Issue of Anarchy magazine from May 1963
Anarchy #027: Talking About Youth
- The Teen Canteen: 1. The real challenge (Joe Benjamin)
- 2. In at the end (David Downes),
- The young one (Nicola Walter),
- Teenagery and after (Colin MacInnes),
- Dead end (Paul Goodman),
- Anarchism and the public schools (Charles Radcliffe),
- Student Pages: Anarchism, an introduction (Wynford Hicks),
- Anarchism and non-violence (John Whitfield),
- Thoughts on the English monarchy (Andrew King),
- Affluent Britain, a 6th form view (Roger Lewis),
- Further observations on technology and anarchism (Harry Baecker)
The Teen Canteen
JOE BENJAMIN, who started the Teen Canteen, then went to Grimsby to advise on the beginning of an adventure playground, and stayed for several years as project leader. He subsequently wrote the Nuffield report on the adventure playground movement as a whole, published a year ago by the National Council of Social Service. He is now organising the provision of play opportunities in St. Pancras.
TODAY, IT'S TEENAGERS (tolerantly, and with a small 't'), and everyone is sympathetic. They are affluent, but also controlled. They spend their money well, if not always too wisely. They are frank about sex, gregarious, sophisticated, considerate and — as far as our affluent society is concerned — very much "with it".
Or is it that the racy columnists of our "with it" press know better than most that it doesn't pay to flog a dead horse?
Yesterday's teenager (remember?) was a Teddy Boy (aggressively, and with capital letters): a thug, a delinquent to be judged without trial, a misfit who needed only to be "put away".
This is not the place to discuss the attitude of the press towards the teenager of tomorrow — though we can confidently predict crocodile tears over the deprived, jobless, frustrated, badly educated, ill prepared — and the view that "they enjoyed themselves too much when they should have been studying".
But teenagers, Teds and tears apart, society in general is beginning to awaken to — is beginning to see — something of the nature of the "social problem". And in this seeing is often laid the first seeds of what eventually becomes a new approach to a particular field of work. This is especially true when the seeing is closely allied to action — when theory and intent becomes practical and applied. And the story of the Teen Canteen illustrates this well.
It is a story which should not be concerned — as it all too frequently is — with judgments on its success or failure. In that it attempted to and did make a definite and uncompromising break with the ping-pong and prayer approach to youth work, it succeeded. In that it did not achieve a sufficient degree of continuity in its set task to enable it to establish and factualise certain fundamental principles, it failed.
But having said this, it should be borne in mind that when Dulwich College Mission decided to set foot on the knuckleduster and broken bottle battleground that was the Elephant and Castle in 1954, youth workers themselves were leaving the field faster than Teddies were beating up policemen. The Service was still some years away from achieving any kind of recognition: pay was poor, training virtually non-existent, and financial support a charitable hand-out. Those youth workers who remained and pressed for increased Governmental recognition and support had, inevitably, to hang on to what security they could find in the recognised and traditional frameworks of the church and secular clubs. There was little room for experiments.
It took courage on the part of the Mission, therefore, to establish a centre, however small, which these war-born, society-neglected youngsters could regard as their own. Thrown out of the dance halls, not allowed in the pubs, ejected from the cinemas, they soon found that the Teen Canteen could be relied on to provide them with a base. A place, moreover, where the manager showed a natural sympathy — where no 'other' standards were imposed, and where they were not condemned for the clothes they wore, the fights they started, nor the weapons they carried.
On this level, the Canteen enjoyed its greatest successes. The youngsters came, and as long as the Canteen itself remained unchanged in its approach, they kept coming.
But here, too, emerged its greatest weakness. While the Mission was prepared to and did finance the experiment for a period of two years, it was never in a position to guarantee the quality of its leadership. And if there is any lesson to be learned from the history of the Canteen, it is that the quality of leadership must be better understood. Those of us who have been connected with the Canteen since its early days, as well as those who joined later, are still debating the qualities, background and training needed for a social experiment of this nature.
It is sufficient to say here that of the nine people who occupied the post of manager, the three most successful either had a social work background or went on to do social work after leaving the Canteen. Yet it had been thought originally that the person appointed should be "able to talk the same language" — literally and physically, The first manager, as a result, was an ex-naval amateur boxing champion, a man who never came near to understanding the problems and retired, after six months, on the edge of a nervous breakdown,
Looking back, it seems there was much more in the way of pious hopes than actual policies: that policies were looked for in the successive managers rather than in the Management Committee itself. Unfortunately, little, if any, recording was done, and it is not now possible to substantiate opinion with fact. But certainly, the work pioneered in the Canteen — the undemanding 'Coffee Bar approach' was soon to be, albeit somewhat cautiously, recognised — first by the traditionalists who set up less publicised experiments, and later by the Albemarle Committee looking into youth work as a whole.
But there was always a danger that this approach would become the traditionalists' approach of tomorrow — that we would fall into the trap of trying to win them over on their terms in order to get them to accept ours. And this, in fact, is what seems to have happened. The Teddy Boy has gone — or so we believe — and in his place is a more acceptable, less rebellious character. The needs, however, remain unchanged. And nowhere is the real challenge being met.
It is interesting to recall that the problem was seen in the Canteen around 1955, when it was suggested that:
"It can do nothing, certainly, to meet the challenge where it really exists — outside. It is open to doubt, too, whether a Canteen providing more diversions … would prove any more successful …
Constructive competition on the grand scale, backed by the social services and industry, may be the only answer to this problem. I believe a scheme along these lines is worth investigating, The Elephant and Castle area is shortly to see a vast new re-building project. This will involve, first, the demolition of much old property, using a certain amount of unskilled labour. I would be encouraging to see active participation of contractors, trades unions and social services, organising gangs of Teddy Boys in healthy competition. Work of national importance would solve one of the major problems these lads face … and give them the chance to re-kindle the pride in themselves which is their right."
Idealistic? Who knows? We are still awaiting the chance to find out — for the thousands of tomorrow's teenagers who, once again, are finding themselves on a jobless market.
In at the End
DAVID DOWNES has been doing post-graduate research on juvenile delinquency in East London for the past three years.
THE TEEN CANTEEN CLOSED DOWN OFFICIALLY IN DECEMBER, 1962. It had run for seven years, and had been successful for perhaps as many as three out of those seven, I became a "voluntary helper" and — later — a committee member at perhaps its lowest ebb, in mid-1960, when it re-opened only two nights a week and was little more than a built-in street-corner. It remained in this state until mid-1961, when a full-time, fully-paid manageress was appointed (Barbara Ward). With her, the Canteen opened five nights in the week, soon attracted about 50-60 customers — about 30 a night — mostly the 'unclubbables', the 'layabouts', the 'yobs', whatever name we call them to single them out for worry, condescension and little else. Within a few months, a football team was organised (by them), the drab cellar was re-decorated, the semblance of a committee was arranged by the regulars. Whether or not these are criteria of "success" for an "experimental" youth project (i.e. a project which attempts to seduce non-Youth Club users from the street-corner), at least things were happening where before there had merely been a social vacuum. At this point the Canteen ran out of money, ran through every possible money-raising scheme1 and — within a few months — had to admit financial defeat. We were spared one of the problems of our "success": how to retain a self-established in-group without excluding all comers. That we reached this stage at all was something.
What did the Canteen achieve? It kept them off the streets, marvellous. But if there had never been more to it than a negative coralling, an instant delinquency prevention programme, we would not only have failed: we would have been ridiculous. In that respect, the Canteen could never have been more than a holding operation only. More importantly, the Canteen served as a link between "do-gooders" who realised that established youth work was preaching to the converted (however useful that might be) and those adolescents who remained staunchly unconverted, who rejected and resented the cosy paternalism of the Clubs and preferred the uncertain freedom of the streets and the caffs. In this connection, the Canteen tapped — probably by accident — a source of frustration which is especially severe for the working-class adolescent in a dead-end, semi-skilled job, or in no job at all. What is often overlooked about these teenagers is the sheer importance they attach to their leisure hours. It is not for them simply a question of "killing time". It is that they increasingly look in their leisure for the purpose and excitement so conspicuously absent from their work. We too easily assume that the only aspirations an adolescent can have are occupational. It is a specifically middle-class assumption that, if a boy lacks 'ambition' in this narrow sense, all we can do is keep him occupied, fill in his time, give him ping-pong, go-kart racing and 'activities'. This is both naive and an insult to his intelligence.
The job aspirations of most working-class teenagers are notoriously — and realistically — limited in range. A few areas have specialities, such as docker and market-porter, but the norm is labourer, van-boy, factory operative, The scope is small for the non-apprentice, and their aspirations reflect this low-ceilinged market-place. They are not inherently disillusioned about jobs, any more than they are about education; it is just that the jobs to which they have access are all the same — tedious. Money is, therefore — and quite rightly — their only occupational criterion2, Hence the excessive importance of off-work hours, and here it is not only excitement they are looking for. Much more crucially for their self-respect, they seek in leisure the freedom and dignity denied to them in work.
It is precisely on these two fronts that their self-respect is under-mined nightly. If he rejects the Youth Club, he is "on the town". One of the best features of Fyvel's book3 was his evocation of just how little the "town" has to offer: the drab caffs and the sterile Wimpy's are all the working-class 'corner boy' has to hand for rendezvous and conversation; the cinema, Bingo and the occasional dance all he has for entertainment. The more decorous cafés, where open, either charge too much or frown on the milling, drifting chatter of the 'Teds' and their girls. "The Boys" was a film which caustically showed the possible results of this 'closed doors' policy. The Youth Service caters for these adolescents as if they were students or serious grammar-school boys, who sit quietly over espressos talking about the latest Truffaut film, when the least that they want is a place where they feel at home, can relax, which doesn't cost too much but is anti-drab, where they can loll about, drift from table to table, dance if they feel like it, horseplay a little, and so on. This is the necessary basis for the positive things of which they are capable as and when they sense that the 'tone' of a place is right. The triumph of Ray Gosling's Youth Ventures experiment — despite its tragic closure — was his instinctive flair for creating a set-up where — for once — the town 'rowdies' were trusted, not only to refrain from tearing the place apart, but to 'run' it. The Canteen did not go this far: in time it might have done, but its structure was neither big enough nor smart enough to really capture the teenagers' imagination. We lacked the money and the personnel to supply those specialised services — on a semi-commercial basis — which Gosling rightly saw as priorities,4 But the Canteen did — for a spell of a few months at the end of 1961 — become a place where the customers' sense of freedom and dignity was not affronted, Under Miss Ward's managership, it not only lacked the outdated Baden-Powellism of the average youth club, it briefly possessed an aura of teenage ownership, and we saw the glimmerings of the potentialities we ignore at great cost. At great cost, not simply because economically "the country" cannot afford a waste of talent and energy on the immense scale of the present. It can't, but we'll realise that too late. It is simply that, by ignoring this vitality and allowing it too often to warp into 'fringe' and chronic delinquency, we are the poorer as human beings.
The only consolation for "the boys" is that sooner or later, directly or indirectly, society pays the price. But delinquency is muddled social, never political, protest. The delinquent makes a blind swing at the wrong target, or pursues some futile 'exploit'. As yet, we are fundamentally indifferent to the delinquent potential of a class of adolescents who are — in crude socio-economic terms — expendable. Until recently, the American attitude towards a much larger problem suggested the same acceptance of delinquency as the other side of the coin to free-wheeling, if irresponsible and unequal, affluence, The problem became finally unmanageable, and following a decade of juvenile street warfare culminating in the Michael Farmer killing, existing agencies were given massive governmental and foundation aid to further research and preventive work. 'Mobilisation for Youth' is currently pouring 12 million dollars into one section of the lower East Side in an attempt to create legitimate job-opportunities where previously none or few existed. The situation here is radically different, but the government might have considered pouring a few hundred pounds into the Elephant and Castle, where by all accounts the Teddy Boy movement started. The 1960's will have its equivalent, with a different trigger-point but the same essential causes. The financial failure of the Canteen — which mirrors that of most experimental projects — is just a symptom of the structure of social priorities which underlies much delinquency. But in the case of the Teddy Boy movement, we are not only not wise after the event: we are not even sure what the event was. It is 16 years since the Barge Boys club, 12 since Spencer publicised the danger of the 'unclubbables', 3 since Albemarle, 2 since Leicester. When the Canteen idea began in 1955, it was hoped it would "catch on" all over the country. That it hasn't is only a reflection of our larger failure to want to understand the needs of "the boys".
1 LCC administrators well-meaning but far too limited funds. Case for responsibility of universities for fund-giving resources for "experiments".
2 cf. Arthur Seaton's pride in "grafting" for his wages, i,e. work hard, not bribery. But if you're, for instance, a van-boy, it's impossible to graft. This is incidentally the whole point of Paul Goodman's Growing Up Absurd.
3 The Insecure Offenders, 1961.
4 See Lady Albemarle's Boys, (Young Fabian Pamphlet, No. 1).
The Young One
NICOLAS WALTER's articles on disobedience and direct action in ANARCHY 13 and 14 have just been reprinted as a pamphlet by the Committee of 100's "Schools for Nonviolence". The present article first appeared in, and is reproduced by courtesy of, New Society.
ONCE UPON A TIME there were four young cockney mechanics who drove a London bus across Europe to Athens. On the way, they picked up three refined young singing girls (who never sang), they twisted in a Paris jazz club (which might have been anywhere), they picked up a young American stowaway (who began as a boy but turned out to be another singing girl on the run from her mother), they got mixed up with a mime troupe (and did a crude slapstick turn with them in a French courtroom), they went through Switzerland (where the leading mechanic fell in love with the American singing girl), they waltzed in an Austrian hotel (which might have been anywhere), they got mixed up with a Yugoslav wedding feast (by asking for a bride instead of some bread), and at last they reached Athens (where they were accused of kidnapping the American girl by her mother, who had been trying to spoil their trip ever since Paris), But all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Boy married girl, and of course they all lived happily ever after.
YES, A NEW British musical film — called Summer Holiday — as bad as you might expect. Then what is all the fuss about? Why is everybody so interested? Because the leading mechanic, the hero of the film, is played by Harry Webb, alias Cliff Richard.
I can't believe anyone seriously pretends that Summer Holiday is anything more as a film than a sort of instant mixture of a flip side American musical comedy and a B feature British romantic comedy. You only have to put it beside West Side Story and Porgy and Bess, say, or Guys and Dolls and High Society, or even South Pacific and Oklahoma, to realize just how far the British musical film still has to go. No, Summer Holiday — like The Young Ones — isn't so much a film as a pictorial vehicle for Cliff Richard's songs, and even as a vehicle it doesn't come to much. A pity, because Cliff Richard did once have a part in a good film; but then Expresso Bongo was a different sort of film, and he had a different sort of part, virtually a self parody. Summer Holiday, like The Young Ones, takes no such chances. It is another straight-faced, strait-laced illustration of a pop hero, who (he sings) is going on a summer holiday just to make his dreams come true, for him and you, promises he'll be a bachelor boy until his dying day, adds that one day he'll meet a girl and fall in love and marry her, believes that every girl is beautiful, tells one who isn't that they'll have a swinging affair, then does fall in love and marries her: and off they all go on another summer holiday, to make more dreams come true, for them and you.
The trouble is, Cliff Richard's persona or charisma or whatever it is doesn't transfer from the stage to the screen. The music is partly to blame, since he spends far too much of the time crooning so-called ballads and blues and dancing to Broadway type "choreography", instead of getting on with the music that goes with his brand image — noisy rock-and-roll backed by his Shadows. It's said he wouldn't be anywhere without them, but I doubt it. It isn't the gimmick of the Shadows (formerly the Drifters) that is important, it's the sort of music they play, There must be plenty of other rhythmical guitarists and drummers in show business. I wonder, rather, where they would be without him. But this isn't the point. The point is, how does he do it? Make no mistake about his success. He's no flash in the pan. His records have sold more than 6,000,000 copies. He has two Golden Discs and 13 Silver Discs. He is Britain's Most Popular Film Star and one of Britain's Ten Best Dressed Men. He has frequently been Singer, Newcomer, Boyfriend of the Year. He has been Top of the Bill at the London Palladium, and is seldom far from the Top of the Top Ten or Twenty. He is just about the Top of the Pops in this country. He is 22 years old, and has been going strong for four of them. How did it happen?
IT BEGAN when beat music (which has nothing to do with the beat generation) was brought from jazz to give a new life to pop — following the repeated pattern described in Francis Newton's The Jazz Scene. The old rhythm and blues and hill billy folk music of America were turned into skiffle and rock-and-roll and put on to the assembly line for the mass market of the teenage revolution. Bill Haley and Elvis Presley, the American pioneers, began in 1953 and 1954. In 1955, the archetypal teenager James Dean died in America, and commercial television was born in England. Rock-and-roll and skiffle really hit us in 1956, the year of Suez and Hungary, of Look Back in Anger and The Outsider. The kids used their new money to buy the beat music, and Tin Pan Alley used the new fashion to buy the kids to make beat music (and big money).
This was the beginning of the age of what Ray Gosling called "Dream Boy" (see New Left Review 3). Dream Boy was just an "Ordinary Kid". The Ordinary Kid was born in a working class home around the time of our Finest Hour, brought up in a council house, taught in a secondary modern school, thrown out into a causeless world of affluence and opportunity (for other people), and left to look for his own dream by himself. He drifted about in the eddies of pop music, until he found his man and became a Dream Boy (hardly ever a Dream Girl — Helen Shapiro is a rare sort of bird). Tommy Hicks, the merchant seaman from Bermondsey, found John Kennedy and Larry Parnes, and became Tommy Steele. Terry Williams, the record packer from Newington, found Hyman Zahl, and became Terry Dene. Reg Smith, the timber hunker from Greenwich, found Larry Parnes, and became Marty Wilde. Ron Wycherley, the deck hand from Birkenhead, found Larry Parnes, and became Billy Fury. Terry Nelhams, the film boy from Acton, found John Barry and Evelyn Taylor, and became Adam Faith. Harry Webb, the factory clerk from Cheshunt, found George Ganjou and Norrie Paramor and Jack Good, and became Cliff Richard.
So it goes. There are dozens more — at least a dozen in the famous Larry Parnes stable alone. But they aren't all the same. Dream Boy is an Ordinary Kid, but there's something extraordinary about every kid, and this becomes the dream boy's gimmick. Tommy Steele becomes a cockney clown, Billy Fury a with-it troubadour, Adam Faith a singing James Dean, and so on. At first Cliff Richard became an English Elvis Presley, but he gradually developed his own personality. So did Tommy Steele and Adam Faith, of course, but they were never taken in by the dream in the first place. Cliff Richard's gimmick is better than theirs, because it isn't a gimmick at all. He really likes beat music, singing, other singers, his parents and sisters, his managers and advisers, his fans above all. Sometime he looks like the politician who finds out what most per cent of the voters think before he thinks, But he really doesn't like smoking, drinking, chasing girls, and so on. His secret is simple — he has no secret. His personality is simple — he has no personality. He is, as Colin MacInnes once said of Tommy Steele, "every nice young girl's boy, every kid's favourite elder brother, every mother's cherished adolescent son". He is a non-hero of our time, an innocent idol.
HE DOESN'T do any harm. I wish he would. I wish his "Number One Person in all the world" weren't Prince Philip. I wish he didn't want to be Peter Pan. I wish he wanted to be something more than a young one, a parasite on the teenage thing; as he said, "we may not be the young ones very long". I wish the riot in Leicester Square on the evening of January 10 had been for something more than the chance to see Cliff Richard going to the premiere of his new film. I wish someone would come and lead the second Children's Crusade, the "new classless class", and finish the teenage revolution once and for all. I wish the kids would refuse to stand for all the rubbish that is handed out to them. Cliff Richard is a nice boy, but I wish he were a really angry young man. I wish he hated someone or something. I wish he weren't so good, so safe, so useful. I wish he would sing a new song.
He won't, of course. He'll go on singing the same song and playing the same part in the same film and doing no harm, as long as it pays. But seriously, though, I can't hold anything against Cliff. I'm sure his part in Summer Holiday was worth the £100,000 he got for it.
The people who really worry me are the fans who have made such a hero out of such a non-hero. Fan = fanatic = inspired by a god. Something has gone wrong somewhere. And to worship such a god you must lose something yourself. I don't know what his fans do to him, but they frighten me all right. Why worship anyone? It isn't as if there weren't any good, brave causes left. Why don't they do something themselves, instead of watching someone else do something (or rather, nothing). Why, for that matter, don't we all do something ourselves, just to pretend we're alive? We may not be the young ones very long.
Teenagery and After
COLIN MACINNES was born in London and brought up in Australia. He is the author of Absolute Beginners and four other novels, and of England, Half English. His new novel, Angus, Bard will appear this year.
FOR YEARS, WE OLDER PEOPLE have been investigating the young, there have been Government reports, and Royal Commissions and novels by older people about younger people, but now at last the young are beginning to tell us, they are starting to write books and plays telling us, what we want to know from inside. It is rather as if the South Sea islanders are turning the tables on the anthropologists who have been investigating them, and investigating the anthropologists themselves.
One of the most remarkable of these books is Sum Total (Faber 18s,) by Ray Gosling. He is a young man of 22, who has already marked up a considerable achievement. He's from Northampton, a working-class background, taught by his mother, and later the Grammar School, worked for British Railways, as a signaller in the Signal Box, became a Roman Catholic while still in his 'teens and then went on to Leicester University, which he didn't like and left, and went to work in a factory in Northampton, and then started to write for the New Left Review, Tribune, for the Queen, and for radio and television, and he runs that very idiosyncratic column in Peace News.
But the writing of his which really brought him to the attention of the public first was Lady Albemarle's Boys — a young Fabian pamphlet, which is really a critique of the whole attitude of older people towards the young, and which is about the youth club, that Ray Gosling founded in Leicester. So Sum Total — this vision of the young by one of the young, is I would say the Odyssey of a very brave and intelligent and forceful, and very self-critical young man, who is trying to understand urban life in England, and make something of it, and help others of his generation to make something of their lives too. And the key event in Sum Total is Ray Gosling's efforts to found the Leicester experiment, the youth club in Leicester.
Now, he thought and I think rightly that the fallacy in the usual youth club is that it is authoritarian. In other words, the adults supply the money and supply the rules, and they say to the young people we do all this for you, now you must do something for us, you must be the kind of good citizen that we wish you to be.
Now, Ray Gosling believes that the young would be better citizens if they founded and ran their own club themselves. He didn't wish that they should refuse adult help or adult counsel, indeed, he and his friends took both, but he thought that the young should take their own responsibility in running the club and build up their own loyalties to it.
Now, what happened? Well, what happened was that everything went right, and yet everything went wrong. On the negative side, the bad side, the Press of course descended on the place and wrote sensational pieces about it, and a lot of the authorities were hostile, and many of the young men and women unfortunately were irresponsible, not only in their behaviour, but even more important in their own attitude to assuming day-to-day responsibilities for the grinding hard work of running the club itself. And they were continually short of money.
It began well, Ray Gosling said — it started as the cafe run by the lads, for the lads, grass roots, ground level, and he goes on to say of any club — it isn't ours unless we actually physically control it. Then it is ours, And he thought that what they could try to do — for just the few of us it was something that stood as a chance of breaking right across a whole tradition to stifle the authority's youth service. Well, that started well, but then came the crunch, the anti-climax, there were disturbances, there were troubles, and Ray Gosling found himself blamed by the authorities for not having exercised sufficient control, and blamed by the young for having sided, as they understood it with the authorities against them. And I think the moral of his adventure, of his experiment, is not so much that more authority of the old is needed in a youth club, but that the young did not learn sufficiently how to assume responsibility themselves.
However, Ray Gosling doesn't think his club failed. He says of it that it was an oasis in a dead city — speaking of Leicester. Now, certainly in this book Sum Total, Ray Gosling is on to a very important theme which is this — how the young are going to make a reality, out of the teenage dream of the last five or six years, which in many ways is an escape from life, is synthetic, commercialised, and is a kind of postponement of the day when the young must assume real adult responsibilities? For, I think that the young in spite of their money independence, and their physical maturity, have to a great extent contracted out of society, in an attitude of nihilism, and I think what Ray Gosling wants the youth to do is to contract in, not into the adult world but into a world — a changed world of their own making, and escape from, or reject the purely synthetic commercialised image of the teenager, that we read so much about in the papers.
Now, this book has very fine passages in it, indeed, descriptions of the youth club are excellent, factory life is vividly described, descriptions of his childhood are touching, tender and accurate, and most of all, as a writer he has an extraordinary gift for giving glamour and interest to English provisional cities. For him Leicester becomes a sort of Marrakech or Baghdad.
The style of the book — well it is rather like Henry Miller's novels, in which Henry Miller himself appears as the chief character, and yet one feels they are works of fiction. And in the same way although this is in a sense an autobiography of Ray Gosling, it is a fictional work as well.
The danger here of course, is that sometimes events and memories that interest Ray Gosling personally interests us less, are included, but on the whole, it is an extremely acute book, and its prose is incisive and has a wonderful exuberance and intoxication, and most of all I think this is a writer who loves England with passion, loves the English young, wants to do something for them, and does both with immense intelligence, and it is wonderful after all the volumes of writing by the old about the young, largely based on ignorance and misunderstanding to hear the authentic thing from one of the young themselves.
PAUL GOODMAN, born in New York, 1911, is a novelist, poet, playwright, critic and psychologist. He is the author of Growing Up Absurd, which, with his other books was discussed in ANARCHY 11.
ALL THE WAY DOWN: The Violent Underworld of Street Gangs. By Vincent Riccio and Bill Slocum. (New York: Simon and Schuster. $3.95)
THIS IS THE REPORT of a spell with the Youth Board by an energetic and athletic man of average intelligence and sensibility, with a strong affection for kids, and for the kind of tough kids among whom he grew up in Brooklyn. It ends with his quitting street-work to become a high-school teacher and coach, largely because of disrespect for the bureaucracy of the Board and his judgment that the work does not offer enough advancement and money to support his growing family. His present feeling is regretful and despairing.
Vincent Riccio's work was important and exciting, but he accomplished little; the obstacles are overwhelming, and the conditions are deteriorating. He is concerned especially about the increase in drug-addiction, leading to ever longer prison terms and sudden death from overdose.
It is worthwhile to review the book because of the exemplary ordinariness of Riccio's values and motives and the journalistic reporting of the delicate texture of living (helped by Bill Slocum of The Daily Mirror). Riccio seems to be a good joe, unusually outspoken, fairly courageous and altogether unradical. In the upheaval of our urbanism, the baseness of our economy and politics, and the breakdown of conventional morals, we are in a more revolutionary situation than this kind of values and style can cope with: they are too unpolitical, too unphilosophical, the standard of excellence is too low.
Riccio's frankness is refreshing. He detests the New York police, who are no doubt a fine body of men but who, in his almost universal experience, are brutes and grafters. He has contempt for the Narcotics squad and for Harry Anslinger (recently retired): "Mr. Anslinger has been leading the war against addiction for over thirty years. Need I say more?" He is impatient with the Youth Board brass for endangering its workers and hurting kids just in order to allay public hysteria. (I do not follow Bill Slocum in The Mirror, but I wonder how he copes with the fact that his paper gleefully fans this hysteria. Why doesn't he explode and get fired?),
But Riccio's lack of perception of the big enemies of the kids and himself) is painful. He has an inkling that the disruption of neighbourhoods by our ghetto housing is a cause of bad trouble, but there is no anger against Webb & Knapp or Robert Moses; how does he think the buildings get there? In one passage he compares gang rumbles to wars and points out that "only the psychopaths and some of the generals want war," but he taught judo and combat hand-to-hand fighting in the Navy, and we do not read that he led his kids into the Worldwide General Strike for Peace. There is no criticism of the school system that has let his kids down. He is realistic in most sexual matters, but silent about the role of his church in giving the kids a bad conscience and taking the innocent joy out of their lives.
Even more painful than the book's lack of philosophy is that Riccio shares and reinforces many of the delinquent traits that stunt his kids' growth. He naively boasts of conning the kids (for example, on their boxing prowess), as if they could be cured without being taken seriously as persons. He encourages them to act for reputation rather than for the value of the activity itself. He even outdoes them in his contempt for eggheads. He rails at city urchins' fear of the dark and wild animals, but cannot make therapeutic use of the nerve of fright, hostility and instinct-anxiety that they have thereby exposed. Indeed, often the dramatic tone of his little scenes with them is of a contest of wills between stubborn siblings. Naturally, then, the kids like Rick, because he is useful and kindly; but they can hardly get out of themselves by means of him, for what he offers is no wiser or more interesting than what they are already.
Riccio's chief positive proposal in this book is the adoption of the English system of legalizing heroin under medical prescription and treatment — as he puts it, "I think we must give dope-addicts dope." His arguments for this are the standard ones of the social-scientists (though throughout he is disdainful of sociologists and psychologists) to destroy the economic motive of the pushers and to integrate the addict into a quiet and hopefully creative milieu. I wish he would learn to extrapolate the same attitude to the kids' other hang-ups. The cure for their violent sexuality is to allow them guiltless sex. The cure for their defiance is to teach them their real enemies to fight. The cure for their foolish activism is to provide them a world that his worthwhile tasks.
Anarchism and the Public Schools
CHARLES RADCLIFFE, born 1941, was a pupil at a public school from 1955 to 1960.
MANY ASPECTS OF EDUCATION IN THIS COUNTRY have been explored in ANARCHY, through articles on Comprehensive, Secondary Modern and Progressive schools and on the universities, written by pupils, educators and observers. Many will feel that an article on Public Schools (which I should explain for overseas readers are not public schools in the American sense) is irrelevant because no self-respecting anarchist would send his son to one in any case, This presupposes that the ANARCHY articles have been a sort of consumer report, whereas their tone has not been on Which? or Shoppers' Guide lines at all. I contend that the Public School is as much a subject for anarchist discussion as the Secondary Modern School and it is certainly every bit as dangerous an enemy.
I imagine there are more Public School anarchists than most anarchists, certainly those who put their faith in the "organised might of the working class", would care to admit.
Of those anarchists who have been incarcerated in such schools many seem ashamed of it and attempt to submerge their accents, manners and attitudes under a shabby, phoney proletarianism. Others look at the Public Schools, see the tremendous powers they have as producers of the Establishment and its hangers-on and feel terribly daunted. They are of course the absolute enemy of the libertarian. They produce a tremendous power group in the country ranging from big and small bureaucrats to bankers, from officers of the Armed Services to Churchmen, from Tory MPs to Labour MPs. When they do produce rebels, which they do in pathetically small numbers, the rebels are usually power-seekers. Usually, but not always — one thinks of honourable exceptions like George Orwell.
The rebellion is rarely total rebellion and the rejection of Public School values rarely total rejection. For every ten Public School boys who conform almost totally there is one mildly dissenting one. For every ten mildly dissenting boys there is one potential rebel, for every ten potential rebels there is one probable rebel and for every ten probables there may be one real rebel who throws the entire Public School set of values out of his life as so much dirty water.
Furthermore there is a high mortality rate among Public School rebels, Many are for a short time what Pravda has called "coffee cup anarchists" but later conform more vigorously and militantly than all the others, as though to make up for lost time. It is only among socially diverse political groups, like the anarchists, that the public school boy can usually make any headway, not towards power, but towards friendship within the group. During my brief flirtation with Marxism I was treated more as a social phenomenon than as a human being.
What is the Public School? To start with the name is totally inaccurate. It is public to those with money to waste, it caters for the upper middle classes above all else. Upper middle class parents are prepared to make the most ludicrous sacrifices for their children, and social prestige, to gain for them this education. The standard of teaching varies very enormously both within the schools and from school to school. Many schools of this sort are springing up simply to fulfil an alleged social need. Many charge exorbitant fees for appallingly bad education and their sole purpose seems to be to enable more parents to claim for their children the snob privilege of Public School education.
This is one of the reasons why Public Schools tend to get genuinely better as they get more expensive. It is usually the cheap ones which employ poor teachers, have bad food, larger classes and less activities outside school hours. Despite this they do not usually produce the rebels. Somehow these schools that are most unsure of their social status tend to produce boys similarly unsure who tend to be more snobbish, more class conscious and more vocally authoritarian. If you hear a real Public School snob the chances are he is from a minor school not from Eton, Harrow or Winchester. The Etonian seems sure enough of his own position to avoid such extremes of self justification. This sureness also enables him to rebel more easily than the unsure boy.
Nicolas Walter pointed out in ANARCHY 8 that Orwell was much more likely to become a rebel at Eton than at Wellington. He might have added that he was equally more likely to have become one at Wellington than he would have been at Fartingbras Grange or some other minor Public School.
To enter a public school it is necessary to pass an examination — in most cases known as Common Entrance. This is not difficult for a moderately intelligent child (though it causes parents every bit as much anxiety as the 11+) and providing his parents can pay the fees and remembered to enter him at birth for the privilege of being educated with other gentlemen's sons, he is all set for the five most influential years of his life. The boy thus leaves his preparatory school (a similar institution catering for the child from seven or eight to 13), enters his Public School and becomes a 'fag'. Only the very 'progressive' schools have abolished this hangover from the dark ages.
To the anarchist the 'fag-system' is slavery. The 'fag' is perpetually at the beck and call of prefects who rarely avoid the pitfalls of authority. He may be called on to run messages from one end of the school to the other, wash prefects' washing and cooking utensils, make prefects' beds, clean their shoes, write lists, mend clothes, mend fuses (an opportunity for sabotage) and do everything and anything short of washing the prefect. My most lasting memory is of frustration and desperation knowing that I could always be called, at more or less any hour of the day or night, to do something or run somewhere, that I could not be anything approaching a free individual for over two desperate years.
At Wellington the length of time one fagged was determined solely on academic merit. Bright boys got four terms (i.e. one term more than one year) and the dim (myself) got seven (one term more than two years). The fag system is perfectly suited to casual indoctrination of the obedience principle, which is for most boys the pattern of school and adult life, and there is little chance of evasion and less than none of rebellion.
The fag is the only person at a public school who is not 'elected' for office. The prefect is elected by the housemaster and is as often as not totally unsuited to hold power of any sort. Many elections appear to be made for utterly crass reasons, (I was made a prefect for my last three weeks at Wellington. Probably so that the authorities could pat themselves on the back and say: "You see, even out of material this unpromising, we can make something." My school reports followed the same principle. Lousy until my last year and then better and better). The housemasters are presumably elected by the headmaster, who in his turn is elected by the governors who are governors because they have served the State well and are thus deemed to 'understand' education. They all seem to believe in "service", "character" and "leadership" which in anarchist terms mean "authority", "docility" and "obedience".
What, if any, are the advantages of a public school education? A good school offers parents the opportunity of getting rid of their children for a large part of each year, the advantages of well disciplined children (this is of course the main 'point' of fagging and corporal punishment which I shall mention later) and costs them the sort of money on which social merit is judged,
It offers the children considerable scope for sporting activities (unequalled in most State schools), small classes taught for the most part by good teachers ("good" depends on the definition), an interesting social life among boys "of their own type", large, but rarely used, cultural facilities and membership of the most exclusive club in the world whose members wear, stamped all over them, the three door-opening words PUBLIC SCHOOL BOY.
Public Schools are praised by their apologists as communities where boys can get together socially and intellectually for their betterment. But while one might foreseeably forgive the harsh and absurd discipline and even the discomfort, it is almost impossible to forgive the total failure of the system to recognise the advent of women, who are, whether THEY like it or not (and THEY probably don't!) here to stay. It also lacks the redeeming feature, apparent in some other all male societies (e.g. monasteries), of what might be loosely termed 'mutual aid potentiality', the quality of communitarian self-help. There is also, arising from the "community", the horrible emotional belief in the virtue of the school, a sort of morbid jingoism.
Most of the major public schools are boarding schools and while space rules out a detailed description of what this entails (those readers who have been in the Forces, Prisons or Borstals will need no description) one or two points are worth a brief mention. Often senior boys sleep in cubicles very close to those of junior boys which allows ample opportunity and temptation for homosexual adventures. (In some schools boys sleep in dormitories, not cubicle-rooms, with other boys of their own age — a far better idea but still unsatisfactory). In order to combat the cold and discomfort of some of these schools, boys often arrange admirably inventive but damnably dangerous electrical or 'other' appliances. (The left wing idea that public schools are glorified mansions complete with little M'lords is far from the truth). One could chronicle the failings of the boarding system alone and record anecdotes of its barbarities ad nauseam but it is enough to say here that for every alleged virtue it may possess there are at least two probable vices.
I doubt whether there is a single public school in this country that does not believe in the use of corporal punishment. The triviality of the offences for which thrashing is the penalty is quite remarkable. I know of boys who have been thrashed, often very savagely, for wearing socks in bed, for having a coat button undone, for smoking, for fooling around, for swearing mildly, for whispering after 'lights-out', for failing to empty a waste paper basket, for laughing during an announcement, for lying, for being late for games. The days of Tom Brown are past, long live the spirit of those days! I don't consider myself particularly wicked but I had well over 100 strokes of the cane while in Wellington; many had more, most had less but the minority seems to be those who had none. I was more annoyed than hurt in most cases (waiting for the punishment is invariably worse than the actual thing). As an example of hypocrisy and corruption I was once thrashed for smoking and the prefect in question, now a serving officer in the Army, kept my cigarettes for his own use.
No boy likes the idea of being thrashed but most will thrash others if they get the opportunity. Most parents deem thrashing a "good thing", presumably because it "knocks the rough edges off a child". It is not hard to see why the public school boy adapts well to military or prison life.
This all fits in with the aim of the public school which is to make leaders who believe they are servants. Thus ex-public school political leaders tend to think they are serving their followers, or the Queen's Peace or the Public Good, They often do not think of themselves as leaders, rather as servants. As Raymond Williams has pointed out this tends to ennoble the conception of leadership enormously and leads to such misnomers as the Civil Service, the Senior Service, the Armed Services (all of which are in fact dis Services). Public School boys are exhorted to become servants but trained to become leaders. This is typical of the way the Establishment works, not only to hoodwink its opponents but also itself!
Other admirable assets of the public school system from the middle class parents' point of view are the constant knowledge that the boy is being 'disciplined' ("for his own good"), and that he has little chance to get into real 'trouble' unless he is singularly ingenious. The constant nagging discipline is, I think, the main thing behind the public school. Sir Harold Nicholson says of Wellington in his day words to the effect that the authorities proudly claimed not only to know where any boy was at any given time but where the same boy would be six months later. It is almost impossible for the child to escape from the system: if he does so at all it is usually because the system decrees he must. There is no respect for the child's essential personality, a constant feeling that the authorities believe implicitly in the doctrine of original sin. "If the child is left alone he will go off the rails (which are there for his convenience and guidance), Therefore he shall not be left alone."
If the anarchist argues with the public schoolboy he will be asked with genuine incredulity how he can claim to desire freedom if he does not accept the freedom of a parent to send a child to such a school. The anarchist might well say that he objects because the initial parental freedom results in the eventual absence of freedom for a child. The fact that the public schoolboy will not understand the logic that epitomises the vastness of the task of anarchists of convincing people of the value of a free society when the people already believe themselves to be living in one. The parental freedom argument is incidentally the usual last ditch resort of the ex-public school Labour Party supporter when he excuses the failure of the last Labour Government to act against public schools. The curious love-hate relationship of many labourites with their public schools may explain their curious reluctance even to admit the existence of such schools
It is the uni-sexuality of public schools that appals most people. It rules out for the eighteen-year-old senior boy any contact with any girls of his own age, for a greater part of the year, at an age when such contact is arguably most needed. It leads to overt or clandestine homosexuality which can totally mar a life and it tends to give many boys a revoltingly "superior" attitude towards women. The public school boy often treats women disgustingly (though the women don't seem to mind), as mentally, physically (they do not play ruggah, maybe) and socially inferior. He accepts them more as a commodity than as a companion. (It is a widely held if rarely articulated feeling among the Public School boy that the school is the microcosm of life and they attempt, with the disastrous results that can be seen, to make life a macrocosm of their womanless school existences).
I attended a military public school where the voluntary/compulsory (which I think means it is compulsory to volunteer) Cadet Corps played a large part even by public school standards, Above all else I remember the ridiculous feeling I had, being taught to use a 1918 rifle in the age of the H-bomb. My hatred of the cadet corps was based more on its absurdity than any pacific leanings on my part,
It is hardly necessary to catalogue the effects of the cadet corps on cadets. It damns initiative (in the name of encouraging it — a typical paradox), teaches obedience and the necessity for violence and makes the herd instinct an emotional necessity for some boys. I still feel the social assumptions behind the "cadets" are far more dangerous than the actual military training of boys, if the two can indeed be separated.
I have often been told by those good hearted liberals, who defend these schools with apologetic loyalty, that there is greater freedom than there used to be, that dissent is not discouraged, that boys with progressive opinions are not "persecuted". Thus the public school hoodwinks its opponents, a grand old lady of the Establishment moving like the Roman church, just enough with the times to avoid its own dissolution. The public school is a large spawning ground for the authoritarian filth, nuclear liberators et al, who make our society a materialistic, self-destructive, lunatic asylum. Those who expect it to be anything else are ostriches.
There is no lack of revolutionary literature at public schools, there may even be no lack of sympathy for it from more intelligent boys but despite the fact that most public schools have really excellent libraries the existence of such abnormal literature is unknown. The point is, as in adult society, not that it does not exist but that it is unread and it is unread because no one knows about it.
I only mention religion briefly here because it interests me now even less than it did at Wellington. Enough to say that there is a quarter-hour service every day at most schools and usually a double service on Sundays and the whole bloody lot is compulsory. (I am told by some with more up-to-date information that many schools have acceded to the requests of boys and cut down on religious diet). It is worth pointing out that some measure of public school dissent is religiously expressed — worker priests, Roman Catholic converts and so on. Theologically the church expresses Establishment dogmas for the most part!
Why do I consider the system so dangerous? Because I consider the Public School still the largest manufacturer of the Power Elite and its hangers-on.
Few people understand the problems of rational education so well as the anarchists and few are less able to practise it. Equally no-one instinctively understands the problem of Statist education better than the Establishment and in a public school they can practise their methods among boys, parents and teachers who usually accept their beliefs, with devastating effects. In State schools there are inevitably dissentient teachers who, mercifully have an effect, but in the public schools this rarely happens.
The public school is a symbol for our times. It is hopelessly inefficient at producing healthy, well balanced men, who do not wish to die for diaphanous abstractions hurled at them by the politicians but it is highly effective and efficient from the Establishment's point of view for exactly the same reasons.
I have argued, I hope, that the public school is relevant to anarchists and that it is an enemy. I have not produced any solutions, not because I think there are none but because I'm damned if I know what they are. I have tried spreading seeds of discontent on my occasional visits to my brother at his school, but the
Establishment has its answer. The kids are taught to be tolerant of amiable cranks and ignore their messages.
It seems like a fantasy to have revolutionary public school boys crawling around their old schools bearing a message for the Oppressed but I think there must be some up-to-date alternative. More and more public schoolboys are falling from "lower-upper-middle class" grace due to involvement with the Committee of 100 and similar organisations and some of them are "unconscious anarchists". This may be one way we can get at Public Schoolboys.
I don't wish to enter into controversy as to how we are to attain the free society. But I think most intelligent anarchists agree that we should not rule out the middle classes as potential allies for whatever struggle is envisaged. I think we can look to the Public Schools this being the case — the Public Schoolboy is as likely as anyone to revolt. But they will not join us unless we ask them.
I am asking anarchists to look at the public school and what lies behind it, to realise that it is an enemy like the prisons, open or closed, like the Armed Forces (services, of course, in Public School jargon), like the law courts but that it contains potential allies who must be subverted if we are to attain a free society. When they look at it they will see the magnitude of their struggle. It is an excellent direction in which to be looking when we get those spasms of optimism.
Student Pages: Anarchism an Introduction
WYNFORD HICKS, born at Sevenoaks 1942, is reading psychology and philosophy at Oxford. He is a member of the Oxford Committee of 100, and his article is reprinted from the first issue of The Student Anarchist which appeared there last month.
FEW WOULD DENY THE DESIRABILITY OF A FREE SOCIETY: many would argue either that one exists already, or that it is unattainable, or that in order to achieve it the state must first be strengthened. An anarchist believes that a free society does not exist, that it is attainable and that it can only be achieved by certain methods.
Does a free society exist?
To the majority of readers this question will probably appear absurd and unnecessary, but it is important to make clear why Britain is not the 'free' country it is called. A liberal would say that Britain is free because it is a parliamentary democracy, because the press is not censored, because the legal system is impartial, because the police force is technically subject to the law, and so on. The contrast implied here is with 'totalitarian' regimes, where political freedom does not exist, where the government censors the press, takes 'justice' into its own hands and cannot be removed by the people it rules. Now there is obviously a difference between the 'totalitarian' and the 'democratic' state, but is the difference in human freedom as fundamental as is suggested? According to the liberal the press is free because there are no laws controlling it, in spite of the fact that newspapers are owned and controlled by a handful of press barons; the public schools should be preserved because they give parents the freedom to choose what kind of education their children should have (in spite of the fact that this 'freedom' is available to about 5% of the population). The temptation, when the absurdity of this view has become apparent, is either to replace it by Marxist doctrine of economic freedom, or to add a Marxist sugar coating to the original belief. Both these attitudes are inadequate.
In order to be free to do something, it is necessary that one should know that one can do it. It is possible for a 'criminal' to break the law, for a miner's son to be a novelist, even though most people do not break the law or rise above their economic environment. It is not possible, however, to do something unless one knows that it is possible and desires it. (By 'do something' here I mean 'perform a voluntary action'). In what sense is a child on a nursery floor 'free' to go to China if it has never occurred to him as a possibility that he might go there? And even if someone asks him why he doesn't go to China he can hardly be said to be 'free' to go if his parents have brought him up to believe that the Chinese eat foreigners, that the climate is appalling and so on. If 'free' means 'able to choose' it is obvious that the removal of external obstacles does not of itself ensure freedom: to be free to go to China one needs more than a passport and a ticket. To say therefore that most workers in British industry do not want workers' control is analogous to saying that the child who has been brought up to believe that China is a country inhabited by devils does not want to go to China; and to say that the parliamentary system permits the establishment of a political party which would introduce workers' control is like saying that the child will not be physically prevented from leaving the nursery floor; moreover to say that the people of Britain have chosen to live under a parliamentary system is like saying that a child chooses its family.
But despite the economic and social factors which limit freedom within the parliamentary system, is it not possible to say that we are free to choose our own government? In a sense we are, but what we cannot do without smashing the state is choose our own self-government. To accept the electoral system and all it implies is to abandon the responsibility of decision — and this is made quite clear by the use of the word 'representative' and not 'delegate'. However the system which exists in Britain came about (and the social contract theory is a historical curiosity nowadays) its essential deficiency is that it deprives us of the power to make our own decisions and gives our rulers the power to do things which nobody has the right to do. For instance, who decided that Britain should manufacture nuclear weapons and adopt a foreign policy based on the threat of genocide? The argument that in making this decision the government had to consider the will of the people because it had to fight an election is not only ludicrous in practice (since the major political parties agree in principle on foreign policy), it misses the point altogether, which is that the very existence of the state encourages irresponsibility in rulers and ruled alike. One of the lessons of the Cuban crisis is that hysteria is not confined to people living under what the liberal calls dictatorship. Acton's remark about power and corruption is incomplete: as power tends to corrupt, so too does the abandonment of power over one's own life. To have this power taken away is unfortunate: to surrender it willingly while imagining that one still has it is disastrous.
Is a free society attainable?
It is amazing how dogmatic the sceptical liberal can become: 'A society where people co-operate without being coerced by the state is impossible because man is basically aggressive and selfish; such a society has never existed before and therefore cannot exist in the future; you can't change human nature', etc. Statements of this kind, which seem to be rationalizations of fear and prejudice, are worth commenting on if only in order to define what one means by a free society. The fact that something has not happened is in itself no proof that it cannot happen: if it were there would be little point in trying to break athletics records. If by human nature is meant the way people physiologically are, then it cannot be changed; if by human nature is meant the way people behave then it is always changing. We are now left with the point about 'basic' evil. The statement that man is basically bad is as meaningless and absurd as the statement that man is basically good; Hobbes and Rousseau are both talking nonsense. As psychology advances we shall learn more about man's basic make-up: we shall never be able to describe it in social terms. Assertions about man's nature couched in language used to describe and evaluate social relationships are a logical mistake.
What is to be done with those who coerce other people in a free society, and would not their existence lead to its destruction? Two distinctions are necessary here — the first between those with a hereditary mental illness and those whose anti-social tendencies can be eliminated; the second between the function of a prison and that of a hospital. Much of what is now called anti-social behaviour is caused by environmental factors; as conditions improve it will eliminate itself. Where anti-social behaviour still exists it can, as is increasingly the case with mental disturbances, be treated as an illness — the word prison is an insult to humanity. Should a person who is dangerous to other people be forced to receive treatment? I think we must accept this possibility. To say that a free society is attainable it is not necessary that one should believe that utopia is round the corner.
There are other important objections referring to specific practical difficulties. For example, modern industrial society is complex — does it not require organization and planning? I would like to distinguish between function and power. Decentralization of power would not necessarily involve lack of co-ordination. The existence of an information switchboard is necessary whereas control by its operator of subscribers' lives is not.
How can a free society be achieved?
To the Marxist the phrase 'the withering away of the state' is as sacred as 'the kingdom of heaven' is to the Christian. One must not sneer at faith of course but it is a little hard to understand exactly how the state is going to wither away. The claim that this will inevitably happen after the transitional period of state socialism, as a result moreover of the strengthening of the state, is if anything harder to accept than the liberal claim that the state is an expression of popular will. Both are made blithely without any attempt at proof.
A free society can only be achieved by means which are consistent with the end. This is not because the use of coercion is immoral but because it cannot have the desired effect. So with violence. If the creation of a non-violent state is the aim it is a little futile to shoot the opposition. 'The more violence the less revolution'; the more coercion the less revolution. The destruction of coercive institutions does not of itself create a free society, and if the aim is that people should learn to live responsibly they cannot be forced to be free. If the child wants to grow up he has to break his playpen himself. Is an anarchist opposed to organization? Again the important distinction between power and function: in order that the revolutionary action should be successful it must be co-ordinated, but this does not mean that self-appointed (or elected) leaders direct what is to happen. Nor is it necessary for all those who use direct action techniques to call themselves anarchists, nor is the word 'anarchist' important. To be conscious of a problem it is not necessary to be able to define it, nor to accept someone else's definition.
The need for a free society
Since the beginning of human history violence and coercion have existed but never have they been more dangerous than now. The modern state is capable of destroying not only its own citizens but everyone else as well. This has been said many times before, but it is not capitalism or communism which threatens the world as much as the modern state itself. If there were a short cut to peace (for instance, by establishing a United Nations Super-state to police the world), without freedom, it would be worth taking — but these are no short cuts. If concentration of power has made nuclear war possible then it is this which must be destroyed if the world is ever to have peace. A free society is not an idyllic dream but a necessity,
My argument throughout has been that a complex of social forces from nutrition to education is acting on young people to create a generation whose moral outlook is new and of their own making. I would describe it as a generation which is self-sufficient, in some ways puritan and in other ways romantic. They are at present looking mainly inwards and trying to solve the contradictions of social life by the cultivation of self, in courtship and in early marriage. They do not as yet constitute a political force and the popular journalist and the adman succeed in bringing them into line in early adulthood; that is, they make them conform before they can be politically explosive. This may not, however, continue. Unemployment and the competition for higher education may change the situation. If this happens, then the adult world may face a new political problem — not of disciplining the young political animal but of facing youth as a political challenge.
—DENNIS CHAPMAN: "The Autonomous Generation"
(The Listener, 17.1.1963.)
Anarchism and Non-Violence
JOHN WHITFIELD, whose article is also reproduced from The Student Anarchist, was born in London in 1943. He was a pupil at the Quaker School, Leighton Park, and is now an undergraduate at Oxford.
NON-VIOLENCE IS NOT THE SAME AS PACIFISM, the latter is anti-war and deals with international relations, It does not, as a code, affect the whole of life, though it may do so as a result of individual conduct. My aim is to put political and private morality on the same basis, or to deal with life as a whole. Politics is a seemingly impersonal and vast form of personal relationships, This difference of degree is treated by our culture as a difference in kind, and the results are total war and totalitarian states.
Max Weber, in his lecture, 'Politics as a vocation,' given in Munich in 1918, classifies ethical systems into two groups; the 'ethic of responsibility' and the 'ethic of ultimate ends.' The latter involves a near complete disregard of the immediate effects of one's actions, which are in accord with one's absolute morality, or ultimate ends. This implies a decision about what is 'good' and a faith that all is well, if only this 'good' is followed. The former is more complicated. Weber accepted the dominant thought of his time concerning means and ends. He found it possible to distinguish between them, and did not find them intrinsically related. This enabled him to accept that 'evil' means must be used to achieve 'good' ends, Responsibility for him means foreseeing the immediate effect of one's actions and accounting for them, but also and more importantly, the need to be politically effective. This involves violence, which he accepts as 'evil'.
That is, briefly, how Weber saw the topic of politics and its dependence on power, and, therefore, violence. Whether or not this was true in 1918, it is not true now, Waging war for political ends in an age of nuclear weapons and I.C.B.M.'s cannot be responsible either in Weber's terms or in everyday terms. To go from this position of pacifism to one of a non-violent society is more difficult. The existence of totalitarian states, and the growing power of the executive in our own 'free' society are indications that authority, dependent as it always has been, on violence, is being abused. The complexity of life leads people to surrender willingly their own responsibility and to place their trust in the state. The infamous assumption of modern thought that the state must not be, on any account, defied is evidence that as we surrender more to the state, so it makes yet greater demands on us.
The need to defy the state is evident, and the need to avoid violence because of what it brings and its incompatibility with our ends, is also there. This claim can be made from the trite assertion that we cannot force people to be free. Coercion does not achieve our ends, as it only leads to the replacement of one tyranny by another. It is only necessary to look at the Russian Revolution of 1917 to see an example of this. Hatred is increased by violence, making a complete solution impossible and laying the ground for a counter-revolution.
Since Weber lectured, there have been successful non-violent campaigns that have been politically effective, and yet in accord with the aim of a free society. The satyakraha campaigns, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Japanese agitation against the U.S. Security Pact are all examples of effective campaigns, legal and illegal. Power this is, but it is not dependent on violence, as Weber thought it must be.
Weber said that a man who is not a 'political infant' had to achieve a compromise between the two ethics but gave no indication of how this was done. He also admitted that men did say, 'Here I stand. I must be faithful to my morality' in the face of denying the responsibility ethic. As to when this point is reached, Weber again gave no indication, nor did he offer any solution. I hold that non-violent campaigns are a solution at this point. I also hold that they show that Weber's ideas are now wrong, as a combination of his two ethics is achieved all along the line, and no compromise is needed.
What are the possible results of this rethinking of politics? Internationally, the results must be evident to anyone who supports CND and wishes to replace old policies with new, effective ones, as he must do. Socially, the implication is of far greater individual responsibility and of the removal of political oppression. The adoption of an aggressive non-violent policy of social change would both cause, and be caused by, the former. It would be used to remove political oppression, and would thus remove the need for political oppression as the oppressing authority would lead to the removal of the other forms of oppression. Among these is economic oppression which is important in our society, and far less obvious than political oppression. The recent dismissal of seventeen Ford strike leaders is an exception to the rule of unobtrusiveness, but not to the rule of effectiveness.
Does this lead to an anarchist society? What I mean by an anarchist society is not what most of those who also call themselves anarchists mean. Even so, it does lead to a free society, and the name is irrelevant. On the grounds that I have outlined above, I consider there to be a need for both a free society and a non-violent society. I think that I have shown there to be a correlation between the two, and also that there is an answer. I believe that a synthesis of the classical anarchist ideas and the ideas of non-violence is necessary before the answer is given a form clearer that the one I have reached. There is great scope for a new, dynamic and effective political philosophy to be developed.
Thoughts on the English Monarchy
ANDREW KING, born 1940, educated at Stockport Grammar School and Oxford, describes himself as Catholic in religion and fringe-anarchist in politics. He is now training for the priesthood at the (Anglican) College of the Resurrection, Mirfield.
IT HAS BECOME CUSTOMARY NOWADAYS to regard Royalty as at least something of a joke and at most an outmoded but harmless constitutional relic. In any event, no-one takes it very seriously; most people who are politically conscious have more urgent and interesting matters to discuss and tend to shrug their shoulders when the Monarchy is mentioned, as though it were of no great consequence.
Nor is it, positively speaking. The Monarchy has no power, and little influence on the running of the country. Nevertheless, the present system is in many ways insidious and reactionary and, indeed, such that no anarchist or socialist can possibly tolerate.
It seems desirable at this point to go briefly over the well-worn but compelling reasons for objecting to the present state of affairs. In the first place, Royalty is supposed to be politically neutral; in fact, it is and always has been firmly linked to the aristocracy, the establishment and the right wing. (Instances, both general and particular, can be multiplied: the latest is Princess Alexandra's decision to marry a man who is director of no fewer than fifty companies). A sense of almost religious awe surrounds the Royal family: the Queen's mother falls and injures a foot — immediately she is attended by two doctors, one certainly a lord and the other at least a baronet. This totem-pole atmosphere is developed to a quite extraordinary degree. It is common knowledge that thousands of people line streets for hours in pouring rain to catch the briefest glimpse of any Royal person; it is equally familiar that any railway station which is to be graced by a visitation is spring-cleaned and re-painted to an unprecedented extent at the last minute and that, as often as not, the signboard with the word gentlemen upon it is removed or covered over. Some of the more fantastic details are not so generally known. When the Queen visited an Oxford college a year or two ago, the preparations included the provision of a velvet lavatory seat-cover for her use …
But it is unnecessary to elaborate — the point will be taken. A second, more serious objection is the economic one; the amount of public money spent on preserving this antique symbol is admittedly not large compared with that put into 'defence' but it is very consider-able when set alongside, say, pensions or education grants, The royal yacht, several large residences as well as Buckingham Palace (which itself requires about two hundred staff and still has paid soldiers on guard in front of it), half-a-dozen aircraft (often flown at the Duke of Edinburgh's private whim, greatly inconveniencing regular fliers) and all the other paraphernalia, not to mention annual allowances — these represent enormous sums which it is difficult to argue could not be better spent. After her baby is born, Princess Margaret is given a convalescent holiday in the West Indies (incidentally without the child) before returning to her residence, which the Government has had renovated at a cost of £70,000 — and so on.
What is so monstrous is that the whole thing is a sham from beginning to end: the 'monarch' is in fact no such thing. The Church of England prays daily for our most gracious Queen and Governor in the full knowledge that she is nothing of the kind. In fact, there is no monarchy in this country, but people are deceived into thinking that there is, and, what is more, that it matters. It is sometimes argued the Queen is a useful figurehead on to which people's interests and emotions can be focussed — a criminally stupid attitude. Those who argue thus are in the first place denying the value of individuals as opposed to the mass and in the second place attempting to bluff the country as a whole, trying to divert its attention away from reality. And it works. How many of those crowding Whitehall for the pseudo-military ceremony of Trooping the Colour ever give a thought to the realities of the military situation sanctioned by this country today? How many of those listening to the Christmas day broadcast consider what lies behind the half-hearted clichés and tepidly complacent phrases? On Christmas day, 1962, the Queen spoke of the devotion of old countries like ours to well-tried ideals of toleration and justice, with no distinction of race or creed. Such words are their own indictment. The whole weary business of the ceremonial opening of Parliament ('My Prime Minister'), the absurd blasphemy of the Coronation service, the detaining of criminals 'during Her Majesty's pleasure' — can it really be justified or simply ignored with a clear conscience? 'Let it alone,' cry the cautious reformers; 'it's not important.' But it is important: for the terrible thing is that we are not free to ignore it. Every time we go to a cinema, a theatre or a concert we are required to pay homage to the status quo by standing whilst the National Anthem is played; it is forced upon us. If we had any choice, it would be a different matter. The Tory party is in power, but we didn't vote for them and we don't want them. We are free to oppose them and to voice our opinions. But we are not free to oppose Royalty, not free in the same sense, at all events; we can choose whether or not we attend a concert at which Land of Hope and Glory is to be played — we cannot choose but hear God Save the Queen.
What can be done towards ridding ourselves of this artificial tyranny? It has been suggested that an anti-monarchist league should be formed, but this seems ill-advised in these days of reforming clubs and societies — it would be too narrow and inward-looking. Again, it is quite true that anarchists and socialists have indeed got more urgent things to attend to, though many of them do not seem to realise that if hydrogen-bombs and capital punishment are to be abolished, the Monarchy must be abolished too. Could there not be occasionally, large-scale protests in the form of group refusal to stand for the National Anthem, or picketing of Westminster on the day of the ceremonial opening of Parliament? Malcolm Muggeridge and Lord Altrincham have made their stand in the Press — how much more should we be prepared to show our feelings? 'My objection to the Royalty symbol,' John Osborne has said, 'is that it is dead, it is the gold-filling in a mouth full of decay.'
Affluent Britain: A 6th Form View
ROGER LEWIS is 18 and was born in Bradford, moving to Bath when he was 14. He spent two years in hospital with polio and became interested in anarchism when studying the history of the Spanish Civil War, He hopes to be admitted to the university in October.
THE AFFLUENT SOCIETY HAS DEVELOPED IN BRITAIN over the last eleven years of the post-war era. It became truly noticeable after 1955, when the television set became a necessity and no longer a status symbol. The car, like the television set, has also become an integral part of our society and some economists claim, that four out of every five families own a car. Ever since 1945, when the expected development of the Socialist Utopia did not materialise, due to our struggling recovery from the war and the falterings of the Government itself, the nations' wealth has mysteriously risen.
The social conditions of the majority are better than they have ever been before. Yet still slums remain like virulent stores in our larger industrial cities and the number of houses due for demolition increases each year.
Keynes can be held largely responsible for our post-war affluence, for it was he who discovered the one way to stabilise our capitalist economy, taking the most extreme rises and falls out of the trade cycle. It may be that if Keynes' theories had not been adopted, the capitalist economy would have been replaced by democratic Socialism, libertarian socialism, or at the worst, communism. In any of these cases, there would have been at least a sane planning of the economy.
As it is, the Conservative party came to power in 1951 and has manipulated this new-found affluence to their own advantage, The much regretted "You have never had it so good" speech reveals their true attitude and strategy, although the manner in which they have exploited the increased wealth of the people has grown a good deal subtler since the 1959 election.
With the growth in spending power of the nation, the larger cartels, combines, and monopolies, moved in with frightening swiftness on the unsuspecting consumer. High pressure, percussive advertising, drumming into the minds of the masses, through all media, television, press, film, and pirate radio, has dulled their appreciation and drugged their minds. Frozen food and sudsy beer advertisements bombard the consumer from all sides, And what is more disturbing, is the short-term lasting power of manufactured goods, reduction in size and ephemeral attraction of the outer wrappings. Such methods of production and retailing are direct importations from the capitalist paradise, the United States of America. The argument is, that if goods are made to last, in the long run, less will be purchased and thus production will decrease. As a result men will be laid off, the accelerator will gather momentum, and a slump become imminent. It must be remembered, however, that the concern of the large manufacturers over a slump, is that their profits will fall and not that their workers and even their salaried staff will be thrown out of work. It would be disastrous if our economy took such a turn that the nation would be compelled to consume goods faster and faster, and at such a rate that the natural resources of the nation, and in the extreme the world, would be swiftly used up.
Perhaps the most worrying thing about the nation's present affluence, and that of the last decade, is the bovine apathy which seems to march hand in hand with it. As soon as an average family obtains a television set, a car, a washing machine and a reasonably snug residence, its members seem to lose all interest in culture, politics, religion, and those things that matter more than mere material gain. They carry blandly on living the same drab sort of life from day to day, hardly caring about international matters, voting for the looks and not the ideals of their parliamentary candidate, and mocking those individuals, who, however ineffectually, try to register their protest and concern for the world, national, or their own personal situation. It can only be hoped that such stimuli as the Cuban situation, will have a disturbing effect on the nation's placid attitude to the world in general. Indeed, so far, the entire effect of our recent affluence seems to have done nothing culturally, spiritually, philosophically and visibly positive, except to 'bourgeoisize' the people.
"Coronation Street" and the canned American importation "Gunsmoke", are typical examples of television today. The nouvelle vague in the theatre has been so far poorly supported, and even the noble efforts of men like Kops, Pinter, and Wesker's mobilisation of the stultified arts of the people in Centre 42, have not had the success that is their due.
Unless Britain shakes off her sluggish apathy and sensibly considers all the aspects and problems of the modern world, she will end up as a satellite of the American capitalist bloc, or the Russian totalitarian bloc, with all that both entail. An unpleasant prospect in either case. Culturally and spiritually, she will descend into a slough of despond, never to emerge again. Such a fate all true anarchists must try and prevent.
Further observations on Technology, science and anarchism
IT IS SOMETHING (OR OTHER) TO HAVE STIMULATED REPLIES to an article in ANARCHY at least I must assume that Smythe, Uloth and Small were provoked by my screed for they mention my name, yet the content of their letters in ANARCHY 25 has nothing to do with what I wrote. I must write very badly indeed.
In my original article ("Homo Aedificans", ANARCHY 25), I made certain assertions about the "nature" of man and then indicated conclusions and questions that arise from that view, with particular attention to anarchist propaganda and social organisation.
Whilst the three correspondents may have assumed to oppose the view I presented they have failed to indicate any objection or refutation. Eulogies of freedom are eulogies of freedom, not descriptions of human activity or potentiality. If the correspondents believe that they have made a material contribution to the discussion I initiated then they have failed to understand one of my prime objections to current anarchist propaganda, that if you wish to convert someone to your persuasion then you must cast your efforts into a form that that person will understand. It is, after all, you who so confidently despise the society that is, it is therefore up to you to present your arguments in a form that we of the ignorant masses who are not party to your privy assumptions can digest.
Superficially it is Arthur Uloth who seems widest of the mark, the other two are but making comforting ritual gestures. Uloth bases anarchism on "The belief that men and women are capable spontaneously of co-operating and working together". I suggest that this assertion is true of almost any contemporary political belief, if that is all he has to offer I wish to know what all the fuss is about. He then goes on to paraphrase Kropotkin and Stirner, and interestingly enough shows that an anarchist society, in every case, requires knowledge on the part of the individual for him to guide his actions. Which I thought was a point I had made. Reason and goodwill are not enough. Would Mr. Uloth please tell us how he proposes to ensure the requisite degree of knowledge in the population in a complex society wherein you need one hell of a lot of information before a given course of action can be recognised as harmful? Whether you recognise the harm or not the harm will nevertheless be done.
I am sad that Mr. Uloth did not have space to elaborate on the doctrines of the simple life. Unlike Mr. Uloth I do not depend upon a library but upon people, I meet them and talk with them, in the "naturist" clubs and resorts of Europe and elsewhere. So what Thoreau wrote does not concern me in the least except insofar as he has influenced the actual behaviour of people in their daily lives, here and now.
Mr. Uloth's world is strange. He finds it unlikely that people will wander on airfields. I have noticed the opposite. He gives the Red Indians as an example of primitive people well able to defend themselves, yet there is no Red Indian nation now, nor has there been for almost a century, the language and culture of their country is that of the invader, the genetic line is anything but amerind. I do not understand.
Mr. Uloth remarks on my "implicit nihilism". My dictionary indicates that he believes me to "deny all reality, or all objective growth of truth". I might even say the same about him, he'd better watch out! He then goes on to pose the highly original question of whether we might not go to our destruction through the abuse of technology. I did write about this possibility. It is a possibility. May we have Mr. Uloth's solution?
It would be comforting to believe in Mr. Uloth's interminable effort to reduce cruelty in our world were it not for the fact that he may well be playing the cruellest joke of all. He offers us a vision of a life to come. Pie in the sky by and by. If Mr. Uloth cannot tell Joe and Jack, Jill and Joan, how to attain that vision then he had better examine his beliefs very carefully. Whether it suits Mr, Uloth or not we live in a society wherein the simplest needs of life depend for their satisfaction on complicated social and technical relationships. We may not like it either, but it is the world we have. I wish to know how Mr. Uloth proposes to transform this world in accordance with his ideals without causing suffering and harm to those unwittingly enmeshed in it. I suggest that any attempt at such transformation requires an understanding of the organisation of the existing system far in excess of anything yet revealed in anarchist propaganda.