Thursday, 2 February 2017

Donald Rooum Quits Friends of Freedom Press

AT the last meeting of the Friends of Freedom Press on the 9th, Jan. 2016, the veteran anarchist and cartoonist, Donald Rooum*, aged 88-years, officially retired from the board of directors that is responsible for publishing one of the world's oldest newspapers, Freedom - the anarchist journal (founded by among others Peter Kropotkin in 1986).  The reason for Donald Rooum's departure was a bitter encounter later described as an 'anti-social-social', orchestrated by the so-called Freedom Collective led by Andy Meinke who runs the Freedom Bookshop.
A year ago  on the 6th, Jan. 2016, Northern Voices' reported that Mr. Rooum had resigned from his position on the so-called Freedom Collective owing to a 'conflict of interest'.  This was later denied by both parties, and perhaps because of this earlier confusion, this time Steve Sorba, the current Secretary of Friends of Freedom, had insisted that Mr Rooum must put in his resignation in person; which he duly did at the meeting on the 9th, January.
At this meeting Carolyn Wilson, who was appointed as a Director of Freedom Press at the last Annual General Meeting in June 2016, said that she would 'put out feelers' to get another director to replace Donald.  This Freedom Press AGM was quite memorable because of the rough reception given to someone merely presenting some alternative proposals to those approved by the so-called Freedom Collective:  the metropolitan police later were involve in an investigation as to what had transpired.
Problems still exist, we understand, with regard to the Freedom Collective's failure to provide clear and adequate accounts with regard to Mr Meinke's management of the Freedom Bookshop, and the rooms rented to various outside bodies using the rooms at the Freedom Press premises.
Donald Rooum's departure represents a final tragic 'ruptura' with the past and the great historic and intellectual tradition of Freedom, dating back to the post-war period of Vernon Richards and Colin Ward, and the influence of British anarchism as a real political force on the New Left and in the Peace Movement in the 1960s.  
The tragedy of Donald Rooum's retirement is that it comes at a time of serious dispute between elements on the 'Collective' with their narrow English political pedantry and 'sectarian chauvinism'; and those who seek a broader approach to anarchism rooted in everyday life.  Rooum represents the last of the old guard, none of the remaining Friends were part of the traditional intellectual tradition including Steve Sorba (the printer) and Jayne Clemenson (the layout artist), who were actually involved in the production of the Freedom newspaper, rather than the creation of the historic message and aims of Freedomite anarchism. **
*  Mr Donald Rooum's Company's House registeration on Friends of Freedom Press:    
Uk (British) • Retired • Born in March 1928 (88 years old) 17 Dec 2001 → 9 Jan 2017
**  Unfortunately, neither the Friends of Freedom Press or the so-called 'Freedom Collective' publish any serious minutes or reports; so the only place that people interested get to know what is going on is on this Northern Voices' Blog.

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