Sunday, 28 June 2015

Who Killed Freedom?

      Away back in 1951, or there about, I started reading the newspaper, Freedom, and more or less from then on continued to read the paper. I also wrote a couple of pieces for my favourite paper. Of course it was never perfect, but since 1886 it was a voice of reasoned anarchism, it was always there when others faltered and failed. I was utterly gutted when it folded and just couldn't understand why. The final statement in the piece "Transforming Freedom" by Andy Meinke still rings in my head, as the sort of statement one would have expected from some fascist group that closed down the paper Freedom, "---Kropotkin might have started it but we fucking finished it".

An article from a couple of months ago, by Christopher Draper in Northern Voices, throws some light on the demise  of that long standing flickering light of Freedom:

Who Killed Freedom?: an unauthorised history 1.

Christopher Draper

FREEDOM the world’s oldest anarchist newspaper is no more. Founded in London in October 1886, for over a century FREEDOM was universally recognised as the most thoughtful, open-minded, newspaper of the British anarchist movement.  In October 2014 this unique institution, having survived police raids, violent attacks and two world wars, was declared dead by its editorial collective.  FREEDOM blamed its demise on the combined effects of declining interest in print media and insufficient support from the anarchist movement.  The truth is rather different.  FREEDOM was destroyed by three young men deficient in knowledge and authoritarian in practice and one old man who knew better yet encouraged these miscreants to do their worst. T he consequence, though tragic, was utterly avoidable. 

Democratic Clique

FREEDOM was never officially the newspaper of the anarchist movement. It was started in London in 1886 by a small band of anarchists with no formal ties to any other political organisation.  As David Goodway observed:  'It was published monthly as a sober and thoughtful journal surviving while other publications appeared and soon folded in the tempestuous and often violent world of contemporary anarchist activism.'  Despite initially promoting debate between individualist anarchists and those of a more socialist persuasion FREEDOM soon adopted an explicitly anarchist-communist outlook. Other interpretations of anarchism continued to be expressed and debated within the paper and throughout its long, varied and sometimes interrupted history FREEDOM continued to provide open-minded, unsectarian coverage of anarchist affairs.  Although nominally controlled by a self-elected libertarian collective FREEDOM not infrequently relied on key individuals within the group to safeguard the newspaper’s anarchist integrity.  When Tom Keell in 1915 acted precipitously to keep the paper out of the hands of Kropotkin’s pro-war faction he was denounced as a dictator by fellow editor George Cores but backed by the wider anarchist movement. Once again in 1928 FREEDOM was kept alive as an irregular bulletin through the dedication of Keell who published it from his home at Whiteway Colony.  From 1930 until his death in 1934, John Turner carried the editorial baton and then after a two year gap the paper was revived in a new guise by Vernon (Vero) Richards. 
Read the full article HERE:
Visit ann arky's home at



  2. It doesn't throw any light on the demise of Freedom at all, it's just another hit-piece from NV, who for what it's worth seem to spend a not inconsiderable amount of their time directing their invective at individuals within their own movement, while never proposing any constructive alternative.

    Maybe one day a good deal of what passes for Anarchism in the UK might wake-up to the fact that in-fighting, lack of conviviality to comrades, and an inability to tolerate even the slightest difference in perspectives between fellow-travellers, is more damaging to the relevance and continuity of the ideas, and deal with the reality accordingly. Maybe not. But hit-pieces like this and the bickering infighting and bad faith they symbolize are not helpful.

  3. The difficulty for 'Anonymous' is that of the failure of the Freedom Collective to engage in any serious debate on what went wrong at Freedom Press in the last decade or more.

    1. It's not a difficulty for me; was never involved with Freedom as anything other than a subscriber and supporter for several years). There may have been serious problems at Freedom for a number of decades (actually, there is barely a serious, long-running anarchist collective or organisation where the same couldn't be said). But the Northern Voices piece wasn't about an honest consideration of what went wrong with the editorial or collective leadership of the paper - it's not an evaluation - instead it's about throwing shit at the people and the politics involved, with the added bonus of venting out with the usual barely concealed agenda against the same old organisations. So the 'difficulty' here, is really for you or anyone else to explain what's helpful about that? It's just the same old sectarianist bitching between who should be old enough to know better.

    2. The Chris Draper piece on NV certainly seemed to me to be a well research piece of writing. Its over- all result was to create a situation in which the Friends of Freedom Press convened an AGM meeting on the 24, June 2015, in which new and younger members were adopted onto the Friends group. The membership of the Friends of Freedom press is now 10, it had been 4 previously. What is wrong with that for a start?

  4. But 'Anonymous' doesn't show us how or why the Northern Voices' piece by Chris Draper wasn't an 'honest' account of what went wrong with the editorial 'leadership'. And Andy Meinke's remark: 'we fucking finished it', certainly seems somewhat cavalier under the circumstances.

  5. 'Anonymous' writes: 'So the "difficulty" here, is really for you or anyone else to explain what's helpful about that?'
    Well, for the first time in decades the 'Friends of Freedom Press' have had a meeting as a consequence of what has been said on Northern Voices. And they are to have further meeting in September to discuss how to proceed with a publication.