VOTE! WHAT FOR? by Robert “Bobby” Lynn — eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

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The pamphlet “Vote! What For?” by Robert “Bobby” Lynn, the Glaswegian Stirnerite anarcho-syndicalist who “radicalised” me as a 15-year-old (apart from my granny!), is a timely insight into the true nature of representative democracy and universal suffrage. An unforgettable street corner speaker, his proselytising patter was second-to-none. Here he is talking about the division of labour: “a man operating a machine in repetitive work day-in day-out becomes an automaton. He produces a nut and a bolt, a nut and a bolt, a nut and a bolt. … Finally you don’t know whether he is a nutter from the bolt factory or whether he has bolted from the nut factory.”

“This pamphlet is not meant to be a panorama of a possible future real world. It’s meant to be an observation on present day society with a view to changing it, as I believe it to be an insane asylum. It is so gigantic that most of us do not notice it. Most people have visions of a society of their desires but because of miseducation their views are frustrated. They have been so indoctrinated by their “teachers”: the classroom, from the pulpit, from parents who came through the same sausage machine indoctrination. From the cradle to the grave they are nurtured and subjected to varying degrees of subservience. In consequence they sniff for their master like an obedient pet dog. They seek their messiah, divine or mundane.

“If I could lead anyone into the land of milk and honey, I wouldn’t do it. Why? Because if I could lead anyone into it then I could lead them out of it. No one has the power to give you what you want without having the power to snuff it out. I want to be neither a mister somebody nor a mister nobody but merely a mister this body: neither to be possessed nor dispossessed. If I could change the social system by myself I would do so. But because of my incompetence I need allies: I need more strength; I need you. It is self-interest but an interest that is mutual. At present I hack at the social system as best I can like laboriously cutting away with pick and shovel at a mountain to get to my destination; Forever trying to muster sufficient dynamite in order to blow it out of existence. So I speak to you, especially you of the working class who have an immediate economic interest in destroying our maniacal social system. Economic freedom is the concrete base of all other freedoms. Without economic freedom another freedoms are merely spooks.

“I ask you then to rid yourself of spooks. Organise to achieve real freedom from your compulsory asylum. Karl Marx once exhorted the working class to unite. “Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains, you have a world to win.” However, he spent so much time in the British Museum that it would seem he had forgotten to advise them where to unite.

“In my pamphlet I try to show the futility of organising in political parties. I advise industrial and social organisation. A do-it-yourself movement and make the politicians redundant. Send them and the tycoons of industry into the museums of antiquity along with the spinning wheel and the bronze axe. One last word I hope after reading the pamphlet you may find the rational core within the mystical shell and boycott the vote.” — Robert Lynn

The cover illustration depicts the suicided Ajax, impaled on his sword, being covered by Tekmessa. When Achilles was killed it was Ajax who saved his body from the Trojans, hoping to be rewarded with Achilles’ magical armour, but Odysseus who had also been involved in the fighting also wanted the armour. To settle the matter the Greeks leaders, under Athena, voted by piling stones in front of the opponents; Ajax, who lost by one vote, went off in a hissy fit and slaughtered the Achaeans captured livestock, then commited suicide. How very unlike the post-electoral behaviour of our own dear politicians.

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AN ANTI-STATIST COMMUNIST MANIFESTO by Joseph Lane with a profile of the author by Nicolas Walter. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

LaneCoversmallAn anti-statist communist manifesto by Joseph Lane with a profile of Joseph Lane by Nicolas Walter. First published by Joseph Lane in 1887 (Bethnal Green). Second print edition (with intro by Nicolas Walter)  by Cienfuegos Press, Sanday, Orkney 1978.

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Joseph Lane defended liberty, equality and solidarity — what would now be called libertarian socialism. He attacked authority, whether religious or political, and declared himself both atheist and anti-statist neither God nor master! He avoided the word anarchist, preferring to call himself a revolutionary socialist or a free communist. He opposed both mere radicals and mere secularists, both individualist anarchists and collectivist socialists. He opposed Parliament as a symbol of what was wrong with public life and marriage as a symbol of what was wrong with private life (though he was himself happily married with several children). He rejected such panaceas as imperialism and emigration, co-operation and land nationalisation, teetotalism and vegetarianism, or so-called Malthusianism (birth control), and such palliatives as a legal eight-hour day or public relief far the unemployed. He attacked the welfare state as well as the warfare state. He wanted social revolution, not social democracy.

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HOW LABOUR GOVERNED 1945-1951 The Syndicalist Workers’ Federation (SWF) eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)


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How the Labour Party governed between the years 1945 and 1951, examining their relationship with the working class and how “socialist” it really was.

“I look around my colleagues and I see landlords, capitalists and lawyers. We are a cross-section of the national life and this is something that has never happened before.”
Arthur Greenwood, Labour Lord Privy Seal, Hansard, August 17, 1945.

Atomic insanity
THE war in Europe ended on May 5, 1945. As a result of the General Election that followed, the Labour Government took office on July 26, 1945. Eleven days later, on August 6, the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The second atom bomb devastated Nagasaki on August 9. The total casualties from these two insane acts will never be known, but the death roll was certainly upwards of half-a-million and, eighteen years later, victims are still dying from radiation sickness. The dropping of these bombs was not solely an act of American policy. President Truman has stated that he obtained the agreement of the British Government before the mass-murder was committed and the Labour Government had observers, including Group-Captain Cheshire and nuclear scientist Sir William Penney, at the bomb-dropping.

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THE FLOODGATES OF ANARCHY by Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

FloodgatesCoverTHE FLOODGATES OF ANARCHY by Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer

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“Anyone who wants to know what anarchism is about in the contemporary world would do well to start here. The Floodgates of Anarchy forces us to take a hard look at moral and political problems which other more sophisticated doctrines evade.” —The Sunday Times

“A lucid exposition of revolutionary anarchist theory — Peace News

The floodgates holding back anarchy are constantly under strain. The liberal would ease the pressure by diverting some of the water; the conservative would shore up the dykes, the totalitarian would construct a stronger dam. But is anarchy a destructive force? The absence of government may alarm the authoritarian, but is a liberated people really its own worst enemy—or is the true enemy of humanity, as the anarchists claim, the means by which one is governed? Without government the world could manage to end exploitation and war. Anarchy should not be confused with weak, divided or manifold government. As Christie and Meltzer point out, only with the total abolition of government can society develop in freedom.

With a new introduction, this classic anarchist text from the `70s is available once again.

“Coming from a position of uncompromising class struggle and a tradition that includes many of our exemplary anarchist militants, Floodgates of Anarchy has a power and directness sadly missing from some contemporary anarchist writing. It is exciting to see it back in print, ready for a new generation to read.” — Barry Pateman, Associate Editor, The Emma Goldman Papers, University of California at Berkeley.

I COULDN’T PAINT GOLDEN ANGELS. Sixty Years of Commonplace Life and Anarchist Agitation by Albert Meltzer. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

GoldenAngelsI COULDN’T PAINT GOLDEN ANGELS. Sixty Years of Commonplace Life and Anarchist Agitation by Albert Meltzer 

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Albert Meltzer (1920–1996) was involved, actively, in class struggles since the age of 15; exceptional for his generation in having been a convinced anarchist from the start, without any family background in such activity. A lively, witty account of sixty years in anarchist activism, and a unique recounting of many struggles otherwise distorted or unrecorded, including the history of the contemporary development of anarchism in Britain and other countries where he was involved, notably Spain. His story tells of many struggles, including for the first time, the Anglo-Spanish cooperation in the postwar anti-Franco resistance and provides interesting sidelights on, amongst others, the printers’ and miners’ strikes, fighting Blackshirts and the battle of Cable Street, the so-called Angry Brigade activities, the Anarchist Black Cross, the Cairo Mutiny and wartime German anti-Nazi resistance, the New Left of the 60s, the rise of squatting—and through individuals as varied as Kenyata, Emma Goldman, George Orwell, Guy Aldred, and Frank Ridley—all of which have crowded out not only his story, but his life too.


Albert002In spite of the self-effacing sub-title, the life of Albert Meltzer was far from “commonplace”. It is a witty account of the never-ending and tireless struggle — sometimes Herculean, sometimes Schvejkian — against the hydra-headed nonentities who seek to impose their order and their certainties on the universe.

Since his schooldays, throughout his working life and in “retirement”, anarchism was the guiding star which fuelled Albert’s thankfully incurable and infectious optimism and faith in the ultimate common sense of humanity. He was a worker, active in trade unionism, a tireless but unpaid editor, a traveller, a public speaker and a challenger of humbug. His character, ideas, good humour (mostly) and generosity of spirit have touched and influenced many people in many lands during the past sixty years. I am grateful to have been one of those links in the chain. Others, some of the many younger people Albert inspired, will undoubtedly be the future torchbearers of anarchism — a vision of a free, just and self-managed society — in the twenty-first century.

However did Albert Meltzer get to be one of the most enduring figures in the active international anarchist movement in the second half of the twentieth century? How did his commitment to anarchism survive the destruction of the Revolution and defeat in the Civil War in Spain? How did it survive the Second World War? What was the anarchist contribution to the revolutionary impetus of the 1960s and 1970s? How did it respond to the more demanding reactionary challenges of the 1980s and 1990s? These are important questions with a valuable bearing on the human condition in this century. “I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels” does not provide any easy answers but it does provide sharp and invaluable insights into how anarchists are formed and sustained — unpretentious, without illusions, prepared for everything and forgetting nothing. — Stuart Christie

The obscure title may require some explanation, inasmuch as the following introductory paragraph was accidentally omitted from the printed version: “A nineteenth century sentimental love lyricist of German poetry, who was also its sharpest political satirist, wrote a book of art criticism in Paris. He said he was determined to keep to the one subject, but the revolutions of that year broke out and he could not help bringing in his political prejudices and sympathies. He compared himself with an “honest fellow-tradesman”, a signwriter whose speciality was to paint red lions. Offered a commision to paint a golden angel as a house sign, he declined, saying he was only capable of painting a red lion, and if he attempted to paint a golden angel it would turn out to look like a red lion just the same. This was intended to be by way of being an account of an untypical working life, far from golden and never angelic but I couldn’t keep the red lion of anarchist history from emerging”

Albert Meltzer