Monday, 27 March 2017

Comical Carryings-On Among the Comrades

by Brian Bamford
LAST Monday the latest meeting of the Friends of Freedom Press (the directors) ought to have been held at the building in Angel Alley just off Whitechappel High Street in London. Alas, when Ernest Rodker, a director and Friend, arrived in time for the meeting he found the building closed and shop shut up.
The meeting had been called-off at very short notice. Fortunately, more by luck than good management, no directors or ‘Friend’ from the North was already on the train bound for the South at the moment when the event was called-off at the last minute.
There is a certain slap-stick nature to the going-on at the premises of Freedom Press which matches most of the prejudices of the enemies of political anarchism.
Donald Rooum, who retired or resigned as a Friend of Freedom Press earlier this year, did so it is said because of certain over-wrought behaviour at some gathering over a year ago at which at least one Friend declared himself to be scared-stiff.
Absurdity seems to follow the English anarchists in the dealings with everyday affairs.:
In a book review of Malcolm Muggeridge’s book ‘Chronicles Of Wasted Time’, which Scott Alexander did in 2015, he reported upon some hilarious goings on at the anarchist or Tolstoyan Whiteway experimental colony originally founded in 1898, where the former editor of Freedom Tom Keele went to live after he abandoned the capital. Mr Alexander writes that:
The land was cheap in those days. And they (the founders) acquired it by purchase; then to demonstrate their abhorrence of the institution of property. Ceremonially burnt the title deeds. It must have been a touching scene – the bonfire, the documents consigned to the flames, their exalted sentiments. Unfortunately, a neighbouring farmer heard of their noble gesture and began to encroach on their land. To have resorted to the police. Even if it had been practicable, was unthinkable. So after much deliberation, they decided to use physical force to expel the intruder… The invading farmer was, in fact, thrown over the hedge in the presence of the assembled Colonists. There were many such trag-comic incidents in the years that followed; as well as quarrels, departures, jealousies, betrayals, and domestic upset. In the end, the Colonists found it necessary to re-establish their title to the land by means of squatters’ rights, and then proceeded to bicker amongst themselves as to who should have which portion.’
In 1909, Gandhi visited the Whiteway Colony in 1909, and pronounced it a failed Tolstoyan experiment.  As to the fate of Freedom, which ceased serious publication in 2014, well the jury is still out on that one.

No comments: