News from abinnitio 4, autumn equinox 2020

One title this time out, We Are Red Action, the founding document of the group set up in 1981 by working class people who had been kicked out of the SWP (Socialist Workers Party). Yes, believe it or not, the SWP once had a detectable working class contingent. It all ended in tears, of course. Red Action went on to have a distinguished career opposing Nazis, especially through the organisation Anti-Fascist Action, which Red Action set up and controlled. For their own, sometimes partial, history of this see Beating the Fascists by Sean Birchall, published by Freedom Press (9781 904 491 125) in 2010. Anti-Fascist Action had the same direct action anti-racist politics as today’s Antifa but predated them and was therefore a completely separate organisation. When the Nazis stopped coming out to play in the late 1990s (because they had turned to electoral politics) Red Action lost its reason to exist. Its own turn to electoral politics in the form of the International Working Class Organisation had some initial success in the form of a local councillor or two but soon failed. Farewell Red Action, a genuine working class group in the overwhelmingly middle class environment of Marxism.

Publication of this title indicates support for the working class and for anti-fascism and anti-racism. It does not indicate support for Red Action’s illusions concerning revolution, it does not indicate support for their analysis of the Bolshevik takeover in Russia, it does not indicate support for Red Action’s eventual turn to supporting the IRA. (For the correct, ie anarchist, analysis of the Bolshevik takeover in Russia see Obsolete Communism: the Left Wing Alternative by the Cohn-Bendits, writings by Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Peter Arshinov, Voline …)

News from abinnitio 3, autumn equinox 2019

Four old texts this time, all with a common theme of the working class (by which I mean the genuine working class, not middle class frauds pretending to be working class).

Paper Boys is an anonymous first hand account of the 1986/7 picketing that took place at Wapping in the East End of London outside News International after Rupert Murdoch sacked most of his printers. This was a mopping up exercise for the state after its defeat of the miners.

Educating Who About What? is also anonymous, examining the British anarchist movement from a strictly working class perspective.

First Know Your Enemy is by Andy Anderson and is an attempt at a new understanding of class society, focussing on the middle class.

Why The Revolutionaries Have Failed is an updating of First Know by Andy and his son Mark, centring on an exchange between Andy and Mark, and a long-vanished anarchist (or were they?) organisation, the AWG (Anarchist Workers Group).

News from abinnitio 2, spring equinox 2019

Here are years 6 to 9 of Colin Ward’s ANARCHY magazine from the 1960s, issues 59 (January 1966) to 106 (December 1969). See the previous news from abinnitio for details. Only one year left to put up, issues 107 to 118, and that will be done in the next month. Then a break until autumn equinox 2019 when some more rare libertarian texts will be made available.

News from abinnitio 1 – autumn equinox 2018

Welcome to abinnitio, a new libertarian publisher. The primary aim is to make old texts available again, at first online but maybe in hard copy later on. The main offering this time out is the fifty eight issues from the first five years of Colin Ward’s monthly ANARCHY magazine which ran from March 1961 to December 1970, published by Freedom Press. The remaining sixty issues from the next five years will be put up by spring equinox 2019. (The idea is for abinnitio to publish twice a year, on the equinoxes, leaving the possibility for additional publishing in between.) Everything is free, although those who can afford it are asked to donate money to Haven, a registered charity which sends books to people in prison. Texts put up by abinnitio can be downloaded and read, printed out, forwarded in full or in part, whatever. Anyone looking to reproduce in hard copy or commercial form should consider copyright. Nobody got paid for contributing to ANARCHY but a very few of the articles, all of them clearly marked as such, are copyright the authors and/or the original publishers.

There are two other publications in this first offering from abinnitio. They are both texts related to the Challenor affair in London in the early 1960s. In July 1963 a demonstration in London protested against the visit of Queen Frederika of Greece. Several people were arrested and charged with possessing offensive weapons, namely pieces of brick. Some were arrested by Detective Sergeant Harold Challenor, a decorated war hero, others by junior officers working under him. One defendant, Donald Rooum, was able to prove that Challenor was lying when he said he had found the piece of brick in Donald’s pocket and was acquitted. All the other defendants were convicted. Slowly, and with great support from the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL, today known as Liberty), and great opposition from the Home Secretary, Henry Brooke, Challenor’s lies unravelled. Challenor was declared insane and packed off to a mental hospital, his claims to have broken up protection rackets in Soho in tatters. Three of the junior officers were jailed, their police careers and maybe even their lives in ruins. (Just as the lives of Challenor’s innocent victims could have been ruined.) Convictions were quashed, some of them of earlier victims of Challenor, not just those from the demonstration, compensation paid out in a few cases. See Donald’s own account in ANARCHY 36. A Penguin Special, The Challenor Case, by Mary Grigg of the NCCL, was published, is reviewed in ANARCHY 49 and the complete text is now on the abinnitio website. A government inquiry into Challenor, The James Report, was a whitewash, is reviewed in ANARCHY 56, and is also available on abinnitio. The Challenor affair didn’t end back in the 1960s. In 1990 Challenor’s ghost written autobiography was published as Tanky Challenor – SAS and the Met and in 2013 a biography of Challenor was published, The Scourge of Soho, by former Met detective Dick Kirby. Maybe it’s time for Challenor’s victims to be heard from again.

By 1960, the year Colin started ANARCHY magazine, it was clear that the traditional anarchist movement dating from the late 1800s was finished. Our dreams of a revolution that would sweep away government, capitalism and all forms of oppression had come to nothing and nowhere did we any longer have a mass movement like the ones we once had. In Russia starting in 1917 the Communist Party had achieved state power and established a new type of dictatorship, one even worse than the Tsarist dictatorship it replaced, thereby confirming Michael Bakunin’s gloomy prediction of half a century earlier. In Spain between 1936 and 1939 the largest anarchist movement in the world partially established a social revolution to resist Franco’s attempted seizure of power and was promptly stabbed in the back by Stalin and the Spanish Communist Party, and then finished off by Franco’s victorious Fascist army. The old ideas have failed and anyone who refuses to acknowledge this, and to make it the starting point of a new anarchism, is only fooling themselves, no one else. We must produce new ideas. This was what Colin Ward’s ANARCHY was about, and it’s why abinnitio is making all of ANARCHY available again. Rethinking education, workers’ control, medicine, housing, dropping the ridiculous idea of revolution and substituting an anarchism of everyday, not a fraudulent vision of a millennium that will never arrive. New ideas from ANARCHY magazine and anywhere else they can be found. Towards a new, non-revolutionary, anarchist manifesto.

The text from each magazine is reproduced in its entirety, only the illustrations are missing. (See Autonomy: the cover designs of Anarchy 1961 – 1970 by Daniel Poyner, Hyphen Press 9780 907259 466 for all the covers.) Design features are reproduced as far as possible and the pagination has been preserved, making it possible to use the index found in the December edition of each year.