the industrial organization.

The capacity of the people. That is, intelligence plus will. This
is the secret. In this, not even the humblest labourers were lacking. I
knew many syndicalist committee members who understood the prob-
lems of revolution and economic organisation very clearly. They spoke
intelligently about raw materials, imports, the need to improve or
eliminate this or that branch of industry, the armed defence, and other
matters. The prompt reaction against the Control Committees which
threatened, in the big cities, to become a new parasitic bureaucracy;
the rapid decision to resist the attacks of the 18th and 19th of July;
the rise of untrained military leaders (Durruti, Ortiz, Mera, Ascaso and
others) to command over professional military men, are all facts that
support my conclusions.

When I made my first visit to the Aragon front, my attention was
attracted by the countenances of many of the young men in the trenches.
There was clarity, serenity, firmness in their eyes; they had the faces
of thoughtful men. I rode back to Barcelona with a comrade — the
region's councillor for economics — who was going to Valencia to make
a last desperate effort, through the central government, to save his
companion, held by the fascists in Saragossa. He was a simple man,
in externals and in character. But a remarkable man. Although tor-
mented by the fate of his companion, he explained to me about the
new lands that had to be cultivated, about coal and iron and manganese
mines that could be opened, about canals that ought to be dug, about
trade with Catalonia, about the relations between collectivist and indivi-
dualist peasants.

t We spoke of electrification. He expounded to me a plan for a
single network to unify the hydraulic resources and distribute the power
equally among the socialised regions, and avoid the concentration of
industry and the excessive, often unfair, specialisation of agriculture
His deep knowledge of the Spanish economy surprised me. He was a
glass-maker, only 32 years old. Many ministers of economics and agri-
culture of the republic and the monarchy knew less than he about these

One day the secretary of the Peasants' Federation of Levante said
to me:

"I want your advice, Gaston. We've been thinking of starting a
"A bank of your own?" I asked.

"Yes. You see, we need money to keep things moving between
our collectivized villages, and for trade with other towns. With the
export of oranges stopped, it's hard to get. Instead of helping, the
government cuts the ground from under us. We've just about decided
to have a bank of our own. The problem is whether we ought to
start one with our own resources, or take over one that already exists

"How would you take it over?"

"By operations to make it lose money and accept our intervention."
I didn't have time to look into the plan closely. Some months later,

I saw this peasant again— this peasant with the common-man look and

the beret. He'd got his bank.

I was working on economic problems so they consulted me about
everything. But how often nothing remained to be done, so well had
they already planned it !

The revolution developed in extremely complicated circumstances.
Attacks from within and without had to be fought off. It took fantastic
efforts to put the anarchist principles into practice. But in many places
it was done. The organisers found out how to get around everything.
I repeat : it was possible because we had the intelligence of the people
on our side. This is what finds the way, and meets the thousand needs
of life and the revolution. It organised the militia and defeated fascism
in the first phase of the war. It went to work instantly, to make
armoured cars and rifles and guns. The initiative came from the people,
above all from those influenced by the anarchists. For example the
Aragon collectives : among their organisers I found only two lawyers,
in Alconna. They were not, strictly speaking, intellectuals. But if
what they did, together with the peasant and worker comrades, was
well done, it was no better than what could be seen in Esplus, Binefar,
Calanda and other collectives. What was a surprise was to find that a
great many of these peasants were illiterate. But they had faith, practi-
cal common sense, the spirit of sacrifice,, the will to create a new world.

I don't want to make a demagogic apology for ignorance. Those
men had a mentality, a heart, a spirit, of a kind that education cannot
give and official education often smothers. Spiritual culture is not
always bookish, and still less academic. It can arise from the very
conditions of living, and when it does, it is more dynamic. By adapting
themselves to what was being done, by co-ordinating the work, by
suggesting general directions, by warning a certain region of industry
against particular errors, by complementing one activity with another
and harmonising the whole, by stimulating here and correcting there —
in these ways great minds can undoubtedly be of immense service. In
Spain they were lacking. It was not by the work of our intellectuals
—more literary than sociological, more agitators than practical guides
—that the future has been illuminated. And the peasants— libertarian
or not— of Aragon, Levante, Castille, Estramadura, Andalusia, the
workers of Catalonia, understood this and acted alone.

The intellectuals, by their ineptitude in practical work, were inferior
to the peasants who made no political speeches but knew how to
organise the new life. Not even the authors of the syndicalist health
organisation in Catalonia were intellectuals. A Basque doctor with
a will of iron, and a few comrades working in the hospitals, did every-
thing. In other regions, talented professional men aided the movement.
But there, too, the initiative came from below. Alcoy's industries, so
well organised, were all managed by the workers, as were those of
Elda and Castillon. In Carcagente, in Elda, in Granollers, in Binefar,
in Jativa, in land transport, in marine transport, in the collectives of
Castille, or in the semi-socialisation of Ripolls and Puigerda — the mili-
tants at the bottom did everything.

As for the government, they were as inept in organising the economy
as in organising the war.


1. In juridical principles the collectives were something entirely
new. They were not syndicates, nor were they municipalities in any
traditional sense; they did not even very closely resemble the municipali-
ties of the Middle Ages. Of the two, however, they were closer to
the communal than the syndicalist spirit. Often they might just as
well have been called communities, as for example the one in Binefar
was. The collective was an entity; within it, occupational and profes-
sional groups, public services, trade and municipal functions were sub-
ordinate and dependent. In forms of organisation, in internal function-
ing, and in their specialised activities, however, they were autonomous.

2. The agrarian collectives, despite their name, were to all intents
and purposes libertarian communist organisations. They applied the
rule "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his
needs." Where money was abolished, a certain quantity of goods was
assured to each person; where money was retained, each family received
a wage determined by the number of members. Though the technique
varied, the moral principle and the practical results were the same.

3. In the agrarian collectives solidarity was carried to extreme
lengths. Not only was every person assured of the necessities, but
the district federations increasingly adopted the principle of mutual
aid on an inter-collective scale. For this purpose they created common
reserves to help out villages less favoured by nature. In Castille special
institutions for this purpose were created. In industry this practice
seems to have begun in Hospitalet, on the Catalan railways, and was
applied later in Alcoy. Had the political . compromise not impeded
open socialisation, the practices of mutual aid would have been much
more generalised.

4. A conquest of enormous importance was the right of women
to livelihood, regardless of occupation or function. In about half of
the agrarian collectives, women received the same wages as men; in
the rest women received less, apparently on the principle that they
rarely lived alone.

5. The child's right to livelihood was also ungrudgingly recog-
nised : not as a state charity, but as a right no one dreamed of denying.
The schools were open to children to the age of 14 or 15 — the only
guarantee that parents would not send their children to work sooner,
and that education would really be universal.

6. In all the agrarian collectives of Aragon, Catalonia, Levante,
Castille, Andalusia, and Estramadura, the workers formed groups to
divide the labour or the land; usually they were assigned to definite
areas. Delegates elected by the work-groups met with the collective's
delegate for agriculture to plan out the work. This typical organisation
arose quite spontaneously, by local initiative.

7. In addition to these methods— and similar meetings of special-
ised groups — the collective as a whole met in a weekly or bi-weekly
or monthly assembly. This too was a spontaneous innovation. The
assembly reviewed the activities of the councillors it named, and dis-
cussed special cases and unforseen problems. All inhabitants— men and
women, producers and non-producers— -took part in the discussion and
decisions. In many cases the 'individualists' (non-collective members)
had equal rights in the assembly.

8. In land cultivation the most significant advances were: the
rapidly increased use of machinery and irrigation; greater diversification;
and forestation. In stock-raising: the selection and multiplication of
breeds; the adaptation of breeds to local conditions; and large-scale
construction of collective stock barns.

9. Production and trade were brought into increasing harmony
and distribution became more and more unified; first district unification.
then regional unification, and finally the creation of a national federation.
The district (comarca) was the basis of trade. In exceptional cases an
isolated commune managed its own, on authority of the district federa-
tion which kept an eye on the commune and could intervene if its trading
practices were harmful to the general economy. In Aragon the Federa-
tion of Collectives, founded in January 1937, began to co-ordinate trade
among the communes of the region, and to create a system of mutual
aid. The tendency to unity became more distinct with the adoption
of a single "producer's card" and a single "consumer's card" — which
implied suppression of all money, local and national — by a decision of
the February 1937 Congress. Co-ordination of trade with other regions,
and abroad, improved steadily. When disparities in exchange, or
exceptionally high prices, created surpluses, they were used by the
Regional Federation to help the poorer collectives. Solidarity thus
extended beyond the district.

10. Industrial concentration — the elimination of small workshops
and uneconomical factories — was a characteristic feature of collectivi-
sation both in the rural communes and in the cities. Labour was
rationalised on the basis of social need — in Alcoy's industries and in
those of Hospitalet, in Barcelona's municipal transport and in the Aragon


11. The first step toward socialisation was frequently the dividing
up of large estates (as in the Segorbe and Granollers districts and a
number of Aragon villages). In certain other cases the first step was
to force the municipalities to grant immediate reforms (municipalisation
of land-rent and of medicine in Elda, Benicarlo, Castillone, Alcaniz,

Caspe, etc.).

12. Education advanced at an unprecedented pace. Most of the

partly or wholly socialised collectives and municipalities built at least
one school. By 1938, for example, every collective in the Levant©

Federation had its own school.

13. The number of collectives increased steadily. The movement
originated and progressed swiftly in Aragon, conquered part of Catalonia,
then moved on to Levante and later Castille. According to reliable
testimony the accomplishments in Castille may indeed have surpassed
Levante and Aragon. Estramadura and the part of Andalusia not
conquered immediately by the fascists — especially the province of Jaen
— also had their collectives. The character of the collectives varied of
course with local conditions.

14. We lack exact figures on the total number of collectives in
Spain. Based on the incomplete statistics of the Congress in Aragon
in February 1937, and on data gathered during my stay in this region,
there were at least 400. In Levante in 1938 there were 500. To these
must be added those of the other regions. The development and growth
of the movement can be gauged from these figures : by February 1937
the District of Angues had 36 (figures given at the Congress). By June
of the same year it had 57. In my investigation I found only two
collectives which had failed : Boltona and Ainsa, in Northern Aragon.
15. Sometimes the collective was supplemented by other forms of
socialisation. After I left Carcagente, trade was socialised. In Alcoy
consumers co-operatives arose to round out the syndicalist organisation
of production. There were other instances of the same kind.

16. The collectives were not created single-handed by the liber-
tarian movement. Although their juridical principles were strictly
anarchist, a great many collectives were created spontaneously by people
remote from our movement ("libertarians" without being aware of it).
Most of the Castille and Estramadura collectives were organised by
Catholic and Socialist peasants; in some cases of course they may have
been inspired by the propaganda of isolated anarchist militants. Although
their organisation opposed the movement officially, many members of
the UGT entered or organised collectives, as did republicans who
sincerely wanted to achieve liberty and justice.

17. Small land-owners were respected. Their inclusion in the
consumer's card system and in the collective trading, the resolutions
taken in respect to them, all attest to this. There were just two restric-
tions: they could not have more land than they could cultivate, and
they could not carry on private trade. Membership of the collective
was voluntary: the "individualists" joined only if and when they were
persuaded of the advantages of working in common.

1 8. The chief obstacles to the collectives were :

(a) The existence of conservative strata, and parties and organ-
isations representing them. Republicans of all factions,
Socialist of left and right (Largo Caballero and Prieto),
Stalinist Communists, and often the POUMists. (Before
their expulsion from the Catalan government— the
Generalidad— the POUMISTS were not a truly revolution-
ary party. They became so when driven into opposition.
Even in June 1937, a manifesto distributed by the Aragon
section of the POUM attacked the collectives). The UGT
was the principal instrument of the various politicians.

(b) The opposition of certain small landowners (Catalan and
Pyrenean peasants).

(c) The fear, even among some members of collectives, that
the government would destroy the organisations once the
war was over. Many who were not really reactionary, and
many small landowners who would otherwise have joined
the collectives, held back on this account.

(d) The open attack on the collectives : by which is not meant
the obviously destructive acts of the Franco troops wherever
they advanced. In Castile the attack on the Collectives
was conducted, arms in hand, by Communist troops. In
the Valencia region, there were battles in which even
armoured cars took part. In the Huesca province the
Karl Marx brigade persecuted the collectives. The Macia-
Companys brigade did the same in Teruel province. (But
both always fled from combat with the fascists. The Karl
Marx brigade always remained inactive, while our troops
fought for Huesca and other important points; the Marxist
troops reserved themselves for the rearguard. The second
gave up Vivel del Rio and other coal regions of Utrillos
without a fight. These soldiers, who ran in panic before
a small attack that other forces easily contained, were
intrepid warriors against the unarmed peasants) of the

19. In the work of creation, transformation and socialisation, the
peasant demonstrated a social conscience much superior to that of the
city worker.

A Peasant Experiment

H. E. K AM IN SKI'S article first appeared in his book Ceux de Barcelone

{Paris 1937). Born in Germany, he died in France last year at the age
of 75.

The village of Alcora has established "libertarian communism".
One must not think that this system corresponds to scientific theories.
Libertarian communism in Alcora is the work of the peasants who com-
pletely ignore all economic laws. The form which they have given to
their community corresponds more in reality to the ideas of the early
Christians than to those of our industrial epoch. The peasants want to
have "everything in common" and they think that the best way to achieve
equality for all is to abolish money. In fact money does not circulate
amongst them any longer. Everybody receives what he needs. From
whom? From the Committee, of course.

It is however impossible to provide for five thousand people through
a single centre of distribution. Shops still exist in Alcora where it is
possible to get what is necessary as before. But those shops are only
distribution centres. They are the property of the whole village and the
ex-owners do not make profits instead. The barber himself shaves only
in exchange for a coupon. The coupons are distributed by the
Committee. The principle according to which the needs of all the
inhabitants will be satisfied is not perfectly put in practice as the coupons
are distributed according to the idea that every body has the same needs
There is no individual discrimination; the family alone is recognised as
a unit. Only unmarried people are considered as individuals.

Each family and person living alone has received a card It is
punched each day at the place of work, which nobody can therefore leave
The coupons are distributed according to the card. And here lies the
great weakness of the system : for the lack hitherto of any other standard
they have had to resort to money to measure the work done. Everybody
workers, shopkeepers, doctors, receive for each day's work coupons to
the value of five pesetas. On one side of the coupon the word bread is
written; each coupon is worth one kilogram. But the other side of the
coupon represents explicitly a counter-value in money. Nevertheless
these coupons cannot be considered as bank-notes. They can only be
exchanged against goods for consumption and in only a limited quantity.
Even if the amount of coupons was greater it would be impossible to buy
means of production and so become a capitalist, even on a small scale,
for only consumer goods are on sale. The means of production are
owned by the community. The community is represented by the Com-
mittee, here called the Regional Committee. It has in its hands all the
money of Alcora, about a hundred thousand pesetas. The Committee
exchanges the village products against products which it does not possess,
and when it cannot obtain them by exchange it buys them. But money
is considered as an unavoidable evil, only to be used as long as the rest
of the world will not follow the example of Alcora.

The Committee is the pater jamilias. It possesses everything, it
directs everything, it deals with everything. Each special desire should
be submitted to it. It is, in the last resort, the only judge. One may
object that the members of the Committee run the risk of becoming
bureaucrats or even dictators. The peasants have thought about that
too. They have decided that the Committee should be changed at
frequent intervals so that every member of the village should be a
member for a certain period.

There is something moving about the ingenuity of all this
organisation. It would be a mistake to see in it anything more than a
peasant attempt to establish libertarian communism and unfair to criticise
it too seriously. One must not forget that the agricultural workers and
even the shopkeepers of the village have lived very poorly up till now.
Their needs are hardly differentiated. Before the revolution a piece of
meat was a luxury for them; only a few intellectuals living among them
wish for things beyond immediate necessities. The anarchist-communism
of Alcora has taken it nature from the actual state of things. As a
proof, one must observe that the family card puts the most oppressed
human beings in Spain, the women, under the complete dependence
of men.

"What happens", I ask, "if somebody wants to go to the city for

"It is very simple", someone replies, "He goes to the Committee
and exchanges his coupons for money."

"Then one can exchange as many coupons as one wants for

"Of course not."

These good people are rather surprised that I understand so slowly.
"But when can one have money then?"

"As often as you need. You have only to tell the Committee."
"The Committee examines the reasons then?"
"Of course".

I am a little terrified. This organisation seems to me to leave very
little liberty in a "libertarian communist" regime. 1 try to find reasons
for travelling that the Alcora Committee would accept. I do not find
very much but I continue my questioning.

"If somebody has a fiancee outside the village will he get the money
to go and see her?"

The peasant reassures me : he will get it.

"As often as he wants?

"Thank God, he can still go from Alcora to see his fiancee every
evening if he wants to."

"But if somebody wants to go to the city to go to the cinema. Is
he given money?"


"As often as he wants to?"

The peasant begins to have doubts about my reason.

"On holidays, of course. There is no money for vice."

I talked to a young, intelligent-looking peasant, and having made
friends with him, I took him to one side and said to him :

"If I proposed to give you some bread coupons would you exchange
them for money?"

My new friend thinks for a few moments and then says : "But you
need bread too?"

"I don't like bread, I only like sweets. I would like to exchange
all I earn for sweets."

The peasant understands the hypothesis very well, but he does not
need to think very long; he starts laughing.

"It is quite simple! If you want sweets you should tell the
Committee. We have enough sweets here. The Committee will give
you a permit and you will go to the chemist and get them. In our
village everybody receives what he needs."

After this answer I had to give up. This peasants no longer live
in the capitalist system, neither from a moral nor a sentimental point of
view. But did they ever live in it?

The philosophy of the CNT is the anarcho-syndicalist philosophy
. . . I had the good fortune to visit some of these CNT fishing towns,
where the whole population lived in equality and where the catch
was divided equally among them. Except in Israel, I doubt very
much whether there are any communities in the world which
express the spirit of co-operation and of equality in the same
manner as did these villages I saw in Spain.

— Fenner Brockway in the House of Commons 6/3/1958.

Anarchy #006

An issue of Anarchy from August 1961, focussing on the cinema, art and entertainment.


AnarchyNo.6.epub100.6 KB
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A Future for Cinema?

When Shirley Clarke made her screen version of The Connection in
New York a few months ago, she financed the production by methods
familiar in (he theatre but almost untested in the cinema. A couple of
hundred small investors took shares in the enterprise; they were given no
Huarantee that they would ever see their money again, and there was no
advance commitment to a distributor. John Cassavetes' Shadows was only
lompleted after money had been raised through a broadcast appeal.
Lionel Rotfosin went into the business of running a cinema to ensure that
On Ilia Howcry and Come Back, Africa got a showing in New York. In
brume, sttme young directors have been able to finance their films out of
legacies, money lent or given by parents or friends.

Nothing like this has yet happened in England — nor does it seem very
likely to happen. The hazards dogging the steps of young film-makers are
too well known to need elaboration: costs of production, difficulty of
ttettinx a distribution guarantee, and so on. But these are largely the
problems of an industry geared to the production of commercial pictures;
and people who are prepared to approach the cinema in a different way—
who have, that is, a passionate and desperate concern — have found overseas
that it is possible not to fight an industrial system from within, but as
nearly as possible to disregard it.

— Sight & Sound, Summer 1961.

Tm: film as mass-entertainment has perished. Its place has been
taken by television, which has captured the middle -brows with BBC
and the low-brows with ITV. That leaves only the high-brows, and
they're no mass-market. Cinemas are being pulled down, or converted
into bowling-alleys, warehouses or bingo-dives all over the country.
I wen the Empire, Leicester Square is coming down to make way for an
office block with an economically-sized cinema in the basement. Six
thousand people petitioned the House of Commons on July 10th
against the closing of the only cinema in Welwyn. Their time would
have been better employed in starting their own film society. The
Slate Cinema. Leytonstone has turned itself into a club and film society
which sells shares to members. With four paid employees, the rest
of the work is done by volunteers.

Speaking under the double-breasted eagle in Grosvenor Square,
Dwight Macdonald recently pronounced the funeral oration for Holly-
wood, and even if this was a little premature, it is true that the low-cost
non- Hollywood film instead of being a Cinderella, is becoming a welcome
product, if only because it helps to keep down cinema overheads. More
and more of the surviving small cinemas are turning over to 'classics',
showing old films, foreign films, off-beat films, becoming in fact what
are called in America (with a suitable sneer) 'art houses'. This, as well
as the proliferation of film societies, and the existence of the National
Film Theatre fortifies the makers of films which would never find an
audience in the old days of the mammoth super-cinema, and emboldens
managements who find it is not necessary to insult the public's intelligence
to get them into the cinema. Like a man under sentence of death,
the cinema is becoming bolder in its behaviour and thought.

The Rank Organisation with its near monopoly of large-scale
distribution, is slow to grasp the changed situation, the big production
companies still dream of colossal epics, like the ill-fated Cleopatra, but
it is still true that the amateur or near-amateur low-budget film (Come
Back Africa, The Savage Eye, The Day) has a far greater chance today
of getting distributed and covering its costs, than it did ten years ago.

In the United States the average weekly cinema attendance fell from
85 millions in 1946 to less than 45 millions in 1958, but the number of
'art houses' rose from about a dozen after the war to about 450 in 1959.
In France, the 'new wave' films, according to Jacques Siclier, "were
really designed for the art houses, where the price of seats is lower than
in the circuit cinemas and where audiences are looking for something
more than entertainment".

Ten years ago you may remember, Bernard Miles had to fight a
battle with the Rank Organisation through the Film Selection Committee
to get a showing for his film Chance of a Lifetime (about a factory taken
over by its workers), which had been refused exhibition since it was
"bad box office". It wasn't a remarkable film but it was a good
deal better than The Angry Silence, and would have had more success

Someone described the present trend in the newspaper industry as
"Gresham's Law in reverse" — the good driving out the bad, for a
change: the small-circulation 'quality' newspapers and weeklies gaining
in circulation, while all but a few of the mass-circulation ones dwindle
and disappear. This is happening in the film press too; the fan magazines
have gone out of business, but serious magazines devoted to the
cinema grow in number : Sight and Sound, Definition, Films and Filming,
Film, Motion, they all have something to say, and they are all serious
about it. Perhaps the same thing is going to happen in the industry
itself. If it does, it will be thanks to that small minority of film makers
and film goers who have already taken the cinema seriously.

This issue of Anarchy is about some of them. It is not an essay
in film criticism. It is an attempt to describe the background and ideas
of three great directors, Vigo, Bunuel and Flaherty, all of whom are
likely to have a particular interest to readers of this journal by virtue
of the quality of the assumptions on which they acted. All three, you
will notice, throughout their working lives have suffered from the censorship,
both of governments and of distributors. If it were not for
the film society movement in different countries and for the minority
cinemas and 'art houses', most of us would never have seen their films.

We have too, articles by the makers of two recent non-professional
films, about their aims and the difficulties they encountered in realising
them. These difficulties are so immense, and the prospect of financial
recompense so slender, that such films can only be conceived as works
of love. The rigor mortis of professionalism has not touched them.

The Anarchism of Jean Vigo

Films, when they leave the hands of those who make them, begin
a lil'e of their own. The life of most is extensive (on the cinema circuits)
but short, and their influence is shallow. The life of a few is intensive
(in the specialised cinemas and film societies) but long, and their
influence is deep, and can be seen as successive new generations get an
opportunity to make films. Jean Vigo's Zero de Conduite and
L'Atalanfe, the first banned by the French government after its first
showing in 1933, the second mutilated when it appeared in 1934,
started a new life after the war, and have left traces in every new move-
ment in the post-war cinema. We saw it in the Italian 'neo-realist'
school (liicycte Thieves), in 'free cinema' (Together), in the 'Polish
school' {The Last Day of Summer), and in the French 'new wave' (Les
Quatrc ( cuts Coups).

The revival of Vigo's films together in the same programme at the
National Film Theatre last month, provided an opportunity to look
at (hem in a new light, that of the origins and personal life of the man
who made them. For when we saw them at the Academy Cinema in
the autumn of 1946 it was still said regretfully that "extremely little
is known of his life", but a few years ago the results of the patient
research of a Brazilian critic P. E. Sales Gomes were published,* and
apart from satisfying our curiosity about Vigo, they add considerably
to our understanding of the films, which require from the audience
something more than a passive receptiveness.

♦Jean Vigo by P. E. Sales Gomes (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1957).

We have to begin, not with Vigo, but with his father. Miguel
Almereyda (Eugene Bonaventure de Vigo) was born in the French
Pyrenees in 1883. His father died of tuberculosis at the age of 20, and
he was brought up by his grandparents until he rejoined his mother
and stepfather (Gabriel Aubes, a photographer), whom he knew as
'aunt' and 'uncle', at the age of fifteen. Soon after, he left alone for
Paris and was unemployed and hungny before finding work as a photo-
grapher's assistant. He frequented anarchist circles and found a close
friend in Fernand Despres, and his name was added to the files of
Police Commissioner Fouquet of the Troisieme Brigade. After being
imprisoned for two months for the alleged theft of twenty francs, he
adopted the name Almereyda (an anagram of 'y a (de) la merde"), and
following the discovery of an unexploded 'bomb', a little box of photo-
graphic magnesium, in a public urinal, he was again arrested. The
official chemist declared on 26th June, 1901 that the explosive in the
box was an unknown formula of devastating power, and Almereyda
was sentenced to a year's imprisonment in the Juvenile Prison of La
Petite Rocquette. The greater part of this sentence was served in
silence, semi-darkness and isolation. Almereyda, (writes Sales Gomes)

was never to forget the warders who would pretend to go away so as to
surprise the kids trying to talk to each other, and then hit them with their
enormous bunches of keys which they used as knuckledusters. One of them,
named Comua, would move noiselessly past the open spy-holes in the cell
doors, and bash the youngsters' faces as they appeared.

His imprisonment did not go unnoticed. Laurent Tailhade wrote
an article about him, and Fernand Despres sought the aid of a young
anarchist painter Frances Jourdain, who in turn went to Severine,
widow of the Communard Jules Valles, and together they launched a
campaign for his release but were only successful a month before the
end of the sentence. A few months later Almereyda's name reappeared
in Le Libertaire, at the foot of an anti-militarist manifesto, beside those
of Sebastien Faure, Pierre Monatte, and others. In the spring of 1903
he met a couple, Phillipe Auguste, a sculptor and Emily Clero. Emily,,
who had several children who died in infancy, fell in love with
Almereyda and left Phillipe for him. In June 1904, the Dutch anar-
chist Domela Niewenhuis organised an international anti-militarist
congress at Amsterdam at which Almereyda was one of the French
delegation, and out of this congress came the Association Internationale
Antimilitariste, the French section of which organised a congress at
Sainte-Etienne in the following year.

In the middle of the preparations for it, Jean Vigo was born, on
April 25th, 1905 : the son, wrote Jourdain, "of undernourished parents,
in a dirty little attic full of half-starved cats" (which were a mania of
Almereyda's). They nicknamed the child Nono, after the hero of a
children's story by Jean Grave, and he was carried around as a babv
from meeting to meeting. After the congress, Almereyda and Gustave
Hcrve were tried and imprisoned at Clairvaux for calling on conscripts
to revolt, and when liberated by an amnesty in July 1906, they founded,
with Eugene Merle, the weekly La Guerre Sociale, with socialist, anar-
chist and trade-unionist editors. The paper's constant appeals to
soldiers led to a stream of arrests, and Almereyda was sentenced in
April \ { H)H to two years' imprisonment for his praise of the mutiny at
Narhonne. a further year for an article attacking the Moroccan expedi-
tion, and a few weeks more for his insults to Clemenceau.

Miguel Almereyda remained in prison until August 1909. In spite of his
ill health he immediately threw himself into the campaign in support of
I'lamisco Teiier, the teacher who had been condemned to death in Barcelona,
I or several days La Guerre Sociale became a daily and Almereyda played
a prominent part in the demonstrations which culminated in a cortege of
S00.000 people, led by Jean Jaures.

Nono, meanwhile, was sent to Montpellier, (where Gabriel Aubes
had opened a photographer's shop), and was given a respite from the
hectic life which was ruining his parents' health. Almereyda was im-
prisoned again during the railway strike of 1910, and in the following
year he had his head cut open by a policeman's sabre. Although his
paper had been started with the aim of uniting the left wing in France,
there was a rift, first with the revolutionary syndicalists and then with
the anarchists. Sales Gomes remarks that "as is usual in France, it
slid from the social left to the political left". The rupture between La
Guerre Sociale and most of the anarchists was complete by October
I'M 2. and in December Almereyda joined the Socialist Party, and in
March l c M3, he and Merle left La Guerre Sociale to start a new paper
Le llomwt Rouge, which became a daily a year later.

War broke out. Jaures was assassinated. The socialists, the syndi-
calists and the anarchists were all divided. Among the syndicalists,
Pierre Monatte resigned from the central committee of the CGT in
protest against the allegiance of the leaders to the "Union Sacree" of
national unity, but Gustave Herve, hitherto the most militant of the
ant i- militarists, went to the opposite extreme of bellicose chauvinism,.
Among the anarchists, Jean Grave of the Temps Nouveaux, supported
the war, Sebastien Faure of the Libertaire, opposed it. Le Bonnet
Rouge adopted an equivocal position of "republican defence", and,
according to Sales Gomes, received a secret subsidy from Malvy, the
Minister of the Interior, as well as from a mysterious individual who
made frequent visits to Switzerland to bring back reports on German
a I fairs for the Surete— and was later executed as a German spy. Confi-
dential documents were passed to the Bonnet Rouge for use in press
campaigns for the military policy favoured by Malvy's faction in the
government. Almereyda's style of life became more opulent. His
enemies began to speak of his cars, houses, and mistresses. His anar-
chist friends no longer visited him. Emily and Nono were installed
in a villa at Saint-Cloud, where the boy was sent to school, but he saw
little of his parents. Almereyda's health became worse and he had
frequently to resort to morphine. His articles became short and few,
but the tone of the Bonnet Rouge became more and more pacifist, in
the sense of supporting the various interests, left and right, which sought
a negotiated peace. It published the appeals of Romain Rolland, and
Wilson's demand that the combatants should make known their peace
terms as a prelude to negotiations were received with enthusiasm, as
was the March revolution in Russia. Meanwhile, at the front,

from the end of April to the end of June 1917, the situation became
revolutionary. Officers were shot, red flags raised, the soldiers sang the
Internationale. It was learned at the front that Indo-Chinese soldiers had
been ordered to fire on striking women workers in Paris, and mutineers were
about to march on Paris . . . These facts did not become generally known
until much later.

(They are still not generally known, and according to a book to be
published next year, The French Army Mutinies, 1917, by John Williams,
which describes the events and the massacre of the mutineers by Petain,
there is a "strict official censorship on the whole subject which is still in
force" — 44 years later).

Almereyda was arrested at Saint-Cloud on August 6th. On the
13th August he demanded to see a lawyer on the following day. But
in the morning he was found strangled in his cell. The autopsy showed
that he was already dying of peritonitis. An official statement said
that he died of a haemorrhage, a second statement a week later said he
committed suicide. Examining the extensive literature of the case,
Sales Gomes concludes that there is little doubt that he was murdered
by a common-law prisoner. But on whose orders? Jean Vigo was
always convinced that his father's death was on the orders of Clemenceau
in the course of his campaign against Caillaux and Malvy. The usual
hypothesis was that it was instigated by Caillaux and Malvy because of
the damaging secrets held by the victim. Sales Gomes suggests that a
simpler explanation was the long-standing hatred between Almereyda
and the police, who had been unable to settle their score with him while
he was protected by Malvy, but who now had him, sick and defenceless
in their hands.

In the posthumous execration of Almereyda as a traitor, only one
voice was raised in his defence, that of Gustave Herve. Called as a
witness in the Malvy case, Herve, now a bombastic nationalist, never-
theless denied the accusations levelled at his former comrade.

Jean Vigo was twelve years old. The young pacifist writer Jean
de Saint-Prix (who himself had not long to live) saw him in a cafe,
"pale, sickly and taciturn" and wrote to a friend, "We write articles
about 'Jean Vigo' and the atrocious death of his father, without really
thinking of this poor unhappy child. A lack of imagination". Fernand
Despres took the boy to the house of Gabriel Aubes at Montpellier,
where he began to keep a diary, writing at the time of the Malvy trial,
"J'cd lu la deposition de man Tonton Herve sur mon pauvre petit pere,
elle m'a fait plaisir", and he wrote to thank Gustave Herve. Prudence

made it impossible for M. Aubes to send him to school at Montpellier,
l he lycee at Ninics refused to accept him, so he was sent under the name
of Jean Salles to the lycee at Millau, lodging at the week-end with the
innkeeper, and working in the holidays in the photographer's shop,
though Gabriel Aubes told him that there was more future in the job
of cinema projectionist. In 1922 he went to live with his mother
in Paris, attending the lycee at Chartres under his real name.

Vigo set about gathering information about his father "seeking not
only to demonstrate that Almereyda had not been a traitor, but that
he had never ceased to be a revolutionary", but he only sought out the
friends of his father from the anarchist period before 1911. When
ho read Albert Monniot's book about his father he was not disconcerted,
for since the account given there of Almereyda's life from the period
of Ic I Hurt aire to that of La Guerre Sociale was pure fantasy, he con-
c hided that the rest of the story was also. Vigo became estranged from
his mother because of her refusal to participate in this cult of his
lather's memory.

He left Chartres in 1925 for the Sorbonne, where he read ethics,
sociology and psychology. Depressed and in poor health, and worried
about the question of military service which he was determined to avoid,
he read in the published correspondence of the young philosopher who
had observed his misery in 1917, the letter about himself, and felt that
he, his father and Jean de Saint-Prix were brothers in misfortune. He
made the acquaintance of the Saint-Prix family, confiding in them his
interest in the cinema, and his reflections on a remark of the film
director Jean Epstein that "This photography in depth reveals the angel
that, exists in man, like the butterfly in the chrysalis".

At a sanatorium in Switzerland, where he was sent (thanks to the
same Fernand Despres and Francis Jourdain who had come to the aid
of his lather) he met another patient Elisabeth Lozinska, the daughter
of a Polish manufacturer, who became his wife, Lydou. They settled
a I Nice, where Vigo had been promised a job as assistant cameraman
in the FrancolFilm studios, and they moved into a house called Les
Deux Frires, furnished by an anarchist veteran of the penal settlement
of Devil's Island, Eugene Dieudonne. The job did not last, but Vigo
continued to hang around the studios, until Lydou's father lent them
some money and bought them a cine camera. Vigo planned a documen-
tary film about Nice, which he made with the cameraman Boris Kaufman
who came to live with them at Les Deux Freres. The film they made
A I'ropos de Nice was first shown in Paris in May 1930. The method
of the film, much of which was made with the camera concealed, was
to contrast the life of the rich visitors at the casino with that of the
poor inhabitants of the old city, the well-nourished limbs of the holiday-
makers playing on the beach with the stunted and crippled limbs of the
slum children, the carnival with the cemetery ("a bitter comment",
Dudley Shaw Ashton remarks, "on the unpopularity of funerals in
money-making holiday resorts"). Speaking in Paris on the theme Vers
un Cinema Social, Vigo declared that

In this film, by interpreting the significant facts of the life of a town,
we are spectators of the trial of this particular world. Indeed, by displaying
the atmosphere of Nice and the kind of lives lived down there — and, alas,
elsewhere — the film . . . (illustrates) the last gasps of a society whose neglect
of its responsibilities makes you sick, and drives you towards revolutionary

He started a film society in Nice, Les Amis du Cinema, and in the
following year became a member of the committee of the Federation
Franchise des Cine-Clubs. He was commissioned by Gaumont to make
a short documentary, for a sports series, on a champion swimmer, Jean
Taris: it was made in a swimming-bath with port-holes in the sides,
and the principle interest of the film is in the under- water shots made
through these. After this, Vigo and his friend the Belgian director
Henri Storck sought in vain for work at the studios, and he had to sell
his camera to pay for Lydou's confinement. Their daughter was born
in June 1931, and in the following winter he was asked to submit a
script for another sports film, on the tennis champion Cochet. Sales
Gomes describes the scenario which Vigo and Charles Goldblatt pre-
pared, in which crowds of children invade the tennis court with a variety
of improvised ball games, ending with a satire on the adulation of
sporting heroes.

The subject became simply a point of departure to which Vigo attached
a theme which was close to his heart: respect for a child and its freedom.
He liked sport but suspected all discipline imposed from outside and saw
group gymnastics simply as military training. In his eyes sport consisted
in a harmonious development from children's play, (as in the scenario where
Cochet shows the children how to strike the ball with more economy of
effort and skill), and must be self-selected by the child in complete freedom.
The script was accepted by Gaumont, but at the last minute was
turned down again.

Then in the summer of 1932 he met a businessman and horse-breeder
Jacques-Louis Nounez who was an admirer of Chaplin and Rene Clair,
and wanted to produce middle-length comic and fictionalised document-
ary films. Vigo prepared at his request, a script about the Camargue
which was abandoned, but the next choice was the film which Vigo
wanted to make about school children, which became Zero de Conduite
"nought for conduct." The film was made, working against time
over the Christmas holiday in a Gaumont studio hired for a fortnight
and the exterior shots were done at the school at Saint-Cloud which
Vigo had attended. As to the 'story' of the film, let us borrow the
summary from Roger Manvell's book:

This film has a theme rather than a story. The theme is the revolt of a
number of boys against the repression of narrow discipline and evil living
conditions in a sordid little French boarding-school. It is realistic in so far
as these conditions (the dormitory, the classrooms, the asphalt playground
with its sheds and lavatories, and leafless trees) are faithfully observed. But
it is non-realistic (or, more surely surrealistic) in its presentation of human
relations. The masters are seen from the distorted viewpoint of the boys
themselves; the Junior Master is a 'sport', so he develops into an acrobat
who stands on his head in the classroom, imitates Charlie Chaplin and,
when he takes the boys out for an airing, leads them in the pursuit of a
girl down the street.

The Vice-Principal is tall, darkly dressed, and elaborately sinister in his
broad-brimmed hat. He sneaks round the school, purloining and prying.
Me minces round the Principal, who is represented as a dwarf with a big
black beard and a bowler hat. He is a dwarf because they fear him and his
final authority over them. An interview with one boy culminates in a
ferocious scream and melodramatic lighting, for the Principal possesses, or
seems to possess, the magical powers of a witch-doctor.

The plan for the revolt passes through various phases or episodes,
culminating first of all in the major revolt at night in the dormitory and
I hen later in the shambles on Speech Day, which is a celebration attended
by local officials dressed either like ambassadors or firemen. The dormitory
revolt has the beauty of a pagan ritual touched with imagery which the boys
have learned from the Catholic Church. It begins with a pillow fight, then
passes into a processional phase shot in slow motion as the boys move in
formation, their nightshirts looking like vestments and the feathers from
(heir torn pillows pouring over them in ritual blessing. And it ends finally
in the morning, when the ineffectual dormitory master is strapped to his
bed, which is tilted on end so that he leans forward in sleep like the effigy
of a saint put over an altar . . . The revolt in the playground on Speech Day
closes the film with a riot of schoolboy anarchy.

Vigo used only three professional actors. The boys were mostly
children from the 19th arrondissement, an intimate 'East End' district
of Paiis, and other parts were played by painters and poets of his
acquaintance. The Prefect of Police was played by Gonzague-Frick,
an anarchist poet, friend and executor of Laurent Tailhade the defender
in !*><>! of the young Almereyda. The fireman was played by Raphael
Diligent, cartoonist of La Guerre Sociale, Henri Storck played the priest*
the assistant directors were Albert Riera and Pierre Merle (son of
Almeivyda's colleague). The music was written by Maurice Jaubert.

Sales (iomes relates the episodes in the film to the incidents of
Vino's schooldays at Millau and Chartres. The boy's names are those
of his own school friends, their individual sorrows and persecutions
wore those of the son of Almereyda. But there are also reminders of

the life of Vigo's father and the experience of the Children's Prison of
La Petite Rocquette, which Almereyda had described in Le Libertctire
and in L'Assiette au Beurre. And when the persecuted boy Tabard
turns and bursts out "Monsieur le professeur, je vous dis merde!" he
echoes a famous challenge addressed to the government which Almereyda
had published in La Guerre Sociale, headed in large type, Je Vous Dis

Some critics have emphasised the allegorical character of the film,
noting the significance of the pulling down of the national flag and the
hoisting by Tabard of the skull and crossbones. Andre Bazin observed
that "for Vigo the school is nothing less than society itself," and George
Barbarow wrote :

The Conspiracy about hidden marbles is transformed into the whole
routine of revolt. The dormitory aisle becomes a public square, the Procla-
mation is read to the assembling mob, the mob turns into a riot and battle
with the police (the pillow fight).

Others have seen it as a film about childhood entirely bereft of the
usual sentimentalities, but at the same time full of a lyrical tenderness.
Sales Gomes notes the completely different tone of the critics of 1933,
when after a few showings the film was banned from public performance
in France, and those of 1945 when the ban was lifted. The key
adjectives in 1933 were words like hateful, violent, destructive, perverse,
obscene, scatological. In 1945 and the succeeding years the phrases
used were 'intense poetic force', 'delicious poetic satire', 'incredible
richness of invention'. You would not think they were talking about
the same film.

While Zero de Conduit e was still in the course of production,
Nounez and Vigo were discussing what to make next. Vigo thought
of a film to be called Le Metro, about a man who worked in a room
overlooked by the overhead railway, who spent his Sundays travelling
by train so as to see his room from the outside. He wrote the shooting
script of a film to be adapted from a circus story by Georges de La
Fouchardiere, an old anarchist and pacifist novelist. But the project
which he most cherished, and for which preliminary arrangements were
made was the film about the penal colony, based on the life of Eugene
Dieudonne, the anarchist who had been sentenced to death before the
war and whose sentence had been commuted to one of life imprisonment.
(After twelve years he had been released thanks to the efforts of Albert
Londres). Meanwhile Zero de Conduite had appeared and had been
banned. Nounez had lost the money invested in it and there was no
more question of the Devil's Island film. Indeed a journalist, interview-
ing the secretary of the film control commission asked whether / am a
Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Mervyn Leroy's film which had just
appeared) would have been permitted had it been made in France, and
received the answer "Probably not. The representative of the Minister
of Justice would have been opposed to its presentation." The next

proposal was a scenario about an international congress of tramps, but
this idea "would have given too much encouragement to Vigo's non-
conformism. and this no doubt was the reason why it was discarded".
The final choice was an original scenario by Jean Guinee, with the title
Vigo kept the bare bones of this story — a typical French film script
of the period, about the skipper of a motor barge on the Seine and his
village bride, who is attracted by the bright lights of the city, where her
unimaginative husband will not stay long enough for her to see the
shops and impetuously embarks without her until, after grief and loneli-
ness they are re-united. But he added immensely to this slight and
sentimental story with two splendidly realised characters — Pere Jules
the mate, played by Michel Simon, who comes to life in quite a different
way from the platitudinous homely philosopher of the original script:
and the peddler, played by Gilles Margaritis, who, as magician, trick-
rye list, one-man-band and tumbler, attracts the bride with the promise
of the glitter and wonder of the world of the city. The film is full of
strange and beautiful episodes, right from the opening shots when Jean
and Juliette, the newly-married couple, walk from the village, along
holds and unmade roads to the place where the barge is moored, with
the relations following two-by-two at a disapproving distance. Or the
scene where Pere Jules and the ship's boy are in the cabin and Pere
Jules is trying to operate the gramophone he has assembled from bits
and pieces. He puts his finger-nail on the record idly and it appears
In play, (the boy is playing the accordion on his knee). He stops, more
intrigued than astonished, and the boy stops. He stops again but the
boy does not stop in time. The deception dawns on Pere Jules and
he turns to the boy: "There are plenty of more remarkable things
than playing a record with your finger. Take electricity: do you know
how that works? Or the radio?" And the scene where, miles apart,
Jean and Juliette turn and toss in their beds, full of desire and remorse.
< )r where Jean, remembering the bit of country lore she has told him,
I hat if you open your eyes under water you see your lover's face, dives
into the river and swims (like Taris) below the surface, while the image
of Juliette in her long bridal dress, floats, out of reach, around him.
Or the sad, grey beauty of the riverside scenes in the half industrial,
half agricultural region of northern France, reminiscent, as Elie Faure
noted, of the landscapes of Corot.

Most of the technicians and some of the cast of L'Atalante were
Vigo's friends from Zero de Conduite. Jean Baste who played the
skipper had been Hugnet, the 'sport' among the schoolmasters of the
earlier film, Louis Lefevre, the ship's boy was the "terror of the 19th
arrondissement" who had played Caussat in Zero. Again he drew upon
old friends of Almereyda, like Diligent and Fanny Clar of La Guerre
Sociale for the small parts. Francis Jourdain, the painter and faithful
friend of Vigo's father, designed the sets; even the film's editor Louis
Chavance, was a young technician of anarchist sympathies. Two well-

known players were employed : Dita Parlo as Juliette, (she later played
the peasant woman in Renoir's La Grande Illusion), and Michel Simon
whose Pere Jules was the finest performance of his career. When Simon
was asked by Albert Riera to take the part, he was asked who Vigo
was, and on being told he was the maker of a film banned by the censor-
ship, replied, "Oh! Bravo, ]e suis tres content.".

In the script Pere Jules had a mongrel, but Vigo replaced it by a
dozen of the stray cats beloved by Almereyda. Pere Jules has a cabin
full of bizarre souvenirs ("trouve a Caracas pendant la revolution") at
which Juliette stares wide-eyed with wonder. His conversation with
her, half-boasting, half-seducing, his evocation of exotic placenames,
his expertise with her sewing-machine which astonishes her (though we
guess where he learned to use it) suggest that he is a man with a past.
Inscribed among the nudes tattoed on his body are the initials of the
slogan M or t-aux-V aches, the old war-cry of the downtrodden, taken up
by the anarchists in the eighteen-nineties.

Some critics see a diminishing of Vigo's social criticism in this film,
but this simply reflects the habit of labelling films as "social comment" or
"love story", a habit which blinded critics to the tenderness of Zero
de Conduite as much as to the social awareness of L'Atalante. Vigo
did not see the troubled heart as a separate thing from the struggle for
existence. When Juliette has her purse snatched and cannot buy a
ticket back to the barge, the pitiful half-starved thief is chased and half-
lynched by the well-nourished citizens in a scene which as Sales Gomes
notes "curiously recalls the illustrations by anarchist artists like Steinlen,
Grandjouan and Gassier in the years before 1914". When she looks
in vain for a job in Paris, we see the real queues of unemployed standing
in the snow with the police ever on hand to prevent disorder. Jean is
sent for at Le Havre by the barge owners and would have lost his job
but for Pere Jules who blusters and frightens the bureaucrat in the
shipping office.

The film was shown to the press and the distributors in Paris on
April 25th 1934. Gaumont, alarmed by the unenthusiastic reception
by the trade, urged Nounez to make alterations, and the film was re-
edited with a popular song Le Chaland qui Passe tacked on, the film
was renamed with this title, and Jaubert's music mutilated. Jean Vigo
only saw the film once. He died later in the year at the age of 29,
and his wife whose health had been as precarious as his own, died in

The film was not restored to its original form until 1940.
His last public act was to sign a manifesto circulated after the fascist
riots of February 1934, and signed by supporters of all factions of the
left beside his signature were those of Pierre Monatte who had signed
an earlier revolutionary manifesto with Miguel Almereyda in 1902,
and Ellie Faure who had helped to pay Almereyda's fare to Amsterdam
in 1904.

* * *

Vigo left four films, with a total running time of no more than 3 and a half
hours. All his work was done in a hurry, working against the clock,
and against continual ill-health, and always short of money. "One
somehow feels," Roy Edwards remarked, "that despite the devotion of
Ins friends and his wife, not only Vigo's childhood but his whole life
was a sort of improvisation". But generations of directors have learned
from the films, ignored by the big distributors and circulated by the
film societies and cine clubs. Seeing once more the scene in L'atalante
when Jean rushes blindly out to the sea at Le Havre, we are reminded
of Fellini's use of similar imagery in La Strada and more recently in La
Dolce Vita, or of Truffaut's in Les Quatre Cents Coups, or Konwicki
and Laskowski's in The Last Day of Summer. Seeing Zero de Conduite
once more, we think above all of Vittoria de Sica's Sciuscia, Bicycle
Thieves, and Miracolo a Milano.

And reading the biography by Sales Gomes we are struck by the
fidelity of Jean Vigo to the anarchist milieu which his father frequented
before he was stifled in the cess-pool of French politics. Following the
author's hint I looked up the old collection of articles Les Feuilles de
d'Axa with Steinlen's illustrations. Here is the barefoot child gazing
in (he shoe-shop, like the contrasts in Nice, or like Juliette looking
wistfully in the luxury shops of Paris, here is the hungry thief chased
and half-lynched by the good citizens, here are the lines of workers out-
side (he factories guarded by police, here the imprisoned children.

The earlier critics of Vigo saw in him a certain prurience or disgust
at the physical world of sex and bodily functions. Later they discovered
instead an extreme tenderness and lyricism, which they regarded as a
development from his anarchism. Dudley Shaw Ashton for instance,
writes that "L'Atalante has a warm adult attitude to sex which I have
not found in any other film. In UAtalante there is no longer anarchy,
the revolution which it advocates is a constructive one."
But isn't this anarchy too?

Making Circus at Clopton Hall

Circus at Clopton Hall is a film about three children who live on
an old abandoned farm in East Anglia; in this world of empty barns
and overgrown cart-tracks where the sound of the wind in the corn
and grasses is broken only by jets overhead, they create their own world
of the circus. Their friends some from the village and join them in
acts of skill and daring: clowns and acrobats with made-up faces,
grotesquely inspired clothes and attitudes, contrasting with the world
they live in, and yet very much of it, because of their joy in fantasy
and make-believe. This filmic shaping of an actual event is achieved
partly through the commentary and music. In the commentary the
eldest girl, now grown up, remembers her childhood and with a mature
child's eye, understands that time. The musical themes again interpret
and counterpoint her realisation.

Ask any artist why he writes, paints, composes, acts, dances or
plays an instrument and he will reply "Because through this medium
which I love and sometimes hate, I can master what I have to say. 9 '
There is an element of compulsion, like climbing Everest because it's

ANNIE MYGIND and DENIS LOWSON made the film Circus at
Clopton Hall which was shown twice in the programmes of experimental
films at the National Film Theatre last May. The BBC made an offer
for it, but it is now being blown up to 35mm. and will be distributed by
Gala Films.

there, but more than Everest : the artist's material is life, human relations
in society as it is and as it might be, understanding of the forces that
shape us, transcending them with a vision of inner reality as against
imposed realities.

Now we had a theme on our very doorstep. Clopton Hall was once
typical of the Suffolk scene: a small farmhouse surrounded by barns,
stables and granaries, the land around farmed with horses, the occupants
centred on themselves and self-sufficient. The character of the land-
scape (mixed farming, gently wooded) and the pattern of living remained
unchanged until mechanisation replaced horses, made larger farms
possible, extended the fields and with modern machinery scraped every
penny out of the soil. Agriculture became fully industrialised, and now
depended on large capital accumulation for further progress, and with
the ruthlessness inherent in such a situation, trees were blasted, ditches
filled, and products of the chemical industry upset the balance of
nature. Clopton was the shell of the old order: its land was merged
with an expanding farm, but the old yellow house still remained, sur-
rounded by high black barns, stables and outhouses. Now the old
equipment rusts away, the waggons rot, the obsolete ploughs and culti-
vators lie deep in nettles, tall weeds and cowparsley invade the granaries,
but the silence is piercingly torn by the Vulcan and Vampire jet planes
that shriek across the sky, now and then, unexpectedly.

This was the setting of the children's games : a strange microcosm
of nostalgic beauty and ruthless destruction. But given the chance,
children are makers. The piggeries and harness-rooms become fort-
resses, palaces, magic caves. Nettles and weeds and the stalking cat
became impenetrable jungles full of wild animals, the pond an ocean
to be conquered. An improvised trapeze became ... a circus, and that
game in particular grew and developed. All the resources of the old
house were drawn upon, a battered top-hat, ostrich plumes, an old gramo-
phone horn became an elephant's trunk. With such materials and later
with their friends from the village school, clowning, daring and grotesque
'acts' that so vividly reflected their reaction to the world around them,
became a constant theme in their games. And thus the Circus was born.

This was a visual theme all right, but painting (our medium) couldn't
wholly contain those elements that were most poignant and telling: it
was more than a moment of time in perspective, it was a whole moving
sequence — a developing theme like music, with antithesis and counter-
point and resolution. So by a bit of luck and a little previous exper-
ience with a camera, the theme determined the medium. The luck was
meeting Lindsay Anderson. His reaction was immediate: "For Christ's
sake, man, artists are needed in films; if this moves you, make something
of it. Don't be afraid because you lack experience — just shoot what-
ever you damn well like yourselves; don't give a bugger for continuity:
above all don't let the professionals intimidate you." Then help sprang
up on all sides, like the lush weeds around Clopton; a Bolex (Walter
Lassally's); reduced rate stock from the British Film Institute, John

Fletcher as a cameraman, and with a capital of £40 (insurance money
on a lost heirloom) we started.

Production Diary

May 1957. Prepared a treatment which stated the theme : the landscape,
children on the farm, birth of circus, climactic circus sequence, end at
dusk, children trailing up to house. Darkened landscape. No concept
of soundtrack.

June 1957, Selection of setups., much drawing, puzzling out elementary
continuity, i.e. child going left-right in one shot must continue that way
next shot if seen from same angle. Prepared shooting script — and

July 1957. John Fletcher and his wife arrive for 10 days shooting,
mainly opening shots of landscape, children alone on farm and village
children arriving. We realised the nail-biting patience needed in the
English summer — the high North Sea clouds scudding across the sun
sent stomachs into knots. Handling the children's flow of enthusiasm,
which might evaporate just as the sun showed a steady course. Time
allowed only brief contact with the circus sequence itself — enough to
realise that it would be much, much more difficult to capture than we
first thought. Total footage shot: 1,000 ft.

Rushes viewed in London. Comment from Karel Reisz: "The
best 16mm rushes I've seen." (Good for John Fletcher). Murmur
from group during projection, "They will pan, these beginners." Reisz
again says, "You people should stop being painters and become film
makers." But how to interpret that?

All money spent. Advised to send just one reel of rushes with
treatment and still photographs to the British Film Institute Experi-
mental Committee, in the hope that they would help us to finish.
Sept. 1957, B.F.I.E.C. met and refused help.

Christmas 1957. Alex-Jacobs viewed the material on a moviescop,
became tremendously enthusiastic — long discussions on how to present
it again to the Committee. Should have been edited in the first place.
Decided to do that.

February 1958. Committee met, and made a grant of £70 to finish
the shooting.

March 1958. Long search for a new cameraman (Fletcher being in India
by now). Finally met John Armstrong who was prepared to put in
twelve days shooting.

Easter 1958. Late spring — not a leaf on the trees. Decided to concen-
trate on Circus sequence taking care to avoid any background that would
reveal the bare branches. Shot act upon act upon act. Children highly
co-operative and prepared to repeat 2-3 times — flattery played its part.
More definite division of labour between us — one with the children
cooking up new ideas, one with cameraman. Moments of rebellion
on children's part gave excellent material. Results showed that acts

consciously devised were worthless — lacked their own spontaneous
spark. But we got the Circus in the can.

June and July 1958. The wettest, stormiest and most thundery summer.
Louis Wolfers, our third cameraman came up weekend after weekend
and no shooting possible. Started cutting the circus material and fell
into the trap of becoming literal in assembly. Lindsay Anderson
advised us to look at Zero de Conduite, which we projected four or five
times (without sound) and this dispersed all fears. Constant destruction
of our own material gradually revealed the joys of editing — and achieved
the state where shots wove in and out of the moviscop like magic, and
the response of movement to movement showed the essence of film : it
is visual music.

August 1958. Request from British Film Institute for material to show
Committee at one day's notice — at the point where we had just peeled
the whole thing apart for the fourth time. Assembled prize shots in
rough sequence, working through the night. Informed three days later
that they could support us no further.

Sept. 1958. One fine weekend got the rest in the can — audience re-
actions, end shots, a few reconstructions of circus acts to amplify the
original material.

Oct.-Nov. 1958. Fully concentrating on editing — it could now take
shape as a whole. Seen by Jimmy Burns Singer the writer and poet,
who asked to write the commentary. Then he fell ill and disappeared
from England for several months. Secretary of the B.F.I, promised
support when plans for sound were made.

December 1958. Wrote to Benjamin Britten in Aldeburgh hoping he
might advise on music — special interest of Suffolk scene and children's
creative effort. Our highly- beloved secondhand projector broke down,
but he had seen enough to say he liked it and had ideas of using his
own childhood compositions. Arranged further meeting with hired

January 1959. Britten too fell ill — commitments, including our tenta-
tive one, cut.

February to September 1959. Moved to London and searched for the
commentary writer and composer. Many meetings with no results.
Finally Philip O'Connor and Roy Teed appeared. Here a curious
intuition was at work: one felt with them both that they understood
what we had said visually, would be able to interpret, amplify and guide
with their own media: it was now or never. Words and music by now
on paper. No response to letters from B.F.L

November 1959. Rehearsed commentary with an actress friend. When
ready to record. Bob Allen, the sound technician was called abroad.
March 1960. Finances very shaky, so far all the work had been done
on a very thin shoestring. Unexpected legacy from an aunt put things
on a firmer basis — inner conviction that this film might get a wider
viewing could now be indulged — and we went the whole hog on sound.
First-rate musicians and professional studio for the music recording.

September I960. Laid the tracks in professional cutting room with help
from friendly professionals. No great difficulties as it had all been
planned to the half -second with a stopwatch. Mounting tension— it is
not possible to see and hear the thing as a whole till the moment it is
being recorded on to one final track in the 'dubbing' session, after which
it cannot be changed anyway. Was our concept of the three interacting
elements— visual, words and music going to come off? Immediate
reaction was one of enormous relief.

October 1960. The whole lot to the laboratories for negative cutting
and production of the final print. Many headaches— inaccurately cut
negative, scratches, bad printing. But they were solved in the end
November 1960. Party to celebrate, inviting all those who had made
the him possible, many probably thinking they would never see an end
result. A good party : they liked the film.

* * *

Now what after all this is our evaluation of our concept and its final
result? Two apparently contradictory discoveries were made. First
that in spite of necessary changes in the making, the original idea
remained constant. But secondly, we discovered the reality of the idea
in the film medium itself, during the actual making— perhaps mostly
in the cutting. The relation of child to environment, of child to child
the rhythm and pace of ideas that resolve conflict. We made mistakes
and are ourselves highly critical of some aspects of the film Never
mind! For we were not concerned to record a series of events, however
colourful, with a camera, to explain it with words, give it body with
music. No, one must do more than that. And next time, do it better »

"What am 1? Who am I? What do I
feel and how do I look? Am I as
right as the girl in the book? Once
you get the right perspective you can
be sure of the right directive: I mean
if you're upside down there's only
one thing right and that's the . . .

The Animated Film Grows Up

Have you ever heard an English cinema audience applaud and boo a
film? It is extremely unlikely that you have, for the films which would
provoke such an un-English demonstration are few and far between.
The usual audience reaction as a film ends is a relieved silence — relieved
because either the boy has got the girl in spite of all the misunderstand-
ings and there is a happy ending, or, if the film finishes 'unhappily', the
release of tension and the end of a harrowing experience is a relief.

Rarely, however, is a film strong enough to call for opposition as
well as applause from the audience. The fact that The Little Island
produced that effect, at least on the occasion when I saw it at the
Curzon cinema, is an indication of its power. The Little Island is a
cartoon film, but if that makes you think of Disney, Bugs Bunny, or
even UPA, I must hasten to tell you that the only thing in common
between them is that they have all been drawn by hand and do not
employ live actors for the visual image. One may as well think of
Annigoni and Picasso as having something in common because they
both use paint and canvas.

The Little Island runs for half an hour, which is long for a cartoon,
and tells the story of three men who land on an island and proceed to
have an argument. Simple enough, except that they represent Good,
Truth and Beauty and into that half-an-hour is packed, in symbolic form,
a statement of man's accumulation of knowledge and the struggle
between goodness and beauty — both of which become transformed in

the course of their conflict into monstrous machines of destruction. That
is all the film is— a statement. Dick Williams, who made it, assures
me that it has no message; it was something he wanted to say. There
can be few statements which have been made so forcibly.

For sheer invention in colour, pattern, form and movement (the
fourth [abstract] graphic dimension which only the cine camera can
offer an artist), this must be one of the wittiest serious statements ever
made, with biting comments on art collectors and the babel of art
criticism, on the church with its prudery and readiness to resort to
violence, and on the detached and objective scientist who realises too
late what he has done and settles the argument once and for all. The
tension and the terror built up in this last section is the equal of any I
have ever felt in the cinema.

Dick Williams who made The Little Island is a twenty-eight-year
old Canadian who came to this country in 1954. He worked day and
night, accumulating heavy debts, and when things got too bad produced
TV commercials to buy more time for The Little Island. He could
obviously make a fortune the easy way in TV advertising, but preferred
to make his statement the hard way. It took him two and a half years
to pay off the debts he incurred in making the film.

Yet although his was obviously the drive and conviction which
has made The Little Island what it is, he would be the first to admit
how much he owes to a handful of good friends who worked with him
or helped and encouraged him through the three years of labour on
this film; the dark despairing days as well as the days of hilarity and
high enthusiasm. Most important among these for the finished result
and the success of the film is Tristram Cary who provided the brilliant
musical score which matches in wit and invention the visual imagery.

Making the Little Island

Have you ever heard an English cinema audience applaud and boo a
film? It is extremely unlikely that you have, for the films which would
provoke such an un-English demonstration are few and far between.
The usual audience reaction as a film ends is a relieved silence — relieved
because either the boy has got the girl in spite of all the misunderstand-
ings and there is a happy ending, or, if the film finishes 'unhappily', the
release of tension and the end of a harrowing experience is a relief.

Rarely, however, is a film strong enough to call for opposition as
well as applause from the audience. The fact that The Little Island
produced that effect, at least on the occasion when I saw it at the
Curzon cinema, is an indication of its power. The Little Island is a
cartoon film, but if that makes you think of Disney, Bugs Bunny, or
even UPA, I must hasten to tell you that the only thing in common
between them is that they have all been drawn by hand and do not
employ live actors for the visual image. One may as well think of
Annigoni and Picasso as having something in common because they
both use paint and canvas.

The Little Island runs for half an hour, which is long for a cartoon,
and tells the story of three men who land on an island and proceed to
have an argument. Simple enough, except that they represent Good,
Truth and Beauty and into that half-an-hour is packed, in symbolic form,
a statement of man's accumulation of knowledge and the struggle
between goodness and beauty — both of which become transformed in
the course of their conflict into monstrous machines of destruction. That
is all the film is— a statement. Dick Williams, who made it, assures
me that it has no message; it was something he wanted to say. There
can be few statements which have been made so forcibly.

For sheer invention in colour, pattern, form and movement (the
fourth [abstract] graphic dimension which only the cine camera can
offer an artist), this must be one of the wittiest serious statements ever
made, with biting comments on art collectors and the babel of art
criticism, on the church with its prudery and readiness to resort to
violence, and on the detached and objective scientist who realises too
late what he has done and settles the argument once and for all. The
tension and the terror built up in this last section is the equal of any I
have ever felt in the cinema.

Dick Williams who made The Little Island is a twenty-eight-year
old Canadian who came to this country in 1954. He worked day and
night, accumulating heavy debts, and when things got too bad produced
TV commercials to buy more time for The Little Island. He could
obviously make a fortune the easy way in TV advertising, but preferred
to make his statement the hard way. It took him two and a half years
to pay off the debts he incurred in making the film.

Yet although his was obviously the drive and conviction which
has made The Little Island what it is, he would be the first to admit
how much he owes to a handful of good friends who worked with him
or helped and encouraged him through the three years of labour on
this film; the dark despairing days as well as the days of hilarity and
high enthusiasm. Most important among these for the finished result
and the success of the film is Tristram Cary who provided the brilliant
musical score which matches in wit and invention the visual imagery

Luis Bunuel: Reality and Illusion

Bunuel is a man as old as this century.
show both his age and the year.


Thus the numbers below

00 February 22 born at Calanda, Zaragoza, Aragon.
12 "Bachillerato" Jesuit school, Zaragoza.

17 Madrid, Student Residence.

18 Agronomic Engineering School.

20 Literature and philosophy at Central University.

23 Degree and Paris.

24 Assistant editor in French film laboratories.

26 With Jean Epstein, assistant director Mauprat (George Sand),
La Sirene des Tropiques, with Josephine Baker.

27 First assistant on La Chute de la Maison Usher /The Fall
of the House of Usher.

28 First film as director UN CHIEN ANDALOU, Paris.

30 L'AGE D'OR, also written with Salvador Dali. Contract
with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Hollywood, 1,000 pesos per
annum. Incinerates the contract after three months, and
back to France.

WITHOUT BREAD, a documentary on poverty.

33 Paris, with Pierre Unik, a script for a surreal Le Haute de
Hurlevent/Wuthering Heights. Fire at studios, produced:

35 Don Quintin El Amargao/The Bitter Man and La Hija de
Juan Simon/ Juan Simon's Daughter.

36 Quien Me Quiere a Mi I Who Loves Me and Centinela
A lerta I A I erf Sentinel

37 Civil War. Edited newsreels including ESPANA LEAL EN
ARMAS. A sound version of LAS HURDES in Paris.

38 to 41 Collaborated on documentaries at Museum of Modern

Art, New York, including TEJIDOS CANCEROSOS/


41 Six year contract with Warner Brothers, laboratory work.
47 Mexico, prepared La Casa de Bernard a Alba j The House of Bernarda Alba,
48 Mexico, GRAN CASINO.


YOUNG AND THE DAMNED, Directors' Prize, Cannes
Film Festival. "The only film I am responsible for since


52 EL BRUTO/THE BRUTE, with Pedro Armendariz and
Katy Jurado

ROBINSON CRUSOE, with Dan O'Herlihy and James


EL /HE, with Arturo de Cordova and Delia Garces.

the version of 33).



56 LA MORT EN CE JARDIN, with Simone Signoret, Georges
Marchse and Charles Vanel, made in France and Mexico.


59 LA FIEVRE MONTE A EL PAO, with Gerard Philipe,
Jean Servais and Maria Felix (Philipe's last film).

60 THE YOUNG ONE, with Zachary Scott.

61 Asked by Cuban Institute of Film Art and Industry to pre-
pare two films The Failures of Providence Street and The
Young Hero and plans twenty films using scripts by such
writers as Jean- Paul Sartre and Francoise Sagan.
Returns to Spain and makes VIRIDIANA. Awarded
Golden Palm at Cannes Festival.


The above information is hard and real, the skeleton of the man,
hooked on to time and the work pinned down in hard type. Treasure
it, preserve it, copy it, blow it up into a photomural. Regard it, remem-
ber to remember it, tear it out and put it in your wallet. Act on it,
subvert your way into the nearest film society and rig the ballot and run
a programme of Bufiuel, not for the others but just for yourself. Spend
all your money on hiring projectors and what copies you can get your
hands on*.

♦The key to this and boundless information is the British Film Institute. 81 Dean
street, London W.I., who have a warm, cheerful and most helpful staff who can
tell you who has what film and what size, how much, and how to get hold of it.

The list is designed to prod the sluggish memories of the lazy con-
sumers of anarchist literature, to stir their murky minds, to throw up
half digested reviews in all the posh Sundays they've read in the past
fifteen years, to trigger their minds with misgivings over the films they
missed and the ones they heard about and the ones they were glad they
didn't see. Do you dimly remember that season of Bunuel's at the
National Film Theatre in the Summer of '55? I am rather reluctant to
advocate further passive consumption of entertainment and art, but in
Bunuel's case I offer active participation, the scouring of What's On to
find the odd fleapit or Classic or Odeon at Harlesden that might be
showing a Bufiuel on Sunday. An arduous three change trip by public
transport into strange wastelands to see a film. As my mother used to
say, only the things that you have to fight for are the things that you
really enjoy.

As far as time goes, Bufiuel has a thirty-two year lead on me, and
I have very little qualification to be writing about him, except that I
was a pre-television child and therefore a cinema kid, a particularly
bad /good one, an avid consumer in fact. It all started when I left the
Wolf Cubs owing 4s. 9d. subs, and I was precipitated into the nine-
pennies and averaged one hundred and eighty visits a year, and all
double features too. The addiction reached its height in the summer
of 1948 when in one delirious week I saw nineteen films. I put myself
on a cure and tapered off my shots, but even in my twenty-fifth year if
I didn't get to a cinema every ten days I suffered withdrawal symptoms.
Bufiuel, Welles, Vigo, Chaplin and the Marx Brothers can bring on
another jag right away (Ingmar Bergman was the monkey on my back
the year before last).

I have laboured you with my own case history in order that you
respect, and act on, my recommendation. I have refrained from the
usual journalese of quoting some juicy passage from any one or all of
the films to whet your flagging jaded palate. I have suffered and
enjoyed countless (about 4,000 in fact) films, mostly Bones, and offer
this saving in time. Approaches I haven't tried are those which take
a psychological or national character view of the man, you can see how
easy it would be to caricature Bufiuel as a Spanish Hero of his Time.
Another is the fate of art cinema versus Hollywood and the hard world
of hard cash. Dwight Macdonaid who is now writing on films in
I i squire, is well worth pursuing in this connection and Orson Welles has
gone through it and is highly articulate about it

Even for the sake of Anarchy and anarchy I cannot claim Bufiuel
for our side, but to raise my consumer's flag again, here is the only man
of (he cinema that I would be a one man procession for, a man that can
make films that kick my guts, humble me, excite me, wet my eyes for
mo and fill me with compassion. There they all are, in CAPITALS
above, the failures and triumphs. See them.

Another Look at Bunuel: The Tragic Eye

His hatred of Catholic morality must not he taken as implying that
he is without a moral sense. On the contrary he is obsessed by one. It
is precisely his detestation of suffering, cruelty i injustice, and hypocrisy that
made him judge life so\ severely. His criticisms of Spain are the most
severe ever made by a Spaniard.

These words were spoken, not of Bunuel but of the novelist Pio
Baroja, and they remind us that without making Bunuel a Spanish hero
of our time, it is possible to find, in his background, his teachers and
his contemporaries, the clue to much that is puzzling in his work, and
its intense and savage power. Towards the end of the last century, the
Spanish government, dominated then as now, by the Church, dismissed
the leading university professors. A few of them started a 'free' school
for higher studies, the Institution Libre de Ensencmza, and around this
arose the so-called "Generation of '98", the small group of intellectuals
who sought, as a parallel to the growth of working-class movements,
to diagnose the stifling inertia, hypocrisy and corruption of Spanish life —
the art critic and teacher Manuel Cossio, the philosophers Unamuno
and Ortega y Gasset, the economist Joacqum Costa (who summed up his
programme for Spain in the words school and larder, the poet Antonio
Machado, Pio Baroja. The Institution had an even more remarkable
offspring, the Residencia de Estudianles, or Residential College for
Students, founded by Alberto Jimenez in 1910. Gerald Brenan gives us
this fascinating glimpse of the Residencia :

Here, over a long course of years, Unamuno, Cossio and Ortega taught,
walking about the garden or sitting in the shade of the trees in the manner
of the ancient philosophers: here Juan Ramon Jimenez wrote and recited
his poems, and here too a later generation of poets, among them Garcia
Lorca and Alberti, learned their trade, coming under the influence of the
school of music and folksong which Eduardo Martinez Torner organised.
Never, I think, since the early Middle Ages has an educational establishment
produced such astonishing results on the life of a nation, for it was largely
by means of the Institucion and the Residencia that Spanish culture was
raised suddenly to a level it had not known for three hundred years.

It was to this remarkable environment that Luis Bunuel came in
1917, born in a wealthy land-owning family which he despised, and
educated in a Jesuit college which he loathed, with that intense hatred
for the Catholic Church which is peculiar to a deeply "religious" people
like the Spaniards (see M. L. Berneri's article in Anarchy 5). At the

Residencia, Bunuel met his contemporaries Salvador Dali and Federico
Garcia Lorca, as well as the older writers Rafael Alberti and Ramon
Gomez de la Serna : Dali, who was to write with Bunuel the scenaria
of his first two films before declining into triviality; Garcia Lorca, who
was to become the greatest poet of his generation, and to write, before
being murdered in Fascist Spain in 1937, the play which Bunuel was
to turn into the film The House of Bernarda Alba; Alberti who is today
a poet in exile denied an audience in Spain; and Gomez de la Serna, ten
years older than Bunuel, who had already begun to 1910 to write his
aphoristic greguerias, or attempts to define the indefinable (a surrealism
which antedated that of Breton and Dali).

Bunuel has remained singularly faithful to this generation and its
teachers. Compare, for instance, with his work, the conclusion of
MaragalPs La Espaciosa y Triste Espaha :

This, then, is the land of Spain. I have raised my eyes and seen the
scraggy trees and the houses, the bushes, agaves and cactuses in the brown-
red and wretched soil, all covered with the dust raised by wandering beggars
as they pass along the roads ... and I have felt within me, as my only
reaction to all this, a deep and helpless disgust. . . .

Or Pio Baroja's declaration that

Every subversive instinct— and the natural is always subversive — carries
with it its own policeman. There is no pure fountain which men have not
trampled with their feet and dirtied.

Or finally, listen to the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno (who was
to die under house arrest after being dismissed for the second time from
the rectorship of Salamanca University), confessing his destructive faith,
in The Tragic Sense of Life :

But it is my task— I was going to say my mission — to shatter the faith
of the one, of the other, and of the third, the faith in affirmation, the faith
in negation and the faith in abstention, and to do this out of faith in faith
itself. It is my task to fight against all those who resign themselves, be it
against Catholicism or Rationalism or Agnosticism. It is my task to make
all live in unquiet and longing.

Here, for comparison, is Bunuel, answering in 1959 a questionnaire about
the kind of film he would like to make:

If it were possible for me, I would make films which, apart from
entertaining the audience, would convey to them the absolute certainty that
they do not live in the best of all possible worlds. And in doing this I
believe that my intentions would be highly constructive. Movies today,
including the so-called neo-realist, are dedicated to a task contrary to this.
How is it possible to hope for an improvement in the audience — and conse-
quently in the producers — when every day we are told in these films, even
in the most insipid comedies, that our social institutions, our concepts of
Country, Religion, Love, etc., etc., are, while perhaps imperfect, unique
and necessary? The true 'opium of the audience' is conformity; and the
entire, gigantic film world is dedicated to the propagation of this com-
fortable feeling, wrapped though it is at times in the insidious disguise of

* * *
It is a sobering experience to look at Bunuel's first two films thirty
years after they were made. We reflect of course, that Un Chien
Andalou and L' Age D'Or were conceived by two young men of bour-
geois origins who came from a country which had escaped the first
world war, but whose revulsion from their environment was so intense
that they could describe their first film as "a despairing passionate call
to the slaughter". Today, after the slaughter, we are not so impressed
by gratuitous acts of violence. In the second film however, the revolt-
ing images develop a more coherent allegory and we notice as Georges
Sadoul puts it, that "through the Surrealist extravagance and anarchic
scandale comes the thin end of the wedge of social criticism", or as
we would prefer to put it, the nihilism becomes tinged with anarchism.
For, while Dali moved on to disintegrate his talents, Buiiuel fortified
his, and on the fall of the Spanish monarchy, returned to Spain to make,
in the Year One of the Republic, Land Without Bread. Garcia Lorca
discovered the gypsies of Andalusia, but Buiiuel discovered the deformed
and monstrous inhabitants of the desolate region of Las Hurdes. "This
then," he might say with Maragall, "is the land of Spain ..." and to
the charge that he got a sadistic pleasure from the display of its degrada-
tion, he would reply, as did the novelist Valle-Inclan, that the tragic
reality of Spanish life could be conveyed only by a systematic deforma-
tion, "because Spain itself is a grotesque deformation of European
civilisation". This, says Buiiuel, is your liberal republic with its sacred
principle of universal suffrage, and we see starving animals, cretinous
beggars, cave dwellers and dead children : images with a good deal less
surrealist chic than the artfully-arranged dead donkeys on Parisian grand
pianos, of his first film.

There follows a great gap in what Buiiuel himself would regard
as his creative life, since he disclaims all his subsequent work until The
Forgotten Ones of 1950. Transplanted to Mexico (the country whose
art, in its preoccupation with suffering and death, most resembles that
of Spain), he made his offering on that topic so equivocally precious to
the cinema, juvenile delinquency. Why is the adult world so fascinated
by this theme? Do we project on to the pointless viciousness of naughty
children, the guilt we feel for the massive and purposeful delinquencies
of our social and political life? Are we looking for microcosmic scape-
goats for our defence programme? Bufiuel does not indulge us by
making us vicarious therapists; his anti-social innocents are not restored
to the bosom of society, for society itself displays on a grand scale the
pitiful petty cruelty and crime of the forgotten ones. Virtue is not
rewarded: Pedro and Meche, the adorable children of this film, are as
doomed as the vicious Jaibo and the spiteful old blind man, and Buiiuel
scorns to offer us any attenuating circumstances or comforting conclu-

Two years later he made Robinson Crusoe. You can imagine the
standard cinema treatment which Defoe's story would get : the resource-
ful castaway on Do-It-Yourself-Island, always ingenious in making the
best of things. ("Grand entertainment for ail the family"). But Bufiuel
concentrates his power on the theological aspects of the novel, which
the modern reprints leave out, or the modern reader skips. Defoe's
Crusoe writes, "I am singled out and separated, as it were, from all
the world to be miserable. I am divided from mankind, a solitaire,
one banished from human society". And Bunuel's Crusoe rushes,
panic-stricken out to sea, yells across deep valleys to hear a human
voice in the faint echo of his own, and frantically searches the Bible
to learn why he has been forsaken by God.

In these films the manipulation of symbols and dream sequences
has been refined and controlled, so that they are neither arbitrary nor
arty. What for Salvador Dali was transitory exhibitionism, becomes
for Bufiuel a tool of analysis and exposition.

To everyone's surprise Buiiuel returned to Spain early this year,
and made, with the same cast as he used for Nazarin, the film Viridiana
which was given the highest award at the Cannes festival in June,
together with Colpi's Une Aussi Longue Absence. The most incredible
thing about this film, writes John Francis Lane in last month's Films
and Filming,

is that it was made in Spain. A film packed with erotic and blasphe-
mous symbolism made in the country with the most rigid censorship in the
Western world.

and he tells us as explanation.

It appears that Genera! Franco wants to confound his critics by demon-
strating his 'liberal' attitude to the intellectuals who stood out against his
regime in the 'thirties. "Come home and you will be forgiven" is the
message he has sent out. A Picasso or a Pablo Casals is obviously not
interested. But Bufiuel has taken up the challenge. Told he could make
whatever film he liked, he has taken the Generalissimo at his word. The
script of Viridiana was given official approval in Madrid. One would like
to know, however, how much of the blasphemous material was in that
script. I am sure, for example, that nobody expected a beggars' orgy to be
turned into a pose of The Last Supper, or that this scene would conclude
with an obscene gesture that will make censors all over the world sharpen
their scissors feverishly as soon as they hear about it!

Bunuel's anguished view of a Catholic-dominated society is very similar
to that of Fellini. Viridiana is a ruthless denunciation of the social and
religious values in Franco's Spain. The atmosphere is so mediaeval that
one is shocked to suddenly see a motor car or hear a pop song on the

Only one Spanish newspaper, El Pueblo, reported the award of the
prize to Viridiana. Subsequently the censorship has vetoed all mention
of the film. Buiiuel himself, talking about the film, in phrases that
bring to mind that straining of the very limits of their medium which
characterises Spanish painters and musicians, comments :

Octavio Praz says but that a man in chains should shut his eyes, the
world would explode. And 1 could add But that the white eye-lid of the
screen reflect its proper light, the universe would go up in flames. But for
the moment we can sleep in peace: the light of the cinema is conveniently
dosified and shackled.

The Innocent Eye

An anarchist cinema? Well, the first thing this suggests is the Marx
Brothers, and the second, Chaplin, who at least has called himself an
anarchist and who in some films like Monsieur Verdoux achieves a
pretty savage degree of social criticism, and at the same time has reached
every corner of the world with the character (much more like Schweik
than the "little man" he is usually called), variously known as Charlie,
Chariot, Carlos, Carlino and Carlitos, the innocent or 'holy fool' who
has only his wits to fight authority with.

Or it suggests Vigo, Bufiuel, or perhaps Georges Franju. Or fan-
tasies like de Sica's Miracle in Milan, the most anarchistic, though not
the best of his films.

But it also suggests a certain vision of life and of human dignity
and integrity, that we are prone to see in simpler societies, which though
they are more at the mercy of natural disaster than our own, but are,
to our eyes, more free from the tyranny of arbitrary authority. The
American critic Lionel Trilling writes of the "great modern theme" of
"the child's elemental emotions and familial trust being violated by the
ideas and institutions of modern life" and notes that

Haunted as we all are by unquiet dreams of peace and wholeness, we
are eager and quick to find them embodied in another people. Other
peoples may have for us the same beautiful integrity that, from childhood
on, we are taught to find in some period of our national or ethnic past.
Truth, we feel, must somewhere be embodied in man. Ever since the nine-
teenth century, we have been fixing on one kind of person or another,
one group of people or another, to satisfy our yearning . . . everyone
searching for innocence, for simplicity and integrity of life.

In terms of the cinema, this suggests one man, Robert Flaherty, who
died ten years ago this month. Flaherty was a film director who had
nothing at all in common with the 'motion picture industry'. He did
not speak its language or obey its rules. He was concerned, not with
finance, output or the supposed requirements of the box office, but with
using the medium of film for enhancing our perception of human life
and the land and water on which it is lived.

He began his working life as a prospector looking for iron ore in
Northern Canada and then between 1910 and 1916 became an explorer,
discovering a land mass bigger than England at the north of Hudson's
Bay, where an island bears his name. On his last journey he took with
him a film camera, and after he brought back 70,000 feet of film to
edit, he dropped a lighted cigarette on it, so he decided to return and
make a better one about the life of the Eskimos. With seven thousand
pounds from the fur traders Revillon Freres, he got together an expedi-
tion to Port Harrison, Hudson's Bay, where he took eighteen months
to make the film which was first shown to the public in 1922 and has
had welcome revivals ever since.

Nanook of the North is a story of man's life at its very hardest,
a constant desperate struggle for food, a struggle which leads not to
competition, but to all food being common to all. "It has to be so,"
said Flaherty, "an Eskimo family on its own would starve. If I went
into an igloo, whatever food they had was mine ... I often think of
the Eskimo after a long journey, starving and with not even oil for his
lamp, coming to the white man's store full of bacon and salt beef
and tins of food and tons of flour, and yet the white man will not
give him anything unless he has skins. That is something he cannot
understand." Nanook died of starvation just two years after the film
was finished. And yet, Flaherty concluded, "These people, with less
resources than any other people on earth, are the happiest people I have
ever known."

In 1923 Flaherty and his family went to the South Seas to make
Moana, a film built around the ceremonial tattooing which marked the
Samoan's coming of age. "As a matter of fact," Frances Flaherty
wrote, "we had come only just in time to catch a fleeting ghost," the
ghost of a way of life which was coming to an end.

The true Samoan does not know the meaning of private property; he

does not know the meaning of gain. He does not know want nor the fear

of poverty. If his house burns down, there is always his neighbour's house.

If he gets no fish, there are always his neighbour's fish. Small wonder

his inclination is for singing and dancing, for flowers and loving. Wherever

he walks, it is 'Malic, Malic!— Beautiful, beautiful!'

But the film was not what its sponsors had expected, and when it
appeared in 1926, it was introduced as "the love-life of a South Sea
siren". Flaherty parted from Paramount and was sent by Metro-
Goldwyn-Mayer to make a film in Tahiti. But Mr. Goldwyn wanted
an 4 epic drama' and Flaherty tore up his contract, returning with the
German director, F. W. Murnau, to make a film of a different sort.
The film was made, appearing as Tabu in 1931, though it was more
Murnau's than Flaherty's: Tahiti seen through the eyes of an imagina-
tive European, rather than the real Tahiti.

After this, Flaherty came to Europe, and after making Industrial
Britain, with John Grierson for the GPO, he went to the far west of
Ireland and produced Man of Aran (1932-4) about the never-ending
struggle of the islanders with the sea. Then Alexander Korda sent
him to India to bring back in 1936 Elephant Boy, built around one of
Kipling's stories. The story was not considered exciting enough, and
new scenes were shot at the Denham studios, by other hands than
Flaherty's, to make it more acceptable to the British film industry.

In the period of the New Deal in America, Pare Lorentz had made
The Plow that Broke the Plains and The River, and their success had
landed Lorentz with the job of director of the United States Film
Service. He sent for Flaherty to make a film about soil erosion and the
dust bowl. The film was made, The Land, but after one performence
in 1941 the authorities neither showed it nor permitted it to be shown.
It apparently did not fit in with the "new mood" of America, because
of the bitterness with which it showed the squalor and misery resulting
from the commercial exploitation of the soil.

His last film, Louisiana Story, began two years after the war and
shown here first in 1949, is an exquisite elegiac evocation of the swamps
and forests of Southern Louisiana, and the coming of floating derricks
canoe by the son of a Cajun trapper. (The Cajuns descend from French
settlers deported from Canada for sedition in 1750).

"Do it again and you will be immortal — and excommunicated from
Hollywood, which is a good fate," wrote Charlie Chaplin to Flaherty,
but he was never to make the films he planned about Burma and
Ethiopia. Considering the thirty years he spent making films, they
were few in number compared with those of the successful directors
of the "industry", for he worked slowly, spending months in absorbing
the life which he was to photograph and interpret, and working with a
small team of enthusiasts. But his influence on other directors was
profound, from Eisenstein who declared that "We wore out Nanook,
studying it", to the pioneers of the documentary school

The qualities which Flaherty gave to his films are a sense of the
uniqueness of individual people, of the dignity of human activities and
of the reciprocity between man and his environment, his home and
family, and the tools with which he earns his living. Yet Flaherty's
too, was a cinema of social comment and social protest. His friend
Charles Siepmann writes :

Bob was one of the great protestants of his time. Nothing was small
about him, and his indignation, like his love, fairly overflowed. His films
are full of both, of the former— at least by inference. He hated the ugliness
and impersonality of the urbanized, industrialised world he lived in, and he
hated 'man's inhumanity to man' as expressed in one ugly word, exploita-
tion . . . Bob was worldly enough, but he loathed the insensibility of the
'sophisticated'. He stood in the pathway of his own times and shouted
"No!" to the callous and indifferent.

For his extraordinary perception of the delicate personal relation-
ships of simple people, painstakingly interpreted to enlarge our vision
also, we owe much to this passionate ecologist. C.

I am an anarchist. 1 wish governments would go away and leave
people alone more. People can get along without governments.
I can."

—Charlie Chaplin, 25/9/51.

Anarchy #007

Issue of Anarchy from September 1961.

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Adventure Playground: A Parable of Anarchy

We who demand freedom in education, autonomy in the school and self-government in industry are not inspired by any vague ideal of liberation. What we preach is really a discipline and morality as formal and fixed as any preached by Church or State. But our law is given in nature, is discoverable by scientific method, and, as Aristotle points out, human beings are adapted by nature to receive this law. Because we are so adapted, freedom, which is a vague concept to so many people, becomes a perfectly real and vivid principle, because it is a habit to which we are preconditioned by biological elements in our physical frame and nervous constitution.

–HERBERT READ: "The Education of Free Men".

WHEN WE CALL OURSELVES ANARCHISTS, that is, people who advocate the principle of autonomy as opposed to authority in every field of personal and social life, we are constantly reminded of the apparent failure of anarchism to exercise any perceptible influence on the course of political events, and as a result we tend to overlook the unconscious adoption of anarchist ideas in a variety of other spheres of life. Some of these minor anarchies of everyday life provide analogies, some provide examples, and some, when you describe their operation, sound like veritable parables of anarchy.
All the problems of social life present a choice between libertarian and authoritarian solutions, and the ultimate claim we may make for the libertarian approach is that it is more efficient – it fulfils its function better. The adventure playground is an arresting example of this living anarchy, one which is valuable both in itself and as an experimental verification of a whole social approach. The need to provide children's playgrounds as such is a result of high-density urban living and fast- moving traffic. The authoritarian solution to this need is to provide an area of tarmac and some pieces of expensive ironmongery in the form of swings, see-saws and roundabouts, which provide a certain amount of fun (though because of their inflexibility children soon tire of them), but which call for no imaginative or constructive effort on the child's part and cannot be incorporated in any self-chosen activity. Swings and roundabouts can only be used in one way, they cater for no fantasies,
for no developing skills, for no emulation of adult activities, they call for no mental effort and very little physical effort, and are giving way to simpler and freer apparatus like climbing frames, log piles, 'jungle gyms', commando nets, or to play sculptures – abstract shapes to clamber through and over, or large constructions in the form of boats, traction engines, lorries or trains. But even these provide for a limited age-group and a limited range of activities, and it is not surprising that children find more continual interest in the street, the derelict building, the bombed site or the scrap heap.
For older boys, team-games are the officially approved activity, and as Patrick Geddes wrote before the first world war, "they are at most granted a cricket pitch, or lent a space between football goals, but otherwise are jealously watched, as potential savages, who on the least symptom of their natural activities of wigwam-building, cave-digging, stream-damming, and so on – must be instantly chivvied away, and are lucky if not handed over to the police."
That there should be anything novel in simply providing facilities for the spontaneous, unorganised activities of childhood is an indication of how deeply rooted in our social behaviour is the urge to control, direct and limit the flow of life. But when they get the chance, in the country, or where there are large gardens, woods or bits of waste land, what are children doing? Enclosing space, making caves, tents, dens, from old bricks, bits of wood and corrugated iron. Finding some corner which the adult world has passed over and making it their own. But

What is so puzzling about our juvenile crime figures? These overwhelmingly concern boys, and most boys are brought up in adventure-frustrating suburban deserts, in slums or in matchbox council flats on keep-off-the grass estates. Millions of them, emerging semi-literate from our education factories, are instantly converted, at fifteen, into industrial cogs. They find themselves in a rat-racing society, the successful section of which depends on their labour for its sacred capital gains, but rejects them as people and savagely resents their clams to a decent wage.
Because of deadly home conditions, these boys naturally take to the streets after work, and because of the monotony of that work are naturally ravenous for drama and excitement. Their pay-packets can't buy this for them, but crime – particularly breaking and entering – can. It can also buy gang-status and is a means of giving society a kick in the pants, of forcing it to sit up and take notice of their existence.
Add to this the growing awareness that none of us may amount, tomorrow, to more than a handful of radioactive dust, and it should astonish us that young crime figures are not twice as high.

–AUDREY HARVEY, in a letter to "The Observer", 13/8/61.

how can children find this kind of private world in towns, where, as Agnete Vestereg of the Copenhagen Junk Playground writes:

Every bit of land is put to industrial or commercial use, where every patch of grass is protected or enclosed, where streams and hollows are filled in, cultivated and built on?
But more is done for children now than used to be done, it may be objected. Yes, but that is one of the chief faults – the things are done. Town children move about in a world full of the marvels of technical science. They may see and be impressed by things; but they long also to take possession of them, to have them in their hands, to make something themselves, to create and re-create.

The Emdrup playground was begun in 1943 by the Copenhagen Workers' Co-operative Housing Association after their landscape architect, Mr. C. T. Sorensen, who had laid out many orthodox playgrounds had observed that children seemed to get more pleasure when they stole into the building sites and played with the materials they found there. In spite of a daily average attendance of 200 children at Emdrup, and that 'difficult' children were specially catered for, it was found that "the noise, screams and fights found in dull playgrounds are absent, for the opportunities are so rich that the children do not need to fight."
The initial success at Copenhagen has led in the years since the war to a widespread diffusion of the idea and its variations, from 'Freetown' in Stockholm and 'The Yard' at Minneapolis, to the Skrammellegeplads or building playgrounds of Denmark and the Robinson Crusoe playgrounds of Switzerland, where children are provided with the raw materials and tools for building what they want and for making gardens and sculpture. In this country we have had at least a dozen adventure playgrounds, several of them temporary, since their sites were earmarked for rebuilding, but there has been enough experience and enough documentation of it, for us to gauge fairly well their successes and pitfalls.
These accounts – which should disabuse anyone who thinks it is easy to run an adventure playground, as well as anyone who thinks it a waste of time, include the following:

Adventure Playgrounds, Lady Allen's pioneering pamphlet, which incorporates Agnete Vestereg's account of the Emdrup playground and John Lagemann's of The Yard.
Adventure in Play by John Barron Mays, describing the Rathbone Street Adventure Playground at Liverpool.
Annual Reports of the Grimsby Adventure Playground Association, by Joe Benjamin, the project leader until 1959, who has also written elsewhere on this playground.
Lollard Adventure Playground, a pamphlet by Mary Nicholson, and Something Extraordinary, by H. S. Turner, the warden at Lollard Street.
Play Parks, by Lady Allen of Hurtwood, an account of the Swedish play parks with suggestions for their adoption here.
Adventure Playgrounds, a progress report by the National Playing Fields Associations on the playgrounds at Lollard Street, Grimsby, Romford, Bristol, Liverpool and St. John's Wood, with facts and figures useful to people thinking of starting a playground.

When The Yard was opened at Minneapolis with the aim of giving the children "their own spot of earth and plenty of tools and materials for digging, building and creating as they see fit",

it was every child for himself. The initial stockpile of secondhand lumber disappeared like ice off a hot stove. Children helped themselves to all they could carry, sawed off long boards when short pieces would have done. Some hoarded tools and supplies in secret caches. Everybody wanted to build the biggest shack in the shortest time. The workmanship was shoddy.
Then came the bust. There wasn't a stick of lumber left. Hi-jacking raids were staged on half-finished shacks. Grumbling and bickering broke out. A few children packed up and left.
But on the second day of the great depression most of the youngsters banded together spontaneously for a salvage drive. Tools and nails came out of hiding. For over a week the youngsters made do with what they had. Rugged individualists who had insisted on building alone invited others to join in – and bring their supplies along. New ideas popped up for joint projects. By the time a fresh supply of lumber arrived a community had been born.

As in Copenhagen the prophesied casualties did not happen. "After a year of operation, injuries consisted of some bandaged thumbs and small cuts and bruises for the entire enrolment of over 200 children. No child has ever used a tool to hit another person."
This question of safety is so often raised when adventure playgrounds are discussed that it is worth citing the experience in this country (where the pernicious notion that whenever accidents happen someone must be sued has actually caused some local authorities to close their orthodox playgrounds – so that the kids can get run over instead). The insurance company was so impressed by the engrossed activity at the Cyldesdale Road (Paddington) playground, with its complete lack of hooliganism that it quoted lower rates than for an ordinary playground. At Rathbone Street, Liverpool, the 'toughest' of the English playgrounds:

So many children crowded together with so many opportunities for mutilating one another were bound to produce a steady flow of abrasions, cuts and bruises with the occasional more serious wound requiring stitching or a fractured bone. Statistically, however, the slide appeared to be the highest risk while the permanent ironwork equipment generally produced more accidents than the junk and scrap materials in the Adventure Playground proper.

Reading Mr. Mays' account of the Liverpool playground, with its stories of gang-warfare, sabotage, thieving scrap-metal merchants, hostility and indifference in the neighbourhood except for one street of immediate neighbours, senseless and wanton destruction, the reader may wonder how on earth it could keep going. But the author, reminding us that the essence of an experiment is that it is experimental, concludes that

In spite of all its shortcomings, many of which were the result of hasty planning and lack of solid financial support, in spite of mistakes made by its management committee and the errors of its two appointed leaders, inspite of the roughness of the site, the endless brickbats, the noise, the dirt, the disorder, sufficient evidence has accrued to support the main thesis on which the playground was established – that given the tools, the materials, the adult interest, advice and support children will indulge in constructional play, they do derive satisfaction from using hand and eye in making and building, fetching, carrying, painting and digging.

The shortcomings, he points out, are no more inevitable than the community allows them to be. The Rathbone Street playground only seemed a failure from a distance: those closest to it, as Mr. Mays says, "are much less gloomy about its value", and it has already led to further adventuring in Liverpool.
On the other hand, the Lollard Playground which seemed from the outside to be as the Evening Stardard called it, "a heartwarming success story" gave rise among its workers to the kind of feeling which Sheila Beskine describes in this issue of ANARCHY a, "fantastic spontaneous. lease of life" followed by a slow decline, so that its spirit had died before the Lee took over the site for building. But permanence is not the criteria of success. As Lady Allen says, a good adventure playground "is in a continual process of destruction and growth". The splendid variety of activities which came and went at Lollard from vegetable-growing to producing a magazine, plays, operettas, jiving and 'beauty sessions' were a measure of its success. As at Emdrup, this playground kept the interest of older children and young people up to the age of twenty thus enlarging the scope of possible projects. The older boys built and equipped a workshop and eagerly sought to serve the community in which they lived, doing repairs and redecorations for old people in the district, paying for the materials from a fund of their own. These were the same young people who are such a "problem" to their elders. The difference is that between the atmosphere of the irresponsible society, and that which was precariously built at the playground. The place, said the warden "stands for far more

Granting that childhood is playhood, how do we adults generally react to this fact? We ignore it. We forget all about it- because play, to us, is a waste of time. Hence we erect a large city school with many rooms and expensive apparatus for teaching; but more often than not, all we offer to the play instinct is a small concrete space. One could, with some truth, claim that the evils of civilization are due to the fact that no child has ever had enough play … Parents who have forgotten the yearnings of their childhood – forgotten how to play and how to fantasy – make poor parents. When a child has lost the ability to play, he is psychically dead and a danger to any child who comes into contact with him.


than a mere playground", and the Chairman summed up

This playground is different because it's a place where the children have an infinite choice of opportunities. They can handle basic things – earth, water plants, timber-and work with real tools; and they have an adult friend, a person they trust and respect. Here every child can develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, because there is always something at which they can excel. The wide age range, from two years to twenty-three, is perhaps unique in any playground. There can be progressive development through rich play opportunities, to a growing sense of responsibility to the playground, to younger children and, finally, to others outside the playground. Their willingness to help others is the sign of real maturity which is the object of all who work with young people.

The Grimsby playground, started in 1955, has a similar story. Its cycle of growth and renewal is annual. At the end of each summer the children saw up their shacks and shanties into firewood which they deliver in fantastic quantities to old age pensioners. When they begin building in the spring, "it's just a hole in the ground – and they crawl into it". Gradually the holes give way to two-storey huts. But

they never pick up where they left off at the end of the previous summer. It's the same with fires. They begin by lighting them just for fun. Then they cook potatoes and by the end of the summer they're cooking eggs, bacon and beans.

Similarly with the notices above their dens. It begins with nailing up 'Keep Out' signs (just as in The Yard at Minneapolis). After this come more personal names like 'Bughole Cave' and 'Dead Man's Cave', but by the end of the summer they have communal names like 'Hospital' or 'Estate Agent'. There is an ever-changing range of activities "due entirely to the imagination and enterprise of the children themselves … at no time are they expected to continue an activity which no longer holds an interest for them … Care of tools is the responsibility of the children. At the end of 1958 they were still using the same tools purchased originally in 1955. Not one hammer or spade has been lost, and all repairs have been paid for out of the Nail Fund." Mr. Benjamin,

A small space which belongs to it alone, a playground not too far from the house, providing the opportunity of contacts with children of different ages, and simple materials for creating things; that is all it needs. But these facilities are essential, and where they are lacking, the effects will be similar to that of a lack of vitamins to the body. The child starves and gets a mental beri-beri disease, psychic scurvy. Today we witness the eruption of wild destructive instincts among youth, which represent nothing more than distorted aggression which was not activated in the normal way in childhood. When denied natural outlets for activity and adventure, the child becomes prone to harmful and stupid forms of expression.

–Professor H. ZBINDEN.

the project leader for the first years at Grimsby has thought deeply on the implications and lessons of the adventure playground movement answered sceptical critics in a memorable letter:

By what criteria are adventure playgrounds to be judged? If it is by the disciplined activity of the uniformed organisations, then there is no doubt but we are a failure. If it is by the success of our football and table tennis teams then there is no doubt we are a flop. If it is by the enterprise and endurance called for by some of the national youth awards – then we must be ashamed.
But these are the standards set by the club movement, in one form or another, for a particular type of child. They do not attract the so-called 'unclubbable', and worse – so we read regularly – nor do they hold those children at whom they are aimed.
May I suggest that we need to examine afresh the pattern taken by the young at play and then compare it with the needs of the growing child and the adolescent. We accept that it is natural for boys and girls below a certain age to play together, and think it equally natural for them to play at being grown up. We accept, in fact, their right to imitate the world around them. Yet as soon as a child is old enough to see through the pretence and demand the reality, we separate him from his sister and try to fob him off with games and activities which seem only to put off the day when he will enter the world proper.
The adventure playgrounds in this country, new though they are, are already providing a number of lessons which we would do 'well to study … For three successive summers the children have built their dens and created Shanty Town, with its own hospital, fire station, shops, etc. As each den appeared, it became functional – and brought with it an appreciation of its nature and responsibility …
The pattern of adventure playgrounds is set by the needs of the children who use them; their 'toys' include woodwork benches and sewing machines. The play of the children is modelled closely on the world around them – and as such has a meaning that is understood easily by all types. We do not believe that children can be locked up in neat little parcels labelled by age and sex. Neither do we believe that education is the prerogative of the schools.

* * *

Apart from the kind of objection you will always get 'from people who resent anything pleasurable that doesn't make money, three kinds of objections are made to adventure playgrounds – danger, unsightliness, and expense of supervision. Happily the danger is more apparent than real, and the Secretary of the National Playing Fields Association has stated that the accident rate is lower than on orthodox playgrounds since hooliganism which results from boredom is absent. They are unsightly in the ordinary sense (and so is nine-tenths of our physical environment), for as Mr. Mays notes,

Children like disorder or find some invisible order therein. Most adults hate it. Children do not in the least mind being dirty. Most adults abhor it. Children will find a source of enjoyment in the oddest and most unlikely play material: tin cans, milk bottle tops, broken slates, soil cinders, firewood. The adult mind thinks of these things in terms of refuse and rubbish …

The solution of course is to use a solid fence instead of chicken-wire, as is after all customary for adult building and demolition operations. (The Emdrup playground has a 6ft. high bank with a thicket hedge and fence on top, which also absorbs the high frequencies of children's voices).
Certainly more skilled adult assistance is needed than in a conventional playground. Indeed everything depends upon having something different from a park-keeper saying 'Don't!' or a patronising leader saying 'Do!'. Against the cost of this can be set the lower capital costs than for a conventional playground and the fact that much public goodwill, assistance as gifts of materials can usually be counted on. (Many advocates of adventure playgrounds who see them as "saving children from delinquency" would set the cost of leaders' salaries against the enormous cost of putting children in remand homes, approved schools and so on). On the question of such costs, local authorities are empowered under section 53 of the Education Act to grant aid to the cost of employing play leaders, and the adventure playgrounds in this country, mostly run by voluntary organisations, have in fact had financial help both from local councils and from the National Playing Fields Association and in some cases from philanthropic foundations.
Much could be said about the nature of adult help in an adventure playground. The NPFA report sees the person of the play leader as the over-riding factor in success besides which the other considerations fall into insignificance. (It is worth nothing that Stockholm with a population of 3/4 million has 84 play leaders and London with 8½ million has eight or nine). Yet as Mr. Turner in his book about Lollard shows, there is no specification for the ideal person, the most bizarre characters have been wildly successful. Discussing the early experience at Clydesdale Road, Lady Allen made the point that, although we use the word leader we want something different:

it must be a grown-up who exerts the minimum authority and is willing to act rather as an older friend and councillor than as a leader … It is these children, particularly, who so deeply enjoy the companionship of an older person who is willing to be understanding and very generous of his time. We cannot think of a good title for this individual: supervisor is wrong, connected in the children's minds with discipline; a play leader is trained for a different type of work, and for younger children. So we use the word 'leader' but it is not right.

The role of the 'leader' is catalytic, and it is apparent from the various accounts of adventure playgrounds that too few adults have had to fulfil too many roles – from social worker to begging letter writer and woodwork instructor. An informal and changing group of people, both full-time and voluntary, and including friendly neighbours and older children is evidently the happiest combination.

* * *
Finally, in case it isn't obvious, why do we claim the adventure playground movement as an experiment in anarchy? Well, let us repeat yet again, Kropotkin's definition of an anarchist society as one which

seeks the most complete development of individuality combined with the highest development of voluntary association in all its aspects, in all possible degrees, for all imaginable aims; ever changing, ever modified associations which carry in themselves the elements of their durability and constantly assume new forms which answer best to the multiple aspirations of all. A society to which pre-established forms, crystallised by law, are repugnant; which looks for harmony in an ever-changing and fugitive equilibrium between a multitude of varied forces and influences of every kind, following their own course …

Everyone of these phrases is recognisably a description of the microcosmic society of the successful adventure playground, and it leads us to speculate on the wider applications of the idea which is in essence the old revolutionary notion of "free access to the means of production", in this instance to the means of every kind of creative and recreative activity. We think of course of the Peckham Experiment – a kind of adventure playground for people of all ages, or the kind of variations on work and leisure in freely chosen activity envisaged in Paul and Percival Goodman's Communitas. The adventure playground is a free society in miniature, with the same tensions and ever-changing harmonies, the same diversity and spontaneity, the same unforced growth of co-operation and release of individual qualities and communal sense, which lie dormant in a society devoted to com- petition and acquisitiveness.

New Town Adventure

ANNIE MYGIND, who wrote in ANARCHY 6 about her film Circus at Clopton Hall, here describes her experiences in starting an adventure playground in a New Town. Her cousin Erik Mygind began the 'Cave City' playground at Virum near Copenhagen, after witnessing the success of the famous Emdrup 'junk playground' in that city.

ON MY FIRST RETURN TO DENMARK after the war, my cousin Erik invited me to come and see a playground a friend of his had started. "It's a very special idea," he said, is to give town children the opportunity to play as children can in the country, and have bonfires, build huts and caves and muck around in safety; they need to be able to do these things without getting in the way of adults."
This sounded exciting, and Erik's enthusiasm was infectious – but although the answers he gave to my questions gradually built up a picture, I found something more in the Emdrup Playground. This was a sense of freedom – a recognition that children must play and work at their own pace, without the setting of adult standards of achievement. John Bertelsen, who had initiated the idea was there in daily charge. He was a young seaman with a nursery school teacher's training (fantastic and unique combination!), and there is no doubt that he made the playground, not just organisationally, in acquiring the scrap materials and tools, and in negotiating with the authorities, etc., but in the sense that his unsentimental love and egalitarian attitude to children set the atmosphere, and allowed the children to be themselves while they were in the playground. It was a sort of children's republic, so many yards square, fenced off from the outside world by a tall dyke; but set in the "kingdom" of a co-operative housing estate just outside Copenhagen.
There was the rub: John in fact was doing a sort of Jesus Christ act – taking all the sins and conflicts of contemporary society upon his shoulders through the children. When he left, as he did a short while later, the playground changed radically. The rule of law took over:

it was no longer a children's republic, but an extension of the housing estate.
But his example and vision inspired others – there were many visitors from abroad. Eight years later I saw the opportunity of starting such a playground in an English New Town. Among the neat, ordered rows of front gardens with their rosebushes and little lawns there were a small number of children who rebelled against the hire-purchase-washing-machine culture with unfortunate results for the rosebushes. Surely if their energies could be canalised in the right setting, i.e. a playground without adult rosebushes where they could dig and splash and build and make bonfires to their heart's content, the parents would be able to cultivate their gardens in peace and the children would be happy?
It took a year's hard work by a small band of enthusiasts to explain the idea of the playground, negotiate with the authorities, collect money from those who were willing to give, scout out tools from remote surplus stores, and find a playground leader, a site, scrap materials, get lavatories built, fencing and a hut. The support of Lady Allen of Hurtwood (who charmed us all when she came to give a lecture to the Community Association), as well as that of the National Playing Fields Association, was a great help, and the playground was opened in 1955.
The children flocked in, and the site, which was rough grassland, in a short while looked like a peacefield battlefield; earth dug up enthusiastically; houses built (the best of them by a gang with the reputation for smashing lamp-standards); potatoes roasted on bonfires; and they came back again and again. It was difficult to gauge local reactions – there were pictures and reports in the local press, polite and very mildly appreciative. But also "cartoons" depicting vicious behaviour and vandalism. (One child in fact did start to hack the bark off a venerable tree. The explanation that this would kill the tree satisfied him sufficiently to make him stop). Some mothers would say "This is a good idea, the children like it. They should have started one years ago"(!) Others wouldn't let their kids come because they were afraid they'd get hurt or dirty or both.
On balance though, there was a sense of achievement: it was worth while – in spite of press attacks, snobbery and minor crises.
But the small achievement highlighted the social disease around us. Much support was given for its prestige value. There was very little direct help except from a small band of devoted people. There was not enough money. The playground leader, who was no Jesus Christ, was underpaid and only lasted one season.
The children, although purposefully active, did not find that sense of easy freedom that we saw at Emdrup. One saw in fact that this was only a very ragged plaster on one social wound – the negative attitude to our children.

Adventure in Lollard Street

SHEILA BESKINE, who teaches in a secondary modern school, was one of the voluntary helpers at the Lollard Adventure Playground in Lambeth, which was recently described in H. S. Turner's book Something Extraordinary (Michael Joseph). She edits the newsletter of the National Association of Recreation Leaders.

"AW – THAT'S NOT SHEILA IS IT? GOOD GOD!" Arriving for another interlude at Lollard, I meet the Masher, 17, in the Lambeth Walk, and receive his usual welcome. How long I stay this time depends on where I can find to sleep. Last time I was able to stay, on condition I fed the cat, at the top of a very rocky building. Like the rows of squashed, grey little houses, the place was due for demolition in 1939, and I believed it when the floor shook to my walk and rattled the windows. The girl in the "Top Value" food store smiles: she knows me and the grubby-handed children who call religiously for Oxo tins for our cooking and marbling. The stall man on the corner gives me a little grin and I turn into Wake Street to a noisier welcome from some of the smaller Clarks and Haleys.
I dump my rucksack on the platform in the Hut and sink down to be clambered over by various small children, and some older girls who want to "do my hair". I am presented with another Spearmint Chew, this time a whole one. When I first came as a student I was, like every other visitor, a subject of unhidden curiosity. A little girl whispered "Hasn't Sheila got long hair, Mr. Turner? But she's an artist, isn't she?" I'd always wanted to try jiving and had never plucked up the courage, but here one could and the girls had patiently taught me their dead set little pattern, but soon found my variations impossible to partner; and bare feet with the hair, which of course fell down, convinced them I was "Bowey" (pre-beatnik term for bohemian).
Today my rucksack contained, besides the usual fascinations of sketchbook and edibles, a marvellous lump of green glassy substance, very heavy, which I'd found half buried in a north Essex field, and hopefully suspected to be a piece of meteorite. So we took it to the museums to be identified, and we (myself and three boys of vaguely twelve) ended up in a very learned basement of the Natural History Museum. In no time at all our precious meteorite, with its popping bubbles and whorlings all suddenly stilled, was identified rather flatly, as a piece of roadstone probably from Fords at Dagenham. Anyway, they'd signed the Enquirers' Book and gone through a specially unlocked door, and we spent the rest of the morning in the Science Museum.
Peter, who had just finished his apprenticeship, was the only local person I met who helped at all regularly, spending most of the day in the workshop with a group of younger boys, emerging at dinner time for our co-operative cooking in Oxo tins, which became the rage. Today we had a "smashing" dinner, admired by many, and thus diminished: onions with burnt sausage bits greasily whammed in between thick lumps of bread, and then greengages, which were cheap. Other days we cooked mackerel or eggs. Once when it was hopeless trying to get myself any dinner (though there was always the Eel and Pie shop up the Walk), we had a hot dog session, very successful, at cost price (which varied according to face and pocket).

Another fire activity which magnetised the younger children was "Tie-Dyeing", and Paul, a little crippled Greek boy, was a most enthusiastic helper, often collecting firewood from the fruit stalls in the Walk. We tied up stones in bits of old shirt and then boiled up the dye, which I had got as free samples, and the cloth was attended to with much prodding and stirring. We hung them up, like so much brightly coloured seaweed, on sticks wedged into the netting fence to dry in the sun, soon to be untied, to discover, delightedly, the white circles. The interest caught on well, and one of the big boys, not realising that this could almost come under the heading of "needlework" and therefore be cissy, summed up the example as being "very flash". Then the older girls got interested. The fact that the idea comes from India and Africa convinced them that it was as nuts as me, though nice. But the one enamel bowl got stoned in when I didn't put it away, and in any case no one brought any more cloth.

Mr. Turner, the warden, has brought his violin today, and we went to the workshop to listen. Rita Quinn made a quaint little drawing of him, and then one of me, adorned with little circular bosoms. Sylvia was looking at the drawings over my shoulder. "Look at them, Sheila." "What's wrong with them?" "She's drawn them!" she said, pointing either side of her chest, in such a sweet way, not aggressive. "What's wrong with that, Sylvie?" "It's dirty," she whispered. "Why?". Shoulder shrug. Sylvia is 7, one of a family of seven children (including one by "uncle") ranging from the baby last Christmas to Jimmy who is 9. One day the father told us with the air of a dutiful parent, "I only reckon to drink 4 pints a day when I'm not working. 1 drink 10 when I am."

Once, by accidental invitation, I spent an evening in their kitchen. Sylvie had been sent to ask if I'd like a cup of tea (I was in the Huton my own) and I assumed this meant I must come and get it. There was a hasty and embarrassing tidying up, and then I was allowed to creep in. Dad and the baby were asleep in the front room. The space was mainly taken up by a solid table covered with a green chenille cloth on which was a bottle of milk and some bread and two of the smaller children with the breadknife. The walls were all peeled paper with bits of wood and plaster exposed in places. In the space between the table front and the oven against the wall were two chairs, where Sylvie's Mum and I sat. The pram was squashed into the space between the table side and the wall, and the space on the other side was taken up by the sink. The other children were around and between us, fidgeting, laughing, squabbling or scribbling on the wall. I had protested about the clearing up for me, and she now seemed anxious to keep me there, telling me about the terrible rent and the terrible houses and the cheek of the Council, while we drank our tea. One of the rooms upstairs was quite unusable, she said, and that left 3 out of 4. They were in the list for a new flat in Camberwell, but I wondered how that would improve the difficulties basically due to very poor intelligence.
Yet Sylvie is a much happier child than Rita, who at 8 is terribly distorted: no love would suffice unless she could endlessly demand the whole person. "She has had it in a big way". The amount of love within a home is the only valid means of valuing it. This is here in many homes, though often under guises not easily penetrated by people from a different upbringing, and often an extensive network of aunts and uncles within the locality is included.

I remember a particular day in the holidays when I'd been home for a few days. Almost as soon as I reappeared Rita triumphantly shadowed me. She was more claimative than usual and after we'd been shopping she waited tirelessly outside the door of the wobbly house where I was staying, while I went upstairs to unpack and eat. Then she started calling me. I couldn't open the windows, long sealed for safety and in any case they were too far back for me to see the pavement. So I went down and explained to her that I couldn't let her in because it wasn't my house, and tried to get her to go back to the Playground, or go and collect egg cartons in the shops for making paint divisions in Oxo tins. After another session of calling me she demanded I went home with her. I promised I would if she was sure Mummy wouldn't mind, but she must go back to the Playground for half an hour.

The atmosphere at her home was very awkward at first. I tried to dispel the lady idea straight away; I was just Sheila from the Playground. I was a bit afraid of Dad at first, and noticed uneasily the way he grabbed Rita in when she was introducing me, presented on the doorstep, as though he was afraid she might let them down. I stressed that I'd had tea, but they insisted that I share their paste sandwiches, which were good. Somehow the awkwardness disappeared and I listened to many self-assurance stories and played draughts with various members of the family. They seemed to have much more living space than Sylvie's family; the room was lit by a single gas mantle, and when anyone left the room or went upstairs to fetch something for Daddy (who seemed to have everything done for him), they took a torch. The room seemed to be peaceful and the children happy enough, but there were little incidents that made me wonder how apathetic Mum had become, and how used to it and unsurprised the children were.
When all but the oldest girls had gone to bad, I asked, as far as I dared, why Rita was so much more "nervy" than the others. "Well she's very highly-strung," and there followed a long story of her schoolmaster, which sounded terrible to me, but if it were true, either they as parents were too dim to tell him anything, or the headmaster was dead to his job. But oh yes, she's been to County Hall about it. I wondered.
I had to learn to wonder. Didn't she realise how Rita always has a very difficult time with other children at Lollard, and doubtless at school as well, because she, in particular, is always so dirty. I hadn't the sureness or tact then to try to talk to her mother. In any case I think it would come to a fight against her booze, and that there is probably more of "I can't be bothered" than I was allowed to see. At wash time the children used a large china bowl in the same room, one kettle of water, one black towel, and one sponge. A case of "you had it last, where is it?" This sort of dirtiness was very different from simply getting clothes filthy and torn at Lollard, and different from an acceptable "that'll have to do for today".
It didn't fit in with Mum's stories of her own school days, and having been Head Girl for three years running. I sensed that this was not a matter of lying, but a kind of wishful thinking, giving a mask of confidence to face living in a situation of unconsciously realised failure.

* * *
We had another fire, to burn the ox-head (under threat from the warden) which the butcher had kept for me. (I thought to rescue the skull – I love skulls). I left it on a corner shelf in the main hut, covered with newspaper so the nursery children wouldn't be frightened, for its eyes were quite horrible. I came back later to find it dressed in a green woolly cap, a white silky scarf a daffodil and a newspaper ruffle. It looked quite transformed.
A crash through the hut door – Masher of course – as I am doodling on the piano. "Evening Mozart!" with no change of expression whatsoever. The greeting almost held some hidden respect. He only just remembered he was pally tonight and threw me his evening paper, which he couldn't read, and was satisfied that I agreed with him that the new Lonnie Donegan record was good.
The potholes by the swings have just been rediscovered, with much excitement when some bones were found, chicken-like, but with teeth. The Playground is fuller tonight – is there nothing good on

(picture omitted here)

telly? Excavations are still going strong at 7.30: we close at 8 p.m. Sometimes, on such nights, there is time to talk to the warden about the children and the place. Our best perch was on the scenery steps (sent us by Ealing Studios) outside the train, a position from which we could "keep eye" over most of the 1¼ acres. I often drew while listening, (it was a way of hearing more!). Tonight's drawing was better than usual, and the leather-jacket boys, wandering off, demanded to see it, of course. There was general agreement that it was good. Then Charlie came over, always with a naughty grin for me. I sat back so I could watch back, so I could watch his face – it went dead serious in admiration and disbelief mingled. "Cor! … it's Mr. Turner! Cor! It's fucking great!" This was obviously the greatest credit his vocabulary could give, and was quite sincere. "It's a smashing likeness." I laughed; we all did. Usually they check anything 'bad' coming out in front of me or Mr. Turner.
I am sitting again on the large wooden step, with my arm around little Greek Ida who has had a nasty bash on her head. She seems quite content to sit beside me while I scribble, not looking at her or speaking to her. Pamela is standing in the Hut door, licking her ice cream, dealing out malicious glares to Ida; it was she who knocked her over. She's terribly spiteful; both her parents are practically mentally deficient. The WVS arranges children's holidays, and this year she went with Sylvie and another child, but she was so difficult with the others that she was sent home. This morning I made a special point of giving her a nice smile and decent bits of paper to draw on, and she was fairly reasonable. But I wonder what she will do when she is older; she is quite unlovable. Even Rita had moments when I thought I could help her. She was chosen for the WVS holiday too, but for some reason her father refused, and then changed his mind when it was too late. (The only cost asked was the child's normal Family Allowance).

* * *

The essence of the Adventure Playground as I knew it was not merely its being an area of rough ground sporting an unorthodox collection of playthings, nor even the freedom from petty rules. It was the belongingness resulting from the struggle for it in which the children or their older brothers and sisters, had taken part. Poverty was a strength of the Adventure Playground. As warden you'd suddenly remember: "My God! Five pounds due for the water rate at the end of the month!" You know the committee certainly wouldn't have any money, so somehow you had to raise it. When you needed wood for camp building, you couldn't send in an order for it, you had to find a local timber merchant and somehow get round him, giving the reasons. When the wood comes it's an absolute triumph. The installation of the phone at Lollard was an amazing example. Children came in just to look at this lovely black thing, to fondle it and hear it purr. "Cor, Blimey! We've got a bleeding telephone now," said Masher.
Struggle produces a whole range of human emotions that are otherwise absent. Without it the human spirit becomes apathetic and dies. Hence the "community spirit" of wartime that people always remark about. Also the bewildered fathers who thought they fought for the children of the future. Tradition is far too abstract. Each generation, each individual, needs to be involved in his own struggle for something. This is why freedom to change is so important in any community. One of Lollard's favourite activities was making and mending rules.
There is a widespread and childish theory that because there is alleged to be no material need to cause juvenile delinquency, there is no "excuse" for it, and therefore today's young people are worthless, etc. Surely it is simply that new living feet are squashed into very old boots, instead of being allowed to wear their own shoes or sandals, with plenty of toe-wiggling space and room for growth. How stupid is the surprise when the new feet grow social corns and bunions! Only the feeble stop growing altogether. So, in 1961, we have the Anti-Violence League … the tooth-for-tooth types.
In 1895 Oscar Wilde optimistically wrote that "When each member of the community has sufficient for his wants, and is not interfered with by his neighbour, it will not be an object of any interest to him to interfere with anyone else …" Today we are not so much affected by the physical starvation which Wilde saw as causing so much "crime". We are in a new emotional starvation.

* * *

The development of Play Parks as a kind of halfway house between the conventional asphalt-and-swings playground and the radical conception of the Adventure Playground, is of course a good thing as far as it goes, but even the most attractive architect-designed children's parks in Sweden, Germany and elsewhere have, to me, the most important thing missing. Things are provided and arranged for their pleasantness to the adult eye, but atmosphere of the personal kind can never be built, and it is easy to associate it with "eyesores". This is simply because voluntary organisations are never rich, a fact which is also their strength because it eliminates interference.
A vast administrative set-up automatically becomes "Them". There is far less care of equipment and much more stealing. At Charlton Play Park the leaders have a pawnshop deposit system to ensure that barrows, balls, chalks, etc.. are returned. One day when I was there some children ran up to me: "Miss, a boy's just thrown a barrow over the wall!" He'd also climbed over a high brick wall to the road and disappeared. The leader checked the barrows: there were two missing. The place had been open a week and everything was new. About an hour later an elderly gentleman came up to the hut with both barrows, damaged, one of them wrecked. He'd stopped two boys in his road and guessed where they belonged. We were surprised that he knew of the Play Park and were grateful. Charlton (Blackheath) is hardly a "poor" district.
Because the LCC is "Them" and is also huge, it merges in many people's minds with the other Thems, like Income Tax, the Rates, the Government. They are "sue-able" establishments to get the better of, to be hostile to. The Adventure Playground is not; it is a personal thing in their midst which they have come to respect and value. It is even protected by them. It is often unworkable because unsupported. Offers of support invariably meant attempts to influence, to control, policy. We often met the idea that a benefactor could buy his way into the committee, and had a right to do so. (A reflection of the stocks and shares mentality.)
The financial ideal would be to be granted the bare running costs, – covering sanitation, lighting, heating, salaries and maintenance of any hard surface; with the day-to-day things like paint, wood, nails, tools, etc., being covered by the children's own efforts. At one time at Lollard there was talk of a fantastic sum of money being given by an impressed and well-meaning visitor. In the warden's words, "the offer terrified me – it would have killed the place quicker than anything – unless I could have given it out at about 2½ d. a day, when it would have lasted for years."
The Adventure Playground could be invaluable for developing personality in a poor or apathetic area. The disadvantage at Lollard was the dependency upon the warden which began to appear in some of the older boys of 17 to 20. He became to them a kind of god. This is unlikely to happen on a Play Park because everything is far less personal and struggle-free. Also because there are more play-leaders and the boys would probably not stay so long, even if the present age limit of 16 did not exist.

(picture omitted here)

The advantage of the Adventure Playground is mainly psychological: its direct human contact with people's emotions. The warden, or whatever he calls himself, has to live with the families in the neighbourhood. "He's got to attend their funerals, their births, weep with them, and on Sunday console some woman whose man has just gone off with some other woman …" There are no convenient hours. Play Parks on the other hand are cut off at the root and operate on a superficial level. The Play Park Leader must record each day's attendances for the LCC's staffing and equipment quotas. "80 children present …" Any children. The Play Park man is even discouraged from any real interest in individual children because it would be inconvenient to the monster organisation with all its different departments. If the leader does become concerned over some child or family, and thinks something could be done he is expected to report it to the Play Parks Organiser, who, in turn, would be expected to refer it to the appropriate department: Child Welfare, Housing, Health, etc. But human nature is not designed to be organised by a system of pigeon holes. It is precisely because the leader is known and trusted that he is able, perhaps, to influence people. Quite apart from the fact that some parents are of unbelievably low intelligence, many are suspicious, even scornful, of advice from some abstract authority.
The Play Centres, on school premises, have been run for many years, drawing children up to the age of fifteen from the streets to a variety of indoor activities and organised games. The new Play Parks are a definite advance, using some of the features of the Adventure Playground, plus organised games as wanted. But activities like camp-fire building and so on cannot all be adopted at once for fear of a public outcry about the mess; there were even some warning complaints at one Play Park about the bits of stick the children were leaving on the grass from the wattle fence pieces they'd been using for building houses. At Brockwell Park the ground is much more interesting, being hilly and rough instead of like a lawn, with bushes at the bottom. An old willow tree there promised well for climbing, so a man was sent to trim it. He lopped all the branches off clean to the trunk, producing a useless wooden obelisk.
Lollard was a genuine community: by that I mean it was a place where anybody could fit in, making their own little niche, and through this security, could be able to peep out, creep out, or run out altogether, just as Michael, the mongol boy in Heather Sutton's film was able to fit into the village where he lived. Helpers who came were able to present themselves as they really were. For me at least this meant that much more valuable contacts could be made. I spent most of my first weeks there absorbing the honesty of these children and their relationship with the warden and helpers. I felt I wasn't doing anything at all, but then I saw that, simply by being there, the children and the older boys and girls were getting to know a new and different personality. You didn't have to stand on the grass with a whistle and a ball and organise games. You could just start doing something, unintroduced – sketching, knitting, excavating for interesting relics in the skeletons of burnt mattresses – in no time you had followers and could arrange for continuing operations tomorrow. And of course you became involved in the delights and problems of these young people. (If only education could be based on this voluntary principle instead of on that of the policeman: it is no new discovery – see Homer Lane or A. S. Neill). And there was no need to be frightened when there was a lull and no-one wanted to do anything. Some days the place was bustling with camp builders and fire makers, and at other times there appeared to be very little going on, but the fact that the place was there was its value.
The reasons for success and failure are purely emotional. Lollard has a fantastic spontaneous lease of life, which, like Emdrup, made it known all over the world. And then the spirit went and the thing slowly collapsed. While I was still there one was aware of this decline. Things got pinched – my camera with a roll of used film was my most disillusioning loss. Children are ourselves inside-out. Once the spirit has gone, they get sticks, they throw, they burn: the thing is dead, so destroy it, it isn't living any more.
When Mr. Turner took over from an earlier warden he had been told, "Unless you can do anything with it, the place is doomed." His successor was expected to carry on a spirit which had died, and it was not her fault that she could not stop this onrush of breaking. She could only have brought it off by bringing in new helpers and winning over a fresh nucleus of children; but the often unhealthy loyalty of the older boys to her predecessor and the fact that she was a woman, made it virtually impossible. Visitors came and spent two or three hours with us, and then went off enthusiastically to start their own places, with perhaps a romantic view of our activity but no awareness of the emotional problems.
Not long after the place was closed, the Hut was burnt down in the night. While it lasted it was indeed "something extraordinary". The workshop was the most rewarding example of the wave of possessive care these boys showed. "It wouldn't have lasted a week, elsewhere in this district."

(picture omitted here)

The Revolution in Physical Education

JOAN FOSTER was a teacher and training college lecturer before giving up her job to raise a family. She is a member of the Society for Education Through Art.

IN A WELL-KNOWN BOOK the changes seen in the British educational system in this century have been described as “the silent social revolution”. Anarchists, looking for fundamental changes in the structure of society, would be more than a little sceptical of such a description, but there is one field of education where the revolution in theory and to a growing extent in practise, has been most striking: that of physical education – what in our parent's generation was symptomatically called Drill, what we called P.T. and what is now known as P.E.
For our parents this meant marching up and down like toy soldiers or marionettes. The pattern was military drill, and in upper-class schools the instructor was actually called the Sergeant, and behaved like one. Apart from being rigid, jerky and ugly, the military pose was physiologically bad: F. A. Hornibrook observed many years ago that,

In this age of scientific progress it is curious that our ideals concerning man's figure, posture, and gait should be based on the product of the drill sergeant's activities … Picture in the mind's eye the position of a soldier standing at attention and the position of any native man, such as a Fijian. In the former the back is 'hollowed' and the chest thrust forwards and upwards in the attempt to make the man as like a pouter pigeon as possible … Such a position becomes fatiguing very quickly. The freedom of chest movement being restricted, inspiration is interfered with, and the individual can only maintain his unnatural position by a mental effort, the duration of which depends on circumstances … Heels together and toes turned out (a position still adopted in schools and in the Army) is bad, and makes the maintaining of a correct stance exceedingly difficult.

The military ideal is best expressed in Kropotkin's story of the Grand Duke Mikhail who inspected his regiment and said, "Very good, only they breathe."
Drill was followed by "physical jerks" in which the prime virtue was found in the uniformity of movement among all the members ofthe class, even though it might consist of children of all shapes and sizes, and in that peculiarly military method of keeping people on their toes – the delayed word of command. In gymnastic work, first German and then Swedish, and finally Danish gymnastics were in vogue, and anyone who attended a grammar school before the war can remember the tedium of those hours in the expensively equipped gymnasium in which – as in cricket – most of the class's time was spent standing around waiting for their turn to perform some particular evolution. Apart from the wastage of the pupil's time, and the torture of the fat or physically inept child, this period gave us that dreadful stereotype – the Gym Mistress. As Miss Crabbe, the principal of one of our best Colleges of Physical Education observed:

The gym mistress used to be hearty, bossy, the born leader who rides roughshod over the meek and nervous; the tomboy, who later becomes the 'hockey hag', the organiser of assembly, speech days and school lectures – the one with the carrying voice and the good disciplinarian.

Today we have quite a different picture, and a different conception of the instructor, who does not raise her voice, and judges her success not on how many pupils can jump 4ft. l0in. or climb to the top of a rope, but as Miss Crabbe says, "by the number who have felt success and pleasure in some way and to some degree through body movement", and we might add (since physical education is really nothing to do with competitive sport or the gladiatorial training of Olympic performers) that we can measure her success in the poise, grace and economy of movement of her pupils.
The great changes which have taken place in theory and are steadily ousting older methods in practice have come, as such changes always do from the "cranks" on the fringe; in this instance with the concern for the quality of movement as such. Probably the most fruitful influences from the outside on physical education have been Rudolf Laban's ideas on the dance and those of F. M. Alexander and his disciples on posture. They are parallel of course to the general change, however partially and spasmodically achieved so far, to "child-centred" education.
The distance travelled in officially accepted ideas in one generation can be seen by comparing the Board of Education's Syllabus of Physical Training for Schools issued in 1933, with the Ministry of Educations' manual on physical education in the primary school, issued in two volumes in 1952 and 1953. The first volume Moving and Growing is an absorbing study of the physical and psychological growth of the child and his physical capabilities. The second, Planning the Programme, applied to class work the principles derived from the first, modestly noting that it provided, "for those teachers who need it, a nucleus of material … both teachers and children will, no doubt, expand the ideas given, and evolve their own …" Even so, it was still possible as recently as 1954 for the London County Council to issue for its teachers a book called Syllabus of Physical Training for Infants' Schools. Ruth Morison of the I. M. Marsh College of Physical Education, has written an excellent pamphlet, Educational Gymnastics, especially for teachers "who were trained in the Swedish System of Gymnastics and who are puzzled by the present day trends in Physical Education", in which she singles out the two great changes of the last few years as, firstly, that "we no longer think merely of giving instruction to classes but we set out to provide the environment, create the atmosphere and give the stimulus which will help the individual to grow and develop naturally' and secondly that instead of following 'systems' of set exercises "designed to suit the hypothetical average", and "making the whole class as nearly identical as possible in their movements, and in following a common 'rhythm'," the teacher is no longer concerned with preconstructed exercises "because each individual selects her own way and to help her through this way of moving."
When an account in the Times Educational Supplement on the change in approach declared that

A close study of children's natural movements, the use of their innate impulses to play and to dance, the encouragement of spontaneity and creativity, an atmosphere of permissiveness and informality, and a resolve to learn from the children themselves how to educate them – these are the marks of a modern programme of physical education for young children.

it called forth the comment that a serious omission from this list was "the teaching of fundamental skills such as running, jumping, landing, catching and throwing" since it does not follow that, without specific direction, children will perform them well or, in the case of some of them, even safely. This may be perfectly true, with the proviso that the child will be eager to perfect these skills when it is ready for them, and when they have a meaning and purpose for the individual child. An investigation to measure the effect of coaching in the junior school upon ultimate performance in the secondary school (in the case of soccer) printed as an appendix to M. W. Randall's Modern Ideas on Physical Education shows no significant relationship. The child learns when it is ready to learn.
On this question of correcting defects of posture and movement, the methods used by J. V. Fenton, a primary school headmaster, developed from the work of the late Charles Neil of the Re-education Centre, were described by him in an article in The New Era for Sept.-Oct. 1958, as follows:-

Whilst the rest of the class is distributed about the field or hall on various apparatus, one group is having specific instruction in a simple point of body mechanics. The teacher has chosen movement at the hip joint as the subject of the lesson and demonstrates the 'closing the lid of the box' action in leaning forward, while sitting. He then demonstrates distortions of this simple movement that involve the body in unnecessary strain. He encourages his group to suggest what is at fault. This they do with enjoyment and interest. He asks one or two to demonstrate 'right and wrong ways'. The children are highly inventive of wrong ways and find it fun; but all the time they are becoming increasingly aware that there is choice in the way one uses one's body.

Consciousness of choice is the first essential of freedom in any sphere, and in a way, we can describe the object of all physical education as the liberation of the body.
Swimming, more than anything else, consists of the discovery of the art of perfect movement, and with the coming of cheap fibreglass pools there is now no reason, except inertia or the feeling that "the authorities" are responsible for such things, why parents' associations or Parent-Teacher associations, should not provide a learners' pool at every primary school.
Just like the adventure playground, the new approach to physical education is revolutionary in that it seeks to provide for individual needs and individual self-selected activity. But can we call this an anarchist revolution, a revolution which can claim that the interweaving of this ever-changing variety of individual activities will produce a social harmony without an externally imposed authority? I am indebted to the editor of this magazine for the marvellous description of a really modern gymnasium at work, given in the book The Peckham Experiment, which epitomises the social aspect of this revolution. The authors, Innes Pearse and Lucy Crocker, are describing the gymnasium at the Peckham Health Centre – before the war, when in the schools we were still lining up our pupils in teams for Swedish gym. In their gymnasium, the observer saw

boys and girls moving in every direction at varying speeds, swinging on ropes suspended from the ceiling, running after balls and each other, climbing, sliding, jumping – all this activity proceeding without bumps or crashes, each child moving with unerring accuracy according to its own subjective purpose, without collision, deliberate avoidance or retreat.

And did this anarchy result in chaos? Not at all, for if we go on to study this activity from the point of view of a child who goes into it, we see that:

He goes in and learns unaided to swing and to climb, to balance, to. leap. As he does all these things he is acquiring facility in the use of his body. The boy who swings from rope to horse, leaping back again to the swinging rope, is learning by his eyes, muscles, joints and by every sense organ he has, to judge, to estimate, to know. The other twenty-nine boys and girls in the gymnasium are all as active as he, some of them in his immediate vicinity. But as he swings he does not avoid. He swings where there is space – a very important distinction – and in doing so he threads his way among his twenty-nine fellows. Using all his faculties, he is aware of the total situation in that gymnasium – of his own swinging and of his fellows' actions. He does not shout to the others to stop, to wait or to move from him – not that there is silence, for running conversations across the hall are kept up as he speeds through the air.
But this 'education' in the live use of all his senses can only come if his twenty-nine fellows are also free and active. If the room were cleared and twenty-nine boys sat at the side silent while he swung, we should in effect be saying to him – to his legs, body, eyes – 'You give all your attention to swinging; we'll keep the rest of the world away' – in fact – Be as egotistical as you like'. By so reducing the diversity in the environment we should be preventing his learning to apprehend and to move in a complex situation. We should in effect be saying – 'Only do this and this; you can't be expected to do more'. Is it any wonder that he comes to behave as though it is all he can do? By the existing methods of teaching we are in fact inducing the child's inco-ordination in society.

We have begun to realise this, and to create these conditions of freedom in physical education, which, in one small field, can be described as an anarchist society in miniature. What was once by far the most authoritarian, and indeed militaristic, subject in education, is becoming the most free and libertarian. Can such a change be entirely without influence in other fields of life?

Where Can They Play?
(Following the publication of the report "Two to Five in High Flats", two students wrote to the Guardian as follows):
As students at the City of Leicester Training College (for teachers) we have recently undertaken an investigation into young children's play and provision made for it. Our inquiries-during the summer vacation -covered 200 families with children aged from 2 to 15, in old and new housing estates, villages and towns in districts from Kent to Lancashire.
In towns the uses children like – and need – to make of open spaces (where they exist) were very often prohibited: "No ball games," "No bicycles," "Keep off the grass." In villages the children were more fortunate in natural surroundings but even less official provision was made for them, particularly for adolescents.
In housing estates conditions varied. New estates, where more and more people are living, seemed the worst off because less space for communal use or for private gardens can be afforded since the pressure for actual dwellings is so great. On old and new estates there were garden-proud parents who put the appearance of their gardens before the needs of their children. Only on one privately built estate had the parents campaigned for extra space to be left for playas well as their own gardens. In no cases were there any provisions for supervised play places for children under 5.
Following our investigation we started a play centre at the college where children aged from 5 to 12 can cook, sew, paint or model with clay, dance, play in the gymnasium, in the 'Wendy House', or with sand, among other things. We opened in September with an attendance of 35 children from the neighbourhood. After six months the numbers have risen to 108 and the children now come from a radius of three miles. This seems a strong indication that the children do not have enough or sufficiently varied opportunities for free play of the kind they want close at hand.
Your article has drawn attention to the lack or adequate provision for small children "living high". Our enquiries and experiences have discovered that there are similar inadequacies for a much wider age range and in a variety of housing situations.
Scraptoft, Leicester.

Observations on Anarchy 4

Where the Shoe Pinches

I think, as a socialist, I would make two comments. First, how do you make institutions as democratic as possible when you have to keep them going? It is not sufficient to be just against things, and this involves educating people in new knowledge and teaching people to observe facts and take notice of them.
Secondly, the community has to operate against fractional power, including (as you so rightly say) the family. I am utterly opposed to Peter Townsend's view because the family is extremely limiting and quite unsuited as a vehicle of the liberation of the human spirit. I quite agree with Bernard Shaw. If this is so, then individualism is quite an inadequate doctrine. Indeed, laissez-faire is what we have always been against.
Therefore, what do we do? Perhaps I haven't understood the line of argument; but as it stands I find myself pro-Lady Wootton, and anti-anarchy.
University of London Institute of Education.

I have read your article on institutions with keen interest. I agree almost completely with the approach you adopt and you may be interested to learn that I am hoping to include a lengthy discussion of all the literature in my forthcoming book on old people's homes. If I may make just one or two comments I think perhaps you over-rate the quality of the small residential home for old people. While of course they are a great improvement on the old workhouses I think there are some very real social and psychological deficiencies.
London School of Economics.

This is just a note to say how much I enjoyed Where the Shoe Pinches in ANARCHY 4. So much of what is mentioned in the article I have noticed from either personal or second-hand experience-in the social services, in mental institutions, hospitals, and public health departments. So often you cannot pinpoint absolute 'proof' of the type that would satisfy an official investigation, but there is an all-pervading atmosphere, a general attitude and approach, in all these institutional organisations, that appals one in its lack of understanding, or even considering personalities or characteristics. The description of the 'co- operative' inmate in a jail or hospital or orphanage is so exactly what one sees. You hear commendation of the child who 'adjusts' or the patient who 'co-operates' …
South Pender, British Columbia.
–(Mrs.) EVE SMITH.

I found Mr. Ward's comprehensive review of the institutional problem very interesting indeed, and I think he is to be commended for bringing together in a coherent way considerations affecting such a wide range of institutions and social structures.
I think the diagnosis is very sound and that this is a necessary first step in seeking remedies. What these will be and how they are to be achieved I do not know – where in any provision can one break the vicious circle; but small-scale examples offered by rare people in whom there is combined suitable knowledge and suitable personality probably have their part to play. I say this, having in mind my own interest in the liberalization of methods of caring for children in hospital. In the wards shown in my second film Going to Hospital with Mother, the chance constellation of several people who have personalities which are non-authoritarian, who have respect for the family and wish to preserve it, and who seek to understand what they are doing, has created a useful prototype. Too often, as Mr. Ward has noted in his survey, hospitals are among the institutions in which authority is exercised either for its own sake or as a defence against seeing the true needs of patients.
Tavistock Child Development Research Unit.

Conflicting Strains in Anarchist Thought

ANARCHY 4 was most welcome, because in one step of only 32 pages it made sense out of anarchism as a contemporary outlook, firstly with George Molnar's sweeping away of the cobwebs of meaningless revolutionism to reveal the proper' core of anarchism – permanent opposition, and secondly with Colin Ward's essay which showed just how constructive this permanent opposition can be since it insists on an alternative pattern of social behaviour. It shows how from this aspect the anarchists were right all along the line, and the rest of us are slowly catching up with them. I would like to take up two points in Molnar's argument. First that he omits to mention the whole school of individualist anarchism which never subscribed to the fallacies he exposes, secondly that when he says that the overwhelming majority of contemporary anarchists subscribe to anarcho-syndicalism, this may or may not be true of Australia, but is definitely untrue of the Americas or Europe.
San Francisco, Cal.

Mr. George Molnar, writing in ANARCHY 4, argues that whatever the merits of the anarchist ideal, no means exist for achieving it which are not fantastic and inutile (Kropotkin) or actually covertly subversive of it (Bakunin). He accuses the most considerable practical attempt to promote it – in the anarcho-syndicalist labour movements – of bureaucratic deformation directly proportional to public success. He concludes that anarchism is "not something which can assert itself over the whole of society": it must understand itself as a permanent ethical lobby.
We can agree with Mr. Molnar that Kropotkin was mistaken in his optimism ("everywhere the State is abdicating and abandoning its holy functions to private individuals" Conquest of Bread, p. 188) and naive in his anticipation of spontaneous popular revolt; we can similarly agree that Bakunin's revolutionary praxis led him into deep contradiction. We can agree that the Latin syndicalist movements offer something less than continuous examples of conduct according to doctrine. But these agreements do not force us to accept his general conclusion.
His general conclusion, or capitulation, is illegitimate for the following reasons: (1) the judgment of syndicalism is over-reaching, and (2), even if it were correct, he would have successfully criticised some routes, to Anarchy, but not all of them. We can take up each of these objections in order:
(1) How significant were the lapses and failures of syndicalism? Is all syndicalist enterprise condemned to repeat them? Anarchists recognise the tendency for the delegative strata to separate from the body of any organisation. This tendency is hard to check under any circumstances, but particularly so where a revolutionary-egalitarian ideology must co•exist with the routine meliorism of practical trade unionism. Opportunists are attracted with every increase in the physical power of the union: recruitment takes place in a power-oriented society. Levelling devices fall into disuse because – and this point is neglected by Roberto Michels, on whom Mr. Molnar leans so heavily – they are antagonistic to the economic functions of the trade unions. Hierarchy gains ground. The phenomena of struggle are degraded: even the General Strike becomes a device for personal publicity. Now, in spite of all this, it is safe to claim that the syndicalist unions were significantly less oligarchical than either reformist or marxist unions. This last is, obliquely conceded by Michels in one or two places: "It may be admitted that the supreme directive organs of the French labour movement do not possess that plentitude of powers which the corresponding hierarchical grades of other countries have at their disposal – above all in Germany …" (Political Parties, p. 353). The degenerescence progressive du syndicalisme, prevented from coming to terms by World War I, was lowering the movement, in some regions, to levels of abuse which were usual for unions of other types: "From the ranks of the French syndicalists, leaders have already sprung whose sensitiveness to the criticisms of their followers can be equalled only by that of an English trade-union leader … " (Political Parties, p. 355).

There is another caution to be observed in judging syndicalism. Its visible history, the official and polemical literature, gives a very imperfect sense of the movement. That is to say, even the failure to contain bureaucracy, even the failure to produce ultimate revolutions, should not count so heavily against a movement which brought the great virtues of the event of Revolution – heroic generosity, courage, endurance, selflessness, social ingenuity – into the conduct of daily life. This is the unwritten history of anarcho-syndicalism and what we know of it we know only through the memories of old men.
Syndicalism, unsupported by other forces, we know to be corruptible. But we have learned something from the past; and it remains true that permanent democracy in organisations will still rest on devices proposed and employed by the syndicalist pioneers.
(2) Is there a route towards anarchy which lies outside Mr. Molnar's structures? There is. It is the route of piecemeal revolution, experimental socialism, the attempt to contrive enclaves of freedom: this line of effort assimilates broadly to the Milieux Libres tradition in France, to the movement for integral co-operatives elsewhere, but with great differences of scale, intention, and composition. This line of effort also depends directly on a conception of anarchism as a general form of society, and it is this conception which determines the scope and order of experiment. Conditions are appropriate for this kind of work in the West now. Where they are inappropriate, anarchists will necessarily conspire, in alliance with other democratic radical forces, to the point of Revolution: but the object of Revolution, for the anarchists, constituted everywhere as minorities, must be the limited one •of creating conditions of free organization and agitation.
Mr. Molnar's "anarchism as permanent opposition" is identical with the condescending formula of Michels: "anarchism as prophylactic". It is a headlong inference from infirm premises. There is a last charge against it: anarchism now considers itself as "something which can assert itself over the whole of society" but it functions – where it does – in the main as an ethical lobby or interest; its critical force derives from the conviction that it embodies a set of radical alternatives; if it understood itself only as a lobby it would, lack the numbers or force for any function whatever.
New York City, N.Y.

The two articles in ANARCHY 4 invite comparison. States, just as the lesser institutions, have, until now, acted as George Molnar suggests; but the political leaders, just as the institutional leaders, have been products of, and dedicated to the continuance of authority, whether in the same (conservative) or a modified (e.g. 'Labour' form). None have expressly had the aim of 'de-institutionalisation' of the State, or a clear programme for doing this.
Just as those in control of some of the smaller institutions Colin Ward surveys, have been able to reorganise them and break down their power-structure, once they have recognised the need, and achieved a libertarian re-orientation which was impossible for the inmates themselves, ignorant as they almost universally were (staffs included) of the nature of their malady. But it noted, however, that, once given the opportunity and a little help, these inmates were henceforth capable of organising themselves anarchistically.
Is it not feasible therefore, that a future generation of state-administrators, reared in contact with the psychological and sociological theories and experiments now developing their influence on the lesser institutions, may take the first steps in the dismantling of that mammoth institution – with the growing support, we may hope and anticipate, of an increasing body of socially-aware and informed opinion?
George Molnar's views represent well the general anarchist view of the State – witness his abundant quotes – but of the State as it is and as it has been in the past. All anarchists wish to see the State, as an instrument of authority, disappear. But they have, mostly, despaired of the main hope of the 'classical' anarchists, of a mass uprising to overthrow it and substitute a 'state' of anarchy, as they realise that mass uprisings are fertile ground for rival power groups; violence breeds violence, despite the heartening glimpses of spontaneous social organisation discerned briefly during, for example, the Spanish and Cuban revolutions or the Hungarian uprising.
Most now pin their hopes on a growth of social awareness among the general population, and an extension of civil disobedience to force an abdication of power; but despite the growth of support for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the Committee of 100, etc., there is little sign yet of any general growth of social responsibility; few even of the participants in the sit-downs, as FREEDOM reports, have any conception of the wider implications of the movement.
But as Alex Comfort says (quoted in ANARCHY), 'the importation of science into the study of crime is an irreversible step, and its outcome can only be the suppression of science itself, or a radical remodelling of our ideas on government and the regulation of behaviour.' As in the field of criminology, why not also in the field of social (political) administration? As administrators become aware of the conclusions of social scientists, may they not increasingly feel compelled to implement them?
This awareness among administrators is an essential, before any decentralisation of the political structure, any more towards the abdication of power, can start; but equally, I regret I must return to my point of divergence from other anarchists – the breakdown cannot commence before the unrealistic financial mechanism which distorts the perspectives of all those attempting to comply with its restrictions, is replaced by one which will facilitate instead of inhibiting socially desirable production and distribution of wealth; and such a change would be a powerful ally of those seeking social freedom.

George Molnar quotes Lenin's remark, 'The machine isn't going the way we guide it … A machine doesn't travel exactly the way, and often travels just exactly not the way, that the man imagines who sits at the wheel.' This is due either to plain bad driving, or to the built-in nature of the machine. In the latter case, given an understanding of the mechanism, it can be redesigned to do what a competent driver wishes.
He then quotes Maximoff: (Anarchists believe that) "it would be impossible to make the State change its nature, for it is such only because of this nature, and in foregoing the latter it would cease to be a State.' This is mere tautology, for if you define the State in terms of its nature, it is perfectly true that if its nature were changed it would cease to be a State in accordance with your definition; but this does nothing to inhibit such a change; it merely requires a new descriptive label to be provided.
Molnar states: '(this) domestic imperialism of the State compels all parties, despite any allegiance they may have to specific parties or groups, to frame and execute policies which, irrespective of the intentions behind them, have the effect of extending state tutelage over wide areas of society formerly not under central control.' True; and, as he suggests, this domestic imperialism is a built-in aspect of the State machine, which no party which has so far been elected has recognised as such or sought to modify … Alex Comfort in a broadcast talk on The Art of the Possible about a year ago, put forward Riewald's idea of 'satisfactory' crimes, and extended it to 'satisfactory' political projects. This motivation of psychopathic politicians is serious enough in itself; but when it is joined to the unrealities inherent in the financial mechanism it proves disastrous. But this is inevitable only while the successful politicians are psychopaths of the present kind and while the financial mechanism remains as it is. Neither condition is inherently unalterable, powerful though the protective devices built-in to the present State mechanisms may be.
I think Molnar's conclusions (Part III) unduly pessimistic. In answer to his para. 2, part III: the social scientists and psychologists are gaining increasing social influence, while directly attacking political, or at least, institutional authoritarianism. In para. 3, a more useful distinction than between 'free' and 'authoritarian' organisation would be between 'free' and 'arbitrary' authority. Thus technical experts might reasonably be expected to lead in their fields, and have their advice acted upon, without any coercion. Their 'functional authority' would be respected, without the support of 'arbitrary authority'. Indeed, the action of arbitrary authority commonly degrades or negates the 'functional authority' it is supposed to supplement.
I would agree with George Molnar's conclusion that 'anarchism as a plan for the liberation of society does not work', but I believe that, nevertheless, it is both justifiable and realisable as an aim for social development.

Anarchy #008

Issue of Anarchy from October 1961.

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Anarchists and Fabians: An Anniversary Symposium

In other parts of the civilised world the economic problem has been longer and more scientifically discussed, and Socialist opinion has taken shape in two distinct schools, Collectivist and Anarchist. English Socialism is not yet Anarchist or Collectivist, not yet definite enough in point of policy to be classified. There is a mass of Socialistic feeling not yet conscious of itself as Socialism. But when the unconscious Socialists of England discover their position, English Socialism is not yet Anarchist or Collectivist, not yet supporting a strong central administration, and a counterbalancing Anarchist party defending individual initiative against that administration.

FABIAN TRACT No. 4, 1886.

1. Undifferentiated Socialism

This issue of ANARCHY coincides with the seventy-fifth anniversary of its publishers, Freedom Press. It was in October 1886, that the original Freedom Group, consisting of exiled Russian revolutionaries, Peter Kropotkin and Nicolas Tchaikovsky, a London Italian, Saverio Merlino, and two members of the Fabian Society, Dr. Burns Gibson and Mrs. Charlotte Wilson, issued the first number of FREEDOM as "a Journal of Anarchist Socialism". Annie Besant, who was also at that time a member of the Fabian Executive, lent the hospitality of her Freethought Publishing Company as an office, and the type was composed at the printing office of the Socialist League, an arrangement made by William Morris.

This close association of anarchists and Fabians, and the existence of anarchist Fabians seems odd today. The explanation is given by the quotation at the head of the page, from the introduction to the fourth Fabian Tract What Socialism is, which was followed by an exposition of Collectivism by August Bebel, and of Anarchism, "drawn up by C. M. Wilson, on behalf of the London Anarchists". Socialism, as the introduction suggested, was still undifferentiated in this country, between that school which sought to utilise the power of the state and that which saw the state as an obstacle to the realisation of socialism. This un-differentiated period was at that time coming to an end. The struggle between the adherents of Marx and those of Bakunin in the First International, had taken place in the previous decade; that in the Second International was yet to come, with the ejection of Merlino from its founding congress in Paris in 1889, and the final exclusion of the anarchist faction of Malatesta, Landauer, Nieuwenhuis and Cornelissen from the Zurich Congress in 1893, when Bebel's resolution limited membership to groups and parties who accepted political action. In England, H. M. Hyndman had founded the Democratic Federation (later the SDF) in 1881, containing "parliamentary social reformers, revolutionary social democrats, anti-parliamentary social democrats and pronounced anarchists". The SDF split at the end of 1884, William Morris's faction forming the Socialist League, which in turn split again between anarchists and socialists a few years later, the anarchist faction joining with the Freedom Group in 1895. In the following year, speaking at a protest demonstration after the expulsion of the anarchists from the International Labour Congress, Keir Hardie said that, while he was no anarchist, no one could prophesy whether the Socialism of the future would shape itself in the image of the Social Democrats or of the Anarchists.

The Fabian Society had been founded in 1884. Bernard Shaw became a member of its Executive Council in 1885, as did Charlotte Wilson, and in the same year Sidney Webb joined the society. In March 1885 Shaw published, in Henry Seymour's paper The Anarchist, a defence of anarchism. He had not yet reached the position of his 1893 Fabian Tract The Impossibilities of Anarchism (though his article is not a very good statement of the anarchist case, and his tract is not a very good criticism of it). But 1886 turned out to be crucial year in the relations of Fabians and anarchists. According to one of the recent books on the history of the Fabian Society,

The question, as G.B.S. put it, was how many followers had the one ascertained anarchist Fabian, Mrs. Charlotte Wilson, among the silent Fabians? The Fabian executive determined to find out. At a meeting that autumn in Alderton's Hotel, Annie Besant and Hubert Bland moved that seconded a resolution that Socialists should organise themselves into a political party – a suggestion that, would bring any cowering or lurking anarchists into the open, as being complete anathema to them. William Morris dotted the i's and crossed the t's by adding a rider to the contrary: "because no Parliamentary party can exist without compromise and concession." The debate was so noisy that the Fabian secretary was subsequently told by the manager of Alderton's Hotel that the society could not be accommodated there for any further meetings. Everybody voted whether Fabian or not, and Besant and Bland carried their resolution by 47 to 19, Morris's rider being rejected by 40 to 27.

And that, from a Fabian point of view, seems to have been the end of the matter, though it is interesting to note that at that time the majority faction had no intention of implementing the resolution.

2. The Fabian Package
Geoffrey Ostergaard.

The year 1889 saw the publication of Fabian Essays in Socialism, a coherent expression of the new creed which was destined to dominate British socialist thought for the next sixty years and which exercised a major influence on Bernstein's 'revision' of Marxism a decade later. The classic Fabian modus operandi was 'permeation' – the tactic of nobbling anyone, Tory, Liberal or what-have-you, who had any influence in government. This tactic made no appeal to those in the Labour Movement, like Keir Hardie, who were eager to get 'independent' representation in Parliament. The Fabians therefore, played little part in the actual moves which led to the formation of the I.L.P. and its offspring the Labour Party. Nevertheless, they did provide the basic elements in the programmes of these parties. The Labour politicians had essentially only one idea of their own – representation independent of the older bourgeois parties: the rest of their ideas they bought at the Fabian shop.

The principal items in the package of goods were these:
(i) Acceptance of the bourgeois democratic State as a suitable instrument for the achievement and application of socialism. No essential change, the Fabians argued, was necessary in the apparatus of government. To break the State machine would be tantamount to political Luddism. All that was required was for the people to gain control of the machine through the ballot box and to perfect it for their own ends. This notion assumed that the democratic State could be identified with the community and made possible the conclusion that State ownership and control was the same as ownership and control by the community in the interests of 'the community as a whole'.

(ii) Rejection of revolutionary economics. The early British socialists had demonstrated how bourgeois economics with its corner-stone, the labour theory of value, could be turned into a weapon for use against the bourgeoisie. Marx completed the demonstration. In response to this turn of events, bourgeois economists ditched the classical theory and developed a new economics based on the concept of marginal utility. The Fabians followed the new line. They espoused the economics of utility and added to it a large dash of the Ricardian theory of rent. In their hands, economics was used to support the case for socialism, but in the process of presenting that case the guts were cut out of it. The old revolutionary economics was essentially a theory of class exploitation. Fabian economics was simply an attempt to justify State ownership. The class struggle had no place in the Fabian picture of the world: socialism was not a matter of classes; it was rather a question of the 'community as a whole' taking charge of what was rightfully its own. In this connection, the different wording of the broad objective of the Fabians in comparison with that of the other socialists is significant. For revolutionary socialists the aim was 'the emancipation of labour through the abolition of the wage system and the socialisation of the means of production.' For the Fabians the aim, as stated in their Basis, was simply 'the emancipation of land and capital from individual ownership.'

(iii) The notion that socialism would be achieved through a process of gradual evolution. That socialism was the next step in the development of modern society. Sidney Webb, writing in the Essays on the historical basis of socialism, argued that socialist principles had been explicit in much of the development of social organisation in the19th century. Successive regulation and limitation of private ownership in the course of the century had cut 'slice after slice' from the profits of capital and the income of rent and interest. 'Step by step' the political power of the country had been used for industrial ends. The logical end result would be the complete ownership and management of industry by the community, a consummation that would be achieved 'with no more dislocation of the industries carried on by (capitalist shareholders) than is caused by the daily purchase of shares by the stock exchange.' Not for a moment were the Fabians prepared to countenance the idea that State ownership might, in certain circumstances, be in the interests of the capitalist class: socialism was State intervention and that's all there was to it.

In the 20th century Fabianism was to be faced with some competition from other brands of socialism, notably syndicalism and guild socialism. But this competition resulted in only a modification of the wrapper. The basic goods remained the same and three-quarters of a century later we are living in a Britain shaped very much in the Fabian mould.

The Fabians succeeded in changing the whole character of socialism. For the 'socialism of the street' they substituted 'the socialism of the bureau' – the socialism of a bureaucrat anxious to enlarge his department. In modern parlance, they were the harbingers of managerialism. They valued above all social efficiency, an idea which, if it has always found expression in socialist literature, had previously been subordinate to the more human values of freedom, mutual aid and social co-operation. The Fabians never tired of emphasising the economic advantages to be gained from a collectivist economy – the replacement of the 'anarchy' of competition by planned production and the elimination of wasteful unemployment and poverty through the establishment of a national minimum standard of living. The total effect of Fabian doctrines was thus to transform socialism from a moral idea of the emancipation of the proletariat to a complicated problem of social engineering, making it a task, once political power had been won, not for the ordinary stupid mortal – Beatrice Webb's 'average sensual man' – but for the administrator armed with facts and figures provided by diligent research. It is small wonder that, nurtured for three generations on such fare, British socialism presents today a spectacle of spiritual exhaustion.

3. The Point of Divergence
John Ellerby.

In the Report on Fabian Policy of 1896, George Bernard Shaw wrote that "The Socialism advocated by the Fabian Society is State Socialism exclusively". It was this glorification of the State which brings us up with a start when we read even the most sympathetic accounts of the leading triumvirate of the Fabian Society, Shaw, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. It explains their bellicosity at the time of the Boer War, it explains Sidney Webb's remark in the First World War, when there was a chance of a negotiated peace, "Soldiers' noses must be kept to the grindstone." It explains the admiration which Shaw and the Webbs expressed later in their lives, for Mussolini, and their positively indecent worship of Stalin. It explains why the chosen instrument of public ownership of industry and services in this country has been the public corporation, run on capitalist lines, and indeed indistinguishable from the big capitalist empires. It explains why many of the instruments of social welfare have taken their particular form. (The "welfare state" as such cannot be described as a Fabian achievement: it is the inevitable concommitant of industrialisation and of the extension of warfare to civilian populations. Professor Titmuss himself has described how "The aim and content of social policy, both in peace and war, are determined – at least to a substantial extent – by how far the co-operation of the masses is essential to the successful prosecution of war.").
The Fabian period is over, although the society itself still exists. In a sense it was over by the end of the First World War, with the outlines of Fabian policy set in motion as the policy of the Labour Party; in another sense it was over after its period of maximum membership in the late nineteen-forties, when the Labour government enacted its Fabian measures. As the Labour government staggered to its end ten years ago, The Times, in an unusually perceptive leading article observed that

At its annual conference in 1919 the Labour Party took a fateful step when, following the lead of Sidney Webb, it committed itself not only to Socialism but to one particular definition of Socialism which happened at that time to have found acceptance with the Fabian Society. By this definition Socialism is identified with the increase (almost unlimited in the economic field) of the State's power and activity. It is a direct consequence of this decision that an important element among those in the Labour Party who doubt the direction which the party has taken consists of those who looked for more power for the workers and for ordinary people and have been given instead the huge, impersonal and management-controlled public corporation. Mr. Bevan, in his indictment of the 'economists' party voices their vague but real resentment against the State managers who, as they see it, have annexed Socialism. There is nothing in the history of Socialist thought to suggest that the State is the natural and inevitable instrument by which Socialism is to be attained. From Proudhon to William Morris to the Guild Socialists, distrust of the State has been a constant element in the development of Socialist ideas. It is the tragedy of the Labour movement that it has been so intent on extending the authority of the State that it has overlooked the purpose of its existence.

The ten years since then have seen an orgy of "rethinking" among socialists of all kinds, but they have neither found a way of dressing up Labour's political programme in a fashion attractive enough to collect the floating votes on which general elections now depend, nor have they explored a non-parliamentary field of socialist activity which does not depend on the conquest of state power. Fabian policies have lost their appeal – we have experienced them from governments of both political complexions, and there is nothing significant to distinguish political socialism from its opponents in home, colonial or foreign policies.
The most perceptive of socialist thinkers have been groping for a different kind of socialism: some of them are quoted in ANARCHY 3, (p. 66). One of them, the philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch. declared that "The Welfare State marks the successful end of the first road along which the Socialist movement in this country has elected to travel. It is now time to go back to the point of divergence." For her the alternative road is in the tradition of the Guild Socialists who "were deeply concerned with the destruction of community life, the degradation of work, the division of man from man which the economic relationships of capitalism had produced; and they looked to the transformation of existing communities, the trade unions, the factories themselves, for the restoration of what was lost." For us the point of divergence is not very different. At the actual time of the divergence between anarchists and Fabians, Charlotte Wilson expressed it in Fabian Tract No. 4 in these words:

The first aim of anarchism is to assert and make good the dignity of the individual human being, by his deliverance from every description of arbitrary restraint – economic, political and social; and by doing so, to make apparent in their true force the real social bonds which already knit men together, and, unrecognised, are the actual basis of such common life as we possess. The means of doing this rests with each man's conscience and his opportunities …
Anarchists believe the existing organisation of the State only necessary in the interest of monopoly, and they aim at the simultaneous overthrow of both monopoly and State. They hold the centralised 'administration of processes' a mere reflection of the present middle-class government by representation upon the vague conception of the future. They look rather for voluntary productive and distributive associations utilising a common capital, loosely federated trade and district communities practising eventually free communism in production and consumption …
Anarchism is not a utopia, but a faith based on the scientific observation of social phenomena. In it the individual revolt against authority, handed down to us through radicalism and the philosophy of Herbert Spencer, and the Socialist revolt against private ownership of the means of production, which is the foundation of Collectivism, find their common issue.

In spite of the fact that anarchism and Fabianism are at almost diametrically opposed wings of the socialism movement, there are lessons to be learned from the Fabians – and by the Fabians in this context, I mean the "Old Gang" of the Society, the little group which was its mainspring until (and unofficially long beyond) its retirement from the executive in 1911 – Bernard Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Sydney Olivier and Graham Wallas. Some of these lessons are indicated in a recent article in FREEDOM (Socialism by Pressure Group 12/8/61) by Geoffrey Ostergaard, who points out how the society's organisational structure placed it "out of the reach of interested minorities chasing paper majorities which have been the bane of most socialist and labour organisations". Others emerge from a study of the "Old Gang" considered as a group, published in the American bulletin Autonomous Groups (Spring and Summer 1959) by Charles Kitzen. He shows how the "Old Gang", with its close ties of sentiment and common interest, its division of labour based on specialisation according to their different talents, and its "external system" by which each member of the "Old Gang" was a liaison between the group and many other organisations and interest groups, achieved an immense amount of work and exercised a very great influence, by virtue of its structure and character as a group. It is a paradox that the "Old Gang" of the Fabians, rigorous protagonists of state socialism, should have been in themselves the epitome of a voluntary informal group of autonomous individuals.

The immense service in education and research which this tiny group was able to give to the socialist movement, though its results were from our point of view disastrous, lead me to ask whether, if we are really to "go back to the point of divergence" and successfully propagate a different kind of socialism, we do not need the equivalent of the Fabians to do for anarchist theory and practice what they did for the political wing of the Labour movement? I think we do, and I think we already have its nucleus among our readers (for the FREEDOM readership survey last year revealed that we have among us people with specialised knowledge in every conceivable field of occupation and activity), but what we have not got is the willingness to undertake the necessary work. Let us imagine this anarchist equivalent in existence – we will call it The Nucleus as a "notional" organisation, that is to say, one without officers and membership lists or the paraphernalia of formal organisations. Its members – let us assume that they are synonymous with the readership of this journal, seek to relate anarchism to their own particular occupation or field of interest, to use it (as the manifesto in the very first issue of FREEDOM seventy-five years ago put it), as "the touchstone" by which they set out to "try the current ideas and modes of action of existing society", and to infuse it into the other occupational and interest groups to which they belong. The Nucleus, in its "external system" acts as an anarchist leaven in other equally "notional" organisations – the unofficial movements in industry, the New Left, CND and the Committee of 100 are examples, while internally (through the medium of this journal, we might hope), it seeks to erect that "house of theory" for want of which Iris Murdoch sees the impetus of the Left withering away, as well as an exposition of what one of our contributors calls "applied anarchism". For it is in the field of partial anarchist applications, examples of which are given in ANARCHY 4 ('de-institutionalisation') and ANARCHY 7 (adventure playgrounds), that we can most readily see the startling relevance in daily life, of anarchist ideas. Far from being a half-forgotten backwater left over from the pre-Fabian days of socialism, they can emerge as a living influence in life and conduct, if only the nucleus of contemporary anarchists will take the trouble to present them in this light.

Last month thousands of people were willing to make an act of token resistance to authority in the "sit-down" demonstrations. The field for modern and constructive anarchist propaganda is all around us.

Action Anthropology ot Applied Anarchism?

KENNETH MADDOCK, born in Hastings, New Zealand, 1937, is a first-generation New Zealander. He graduated in law from the University of Auckland, before turning to social anthropology in which he completes his degree this year.

ANTHROPOLOGY IS OFTEN CALLED the science of man, and, on the whole, anthropologists have not been reluctant to accept this description. But, by ranking their discipline among the sciences, anthropologists are forced into considering whether their knowledge can be applied in the solution of human problems, and, if so, on what conditions. Some sidestep the issue, holding that anthropologists cannot expect to influence practical decisions and should therefore concentrate on "pure" research. Most, however, are in agreement that their knowledge can be applied, but are in disagreement on how it is to be applied.
Traditionally, two conflicting approaches exist among those who accept the practicability of applied anthropology. The right wing hold that their proper role is simply to advise on the solution of problems posed by others, e.g. by colonial administrators. Thus, if administrators wish to impose a particular policy, the applied anthropologist would indicate the obstacles likely to be thrown up because of the nature of the culture affected. The left wing are more optimistic. Avoiding the schizophrenic separation of science and values, they hold that the anthropologist knows more about the nature of culture, particularly primitive and non-European culture, than anyone else, and that he should therefore share in the formation of policy. Both these approaches have certain difficulties attendant upon them, which it is not my intention to investigate now.
Quite recently a new approach to applied anthropology has come into prominence, an approach which seems more compatible with anarchism than either of the others and is likely to be attractive to anarchist social scientists. This new approach to an old problem is called action anthropology, and is associated with Professor Sol Tax of the University of Chicago more than with anyone else.
The genesis of action anthropology can be traced back to 1948 when Chicago University established a research centre among the Fox Indians, who live near Tama, Iowa, for the purpose of giving students some field training. There seems initially to have been no intention

KENNETH MADDOCK, born in Hastings, New Zealand, 1937, is a first-generation New Zealander. He graduated in law from the University of Auckland, before turning to social anthropology in which he completes his degree this year. to do other than pure research, but the character of the project quickly changed. The workers became interested in the Fox as people, and in the problems which they face. It was decided to help the Fox, particularly in their relations with the whites. And this is where the problem of applications arose. The Chicago team were not operating in the usual milieu of the applied anthropologist, which is the colonial situation, but among people who legally were equal citizens. No one could force a programme on the Fox. The possibility of exercising power less directly by relying on greater knowledge and sophistication seems not to have been considered. Instead, as Sol Tax put it: "We were not doing pure science – we thought we ought not to use the Indian community for purposes that were not their own. But neither were we coming to apply our anthropological skills to develop a plan or programme."1

Who are the Fox? They are an Algonquian-speaking people (their name for themselves is Mesquakie; "Fox" is the English translation of "Reynard", the name the French applied to these people) who, at the time of first contact back in the seventeenth century, were living in what is now Wisconsin. Their history is characteristic of that of most primitives in culture contact situations – it is a melancholy story. Wars with the French in the early eighteenth century resulted in near- extermination. During the English and American periods what were left of the Fox moved south and west into Illinois and Iowa; in the 1840s the American government moved them onto a reservation in Kansas. But the Fox had not lost their will to survive as a people. In the 1850s they bought 80 acres of land in Iowa, and moved to it under the protection of the state government. Since then other purchases have expanded their land to about 3,300 acres. The people themselves now number about 600, of whom about 500 live on the settlement and work for wages in nearby towns. The others, who work further away, return to the settlement only at weekends or for special occasions. On the settlement is a school paid for by the federal government, which also pays the fees of a Tama physician who keeps a morning clinic there. Further, the federal government pays tuition fees at the public high school in Tama. Even these minimal services are a source of tension: the government recognizes no obligation to provide them, and, indeed, threatens termination; the Fox, however, regard these services, and much more, as their due.

Despite the vicissitudes of culture contact, many Fox cultural traits in religion, social organization, and language still persist, not merely vestigially but with real vitality. Thus, for most Indians, English is a language learnt at school. The old kinship patterns survive. So does the old religion, though a few Fox are Christians, and rather more belong to an Indian adjustment cult based on the peyote ritual. Of especial interest to anarchists is the Fox authority system, characterized by an absence of recognition of any vertical authority.2 Authority roles in the sense of certain individuals having power to make decisions binding others, are non-existent. Instead, decisions are made only after extended discussion and debate, with no action taken without unanimity. This highly egalitarian cultural pattern has remained constant even though the federal government, acting pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act, has attempted to impose a hierarchical system. In consequence of the Act, the Fox now elect a council which acts for them in relations with the government. The council's chairman is treated by the government as a chief, but, in practice, meetings are still conducted in the traditional way, with leisurely discussion leading to decisions which are made unanimously or not at all.

The question of authority in Fox society is not merely an issue of interest to anarchists and anthropologists; it lies at the root of the Fox problem, and has bedevilled attempts at a solution. Thus, in 1944, the government drafted a ten-year plan for economic improvement. Roads were to be paved, the land area doubled, a retail store established. But unhappily this plan was never implemented. The tribal council voted it down because acceptance would have meant a section of the community binding the community as a whole. In a more regimented and hierarchical society a group in power would not have hesitated, but not so among the Fox.
If there were a rational awareness on the part of both Indian and white of the implications of so highly egalitarian an authority system, there might not be a Fox problem, or, if there was, its dimensions would be modest. White-initiated activities would not have been structured around the tacit assumption that vertical authority roles exist among the Fox – a structuring that makes them unworkable. The Fox would not have developed a failure complex over their inability to succeed in those activities. This is how Fred Gearing,3 one of the action anthropologists, puts the problem: "On the whole, white-initiated activities have been organized in a hierarchical arrangement of authority and the Fox have failed. Failing repeatedly, and having mixed feelings about what the white man calls progress in the first place, the Fox have settled down to a grand strategy of holding the line. Having set on that course, they tend, through time, to become more of a financial burden."

This was the situation when the action anthropologists became interested in the Fox as people. The concept of the problem as seen by Professor Tax and his associates is in terms of a vicious circle, some of the elements of which I have already referred to. Lying on the periphery of the circle are two sets of factors tending to aggravate its viciousness. First is the Fox authority system with its reflection in their failure complex. Secondly, there are the contrasting personality types and work patterns of Indian and white, a set of factors which is reflected in the white belief that the Fox are lazy. The Fox, according to Fred Gearing, differ in personality from the typical white in that they do not share the latter's compulsive drive to make his real self approximate to his ideal self, or his shame and guilt if he fails. Instead, the Fox personality ideal is one of harmony with himself and nature. The effect of this on respective work patterns is that the white can engage in sustained effort over a long period, independently of his own group if need be. The Fox cannot. So misunderstandings fester: the white sees the Fox as lazy; the Fox sees the white as aggressive and selfish. Each is probably right in terms of his own values.

Now we can enter the vicious circle. If whites believe the Fox are lazy, then the existence of the government services to which I have referred makes the Indians seem a burden on their thrifty and hard-working neighbours. The whites rationalize the situation, and conclude that the Fox can only be temporary; this rationalization generates action to speed up the "inevitable" assimilation. The Fox quite naturally resist change, their resistance being partly attributable to their failure complex, and so the circle is complete. The Fox seem more of a burden than ever.

One way of breaking down the vicious circle would have been to define concrete goals for the Fox to work towards – that is what the left wing in applied anthropology might have done. Instead, the action anthropologists decided on more open-ended goals, such as to increase the knowledge and awareness of both Indian and white. Through breaking down the mountain of misunderstanding, prejudice, and stereotype built up by the ethnocentric value judgments of both sides, they hope to achieve a release of people's energy and imagination. In short, they are acting as catalysts. An analogy suggests itself at this point: action anthropology is clinical in character. The psychotherapist helps the patient to an awareness of his own condition so that he can see for himself the roots of his condition. And so, too, with action anthropology: "by picking up a series of cues (in the light of general principles, of course) it allows concrete plans for action to emerge progressively from the ongoing processes of social change among the Fox.”4 Thus originally Sol Tax and his associates had debated the pros and cons of assimilation. Then, in Tax's words, "what a marvellous happy moment it was when we realized that this was not a judgment or decision we needed to make. It was a decision for the people concerned, not for us. Bluntly, it was none of our business."5
In playing their catalyst role, the action anthropologists are engaged in two specific programmes. First, education. On one level the whites are being educated into an awareness that neither the Fox, nor any other Indian group, can be thought of as only temporary. After all, they have survived centuries of culture contact. On another level the Fox themselves are being educated into a perception of the differences in culture and social organization between Indian and white. More particularly, the connection of the Fox authority system, with its positive evaluation of freedom, to past Fox failures in white-initiated activities is being illuminated. Further, a scholarship programme is under way to bring young Indians into the professions and skilled occupations, so that the white economy can be entered at levels other than unskilled wage work.
Secondly, economic improvement is envisaged. Obviously the success of this is partly tied to the outcome of the various aspects of the educational programme. However, a step already taken is to develop a co-operative industry producing and selling Indian crafts. This venture, which is proving commercially successful, centres on a young Fox, Charles Pushetonequa, whose high artistic ability had opened the prospect of a career in the white world outside, but who preferred to live with his own people doing unskilled work. Now he [no more text in original]

The Fox project is the first case history in action anthropology. Obviously a wider application of its methods would be richly justified in terms of human happiness, autonomy, and self-realization; however, there are some caveats which must be entered against action programmes. First, freedom from government control is essential. This rules out most colonial situations, and also, I am afraid, one possible source of funds. Secondly, it is probable that an action programme would be viable only where the culture concerned is intact enough to make community goals meaningful. In some situations native peoples are so highly "detribalized" that assimilation seems the most realistic, and the most humane, goal. Thirdly, certain aspects of an action programme could be expensive, e.g. the higher education project among the Fox. Not all anthropologists are as adept at raising funds as Sol Tax is said to be. A final point is that in situations where a dramatic conflict of interest between European and non-European exists, e.g. in Kenya or South Africa, an action programme could probably not succeed. A number of North American Indian and Polynesian societies would, however, be promising ground, and, no doubt, there are many others.

The anarchist character of action anthropology is plain to see, though I don't know whether Professor Tax would care to be labelled, or libelled, an anarchist. Whatever his personal reaction, however, it is clear that the open-ended goals towards which action anthropology moves – happiness, autonomy, self-realization – are in harmony with the anarchist tradition. So, too, is its choice of non-authoritarian means to realize those goals. Hence the question I post in my title: action anthropology or applied anarchism?

1 Sol Tax in his opening address at the Central States Anthropological Society symposium on the Fox project (5 May, 1955). In addition to the references cited below, readers interested could refer to Documentary History of the Fox Project, 1960, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2 WaIter B. Miller in the American Anthropologist, April 1955.
3 Fred Gearing in his paper, "Strategy of the Fox Project", at the Central State Anthropological Society symposium.
4 Ralph Piddington, "Action Anthropology", Journal of the Polynesian Society, September 1960.
5 Sol Tax, "The Fox Project", Human Organization, Spring 1958.

Erosion Inside Capitalism

A. V. ROE, A PIONEER OF FLYING and a founder of the Avro aircraft firm, wrote a book about 25 years ago in which he showed that the aircraft industry in this country could, as it was then, build large aeroplanes to enable the ordinary workman to take his family to North Africa for 2 or 3 weeks of sunshine every winter – relays of them. Rehashing the idea recently to a friend, I was asked "Why wasn't it done?" I retorted: "You preferred a war!" Long argument led to A. V. Roe's suggested economics for the scheme-social credit and all that. Again the question "Why aren't such obviously good schemes in operation?" My reply "Because you prefer 'freedom' to scramble over money." This led us to to A. V. Roe's reasoning as a production engineer.
It takes many man-hours to build a large aeroplane, and a vast amount of man-hours is used up in preliminary work, design, toolmaking, planning, prototyping. The break-even point requires the sale of 60-80 such machines, and to make a profit commensurate with the skill and enterprise involved requires a sale of hundreds, even thousands. It ought to be in production for ten years or more. The military market is, unfortunately, almost the only mass market for this industry. Roe deplored this, as do we all. "Every bomber could be two airliners for us."

Military requirements demand secrecy – 'security'. This leads to massive propaganda to condition the taxpayer into providing the money. So we find an industry in which the highest manual and technical skills are necessary, prostituted to the art of war.

The actual building of aircraft demands teamwork of the highest order. Design and study groups are assembled, draughtsmen are grouped according to their special knowledge, new men are absorbed, who, in turn, absorb knowledge from the groups. Next come planning groups who break the overall design down into production schemes. Each group consists of a nucleus of older men of wide experience around whom young men and apprentices are gathered. Teams of estimators work out costs, teams of technical and commercial experts order components from outside specialist firms, who in turn have to design, plan and order their work. Highly expensive machines, jigs and tools have to be ordered, sometimes years in advance of production. The co-ordination of such diverse teams calls for human understanding of a very high order. It is rarely autocratic, but there are of course men of acknowledged eminence who make 'sticky' decisions. This is
akin to an orchestra accepting the authority of the conductor. While this vast enterprise is taking shape, drawings are percolating onto the workshop floors. Here the "detail-fitting" group reproduces in metal the most amazing geometrical forms. These men are individualistic pieceworkers but are well aware of the strength of their position and usually combine in maintaining high standards of pay and conditions of work. "Details" now go to "sub-assembly" gangs who combine them into a "structure" which will form with other "structures" a major components of the aeroplane. These are then built into the complete aeroplane by groups of men with long experience. The shop floors continually come across faults and inadequacies in drawings and these are "flagged back" to the design office for amendment, the worker here being the necessary practical corrective to the theoretician.

The main bulk of the work is done, as can be seen, by groups – thousands of technicians and thousands of workers. Liaison is the work of individuals of outstanding ability. Whether a gang system is officially in existence or not, the grouping is the same. Firms who operate the gang system of piecework are almost invariably in the lead in production of aircraft as each gang is a self-sufficing democratic unit, a business within the larger business. But it is also more – it frees men's minds of financial worry and thus enables them to specialise as well as to co-operate. No man works against another because his good is the general good of the gang. Money matters are the concern of everyone because all are equal – the details are taken care of by the ganger and the shop-steward. The "share-out" list is published to the gang weekly. Most men with experience of a modern gang system are reluctant to return to individual piecework or to a fixed wage. On gangwork the initiative is with the men on the shop floor – they have to earn their money – they scheme, devise and invent continuously to speed-up the job, to enhance earnings, to make the job easier and to win shorter working hours. Men on "daywork" (fixed wage) have to be driven by foremen – men on individual piecework drive themselves – gang workers are a team who share equipment and money, and have a common attitude and understanding. All three methods will be found on a large aircraft building plant.
Aircraft building is probably the most complex of all manufactures because it is never static, new inventions and ideas being thrown up continuously. It combines the highest technical knowledge and skill with the most exacting workmanship. Every operation (and there are millions) could, if performed badly, be a cause of disaster, and every man knows it. Men soon come to accept that gang work is normal, that they can forget greed, that it takes all sorts to make a gang, and that individualism and collectivism can work side by side decently.

Team work on the management side is still marred by predatoriness – middle class ambition. The shop floor is kept clean of this by full publication of gang accounts, by all decisions being made by the entire gang or shop, and by collective disapproval of anti-social deviation. An individualist who cannot conform usually ends up on piece-work – on his own. The sociological significance of such developments in social engineering is that our industrial society is transforming itself from within. Just as capitalism arose "in the gaps" of the earlier land-owning and farming system so today a new order and method is arising from the bottom. It is resisted by some, not written about, ignored by the professional planners and inspirers. These dream up visions of white-coated university-trained experts (themselves!) pressing electronic buttons that will make workers unnecessary or subservient. The reality is different. Automatic machinery and processes are just the end result of a vast apparatus of creative work along the lines I have described. A self-operating plant, marvellous as it may be, has merely put the real work further back, out of sight. It was organised in work, by hand, skill, and brains.

Unskilled labour is fast being abolished. Even on building and civil engineering jobs the first thing done is to elevate 'labourers' into machine drivers and material handlers – with enhanced pay. Gang work, in its modern sense, is increasingly used, to the benefit of both sides. A new road is wanted – quickly; "Mad Michael" and his gang arrive. They are tough, hand-picked Irishmen. Machines are there, the earth is torn up, levelled, drained, concreted and finished in record time. "Mad Michael" moves on, and along the road the regular house-builders follow. These men are self-selected – in pubs. They earn big money – and spend it! The nucleus of such a gang is permanent. Such gangs are to be found all over the world.

I once had office control of such a job. The plasterers' gang comprised 20 plasterers and 10 labourers. They had been a gang for years, run by their own foreman. They 'carried' an old plasterer who should have been retired, but 'couldn't afford it'. These men plastered miners' houses at great speed, and the old man followed up cleaning up defects. One day the 'agent' in a fit of spleen, sacked the old fellow. Instantly the foreman came to me and demanded the cards of the entire gang – his own as well. I knew the firm could not replace them and phoned head office. The old man was re-instated after a hell of a battle. The foreman told me, "That old chap is one of the finest plasterers alive. Some of the best ornamental plaster work in London was done by him. He taught me my trade. Anyone touching him touches me – and my lads. And if by any chance I should be as badly off as he is at that age I should expect the lads to carry me – and I know they would."
I admired these men.

This is an example of a common phenomenon: that at the back of almost every strike there is someone who thinks he alone knows. Strikes often appear to outside people to be about trivialities. Middle-class people conclude that the monetary gains that the men may get from a strike are also trivial, or that they have lost on the deal. Nothing of the sort. The men know that there is hostility somewhere above, and when breaking point has been reached, that someone has to be taught a lesson. It may be one man, or it may be the general feeling among managers who want what they call a 'showdown' It can be political. Sometimes it is an obsession with a new system that is intended to make men conform. Whatever it is, the men know that they must give the lesson, for themselves, now, for other workers elsewhere, and also for the future. This is of course a negative attitude, but 'educating the gaffers' has been the continuous method by which the workers have raised themselves right from the earliest days of industrial degradation. Unless they continue thus, they would be pushed back, bit by bit, and they know it. The trade unions and the internal system in industry are but the frame in which men work. Their real feelings only break through occasionally – but they are always there ready. Their creative life at work is different, is slowly gaining, eroding old-fashioned capitalism. In fact employers and managers sometimes complain to me "There seems to be no end to the things these men want. Where will it end? They will soon be demanding the lot!" Sometimes I reply "Yes – the lot." The process is not usually thought of in the terms in which I have stated it, but it goes on, continuously.

In the Coventry car factories there has been an uphill battle from 1914 war days onwards, to build shop-floor organisation, and method. Shop stewards were in wartime, practically illegal and were persecuted for years afterwards. Great industrial battles were fought in the 1920s but men soon realised that something more than rebelliousness was required. So the battle was transferred to the shop floor. We fought while we worked and were getting paid, for strikes, unless imperative, were a dead loss. Our method was non-co-operation with any foreman, charge-hand, or rate-fixer who was a swine. Some whole firms were swinish. Our means were always subtle and drove supervisors mad. It was a desperate period for many men as we had been severely beaten in a three-month lockout in 1922 – but, personally, I enjoyed the fight.

But there were other firms. In these, production engineering was being systematically applied. Coventry was peculiarly successful owing to the bicycle boom of 1880 to 1900, when line-production of precision-made parts had been highly developed. This skill and method easily progressed from bicycles to motor-cars. It was inevitable that someone would eventually, gather together enough resources to satisfy the ambitions of designers, production engineers, workers, and customers. By 1922 Morris Motors in Coventry had installed a hand transfer machine, in 1923 a fully automatic one – the first in the world. Continuous production by specialised machines, tools and methods attracted men away from the "swinish" firms – wages went up and hours went down. Other progressive firms, unable to afford such vast and expensive plants, achieved similar results by enlisting worker co-operation with high piecework earnings – "flogging the plant". It was soon found that piecework was advantageous, that a "line" was a team, and that the gang system kept men together, and happy. There were battles, and from all this a new outlook developed. The dictatorial gaffer was told to go to hell and increasingly men ran the job themselves. Immense improvements in working conditions were brought about by erosion, by wearing down outmoded thought. And all this was achieved in a period when the car trade was seasonal – overtime all the winter stocking-up parts, short time and unemployment in the summer. Ideal for those who valued their health!
Before 1939 there were at the Standard works 68 rates of pay. In wartime this was reduced to 8. The pre-war gangs of 8 or 9 men were now increased to many hundreds. After the war the management asked the men to establish the minimum wage on which a man and his family could live in Coventry. The figure later became the minimum, a datum line. Above that, piecework, by gangs, gave the highest pay in the industry. A vast amount of argument and negotiation stabilised 15 gangs for the entire car works. Skilled toolmakers were classed A, craftsmen B, skilled production workers C, semi-skilled D, right down to tea-makers and cleaners. Inside each gang and category all were equal as people and in pay.

The workers increasingly ran the job themselves, made mistakes, and learned. From time to time however the autocratic mind tried to re-assert itself and strikes resulted. These were settled in hours with all cards on the table. Sometimes workers demanded impossible things – impossible within the structure of capitalism that is. These episodes were used as Conservative anti-worker propaganda, and it was common to hear Captain Black, the then head of Standard, denounced as "pink, if not red! "

The initiative in both car and tractor plants came from the shop floor – all else was "a service to production". So successful was the scheme that there was quite serious discussion on the Trade Unions themselves running the entire production. This idea was abandoned – maybe from fear of the political mind – of all kinds. The Standard Company had preserved its freedom to carry out this social experiment by withdrawing from the Engineering Employers Association. The gang idea was carried further towards workers' control that anyone else had done to date. It paid, on both sides. As Standard forged ahead and set the standard of pay for Coventry, so other firms were obliged to follow. Morris Motors had already, before the war, established similar methods, but there was, and still is, more individual piecework. Similarly with Rootes and Jaguars. Mixtures of gang-work and ordinary piecework are quite common in other works, but which ever system is used the initiative is usually from the bottom. Some men fail to cohere and never succeed as a gang. Many firms now prefer gang-work as it simplifies administration and reduces overhead costs.

But success goes to people's heads, and capitalism is still capitalism. Markets became bigger, output soared, and as greater demands were made on the plant it became obvious that more automatic methods would have to come. This time the managers really got bigheaded and their "show-down" came when the Ferguson tractor was changed over to a new design and a new methodology. Other firms, wisely, changed over discreetly and managed to "carry" their men, but Standard, under their new chief Alick Dick, shed their men – hence the so-called "automation" strike. The affront to the men consisted in withholding information and dismissing with indifference all ideas from below. This delighted Conservatives everywhere, but was in fact a stupid reversion to an outmoded attitude, an attempt to break a social process that had developed for a generation or more. Workers who were still busy on cars that were selling well struck work. This was a shock, completely unexpected. Lesson 1 for Alick Dick.

In a few months the tractor plant started up again, and full co-operation from the men was expected. It was not forthcoming until Alick Dick put all his cards on the table: Lesson 2. Later he tried another "show-down" and sacked 117 men from the Triumph Herald body line. The entire press of this country rejoiced: at last managers were asserting authority. This was short-lived. The men had to be taken back and were paid for the 3 days they were sacked. They did not make the headlines, it was a workers' victory. But it was Lesson 3, and further lessons are proceeding.*
All this is a leading part of a historical process, the growth from below of new ideas and methods, assisted of course by first-rate production engineering. At the moment it looks as though the car trade may again become seasonal, with the off-period in the winter instead of the summer.

Coventry's gang system has been peculiarly successful and pays the highest district-average wage in the country – earned. Volkswagen, re-started under British auspices after the war, had developed the gang system in the same way. In Jugoslavia it is developing with distinct success, probably learned from Coventry as that country is one of Ferguson's best customers for tractors, and has sent many study teams to this country to pick up methods.

Some people may think that the Coventry workers' achievements will be defeated as new techniques advance, but I doubt it because men's experience of the gang system goes with them, and they feel affronted by the methods of an "old-fashioned shop". They at once become propagandists for a measure of workers' control. New techniques will demand ever-increasing skill which can only develop in an atmosphere free from frustration and niggling over money. Cheap, poor, degraded labour is fast being replaced by automatic processes – machines can do all the drudgery well, without tiring. Our next move in the advanced industry must be for shorter hours. Decent ways of spending leisure must be provided for. (The motor car itself is now a nuisance. Years ago some of my more wealthy friends were motoring enthusiasts and delighted to tell me of the beautiful houses and gardens they visited. I always retorted "Why not have a beautiful house and garden of your own?" It sunk in eventually, and it will with our present motor maniacs).

*See note at end of article.-ED).

Many workers ape the falsities of the middle class, and others are poor creatures. I know, I live among them. But workers do practice loyalty. The gang idea is their idea and it cuts across ideologies and ignores drivel. To a large extent it ignores money, or at any rate the continuous niggling over money. In car factories they don't bother to count parts – these are just shunted into the system and come out counted in complete cars. A few get pinched, but that would happen anyway. The same in some large stores – millions of pounds are saved by not counting. The paperwork is abolished as silly.

People who decry the technical world do not realise that advanced techniques are basic necessities for a life for everyone. But we allow ourselves to be bogged down by a stupid monetary system that wastes resources. Capital profits and take-overs and similar fiddles continually turn capital into spending money which creates markets for every form of parasitic production. The bomb and the tools of war are parasitic, so are the insurance companies, landlordism, advertising, the press and the paper-scraping "work" of the city. We in production know that a major part of our effort is literally thrown away. We develop production as a social process only to find an ever-growing anti-social parasitic population against us. The extension of higher education now being planned and organised is expected to take care of the vast increases in production that will be required, but it remains to be seen whether these new young men will be satisfied to be technical cows subservient to parasitic authority or whether they will come round to our view.

Because large fortunes are now being made out of new drugs and chemical processes, new gadgets, inflated land and share values and so on, it is assumed that such affluence will continue. But such things are in the long run self-defeating – looting. A small proportion of the population can loot continuously but when the scale becomes immense it calls for a day of reckoning. The looters will have looted their own system to death. Some of them realise this, which is why they buy gold, diamonds, land and art treasures – all nest-eggs, just in case.

And yet we have such immense potential resources that our own country could be made fit for all its inhabitants to live in. And we could have the surplus energy to help the backward countries. Economics, the science and liturgy of scarcity could be abolished. We could, like production engineers, work out the man-hours available and arrange for people themselves to put them to their own good use. Already we have gangs, groups, teams, whatever they may be called. There are voluntary bodies in every possible sphere, from sport to art. The professions run their own show and set their own standards. People everywhere, every day, help each other without question. Capitalism is parasitic on all this. It has already been eroded – in bits. When are we going to start putting the bits together?

Editor' s Note:
SINCE REG WRIGHT'S ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN, some interesting things have happened at Standards in Coventry. Mr. Alick Dick who, after he took over from Sir John Black as chairman of the firm declared "We are happy that we have re-established the most fundamental principle – management's right to manage", has been "resigned", together with six other directors, by the new controllers of the firm, the Leyland Motor Company, who made a successful £20,000,000 take-over bid for Standards earlier this year.
It was reported in the Evening Standard (22/8/61) that Mr. Dick was expected to receive a "golden handshake" of around £30,000 (rather different from the £15 severance money paid to 3,500 Standard workers discharged in 1956 when the tractor factory, subsequently sold to Massey-Ferguson, was closed for re-tooling).
In the following week Leylands dismissed a large number of "executives and staff in the £40-£60 a week bracket". One of the executives said to the Daily Mirror's correspondent (30/8/61) "If one man on the shop floor was fired there would be a strike because they are organised. About 200 of us will go and nothing will happen." One is tempted to comment "Well, whose fault is that?" because the essence of the management side, as Reg Wright notes, is middle-class ambition, while that of the workers' side is working-class solidarity. Confirmation of his opinion comes from the book about Standards, Decision-Making and Productivity (Blackwell 1958) by Professor Seymour Melman, who notes that

Within the management hierarchy the relationships among the subsidiary functionaries are characterised primarily by predatory competition.
This means that position is gauged in relative terms and the effort to advance the position of one person must be a relative advance. Hence, one person's gain necessarily implies the relative loss of position by others. Within the workers' decision system the most characteristic feature of the decision-formulating process is that of mutuality in decision-making with final authority residing in the hands of the grouped workers themselves.

The "resignations" of directors and the dismissal of staff are seen as the prelude to further dismissals of Standard workers. Leylands, the new owners, are of course makers of heavy commercial vehicles, and when they took over control of Standards it was with the avowed intention of forming a group capable of producing every kind of motor vehicle, though, as The Economist commented, "When you remove all but one of the directors who have any experience of the car business from the board of a motor company, the obvious inference would be that you intend, sooner or later, to stop making cars."
In the light of Reg Wright's views the coming struggles at Standard are of the greatest interest. Leyland, a Lancashire firm, competes for labour with the declining low-wage cotton industry. Standards have been paying the highest wage rate in Britain, and The Economist observes that

The power of the unions in Standard-Triumph International, another characteristic of the motor industry and one that was encouraged by Sir John Black, must also come as a shock to a Lancashire employer whose paternalism is still authoritative; and again those who have grown up to live with unions in this way must view the chances of changing it rather differently from people who are shocked by the whole idea.

There is yet another aspect worth thinking about. Melman's study noted that the existence of two inter-related decision-making systems at Standards – those of the workers and those of the management had very important consequences. He observed that (and this is important in considering Reg Wright's remarks above about "looting" as well as the alleged reasons for this country's current crisis over productivity) "in England during the last decades the manpower cost of managing manufacturing firms has been rising more rapidly, than the growth of productivity". But at Standards in unique contrast to the rest of the motor car industry the "administrative overhead" declined over the period 1939 to 1950, while that of every other firm in the industry and for manufacturing as a whole, increased. The reasons for this are given in Reg Wright's earlier article The Gang System in Coventry in ANARCHY 2. Standard's advertising expenditure per car sold is said to be "modest" in relation to that of other manufacturers.
Yet Standard's overhead budget is described as having shocked Leylands. The Economist again comments:

The methods used to sell and to produce cars are utterly different from those of a firm like Leyland making and selling the heaviest and most expensive types of commercial vehicle. This may have provided further grounds for disagreement: the amount spent by a car manufacturer on advertising and selling its products may seem exorbitant to anyone used to building to order for industrial concerns, instead of turning out cars, en masse and then persuading the public to buy them. Selling organisation and advertising might seem to the lorry maker a logical point at which to start cutting overheads, but the car maker would regard such a policy as disastrous.

From this point of view Leylands are a more "rational" firm than Standard who in turn are more rational than their larger competitors. But in capitalist industry, rationality and production-orientedness are not the guarantees of success.

George Orwell an Accident in Society

NICOLAS WALTER wrote an account of The 'New Wave' in Britain in ANARCHY 1, and discussed Raymond Williams' The Long Revolution in ANARCHY 3.

GEORGE ORWELL'S REAL NAME was Eric Blair, and he was born in 1903 and died before he was 47. He was one of the most remarkable Englishmen who lived in the first half of this unhappy century. He was a child of the Raj (the British regime in India), like Thackeray, Kipling and Saki; his father had been a customs official in Bengal, and he himself served as a policeman in Burma for five years after leaving school. He was also a child of what he called "the lower-upper-middle-class" – the shabby-genteel "poor whites" of the English class-system – and his education was a parody of what his background demanded. First he was sent to a beastly prep-school in Eastbourne (St. Cyprian's – described as Crossgates in his bitter essay Such, Such were the Joys and as St. Wulfric's in the last part of Cyril Connolly's mellower Enemies of Promise); then, being clever enough to win scholarships, he went to Eton. In later life he claimed he wasted his time there and said it had no influence on him, but he might have been a very different person if he had gone to a conventional public school (such as Wellington, where he won another scholarship); Eton is one of the few really good schools where a scholarship boy can get away with doing nothing, and its influence is no weaker for being subtle.
By the time he went to Burma in 1922 he had assembled a fine collection of chips on his shoulder. He had been sent away from home for most of his childhood, like so many other children of so-called civilised middle-class parents (this extraordinary habit could be the subject of a fascinating piece of sociological analysis); he had been taken by St. Cyprian's at a reduced fee in the hope that he would win credit for the school with a good scholarship (which he did), and he wasn't allowed to forget the favour; he was sickly, and thought he was also ugly and unpopular (which he wasn't); then for some reason he didn't go up to Cambridge, where he might have done very well, but went out to Burma instead; and of course he was that unhappy animal, a bourgeois intellectual doing uncongenial work.

When he was 24 he threw up his post in Burma, after acquiring on one hand the material for a novel and some of his finest essays, and on the other “an immense weight of guilt that I had got to expiate”. It would be fair to say that he spent the second half of his life trying to do just that. First he spent some time as a dishwasher in Paris and a tramp in England, acquiring the material for his first book – Down and Out in Paris & London (1933) – and writing occasional book reviews. Then he became less extreme in his deliberate bohemianism and settled down for a bit, working at a school near London and a bookshop in Hampstead (acquiring material for later books as usual), writing more reviews and other articles, and publishing two novels – Burmese Days (1934) and A Clergyman's Daughter (1935).
It was at this time that Compton Mackenzie put him among the best realistic writers of the early Thirties, praising his “directness, vigour, courage and vitality”; that he became more or less able to live by writing; that he finally dropped his own name in favour of the pseudonym by which he is generally known; and that he married Eileen O'Shaughnessy. After the publication of his best realistic novel – Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) – he became increasingly a public and representative figure, though underneath he always remained his own private individual self.

First his publisher, Victor Gollancz, sent him to the North to gather material for a book about poverty and unemployment. The result was The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), in which he declared his commitment to socialism; it was perhaps his worst book, but at the same time his most revealing, and it remains one of the few Left Book Club titles still worth reading. Then he went to Spain to write about the Civil War but immediately joined the POUM militia, fighting on the Aragon front and witnessing the Barcelona “May Days” before he was seriously wounded in the throat and returned to England (narrowly escaping first death and then the Communist purge of the POUM). This time the result was Homage to Catalonia (1938), one of his best books and also one of the best contemporary accounts of the Spanish Civil War. He now definitely parted from the fellow-travelling socialists of the Popular Front, hating Fascism as much as them but hating Communism nearly as much (he has never been forgiven for being ten years ahead of them). As the Second World War approached, he took up the characteristic ideological position he was to maintain for the last decade of his life. His fourth novel – Coming up for Air (1939) – was his farewell to conventional fiction.
His attitude to the War was what Marxists in 1914 had called “Social Patriotism”: he was a left-wing revolutionary and an English nationalist at the same time. This was an integral part of his whole ambivalent and contradictory attitude to social and political problems – he loved England and hated Fascism (though he was never crudely anti-German), so he wanted to win the War; but he loved “justice and liberty” and hated poverty and oppression too, so he also wanted to see a socialist revolution in this country. On the one hand he supported the war effort, trying to get into the Army and joining the Home Guard instead, working for the Indian Service of the BBC, attacking Socialists and Communists and Pacifists and Anarchists incessantly and indiscriminately (and sometimes downright intolerantly) for being "objectively pro-Fascist"; but on the other hand he threw himself into the effort for his own brand of socialism, trying to turn the Home Guard into a People's Army and watching the manoeuvres of the Churchill Government with undisguised suspicion, broadcasting left wing ideas to the few Indians who listened to the BBC, writing The Lion & the Unicorn and dozens of other similar forgotten appeals for "the English revolution".

Then at the end of the War came Animal Farm (1945), his most perfect and popular book, which deservedly brought him fame and some fortune, and made him a successful writer at last. But his wife died in tragic circumstances, and soon he too became ill; he had always suffered from lung trouble, and now he contracted tuberculosis. He went with his adopted son to the Scottish island of Jura (which was about the most unsuitable place he could have picked), and while he was dying there and in sanatoriums he finished his last and most deeply pessimistic book – Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) – rather like Lawrence fighting against time to finish Lady Chatterley's Lover twenty years before. He married again and prepared to go to Switzerland, where he might have recovered, but he died suddenly in January 1950.

George Orwell's reputation with the general public rests on his last two books, the extraordinarily dissimilar political fantasies. It has been suggested that they won't survive and were simply ingenious tracts for their times. I can't believe this. Animal Farm – the only book he "really sweated over" – is a beautifully written fairy-tale; our grandchildren may not read it as socialists, but they will surely do so as human beings. And Nineteen Eighty-Four, despite all its acknowledged shortcomings (he said himself, "It wouldn't have been so gloomy if I hadn't been so ill"), has a magnificent grandeur seldom found in English literature; of course it belongs to the age of Stalinism and Austerity, but is it just a symptom of disease and despair? I don't think so.

His reputation with his admirers rest also on his three works of reportage – Down & Out in Paris & London, The Road to Wigan Pier, and Homage to Catalonia – which are uneven but fine examples of their kind and have all lasted very well; and though he wasn't a natural novelist his four straight novels are by no means negligible. But people who find that George Orwell speaks directly to them, when so many of the other writers of his generation are as if they had never been born, are constantly re-reading his essays. The three collections of these – Critical Essays (1946), Shooting an Elephant (1950), and England Your England (1953) – have until now been among the priceless possessions of all true Orwellians. But now his publishers have brought out what at first looks like the omnibus edition we have been waiting for, a nice fat book of over 400 pages and 160,000 words, packed with some of the best things he wrote.*

*Collected Essays by George Orwell (Secker & Warburg, 30s.; paperback edition – Mercury Books, 12s. 6d.).

I wish I could recommend this book without any reservations, but that's out of the question. There's a 'Publisher's Note' on p. 7 which is both inappropriate, since it was clearly designed to be a publicity blurb, and inaccurate. It claims that "This volume collects all George Orwell's essays (except the short pieces contributed to Tribune under the title 'I Write as I Please') contained in Critical Essays, Shooting an Elephant and England Your England". This isn't true. In fact five other essays in those three books have been omitted:-
1 & 2 – the two extracts from The Road to Wigan Pier in England Your England. This is reasonable, since they can be found where they came from, the book having been re-issued in 1959 (though it has unfortunately lost its 32 photographs and Victor Gollancz's interesting Foreword).
3 – the extract from The Lion & the Unicorn which was the title essay in England Your England. This is reasonable only if the whole book is going to be re issued shortly, as it certainly ought to be.
4 & 5 – the essay on Kipling from Horizon in Critical Essays, and that on Gandhi from Partisan Review in Shooting an Elephant. This is quite inexcusable, and can only be due to a most unfortunate editorial mistake – the publishers can't possibly have left out such excellent and characteristic things on purpose without telling anyone, and they should put them back in as soon as possible.

There are errors as well as omissions. The blurb says the essays are printed "in order of first publication". Again this isn't true. In fact the scheme seems to have been to allocate them to the years of their first publication and then put the years in order – thus the 1946 essays are all anyhow. The trouble is that some of the years are wrong. Boys' Weeklies appeared in Horizon in March 1940, not in 1939; The Art of Donald McGill appeared in Horizon in September 1941, not in 1942 (this is right in the text but wrong in the list of contents); and Arthur Koestler appeared in Focus in 1946, not 1944. Someone hasn't done enough homework.

Anyway it is quite unsatisfactory to make the year of first publication the only bibliographical information in a book of this kind. We need the names of the periodicals as well, not for the sake of mere pedantry but because it is relevant to know whether an article was written for Adelphi, New Writing or Horizon, say, or for Gangrel, Polemic or Now. A good writer like George Orwell adapts himself to his medium and his public, just as a good conversationalist adapts himself to his audience, and it is impossible to wrench his work out of its original context without distorting its emphasis and flattening its point. Thus Anti-Semitism in Britain takes on a new meaning when we know it was written for the American Contemporary Jewish Record, and it is worth being reminded that the essay on Salvador Dali – Benefit of Clergy – was written for the Saturday Book but later excised because it was considered objectionable! The right way to do this sort of thing may be seen in the Penguin edition of Lawrence's Selected Essays.

It is regrettable that these matters haven't been cleared up in time for the paperback edition, but there should certainly be a properly corrected second edition as soon as the stocks of this one are sold out. (Incidentally, while we are on the touchy subject of publishers' carelessness, it's about time Secker & Warburg learnt that the Tribune title Orwell used was 'As I Please', not 'I Write as I Please', and that the nine Tribune pieces in Shooting an Elephant actually appeared under their own names – between November 1945 and November 1946 – and not under the general title at all.) To sum up, I advise anyone who can bear not to own a book of George Orwell's essays for a time to wait until there is a less imperfect one available.

Like Oliver Twist I am now going to ask for more. Even if this book did contain all the essays in the three earlier collections, perfectly arranged and annotated, it wouldn't be enough. Orwell wrote many more than thirty essays that are worth re-reading; he wrote that many for Adelphi alone during the decade before the War. His novels and books of reportage have all been re-issued now, though he was by no means just a novelist or reporter. I think it is time many more of his essays were re-issued too – especially the more personal pieces, like his introduction to the Ukrainian edition of Animal Farm, some of the extracts from his wartime diaries published in World Review just after he died, and – above all – Such, Such were the Joys, which appeared posthumously in America and still hasn't been published over here because of libel fears.
Apart from these, the essays I should like to see rescued from oblivion seem to fall into two classes, and might well be printed in two separate books.

Firstly, there are the whole of The Lion & the Unicorn (1941) the two chapters from Gollancz's The Betrayal of the Left (1941), the Fabian lecture from Victory or Vested Interests (1942), the Adelphi articles called Political Reflections on the Crisis (December 1938) and Not Counting Niggers (July 1939), the New Writing article called My Country Right or Left (August 1940), the Commonwealth Review article called Catastrophic Gradualism (November 1945), the Tribune article called Through a Glass Rosily (November 1945), the Partisan Review article called Toward European Unity (July/August 1947), and several other pieces of this kind, culminating in the short book The English People (1947). These could all go together in a book called England, Socialism and the War, or something like that, and would make remarkable and surprising reading.
Secondly, there are his introductions to Jack London's Love of Life (1946) and to Volume I of British Pamphleteers (1948), and his broadcast talk printed in Talking to India (1943) – there must be several others as good buried somewhere in the cellars of the BBC. With these are dozens of short articles and reviews like the Tribune pieces in Shooting an Elephant which would go well in a book. There are the two on Ruth Pitter (Adelphi), the two on Jack Hilton (Adelphi), the two on Henry Miller (Tribune), the two on George Gissing (Tribune and the London Magazine), the prison ones on Macartney and Phelan (Adelphi), the ones on Havelock Ellis and Osbert Sitwell (Adelphi), on T. S. Eliot (Poetry), Herbert Read (Poetry Quarterly), Oscar Wilde (Observer), on Hardy, Smollet, Goldsmith, Thackeray, Lawrence, Zamyatin and Mark Twain (Tribune), and other miscellaneous Tribune items – Literature & the Left, You & the Atom Bomb, Revenge is Sour, Freedom of the Park, and odd remarks on things like pleasure-spots and pith-helmets. Anyone who has read all these will have more respect and liking for Orwell than one who has just read Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and I'm sure there are plenty I've forgotten or never heard of. But I don't suppose there's a chance of seeing them reprinted.

Certainly it would be a better tribute to his memory and a better service to his readers to publish more of his own work than to bring out yet another book about his books; but this is what his publishers have done.* Since he died there have been five books of this kind, which is rather absurd. There's a little British Council pamphlet by Tom Hopkinson (Longmans, 2/6d.) and a full-length study by John Atkins (Calder, 18s.), and one or other of these is really all anyone needs. Each of the other three could easily have been compressed into an essay based on the more interesting parts, which are the personal anecdotes – Laurence Brander on Orwell at the BBC, Christopher Hollis on Orwell at Eton, and now Richard Rees on Orwell at the beginning and end of his literary career. To put it briefly and brutally, there's nothing wrong with Rees' book except that it's expensive and unnecessary, though it does contain some good material.

Once more I want to ask for a new book, this time either a proper biography of George Orwell, or – if his own objections are still to be respected – a sort of symposium collecting memories of him before all his friends and relatives have died and it is too late. Such a book would contain the relevant parts of those by Brander, Hollis and Rees, and of others like Cyril Connolly's Enemies of Promise and Rayner Heppenstall's rather disgraceful Four Absentees; it would also include the many recollections written or broadcast during the dozen years since he died. and the many more that may never be recorded if something isn't done pretty soon (though there is said to be a project on these lines at University College, London). The point is that it is far more interesting to read about the life of Eric Blair than about the work of George Orwell; after all, if you want to know about his books, the best thing to do is to read them.

In fact the new volume of essays does make that easier, despite its defects. We now have in one place twenty-five of his essays, first published in a dozen magazines between 1931 and 1948, at an average price of 1/3d. each (only 6d. in the paperback edition). And what

*George Orwell by Richard Rees (Seeker & Warburg, 18s.).

remarkable essays they are! Few English writers have been able to put so much so well in such a small space. Begin with that minor masterpiece, A Hanging, which was one of the earliest things he ever published and packs into 2,000 words more than most people could get into 20,000, and its sequel, Shooting an Elephant, whose 3,000 words contain a classic of British imperialism, a miniature companion for A Passage to India. Go on to the scraps of work which people like Richard Hoggart, Raymond Williams and Colin MacInnes have been doing after him – the famous studies of boys' comics and funny post-cards. Then there are nine apparently literary essays which turn out to be so much more than merely literary – Dickens, Yeats, Wodehouse, Swift, Dali, Koestler, Henry Miller, Raffles and Miss Blandish, and Tolstoy and Shakespeare all acquire much more interest when Orwell has dug up cultural, social and political implications from their work and added his personal feelings to pure criticism. There are recollections of the Spanish Civil War, a smack of Wells, impressions of Marrakesh and a Paris hospital, and finally the eight important essays on politics and literature and politics-and-literature.

I suggest that no socially conscious person can afford to ignore a great deal of this book. In particular Politics & the English Language and Notes on Nationalism should be read at least once a year. But reading these essays should not be only a duty – they are written so well that it is hard not to enjoy them over and over again. And even if you haven't got time to plough through them all, your case isn't hopeless, for Orwell was a highly quotable writer, and many of his best remarks will echo in your mind long after you have skipped over them. He dates, but he doesn't fade at all; once read, never forgotten.

What is it that gives him such a hold over people (like myself) who have only read his books since he died? Why does he speak to me as a contemporary when Arthur Koestler, Victor Gollancz, Cyril Connolly, Stephen Spender and all the rest always sound like voices from the past? These and many others have had their say about him and tried to pin him down with a phrase, labelling him with a technical name like a butterfly. Koestler sees him as a sort of auto-masochistic Swift in modern dress. Connolly remembers him as "one of those boys who seem born old", who stood out as "an intellectual and not a parrot, for he thought for himself", and sums him up: "I was a stage-rebel, Orwell a true one" (even at prep-school). Later he called him "a revolutionary who is in love with 1910", whose "most valid emotion" was "political sentimentality". Spender described him as "an Innocent, a kind of English Candide of the twentieth century" (which applies more aptly to Spender himself). Gollancz noted the "conflict of two compulsions" in his socialism – "He is at one and the same time an extreme intellectual and a violent anti-intellectual, a frightful snob … and a genuine hater of every form of snobbery" – and paid tribute to "the desperate struggle through which a man must go before, in our present society, his mind can really become free". Rees compares him to Lawrence: "A man with a mind of his own, with something in his mind, and speaking his mind … an independent individual who saw with his own eyes and knew what he thought and how to say it". John Beavan called him "a Lollard of social democracy, a preacher of the true faith at war with the corruption and hypocrisy of the Church". All these things are true, but none of them is the whole truth. The first thing to remember about George Orwell is that he was a very complicated man.

It is possible to detect two main driving-forces in his career – a sense of compassion and guilt, and a determination to be tested and not to be found wanting. He remarked when he became a socialist, "For five years I had been part of an oppressive system, and it had left me with a bad conscience"; and at the end of his life he spoke of the existence among people like him of "an awareness of the enormous injustice and misery of the world, and a guilt-stricken feeling that we ought to be doing something about it". To purge his guilt, he became a sort of idiosyncratic mixture of Hemingway and Camus – throwing himself from the Burma police among the down-and-outs of Paris and London, then among the unemployed working people of Wigan and the POUM militiamen of Catalonia, on into the double effort "to defend one's country and to make it a place worth living in" – always putting himself to the test, forcing himself to endure hardship and discomfort, swallowing disgust and pain, going without proper food during the War and proper medical care after it, wearing down his health and his talent, fighting the evils of the world, and the weakness of his body to the day of his death, always striving, striving to tell the truth about what he saw and what he felt.

He had his faults. He often spoke out without verifying his facts – "Socialism in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle class" and so on – and often he was grossly unfair. No one will forget his swipes at "every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, 'Nature Cure' quack, pacifist and feminist in England" and at "all that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of 'progress' like blue-bottles to a dead cat", and there were plenty more like them. Hardly any literary or political group escaped his bitter criticism. But he should be seen not just as an angry middle-aged man but as an extreme example of the English middle-class dissenter who, having rebelled against his own group, must always rebel against any group, even a group of conscious rebels; clearly he felt what Graham Greene has called the "artist's duty of disloyalty to his group". So he was a Puritan, like D. H. Lawrence and Colin MacInnes and John Osborne, whose nostalgic puritanism took strange forms; he was a patriot, like Aneurin Bevan and (again) Colin MacInnes and John Osborne, whose passionate love of his country exaggerated his loathing for what is wrong with it; he was a socialist who once, according to Richard Rees, threatened to punch the head of a Communist who was belabouring the bourgeoisie; a bohemian who always looked, says T. R. Fyvel, like "a somewhat down-at-heel Sahib”
and who detested bohemianism. He was a man full of logical contradictions and emotional ambivalences, but the point is that this made him better, not worse. He was always able not only to see but to feel both sides to every argument, to realise the imperfections of every position including his own, and his honesty about the difficulties this raised was one of his most valuable characteristics. He was a heretic obliged to betray his own heresy, a protestant protesting against his own faith, a political quaker reduced to trusting only the light shining in his soul.

It is highly misleading to imagine that he was once a conventional socialist who later became disillusioned and then turned against socialism, which is what many conventional socialists tend to do. He said of his attitude at prep-school: "I was not a rebel, except by force of circumstances … yet from a very early age I was aware of the impossibility of any subjective conformity. Always at the centre of my heart the inner self seemed to be awake… I never did rebel intellectually, only emotionally." In Burma he knew that "as a matter of course one's sympathy was with the blacks", and he "worked out an anarchistic theory that all government is evil, that the punishment does more harm than the crime and that people can be trusted to behave decently if only you will let them alone". Later he called this theory "sentimental nonsense", but it remained with him all the same. It could be said that he was not a socialist except by force of circumstances too, – because his inner self remained awake, and knew emotionally that the enormous injustice and misery of the world were wrong and that he should be doing something about it; in the 1930's, nonconformists were forced into socialism, and Orwell went in with them.

In the face of Fascism and unemployment he wanted state action, war and nationalisation, but he always distrusted it and quoted with approval the famous misquoted passage from Acton: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority." When he was calling for the state to cure unemployment or to fight Fascism, he knew he was in the unpleasant but all too common position of having to "defend the bad against the worse", and he always, seemed to feel a bit guilty about it; this was why his voice often rose to a shriek during and after the War, when people with simpler and more certain ideas goaded him beyond politeness.

But it would also be highly misleading to imagine that he became a complete misanthropist. In his last book he wrote two important pieces of approval – almost the only ones in the whole story. First, the proles. "They were not loyal to a party or a country or an idea, they were loyal to one another … The proles had stayed human. They had not become hardened inside." This was why Winston Smith said they were the only hope. The other piece of approval goes to Winston's dead mother: "She had possessed a kind of nobility, a kind of purity, simply because the standards that she obeyed were private ones. Her feelings were her own, and could not be altered from outside." George Orwell's personal autonomy and sense of human loyalty forced him to reject group values and group loyalty and the whole apparatus of authoritarian and totalitarian politics, and also forced him to express praise for people like Jack Hilton, Ruth Pitter, Osbert Sitwell and Henry Miller, although he disagreed strongly with their ideas, because they had made up their minds for themselves and preserved their integrity and expressed their beliefs without pose.

It is essential to understand that he was a very emotional man. He was, as Rees points out, both rebel and authoritarian (a "Tory anarchist" in early life), both rationalist and romantic, both progressive and conservative. He was primarily a humanist, not a dogmatist: "I became a socialist more out of disgust with the oppressed and neglected life of the poorer section of the industrial workers than out of any theoretical understanding of a planned society." To understand his brand of socialism – and indeed his attitude to politics and society in general – it is necessary to compare him to the Oscar Wilde of The Soul of Man under Socialism and the D. H. Lawrence of Democracy, and not to go hunting in the labyrinths of Marxist dialectics.
Richard Rees makes use of a remark of Simone Weil about the balance of society: "One must do what one can to add weight to the lighter of the two scales … One must always be ready to change sides, like Justice, that 'fugitive from the camp of victory'." This certainly helps us to see why Orwell was always on the losing side, taking up unpopular causes for the sake of unpopularity, secretly sympathising with the Burmese, leaving his respectable background to go among tramps, changing his name, perversely attacking socialists in a Left Book Club volume or the Establishment on the BBC, advocating social revolution in the middle of our Finest Hour, accusing pacifists of cowardice and afterwards reflecting that "it seems doubtful whether civilisation can stand another major war, and it is at least thinkable that the way out lies through non-violence".
Would he have marched to Aldermaston and sat down in Whitehall? It seems unlikely, but no one can tell. He was as unpredictable as he was inexplicable. He was the "Man-of-Letters Hero" described by Carlyle more than a hundred years ago: "Whence he came, whither he is bound, by what ways he arrived, by what he might be furthered on his course, no one asks. He is an accident in society. He walks like a wild Ishmaelite, in a world of which he is as the spiritual light, either the guidance or the misguidance." And Carlyle, who was a great misguidance, added: "This same Man-of-Letters Hero must be regarded as our most important modern person. He, such as he may be, is the soul of all." Orwell would have rejected such pretentious stuff with scorn, but there is some truth about him in it. We can dig up all the facts about him but he remains a mystery, an accident in society; he was certainly one of our most important modern persons, one of the few real heroes our age has seen. But after a time there is nothing to be said. If you have read this far you have already read too much about him: read him.

Observations on Anarchy 6 & 7

Anarchy and Cinema

For someone like myself who is interested in both film and anarchy, your latest issue was indeed a treat. Congratulations on it.
Editor Cine Camera.

Having been a reader of FREEDOM on and off for several years, and a film fan for many more, I should like to congratulate you on ANARCHY 6, on the subject of Anarchy and Cinema. I enjoyed reading the excellent selection of articles, especially those on Buñuel.
London, E5 RAY WILLS,
Editor Screen Education.

There was a rare freshness and enthusiasm about the cinema number of ANARCHY even though the theme that ran through most of the articles was the heartbreaking difficulty in financing non-commercial films. You should have mentioned the two non-profit production companies in this country, Data Films, a documentary unit which is a co-operative co-partnership, and A.C.T. Films Ltd., a feature production company launched ten years ago by the Association of Cinematograph, Television and Allied Technicians – the only film company in the world owned and controlled by a trade union – which made The Last Man to Hang, The Man Upstairs, and, most recently, The Kitchen.
Ruislip. JACK FOX.
(We recently learned that Data are going out of the film business. Readers interested in the work of A.C.T. Films, will find an article on it by Ralph Bond in the Summer 1961 issue of Trade Union Affairs, with the title "A Break-through to Resolution 42"-ED.).

Adventure Playground
Will you kindly send three more copies of ANARCHY 7 (Adventure Playground)? I think this number is the most important yet, and its value is priceless. I have in mind someone on the Town Council, and another in the editor of the local provincial newspaper, to offer these booklets with their enormously interesting information.
In fact I have rarely read anything so gripping and absorbing. And I haven't finished reading yet. Preston, Lancs W. ARTHUR LEMIN.

Anarchy #009

Issue of Anarchy from November 1961, focussing on prison conditions.

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Are we in Favour of Penal Reform?

THE BIGGEST SERVICE THAT GOVERNMENTS have done for the cause of penal reform has been in imprisoning war resisters; for its effect has often been to give them a lifelong concern with prison and prisoners; almost all the ameliorations of the prison system in this country in the last forty years can be traced in one way or another to their influence. The imprisonment of conscientious objectors in the first World War led to the formation of an unofficial committee, the Prison System Enquiry Committee, which produced in 1922 an immensely influential report, the 700-page volume English Prisons Today, edited by Stephen Hobhouse and Fenner Brockway. This "bible for the reformers" as Margery Fry called it, was compiled largely from questionnaires completed by 290 ex-prisoners, mostly conscientious objectors, and by fifty officials (which resulted in the Prison Commissioners forbidding any further disclosures by public servants). Direct results of this enquiry (beside the ending of several of the indignities of prison life like the broad arrows and convict crop which still constitute the cartoonist's view of prison) included the increase of 'association' and abandonment to a large extent of the 'silence rule'. Brockway himself followed this work with his book A New Way With Crime (1928), with its concluding question, "When shall we begin to treat mental and moral ill-health as we treat physical ill-health?"
The partial reforms of the 1920's however, seemed to dampen the militancy of the Howard League (just as the famous report of the Gladstone Committee in the 1890's had been accompanied by a complacent spirit in its predecessor the Howard Association), and in the second World War, several of the imprisoned objectors of the first war feeling that the Howard League was insufficiently active and critical, started a new and short-lived ginger group, the Prison Medical Reform Council. The League itself circulated a questionnaire in 1945 to 100 ex-prisoners, mostly conscientious objectors, whose replies were later edited by Mark Benney as Gaol Delivery (1948).
But the most radical and deeply impressive prison testimonies by war-resisters of the second World War came from America, both of them published under anarchist-pacifist auspices. They are Lowell Naeve's A Field of Broken Stones (Libertarian Press 1950, reprinted 1960 by Alan Swallow, Denver), and Prison Etiquette: The convicts compendium of useful information, edited by Holley Cantine and Dachine Rainer (Retort Press 1950, not yet reprinted, unfortunately). The editors of this book emphasise that "one thing we are not trying to accomplish is prison reform" and go on to declare that

We realise that a book of this sort should be primarily concerned with techniques for escaping, but unfortunately, such techniques are not easy to come by, for obvious reasons. We have had to content ourselves with the poor second best of relating methods by which one's stay in prison can be alleviated as much as possible, giving as wide a choice of alternative methods as possible.

Nor does their book seek in any way to exploit for public sympathy the 'idealistic' motives of conscientious objectors. Indeed, one of their contributors, Jack Hewelike, remarks

I have come to strong disagreement with many of the tactics used by C. O.'s in prison to impress the public … and even now feel that the basic issue is individual evasion of service to the state and not what the public considers 'conscientious'. The most genuine protests were those directed against imprisonment itself (and the whole coercive apparatus of which prisons are a part). My own observation convinces me that these protests are constantly being made by inconspicuous prisoners branded as 'criminals' who have no civil liberty groups or clergymen to publicise their feelings, and who, accordingly, bring upon themselves the full measure of psychological and sometimes physical sadism which the State has devised to serve its ends. Inadequate and irresponsible as such protests may be, in contrast to the C. O.'s planned actions, carefully toned down so as not to offend certain sections of public opinion, they do reflect a craving for some kind of freedom which, in many cases, is not even expressed in positive terms. The capitalisation of 'honesty', 'sincerity' etc., has tended to alienate me from the majority of C. O.'s.

The tone here is not that of the righteous man 'unjustly' sent to prison, but of identification with all those who lie in jail, and it recalls the words of another American, Eugene Victor Debs, addressing the judge who sentenced him to ten years imprisonment in 1918 on a charge of obstructing the war effort: "Years ago I recognised my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one whit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
The emergence in the last few years of new campaigns of protest against war preparations and of civil disobedience has brought a new wave of experience and concern with the prison system, as supporters of the Direct Action Committee, and its successor the Committee of 100, have been given time and opportunity at the expense of the government to reflect on the possibilities and limits of penal reform. Laurens Otter, while at Eastchurch during his six month sentence following the second demonstration at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Foulness last year, was actually asked to give a paper on prison reform. This, he remarks, for a person who believes that prisons are essentially evil and not capable of reformation, was a little difficult. "It however made me start by asking the jackpot question – what, given the aim of maintaining existing society, is the point of prisons? How far can one make prisons sane, without thereby making people sane enough to wish to overthrow existing society?" Later in his pamphlet Prison – From the Inside (Socialist Current, 1d.) he pulls himself up, after declaring that prison should be, as far as possible, a self-governing community:

But steady, you're going too far – self-governing community, constructive work: if you really mean this then you mean something that doesn't exist in our society – and you can't produce it in prison without causing people to want it outside. Perhaps one must revert to the old saying that in order to change the criminal one must have one's prison reform not in prison but outside.

* * *

Ask an anarchist what should be done about prisons, and you will get the answer "Pull them down". Ask a criminologist, and, more frequently than you might expect, you will get the same reply. But we live in a social climate in which although everyone seems to be fascinated by crime provided that it is of the more spectacular variety, few people are interested in the criminal, except to advocate physical violence on him. Three-quarters of the population of this country are said to favour the retention of capital punishment, and (according to the Daily Mail's National Opinion Poll) 83% of the British public – including of course the Lord Chief Justice, favour the re-introduction of flogging and birching. The clamour on this topic at the annual conferences of the Conservative Party has become rather a joke among sophisticated people, and this year's performance was very subdued, though if you heard the BBC's report of the conference on October 12th, you heard a delegate declaring "They should be sterilised", while another voice interjected, "Flog them first", in a nice little psychodrama of the fantasies of pain and mutilation which accompany the urge to punish.
In such a society, where Parliament is more "progressive" than public opinion and the judiciary, and where the Prison Commissioners are more progressive than Parliament (and that's not saying much), the question of whether or not we favour penal reform is an academic one. Just as we have always supported the various campaigns against the death penalty, so we are bound to support those measures which seek to keep society's deviants out of jail and to alleviate the rigours of imprisonment, not because we think they will "solve the problem of crime", but simply because we are humane people, and anyway it might be our turn next. In practice this means supporting – though with reservations – the Howard League, the product of the amalgamation of existing bodies at the time of the Prison System Enquiry Committee in 1921. The League is an influential private pressure group or lobby, as well-informed about prison conditions as the officials of the Home Office with whom it negotiates. Gordon Rose, in his recent book The Struggle for Penal Reform (1961), which is as interesting as a study of the operation of pressure groups as for its detailed history, points very clearly to one of the would-be reformer's many dilemmas:

There is always a latent section of opinion amongst its supporters which feels that it is flabby, unenterprising and much too friendly with the authorities. 'Hit them hard and go on hitting them,' is a doctrine which recommends itself to the enthusiast who is disgusted with the state of the prisons or horrified by the continued existence of corporal or capital punishment. Thus, there is always a threat of splintering at the extremes, or at least of loss of membership. This is particularly true if progress in any sphere is slow or non-existent. The split in the women's suffrage movement is an obvious example of this. And indeed, well-timed and well-organised militancy may undoubtedly be effective …
The gently plodding reforming society is not organised for this, and may well be unable to seize the opportunity as it should. Thus, it may suffer by comparison with the activities of the militants. The best militant campaigns, however, do not last long – and the reforming society is likely to emerge shaken but still alive and kicking …
Nevertheless, there remains a conflict between the need to fight and the need to remain friends with the enemy. The only effective way of doing this is to convince one's opponent that it is really all for his own good. The Chairman of the Prison Commissioners has described the Howard League as H.M. Opposition to the Prison Commission, and this is largely true because he and his colleagues want it to be true.

This is a role singularly unattractive to anarchists, who would be quick to point out, as Bernard Shaw did, that "our prison system is a horrible accidental growth and not a deliberate human invention, and that its worst features have been produced with the intention, not of making it worse, but of making it better." Not that this was the fault of John Howard or Elizabeth Fry; "their followers were fools: that is all". This view may seem capricious or antiquated in view of the actual character of the reforms promoted in this century by the Howard League (and by its allies on the Prison Commission like Alexander Patterson, who declined the chairmanship in order to remain as he put it, a missionary) in the face of public and parliamentary indifference or hostility, as well as that of the prison service itself. But you have only to look at them through the eyes of a convicted man to see how superficial they are. See for instance Frank Norman's Bang to Rights, or William Kuenning's "Letter to a Penologist" in Prison Etiquette:

The prisoner in the modern liberal and scientific institution has most of the same frustrations as the man in the old-style prison or modern county jail – but with this added disadvantage: he is now managed 'scientifically' from some remote control board to which he does not have access. No prisoner has any confidence that the immense amount of data which is collected on him will be used for his benefit. Most prisoners know that the subtle pressures constantly put upon them have nothing to do with their welfare but much to do with 'prison security' – and with the job security of the penologist. The prisoner's need to live and the system's attempt to live for him (and off him) can never be reconciled.

Consider one penal reform measure which has been mooted ever since Beccaria: the indeterminate sentence. Since one of the alleged purposes of imprisonment is to train the transgressor into becoming a 'useful citizen', it is obvious that the short sentence is useless and that the time it takes to 'reform' him may bear no relationship to the sentence imposed by the court. Therefore the prisoner should be detained for an indefinite period, long or short, until he is 'fit' to be released. This policy is already followed in this country, within the limits of maximum sentences, in committals to Borstal and in the last stage of preventative detention. It exists in reverse in the remission system where sentences may be shortened conditional upon good behaviour – forfeiture of remission being among the punishments imposed by the governor or by the "secret trials" of the visiting committee. But the cruelty of the idea of the indeterminate sentence, impeccable though its logic is from the point of view of the reformer, surely makes it repugnant from a human standpoint.
Or consider some of the implications in the concept that crime is a symptom of mental disease. We all subscribe to this view simply because we all have our private definition of crime. But there exists also the public definition of crime – any action forbidden by the law. When Colin Smart, one of the Direct Action Committee prisoners, reflecting on his prison experiences, recommends "making psychiatric treatment the basis of any sentence", he forgets that he too is a 'criminal'. An American friend of ours was incarcerated in a federal

We have overcrowded prisons not particularly because more men are being received into them but because the sentences imposed have become more severe. The Courts already have the power to imprison men for 14 years because they continue to commit crime. And they have the power to repeat the dose if the first – as it so frequently happens – effects no cure.
The Chief Constable should know that many men who are now serving from five to fourteen years' preventative detention have never been involved in violence nor committed crimes of any seriousness but have been 'put away' because of their nuisance value to society – like the man recently who, two months after completing his second term of preventative detention (eight years), in a state of loneliness and uselessness stole from a motor-car, and telephoned the police so that they should arrest him. With no lawyer or friend to help him in court, he was sentenced to a third term of imprisonment – 12 years' preventative detention.
What more does the Chief Constable want?
–MERFYN TURNER in a letter to The Guardian 8/3/61

penitentiary during the war for his opposition to it. The war-resisters started a hunger strike against racial segregation in the mess-hall. They were taken off to the psychiatric ward and harangued by the psychiatrist about their dubious motivation. "Sure," our friend replied, "sure I want to rape my grandmother. Now about this segregation issue …"
One of the dangers implicit in the concept of crime as disease is that in sweeping away the concept of criminal responsibility, we sweep away such protection as the courts provide for the accused. Margery Fry saw this years ago, when juvenile courts were first being instituted. "I think," she said, "there is a kind of feeling that a child's matters are small matters, and can be met by kindness and goodwill, and there is a certain danger of not giving the child his rights if you do not maintain these laws" (the rules of evidence). And Clarence Ray Jeffrey, in his concluding essay on the historical development of criminology in Hermann Mannheim's Pioneers of Criminology refers to the wholehearted acceptance of the crime-equals-disease formula by some American criminologists who propose such reform measures as the elimination of prisons, punishment, the jury system, the concept of free will, and other aspects of the legal system, and for the replacement of judges, juries and prisons by scientists and mental hospitals. Jeffrey comments:

The reform argument assumes that reform is necessary and that we have the knowledge necessary to reform the criminal. This argument assumes we know the cause of crime and therefore the cure. It overworks the analogy between crime and disease. It overlooks the fact that crime is a product of society. In his book "Must You Conform?" the late Robert Linder argues that when we classify homosexuality as a disease and not a crime we are not really helping the homosexual but are in fact creating new oppressive measures to use against him. It is control disguised as reform and treatment. The same thing can be said for regarding behaviour of other types as a disease rather than a crime. If crime is the product of society, do we reform the individual or must we reform the society?

* * *

Beware of the man with simple solutions. 'Crime' and 'the criminal' are legal, not scientific or logical classifications. We are all criminals and we have all committed crimes. You cannot eliminate crime in human society because, as Durkheim argued, crime is a social necessity and a society exempt from it is utterly impossible. Moreover, as the psycho-analytical school maintains, society needs its criminals to act out and serve as scapegoats for its own anxieties and deviant fantasies. This is why it is, unhappily, useless to point out to the floggers, as Mr. Gordon Wilkins does in his article in the Criminal Law Review (Oct. 1960) that we are not in the middle of a crime wave, that "there has been no significant increase in crimes of violence over the past half century, having regard to the considerable increase in population", or that 0.9 per cent. of people found guilty in the courts are found guilty of violence against the person. People don't listen when you say these things, because they are not what they need to hear. This is why Clarence Jeffrey notes that "the use of punishment by society is not as important in terms of whether or not it reforms the individual as in terms of what it does for society. Punishment creates social solidarity and reinforces the social norms."
Having said all this, one thing remains true: the fact that in the prison itself (as Donald West, of the Cambridge Institute of Criminology puts it),

the majority of recidivist offenders in prison have some degree of personality deviation. A few of these are abnormally aggressive and liable to hit out impulsively at anyone who gets in their way, but the greater proportion are what psychiatrists call 'inadequate', feckless types …

He thinks that a more precise elucidation of these personality deviations and of the factors that produce them and the ways in which they may be managed or improved, is the most substantial contribution we can make at the moment to criminological research. It is also the most useful thing that can be done to help these people.
Whatever it is, it is unlikely to be done in prison, especially since they are unlikely to be incarcerated in either of the only two British prisons which retain the full-time services of a psychiatrist, and are still less likely to find their way to one of those establishments which are the pride and joy of the reformers. By far the most impressive attempts to help them keep out of trouble have been those of Dr. Maxwell Jones and his colleagues at the Henderson Social Rehabilitation Unit, and of Mr. Merfyn Turner at Norman House.
Even in this sense, it is outside the prison that we must look for the only radical reforms.

The Captive Society

EVERY SOCIAL ORGANISATION OF ANY SIZE has a "formal" and an "informal" structure of social relationships. The more self-contained and authoritarian an institution, the more distinct are the two structures. In terms of Kurt Lewin's topological psychology a prison is defined as "a polar type of authoritarian system that is governed by a bureaucratic hierarchy and entrusted with power over the total life space of the individuals under its jurisdiction". Since it is an extreme type, we may expect to see in it the most extreme differentiation between the formal and informal structures.
The formal structure of prison is like that of a military organisation, with a remote headquarters in the form of the Prison Commissioners, a commanding officer – the Governor, non-commissioned officers – the Prison Officers, and men – the prisoners. Most prison governors have, in fact, been retired army officers, and most prison officers, ex-N.C.O.s, and the parallel with military life extends throughout the organisation of prisons: the use of numbers for identification, kit inspections, and an independent system of summary jurisdiction, while the officers themselves salute and parade for inspection. Major Grew, the former governor of Wormwood Scrubs, ran the place, as Mr. Peter Wildeblood observed. "as a kind of caricature of the military life." This, however, is the structure of the custodians. Among the inmates, who outnumber them, there are only two types who fit in the formal structure, firstly the "redband" or leader who is, so to speak an "acting unpaid lance-corporal" in the formal system, and secondly the fully institutionalised "model" prisoner who is completely adapted to the regime and withdrawn from social contact with his fellows.
The informal structure is an extreme form of the type of informal social organisation which you can find in schools or factories. "Whenever men are held captive" writes D. L. Howard, in The English Prisons, "a strong social network with distinct lines of dominance and subordination, its own code of behaviour and its own ties of loyalty, grows up among them, quite distinct and apart from any organisational structure which prison authorities may attempt to impose from above. The true life of a prison … exists almost independently of official rules and decisions; all but the vaguest indications of its character are hidden from the governor and his staff. Even the most skilful and sympathetic of prison officials is far out on the edge of this society and unable to make any permanent impact upon it." For this reason the most revealing accounts of the informal social structure of prisons are those by ex-prisoners, and until recently there have been few attempts by people independent of both captors and captives to describe it.
Gresham Sykes in The Society of Captives (1958) made a close study of the interactions of custodians and inmates at Trenton, a maximum security prison in New Jersey. In discussing the responses of the prisoners to the regime to which they are submitted he finds one which he categorises as "cohesive" and another which he calls "alienative". The first is action of a collectivist nature, in the interests of the whole inmate community, and the second is individualistic action in the interests of a single prisoner or a small group. John McLeish of Leeds University describes another American book, Theoretical Studies in Social Organisation of the Prison, edited by George H. Grosser (Social Science Research Council, New York 1960), in the Prison Service Journal for January, 1961. This study demonstrates, he says, "that the inmates and custodians, in practice, share a common interest in maintaining the prison as a unit which operates as a going concern." (This common interest is in the adaptation of both parties to the status quo of the informal system). Even in the most humane of prison institutions, he notes,

The inmate lives under conditions of deprivation. He loses the liberty of disposing of his own time, his living space is severely restricted, he is deprived of certain goods which are taken for granted in the society outside,
he is denied heterosexual relations. In addition, his social isolation is perceived by the prisoner as an attack on his self-image and his sense of personal worth, an attack which is more threatening to him than even physical brutality or maltreatment would be. He is denied the privilege of being trusted, there is an implicit attack on his masculinity, he is forced into association with unbalanced and potentially violent persons so that his safety is endangered, he has lost his power of self-determination.

In defence against these deprivations and the social rejection which gives rise to them, a code of conduct arises, binding on all inmates and determining their relations with each other and with their captors, which

restores the self respect and sense of independence of the society of captives at the same time providing them with a purposeful way of life which cushions them from the deprivations and frustrations of prison life. The code (Never rat on a con! Don't lose your head! Don't exploit inmates! Don't weaken! Don't be a sucker! and so on) gives a new frame of reference to the prisoner so that his condemnation by the free society becomes almost irrelevant. Loyalty to his fellows, generosity to those suffering more than he is, disparagement of official society, results in an uneasy compromise between the actual condition of the prisoner and his continuing attempts to maintain the favourable image he retains of himself.

Another article in the same journal, "It's the Prisoners who run this Prison", by Terence Morris, Pauline Morris and Barbara Biely of the London School of Economics, also discusses inmate leadership in the informal system. They make the same distinction as Sykes between the "cohesive" and "alienative" responses to imprisonment, and distinguish two ideal types of leader corresponding to them, the Robin Hood and the Robber Baron. Both are "troublemakers" to the prison authorities, but the "trouble" they make varies considerably. The Robin Hood

is considered by the mass of the prison population to be a major asset in the task of minimising the pains of imprisonment. This leader is a strong-willed man, wise in prison ways, committed to the inmate code of minimal co-operation with the staff but careful never to provoke or bring down trouble upon himself or his associates. He is benevolent, sympathetic, and has many of the marks of a genuine altruist …
Superiority of brain, and the ability to call upon brawn when necessary, gave Smith an unusual amount of power. It was based, however, upon loyalty rather than fear, his good and generous deeds making many men his permanent moral debtors.

The Robber Baron, on the other hand

is a very different sort of man, recognised by prisoners as an exploiter, a man whom they would rather do without. In many cases he is actually a tobacco baron or a bookmaker but no less frequently he is no more than an extortionate bully who demands protection payments or feudal services from those inmates unfortunate enough to come under his influence … The Robber Baron then is not a leader who can make moral claims upon his followers, but relies upon coercion and fear.

Social control in the captive society is usually maintained by external constraint rather than by internal consensus, but, the authors observe, "as in most human communities, the ultimate equilibrium of the system will depend upon a balance of the forces contending for power, and power in inmate society is based sometimes upon consensus, sometimes upon external constraint, and frequently upon a combination of the two. The physical, social, and psychological deprivations of imprisonment undoubtedly stimulate among most prisoners behaviour which is designed to minimise them; at the same time the prison contains men with strong drives towards controlling other men and in doing so satisfying many of their inner psychological needs."
The authors of this paper note that "It is a simple truth that in the face of complete and massive refusal to comply with his orders the prison official is powerless” and that the reason why this seldom happens even in the most repressive prisons is "partly that inmate society is too heterogeneous to be capable of such unified action, but most importantly because numerous inmates have a conscious investment in tranquility." Those who have not, the real contenders for power in the prison (whom the authors mistakenly call the truly anarchic elements) play a role which

is essentially alienative in that their behaviour is ego-centric and inconsistent. Sooner or later their demands are resisted by others of their own kind and conflict ensues. It is perhaps because they are so often seekers after power for its own sake that they constitute such a danger in the prison community.

Here the formal structure asserts itself in a tightening up of the prison's coercive power, but the effect of this is like unselective pest-killer, in that it eliminates not only the pest, but also those coercive forces which would themselves restrain it. The conclusion which they draw from this from the point of view of penal policy is that the administrator's first task is

to distinguish between different types of leader in the prison and to recognise that not a few of them are doing some of the work for him … The second task … is to buttress the cohesive elements of the inmate society and at the same time attempt a systematic erosion of the power of the alienative elements. The achievement of the latter objective tends to be made simpler by adequate classification and if necessary by segregation.

But they have already noted the equivocal nature of 'legitimated' inmate leadership at the point where the formal and informal social structures meet:

In most prisons throughout the world the authoritarian character of the prison regime is diluted by the delegation of some staff functions to inmates. It is not, strictly speaking, a delegation of formal authority, for whatever task such an inmate performs, and whatever privileges are attached to the job, his status remains that of a captive. For the prison official the 'leader', 'redband' or 'stroke' is a valued asset. He is assigned to a position of trust and responsibility in the task of running the prison. In the eyes of his fellow prisoners however, he is often a 'grass' or 'screw's man' and the subject of diffuse sanctions of disapproval.

For even though he may use his relative freedom to lessen the deprivations of others as well as his own, he is suspect "because he has violated one of the ideal premises of the Prisoners' Code, namely that no self-respecting 'con' should do the work of a screw … There is little doubt that he tends to identify with authority (and this alienates him from the bulk of inmate society). The redband's solution to this problem is frequently to act a double life, to leak information to the staff, but at the same time to leak information in the reverse direction." This key position in the communications network, is, as the authors of the Theoretical Studies also note, a major path to power in both the social systems, since information is one of the goods in short supply as far as both inmates and custodians are concerned.
Dr. and Mrs. Morris and Miss Biely in their paper conclude that with the ending of those 19th century rigours which have no place in the ethos of the treatment institution, the 'businessmen' of the inmate structure will no longer have a function to perform in the supply of illicit goods and services, but could play constructive roles on inmate councils, noting that

Unless there can be real sharing of power and authority, and the lowest ranks of the discipline staff can feel secure that such sharing neither diminishes their own authority nor renders them likely to be unsupported by their superiors at critical moments – unless these conditions are fulfilled, inmate councils and committees will be as meaningless as Parliamentary democracy under the Czars.

To the question of what useful purpose such a development would serve, they reply:

One answer would be that just as men cannot be trained for freedom in conditions of captivity, so men cannot be trained to accept social responsibility in conditions which, at their most extreme, reduce them to a state of near infantile dependency. The task here is to mobilise the social capacities of men who are seldom wholly anti-social in such a way that the words: 'It's the prisoners who run this prison' are an expression, not of resentment on the part of a prison official who feels that things have got out of hand, but of achievement, that men who have hitherto failed to adjust to life in a socially acceptable manner have moved significantly towards responsibility and maturity.

In their conclusion they are more optimistic than the authors of the Theoretical Studies, who, noting the remarkable similarity of the inmate systems found in one institution after another, conclude that the prison setting generates a typical pattern of reaction on the part of the inmates. Mr. McLeish notes that "The phenomena we have been dealing with arise in answer to needs which are common to all prisoners" and for this reason:

They conclude that the custodians in progressive types of prisons are confronted by an insoluble dilemma – that they are forced to set inmate goals which can rarely if ever be realised. This pessimistic conclusion, which is developed in detail, should make this study required reading for all prison officers who see their function primarily in terms of rehabilitation of the offender.

The present writer has tried in vain to get hold of a copy of the Theoretical Papers, but we can see why their authors have reached this conclusion. Most prisoners have to steer a course, as Terence Morris puts it, between the Prison Rules and the Prisoners' Rules. The prison code is the most binding, and from the point of view of both the individual and the group, the most necessary. The code, which is the same code that is operative among the children in a school or the workers in a factory is essentially the means of defence of those who have no power against those who have. Its violators – the sneak in school, the gaffer's man in the factory, the 'grass' in prison, are regarded as contemptible, and it is difficult to conceive in the abstract any moral code in which they would not be. When "self-government" is introduced, on paper, in a school, or "works councils" in a factory, they become, in the absence of any genuine devolution of power, simply a means of harmlessly airing grievances, complaints about the canteen cutlery or the shortage of toilet paper. As the Morris-Biely paper itself says:

The leaders' meeting, as observed in one training. prison, was essentially a 'grumbling session' and although this may have had some merit as a safety valve, there was little evidence to suggest that these were necessarily even the grumbles of the non-leaders. In fact there were unmistakable signs that the group constituted a socially isolated elite of the prison, remote from the real foci of power in the inmate social system.

The would-be penal reformer is in fact faced by a whole series of dilemmas. Firstly that prisons are schools of crime, an observation which has been made many times in the last two centuries and is as true today as it ever was. To quote the standard English criminological textbook:

A formidable criminal record is the passport to respect. Crime and its techniques are the main topics of conversation. Criminal contacts are made in the highly specialised group which the beginner in crime could never have found for himself. The young prisoner with no confirmed criminal tendencies will be isolated with these corrupting influences throughout his sentence, and will be fortunate to remain unscathed.

Secondly that efforts to avoid this kind of contamination by improved methods of classification and segregation, simply avoid the issue because as Hugh Klare remarks in his Anatomy of Prison, "by putting the best personalities amongst prisoners into special institutions, we may be winning victories which are too easy while leaving ourselves with an almost impossible task with all the rest".
Thirdly because the prison situation is "a conflict situation", and the inmate system in opposition to the custodians is a psychological necessity for the prisoner unless he is to become either a completely institutionalised vegetable or a lick-spittle of authority. The staff "reserve their favours for the prisoner who causes least trouble, even though he is apt usually to be either a confirmed old lag who knows the ropes or just a hypocrite" (Howard Jones: Crime and the Penal System). The members of inmate councils are likely to be atypical prisoners like middle-class financiers, murderers, motorists and homosexuals, far from the centre of the inmate system.
Finally because genuine self-government is inconceivable at the bottom of a formal structure like the prison system which is a rigid hierarchy of authority. For the governor and the 'superior staff' are imprisoned by the minutely-detailed Statutory Rules of the Prison Commissioners, while even to the 'subordinate grades' of their own staff they are "remote figures, to be saluted on sight, for whom frank, open discussion of prison problems is a rare occurrence", according to Mr. D. L. Howard, who notes in The English Prisons that "The recently introduced Staff Consultative Committee have by no means solved this problem. They are held but once a quarter, officers are merely represented on them, and so great a consciousness of rank is displayed that relaxed, open discussion of treatment problems is virtually impossible."
The most complete and lifelong prisoners of the formal structure of the prison are those members of the staff who are in closest contact with the prisoners themselves. Their own insecurity and resentment is voiced every year in the much-reported meetings of the Prison Officers' Association. Mr. Howard notes of their position:

It is almost as difficult for a junior prison officer to work against the climate of opinion on the staff he has joined, as it is for the inmate to stand out against the embraces of the subculture I have described earlier. Unlike the governor, he is not only the focus of resentment from below; he is also dependent upon approval from officers ranked above him in the same institution. Moreover, he usually lives in or near the prison, in official quarters, with other prison officers, their wives and their families as his most frequent social contacts when not on duty. If he appears to be less severe towards prisoners and to take a more sympathetic interest in them than the majority of his colleagues, social difficulties in private life may be added to the unpopularity he has experienced at work.

Those who conceive a transformation of the prison into a genuinely therapeutic or educational institution have thus the task of conceiving a quite different social structure – one which reconciles the conflicting formal and informal structures by liberating both from their authoritarian characteristics. But as Bernard Shaw said years ago:

The main difficulty in applying this concept of individual freedom to the criminal arises from the fact that the concept itself is as yet unformed. We do not apply it to children, at home or at school, nor to employees, nor to persons of any class or age who are in the power of other persons. Like Queen Victoria, we conceive Man as being either in authority or subject to authority, each person doing only what he is expressly permitted to do, or what the example of the rest of his class encourages him to consider as tacitly permitted.

For the social structure of the prison, whether we consider its formal or its informal system, is simply a reflection of the social structure of "normal" society.

Therapeutic Communities

OF THE MANY ANARCHIST THINKERS who have concerned themselves with the question of prisons and penal institutions (both because of their own prison experiences and because of the basic anarchist criticisms of the concept of law, law enforcement and legal sanctions), the most persuasive was Peter Kropotkin, whose lecture "Prisons and their Moral Influence on Prisoners", delivered to a working-class audience in Paris in December, 1877, and later adapted in his book on Russian and French prisons, anticipated much modern thought on the subject. In modern criminological jargon, Kropotkin would be placed in the "multiple factor school" of theorists of criminal causation, seeing three main categories of causes for anti-social acts, which he called physical, psychological, and social. He believes that "this great social phenomenon which we still call crime is what our children will call a social disease, but this does not mean that he equates crime with insanity:

It is not insane asylums that must be built instead of prisons. Such an execrable idea is far from my mind. The insane asylum is always a prison. Far from my mind also is the idea launched from time to time by the philanthropists, that the prison be kept but entrusted to physicians and teachers. What prisoners have not found today in society is a helping hand simple and friendly, which would aid them from childhood to develop the higher faculties of their minds and souls – faculties whose natural development has been impeded either by an organic defect or by the evil social conditions which society itself creates for millions of people. But these superior faculties of the mind and heart cannot be exercised by a person deprived of his liberty, if he never has choice of action. The physicians' prison, the insane asylum, would be much worse than our present jails. Human fraternity and liberty are the only correctives to apply to those diseases of the human organism which lead to so-called crime.
Of course in every society, no matter how well-organised, people will be found with easily aroused passions, who may, from time to time, commit anti-social deeds. But what is necessary to prevent this is to give their passions a healthy direction, another outlet.
Today we live too isolated. Private property has led us to an egoistic individualism in all our mutual relations. We know one another only slightly; our points of contact are too rare …

He goes on to speak of the disappearance of the "composite family" which has died out in the course of history, and to envisage "a new family, based on community of aspirations" which will take its place, a family in which people, he thinks will "lean on one another for moral support on every occasion. And this mutual prop will prevent a greatnumber of anti-social acts which we see today." But what about those people, "the sick, if you wish to call them that, who constitute a danger to society. Will it not be necessary somehow to rid ourselves of them. or at least prevent their harming others?" He then describes the treatment of the insane by the peasants of Gheel (see ANARCHY 4, p. 103 for the passage), and declares that

At one of the extremes of the immense 'space between mental disease and crime' of which Maudsley speaks, liberty and fraternal treatment have worked their miracle. They will do the same at the other extreme.

Many of Kropotkin's criticisms of the penal regime have a contemporary ring to them. He points out that the majority of the inmates of prisons "are people who did not have sufficient strength to resist the temptations surrounding them or to control a passion which momentarily carried them away", and that imprisonment simply adds to this weakness:

He generally has no choice between one of two acts. The rare occasions on which he can exercise his will are very brief. His whole life is regulated and ordered in advance. He has only to swim with the current, to obey under pain of severe punishment.
And where will he find the strength with which to resist the temptations which will arise before him, as if by magic, when he is free of the prison walls? Where will he find the strength to resist the first impulse to a passionate outbreak, if during several years everything was done to kill this inner strength, to make him a docile tool in the hands of those who control him? This fact is, according to my mind, the most terrible condemnation of the whole penal system based on the deprivation of individual liberty.

And when the prisoner is released "and once again engulfed by the current which once swept him to prison",

what a contrast between the reception by his old companions and that of the people in philanthropic work for released prisoners! Who of them will invite him to his home and say to him simply, "Here is a room, here is work, sit down at this table and become part of the family"? The released man is only looking for the outstretched hand of warm friendship. But society, after having done everything it could to make an enemy of him, having inoculated him with the vices of the prison, rejects him. He is condemned to become a 'repeater'.

That these extraordinary apposite observations were made over eighty years ago only serves to remind us how very little experimental work has been done since then in making new approaches to delinquency. We think of the "Mutual Welfare Leagues" set up by Thomas Osborne, first as prisoner 'Tom Brown' at Auburn, and then as Warden of Sing Sing, and we reflect that he was driven out of his job, while the League became a mere grievance committee. The other experiments we think of, were all with children and adolescents – William R. George's pioneering if rather naively conceived Junior Republic, Homer Lane's splendid advance on George in the Little Commonwealth, and the experiments of David Wills. (Both the latter are to be discussed in a later issue of ANARCHY).

But what Kropotkin's whole approach brings to mind most forcibly are the experiments made in different directions in this country in the last twelve years which we associate with two men, Merfyn Turner and Maxwell Jones, the work with a 'family' of ex-prisoners at Norman House of Mr. Turner, and with a therapeutic community of 'psychopaths' at the Henderson Hospital of Dr. Maxwell Jones.

* * *

Merfyn Turner is one of those people who are always pioneering on the fringe of "social work", neither a "do-gooder" nor an observer with a self-conscious cult of detachment. He began his working life as a teacher and during the war was imprisoned in Swansea as a conscientious objector. It was this experience which led him to become a prison visitor. Working in a mental hospital with a group of disturbed children, he met George, who had known neither love nor security: "He knew more about foster homes and institutions. By the age of 11 it looked as though he had sworn to scorn all signs of affection to protect himself from his own feelings … He rejected people and was untouched by their approval or their disapproval."Time and again afterwards he was to meet older Georges, people who brought trouble and unhappiness to themselves and others, and frequently got convicted for criminal behaviour of many varieties. Their common factor was "inadequacy, with crime as a link in a personal-social-economic chain of factors over which the men had but limited control."
After the war Turner was concerned with the enquiry made by an informal group into the problems of "unclubbable" boys – not the happy individualists, but the solitary, the misfit, the rejected and the aggressive, and in the study of delinquent gangs. He contributed with John Spencer the study of gangs in Peter Kuenstler's Spontaneous Youth Groups (Univ. of London Press, 1955) noting that a policy of simple repression of the anti-social gang cannot hope to succeed because it rests on a false diagnosis: "Society can only use and help the gang by building on such cohesion and spontaneity as already exists", just as Terence Morris, in the same publication observed how "By segregating the 'unclubbables', one may only succeed in emphasising the difference between them and the rest of the neighbourhood." From this concern grew the Barge Boys Club. Turner became the Warden of the barge Normanhurst, moored at Wapping, and later wrote an absorbing account of this experiment, Ship Without Sails (Univ. of London Press, 1953), revealing how "the group held within itself the means of its own salvation".
In the following year, the London Parochial Charities, the body which had paid for the barge, agreed to finance another experiment, the purchase of a house in which homeless ex-prisoners could live as a family "in equality and acceptance" with the Warden and staff. As a visitor, in a prison with no first offenders, Turner learned that "men who had been to prison before did not settle easily to their imprisonment as was popularly supposed. Prison had milestones. It had a beginning, and an ending. There was nothing in between. For the homeless in particular the prospect of release caused anxiety". He realized too, the "crippling handicap of social isolation".
The grotesque inadequacies of prison after-care have had such a lot of attention in the last few years that there is no need to emphasise them here (see the Pakenham-Thompson Committee's report Problems of the Ex-Prisoner (N. C. S. S. 1961), and Pauline Morris's pamphlet Prison After-Care: charity or public responsibility? (Fabian Society, 1960). In Merfyn Turner's view, the Aid Societies have only themselves to blame if they have harvested a reputation for ineffectuality, and a tradition of scorn and ridicule among prisoners, since it is the result of the social and economic gulf between their numbers and the prisoners, and the way in which they continued to regard the prisoner as a self-directing person brought to shame by his chosen wickedness. But the homeless prisoner needs to be accepted. He needs, says Turner, "to live in a group which supports him with his weakness and his inadequacy, and which supports him while he is learning to live the life he wants". Instead he is sent, or gravitates, to a lodging house, "an artificial and abnormal congregation of the community's misfits". Turner stayed for some time in one of the London common lodging houses (see his report Forgotten Men, published by the N. C. S. S. in 1960) and came away convinced that they make the homeless discharged prisoner's return to prison more certain.
Norman House, in Highbury, was opened in January, 1955. Having been a prison visitor for many years, Turner had been able to gain concessions from the rigid rules which restrict the visitor's opportunities, and visit men outside his allocated list as well as sitting in on the Discharging Committee. This enabled him to establish a relationship with the "No Fixed Abode" men that he thought he could help. At the beginning he began to enumerate the categories of offenders that

About 80 per cent. of recidivist prisoners in England are categorised as 'inadequate': introverted, neurotic, friendless. Their crimes are usually trivial, including vagrancy, begging, 'being a suspicious person', indecent exposure, loitering with intent, etc. The average value of property stolen by this group is less than two pounds a time. But the prison sentences they are serving go up to ten years.
It is obvious that a prison sentence will not help a man who is 'inadequate' to be a success outside. It will not help the man who is in for indecent exposure to adjust to normal sexual relations; it will not find the man who is a lonely failure a job, or a wife. All he can learn in prison is how to commit other (perhaps more serious) crimes.

– JOHN SYLVESTER in The Spectator 13/10/61

he thought this particular scheme would not benefit, because they needed more specialised help. The list grew longer the more he thought about it, and in the event he accepted every type of prisoner.
He has now written a book about his five years as warden of Norman House, Safe Lodging (Hutchinson 25s.), five years in which nearly two hundred men lived for long or short periods at the house. Only one returned to prison while still living there. Only a reading of the book with its appalling case-histories, though Turner is the last man to see his family as "cases" will give you an idea of what an achievement this was, or how exhausting. His own conclusion on his experiment is that

By making the emotional climate right, the need for criminal activity is eliminated. I feel with three-quarters of our prison population crime is not a calculated first choice but the last link in a chain of events, representing the inadequacy and instability of offenders. What we give them here at Norman House is not some special subtle technique but sheer, continuous love. Some, we know, relapse when they leave here. But we think we have been able to demonstrate that while these men are under our roof, criminal behaviour simply ceases. Perhaps in these days when there is so much discussion and so little experiment, this may prove to be a positive and practical contribution to the prevention of crime.

Merfyn Turner, who writes with a sardonic astringency, emphasises the difficulty in finding suitable staff and non-offenders to live in the community. "Some of our Management Committee maintained that there were advantages in taking non-offenders who had their problems. But the Committee were not required to live with them." One non-offender who turned up was a young woman barrister Shirley Davis. They married, and their child too played a part in the work: "For many of our men, the chance to give had been denied them because there was nobody to receive. Now there was an opportunity to give, and to participate in the child's pleasure of receiving." Thus, in the case of one man,

If anyone at the House could claim to have saved Artie, it was the one who knew least about human behaviour, for between Artie and our son, who was then three years old, there developed a relationship which seemed to reflect an intuitive response to each other's needs.

Finally, let me quote one of Turner's most thought-provoking conclusions on the nature of crime and the criminal:

Crime is always news. It evokes various emotional responses. Crimes of violence, and certain offences against the person, inflicting as they sometimes do, grievous injury on innocent members of society create a response that stamps the criminal as the enemy of all that is good, and clean, and civilized. He cannot possibly be anybody's neighbour.
Yet it was some of these 'enemies of society' that helped to keep alive for us our belief in the goodness of all men, and in the power of love to influence behaviour in a positive and lasting manner. They helped also to strengthen our conviction that our approach to the problem of the homeless offender was the approach that offered most hope of success. It had to be realistic to the degree of accepting the unhappy truth that the criminal who committed straightforward offences against property might cause less injury to society by being allowed to continue along his criminal path than by being 'reformed', if reformation only means, as it frequently does in the field of After-Care, that the offender has been prevailed upon, directly or indirectly, to abandon crime. His crime may be a symptom of his complete emotional detachment, and his defence against people and the injury they might do him. He may abandon it because he has become emotionally involved. The end then may be worse than the beginning, and crimes of violence against people and property may be added to a criminal record that previously showed only simple housebreaking offences.

* * *

Experiments of a different kind with therapeutic communities grew up during the last war as a by-product of military psychiatry – the morally indefensible attempt to use psychiatric medicine as a means of turning 'sick' men into soldiers. Dr. W. R. Bion developed the 'leaderless group project' at a military psychiatric hospital at Northfield, Birmingham, where group discussion was used to enable the group, as Bion put it, to study "its own internal tensions with a view to laying bare the influence of neurotic behaviour in producing frustration, waste of effort, and unhappiness in a group". The experiment was ended under external pressure. Similar methods were then used in "Civil Resettlement Units" which sought to provide a residential setting in which returned prisoners of war could adjust themselves to ordinary life. (It is interesting to reflect how the problems of prisoners and the structure of prison life can be much more easily comprehended if you can persuade people to put aside their burden of moral condemnation and anxiety and think of all prisoners as war prisoners, whose problems are recognised and whose internal solidarity is applauded). Taking advantage of the favourable official climate of those years, Dr. Maxwell Jones, a psychiatrist, developed a therapeutic community at the Mill Hill Emergency Hospital, and then an Ex-prisoner-of-war unit at Dartford. Then in April 1947 he started the "Industrial Neurosis Unit" at Belmont Hospital, Sutton (described in his book Social Psychiatry published by Tavistock Publications in 1952, and in America as The Therapeutic Community, 1954). This grew into the Henderson Hospital, a l00-bed "social rehabilitation unit", in a drab building – once a workhouse – within the Belmont Hospital complex.
This building, which belongs, as John P. Conrad writes, "to the dreary history of institutional psychiatry" houses

one of the most hopeful enterprises in the history of the mental health movement, due to the genius, persistence and charm of Dr. Maxwell Jones, who insists on being called 'Max' by staff and patients …
Why is the social rehabilitation unit important? To answer this question, we must know something about the twilight field of mental disorder to which psychiatrists uncomfortably refer as 'psychopathy', 'character disorder', "sociopathy' or 'behaviour disturbance'. In short, something is wrong with the mind and spirit of the habitual thief, the sex offender, the brawler, and the social misfit. Because the cure eluded him, the 19th century psychiatrist consigned these people to a category labelled 'psychopathy' and declared them untreatable.

Like Merfyn Turner, Maxwell Jones did not believe that nothing could be done. The hundred patients, half of them referred to the hospital by the magistrates' courts, and half by psychiatric clinics, live in groups of twenty-five, each with its own staff. They work in the unit's workshops and every weekday morning they meet, together with the staff, as a community to discuss the daily problems of running the place.
The Henderson hospital does not "cure" its patients, or at least it does not claim to, but it does claim to help them to hold on to a job, to cope with ordinary life and keep out of trouble. Some patients leave early, after a week or a fortnight, but those who stay – from eight months to a year – are usually helped by the experience. (So are the staff; by the breaking down which the group method implies, of the usual rigid hierarchy of hospital administration). The latest extension to its work is the opening of a family wing where some patients can live with their wives and families.
Again, after-care is the biggest problem. A club of ex-patients in the London area meets weekly in London with members of the Henderson staff, and another group of ex-patients have organised a mutual aid body. A story was told last year of a member who, after getting into minor difficulties at work, disappeared.

His fellows traced his whereabouts, got in touch with his employers and persuaded them to keep the job open, and paid for the fugitive's return ticket. Here indeed seems to be 'a change in social attitudes'.

John Conrad believes that ultimately from this experiment reliable ways of helping the persistent psychopathic offender will emerge:

But the lesson can only be learned in this free situation, where scientific knowledge and research join forces to attack a persistent misery. There is tremendous hope in psychiatric treatment of the psychopath as practised at Henderson Hospital. There is no hope in a medically operated prison where the repressive technique of traditional psychiatry keep the lid on social pressures until they explode.

* * *

When, over forty years ago, Homer Lane ran the 'Little Commonwealth' he used to be saddened by those visitors who attributed his success to his exceptional personality and not to his methods. In thinking about two remarkable experiments we may be very conscious of our lack of that inner freedom and fearlessness which enables people to embark on experiments for which most people predict failure, and then to undertake the continuous hard work that makes them successful. Yet Merfyn Turner is unwilling to take personal credit for his work at Norman House ("I suppose I'm a bit of a misfit myself" he says). The continuance of his work and the establishment of other Norman Houses with the support of the fund set up to commemorate the work of the late Margery Fry, is a tribute to the method as well as the man. And the adoption in other countries of the methods of the Henderson Hospital as well as the continuance of the original unit, show that the same is true of Maxwell Jones's work there. When he left it was thought that its success was due to his particular genius and that the work would flounder without him. But it didn't happen.
Let us remember therefore that the tragedy, as Lord Lytton put it, of Homer Lane's life was that people said "What a marvellous man, he is inimitable", when they should have said, "What admirable principles, let us adopt them."

I have not treated any patients while in prison or living in a regimented institution, and I have misgivings about doing so. It is difficult to serve two masters: either you are on the side of the prisoner and then you are likely to get into difficulties with the prison authorities sooner or later, or you are on the side of the latter and then cannot win the trust of the inmates who are always likely to suspect the prison psychiatrist of being a spy. Also, if we treat a patient in the restricted, and in its way, sheltered situation of prison we have no means of judging how he will adapt himself when he comes out and is faced with the manifold difficulties of liberty, family life, or lack of it, the task of finding and holding a job and the innumerable hurts and disappointments he is sure to encounter.
It is particularly important to treat patients immediately after their discharge from prison. An important factor in recidivism is the fact that when the criminal comes out of prison he is not psychologically in a fit state to settle down or to take a job or to cope with his innumerable (family and other) problems …
In the treatment of criminals, more than with any other patients, I have been impressed with the tremendous difference even a little help may make to a man's future life. There is a world of difference between a man who is still neurotic and unstable, and yet able to support himself and lead a fairly normal life, and one who is compelled to commit crimes that make him spend the rest of his life in and out of prison. The difference is more marked from the point of view of society, which is either hurt by the criminal when free or has to maintain him while in prison.

–MELLITA SCHMIDEBERG" The Analytic Treatment of Major Criminals"

A Criminologist's Testament

But the men and women, who dedicated themselves to the asocial persons, had two opponents: the asocial persons themselves and society. They succeeded in transforming the asocial, but they did not succeed in transforming the attitude of society. It is painful to hear of all the persecutions to which these true philanthropists were subjected and to read of all the difficulties which were put in their way …
Society opposed the innovators with determined resistance … Society did not wish to abandon the principle of an eye for an eye; it did not wish to be deprived of its long observed relations to the criminal and it did not wish to have the 'contrary ones' taken from it. When I wrote a small article upon the 'Effect of Non-Violence and Self Government in Prison and in Institutions for Neglected Children', a Swiss friend, who had great experience in education and methods of upbringing, wrote to me: "but what a pity it is that there are so few personalities capable of bringing the miracle to pass." But why are these people not to be found? Why do we not have these important educators? Because we do not want them. And why do we have our asocial persons? Because we want them, in just the same way as the neurotic person wishes to hold on to his illness from which he suffers, and from which he cannot allow himself to be freed. The reader, who has learnt of the results produced by non-violence and self-government and of the resistance accorded to those who advocated them, will find it easier to understand why criminal psychology begins for me not with the criminal, but with the society which inflicts the punishment. These people, who did not have to give anything whatsoever to the prisoners, were in fact capable of hindering others in their work of assistance.
In effect there is today an unequivocal answer to the question, what can be substituted for aggression in criminal law: non- violence and self-government as a means of education …
Forel, the great Swiss scholar and philanthropist, answered the question concerning the future of criminal law, plainly and simply: "in my opinion the future of criminal law lies in its abrogation, that is, in the removal of all right to punish."
That also is our answer.
– PAUL REIWALD: "Society and its Criminals" (1949)

Refresher Course in Jail

DAVE DELLINGER is one of the editors of the New York monthly Libertarian, from whose August number his account of a recent refresher course in jail is condensed.

I GENERALLY GET A LAUGH when I mention that I went from Yale to jail and that I got a more vital education from three years in jail than from six years at Yale. The laugh always makes me a little uneasy (even apart from the feebleness of the play on words) because I am afraid it implies that far from being dead serious I am merely indulging in a humorous exaggeration, since one wouldn't really expect to learn more in prison than in a university. A little reflection should convince most persons that one can learn more about the nature of our society (for example) by sharing in a small way the life of its victims than by interacting intellectually with its privileged academicians. Be that as it may, I spent ten days in jail recently and had my complacency jolted once again (non-conformists can be more complacent than we realise) and my imagination quickened by this little refresher course in the realities that lie behind the facade of our society.
I have never forgotten my first experience of arrest and imprisonment many years ago: how inexorably the transitions took place from being treated as "saints ahead of our time" (a comment by a member of the grand jury that indicted eight of us for our refusal, as pacifists, to register for the draft), to misguided and stubborn idealists (the attitude of the judge) to criminals with "no rights of any kind" who had better wise up if we wanted to stay in one piece (as we were told by a guard five minutes after being ushered out of the polite and superficially civil libertarian atmosphere of the courtroom into the prison world into which no visitors are admitted and from which no uncensored letters are released). If the details varied slightly this time, the pattern was similar: only when we were safely out of sight of judge and spectators were the realities of the prison system revealed to us.
Most convicts would rather serve time in an old-fashioned jailor pen than in a liberal "correctional" institution. The basic prerequisite for a decent life – freedom – is lacking in either case, but in the "reformed" institutions the prisoner finds that he is subjected, in addition, to a kind of manipulative and psychological assault that the old-fashioned warden and keepers had no interest in. I remember a

Christmas at Danbury (Connecticut) "Federal Correctional Institution" when the Christmas party consisted of an exhibition of dancing and singing by the warden's young children and their classmates. When the performance was over, the warden mounted the platform and made a speech in which he kept reminding the prisoners that if they hadn't broken the law they could have been with their wives and children on Christmas Eve, as he was. Perhaps only those who have been deprived for a lengthy period of the company of wives, children, and loved ones can appreciate how cruel this little sermon was and how it embittered rather than enlightened the men. Never did I receive a half-hour visit (we were allowed a total of one hour of visits a month) without having my parents or fiancée subjected to a prior interview with the warden or a social-service worker in which they were treated to a lengthy analysis of my various character defects. Wives were often told, on the basis of "scientific" case-studies, that they should divorce their husbands, or stop visiting them, because they were "no good". Censorship of reading material, "to help rehabilitate the convict", was so extreme that at one time only one New York newspaper (the New York Times, which appealed to the warden but not to many of the inmates) was allowed to circulate and copies of it were distributed only after every news story that dealt with crime had been cut out. When a friend sent me a copy of The World's Great Letters, the censorship department passed it on to me only after having deleted a letter by Benjamin Franklin which was considered "salacious". Did they really think that the inmates would have learned more about the perverse glories of crime from the New York Times than from their follow inmates with whom they were joined in the common, embittering experience of living in an "extreme totalitarian society" and with whom they united in a thousand imaginative ways of "beating the system" (everything from stealing food and manufacturing a powerful prison brew to smuggling tobacco, at great personal risk, to men in the "hole"). Did they think that sexual abuse and insensitivity were more apt to result from reading a letter by Ben Franklin than from being locked up for years without contact with loved ones? If anyone had interrupted one of the jail house bull sessions on sex to read out loud the offending passages from Franklin he would have been hooted down for boring the audience.

* * *

My recent arrest grew out of a "vigil" outside the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., where ten of us picketed, handed out leaflets, and began a two-week fast (taking only water) in protest against the invasion of Cuba. The Washington (D.C.) jail was an uneasy compromise between the old-fashioned jail, in which confinement and the prevention of escape are almost the only concerns, and the modern paternalistic institution, which tries, unrealistically, to combine confinement with rehabilitation. In the main, it succeeded in combining, in slightly modified form, the shortcomings of both types of institution and the virtues of neither. On the one hand, we were subject to classification interviews with social-service workers whose sheltered, conformist lives had so limited their ability to grasp the realities of the system that it is hard to imagine their ever understanding a criminal or establishing any significant human contact with him – even if they had any interest in considering him as anything but a "case". (In the first information-gathering my name was somehow transcribed as David Dillings and a series of interviewers insisted that I must sign my name in this fashion if I did not want to go to the "hole". I suppose that in some future court appearance I shall be accused of having used an alias). On the other hand, the daily routine was such as to encourage utter boredom, and physical and mental deterioration. We were awakened at 4.30 a.m. and spent the entire day sitting in the overcrowded chapel, without reading material, work, exercise, or diversion of any kind. The windows were even frosted to prevent looking outside. The only breaks were the three daily meals and the periodic "counts". In our case, we were continuing to fast, so benefited from the mealtimes only by having a brief respite from living in a dense crowd. There were 160 beds in my dormitory arranged in double-deckers so close together than if anyone lying in his bed (we were only allowed on the bed between 9.30 at night and 4.30 the next morning) stretched his arms out, he would touch the beds on both sides. I am told that the prisoners are allowed to go to the stockade for two hours on Sundays, but since it rained we watched television instead. As beautiful women and expensive status symbols were flashed on the screen, I looked at the men around me and thought that the crime of many of them was to have been hypnotised by the lures of our society and to have sought to attain them by methods which were outside the law (the ground rules of capitalist society) but not necessarily more anti-social than the accepted legal ones. In varying degrees they lacked the education, the contacts, the pigmentation, the patience, the inherited capital or the hypocrisy to attain their goals by accepted methods of living off the labour of others – collecting rents, profits, dividends, interest or the excessive salaries of the professional and managerial classes; buying or hiring cheap and selling dear; excelling in the attractive packaging or psychologically effective advertising of an inferior product, etc. The man who pockets a cool million by speculating in slum-clearing, housing or installing inadequate air-conditioning in fancy apartment houses becomes a public hero by setting up a scholarship fund or contributing to charity, but the man beside me, his eyes glued to the TV screen had "lost all his rights" because he had stolen some jewellery.

The best prison community is no more than an extreme totalitarian society, and the most it can produce is a good convict who is quite different from a good citizen … Reformation of convicts must be attained chiefly outside any penal institution.

–Encyclopedia Britannica, article on "Prison".

The question is, does a person ever lose his rights as a human being? Both kinds of prison operate on the assumption that he does. As I entered the D.C. jail I was greeted with the words, so familiar to me from previous experiences: "You have no rights." (In liberal institutions the advances of modern penology are summed up in the alternative byword: "You have no rights, only privileges.") A "good convict" is one who acquiesces in this defamation of character until he finally explodes in resentful violence or becomes a shadow of a man who is made a trusty or is considered safe to release on parole. I have seen men put in the "hole" for "silent insolence", because the system cannot function without breaking the spirit of its victims, and the light of independence in a man's eyes is more frightening to the authorities than occasional violations of administrative regulations.
As pacifists we revealed at least a few signs of inter-directedness and this caused immediate tensions with the authorities. But we also tried to go out of our way to be sensitive to their human qualities, and the more contact we had with individual guards the more willing they were to overlook our minor transgressions, in apparent (if somewhat bewildered) appreciation for being treated, for a change, as fellow human beings. They were more used to opportunistic subservience, without personal respect, than to foolhardy resistance combined with respect. Traditionally tough guards who had gotten to know us pretended not to notice our idiosyncratic violations of prison routine, but whenever we entered a strange part of the prison and encountered new guards we were in danger. On one occasion, when we had been escorted to a new area and were waiting to see what would happen (prisoners are seldom told where they are going or why), two of us were excoriated for looking out of a partially open window. When I asked, as gently as I could, what harm there was in looking at the grass, the guard became nervous and felt the need to assert his authority. He ordered me to take off some paper buttonholes with which we managed to keep our shirts from being constantly unbuttoned because of the oversized buttonholes. His manner was so arbitrary (and the practice of wearing the buttonholes so well established) that I felt it necessary to explain that I was chilly, that the shirt would not stay buttoned otherwise, and then, in response to his shouted "You are in prison now; shut up and do as I say," that even prisoners had the right to be treated civilly.
When I got to the "hole", the modern prison's equivalent of the mediaeval dungeon, I found that the approximately 5 ft. by 6 ft. damp strip cell, part of which was taken up by a toilet which could only be flushed from the outside, was already occupied by two other prisoners. There was not room for all of us to lie down at one time, but we managed by having two of us put our feet and legs up the wall while the third put his on the toilet. One of the prisoners was upbraiding the other for being a damn fool. "It don't make no difference that you're innocent," he said, "They don't want you to plead not guilty.

You would've got off with thirty days. Now you'll get six months." "I know," said the other, "but it was a matter of principle with me."
The seasoned, guilty man had been in the "hole" a week, for having a fight. The principled "damn fool" had been taken to the barber shop earlier that day, in anticipation of his appearance in court the following morning. He had an attractive pompadour hair style and he balked when told that he would have to have it cut another way. "Just don't give me no haircut at all, he said, "'cause when I appear in court I wants to be mine own self." For this, act of self-assertion he had been thrown into the "hole". It wouldn't have been right under any circumstances, but I couldn't help thinking that here was a man who apparently was innocent, and who, in any case, was supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because he could not afford bail, however, he had already lost all his rights.
When I walked out of jail after my ten days were up, I couldn't tell whether I felt more elated at having my "freedom" or depressed at the thought of those whom I had left inside. I know, from previous experience, that I shall never forget some of them and that I shall never meet any finer persons out of jail than some of the friends I made inside. But I also know how easy it is to get caught up in other routines, and how hard it is to convince people that the only way to reform jails is to abolish them. For jails are necessary for the preservation of a semblance of "law and order" in a society where there are rich and poor, over-privileged and under-privileged.

Man is a social creature. He is born into a community, and his life is continuously conditioned by it. It shapes his personality, and his judgments, his decisions, his desires, and ambitions reflect its influence upon him. His life is generally judged in terms of his place within it. But isolate him from it, make him an outcast, and he will bind himself to those who are likewise outcasts. Prisoners have their own community, and though prison officers may spend as much time with the prisoners as the prisoners do with each other, yet the officer does not belong to the prison community. A modern prison may organise countless educational classes for the offenders, and still the demand persists. But the men attend less from the desire to improve their learning than from the desire to be together. The prisoner may object to solitary confinement because it commits him to hours of inactivity. 'There's nothing to do except think.' But the real reason lies in the removal of man from his fellow men, for he belongs by nature to society, and he 'lives' only when he is within society.

–MERFYN LLOYD TURNER: "Ship Without Sails" (1953)

Far from Theraputic

PAT ARROWSMITH, field organiser for the Committee of 100, is at present serving a 3-month sentence in Gateside Prison, Greenock, for her part in the anti-Polaris demonstration at Holy Loch. This article is extracted from an account of her experiences in Holloway Prison following the Direct Action Committee's demonstrations at missile and nuclear warfare bases in 1959 and 1960.

HOLLOWAY IS A BLEND of the archaic and the modern; of toughness and mildness. Within its pseudo-medieval walls are stone-cold punishment cells and psycho-therapists' offices. A group of first offenders may be busy on an emotional-stability test while simultaneously, in another part of the building, some recalcitrant prisoner is being led away for a spell of bread and water in solitary confinement. The day's work is a dreary routine of enforced scrubbing, coal-shovelling, laundering, or sewing, with no more incentive attached to the job than an automatically earned shilling or two a week. Yet many of the prisoners are encouraged to spend their evening "association" period having classes and discussion groups, or rehearsing revues and pantomimes to be performed in front of their fellow-prisoners. Films are shown once a month; and a Sunday seldom passes without some group of outside musicians coming in to entertain the prisoners in the chapel.
Few of the prison officers seemed to be "dragons". The majority were quite pleasant young women who might well have been nurses. They were evidently expected to try to be moderately friendly towards the prisoners rather than provoke their hostility. Lying in our drab, brick-walled, dimly lit cells at night, it came as quite a shock at first to hear a bright kindly voice calling through the peephole: "Are you alright? Good-night." Occasionally the voice even added "dear". Archaic though Holloway is, the buildings are centrally heated, except for the punishment cells, in which women might be confined for days on end. But the heating is tepid. We ranked as "civil prisoners", and as such could wear our own clothes and keep tolerably warm. In 1959, with precisely the same charge, we were, for some reason, classified as ordinary convicted prisoners and so wore prison dress. We found out what it is like to be in Holloway in mid-winter in a cotton frock and threadbare cardigan. Outdoors, on the daily hour's exercise, prisoners have nothing warmer to wear than a short cape. On the very coldest days, even when not raining, we were not allowed out, presumably because the officers realised how inadequate our clothing was. The food did not seem as bad as the clothing. It was reminiscent of board-school meals in wartime. The sugar ration was microscopic, the milk intake negligible, and the sliced bread super-abundant. However, there were plenty of cooked vegetables, fruit occasionally, buns, fish and chips, and a reasonable supply of somewhat dubious-looking "beef".
When we were in Holloway the first time we were put on the First Offenders' Wing, which was run on quite imaginative lines. We slept in bedrooms instead of cells; and sitting on a cretonne-covered sofa in the common-room among cliques of gossiping women it was hard to believe we were in Holloway and not some Y. W. C. A. hostel. This time we were in the main prison block on the Remand Wing. Although nearly all the women on this wing were unsentenced, in many ways they had a worse time than anyone else in Holloway. They were locked up in their cells for the night at 4 p.m., whereas the rest of us were out till seven. On Christmas Day they emerged for only about an hour; and they were debarred from nearly all the prison entertainments. It seems an anomaly of British law that people regarded as innocent should not only be held in prison, but in addition should have a worse time than the sentenced prisoners. Among the assortment of remands, debtors, and drunks on this wing were several foreign girls who were waiting to be deported. They had not necessarily committed any offence other than failing to notify the authorities of a change of address; yet there they were, obliged in some cases to spend two or three weeks locked up in one of the dreariest parts of Holloway. They too, were locked in their cells at 4 p.m. and not allowed out to go to most of the prison entertainments.
Holloway reminded me in some ways of the old-fashioned mental hospital where I once worked. There was the same rigid, custodial atmosphere; the same humiliatingly shapeless clothes; the same clanking of keys and endless locking and unlocking of doors. Like mental patients, we were expected to cut up our food with a blunt tin blade – except at dinner-time, when, for some obscure reason, we were trusted not to commit suicide and supplied with knives. The officers themselves, however, compared favourably with the mental nurses I worked with. They treated those in their charge in a friendlier, more humane way.
But Holloway is still very far from being a therapeutic institution. The atmosphere is repressive, and it did not seem to us that any of the women we got to know were likely to "mend their ways" as a result of their spell "inside". The maladjusted girl of 16, with a history of emotional deprivation – foster homes, approved school, borstal – who was dragged to a punishment cell just before Christmas and hammered on the door for hours on end, could surely only be the worse for her experiences in prison. All too little psycho-therapy and intensive case work is possible among some three hundred social misfits catered for by only two or three welfare workers, one psychiatric social worker, one psychologist, and one part-time psychiatrist. We had disheartening conversations with teenage ex-borstal girls who were taking Holloway in their stride, and seemed quite reconciled to their fate. Prison sentences were certainly not going to cure or deter them.

Observations on Anarchy 7

ADVENTURE PLAYGROUNDS MAY OR MAY NOT be a parable of anarchy, but to understand them properly it is necessary first to define the term, and then to examine it objectively in the light of practice as well as theory. Adventure, like freedom, is elusive, and experience in this country over something like twelve years shows that we have by no means reached agreement on its definition. It is possible to visit playgrounds where every constructive activity is banned, where creative activities are organised by adults, and where every piece of equipment is rigidly fixed in the manner deplored by contributors to ANARCHY 7.
C.W's brief survey of the movement is truly excellent. Its weakness, perhaps (and one which arises only out of a necessary brevity) lies in the fact that it does not look deeply enough at those playgrounds which made the greatest impact – and not at all on those which, for one reason or another, were regarded as failures. I do not pretend to understand anarchistic philosophy – I do understand the pressures experienced by groups attempting to establish adventure playgrounds. Such pressures, experienced by practically all groups, resulted from (1) lack of funds, (2) untrained and inexperienced leadership, (3) weak community liaison and appreciation, and (4) a general lack of knowledge relative to (a) organisation and administration, and (b) clearly defined aims and objectives. But more than anything else, recent research shows there is an urgent need for a central co-ordinating body which

JOE BENJAMIN was the project leader of the Grimsby Adventure Playground. His report on the movement as a whole is shortly to be published by the National Council of Social Service, under the title In Search of Adventure.

will help the newly active citizen to avoid making the same disheartening mistakes today that were made when the first playground was started more than twelve years ago. Children get disheartened only temporarily, and return to a problem with new ideas and greater experience. This is not always the case with adults.
London, S.E.13.

Where Can They Play?

I should like to amplify some of the points made in your Playground issue (ANARCHY 7) by reference to the Housing Centre's study Two to Five in High Flats, which you mention in passing. It is assumed by architects and housing committees that in the growing number of "high" (i.e. more than five storeys) blocks of flats which are the result of the increasing pressure on urban land, families without children will occupy the upper, and those with young children the lower flats, and that play facilities for children under five will be provided within sight or earshot of their homes. But the pamphlet (which reports the findings of an enquiry into the play activities of children under school age now living in high flats, carried out by Mrs. Joan Maizels, together with an interim report by Peter Townsend and students of the LSE, on questions of play and safety, from a survey with wider terms of reference), shows that this assumption is far from correct, and that in spite of all sorts of official recommendations on the provision of play facilities, "official practice has lamentably failed to keep pace with precept".
Nearly three quarters of the mothers interviewed had some difficulty with their children's play, and wanted better playing facilities for their children more than any other possible improvements in the amenities on their estate, suggesting such facilities as nursery schools or classes (the Ministry of Education has put an absolute ban on new ones), or supervised play groups. The report points out that young children in high flats have a serious lack of opportunities to mix with other children, to play with earth and water, and for physical exercise. Perhaps the most serious deprivation is the limitation on easy mixing and playing with other children, "for only through play with others may the young child learn about co-operative social relationships. Mothers who expressed concern were sensitive to the fact that their young children are not, so far, provided with adequate opportunities for this process of discovery that adults call play."
Graphic illustration of this point comes from an article by Miss Joan Pearse who is supervisor of the nursery play-groups run by the Save the Children Fund on LCC housing estates. (The World's Children, Vol. 38, No.3). She gives this description of the effect on children of opening play groups in the tenants' club rooms on ten LCC estates:

Many of the children who attend these groups spend their first few visits in just letting off steam. It has been quite amazing to notice the change in the children – a change which seems hardly possible in such a short period as a week. One group comes very vividly to mind. When it opened, the active, eager children had no idea of any co-operative play. Supervision of the slide was a nightmare. Children were pulled backwards off the step by their hair – other children scrambled up the side and pushed the more timid child away – faces were scratched and shins kicked. The rider of a tricycle or scooter was dragged off, bricks were hurled at any other child approaching, and sand scattered about in wild abandon. But in a month – or sixteen hours of nursery time – the sense of fairness – the taking of a turn or the helping of a smaller child became apparent. Even more interesting was the gradual realisation of the fun of co-operative play – the friendships that were formed and the unity of the whole group which so recently resembled a bear garden.

It is evident that the children suffer, severely, from inadequate socialisation, and the first reaction of the reader of the report, or of Miss Pearse's article is that "they" – the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, or the Ministry of Housing, or their equivalents in the local authorities – should do something about it, since as Miss Pearse remarks, her organisation is only able to give "some temporary help to a few London children and their mothers." The second reaction however is to wonder why the people on the estate don't run their own nursery group. (The Save the Children Fund's method is to hold a meeting with the Tenants' Association which "usually agrees to be responsible for the provision of accommodation for the club, canteen facilities and a rota of voluntary helpers, while the organiser agrees on behalf of the Fund to provide trained help and the bulk of the equipment").
The answer given in Two to Five in High Flats is that "experience has shown that a purely voluntary rota for this purpose does not work well", and Mr. Macey, the Birmingham Housing Manager, at the RIBA symposium on "Family Life in High Density Housing" remarked that "Schemes for parents to co-operate together to supervise children using such amenities always seem to break down. Either it is not convenient to Mrs. Brown to carry out her voluntary turn of duty when it comes round, or she retires in a dudgeon because her child has been spoken to abruptly by a neighbour who is temporarily supervising the playground or play centre."
This in turn may lead us to reflect how far-reaching and life-long may be the "inadequate socialisation" which is the price we pay for making the Englishman's home his castle.
But to end on a more positive note, there has recently been formed a Nursery School Campaign, which is gaining support in several parts of the country, which has two aims: the first (which will probably not appeal to you), is to gather names for a petition to the Minister of Education, but the second is to encourage groups of mothers to start their own nursery schools wherever they can find suitable premises, employing trained teachers, especially those with their own small children who want only part-time jobs. The organiser is Mrs. B. Tutaev, of 4A Cavendish Mews South, London, W.l., who wants to hear from mothers and teachers who would like to create their own solutions to their problems.
London NW8

Anarchy #010

Issue of Anarchy magazine from December 1961

Anarchy10.pdf24.18 MB

Because he is a Man

I BEGAN READING ALAN SILLITOE'S NEW NOVEL,* a few hours after hearing he had joined us in the big sit-down, while I was lying on a police-cell floor during the long night of September 17th. I can think of no more suitable time and place, for Sillitoe has a voice of pure human dissent, like Sean O'Casey or John Osborne; there are no concessions attached to his total commitment. He offers no comforting message like Forster or Wesker, no prophetic cure like Shaw or Lawrence, no escape into art like Wilde or Behan, no indulgent affection like Orwell or MacInnes. He is just for the ordinary people and against their bosses and rulers, without question or quarter.

As everyone knows, Sillitoe made his name with his first novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958), a début quite as remarkable as Lucky Jim or Room at the Top; the original edition has sold over 10,000 copies, the paperback edition has sold nearly a million, and the excellent film must have reached several million more people who had never heard of the book. Who read this book? "Ordinary working-class people", its author replies. It was followed by a collection of short stories, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1959), some of which – especially the outstanding title story – are even better than the novel. Then came a political fantasy, The General (1960), and a book of verse, The Rats (1960), neither of which I liked very much, despite their admirable sentiments. I remember even having the impertinence to tell the author to go back and write what he knew;

*Key to the Door (W. H. Allen, 18s.).

this he has now done, and here we have a long novel by present standards (which is also cheap by present standards) which makes me feel I was right, for it is an important and impressive achievement. Sillitoe has proved that his talent was not just a flash in the pan, like that of so many of the other new writers since the war; his last book stands firmly on the same high level as the first two.

Key to the Door has the function in its author's work that Of Human Bondage, Eyeless in Gaza and Dr. Zhivago had in theirs – to make a major statement about the meaning of his life and his ideas in the framework of a large semi-autobiographical novel. Because of Sillitoe's background and his reaction to it this statement takes the form of a powerful protest against his society – the sort of protest made in Death of a Hero, The Grapes of Wrath and From Here to Eternity. I use these names deliberately; this is a big book. As a much-publicised Book Society choice, it will be enjoyed by many thousands of readers – but I wonder how many of them will understand what it is trying to say. Alan Sillitoe didn't come and sit down in Trafalgar Square for the sake of his health or his reputation, and the reasons he came are clear enough in Key to the Door. If the Establishment had any sense it would be worried about this book and its author. If we have any sense we will read the one and listen to the other.

Here is the story of the first twenty-one years in the life of Brian Seaton, who was born when Lady Chatterley found her lover, in the same part of England – industrial Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire – and shares with his author the same working-class origins that Oliver Mellors and Paul Morel shared with theirs (indeed, though there is no sign of imitation, the first part of Key to the Door reminded me strongly of Sons and Lovers). Readers of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning will remember its tough hero Arthur Seaton, his brother Fred and sister Margaret, his aunt Ada and cousin Bert; well they are all here, though Brian – the eldest Seaton brother – didn't appear in the earlier book. Arthur's story is set in the fifties, the age of full employment and television; Brian's is set in the thirties and forties, the age of unemployment and war. Here is the background not only of Brian Seaton and his brother, but of Alan Sillitoe and the best of his work, described in satisfying and convincing detail.

As in the earlier book, there is no conventional plot, no real sense of the passage of time, no contrived development or revelation – just a series of vivid episodes piling on top of each other, the last one fitting naturally into its place. The characters don't change much; they grow up, and struggle or give in, and fade away – birth and copulation and death, sometimes with good luck, usually with bad. But in the end Arthur came to some sort of terms with the world he defied; and in the same way Brian, a gentler person, finds the key to his door, though it is cut by everything that has happened to him from the material he was born with. There is no slick dénouement to round off the book; the story is real and its conclusion is real, for there is nothing phoney about Sillitoe.

There is richness here, more than he has shown before. The child growing up with his brothers and sisters in the shadow of a hot-tempered, foul-mouthed father (very like Walter Morel) and a rather helpless nagging mother (not like Gertrude Morel), with interesting aunts and grandparents, all in the deeper shadow of the Depression; his struggle to find knowledge in dictionaries and maps, excitement in The Count of Monte Cristo and Les Misérables, identity and meaning in the harsh world of the industrial Midlands in the terrible thirties – all this is done with deep feeling and skill.

But Key to the Door is no portrait of the artist as an angry young man, or even as a hungry young man. It is far more than autobiographical self-pity. Brian Seaton grows up in a grim age, but he is no more a grim person than his creator. When the hungry years are over he puts them behind him, though – like his creator – he never forgets his early loathing of the people who kept the rotten system going and prolonged the hopeless helpless hunger of his childhood. "I don't know why they have coppers," says young Brian, "they're worse than school-teachers." "No difference," says his cousin, "it's all part of the gov'ment." Nonsense on the surface, but good sense underneath. Sillitoe does not preach resignation, as Arnold Bennett did, nor does he, godlike, rescue his hero from his predicament, as H. G. Wells did and as John Braine has done.
There is no consolation in religion. "There ain't no bastard God!" his father shouts; and little Brian reflects that "his teacher said that God loved everybody: Italians gassing blackies and mowing 'em down with machine-guns: dole, thunderstorms, school". Nor is there consolation in the nihilism expressed by Arthur Seaton in the earlier book. The only true consolation is in hatred of the top-dogs and solidarity with all other underdogs. When Brian looked at a picture of Shylock in a school edition of Shakespeare, "he knew whose side he was on and who would be on his side if he could suddenly come to life and step out of the printed book"; he admired the caricatured Jew for defying his persecutors.

When Brian buys a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, his father is furious. "Yer've wasted 'alf a crown on a book?" he exclaims – furious not because he is illiterate (although he is) but because he is unemployed and can't afford food, let alone books. But the investment pays off; in his book Brian "heard the patient scraping and scratching of freedom, was shown that even dungeons and giant prisons were unable to keep men in forever". Even bitter poverty is unable to quench his thirst for knowledge and truth. Later he buys Les Misérables too, and reads about "the battle between a common man and the police who would not let him be free because he had once stolen a loaf of bread for the children of his starving sister". His own father goes to prison when he steals to feed his family. The problem of literary commitment is no problem for Brian Seaton; Dumas and Hugo are on his side and describe his predicament in imaginative terms – that is enough.

Perhaps it is difficult now to imagine a child who has to say: "My dad's allus on dole … Nearly all the kids at school 'ave got dads on dole." But Love on the Dole was published in 1933; the last great Hunger March took place just twenty-five years ago; Wal Hannington's National Unemployed Workers' Movement was pursuing its brilliant campaign well into 1939, when there were still over two million unemployed. We should remember the context of the first part of of Key to the Door. It would be strange if Brian Seaton (and Alan Sillitoe) were not on the far left in politics.

Even after the betrayal of 1931, hatred of top-dogs and solidarity with underdogs meant support of the Labour Party for most people. "Labour was the best thing – and if Brian ever felt distrust for that sympathetic organisation it was only because all big names seemed like devil's threats to hold his soul in thrall." How right he was; and in fact he grows up to become a common sort of war-time fellow-traveller who scrawls LONG LIVE RUSSIA AND STALIN up by his 137 books and hopes that the 1945 election means the coming of his ideas of socialism – "he knew that all men were brothers and that the wealth of the world should be pooled and divided fairly among those who worked."

Back in the thirties war is welcomed because it means the end of want – what is rationing to starvelings in their hunger or conscription to men without work? But there are no illusions about it. When he asks his grandmother who won the first world war, her answer is simply "Nobody". And when Munich comes, the sadistic schoolmaster reminds the boys that "war is nothing but pain". Nor is there any illusion about Munich. "They'll be no peace in our time," says Brian's mother. "No," agrees his father, "nor in any other bloody time either." Nor later is there any illusion about Churchill – "Owd Fatguts", they call him. "He didn't give a bogger about us. It was all his bleeding factory owners he saved … It was him and his gang as turned hosepipes on the hunger-marchers before the war." Cynicism without illusions is necessary for survival. "It's no worse in a war than it is now," Brian is told. "You get boggered from pillar to post and get nowt to eat, just the same." For most people in the world this is the simple truth.

Brian is too young to fight in the War, but he is called up soon after it and volunteers for service overseas, although he has just married the girl he gets into trouble (who is rather like Doreen in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning), because he wants to see something of the world before he settles down. The second part of the book alternates between his youth in wartime Nottingham and his experience in Malaya. He discovers the truth of "Orwell's Law" (that the oppressed proletariat of Britain has its own oppressed proletariat in the coloured parts of the British Empire – a version of the law that there's always someone worse off than you), he has an affair with a Chinese girl (who is uncomfortably like Suzie Wong), and he meets an example of the familiar species of the anarchic NCO (who reads The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and is very like Jack Malloy in From Here to Eternity). Meanwhile we learn about his first jobs at home, and his courtship of Pauline. Corporal Knotman, the anarchist, is important, since he helps to give shape to Brian's spontaneous political ideas. He is a regular who fought through the war and is almost due for release. "I've learnt to know what freedom means in these last eight years … and the bloke who doesn't learn that, sooner or later, isn't fit to be on the face of the earth, because they're the types that end up as the enemies and persecutors of those who know what freedom means." Like all real soldiers he has no hatred for his official enemies. "It's them who shout 'Charge' and 'Up and at 'em lads' who are your biggest enemies." He has evolved his own form of individualism, and he sees a kindred spirit in Brian. "You're not a communist … You might be a socialist when you've read more and know a bit about it … If you're anything you're a socialist-anarchist." One is reminded of the "anarchist socialism" described in the editorial of the first number of FREEDOM (reprinted in the 75th anniversary issue on October 21st); Brian Seaton, like Alan Sillitoe, is an old-fashioned – a pre-1917 – socialist, as interested in liberty and fraternity as in equality.

Knotman adds mysteriously: "History is on our side, so just bide your time: you won't even know when to act; the first thing you'll know you'll be acting – and in the right way." This recalls the end of The Rats, and we are led to anticipate a semi-existentialist act of defiance like that in The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. But what happens is more than an act of defiance: Brian is more mature than the Borstal boy, and manages to combine defiance of the top-dogs with an expression of solidarity with the underdogs.
The war against the Communist guerrillas begins just before he leaves Malaya, and he is involved in a skirmish with them. Sure enough, he finds himself acting – by deliberately shooting at trees instead of Communists, and even releasing a Communist he has captured by mistake. The only casualty in his unit is a typical middle-class dissenter, who speaks big but shoots straight enough when it comes to the point, and his death might have been Brian's fault. But he knows he was right. He imagines himself telling his father about it. "I caught a Communist and let him go," he says. I let him go because he was a comrade! I didn't kill him because he was a man."
This is the key to the book. Brian's moment of decision comes when he is face to face with a fellow-countryman of his mistress, a fellow-opponent of the top-dogs, a fellow human being. His "duty" is to kill him or take him prisoner; but he knows that his real duty is to let him go. Similarly his real duty is to marry Pauline when she becomes pregnant and to go back to her when he gets out of the army, despite his feelings for Mimi, to stay with his own people – his family, his mates, his class – and to be a "socialist-anarchist".
The book closes with Brian on the way home to the England that is struggling out of austerity into affluence, to the busy Nottingham in which the Cherry Orchard (significant name!) where he used to play as a child and where he later used to make love with Pauline, has been built over. He is 21 and he has become a man. "He somehow felt he had the key to the door … And with the key to the door all you need to do now," he decides, "was flex your muscles to open it … At least my eyes have been opened. All I've got to do now is to see with them, and when one person sees, maybe the next one will as well." As with Arthur in the earlier book, the time has come to settle down and hand life and liberty on to the next generation. "I'll spend a night or two helping the union, you can bet, because somebody's got to do it, and I feel I'm just the bloke for a thing like that. I'll get to know what's what as well, pull a few more books into the house to see what makes the world tick, maybe read some of those I nicked years ago."
But he hasn't been tamed by any means. It is worth remembering what Sillitoe said about his work on the film of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: "I didn't want Arthur Seaton … getting transmogrified into a young workman who turns out to be an honest-to-goodness British individualist – that is, one who triumphs in the end against and at the expense of a communist agitator or the trade unions. I didn't want him to become a tough stereotype with, after all, a heart of moral gold which has in it a love of the monarchy and all that old-fashioned muck."

In the same way, Alan Sillitoe himself hasn't been tamed. He has refused to be turned aside by the people who would like him to be either responsible or sensational (i.e. conformist or melodramatic). In a way this harms Key to the Door. He is so anxious to make himself clear, that he has made his book far too long, and parts of it tend to drag badly without the pressure that drove Saturday Night and Sunday Morning along – constructive anarchism is far more difficult to get across than destructive nihilism. Other defects are that Brian is a slightly colourless character and that the sex in his story seems to come to him rather too easily: surely there would have been some obstacles of the kind that Paul Morel encountered fifty years ago? Perhaps a more serious defect is that the symbolism that recurs in the book tends to get lost – the storms, the animals' deaths, the mountain-climb and so on all have important functions in the story, but what these functions are is not always clear.

Nevertheless, the statement made in Key to the Door is clear enough, and the book is certainly a vital part of Sillitoe's work. It would be absurd merely to label him as an "anarchist writer" but it would be equally absurd for anarchists to ignore what he has to say – and not only in his novels, stories and poems. Like John Osborne or like Sean O'Casey, he sometimes seems naive and confused, but like them he is in touch with things that matter. Consider his comment on the big sit-down: "The anti-bomb campaign is, obviously a political movement. It is also disenfranchised and, as such, is revolutionary, more dangerous than if it had a couple of hundred M.P.s in Parliament – which would make it useless. The longer it remains unrepresented the more certain will be its complete victory … Everyone who sat down in Trafalgar Square did so for political reasons, and in so doing they threaten (or would do if there were enough of them) the basis on which the present political life of this country stands."

Sillitoe is a revolutionary writer and a writing revolutionary. Brian Seaton is a worthy successor to Frank Owen, and Alan Sillitoe is a worthy successor to Robert Noonan, the unhappy pseudonymous author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Seaton is luckier than Owen, because his comrades have won a better share of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; Sillitoe is luckier than Noonan, because of his comrades, the people who read his books, and certainly we should be among them, because he too is a comrade, because he is a man.

Notes of an Accidental Jailer

COLIN MACINNES is the author of three remarkable novels of London life in the fifties, City of Spades, Absolute Beginners, and Mr. Love and Justice. His recent book of essays England, Half English gave him the reputation of "England's most sensitive recorder of the contemporary scene."

THE LEAST EXPERIENCE OF PRISONS teaches you that they're criminal universities for prisoners; they morally corrupt all law-enforcement officers; they make criminal the societies they're intended to 'protect'.
Like every human creature I have ever met or heard of, I am in part evil. Between the convicted and the unconvicted, the only differences I can see are those of fact, or of degree, not that of essence. Morally, we're all in the nick; but most of us are lucky, prudent, or our private evil's licensed by our laws.
Criminal law, in any society, is a haphazard approximation – usually with a time-lag of at least 50 years – to whatever this society supposes absolute law to be: the law of God, of Marx, or of a terrified Caribbean general. The varieties of crime – and therefore 'criminal' – in the world today are eccentric, extensive, totally irrational.
But even when the rules are understood, their application fluctuates from man to man. I was once accused of a crime in company with fourteen others. Two of us only were acquitted, since we could both pay for lawyers.

Unless a man is rich or of strong nerve, the real trial happens before he ever sees a court. The first 24 hours after arrest – especially the first hour – determine subsequent police procedure. If he's alone, frightened, friendless, he'll convict himself – whether guilty, innocent, or 'guilty in fact but not by evidence'.
Are coppers monsters, then? Do they use violence, perjury, can they be corrupted? And if they do and can, who is "to blame" for this?
Direct knowledge – let alone common-sense – must tell us violence is used. You're one, they're six, it's 3 a.m., you 'don't want to co-operate' … what on earth must happen? When your 'case' comes up (one of hundreds they've handled – perjury ceases to be a 'problem'), are they going to 'tell the whole truth' against their profoundest professional instincts? In the criminal world, if a discreet man with fivers falling out of his ears offers money to a man much poorer, yet momentarily powerful, how likely will the poorer man be to refuse it?

But let us consider the policeman's problem. In countries where it's realised what coppers are and must be (i.e. in every one, it seems, except our own), he's not subjected, as he is in England, to the contradictory public pressures of both 'getting his man', and being a knight in shining armour. Further, because of his perilous power, he's exposed, throughout his professional life, to terrible moral dangers. To be a good copper, and a good man is, in these conditions, almost to be a saint. In addition, he's lonely: for despite archaic (largely bourgeois) legends of the public's trust in him, he's really a soldier of an occupation army. Also, his job's bloody dangerous, come to think of it.

What is detestable in England isn't coppers, isn't criminals, but the wilful dishonesty of the right-thinking public that expects an idiot like Dixon of Dock Green to get results … and thinks of the 'criminal classes' as if such a 'class' were hereditary and permanent. What we should feel for coppers, and for criminals, is positive pity: if only for this reason – the intense sadness of their lives. (And may I add a current example of this high-minded obliqueness – which my gentle readers will like less, I imagine – and that is the shocked indignation of those who sat down in Trafalgar Square, at their subsequent treatment by the police. What sort of world do they think they live in? Don't they know 'civil disobedience' is militant – or meaningless? Didn't Gandhi's followers get their way in the end precisely because they understood what they were doing? Aren't there hundreds of thousands of Continental Europeans who've suffered, often anonymously, for their ideas? Can't they realize the honour, and effectiveness, of a political prisoner is that he's treated worse? Of course they're right to protest! But the tone of injured amazement – 'they can't do this to me' – is immodest, unrealistic, and 'respectable').

And what of the Courts? First, it has always seemed to me bizarre that men (barristers – not even solicitors) who spend half their lives pleading cases this way or that for fees, should suddenly be deemed objective underneath a judge's wig. Any experience of their conduct and pronouncements must give them top marks for knowledge of the rules (the Law), often for 'impartiality' (within the limitations of these laws) – and no marks at all for any direct knowledge of the 'criminal world'. It is as if there were a kind of doctor called a Diagnostician, who'd never been inside a hospital, not even lanced a boil – but who could decide, simply by hearing others, what fatal operation was best for you and me.

I cannot take any judge – or magistrate – seriously for a second who has learned of crime only at second hand, like a voyeur peering at a brothel. Nor anyone who judges yet who has not seen, himself feeling it in the flesh, the physical and moral consequences of his sentences – including hanging.
So what, clever boy, do you propose? As usual, a totally impractical idea, that better men than I have long known before, and which no doubt will – in several hundred years or so – become a commonplace. Namely, that the responsibility for criminals is society's. We now accept that children, or the sick (but not yet the mentally sick, or the very old), should be cared for, and protected by those of us who are adults in good health. In any society I'd not be ashamed of, a criminal act by one of us should immediately be the intense, prior preoccupation of at least half-a-dozen of his fellows. The 'prison' I envisage is one where every malefactor would find at once surrounding him a dozen who, recognizing their own evil in him, would try to help him out as a voluntary human duty (and a f–g nuisance it would be, admittedly).
This means, of course, a reform not of prisons, but of ourselves: since 'prison reform' is an illusion, or at best a palliative. So long as we are inwardly attracted by crime, as we are – just look at any of the mass media if you're doubtful about this – we will have prisons, and remain criminals outside them. Until we face our own, we shall project it onto others; and crime and criminals will attract us as deeply as they repel us. Criminal law, and law-enforcement officers, make crime: if you don't believe me, consult the shades of Beria or of Himmler … though they, of course, were foreigners.
In spring 1945, by an extraordinary series of accidents, I found myself ad hoc 'governor' of a German prison containing 1,200 (approximately – no one knew the exact number) prisoners, some Allied, some German, some political, some criminal. My 'duty' was to let out only the Allied politicals; but by the time I was superseded, everyone was out except for a hundred or so ('or so'!) German murderers, rapists, bludgeoners and so forth. My only regret now is at my timorous prejudice against letting everybody out while I still could– against letting these demons out into a safe, pure world where 15 million Europeans had just recently been murdered legally.
So one of those released murderers might have killed you?' I hope I am true to myself in saying I'd rather he did, than be responsible for what I saw inside that prison.

Fourier's Utopia

The first part of this article is reproduced from Augustus John's 'fragments of autobiography' Chiaroscuro (1952) by kind permission of Messrs. Jonathan Cape; the second part was originally published in Albert McCarthy's anarchist quarterly Delphic Review in 1949.


LET US PAY A VISIT to Charles Fourier's Utopia. Philosophers from Plato downwards have built Utopias. That of the commercial traveller we are going to take a glimpse of is not the least interesting. Here we are in the 'age of harmony'. It supersedes our 'civilisation' even as this has replaced 'barbarism'. The political unit here is the phalanstery. We will visit one of these imaginary institutions, reconstructing it from Fourier's voluminous writings as best we can, but adding a touch or two of our own. Fourier elaborated the constitution and working of his society down to the last detail, but much of this is too complicated and fanciful to be dealt with here. With a fundamental basis of sound sense, there appears in his speculations a note of extravagance. When, for instance, he envisages the harnessing of the Aurora Borealis, with the conversion of its light into heat, rendering thereby the climate of the Arctic regions eminently suitable for market gardening, I for one, feel baffled. Yet since the writing of these Fragments, the newly revealed possibilities of atomic energy have included this very miracle in its programme. Few would agree with his denigration of bread as an article of diet, but Fourier found it unpalatable; besides which, he argued, the cultivation of wheat took up far too much space, time and trouble. He advocated the use in its place of fruit and vegetables with the addition of fish and the products of the chase: but milk would be available and no doubt beef and mutton, though I remember no reference to these commodities in the selected résumé of his works, sympathetically edited by the well-known economist Charles Gide, to which I have had access.

As we approach, the phalanstery shows itself, standing on an eminence like a little hill-town. Surrounded by lesser buildings within the containing wall, the taller reminds me somewhat of the Pope's Palace at Avignon. The Line of the horizon is broken by distant silhouettes of more than one such landmark. We pass a troupe of magnificent children, amusing themselves at their task of scavenging and mending the road. ('Children love dirt'.) These are the petites hordes to quote an example of Fourier's extraordinary nomenclature. By the river which partly encircles the phalanstery, a band of Nomads have pitched their tents. They seem to be making derisory comments on our appearance in an unknown tongue … (Fourier himself mentions no such people). Crossing the bridge, we penetrate the enclosure by a nobly planned gateway, bearing sculpture of arresting and unfamiliar quality. The outer walls appear to serve no military purpose but merely confine the town within the bounds of expansion prescribed by the philosopher. Fourier realized the truth that human greatness flourishes in inverse ratio to the size of the community, and limited his population, at most, to 1,700. A superfluity would set forth to found a new phalanstery. Thus the whole land becomes dotted by these ganglions of social life, between which there will be constant interplay and traffic. Proceeding through the glass-covered, air-conditioned and impeccably clean streets, we arrive at the Central Market Place. Under its tall trees numbers of people are taking the air: many sit before the taverns or under the arcades which alternate between the loftier facades of Church, Operahouse, University, Hall of Exchange, Library, Theatre, Council House and such communal centres of culture. Although it is of recent date with no sign of dilapidation, a mysterious air of antiquity pervades the whole, as if a Mycenean or Huanacan city had come to life again. Raised in the centre, a great stone figure of a woman with head uplifted gazes at the sun, which shines through a hole in her torso. It may be a work by the twentieth-century statuary, Henry Moore. Although the inhabitants show much diversity in costume, which seems to indicate their occupation as much as the exercise of personal taste (the women showing a greater degree of uniformity), we meet with no signs of indigence. Fourier was no leveller, and admitted every degree of function and dignity in his world; but all, it appears, are shareholders in the common stock. The phalanstery, in a literal sense, belongs to all who belong to it.

In Civilisation the family was held to be the basic unit of society; not so in Harmony. It was observed that this institution, instead of welding society together was, on the contrary, a primary cause of its disruption. The interests of the family were seen to supplant those of the community as a whole, giving rise to class cleavage, intrigue, aggression, power-politics and finally war. With all its holy glamour, it tended to become an important accessory of business, with prostitution as its necessary adjunct. Here, the free association of the sexes carries no shadow of disrepute, and the resultant unions, without religious sanction or the constraints of law, are often seen to be remarkably durable, and that, moreover, without the concurrence of the brothel, which is unknown in Harmony. As for the ruling class, there does not appear to be one, for the philosopher, poet, man of science, artist or saint, who rank highest in popular esteem, wield no power at all other than moral or intellectual.

Some individuals, too, of no such high standing, exercise as much authority in private as in the council chamber. A certain shoe-maker, I was told, was constantly resorted to by people in difficulties for his sound judgment and advice. But have not cobblers always been noted for their sagacity? We saw no police or soldiers in evidence and asked our guide, 'What about your frontiers, how are they guarded?' 'Frontiers,' he repeated stupidly, 'Frontiers? But we haven't any.' In this somewhat primitive community money is not regarded as wealth in itself, but is merely used to facilitate exchange. By applying at the bank you can have as much as you like. It is in great request with the children, who use it as counters in a game called 'Business' or 'Beggar my Neighbour'. Anthropologists say this game, like 'Hop-Scotch', is of very ancient origin.

And now we notice a great stir and hubbub. In every direction people are issuing from their workshops and factories and hastening to the gardens and orchards which stretch far beyond the circumference of the phalanstery. It is the hour when work is changed. In many cases a man has two, three or more pursuits which he follows in rotation: by this system monotony and rustiness are avoided. Above all work on the land at regular intervals is found to be especially beneficial. Dancing of a communal and ritual character is much cultivated. Music, ballet and theatre flourish, and in the cathedral the rites of birth, love and death are celebrated with great splendour and solemnity. The Festivals of the Sun, Moon and Planets, with other objects of worship, as types of Ultimate Reality afford occasion for pageantry, song and dance, of a highly spectacular and exhilarating nature. Often at these events a good deal of buffoonery and horse-play is indulged in. I inquired, 'Do you ever have rows, quarrels?' 'Oh yes,' was the reply, 'plenty; but for those who want to fight, there is always the Ring down there,' said my informant pointing to the Stadium by the river.
As we continued our exploration, we came across a small house with a very large window giving on to a garden where was seated a venerable personage in a blouse, engaged in painting a young woman posed under a tree. 'Our oldest inhabitant,' said the guide, tapping his forehead significantly. One of our party remarked that the old gentleman looked like a revised and much improved edition of myself. I thanked him for the compliment and passed on.

Upon taking leave at the gate, the same witty fellow made a final inquiry: 'And how are you represented in the central legislature or governing body of the State; by a delegate, deputy or member from each phalanstery, or from a group of phalansteries?' Our guide was obviously shocked. 'We mind our own business,' he murmured, then pointing to an inscription over the arch, vanished. The inscription, in letters of gold, was to this effect: WHEN THE STATE CEASETH LOOK MY BROTHERS DO YOU NOT SEE THE RAINBOWS AND THE BRIDGES OF THE BEYOND?


Many civilisations no less splendid than our own have passed utterly away under the assaults of conquest and disease. What secret of longevity can we claim, what extenuating circumstances plead, that will immunise us from a like fate, and, sentenced to death as we are, reprieve us at the eleventh hour?
Are not all human societies, like the men and women who compose them, subject to the same law of growth, flowering and decay? In the case of individuals, we are accustomed on perceiving signs of distress to send for the Doctor; for immediate and complete extinction is distasteful to most of us, and even those who cannot conscientiously aspire to immortality, will bank on some degree of perpetuation through the medium of their descendants' progressively diluted blood-stream. But we are now threatened with a catastrophe which will mean the extinction not only of ourselves, but of our children; the annihilation of society itself. Before putting forth the only suggestion I can offer in this predicament, let us take another look round …
Upon examining the banners of the protagonists, we find to our astonishment, that all bear the same device; not Excelsior but Democracy! When the fighting starts, every man provided by his government with a gun, will be told to go forth and murder his opposite number in the cause of Democracy; so that when the carnage is over, Democracy will have won for a certainty, though the Democrats will have been considerably thinned out in the process. Is it worth it?

I doubt myself that, left to themselves, people of different provenance, on meeting, will instinctively leap at each other's throats: on the contrary, the general rule is to show extra politeness to foreigners. Who has not seen various racial elements mingling together in a spirit of perfect good-fellowship? Such assemblages are an excuse for conviviality, not an occasion for strife. But political propaganda is quite capable of proving black to be white, of reviving ancient rancour, of instilling fear and arousing in an innocent but gullible people, the rage and fury which is the prelude to blows. Propaganda in the service of ideology is the now perfected science of lying as a means of power. It was noticed that the most inflammable types of human war-material were not to be found among the intelligentsia, and accordingly, Propaganda for Power, like the New Journalism, addresses itself directly to the ignorant, the immature and the mentally defective – the majority in fact. Have we not achieved universal suffrage and isn't one vote as good as another? A non-voter myself and no great democrat either, I propose to keep out of the mélée. I am quite without military ambition. La Gloire, in modern conditions leaves me stone cold. Strict neutrality however, will prove difficult to maintain. One's erring sympathies may betray themselves, and, oscillating, say, between the magic of Wall Street and the fairy-like lure of the Kremlin, lead to trouble. We will be watched, and as nothing excites suspicion like silence, I have decided that a practice of ceaseless, and inconsequent loquacity should be cultivated, for, if it comes to being put to the question, with or without thumbscrews or other aids to veracity, such a line will be least compromising, and most likely to provide an intellectual alibi.

Though National Sovereign States, are by definition, bound to fall foul of one another; when thus employed, the combatants, by arrangement, may at a given moment, relent, cease fire, and in a burst of brotherly love, embrace and swear eternal friendship. The soldiers naturally welcome such a breathing-space and an emotional orgy follows. The murderous swine of yesterday, by a rapid metamorphosis, become the brave comrades of today. Unfortunately such a decision dictated by expediency alone, may, when necessary, be reversed for the same reasons, and the shooting starts again. The State must not be judged by human standards nor even be personified as representing the quintessence of the soul of the people it manipulates. The State is immoral and accountable to nobody. But what is this 'quintessence''? It consists in the people's needs and in their dreams. They need the means to gain their living; freedom to use their native tongue; to preserve their customs; to practice any form of religion they choose; to honour their ancestors (if any); to conserve and transmit their cultural traditions, and in general to mind their own business without interference. And the Land? But, in this country, the people seem to have forgotten the land of their fore-fathers; the vast Common Lands of England, held by them from time immemorial, and completely enclosed by Act of Parliament, and only in the last century we have lost our Commons but keep the House of Commons, which played this trick and still give our votes to the suppliants who periodically come begging for a seat in the best club in London …

With the mention of hedges I come to my proposal of an alternative to a collective suicide pact. Hedges are miniature frontiers when serving as bulkheads, not wind-screens. Hedges as bulkheads, dividing up the Common Land should come down, for they represent and enclose stolen property. Frontiers are extended hedges, and divide the whole world into compartments as a result of aggression and legalised robbery. They too should disappear. There is nothing sacred about them for they are often shifted, as they have been erected, by force and fraud. They stand for no ethnological distinctions, for all races are inextricably mixed, and, in any case, should not be divided but joined. Frontiers serve no useful purpose for, costly as they are to guard, they have never stopped a conqueror yet, or checked the scramble for Lebensraum. They are absolute militarily though still an incentive to aggression. They give rise to the morbid form of patriotism known as Chauvinism or Jingoism. Frontiers besides are a great hindrance to trade and travel with their customs barriers, tariffs and douanes. We hear a good deal, though not enough talk, about doing away with passports. It would be more to the point to abolish the frontiers they symbolize. People will love their country no less for being free to get out of it now and then, and in the contemplation of other peoples' performances
in the Art of Living, learn to estimate their own with all the more accuracy.

But it may be asked, without frontiers what on earth would become of the State? There would be complete chaos surely. The answer is:- deprived of national frontiers, the State would undoubtedly 'wither away', as prophesied by Messrs. Marx and Lenin, as due to take place upon the imposition of the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat'. In their case, it must be admitted, the programme does not seem to have gone according to schedule: far from it, in fact; but to our ears, the sacred formula of social salvation used above, never did sound re-assuring. What's a Proletariat anyway! Never heard of it! We know what a Dictator is however … As for 'chaos', we've got that already. The withered State, will, of course, be replaced by a consultative body of scientific experts, issuing, not ukases but recommendations.

With the debunking and levelling of frontiers (though some picturesque bits might be preserved, like Bokerly Dyke and Grimm's Ditch), the whole pattern of society would change. No longer in the form of the Pyramid, it would come to resemble rather the constitution of Amoeba, which alone among living organisms possesses the secret of immortality. The monstrous 'wens' of capital cities and industrial towns would shrink and disappear in favour of a multiplicity of small communities dotted over the country, autonomous, self-supporting, federated and reciprocally free. To preserve these nerve-centres of human activity at a manageable size, growth would proceed, not by accretion but by proliferation. Gigantism is a disease. Where there will be no frontiers to be violated, no fortresses to subdue, no capitals to sack, soldiers will be an anachronism and will be forced by circumstances to make themselves useful. With no armies to support, no taxes, no dollars, and no debts, man will be economically in a sound position; he will be a shareholder in his Commune which will belong to him inasmuch as he belongs to it. Let not the ambitions be discouraged by the modest size of our village commune, phalanstery, or Kibbutz. Genius has been known to flourish in comparative solitude. Classical Athens was hardly bigger than Fordingbridge.

Such disturbances as may from time to time, interrupt the general harmony, will be local, insignificant, and possibly enlivening like a football or boxing match: there will be the Stadium handy. The spiritual revolution which must necessarily precede the inauguration of a world without war, will not at once inflame the imaginations of our up to-date good-timers. The goal, to the hard-boiled, will seem visionary, its attainment uncomfortable. For some people Beatitude itself must prove disappointing. It is to the religious that we should turn, rather than to the devotees of Fashion and the Fun-Fair. The Baptists, for example, should not find our Primitivism repugnant, and their own initiatory rites might well be adopted by the Fundamentalists of the future.

Whatever excitements and amenities we may be called upon to sacrifice, at least no monotony need be feared, under a form of society of which each unit reflects the character and cultural standards of its builders, and where everyone is at liberty to choose his environment and when he likes, change it for another.
What predominant type might we expect to emerge after a generation or two of experiment in such conditions? The answer to this question should decide the issue for "man is the measure" always. We do not look to Nietzsche's Superman perhaps, still less to his despised homme bonasse. Born and bred in peace and freedom and reared in familiarity with the nature he will have learned both to worship and, in part, subdue, he will have inherited from his pioneer progenitors the manners becoming a free man: wise in his simplicity, contemptuous of power, indifferent to office, this, the Common man, will gladly fill the humblest role in the community he elects to serve. His boon companions, artist, philosopher and vagabond, will always be at call, with the women and children not far off, either …

Augustus John an Appreciation

WHEN AUGUSTUS JOHN DIED at the age of 83 on October 31st, the newspapers were full of such adjectives as "boisterous, blustering, brilliant" (Daily Herald) and "robust, swashbuckling, romantic" (The Times). Those who saw him as a grave and courteous old gentleman, who, though he was the finest draughtsman this country has produced, was his own severest critic as a painter, must have felt that the papers were talking about someone else – a superannuated Errol Flynn. It is characteristic that none of the newspapers called him an anarchist, which is what he called himself, and that only one of them mentioned that his last public act was to take part in the illegal 'sit-down' in Trafalgar Square on September 17th, organised by the Committee of 100, of which he was a member.
John was a subscriber to FREEDOM and ANARCHY, and a generous supporter of Freedom Press for many years – he always claimed to be our oldest reader. One of his last letters must have been his message of greetings to the Anarchist Ball on October 20th, celebrating the 75th anniversary of Freedom Press, evoking his memories of its founder Peter Kropotkin, and Mr. Anthony Powell recalled last week how "when he did a drawing of me not many months ago, he talked of Verlaine, Moréas, Kropotkin …" His association with the anarchists went back to the 'nineties when he and his sister first came to London to study at the Slade, and "used to attend anarchist meetings in the Fitzroy quarter". There they heard Louise Michel, the 'Red Virgin' of the Paris Commune of 1871: "The little old lady in black made a dramatic figure as, in prophesy, she thrust out a lean and accusatory claw. Gwen and I once attended a party organised for the benefit of David Nichol, a colporteur of anarchist literature, including the journal FREEDOM." At these meetings (John recalled in Horizon, April 1949), "More than once I listened to the voice of Peter Kropotkin. The great and tireless champion of Freedom, correctly attired in his revolutionary frockcoat, beamed on his audience with the true rayonnement of goodness, courage and faith. In him, these qualities, supported by the authority of a scholar, joined in condemnation of society, based, it would appear, on corrupt and insecure foundations: this student of Dante, geographer, anthropologist and historian, pointed the way to a new social order with its roots in the Commune, the fertile bed from which had sprung, in mediaeval times, those flowers of civilisation, the Free City and the Gothic church."

Half a century later, when the editors of FREEDOM were in the dock at the Old Bailey in 1945, there was John in the public gallery, making a fuss about being asked by an official to produce an identity card. He was a sponsor of the Freedom Defence Committee, and a lifelong protester about invasions of civil liberties. Very many years ago, in his monograph on John's paintings, T. W. Earp, referring to his reticence on the non-professional side of his life, noted that "The newspapers, have recorded two characteristic gestures: one was a protest against the refusal of admission to Epsom racecourse of his friends the gipsies; the other, his support of a movement opposing undue restrictions upon the liberty of the subject."

These were indeed, preoccupations of his, ever since, as a boy, he had felt in his father's house "that I was living in a kind of mortuary where everything was dead", while he and his sister, "longing for a wider, freer world than that symbolically enclosed by Tenby's town walls; we craved for Art, Liberty, Life, perhaps Love!" This early sans-culottism, as he called it, "was succeeded by a higher form of anarchism, vehement only in a growing apprehension of the corruptibility of Power, and the moral bankruptcy of the masses, since, Esau-like they have bartered their birthright for a mess of pottage, which is about all the Vote amounts to."
His association with the gipsies began too, in childhood, when he watched them in the market of Haverfordwest. Writing indignantly in FREEDOM ten years ago he observed that, "Moving amidst a usually ignorant and hostile population, the gipsies have developed a technique, by which they may gain a living while preserving their peculiar conventions, their code of manners and their self-respect. They say dukerin (fortune-telling) for the gâjos (gentiles) is one thing and dukerin for the Romanichals another. In the one they use the ritual of cozenage, in the other they speak the truth. In both they are not unassisted by the curious clairvoyance of the illiterate. Under the present drive towards uniformity, subservience, and the sedentary life, they will fuse their morale, their folk-memory and what is left of their language, to sink at last in the underworld of anonymity, petty crime, and squalor. What Hitler accomplished by the lethal chamber, our Bumbles will achieve by a system of harrying and fines. A naturally genial, intractable and somewhat primitive portion of the community, has been condemned by bureaucratic exigency to be stretched on the fatal bed of Procrustes."

The attraction of the gipsies was not for a spurious romanticism, but because "the absolute isolation of the gipsies seemed to me the rarest and most unattainable thing in the world." Isolation is a curious word to couple with that of Augustus John, the least solitary of men, whose conviviality was legendary, yet as a painter he was an isolated figure. FREEDOM's critic Arthur Moyse (whom John himself admired for his perception and integrity), remarked last month that "Too much of an intellectual, John could not leave a canvas or a subject alone and too often his constant repetition and overwork killed the humanity that gave birth to the original creation." And John himself recognised in a poignant passage that "The ruined canvases which encumber my studio bear witness to a sad lack of system. Foresight, calculation, patient planning have not been within my grasp." Yet it was his intellectual qualities (John was a reader of Freud and Reich and the modern anthropologists as well as of the French classics) which gave so many of his portraits their immense comprehension of the whole character as well as the physionomy of their subjects – which is why so many of his sitters were disappointed by them. Consider his portrait of Lady Ottoline Morrell (No. 28 in the Phaidon volume) which tells us all, and more, than we know of her from the literary reminiscences of the period, or his portrait of Thomas Hardy (in the Fitzwilliam Museum), which made Hardy remark "That's exactly how I feel", or his portrait of Governor FulIer (shown at the big John exhibition in London in 1954) from which, as the Listener's critic remarked at the time, "one can see exactly the kind of man upon whose decision the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti hung."

John always regretted that he lived in an age when public art and architecture were at such a low ebb. "When one thinks of painting on great expanses of wall, painting of other kinds seems hardly worth while". But in the few very large pictures which he painted – the unfinished Lyric Fantasy or the huge cartoon Galway in the Tate, and in the lyrical sunlit groups of women and children in the French or Welsh landscape – there are glimpses of a golden age of the imagination, a youthful utopian dream of life, which makes us assent to his question "Does it not seem as if the secret of the artist lies in the prolongation of the age of adolescence with whatever increase of technical skill and sophistication the years may bring?"
In his fragments of utopian speculation which we print in this issue of ANARCHY (John's version of Fourier is much more attractive than

Fourier's own), the vision of a free society is seen with a painter's eye. The Nomads by the river are John's gipsies, the "magnificent children" by the roadside are ravishing children of John's family groups, even his odd recommendation of the initiatory rites of the Baptists comes from his recollection of such ceremonies in his Welsh childhood where "the girls with their skimpy black frocks, saturated and clinging, emerged like Naiads from the ordeal. Without making these observations at the time, I admired the spectacle …"
Few of us would be unwilling to share the vision of life which this great lover of life has left us.

Observations on Anarchy 8

Orwell: an accident in society

That Eric Blair was an "accident" in English society is surely due, at least, partly, to the fact that his parents were Scots.
London SE23

Nicolas Walter is correct in criticising the publishers of Collected Essays by George Orwell for their errors and omissions. It is important to know the times and circumstances in which writers of the calibre of Orwell thought and wrote. However, having correctly described how the dying Orwell managed to finish writing Nineteen Eighty-Four, N.W. then adds "rather like Lawrence fighting against time to finish Lady Chatterley's Lover twenty years before" – which is wrong. Lawrence finished Lady C. in 1928 and died in 1930. For many years he was in bad health and no doubt wrote the book under difficulties, but he wrote many things in his last two years – not least The Man Who Died – and went on writing until two days before his death.
I should have expected N.W. to have known this, for he is unusually well-informed, but I am not concerned about catching him out in a mistake. What is important, and what concerns me, is that his aside about Lawrence, if believed by him is possibly believed by others, and thus a romantic myth may be in process of creation: that the book is great because Lawrence killed himself writing it! The book has enough strikes against it already without this one. Non-literary working-class people, in my experience, were acutely disappointed because they had been misled, and expected it to be enthrallingly salacious. The general, and revealing, complaint was that there was "nothing in it." Non-literary criticism may be shrugged off, but in a passage of literary criticism I am compelled to object to the fostering of the idea of poor, pathetic Lawrence, coughing up blood, nobly

"fighting against time" to finish his masterpiece before death overtook him. Apart from being a chronological error, the picture is so false. Lawrence, who was many things to many people, was never poor and pathetic to anyone. He was a wonderful man, and at times he was damnable. He wrote marvellously, in prose and poetry, and at times he droned boringly. He wrote some things inferior to, and many things infinitely better than Lady Chatterley's Lover.
Glenrothes, Fife.

Nicolas Walter writes: The Blairs were certainly a Scottish family, but George Orwell was brought up in India and England, and was if anything ashamed of being Scottish in origin and prejudiced against the Scots – apparently because of the class significance of grouse and deer shooting; he always thought of himself as an Englishman, though it is possible that he did so rather aggressively just because he wasn't quite.
As for the comparison with D. H. Lawrence, it was made quite deliberately and in full sight of the facts. It is true that Lawrence finished Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1928 and died in 1930; but it is also true that Orwell finished Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1948 and died in 1950. Lawrence, like Orwell, had weak lungs all his life; he became very seriously ill in the winter of 1924-25, even before he finished The Plumed Serpent, and nearly died in Mexico in February 1925, when acute tuberculosis was diagnosed by Dr. Uhlfelder.
The fact that he lived for five more years is nothing extraordinary – tuberculosis is often a slow killer, and in creative men is often accompanied by bursts of activity. But Lawrence never recovered properly, and suffered from periodic relapses which sometimes forced him into special chalets and sanatoria. There were particularly severe attacks in July 1927 and January 1928, while he was writing the third and final version of Lady Chatterley's Lover (the one that introduced the tabu words). Richard Aldington states that during the two years he was working on the novel "he was often so ill that even he had to stop writing"; and Frieda said that he was impotent from 1926 onwards (a particularly ironical point, suggesting that he was more like the despised Sir Clifford than his hero Mellors and that the book is a prime example of sex-in-the-head!).
Of course Lawrence wouldn't accept his illness; nor would Orwell. This was something they had in common, something admirable. But 1 still think that both Lady Chatterley's Lover and Nineteen Eighty-Four show signs of strain, and that this can be partly attributed to the difficulty of trying to write a conscious masterpiece in the face of worsening tuberculosis. Poor – yes, poor – Lawrence and poor Orwell both shortened their lives by "fighting against time" to finish their last great works, coughing up blood and suffering from nagging discomfort and increasing pain. This doesn't detract from the greatness of the men, but surely it does help to explain what is wrong with their books.

Industrial Decentralisation and Workers' Control

THE COMMITTEE OF 100 in convening this series of meetings and in linking the current protests against preparations for nuclear warfare, with the theory and practice of non-violence, and in treating under this theme, topics as far apart as the way we bring up our children and the structure of our economic life, are recognising that these are not separate fields of human experience and activity: that they are all bound up together.

They are recognising that nuclear war is not a dreadful aberration of the modern state, but simply the logical and more perfect development of that old-fashioned, incomplete warfare which was, and is, in Randolph Bourne's famous phrase "the health of the State". This is why the struggle against war is bound to be a struggle against the State. The State is a system of human relations based ultimately on violence – there never has been a non-violent State. The State is authority: small wonder that it is authoritarian. But its authoritarian pattern of relationships is not unique, it occurs in every aspect of life with one significant exception. The exception is the network of spontaneous and purely voluntary human relations which we undertake for pleasure or for some common purpose of our own.

Why do we not strive to transform all our relationships into free associations of autonomous individuals like those which we form in our leisure? People don't question whether or not this would be a good thing: they know it would be, they simply say that modern urban life is too complicated and that modern industry is on too large a scale for the simple face-to-face contacts and freely chosen decisions which such a suggestion implies. This is said with resignation, if not with regret, but then everyone goes on daydreaming about "getting away from it all," or being their own master for a change, with five acres and a cow, and we all pity the inhabitants of Tristan da Cunha at being driven out of their island anarchy into civilisation.
The ironical thing is that these escapist fantasies have become most prevalent at a time when industrial techniques and sources of motive power have made it possible for us to organise a modern industrial society on whatever scale or degree of complexity we choose.

This is the text of a paper read to the Committee of 100 seminar at Kensington Central Library on November 20th. The seminar is a pilot course for the Committee's "Schools for Non-violence".

There is no need to labour this point. Modern transport, electricity, telecommunications, have made the traditional distribution of industry obsolete. It could be concentrated or dispersed wherever we care, particularly when knowledge of basic industrial techniques is widely diffused, and no longer concentrated in certain districts.

Let us take for granted that industry could be dispersed wherever we wanted it, and that only habit, inertia, or lack of imagination was responsible for the vast industrial agglomerations of today. We can very rapidly see that this is only part of the answer to our demands for a changed social environment. We will do this by reference to two celebrated examples of the decentralisation of industry. My first example is the Tennessee Valley Authority. You are probably familiar with the inspiring story of TVA. The drainage basin of the Tennessee River and its tributaries covers an area about the size of England. There was little or no industry, and the isolated valleys of the region were occupied by single-crop subsistence farmers, growing cotton, tobacco or maize, and as the yields of the valley fields diminished, they cut down the trees, burnt off the vegetation and ploughed the hill slopes, moving further and further up the mountain sides. The heavy rainfall, the failure to replenish the land's fertility, and the removal of the forest cover, allowed the soil to wash away into the rivers, so that, as Julian Huxley put it "in the heart of the most modern of countries you could find shifting cultivation of the type usually associated with primitive African tribes." Several regional planning surveys were made in the earlier part of the century to propose the development of the area, but because of controversy on whether the work should be undertaken for public or private profit, nothing was done until Roosevelt's New Deal in 1933 set up the TVA which "was not handed a simple task of engineering like the Panama Canal or the Boulder Dam. It was told to remake the economic and social life of a vast under-privileged community: through cheap power, land reclamation, re-afforestation, flood control, diversification of agriculture, terracing of hillsides, encouragement of animal husbandry, cheap transport through restoring the navigability of the river, and abundant vacation-sites on the lakes which would form behind the new dams." It achieved all these and more, and its methods carried many lessons for people concerned with community development. As Herbert Agar wrote, "perhaps the finest and the most hopeful achievement of the Authority is that the citizens of the Valley regard their new society, which has flowered in twenty years, not as something imposed by 'reformers' from far away, but as something which belongs to them, which they helped to create, which in many cases they moulded and shaped according to their local customs and traditions. They were never pushed into accepting an 'improvement' until their objections have been removed by discussion and experiment, and their conservatism overruled by their own experience." Splendid. But unhappily the story doesn't end there. The valley, with its abundant hydro-electric power provided by the new dams, and its plentiful labour supply, was for these very reasons, selected for the Oak Ridge plants of the Atomic Energy Commission. At Oak Ridge, the beautiful dams and shining turbines that brought light and power to the hillside farms, and brought work and hope to the poverty-stricken people of the valley, made the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Thousands and thousands of people worked there for over a year without the faintest idea what they were making. And would it have made any difference if they had known? Today the Atomic Energy Commission at Oak Ridge and Paducah plants is by far the biggest user of TVA power. It uses so much that it has to supplement it by burning 8 million tons of coal a year in five additional generating stations.

My second cautionary tale comes from nearer home. After over forty years of propaganda by voluntary associations in the field of town planning, the Government initiated after the war a programme of New Towns, designed to disperse industry and population from the great urban conurbations. In essence it was a great constructive idea; it could have been a great adventure, but was too timid in scale and execution. The first and foremost of the new towns was Stevenage in Hertfordshire. I won't comment on its architecture, nor on the complete absence of any opportunity for its inhabitants to plan for themselves or to initiate anything for themselves, but it is certainly the most prosperous and economically flourishing of the new towns. It has acquired the nickname Missileville, for it is flourishing because its industries are largely armament industries. Over 50% of its working population are employed at the English Electric Guided Weapons Division factory where the Thunderbird missile is being produced, or at De Havilland's where the Blue Streak Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile is made. Smaller firms like Hilmor Ltd., makers of tubebending machinery for the Admiralty and the A.E.R.A, or Fleming Radio, makers of electronic equipment for guided missiles, or Stevenage Tools and Switches, makers of electronic equipment for the Admiralty, are busy in the same business or in sub-contracting for the missile giants.

It isn't accidental that Stevenage became Missileville, it is Government policy that it should be so: "Priority has been given to firms producing, or capable of producing, for defence contracts; location certificates from the Board of Trade have been granted far more easily to firms making a contribution towards the defence programme." The nature of Missileville's industry is no secret either: everybody is proud of it. English Electric advertise their missile in the local paper as though it was a washing machine: "To all these problems the answer is THUNDERBIRD". In 1959, as you know, the Committee of 100's predecessor, the Direct Action Committee, carried out an intensive campaign in Stevenage, by leaflets, door to door canvassing, open air meetings and poster demonstrations. The only obvious result was that building workers on the extension to the English Electric factory had a one-hour token strike, and one man left his job there.

You can see very clearly from this that industrial decentralisation, in the geographical sense, is only a small part of the story. We need to decentralise the control of industry, we want in fact worker's control. Let me take as my text an observation, not by an anarchist or syndicalist, but by Gordon Rattray Taylor, in his book Are Workers Human? He says:

The split between life and work is probably the greatest contemporary social problem. You cannot expect men to take a responsible attitude and to display initiative in daily life when their whole working experience deprives them of the chance of initiative and responsibility. The personality cannot be successfully divided into watertight compartments, and even the attempt to do so is dangerous: if a man is taught to rely upon the paternal authority within the factory, he will be ready to rely upon one outside. If he is rendered irresponsible at work by lack of opportunity for responsibility, he will be irresponsible when away from work too. The contemporary social trend towards a centralised, paternalistic, authoritarian society only reflects conditions which already exist within the factory. And it is chiefly by reversing the trend within the factory that the larger trend outside can be reversed.

Yes, we are all theoretically in favour of workers' control nowadays, but we regretfully reflect that the scale and complexity of modern industrial production makes the notion impracticable. The Labour Correspondent of The Times for example, discussing the only examples of workers' control we have in this country – the handful of co-operative co-partnerships – these shoes I'm wearing were made by one of them – agrees that they "provide a means of harmonious self-government in a small concern" but that there is no evidence that they provide "any solution to the problems of establishing democracy in large-scale modern industry." This is the same conclusion that George Orwell reached about anarchism.

If one considers the probabilities one is driven to the conclusion that anarchism implies a low standard of living. It need not imply a hungry or uncomfortable world, but it rules out the kind of air-conditioned, chromium-plated, gadget-ridden existence which is now considered desirable and enlightened. The processes involved in making say, an aeroplane, are so complex as to be only possible in a planned, centralised society, with all the repressive apparatus that that implies. Unless there is some unpredictable change in human nature, liberty and efficiency must pull in opposite directions.

I often think he was right: that we would have to choose between an air-conditioned nightmare or a free society with a low standard of living, but of course the vast majority of the inhabitants of our world have the worst of both worlds – a nightmare of poverty and an unfree society. They haven't got the luxury of choosing, as we can, between air-conditioning and freedom. But it seems to me that the vital point that we usually overlook in assuming that it is the scale and size of industry which make it useless to strive for workers' control, is that these primarily are a reflection of the social and economic ideas current in society rather than of actual technical complexity. We are hypnotised by the cult of bigness. This cult, which makes oversize cars, oversize ships like big Cunarders and oversize aircraft (remember the Brabazon – whole villages were swept away to make a runway for it, and now it rusts in its million pound hangar) – this cult of bigness pervades industry as well as most other fields of life, and it has nothing to do with complex processes. Actually, it makes us exaggerate the actual extent of bigness in industry, as Kropotkin found sixty years ago in compiling the material for his Fields, Factories and Workshops when he discovered that the economist's picture of industry had little to do with the reality.

At a conference held a few years ago by the British Institute of Management and the Institute of Industrial Administration, Mr. S. R. Dennison of Cambridge declared that the belief that modern industry inevitably trends towards larger units of production was a Marxian fallacy. (Since then, Khrushchev and his so-called Decentralisation Decree, seems to have reached the same conclusion). Mr. Dennison said that

Over a wide range of industry the productive efficiency of small units was at least equal to, and in many cases surpassed that of the industrial giants. About 92 per cent. of the businesses in the united Kingdom employed fewer than 250 people and were responsible for by far the greater part of the total national production. The position in the United States was about the same.

(There is of course a whole field of economic theory about the optimum size of the firm and its relation to the law of diminishing marginal productivity, but I am not the right man to discuss it). Again, those who think of industry as one great assembly line may be surprised to learn from Dr. Mark Abrams that "in spite of nationalisation and the growth of large private firms, the proportion of the total working population employed by large organisations (i.e. concerns with over 1,000 employees) is still comparatively small. Such people constitute only 36% per cent. of the working population and are far outnumbered by those who hold jobs as members of comparatively small organisations where direct personal contact throughout the group is a practical everyday possibility."

It is also revealing to study the nature of the industrial giants and to reflect on how few of them owe their size to the actual technical complexity and scale of their industrial operations. Broadcasting under the title Have Large Firms an Advantage in Industry? Mr. H. P. Barker referred to two essentially different types of motive, the industrial and non-industrial. By the industrial motive, he meant

the normal commercial development of a product or a service which the public wants; for instance, the motorcar industry or the chain store. There is also the vertical type of growth in which a seller expands downwards towards his raw materials, or a primary producer expands upwards towards the end products of his primary material. The soap and oil industries are such cases. Then there is the kind of expansion in which a successful firm seeks to diversify its business and its opportunity and to carry its financial eggs in several baskets – and lastly there is the type of expansion by which whole industries are aggregated under a single control because they cannot effectively be operated in any other way, Electricity and Railways are an example.

One might very well have reservations about the truth of Mr. Barker's last two examples*, and it is interesting that his other reasons relate to the financial structure of competitive industry, rather than its actual technical demands. When he turns to what he calls the non-industrial and less healthy types of growth, we are in familiar territory.

Among these there is the type which starts and ends in the Stock Exchange and where the sole reason is the prospect of making a profitable flotation. Then there is the type of adiposity which often occurs when a successful company becomes possessed of large resources from past profits. The Directors then look round for ways of investing the surplus fat merely because they have it. Then there the type of large business born only out of doctrinaire or political considerations. Last of all there is the industrial giant created primarily to satisfy the megalomania of one man.

The very technological developments which, in the hands of people with statist, centralising, authoritarian habits of mind, can make robots of us all, are those which could make possible a local, intimate, decentralised society. When tractors were first made, they were giants suitable only for prairie-farming. Now you can get them scaled down to a size for cultivating your backyard. Power tools, which were going to make all industry one big Dagenham are now commonplace for every do-it-yourself enthusiast. Atomic power, the latest argument of the centralisers, is used (characteristically), in a submarine – the most hermetically sealed human community ever devised.

And now comes automation. Those industries where the size of the units is dictated by large-scale operations, for example steel rolling mills or motor car assembly, are the very ones where automation is likely to reduce the number of people required in one place. Automation – the word is merely jargon for a more intensive application of machines, particularly transfer machines – is seen by some people as yet another factory for greater industrial concentration, but this is only another expression of the centralist mentality. Mr. Langdon Goodman in his Penguin book Man and Automation puts the matter in

*1 think he is wrong about electricity. A few years back the "New Scientist", commenting on the appalling complexity of the present centralised system, prophesied that "in future there will be a tendency to return to more or less local generation of electricity." In the "Guardian" (9/11/61) Gerald Haythornthwaite comments on the Central Electricity Generation Board's "spinning a web of electrical transmission lines without much reference to any other interests than its own" thus "prejudicing the development of a more flexible and useful power system" from such new developments as the advanced gas-cooled reactors which could provide a "footloose power unit" for "a large number of small and compact power stations close to the centres of demand."

I think he is wrong about railways, especially in view of the present proposals for granting autonomy to the Regions of British Railways instead of central control by the British Transport Commission. After all, if you travel across Europe, you go over the lines of a dozen systems – capitalist and communist – co-ordinated by freely arrived at agreement between the various undertakings, with no central authority. Paul Goodman remarks that "It is just such a situation that Kropotkin points to as an argument for anarchism – the example he uses is the railroad-network of Europe laid down and run to perfection with no plan imposed from above."

a very interesting (positively Kropotkinian) light.

Automation can be a force either for concentration or dispersion. There is a tendency today for automation to develop along the larger and larger production units, but this may only be a phase through which the present technological advance is passing. The comparatively large sums of money which are needed to develop automation techniques, together with the amount of technological knowledge and unique quality of management, are possibly found more in the large units than in the smaller ones. Thus the larger units will proceed more quickly towards automation. When this knowledge is dispersed more widely and the smaller units may take up automation the pattern may be quite different. Automation being a large employer of plant and a relatively small employer of labour, allows plants to be taken away from the large centres of population and built in relatively small centres of population. Thus one aspect of the British scene may change. Rural factories, clean, small, concentrated units will be dotted about the countryside. The effects of this may be far-reaching. The Industrial Revolution caused a separation of large numbers of people from the land, and concentrated them in towns. The result has been a certain standardisation of personality, ignorance of nature, and lack of imaginative power. Now we may soon see some factory workers moving back into the country and becoming part of a rural community.

But perhaps the most striking evidence in favour of reducing the scale of industrial organisation comes from the experiments conducted by industrial psychologists, sociologists and so on, who, in the interests of morale, increased productivity, or health, have sought to break down large units into small groups. The famous experiment of Elton Mayo at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company or the experiences of the Glacier Metal Company, or J. J. Gillespie's ideas about 'free expression in industry' or the Group Production methods adopted by a Swedish firm, are all examples of this tendency. Their aim is by no means workers' control. They simply want to increase productivity or to reduce industrial neurosis or absenteeism, but they do indicate that the preconditions for workers' control of industry are there. Thus Professor Norman C. Hunt, in a broadcast in 1958 remarked that the problems arising from the growth of industrial enterprises were such that

A number of large companies have recently decentralised their organisations and established smaller, largely autonomous units, each to some extent a managerial entity in itself. A few years ago the President of the General Electricity Company of America, one of the companies which has followed such a policy said: "With fewer people we find that management can do a better job of organising facilities and personnel. This results in lower manufacturing costs and better production control." It may be that the current interest in and apparent tendency towards the decentralisation of large undertaking is a somewhat belated recognition of the importance of people in organisations. One can only hope that at long last we are beginning to think about the pressures which traditional forms of organisation put upon the people who are required to work in them.

He concluded by reflecting on the possibility of reversing the trend of so-called scientific management; "decentralising rather than centralising; increasing the significant content of jobs rather than subdividing them further; harnessing group solidarity rather than trying to break it up; putting more satisfaction into the work situation rather than expecting workers to find it outside their jobs; in short, making it possible for workers to utilise their capacities more fully and thus truly earn their keep."
Notice his last phrase which tells us why the industrialists employ the psychologists. But if the industrial psychologists were employed by the workers instead of by the employers, where would this line of thinking end?

It would lead us to conclude that technically, organisationally, and in terms of the sociology and psychology of work, control of industry by the people who work in it was both possible and desirable. This is a revolutionary demand, for it affects the whole foundations of our society, and implies a change in the whole structure of property relationships upon which it is based. Is there any demand for it (let alone any likelihood of its being achieved in the immensely stable and unrevolutionary society in which we live)? The fact is that the demand is infinitesimal. Between forty and fifty years ago, in the time of syndicalism and Guild Socialism, there was at least a vocal minority in the trade union and socialist movements which sought workers' control of industry. Today such a minority movement does not exist, though there have been many attempts – after the war in the League for Workers' Control, and today in the National Rank and File Movement – to sow the seeds for the re-creation of such a movement. The labour movement as a whole has settled for the notion that you gain more by settling for less. This is why Anthony Crosland contends that

In the sphere where the worker really wants workers' control, namely his day-to-day life in the factory, we must conclude that the British (and American and Scandinavian) unions, greatly aided by propitious changes in the political and economic background, have achieved a more effective control through the independent exercise of their collective bargaining strength than they would ever have achieved by following the path (beset as it is by practical difficulties on which all past experiments have foundered) of direct workers' management. Indeed we may risk the generalisation that the greater the power of the Unions the less the interest in workers' management.

Now we may regret this profoundly, but if you look at the history of the trade union movement in different countries you will find this generalisation to be true. It is idle for disappointed revolutionaries to proclaim that the ordinary day-to-day industrial conflicts over wages, hours, tea-breaks and so on are useless. Within their own terms they justify themselves completely. For just as one of the great social lies is that crime doesn't pay, when it does, so it is another myth that strikes do not payoff – they do. (And let me add, parenthetically, that strikes over tea-breaks, that make the middle-class Evening Standard reader, as he drinks his tea, smile because of their "pettiness" or scowl because of their "irresponsibility", are not about tea-breaks but about human dignity and about the intolerable boredom of doing what someone else wants, as, when, and how, he wants it).

Happily, there need not be an all or nothing choice between revolutionary and reformist industrial action. There is an approach which combines the day-to-day struggle in industry with the aim of changing the balance of power in the factory. This is what the Guild Socialists called "encroaching control". As Ken Alexander puts it,

A few simple aims – for example control over hire and fire, over the 'manning of the machines' and over the working of overtime – pressed in the most hopeful industries with the aim of establishing bridgeheads from which workers' control could be extended, could make a beginning. The factors determining whether such demands could be pressed successfully are market, industrial organisation and, more important, the extent to which the nature of their work compels the workers to exercise more control.

For the elaboration of this argument, in terms of the collective contract and in terms of the 'gang system', I must refer you to ANARCHY 2– the issue on Workers' Control. The effect of the group contract system, as G. D. H. Cole put it "would be to link the members of the working group together in a common enterprise under their joint auspices and control, and to emancipate them from an externally imposed discipline in respect of their method of getting the work done.”

But since we are discussing this topic from the point of view of the struggle against war, we must also recognise that – just as we have seen that the geographical decentralisation of industry is only part of the story, so is the decentralisation of control of industry – a far more radical aim, and one infinitely harder to achieve. When Reg Wright in ANARCHY 2 and 8, or Seymour Melman in his book Decision-Making and Productivity describe how three thousand men made half a million Ferguson tractors in ten years with practically no supervision, you can reflect that they could just as well have been tanks or any other kind of war material. Considering the fabulous output of the war industry from 1939 to 1945, the story would have been one of far greater miracles of production. A self-governing industry will reflect the general social climate with great accuracy. (Think of the record of the British Medical Association – the mouthpiece of a self-governing profession – and the way in which it behaved over the absorption of refugee doctors in this country before the war, or that of the American Medical Association today over all and every effort to create health services available to all in the United States). It is true that the only working-class body campaigning today for workers' control of industry, the National Rank and File Movement, has as item 8 of its aims and objects, "To promote the policy and slogan of an 'International General Strike Against War'. But we know how, in 1914, the identical policy and slogan, at a time when industrial militancy was a hundred times more widespread, vanished into thin air the moment war was declared. The slogans were no more than … slogans. Don't think I mention this to discredit the working-class movements; the same volte face was accomplished, as Richard Gregg points out, by many highly intelligent pacifists on the outbreak of the second world war.

Just as we need to widen and deepen the motives and effectiveness of the struggle of the industrial workers, so we need to widen and deepen those of the people who have been drawn, for the first time in their lives, to movements of social protest and struggle by the campaign against the bomb: I agree completely with the editorial in one of the Rank and File journals that declared that the Committee of 100 must show "that it not only stands against nuclear weapons, but that it also stands for something positive, for a new philosophy of life, for a new system of society in which ordinary people will be masters of their own fate". And I agree with Michael Randle's answer to a journalist when challenged on this point: "People have come into the nuclear disarmament movement from many different backgrounds. It's quite legitimate for people who come from a background of industrial struggle to see there is a relation between what we have been saying about nuclear disarmament and what they are saying about society in general."

It is always said that the way in which the English aristocracy has maintained its ascendency is by continually absorbing new blood from below, and in one generation imbuing it with its own values and attitudes. The establishment absorbs the outsiders. This happens all the way down the social scale. One of the characteristics of industrial and social change in the last forty years – and one which is moving at a greater pace today than ever, has been the decline in the number of people employed in primary production, and the growth of the numbers in secondary or service industries. In terms of personality types, the change is one from the "status-accepting" to the "status-aspiring", it is a change from the traditional working-class values to those characteristic of the middle-classes. The good side of this change is the opportunity it provides to break out of the restricted and narrow traditional environment of working-class life. The bad side is that, in accepting the value system of the bosses, the traditional strength of the working-class attitude is being eroded. In industry the characteristic working-class value is sticking together – solidarity, but the characteristic middle-class value is what Seymour Melman calls "predatory competition" – individual self-advancement, which because it is individual, must be at the expense of others. Other people call this the rat race. When after the Leyland take-over of the Standard Motor Company, a number of executive staff were sacked, one of them said "If one man on the shop floor was fired there would be a strike because they are organised. About 200 of us will go and nothing will happen". But the reason why they were powerless to protect their own interests is precisely because they had identified themselves with the interests of the employers and not those of the workers. They have opted out of that working-class solidarity which is one of the alternative foci of power to which Gene Sharp referred in his lecture last week.

One great incidental virtue of the anti-bomb campaign is that it is teaching middle-class people working-class solidarity. (Even its favourite dirge, the one about the H-Bomb's Thunder is an adaptation of a miner's song). It is also teaching them how much more realistic than their own, is the traditional working-class attitude towards the police. But most of all, it is teaching them how weak are their methods of resistance to political authority, compared with the methods by which the working-class have learned how to resist industrial authority. The middle-class sits in puddles as a symbolic gesture – of its own impotence; the working-class has developed over the last hundred years, in the interests of self-protection and of its own concept of social justice, the most effective weapon of non-violent direct action yet devised: the strike, the withdrawal of power from industrial authority.

It is in recognition of this that the Committee of 100 has issued its appeal for industrial action against the bomb. But it is precisely because the bomb is not something unique, but is the inevitable outcome of the principle of authority, that we must recognise that our common struggle is against authority itself, an authority which is only effective because we have surrendered to it our own power over our own lives.

We have three duties, to resist, to educate and to establish mutual aid communities. By these means we may make possible survival if Western society collapses, the ability to resist if tyranny succeeds it, and the readiness of the people if reform can be gained by compromise. Resistance and disobedience are still the only forces able to cope with barbarism, and so long as we do not practise them we are unarmed. The means of resistance on a scale larger than the individual is the mutual-aid community, which is in itself an alternative unit able to exist within the state, to survive it, and to combat it. And without education freedom is impossible, for it is not a state which can be imposed upon people who have learned nothing about the nature of responsibility.

Up till now, it has been an article of pride among English politicians that the public would shove its head into any old noose they might show it – unflinching, steadfast patriotism, unshakable morale – obedience and an absence of direct action. We are going to alter that … When enough people respond to the invitation to die, not with a salute but a smack in the mouth, and the mention of war empties the factories and fills the streets, we may be able to talk about freedom.
–ALEX COMFORT:"Art and Social Responsibility".

Anarchy #011: the world of Paul Goodman

Issue of Anarchy from January 1962 primarily about the ideas of Paul Goodman.

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The world of Paul Goodman

Introduction to issue 11 of Anarchy.

We quote these remarks from Mr Cannon's review of the new edition of Eltzbacher's Anarchism in the students' journal of the London School of Economics, because they express something very close to our own point of view and because the kind of restatement of anarchism which he calls for is what we conceive to be the function of ANARCHY. The American journalist Dwight Macdonald, in a much-quoted footnote ("the best footnote I ever wrote") remarked a few years ago that

The revolutionary alternative to the status quo today is not collectivised property administered by a "workers' state", whatever that means, but some kind of anarchist decentralisation that will break up mass society into small communities where individuals can live together as variegated human beings instead of as impersonal units in the mass sum. The shallowness of the New Deal and the British Labour Party's post-war regime is shown by their failure to improve any of the important things in people's lives – their actual relationships on the job, the way they spend their leisure, their child-rearing, sex and art. It is mass living that vitiates all these today and the State that holds together the status quo. Marxism glorifies "the masses" and endorses the State. Anarchism leads back to the individual and the community, which is "impractical" but necessary – that is to say, it is revolutionary.

Another American anarchist writer who has been discussing these precise issues for years is Paul Goodman, and the fact that two of his books have become available in this country during the last year, and another is about to be published in America, provides an opportunity to discuss his contribution. Goodman, who was born in 1911, is a novelist, poet, playwright, critic and psychologist, who has written many books – over the last few years they have included Gestalt Therapy (Julian Press), The Structure of Literature (Univ. of Chicago), Our Visit to Niagara (Horizon), and The Empire City (Bobbs-Merrill).

But for most of us his name brings to mind the articles of great distinction which he has contributed to the minority, anarchist, or socialist magazines in America: in the years at the end of the war to Politics, Retort, Why?, Resistance and Alternative, and in the last few years his frequent contributions to Commentary, Dissent, and Liberation, of which he recently became an associate editor.

Some of the earlier group of articles, "On Treason Against Natural Societies", "A Touchstone for the Libertarian Programme" and "Revolution, Sociolatry and War" were gathered together in his book Art and Social Nature (Vinca Press, 1946) and some of the recent ones form chapters of his recent book Growing Up Absurd and his new one Utopian Essays, which are reviewed in this issue of ANARCHY together with the most important of all his books, written in collaboration with his architect brother Percival Goodman, Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life. You will see that he is a wideranging writer, and in ignoring his novels and poems and literary criticism, we are presenting only a part of the world of Paul Goodman. He says himself that

I have been severely criticized as an ignorant man who spreads himself thin on a wide variety of subjects, on sociology and psychology, urbanism and technology, education, literature, esthetics and ethics. It is true that I don't know much, but it is false that I write about many subjects. I have only one, the human beings I know in their man-made scene. I do not observe that people are in fact subdivided in ways to be conveniently treated by the "wide variety" of separate disciplines. If you talk separately about their group behaviour or their individual behaviour, their environment or characters, their practicability or their sensibility, you lose what you are talking about. What I see, rather, is community and community thwarted, culture and barbarism, ideal striving and anxious resignation; and all of this in conflict and motion.

Like many people whose horizons are very wide indeed, Goodman is firmly rooted in time and place. The place is his native New York, for which he is said to have attempted to do in his long novel The Empire City, what Joyce did for Dublin. Thus it is second nature for the Goodman brothers to conclude their far-ranging Communitas with a development plan for the New York riverside, and for Paul Goodman to return continually in Growing Up Absurd to the housing, education or delinquency problems of his city, and to include in his Utopian Essays a plan for eliminating motorcars from Manhattan. The time is now and this "utopian" thinker remarks that "I seem to be able to write only practically, inventing expedients … My way of writing a book of social theory has been to invent community plans. My psychology is a criticism. A discussion of human nature is a programme or pedagogical manual of therapeutic exercises. A literary study is a book of practical and political reforms." He treats his subjects as ongoing into the immediate future, requiring to be coped with. His expedients are simple, day to day direct action, and this is one of the things which makes his approach of the greatest interest to those who, by way of the radical wing of the anti-bomb campaign in this country, are looking for the wider applications of the philosophy which is gradually emerging from their activities and experiences.

Communitas revisited

A review of Communitas: Means of Livelihood and Ways of Life by Paul and Percival Goodman (University of Chicago Press, 1947). (New revised edition: New York, Vintage Books, 1960, $1.25, London, Mayflower Books, 10s.).

A great number of books were published on both sides of the Atlantic in the years immediately after the war, on the problems and opportunities of "post-war reconstruction", especially on the physical planning of towns and cities. Few of them seem worth reading or remembering today, let alone reprinting. The one exception is Communitas, written during the war by the brothers Paul and Percival Goodman (the latter is now Associate Professor of Architecture at Columbia University). Out of print for a long time, it was a book so original and unusual, that it must have permanently affected the thinking of most of its readers, and, thanks to their continued advocacy, and the widely circulated commendations of American writers like David Riesman and Lewis Mumford, it has now appeared in a new paperback edition which lives up to the claim made by the publishers that it is one of the most fruitful and imaginative books on the building of cities that has ever been written.

The Goodman brothers see a "community plan" not as a layout of streets and houses, but as the external form of the activity going on. "It is more like a choreography of society in motion and in rest, an arrangement for society to live out its habits and ideals and do its work, directing itself or being directed. There is a variety of town schemes; gridirons, radiations, ribbons, satellites, or vast concentrations; what is important is the activity going on, how it is influenced by the scheme and how it transforms any scheme, and uses or abuses any site, to its own work and values." They examine in turn the three main types of plans which have emerged in the last hundred years, grouping them into three classes:-
A. THE GREEN BELT: Garden Cities, Satellite Towns, Corbusier's Ville Radieuse, neighbourhood housing.
B. INDUSTRIAL PLANS: The Plan for Moscow (as debated in Russia in 1935), the Lineal City of Soria y Mata, Buckmaster Fuller's Dymaxion.
C. INTEGRATED PLANS; Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacres, Ralph Borsodi's Homestead, the Kolkhoz, the Kvutzah, the TVA.

Having discussed this miscellany of modern plans, the Goodmans turn to their own, and they state their approach in these terms:

Our concern in this book centres around the following conviction: that the multiplication of commodities and the false standard of living, on the one hand, the complication of the economic and technical structure in which one can work at a job, on the other hand, and the lack of direct relationship between these two have by now made a great part of external life morally meaningless. Economic plans to avoid unemployment, to raise the standard of living, to develop backward regions – these are useful, but they do not touch the essentially modern problems: the selective use of machine technology, the use of an available surplus, and the distance between means and ends. The concrete solutions of these problems are community plans. Our concerns are how to make the multitude of goods good for something, how to integrate the work and culture, and how to keep an integrated community plan from becoming a plan for complete slavery …

Emphasising one aspect after another, they arrive at three completely different community formulae, communities for
A. Efficient Consumption.
B. The Elimination of the Difference between Production and Consumption.
C. Planned Security with Minimum Regulation.

Each of these three is presented as a regional scheme, but they are not meant to be taken as concrete plans at all: "In the first place, there is no planning without a physical site and a particular history and population. In the second place, our formulas are extremes and abstractions, but there is no particular place without a mixture … Speaking very broadly we should say that the first formula is especially applicable to highly industrialised and populous places; the second, to places of sparse settlement, new industry and new culture; the third, to old and populous countries, with ancient cultures but relatively little modern technology."

The City of Efficient Consumption

The City of Efficient Consumption is presented as the logical environment of a consumer-centred culture. Its preliminary conditions, they conclude, are that

A population of several millions is the least economic unit. (Because the combination of mass production and variety of choice are required, and concentration of the market is the efficient solution to the problems of distribution and servicing under conditions of mass production).
Work and life centre around the market.
The moral drives are imitation and emulation.
The decoration is display.
Close by is the open country, for full flight.

The centre of the City is developed as one large air-conditioned cylinder:

In existing great cities, which have large buildings and congested downtown centres, there are always three simultaneous systems of streets: the through highways, the old city streets proper, and the corridors of large buildings. It is the through highways, coming more and more to be elevated or depressed or otherwise isolated, which carry the main stream of traffic between the city and places outside the city. And it is wrongly thought that by increasing these highways and facilitating entrance to, and egress from, the centre the congestion of the centre will be thinned out. But in the end all the highways must pour their motorcars into the city streets; for it is the city streets that join building to building; and it is at a particular building, and not at downtown as a whole, that the motorist wants to arrive. But once he has arrived at the building, he is willing to leave his car, go indoors, and use the corridors and elevators of the building to bring him to the office or department of a store where he has business.

Now it can be seen at once that the city streets, under conditions of motor traffic, on the one hand, and of increasingly large buildings, on the other, are more and more becoming intermediaries, useless for travelling and also unfit for walking and window-shopping. At the same time they cover 35 per cent of the ground space and are the subject of perhaps the most costly and elaborate of the city services: paving, traffic problems, cleaning, snow removal, etc. For servicing they are neither properly in the open (so that snow, for instance, could be simply pushed aside) nor yet indoors (protected). These streets serve as the perfect example of the non-productive, non-consumptive services which waste away the social wealth and health.

Consequently, in the City of Efficient Consumption, the bull is taken by the horns, in making the city centre one immense container, in which (1) the intermediary streets vanish, (2) "the through driveways now carry out their function to the end, bringing passengers and goods directly to stations in the container, without two speeds and without double-loading for trucks and trains", and (3) "the corridors are transfigured, assuming the functions of promenade and display which the streets performed so badly. The city has become spacious, with the spaciousness of a great departmental store."

Outside the centre is the second ring of buildings, the university, theatres, museums and libraries, the "region of the things which have been created and discovered but are not consumed in the enjoyment", and beyond is the residential zone. The role of the neighbourhood in this scheme is already well-known in our society:

In the City of Efficient Consumption, the neighbourhood is the unit of emulation and invidious imputation. This is demonstrated as follows: It is in the end unsatisfactory and indelicate to emulate or to impute economic inferiority to one's family and friends; on the other hand, to do so with total strangers is pointless. Therefore, at least for domestic display, the unit of emulation, etc., must be the neighbourhood. The residents of the neighbourhood take notice; and they are not so well known that one is embarrassed, or two transparent to be effective.

On the question of houses-versus-flats, the authors observe that

The idea that 'a man's house is his castle' refers primarily to the situation in which the house and its land maintain a productive relation of comparative self-sufficiency. Once the land is diminished, the idea is already seriously weakened. Now, as community domestic services, such as light, gas, and water, begin to invade the home, the reason for its architectural identity begins to vanish. Lastly, when these conveniences multiply, they can be provided efficiently only if the isolated unit vanishes and the services are provided for a block of units, an apartment house. These units are more and more mass-produced and larger and larger.

But we must establish also a contrary movement, to restore domestic freedom under the new architectural conditions. This can be done if we restrict the architectural imposition to its minimum function: namely, the provision of an efficient system of services. What must be provided for the family is an empty shell without partitions and (under luxury conditions) two stories high, completely serviced with light, heat, water, etc., through the columns of the building, as in a skyscraper. The uniform architectural practice has hitherto been to provide not only such services but also a standardised imitation of a house, with layout and fundamental decoration complete: partitions, panelling, and balcony, etc. But it is just these parts, which having no structural necessity, belong most to private taste, or caprice, that need not be imposed according to a standard.

And beyond the residential zone is the open country, which is "vacationland" where "there is exchanged for the existence where everything is done for one, the existence where nothing is done for one", and beyond this, because these conditions are too hard for the cityfolk, they are finally moderated (after fifty miles, which is to say, three-quarters of an hour by car on the super-highway or fifteen minutes by helicopter on the beam) into "the imitation wilderness of state parks and the bathos of adult camps."
The Goodmans' account of the City of Efficient Consumption is concluded with a description of the season of carnival, a Saturnalia of wild and playful destruction, fornication, and the remittance of instalment debts, whose principles

would be simply the satisfaction in the negation of all of the schedules and careful zoning that are so full of satisfaction in their affirmation; just as no one can resist a thrill of satisfaction when a blizzard piles up in our streets and everything comes to a standstill.

The social function of the carnival is of course to get rid of last year's goods, wipe out last year's hire purchase debts to permit new borrowing, and to engender children.
But before leaving the City of Efficient Consumption, something has to be said of its politics. The people, the authors explain, exercise no direct political initiative at all:

Try as one will, it is impossible to discover in an immense and immensely expanding industrialism a loophole where the ordinary man can intervene directly to determine his specific work on the shape of his community life; that is, to decide these matters directly on the basis of his own knowledge and power. The reason is that such an expanding economy exists more and more in its inter-relationships; and individual knowledge and, especially, power, are less and less adequate. What the people "en masse" can do is to exercise a general control such as to determine the trend of their standard of living, up or down; and in the republican form this is done by periodic votes rather than by periodic rebellions. But the political scientists as initiators must be technologists and merchandisers and a kind of economists as directors; although the actually elected representatives will forever be experts in more popular arts.

Now an existence of this kind, apparently so repugnant to craftsmen, farmers, artists, and any others who want a say in what they lend their hands to, is nevertheless the existence that is satisfactory to the mass of our countrymen; and therefore it must express deep and universal impulses. These probably centre around what Morris Cohen used to call the first principle of politics – inertia; that is, the fact that people do not want to take the trouble to rule and decide, because, presumably, they have more important things to do.

The City of Efficient Consumption is presented half sardonically, half seriously. If you really want a society in which consumer values are supreme, they say, this is what it should be like. David Riesman remarked of their treatment of this theme:

the moral of the plan comes through without ambiguity: it is a criticism of proper culture, with its drive for less work, more pay and more play, it is also an effort to reveal certain hidden elements of moral worth in modern capitalism. The criticism – the air-conditioned nightmare theme – is familiar enough among radical writers, who sometimes tend to attack with equal fervour the worst abuses, such as lynching, and the most venal foibles, such as radio commercials. But the implicit ethical defence of capitalism on the ground of its provision of bounteous consumption is seldom found outside Chamber of Commerce circles.

In a number of the points they make about a society in which productive capacity is enormously greater than the rate of consumption, they anticipate some of Galbraith's observations in The Affluent Society, in others, their fantasies of 1947 anticipate the actual planning problems of America, in the nineteen fifties and sixties. For, in the absence of cities of Efficient Consumption whose centres are one vast vehicle-less departmental store, the new American institution of the out-of-town Supermarket has developed, and has become a new focal centre for the residential belt, while the property-owners and Chambers of Commerce in the old city centres which have been made unusable for efficient consumption by the volume of traffic, have sponsored projects for motorless city centres, like that prepared for Fort Worth, Texas by Victor Gruen, who, like the Goodman brothers, points out that "The land thus reclaimed for productive purposes would represent a value of about forty million dollars which would lower the cost of the underground service road system". Such "downtown revitalisation projects" bear a marked resemblance to the City of Efficient Consumption, even though they are not worked out with the same utopian logic. The Goodman model is a fascinating mixture of satire and sensible suggestion. The notion which I have quoted of the basic apartments in which the tenant can arrange for himself the internal partitioning and fittings, which they reach through following out the idea of consumer sovereignty, has very much to be said for it. Open plan, or a series of rooms, balcony or more space inside; these questions which are determined by the whims of housing committees, speculators or architects, are much better decided by individual occupants. (Something similar is in fact being done in Italy today, simple for economic reasons).

The New Commune

But the authors' own real preferences are evidently not for the City of Efficient Consumption, but for their second model, the New Commune, where they seek the elimination of the difference between production and consumption, in a decentralised society.

They had observed in discussing the Green Belt type of plan that the impulse behind the garden city idea was a reaction against the squalor and degradation of the urban environment in the industrial revolution. The garden city plans aimed at quarantining the technology and were based on "the humane intuition that work in which people have the satisfaction neither of direction, nor of wages, is essentially unbearable; the worker is eager to be let loose and to go far away."

Mindful of Daniel Burnham's injunction to "make no little plan", they decline to see the separation of work and the rest of life as immutable, and propose an "ideal type" in which they are re-united, not by scrapping the technology, but by re-shaping it closed to human needs:

Starting from the present separation of work and home, we can achieve their closer relation from two sides: (a) returning parts of the production to home-shops or to the proximity of the homes, and (b) introducing domestic work and the productive part of family relations, which are not now considered part of the economy at all, into the style and relations of the larger economy.

Like Kropotkin and some other anarchist thinkers, they seize upon the technical possibilities for decentralisation which industrial advances and new sources of power have brought:

As to home shops, we must think of the present sudden proliferation of machine tools. Previously it could be said that the sewing machine was the only productive machine widely distributed. But now, largely because of the war, the idea of thousands of small complete machine shops, powered by electricity has become familiar. And, in general, the change from steam power to electricity and oil has relaxed one of the greatest causes for the concentration of machines about a single driving shaft. Which part of the manufacture requires a factory (for instance, an assembly line) and which does not (for instance, turning a small part) depends on the analysis of production and the proximity of plant and homes. And further, the new factories are themselves no longer nuisance buildings; many are neater and certainly handsomer than the homes and monumental buildings of some communities; therefore, the proximity of factories, home-shops, and homes is possible and desirable.

Ralph Borsodi, going back to the old conception of Aristotle, has proved, often with hilarious realism, that home production, such as cooking, cleaning, mending, and entertaining, has a formidable economic value. The problem is, without destroying the individuality of home production, to lighten and enrich it by the technical means and some of the expert attitudes which belong to public production. And vice versa, to restore to the home many services that are really most humanly satisfactory there, but are now unfeasible because of the drudgery, lack of tools, etc.

But the chief part of finding a satisfactory productive life in the environment of homes and families consists in the analysis of person relations and conditions: e.g. the productive co-operation of man and wife, which exists on farms, or the productive capacities of children and old folk, now simply excluded from the economy. But this involves sentimental and moral problems of extreme depth and delicacy which could only be solved by the experiment itself.

A chief cause, declare the Goodman brothers, of the "living meaninglessness of industrial work is that each machine worker is acquainted with only a few processes not the whole order of production; and, even worse, that the thousands of products are distributed where the worker has no acquaintance at all" and they ask whether it would not prove to be more efficient in the long run if the men were working for themselves and have a say in the distribution.

'A say in the distribution' here means not merely economic democracy or even socialist ownership. These are necessary checks, but they do not give a political meaning to industrialism as such. What is required is the organisation of economic democracy on the basis of the productive units, where each unit, relying on its own expertness and the bargaining power of what it has to offer, co-operates with, and delegates authority to, the whole of society. This is syndicalism. And to guarantee the independent say of each productive unit it must have a relative self-sufficiency; this is regionalism and the union of farm and factory.

On the diversification of individual work, they note that within any one industry work can be divided on such grounds (for instance team work and individual work, or physical and intellectual work) and the right industries can be combined in a neighbourhood (for instance, cast glass, blown glass, and optical instruments, or most important of all, in their opinion. industry and agriculture).

The problem, they say, comes down to this, "to envisage a well-rounded schedule of jobs for each man and to arrange the buildings and farms so that the schedule is feasible", and this leads them to the integration of farm and factory in a context of regionalism and regional autonomy with (a) Diversified farming as the basis of self-subsistence, and therefore, small urban centres (of about 200,000 population); (b) A number of mutually dependent industrial centres; so that an important proportion of the national economy can be under local control; (c) These industries developed around regional resources of mine, field and power.

Diversified farming alone, they observe, is economically independent, and this is why small farms have always been a root of social stability, though not necessarily of peasant conservatism. On the other hand, taking advantage of mechanisation, "they import power and small machines and pay with the products of domestic industry and cash crops farmed perhaps co-operatively with large machines. Such a farm then is the type of productive unit, independent in itself, but linked with the larger economy of the other farms and of the town."

In industry, the problem is the reverse, since every machine industry is dependent on the national economy. "But by regional independence of industries and by the close integration of factory and farm workers – factory hands taking over in the fields at peak seasons; farmers doing factory work in the winter; town people, especially children, living in the country; farmers making small parts for the factories – the industrial region as a whole can secure for itself an independent bargaining power in the national whole …"

They follow this with diagrams of the physical planning of a region on this model, a glimpse of a piazza in the town centre, and of "a farm and its children" – the farmstead being a kind of extended family house combined with a youth hostel.
But is planning on these lines worth while? Or rather, is the formulation of this kind of "ideal type" for a society, worth the effort? The Goodman's answer is this:

Now it might be said that all these provisions – small units, double markets, the selection of industries on political and psychological grounds, etc.– that all this is a strange and roundabout way of achieving a unified national economy, when at present this unity already exists with a tightness and efficiency that leaves nothing to be desired. But first, it is always a question whether the regional and syndicalist method is not more efficient and in the end, when invention, for instance, is not inhibited and the job is its own incentive. But most important of all, it must be remembered that we are here aiming at the highest and nearest ideals of external life: liberty, personal concern, responsibility and expertness; and to a say in what a man lends his hands to. Compared with these things, the present set-up, that does not even make the attempt to find living meaning in work, has nothing to offer.

Maximum Security; Minimum Regulation

In the third of their "ideal types" of community plans, the Goodman brothers describe an interim plan for "maximum security within minimum regulation".

Up to about fifty years ago, they say, more than half the productive capacity of the United States was devoted to subsistence: "subsistence could be regarded as the chief end of the economy and, although their motives were personal wealth and power, most enterprises were concerned with the subsistence market". But nowadays less than a tenth of the economy is concerned with subsistence goods (the exact figure depending on where the minimum is set, which as they point out, is a cultural rather than a medical question), and "the centre of economic interest has gradually shifted from either providing goods or gaining wealth to keeping the capital machines at work and running at full capacity, to increase further; and the social arrangements have become so complicated and interdependent that, unless the machines are running at full capacity, investment is withdrawn; and all wealth and subsistence are jeopardised". Since to neglect subsistence and security is "to breed war and social revolution", governments intervene to assure the elementary security which is no longer the first concern of the economy.

But since the forms and aims of these governments are given by the economy rather than by the elementary needs, the tack which they take is the following: to guarantee social security by subsidizing the full productivity of the economy. Or to put it financially, security is provided by insurance paid in the money that comes from the operation of the whole economy. The amazing indirectness of this mode of proceeding is brilliantly exposed by the discovery of a new human 'right' … this is the 'right' – no! not to life and liberty – but to employment! Full employment is the device by which the whole economy can flourish and yet subsistence not be jeopardised – and therefore, the curse of Adam becomes a benefit to be struggled for, just because we have the means to produce a surplus, cause of all our woes.
But the immediate result of such a solution is to tighten even closer the economic net. Whatever freedom used to come from free enterprise and free market – and it is a freedom that at one time fought on the side of human rights – is caught in regulation and taxes. In a word the union of government and economy becomes more and more complete; soon we are in the full tide of statism. This is not a question of evil intention but follows from the connection of the basic political need of subsistence with the totality of an integrated economy. Such as the indirect solution.

The direct solution which they propose, is to divide the economy into two, separating whatever provides life and security for all from the rest of the economy which provides variety, interest, convenience, emulation, luxury, wealth and power. The principle is to assure subsistence by direct production of subsistence goods and services rather than by insurance taxed on the general economy. This involves a system of double money: the 'money' of the subsistence production and consumption, and the money of the general market. (Returning to this theme in a latter essay, Paul Goodman calls them hard and soft money). The hard money of the subsistence economy is more like ration coupons, not negotiable, since "a man's right to life is not subject to trade."

To the individual, they claim, the separation of his subsistence (employing a small fraction of his labour time) from the demands and values of the general economy (employing most of his labour time), "should give a breath of freedom, a new possibility of choice, and a sense of security combined with perfect independence for he has worked directly for what he gets and need never feel the pressure of being a drain on the general society and of thinking that soon the payments will cease."

Comparing the systems of social security offered (in 1947) in Britain and America with their suggested plan, they find that the governmental plans offer:
1. Security of subsistence.
2. A tax on the general economy.
3. The necessity to maintain the economy at full production to pay the tax, therefore, governmental planning of all production, pump-priming, made work, and subsidies; a still further tax and, possibly, a falling rate of profit.
4. The insistence on the unemployed worker's accepting the third or fourth job available, in order to prevent a continuing drain on the tax fund.
5. The protecting of the workers thus coerced by regulation of the conditions of industry and investment.
As against these, they claim that their plan offers:
1. Security of subsistence.
2. The loss to the industrialist of the subsistence market and of a small fraction of the social labour.
3. The coercion of a small fraction of the social labour to produce the subsistence goods and services.
4. Economic freedom in all other respects. The authors admit, with a twinge of conscience, that their plan in effect requires a form of industrial conscription for the "universal labour service" even though it is for a short period, or for short periods of an individual's working life. ("We are touching," they remark, "on a political principle of vast importance, far beyond our scope of analysis here, namely, the principle of purity of means in the exercise of the different powers of society. Government, founded essentially on authority, uses mainly the means of personal service; economy, founded essentially on exchange, uses mainly the means of money."). They claim in fact that

This plan is coercive, but, in fact, if not in law, it is less coercive than the situation we are used to. For the great mass of wage earners it fixes a limit to the coercion to which, between capital and trade-union, they are unavoidably and increasingly subjected; for the wealthy enterpriser, who would buy substitutes, it is no more coercive than any other tax. On constitutional grounds the crucial objections to forced labour have always been either that it subjects the individual to a private enterpriser without contract (a form of slavery) or that it broadens the power of the state in abrogation of the rights against tyranny; but neither of these objections is here valid.

The minimum subsistence economy (they note that if freedom is the aim, everything beyond the minimum must be excluded) provides and distributes food, clothing and shelter, mass produced in enormous quantities and without variation of style, while medicine and transportation are provided by a financial arrangement between the subsistence and the general economies.

Now supposing that such a system, of assured subsistence and of almost complete freedom of economic ties, were put into effect; there is no doubt that for millions of people, no matter how much they might resist the idea in prospect, the first effect would be a feeling of immense relief – relief from that pressure of a daily grind and relief from the anxiety of failure in short, the feeling expressed by so many persons that they wish their vacations could last on and on. But, after this first commonplace effect had worn off, then, it seems to us, the moral attitude of a people like the Americans would be profoundly disturbed. They would be afraid not only of freedom (which releases the desires both creative and destructive, which are so nicely repressed by routine) but especially of boredom for they would imagine themselves completely without cultural or creative resources. For in our times all entertainments and even the personal excitements of romance seem to be bound up with having ready money to spend: all emotional satisfaction has been intricated into keeping the entire productive machine in motion: it is bound up with the 'standard of living', it is created by, and gets its economic role through advertising.

After the period of salutary boredom which makes people discover what they want to do with their time rather than succumb to a widely advertised suggestion, they envisage the growth of schools teaching avocations – jobs adopted for their own satisfaction rather than by economic necessity.

The authors enjoy themselves working out the architectural implications of their double economy – the "production centre" and minimal settlements of the subsistence economy. Throughout the book, they are forced by the nature of their approach, to stray out of the field of town-planning into that of economics, and it is with the views of an economist, J. K. Galbraith, that their three schemes invite comparison. In The Affluent Society (see ANARCHY 1), Galbraith argues, with the same reasoning about the small proportion of the American economy devoted to subsistence, for the divorce of production from security. In this respect he goes further than the Goodmans, but by the use of a mechanism which they reject as the indirect method. Galbraith suggests breaking the connection between income and production, not, like them, by separating subsistence from the rest, but by introducing what he calls cyclically graduated compensation – unemployment compensation which, as unemployment increases, is itself increased to approach the level of the normal weekly wage, and diminishes as full employment is approached. Each of these authors would regard the proposals of the other as a cumbersome way of achieving the same object. All their suggestions release a speculative faculty in the reader's brain, so that he conceives other solutions for himself – like making subsistence items 'free' and reserving a money economy for luxuries.

Or he may conceive of a three-decker society in which the three schemes which the Goodmans formulate co-exist. Indeed, since one of the subtle fascinations of their book is that their three "paradigms" are part-parodies as well as part-utopias, he may actually see them co-existing in a distorting-mirror image, in the contemporary world. We have the big brassy metropolitan consumer city in any world capital, we have the "intentional community" in the form, for example, of the kibbutz (the subject of some penetrating paragraphs in the new edition of Communitas), and we may even trace elements of the life of security with minimum regulation in the economic aspects of the life of America's disaffiliated beatniks (which Paul Goodman has discussed in another book), living in the interstices of the affluent society by undertaking a minimum of humble but often useful work, in order to devote the rest of their time to the pursuits of their choice.

Youth and absurdity

A review of Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organised System, by Paul Goodman (New York: Random House $4.50; London: Victor Gollancz 21s., 1961).

This is the only one of Paul Goodman's books to be issued in an English edition, and although Mr. Gollancz launched it royally, it did not get a royal reception in the British press. Cyril Connolly complained in the Sunday Times that "reading Mr. Goodman is like swimming in cotton wool", the Times Educational Supplement reviewed it under the headline "Transatlantic Tosh", Geoffrey Gorer demolished it in The Listener, declaring that "the publisher misleads the purchaser, and insults Professor Riesman by claiming in bold type on the dust-cover that this book is in any way comparable to The Lonely Crowd", and finally D. W. Brogan observed in The Guardian that

It is lavishly praised by Sir Herbert Read and Mr. A. S. Neill, praise that I, for my part, can take or leave. I leave it. What is more serious is that it is praised by Mr. Norman Podhoretz and Professor J. K. Galbraith. Neither Mr. Podhoretz nor Professor Galbraith is an anarchist, neither has contracted out of society as Sir Herbert Read and Mr. Neill have done. I have the greatest respect for both these social commentators, but I am totally baffled as to why they think highly of this book.

This chorus of bafflement and disparagement is very different from the book's original reception in America, for we learn from Richard Mayes that there it has "been reviewed extensively and favourably in a large variety of publications ranging from arch conservative to extreme liberal, and I'd like to say immediately, with some annoyance, that it is about time Paul Goodman is at last getting some of the credit he has so richly deserved for over twenty years."

You will see from all this that people are sharply divided on the merits of this book, and before describing its theme, I would like to express a modicum of agreement with its English critics. It has been badly put together by author and publisher: the reader has difficulty in finding his way around the book because the contents page is twelve pages away from the title page, and because 55 of its 296 pages consist of appendices A to F, most of them interesting in themselves but lacking immediate relevance to the text. It is not very well written and for us has the added irritation of colloquialisms whose meaning we have to guess at. But its worst fault is that it does not all speak with the same voice. Sometimes we are listening to the writer for the radical minority press, sometimes the didactic lecturer arguing from common premises, sometimes we hear the tone of a moralising leading article addressing the general public before last year's American elections:

Politically, what we need is government in which a man offers himself as a candidate because he has a new program that he wants to effectuate, and we choose him because we want that good, and judge that he is the best man to effectuate it. Is that outlandish?

Yes, Mr. Goodman it is, as well you know, For politics does not work that way.
But perhaps the reason why Growing Up Absurd has not had here the impact that its theme demands is that, superficially it falls into a category of American current literature with which we are over-familiar. For there has been a steady flow during the last decade of books from the other side of the Atlantic criticising the state of the American nation, Some have been good, some bad, and many of them have given us phrases which have gained a general currency: The Lonely Crowd, The Organisation Man, The Hidden Persuaders, The Shook-Up Generation, The Status Seekers, The Waste Makers, The Affluent Society, The Holy Barbarians – how their catchy titles roll off the tongue! As Richard Hoggart remarked, there is an endless future for this kind of thing, and in fact we have already got our homegrown English versions: The Stagnant Society and The Insecure Offenders – both of them far inferior to the best of the American species.

Goodman's book brings together several of the themes of the orgy of American self-criticism. It is sub-titled "problems of youth in the organised system" for he argues that "it is desperately hard these days for an average child to grow up to be a man, for our present system of society does not want men. They are not safe. They do not suit." And he studies the reactions of several dissident groups in American life: the juvenile delinquents, the hipsters (or cynics) and the beats.

He starts by considering the changing concept of human nature and of the "socialisation" of the individual human being. A curious thing has occurred: unlike their predecessors, contemporary social scientists are no longer interested in fundamental social change, for they have hit on the theory that you can adapt people to anything, if you use the right techniques:

Our social scientists have become so accustomed to the highly organised and by-and-large smoothly running society that they have begun to think that "social animal" means "harmoniously belonging." They do not like to think that fighting and dissenting are proper social functions, nor that rebelling or initiating fundamental change is social function. Rather, if something does not run smoothly, they say it has been improperly socialised; there has been a failure in communications.

The question that Goodman asks is "Socialisation to what? To what dominant society and available culture?"

He thinks first of jobs. American society he declares "has tried so hard and so ably to defend the practice and theory of production for profit and not primarily for use, that now it has succeeded in making its jobs and products profitable and useless." We may readily assent in the examples he cites from salesmanship, entertainment, business management and advertising, but what about a job like teaching – a job which is necessary, useful, real, creative and obviously self-justifying? Well, he asks, why do many teachers suffer first despair and then resignation? It isn't only because it is carried on under impossible conditions of overcrowding and public parsimony, but because the school system has spurious aims: .

It soon becomes clear that the underlying aims are to relieve the home and keep the kids quiet; or, suddenly, the aim is to produce physicists. Timid supervisors, bigoted clerics, and ignorant school boards forbid real teaching. The emotional release and sexual expression of the children are taboo. A commercially debauched popular culture makes learning disesteemed. The academic curriculum is mangled by the demands of reactionaries, liberals, and demented warriors. Progressive methods are emasculated. Attention to each case is out of the question, and all the children – the bright, the average, and the dull – are systematically retarded one way or the other, while the teacher's hands are tied …

Or take the job of motor mechanic: it is useful, interesting, satisfying to watch the car that was towed in rolling out on its own. What happens when a young man who takes on this job discovers that the manufacturers do not want their cars to be repaired or repairable, and that "gone are the days of keeping the jalopies in good shape, the artist-work of a good mechanic", since car repairs have become a matter of cosmetics and not mechanics.

It is hard for the young man now to maintain his feelings of justification, sociability, serviceability. It is not surprising if he quickly becomes cynical and time-serving, interested in a fast buck. And so, on the notorious Reader's Digest test, the investigators (coming in with a disconnected coil wire) found that 63 per cent. of mechanics charged for repairs they didn't make, and lucky if they didn't also take out the new fuel pump and replace it with a used one (65 per cent of radio repair shops, but only 49 per cent. of watch repairmen "lied, overcharged, or gave false diagnoses").

He concludes that the majority of young people in America are faced with the alternative that society is either a benevolently frivolous racket in which they will manage to get by, or else that society is serious and it is they who are useless and hopelessly out. "Some settle for a 'good job'; most settle for a lousy job; a few, but an increasing number don't settle." This is the main theme of his book: "The simple plight of these adolescents could not be remedied without a social revolution. Therefore it is not astonishing if the most well-intentioned public spokesmen do not mention it at all." Writing about the organisation men, Goodman tells us little that we have not been told suavely by William H. Whyte; about the urban juvenile delinquents he is, because of his own condemnation of the society to which they have failed to "adjust", more enlightening than most writers. Instead of looking for a concept of delinquency, he suggests we expand the subject as "a series of possible punishable relations obtaining between the boy struggling for life and trying to grow up, and the society that he cannot accept and that lacks objective opportunities for him." This series he sets out thus:

1. Acts not antisocial if society had more sense.
2. Acts that are innocent but destructive in their consequences and therefore need control.
3. Acts antisocial in purpose.
4. Behaviour aimed at getting caught and punished.
5. Gang fighting that is not delinquency yet must be controlled.
6. Delinquency secondarily created by society itself by treating as delinquents those who were not delinquent, and by social attempts at prevention and reform.

But by far his most illuminating thoughts are about the Beats. (So much has been written on this theme that it is hard to be interesting about them.) He is not really an enthusiast for their art and literature, but he recognises that some of their habits "like being unscheduled, sloppy, communitarian, sexually easy-going, and careless of reputation," are "probably natural ways that most people would choose if they got wise to themselves – at least so artists and peasants have always urged." And he makes this telling point about the jobs they choose:

Many of the humble jobs of the poor are precisely not useless (or exploiting). Farm labour, hauling boxes, janitoring, serving and dish washing, messenger – these jobs resist the imputation of uselessness (or exploitation) made against the productive society as a whole. These are preferred Beat jobs. For one thing, in them no questions are asked and no beards have to be shaved. Nor is this an accidental connection. Personal freedom goes with unquestioned moral utility of the job, for at the level of simple physical effort or personal service, the fraudulent conformity of the organised system sometimes does not yet operate; the job speaks for itself.

In his chapter on The Missing Community, Goodman talks about the "missed revolution that we have inherited", the fundamental social changes that have failed to occur, or have half-occurred. These range from syndicalism to "permissiveness". His argument is that "the accumulation of the missed and compromised revolutions of modern times, with their consequent ambiguities and social imbalances, has fallen, and must fall, most heavily on the young, making it hard to grow up."

Goodman, contrasting the "organised system" – its role playing, its competitiveness, its canned culture, its public relations, and its avoidance of risk and self-exposure, with the simple "fraternity, animality and sexuality" of the disaffected young, feels, as a revolutionary of an older generation, heartened by these "crazy young allies." I hope he will not be disappointed.

The children and psychology - Paul Goodman

Paul Goodman on the psychology of children and families.

What is most significant, it seems to me, is the earnest attention paid to the Children and Family as a subject, the desire of parents to be informed and thereby do