Freedom Press

The Malatesta Club

Malatesta Club members, John Bishop (back right)

A short account of the celebrated anarchist Malatesta Club of 1950s London.

One of the signs of a revival of the post-World War Two anarchist movement was the setting up of a regular speaking pitch at Hyde Park Corner in 1950. The number of speakers was added to over the next decade as people were introduced to the movement. Among these were Philip Sansom, Rita Milton and Frank Hirschfield.

Gibson, Tony, 1914-2001 - Donald Rooum and Rufus Segar

Tony Gibson: the face of Brylcreem

2001 biography from The Guardian of anarchist member of the Freedom group, conscientious objector and face of Brylcreem, Tony Gibson.

In 1939, the society photographer, Howard Coster, was commissioned to portray a handsome young man to advertise the hair gel Brylcreem. His choice was HB "Tony" Gibson.

Freedom bookshop torched

London based anarchist bookshop Freedom was damaged in an arson attack in the early hours of Friday morning. Nobody was hurt in the fire which partially gutted the ground floor and damaged the building's electrics.

Freedom Press is Britain's longest running anarchist publisher and traces its history back to the original Freedom paper started by Charlotte Wilson and Peter Kropotkin in 1886.

Selfishness and Benevolence - Donald Rooum

It is still not thought strange to denounce bosses for pursuing their own selfish advantage, as if to suggest that they would be acceptable, if only they were all incorruptible idealists. It has become obvious that bending the knee to a god and touching the forelock to a boss are mutually reinforcing activities, but it is still not clear to everyone that calling shame on selfishness is another activity of the same kind.

There is a verbal trick, apparently proving that benevolence does not occur. “Why are you giving a fiver to Oxfam?” “I think it might relieve someone’s distress.” “Do you like the thought of relieving someone’s distress?” “Yes.” “Then you are not doing it to relieve someone’s distress, but for your own pleasure in relieving someone’s distress.”

Utopias of the English Revolution - Marie Louise Berneri

While on the Continent the seventeenth century saw the consolidation of absolute governments, in England the absolutism of the kings was resolutely opposed by a great section of the population, and the power of the monarchy was held in check by Parliament. At a time when Louis XIV was able to proclaim “L’Etat c’est Moi,” Charles I was led to the scaffold.

The doctrine of the divine right of kings, which had allowed the French monarchs to crush all political and religious freedom, had gained little support among English people who believed, on the contrary, that the power of the rulers must respect the inalienable rights of the individual and that certain limitations must be put to the power of the head of the state.

Bolsheviks shooting anarchists - Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman

Letter from Emma Goldman and Alex Berkman written to warn workers of the persecution of revolutionaries in Russia by the Bolsheviks, originally published in Freedom in 1922.

We have just received the following letter from our comrades Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, who are now stranded in Stockholm. This letter gives us the truth about the terrible persecution of Anarchists in Russia.

Fight? for What? Poem read at the Old Bailey

Extracts from a paper which was said to have advocated anarchy, and verses of a poem which asked that landlords should do the fighting, were read at the Old Bailey yesterday. Three men and a woman pleaded not guilty to having conspired to seduce from duty persons in the Forces and to cause disaffection. They are: Vernon Richards (29), civil engineer, and Marie Louise Richards (26), secretary, both of Eton Place, Hampstead; John Christopher Hewetson (32), medical practitioner, Willow Road, Hampstead; and Philip Richard Sansom (28), commercial artist, Camden Street, N.W.

They also pleaded not guilty to endeavouring to cause disaffection by disseminating copies of a paper called “War Commentary.” The two Richards were further charged with having a leaflet headed: “Fight? What for?”

The Attorney General (Sir Donald Somervell) said that “War Commentary” was a paper which was headed “For anarchism.”

Anarchists against the Army - Philip Sansom

Philip Sansom — one of the editors of War Commentary / Freedom found guilty of incitement to disaffection — describes the background to the trial and two other offences, for which he was jailed three times in 1945.

Soldiers are not supposed to think and it is a criminal offence to encourage them to do so. The laws on disaffection of the forces prescribe heavy penalties against civilians approaching soldiers and asking them to question their blind obedience to authority.

The case against voting - Colin Ward

An article from Freedom newspaper (1987) - No politician of any colour likes a non-voter. Last week Labour MP Tony Banks introduced a bill in an almost empty House of Commons seeking to make voting compulsory .His fellow members had voted with their feet out of the chamber, but he wanted to fine those of us who fail to vote, unless, like absentees from school, we could produce ‘a legitimate reason’.

Yet the non-voters are among the largest of the political groups. Tony Banks reckons that they form 24 per cent of the electorate and he claims that ‘those ten million or so who failed to vote in 1983 have a great deal to answer for to those who did’. His assumption is that all those non-voters would have made their cross for candidates of whom he approves.

Witness for the Prosecution - Colin Ward

The revival of interest in anarchism at the time of the Spanish Revolution in 1936 led to the publication of Spain and the World, a fortnightly Freedom Press journal which changed to Revolt! in the months between the end of the war in Spain and the beginning of the Second World War. Then War Commentary was started, its name reverting to the traditional Freedom in August 1945. As one of the very few journals which were totally opposed to the war aims of both sides, War Commentary was an obvious candidate for the attentions of the Special Branch, but it was not until the last year of the war that serious persecution began.

In November 1944 John Olday, the paper’s cartoonist, was arrested and after a protracted trial was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for ‘stealing by finding an identity card’. Two months earlier T. W. Brown of Kingston had been jailed for 15 months for distributing ‘seditious’ leaflets.