Saturday, 22 March 2014

The Death of a Northern Anarchist: Duncan Ball

Duncan Ball – activist, NAN supporter and founding member
of both Wrekin Stop War, and the Wrekin Anarchist Group collective
died on Wednesday 12 March 2014.
LAST week, the late Bob Crow and Tony Benn are being hailed as 'big beasts' of the British left but on 12 March 2014, the left also lost one of the 'tenacious terriers' who make up the wider movement to which Benn himself frequently deferred.

Although tenacious, Duncan was no firebrand or soapbox orator – perhaps best described a being in the 'quietist' tradition of William Morris – but his influence in our collective was deeply felt as a voice of calm, considered opinion without compromise to his own beliefs. Together with his son, John, he also dragged us screaming and kicking into the technological age, setting up and maintaining an excellent website as another forum for our campaigns.

And to be sure, he always spoke out when he felt it necessary, never failing to make an intelligent, unbiased and, if necessary, forceful, contribution to the debate – a skill that he also used to great effect in shaking up the conservatism of his particular branch of the trade union movement, often as a lone radical voice.

As a friend, I found Duncan to be a kind, warm and funny man – whether discussing dogs, growing vegetables, the ups and downs of life or global geopolitics. He always put the social into socialism!
Duncan was as at home in the pages of Noam Chomsky as he was in those of Terry Pratchett and given the 'big beast' vs. 'tenacious terrier' comment with which we began it is perhaps apt here to quote from Chomsky himself, who warns us against lionising leaders 'lest the real agents of change fall from history' .
But ultimately, Duncan believed in the possibility of a better world without cynicism and always saw the funny side without malice or disrespect, so perhaps a more fitting final word would be Pratchett's particular take on the matter:
'Although the scythe isn't pre-eminent among the weapons of war, anyone who has been on the wrong end of, say, a peasants' revolt will know that in skilled hands it is fearsome.' 

Duncan Ball born 8th, November 1945; died 12th, March 2014.

Rachel Whittaker

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