War Commentary

Anarchism and the British warfare state: the prosecution of the 'war commentary' anarchists, 1945

Article by Carissa Honeywell, published in 'International Review of Social History', Volume 60, Issue 2, pp. 257-284 (August 2015). This article argues that in the closing months of World War II the British government decided to suppress War Commentary because officials feared that its polemic might foment political turmoil and thwart postwar policy agendas as military personnel began to demobilize and reassert their civilian identities.

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.

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.

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.

Stakhanovism and the British workers

Alexei Stakhanov

Marie Louise Berneri's article on Stakhanovism and other methods imposed on workers in order to squeeze more productivity and profit out of them for the Soviet and British war economies. Written in 1942 and reprinted in The Left and World War 2: Selections from the Anarchist Journal 'War Commentary' 1939-1943.

Anarchists in court, England, April 1945

Cartoon from War Commentary

This article describes the British state's efforts to suppress the anti-militarist views expressed by the anarchist paper War Commentary and the Freedom Press group during World War II, and the subsequent popular campaign that sprung up in defense of the paper in particular, and freedom of the press in general.

Constructive policy versus destructive war - Marie Louise Berneri

These two excerpts appeared originally in the anarchist paper War Commentary, and have been republished in the posthumous collection of Berneri's articles, Neither East Nor West (Freedom Press, 1952) and more recently in Robert Graham's Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas Vol. 2 (Black Rose Books, 2009). Berneri puts forth a scathing criticism of the hypocrisy of "left wing" parliamentary politics and of the capitalist war machine.