Issue of Anarchy magazine from July 1963. This issue is a detailed account of the Spies for Peace, and their discovery of secret government shelters.
Anarchy #029: The Spies For Peace Story
The Spies for Peace Story:
1. What Official Secret?
2. In the Beginning...
3. The Ripples Spread
4. Informing the Public
5. More Secrete...More Demonstrations
8. The State Hits Back
9. Onto the Banned-Waggon!
10. RSGs, Parliament and the State
Letter to readers …
The account of the "Spies for Peace" story and its implications, which fills most of this enlarged issue of ANARCHY has been compiled by members of the Solidarity group, the Syndicalist Workers' Federation, the London Federation of Anarchists, the Independent Labour Party and the London Committee of 100. It is also being published by them as a separate pamphlet. If you find you have a copy of both editions, don't be annoyed, just pass one on! This document needs the widest possible circulation and we hope that readers will order extra copies.
The feature on "The Community Workshop" announced for this issue of ANARCHY will appear next month, together with readers' observations on ANARCHY 28, which we have had to hold over from this issue, and we hope, a long article on gypsies.
Other articles awaiting publication in the next few months include Jeff Robinson's Anarchy and Practicability, John D. McEwan on Anarchism and the Cybernetics of Self-Organising Systems, a symposium on Anarchism and Crime, a long analysis of the Anarchism of Alex Comfort, Richard Drinnon on Alexander Berkman and H. W. Morton on Randolph Bourne.
1 What Official Secret?
THE Press has told us that traitors are at work in the government's defence councils. Not just ordinary traitors who sell their country's secrets for thirty pieces of silver or are blackmailed because of their sexual nonconformity. Not even traitors who honestly, if misguidedly, believe that Russian ideology is superior to that of the West. The 'Spies for Peace' are none of these things. They are dangerous because they question the basic assumption of all bureaucracies: that the State knows best. Such thinking threatens the Russian rulers as much as it does our own.
We have been comforted to know that all the resources of M.I.5. and of the Special Branch have been working overtime to find the 'Spies'. Phones have been tapped on an unprecedented scale, letters have been opened, homes searched, typewriters and duplicators confiscated, threats and intimidation freely used. Gentlemen wearing regulation Special Branch trilbies have walked the Aldermaston distance several times over, trailing innocent suspects going about their lawful business. Yet there has not been a single arrest. Canons have deprecated, columnists deplored, cabinet ministers dithered, communists denigrated, christians denied, constitutionalists dissociated themselves, and still the copyists distribute.
Gordon Walker has called for exemplary punishment of the traitors; Michael Foot has preached sanctimoniously about 'highest aims and lowest means'; James Cameron has scorned those who abused the Aldermaston March to advertise their treachery (the RSGs, of course, have nothing to do with nuclear weapons, and the Aldermaston March is an unlikely place to find people concerned about the Bomb!); Lord Alexander of Hillsborough expressed his horror, and strongly asserted that Labour shit won't stink.
So when the matter was raised in the Great Democratic Farce called Parliament, we were entitled to expect fireworks. We got a damp squib. There had been plenty of time during the Easter Recess to do a little duck shoving. The Tory Chief Whip directed his MPs to withdraw or amalgamate their awkward questions. When important questions of government policy are asked in the Commons it is usual for the leader of the 'Opposition' to address the Prime Minister. But the 'leader' had been given the confidential assurance that with his co-operation the real Official Secret was still fairly safe. It was left to a Labour backbencher (Mr. Charles Loughlin, of West Gloucestershire) to lead off. Macmillan was at his supercilious best:
'There is nothing mysterious or sinister about their (RSG's) existence … It is widely known that our defence plans for any future war, whether nuclear or conventional, include provision for essentially civilian organization (our emphasis) … To prepare them (RSGs) and to link them with the headquarters of the local authorities is an obviously essential precaution'.
So there you have it: the RSGs with all their Service brass, police brass, permanent under-secretaries and principal officers from the Civil Service, are essentially civilian organizations. As for the local authorities, there isn't a single alderman, let alone an elected councillor provided for or deemed worthy of survival.
'Although the existence of these headquarters (RSGs) had long been widely known, the exact location and details of their organization have not been publicised … Nevertheless, the deliberate breach of security is in itself both serious and strongly to be condemned. The disclosure of the particular information involved is not seriously damaging to the national interest … There is little resemblance between this affair and cases of espionage …'
It's as simple as that: the secrets are widely known. But to know them is a serious breach of security. And anyhow they don't amount to much.
Once again Macmillan:
'There is no question of building deep air raid shelters. That has long ago been stated to be impossible on a large scale. This is merely an arrangement by which Regional Commissioners will be placed in suitable locations'.
So 'Spies for Peace' have been hoodwinked all along. The RSGs are not hideouts for VIPs: they are only 'suitable locations' for Regional Commissioners.
No wonder patriotic Tories withdrew from the 'Hunt the Spy' contest and less wonder still that the Labour super-patriots then kept quiet in the background. We have it on the authority of the Prime Minister himself that these so-called secrets are concerned with nothing more serious than 'suitable locations' and links with local authorities. So what is all the fuss about? And where exactly does the 'treachery' lie?
You can't build an RSG without employing several hundred workers, anyone of whom is likely to talk, particularly if he is not a traitor. You can't smother the truth by dark hints about Security. We all like to feel important, to be in the possession of information denied to lesser breeds. This ensures that we shall exercise our imaginations — fertilised with beer — in the pub, and exchange spy fiction confidences which no one will believe anyway.
Or if we are ordinarily gullible, we can believe the official handout. Everybody knows that all government departments are barmy; so if the Home Office chooses to build an underground factory in the woods behind Warren Row which can't manufacture anything, it's unlikely to raise a single eyebrow. In this age of shop stewards and 'overpowerful trade unions', it might have caused a strike if the real fact had emerged that what was being built was a 'suitable location' for a Regional Commissioner. That would never be tolerated today when the Queen is just like your missus (God help you!) when workers demand cars and washing machines, and when Oxbridge accepts students from State Grammar Schools.
We still have not discovered what the Official Secret was. All that the 'Spies' seem to have done was to collect the available information which is widely known to many thousands, and collate it under a single heading. It is only then that the real Official Secret becomes clear. Like everything else, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Of course we all know that one 50-megaton bomb will wipe out the whole of London. Half-a-dozen will put paid to the rest of the country. CND shows 'Children of Hiroshima', and Bertrand Russell argues indefatigably about the inevitability of nuclear war. But governments are only acceptable institutions because their abstract primary function is to protect the individual from the hazards entailed in a society based on nation states. Individually, we cannot stop the Russians — or the Americans — from marching in. At the moment many people ['s belief] in the government's ability to 'protect' them leads naturally to the assumption that 'it can't happen here'. They concede that steps have been taken to make defence realistic. But as it can't happen here, why listen to cranks who use logical argument to show that it probably will? What has logical probability to do with it, when millions of us expect each week to win £100,000 for a few coppers?
So after we have discarded the unexciting details of the RSG pamphlet — we all knew (after the event) that this sort of thing went on anyway — didn't we? — what do we find? We find that the government takes the probabilities of nuclear war so seriously that real, live, breathing Top Brass is already appointed to survey in lone and splendid grandeur the horrific devastation which will follow a quite moderate nuclear attack on this island. We find that exercises are carried out to 'test' the RSGs capabilities, and that they prove conclusively that there is no defence. This is the real Official Secret from which you must be protected at all costs: the government cannot protect society. You can be Tory or Labour, Communist or Empire Loyalist, Christian or Atheist, genius or moron, tear arse or layabout, capitalist or worker, prostitute or Duchess of Argyll, pimp, bastard, or bugger-boy, copper's nark or pacifist fruit-juicer, it doesn't matter who or what. Your future is to be equally radioactive and you are all to be equally dead. The only survivors will be a few Top Bureaucrats, with of course one month's supply of uncontaminated food and water at their disposal. We need a Kafka to write a novel about the last days in the Bunkers for Bureaucrats.
No longer can we delude ourselves with easy thoughts that it can't happen here. The government — and it matters not one tittle whether it be Tory or Labour — has reached the same conclusion as Bertrand Russell: it probably will happen here. And when it does, the government can do nothing about it except provide 'suitable locations' for Top Bureaucrats. To keep your minds off that dangerous thought, the Press has spent acres of space on 'spy' scares and on talk of 'treachery'. It has been duly commended for its loyalty by the Great Deceiver himself. If the real secret is still to be kept, all our modern marvels of security consciousness follow quite naturally: spy phobia, screening, security checks, D notices, reticence in the public interest, informing, phone tapping, agent provocateurs, 'snooping on subversive' organizations, 'interrogations' to 'assist' the police, and any other means which bureaucrats can devise to bamboozle, bully, bluff, browbeat or brainwash the public.
Of course you haven't been consulted. What need is there to consult you? You are one of the millions who have been written off. Anyhow, it's an Official Secret, which you might very well reject if you were consulted. 'Better dead than Red' may be a comforting thought to armchair heroes, dying gloriously in the act of saving their daughters from being raped by Russian mujiks. Unfortunately, they won't even have the satisfaction of a posthumous George Cross.
The Official Secret is simply that any government which accepts the theory of the Great Deterrent knows that the probabilities of its failure are high, high enough to amount to virtual certainty — and that they can do fornicating zero about it. The time has come for us to ask ourselves what we are going to do about it. The safety of the people is often thought the prime duty of government. The Official Secret does not merely emphasise the failure of government to perform this duty; it is a calculated admission that this is impossible in the nuclear age. Bureaucrats must be removed from the realm of decision-taking. It is up to us to make our own decisions. What is at stake is nothing less than our lives.
2 In the Beginning
ON Thursday, April 11 the day before Aldermaston '63, copies of the original 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet were received by the national press, southern regional papers, top security men, assorted politicians, prominent members of the anti-war movement, and others. Among these 'others' were a large number of Aldermaston marchers.
On the first day of the March, Friday 12th (I'll bet David Stratton thought it was Friday 13th) the pamphlets were widely distributed by the marchers themselves. They were well received everywhere. The State, on the other hand, didn't take it quite so well. Falcon Field and its environs were crawling with plain-clothes dicks of the rain-coated, beady-eyed, seedy, 'inconspicuous-in-a-crowd' variety1. In fact there were enough of them to form their own contingent on the march — you know the sort of thing, 'H-Bombs: No! Rhino-whips: Si!' There was however no truth in the rumour that they were circulating a leaflet entitled 'Police for Peace'. By Friday afternoon these busy little b's had made their first seizures of the pamphlet. They had begun questioning people, which process was to be repeated again many times the evening in Reading. No change.
Immediately before the scheduled lunch-break on Saturday morning the march was due to pass that little lane that leads off the A4 to RSG 6. This made a detour and demonstration at the rat-hole a very simple matter. By this time a large number of people had already decided to do just that. Leaflets were duplicated by Committee of 100 supporters urging marchers to make the detour and demonstrate. These were distributed all Saturday morning. The news was also spread far and wide by word of mouth. Militants also used Saturday morning to assemble in one particular section of the march, using the Anarchist and Committee of 100 banners as focal points.
As one might well imagine, the Duff-Collins clique being Establishment orientated, were by this time terribly upset by the whole affair. They were doing their utmost to prevent any sort of demonstration. On the Friday night and on the Saturday morning individuals had attempted to chalk mark or paint 'that turning off the A4'. They had been interfered with by the police. But not to worry — when we reached 'that turning' there was no mistaking it. On the one hand stood the red and black flag of the old London Anarchist Group and a silent Committee of 100 supporter holding up a placard pointing the way. On the other hand stood the vociferous Duff bawling into the microphone of a CND van. The gist of her patter was on the lines of 'Keep moving, marchers … On to your lunch break … NO FOOD DOWN THERE, MARCHERS … Carry on to your lunch break … No diversions, marchers … Keep moving'. "Anarchists" could turn left if they wanted, but "marchers" were to carry on. She screamed at Committee of 100 people that they were not to "muscle in on our march". However, to her horror, the militant section of marchers were more interested in unilateralism than in being fed and watered. Instead of trotting on along the A4, they turned sharp left. We should remember this little episode when Peggy Duff says that "the Executive Committee of CND had welcomed the revelations of the Spies for Peace''.2
The lane up to RSG 6 is a narrow winding one. It was soon packed with marchers, many of them by now singing the 'Official Secrets' song. Half-way up the lane, just in case anyone thought he had taken the wrong turning, someone had painted 'RSG 6' and an arrow on the road, in white letters six-foot high. Contrary to press reports there was no police cordon across the lane or anything like that.
When we arrived at the gate of RSG 6 we found that it was guarded by a contingent of the Berkshire Constabulary. This gate, although it possessed a gate-keeper, did not possess a fence. The area was immediately surrounded by demonstrators who then infiltrated through the trees and bushes. Within minutes the whole installation was swamped by demonstrators. The constables made a few abortive attempts to prevent demonstrators from entering the area. But, let's face it, all that Fenimore Cooper stuff just isn't their métier. The police then contented themselves with manhandling some demonstrators behind the boiler-house. When other demonstrators called for cameras they soon eased up on the rough-stuff.
A group of police stationed themselves at the entrance of the bunker — most of them apparently quite unaware of what they were so keenly guarding. Some time later police reinforcements arrived from Reading, including the Chief Constable of Berkshire. But they needn't have bothered because they were falling over backwards to avoid arresting anybody. At one point a police-woman asked demonstrators not to make a noise because it would frighten the one police dog present. This was after the dogs' handler had already set the animal on one demonstrator. In fact all the violence on the demonstration came from the expected quarter: the police.
Demonstrators remained non-violent throughout. After a two-minute silence had been observed (for the State?) the majority of demonstrators left the site to rejoin the main march. They had exposed the funk-bunker in very definite terms. A handful of anarchists and Committee of 100 supporters remained behind until about 7 p.m., when they were thrown right off the site by the police.
The Spies for Peace could scarcely have chosen a better time or a better place for the publication of their first secret. Total damage to the State resulting from this demonstration:
Damage to State property: £2
Damage to State's image (already pretty fly-blown): immeasurable.
1.That is to say, inconspicuous in a crowd comprised entirely of other plain-clothes dicks.
2. Guardian, May 16.
3 The Ripples Spread
IT was most instructive to watch the ripples spread. Thousands rallied to the call. Whoever the 'Spies' might be, they were certainly not Communists. No centralised, 'disciplined' organization could ever have pulled off anything like it.
Both the police and the state bureaucrats think in terms of hierarchy, of tight organization, of a centre issuing instructions, of a rigid plan, of master-minds behind it all, directing operations. They see their opponents in their own image. They cannot think in other terms. They cannot grasp the tremendous advantages of decentralisation, the tremendous efficiency of non-authoritarian organisation, the tremendous power of rank and file initiative. The 'Spies' have perhaps taught them their first political lesson.
By Saturday night, the original pamphlets were already well-thumbed. The Sunday Telegraph1 deplored the fact that although the police had arrested several marchers who were carrying the document, many more had copies and were openly handing them around. The Evening News2 claimed that copies were changing hands at 2d. each. State secrets for the price of a box of matches. But there was worse to come.
On Sunday 'some 15,000 leaflets giving extracts from the ''Spies for Peace" anti-nuclear document were handed out to Aldermaston marchers and onlookers in Chiswick. Police describe this as a quite deliberate violation of the law'.3 The Daily Mail4 was accurately to describe the situation in banner headlines: 'SECRETS FLOOD'.
On Easter Monday, the facts were made known to many thousands more. 'Twenty-four thousand summaries of the leaflet were handed out'5 in the morning. The Press seemed much better informed than the police about the technical details. According to the Mail, 14,000 had been stencilled at a secret address in London the previous afternoon and another 6,000 during the night. The arithmetic sounds wonky but the facts sound true.
'One marcher trailed a basket on wheels, suspected to be filled with the pamphlet'.6 As the march proceeded along Regent Street and Oxford Street hundreds of marchers were chanting: 'RSG — Warren Row', informing the people of London of their nearest shelter. 'Some of the marchers had the location and the telephone number of RSG 6 chalked on their denim shirts'7 'The banned name was scrawled in chalk and paint on vans and banners. It even appeared in the dust on a Black Maria'.8 In Hyde Park, Vanessa Redgrave 'publicly mentioned — before 80,000 people — the exact location and purpose of RSG 6'.9
The administrative reflexes of the police were brisk and to the point. 'One man was arrested for singing the secret. An inspector and a constable took a note of his words and then led him away as the march neared Hyde Park.'10 'A singing spy, my Lord. And sober, too. I heard him with my own ears. In Piccadilly, it was, and in broad daylight'. The police also arrested 'a man who had walked 14 miles carrying a placard naming the centre'.11
A shortened version of the pamphlet was openly distributed in Northern towns by CND supporters returning from the Aldermaston March. On April 17, it was distributed in Doncaster public houses. 'The Doncaster CND organizer, Mr. Rogan, of Wheatley Hall Road, said: "I have been openly distributing these pamphlets and I have handed out 50 in public houses. I have sent a copy to the Chief Constable of Doncaster this afternoon, by recorded delivery".12 No chance here for the authorities to plead ignorance!
On the same day, according to the Guardian12, nearly 500 duplicated sheets containing an abbreviated version of the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet appeared after lunch, at the National Union of Students Easter Conference, held at Keele University, Staffordshire. Delegates returning from the recess found copies on their seats. Martin Loney, President of the Students Union at Bradford Technical College, admitted to duplicating the Aldermaston document at 4.0 a.m. that morning. 'The only people we are giving the secrets to now is the British public. He thought the 'Spies for Peace' document should be as widely known as possible. He hoped that students would help to duplicate it.'
Detective Inspector A. A. Robbins, head of the local (Newcastle- under-Lyne) CID — questioned Mr. Loney and delegates for several hours. The inspector later revealed two important facts. Firstly that "no doubt by now all the students will have read the document". Secondly "that he was preparing a report for the Chief Constable of Staffordshire, Mr. S. Peck".12 All these reports should keep the local bureaucrats busy for some time to come.
On April 20, the detectives were to return to the NUS Conference 'to make further inquiries before the delegates leave. They interviewed two women students, "putting a number of names to them". The ladies wouldn't play and were "unable to help". Inspector Robbins claimed they had "just been tying up the loose ends to our inquiries".'13 Now the police have no "loose ends" to trip over we await developments.
On April 18, the French 'left wing' paper France Observateur published parts of the secrets document, including the detailed maps of the internal installations at RSG 6. 'One Whitehall official who studied the paper commented: "They have done us dirt on this".' By Gad, Sir, they had!
The France Observateur editorial stated that 'military secrets, mysterious and forbidding when locked up in the files of the General Staff, become objects of ridicule when distributed on the roadside, in the form of leaflets'. 'One of the greatest taboos of our world had been broken. "Treason" ceased to be treason when it became a public service. The audacity of the "Spies" had promoted the peace march from the arena of British folklore into an event of international significance'. Tens of thousands of copies of this paper must have been sold all over France. They must have been available to any Russian — or Albanian — spy, in arrears with his home work and with 1,50Fr. to spare.
The British public had to be kept in the dark. Hachette, the London distributors of France Observateur, put an unofficial ban on the distribution of issue 678. The paper was 'not available' at any British bookstall. A spokesman for Hachette declined to comment 'on the phone' why the decision had been taken.14 Peace News, continuing the good work, announced where to get the paper directly (10, rue des Pyramides, Paris).
Despite the ban many copies of France Observateur entered Britain. A spokesman for the ministry of Defence claimed that 'anyone distributing it would be liable under the Official Secrets Acts!'
And still the D notices were maintained!
The whole world knew. But the British public had no right to know. Nothing showed up more clearly the absurd nature of these rules. From whom were state secrets now being kept? Who now constituted the main threat to the rule and survival of the self-selected few? The answer was obvious: the ordinary people of Britain. They had to be kept in the dark because they were not catered for. The Sunday Telegraph15 let the cat out of the bag: 'To have these centres generally known would be to make them vulnerable to the kind of invasion that some of the Aldermaston marchers attempted yesterday — and so unusable.' In other words millions of people were expendable. Those who survived the initial attack were considered some kind of radioactive mob to be administered from underground by the self-appointed bureaucrats. We frankly don't understand why the Sunday Telegraph works itself into such a lather. Do its editor and staff really think that they and their families have been catered for? Has Mr. Gladstone Smith a reserved place in RSG 6?
There is only one conclusion to all this. If distribution of the pamphlet is an act 'prejudicial to the interests of the state' then the interests of the state and the interests of the people lie poles apart. The pamphlet has done an excellent job if it has done nothing else but expose this fact for all to see. But it has done more. It has shown that those in control of the state are quite prepared to resort to conspiracy and to legal terrorism to maintain their right to rule.
* * *
On April 18, the full horror of the situation dawned on the authorities. 'Copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet had been sold at ten shillings a copy in Cambridge coffee bars and pubs. Students had been seen selling photographic copies of the original pamphlet'.16 And there was still worse to come: 'Dr. Thomas Combe, the University's senior proctor said "There must be a number of copying machines in the University. It should not be too hard to find the one involved. If they are being produced on a University machine it is likely that it would be by senior members of the University. This is a little awkward. The proctors have no jurisdiction over senior members".'17
The Times18 had a brain wave. 'It is believed that one of the original pamphlets was brought back to Cambridge by an undergraduate who was on the Aldermaston March'. Top people are charged 5d. a day for these expert inferences and deductions.
Just think of the full implications of this delightful episode. Senior members of a senior university. Pillars of the Establishment. The men deemed ablest to train our future generations. Busy, burning the midnight oil. No, not deciphering mediaeval manuscripts. Churning out State Secrets by the hundred. For sale in coffee bars and pubs. On whose authority do our rulers still presume to rule? Their own ranks are riddled with rebels and renegades. O tempora, O mores.
And still the ripples spread. On April 19, 'members of the anti-war "Spies for Peace" group left a placard outside Swansea public library saying "get your secrets here". They had scattered their leaflets inside the library'.19 The Mail20 claimed that 'detectives were trying to discover where the leaflets came from'. The local police were called to remove the litter. They really should get a rise if rubbish disposal is now part of their official duties. The Herald added that 'thousands more copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet would be left on park seats and in public shelters in the West Country today'. It did not mention whether special constables would be drafted in from neighbouring districts to help the park attendants.
On the same day, according to the Daily Telegraph21 'painted letters 4 feet high appeared on a railway bridge and station wall at Harlow, Essex, spelling out the name of a Berkshire village said by the "Spies for Peace" to be the secret address of a Regional Seat of Government in the event of a nuclear war.' The same paper reported that 'Between 500 and 1,000 leaflets with extracts from the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet are due to be distributed in Bristol this week-end by an anonymous group … Members of the Welsh Committee of 100 plan to distribute about 2,000 stencilled sheets of comment on the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet today … Barrack rooms at the Bicester headquarters of the 16th Battalion RAOC had been searched for paint and brushes after CND signs had been painted on walls'. We understand the only brushes found were toothbrushes.
On April 22, aldermen, councillors, and many local businessmen in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, received copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet.22 Over 600 copies had been issued. Some of them had been posted, others distributed by hand.23 The authors claimed the pamphlet had been duplicated 'somewhere in Tunbridge Wells'. 'Police said they were making enquiries.'24
On April 28, the Sunday Times reported that on the previous day local councillors at Thurrock, Essex, had received copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet. 'They had had to pay a 2d. postal surcharge. The pamphlets were sent in sealed envelopes with only a 2d. stamp'. A member of the local Committee of 100 said 'We put 2d. stamps on purposely. We felt councillors should help to meet distribution costs'. We suggest councillors reclaim expenses from funds allocated to Civil Defence. After all they are entitled to the information and the government isn't providing it.
On May 8, the Daily Telegraph reported that 3 lecturers on the staff of the University of Sussex and 28 undergraduates had issued a leaflet supporting the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet. The leaflet reproduced part of the original text. One thousand copies were already circulating in the university. The authors had signed their names to the leaflet. They had done so 'to emphasize that despite any subsequent action the government may take we feel that we must not be intimidated.'
Local CND groups openly took up the challenge. On Saturday, April 20, 27 members of Romford YCND distributed information about regional seats of government in Romford market place. On May 4, they distributed full copies of the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet. Harlow CND's magazine Candis published a statement welcoming the publication of the 'Spies for Peace' document. John Taylor (Chairman of Bromley CND) and John Spiers (former editor of Youth Against the Bomb) published a leaflet entitled HAVE YOU BEEN SELECTED FOR SURVIVAL? explaining the implications of the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet.25
All this is but a partial chronicle of events which hit the press. We don't doubt that dozens — if not hundreds — of further versions of the pamphlet have been duplicated and widely distributed. We know of copies produced by shop stewards' committees, by other local CND groups and by groups of students up and down the country. We know of copies distributed in other market places, on the London underground, in docks, in bus depots, in mines, at Labour exchanges and in the senior common rooms of Universities from Dundee to Exeter. We know of door to door canvassing on housing estates, of brisk sales in pubs, and of Saturday afternoon distributions in busy shopping centres. There can scarcely be a factory, office, college or school, which has not seen a copy.
Never can a government's claim to keep secrets from its own people have been challenged so massively and so successfully. Never can a government have been so blatantly exposed as a conspiracy against the very people on whose behalf it allegedly governed.
1. April 14. 2. April 13. 3. Daily Telegraph, April 15. 4. April 15.
5. Daily Mail, April 16. 6. Evening News. April 15.
7. Daily Herald, April 16. 8. Daily Mail, April 16. 9. Daily Herald, April 16.
10. Daily Mail. April 16. 11. Daily Mail, April 16. 12. The Guardian, April 18.
13. Evening Standard, April 20. 14. Peace News, May 3. 15. April 14.
16. Daily Sketch, April. 17. ibid. 18. April 18. 19. Daily Herald, April 20.
20. April 20. 21. April 20. 22. Evening Standard, April 22.
23. Daily Mail, April 23. 24. Evening Standard, April 22.
25. Copies may be obtained (25/- per 1,000) from 33 Hamilton Rd., Bromley, Kent.
4 Informing the Public
THE secrets were eroded piecemeal. Like thousands of mice nibbling away at an enormous chunk of cheese, papers, groups and individuals all played their part in breaking down the wall of secrecy and in getting the facts known to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people.
Peace News courageously took the plunge. On April 19 its front page boldly proclaimed 'The Spies Were Right!' It published important passages of the pamphlet, and a cartoon revealing the site of RSG 6. It did this despite a personal visit and warnings from Detective Inspectors Wood and Lawrenson and despite warnings from 'a government spokesman' that 'this was very grave' and that 'the people behind it ran the risk of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act'. Hugh Brock said 'it was imperative that the public should know of the government's plans and that he was prepared to risk prosecution. Copies of Peace News would be sold in the streets if the major bookstalls would not handle the edition'.1 Sales of the issue proved excellent despite the refusal of one of the wholesalers, Messrs. Wyman and Marshall, Ltd., to distribute the issue.
Later Freedom, Direct Action and The Socialist Leader were all to refer to the demonstration at RSG 6, Warren Row.
The Daily Telegraph2 pulled off a scoop. Quoting a late evening broadcast on Prague Radio it was able to present its readers with a fairly complete version of the 'secret' document, including the exact location of RSG 6 and the precise names and functions of many of the selected survivors. The decision to publish the text of the Prague broadcast must have been taken by the night editors. The inside story would make interesting reading. The opportunity of a first-class scoop seems to have outweighed the paper's usual 'patriotic' considerations. The letter of the law was not infringed — there is nothing illegal in reproducing a foreign broadcast. The spirit of the Official Secrets Acts was flagrantly flouted. While Scotland Yard were frantically chasing after isolated, abridged versions of the 'Spies for Peace' document, newsvendors all over London were selling hundreds or thousands of copies of the full text, 'as broadcast by Prague Radio', for 3d. Such are the real contradictions of the bureaucratic society!
Other papers then joined in. The Guardian3 described exactly where the Edinburgh RSG was situated. As it circuitously put it: 'anyone who did not know the way to Corstorphine Hill had only to follow a trail of blue uniforms and when he got there ask the small boys'. The Times4 referred discreetly to a march 'in the Edinburgh area', and The Scotsman5 to 'an Edinburgh suburb'.
Peace News in its issue of May 3 described the exact locations of RSG 4 and of RSG 10. The breach is now wide open. The precedents have been set.
1. Daily Herald, April 18. 2. April 19. 3. April 22. 4. April 22.
5. April 22.
5 More Secrets More Demonstrations
THE original action of the Peace Spies triggered off countless local initiatives. The idea caught on. And as nothing succeeds like success, 'Peace Spies' appeared everywhere, like mushrooms after the
A week after the March several papers announced with horror that 'spies' were still distributing official secrets. The Daily Express1 reported: 'detectives were told that copies of the document … were still being posted to prominent people throughout the country … The information reached the Yard a few hours after Commander Evan Jones, head of the Special Branch, had suspended operations for 24 hours to consider an interim report on six days' investigations by his men.'2
Further 'secrets' then began to seep out like juice from an over-ripe cheese. On April 26, several papers announced they had received details about RSG 4, in Brookland Avenue, Cambridge. According to the Daily Telegraph3 the 'Spies for Peace' had 'deliberately cocked a snook at the police and at the government …' 'The document contains telephone numbers and a list of more than 100 individual names. It specifies organizations which would use RSG 4'. The Express4 quoted the new pamphlet as saying 'If you are not among them, there will be no room in RSG 4 for you'. The text ended with an acknowledgment: 'adopted from an idea by "Spies for Peace".' An anonymous Ministry of Defence spokesman announced: 'This is another breach of the Official Secrets Act'. According to The Guardian5 'Scotland Yard had no comment to make'.
On May 2, yet another "Spies for Peace" document reached the Press. According to The Guardian it disclosed 'what it alleges to be the central office in London which joins the network of regional seats of government. It says that this central office has been established in Furnival Street, Holborn, opposite Gamages departmental store and in close proximity to the Daily Mirror building. It describes the surface structure as consisting of a block building, similar to an electricity sub-station. Inside the doors, it states, is a lift ample in size to house motor vehicles. Admission is by security pass only'. The Guardian comments that the building is officially a 'commercial cable terminal', that the GPO claimed the building to be for 'heavy goods', and that their reporter could obtain 'no admission at all, whether with or without security pass'.
On May 6, a more serious turn in the campaign of the "Spies for Peace" was discovered. According to the Daily Sketch, 'Officials learned that the undercover group had discovered top secret telephone numbers of certain government departments. The "Spies for Peace" were using the numbers to wage a war of nerves on vital government departments. Telephone numbers not even in the Post Office's most secret directories were being rung constantly day and night to hold up busy officials with meaningless conversations and hoax messages'.6 'Efforts by security men to trace callers had failed, as they were ringing from different public 'phone boxes'. 'Special branch detectives, already embarrassed and baffled by disclosures in four Regional Seats of Government pamphlets now face the task of discovering how these numbers were discovered by the "Spies for Peace". It seems that they must have been passed to the anti-H-bomb campaigners by a government official who is regarded as being above suspicion'. We personally think it is someone really high up in M.I.5 Perhaps that was why, according to the Daily Telegraph7 'the Yard last night declined to comment'.
* * *
Secure in the knowledge of their numbers and in the sympathetic support of a large proportion of the population, local groups soon began to act on the basis of what they had learnt. In action, a new consciousness and a new confidence developed, themselves the harbingers of further action On Sunday, April 21, a demonstration was organized in Edinburgh by the Scottish Committee of 100. According to The Scotsman8 about 400 people marched from the Mound 'towards an Edinburgh suburb, identified by The Guardian9 as Corstorphine Hill. The Guardian described the visible part of the Scottish RSG as 'a fenced-off brick and concrete superstructure of what used to be an RAF radar station'.
In view of the short time in which this demonstration had to be organized it was a remarkable success. 'Before the marchers set out, a police inspector with a megaphone warned them that anyone forming an unauthorised procession would leave himself open to police action. Mr. Parker (Convenor of the Committee) urged the marchers to make their way along the road in ones and twos, but within a minute his admonition was forgotten and the marchers strayed out onto Princes Street headed by the Committee of 100 banner.
'The march, in spring sunshine, was uneventful. The demonstrators were shepherded every step of the way by police, and the site itself was thick with police long before the demonstrators showed up … When the marchers arrived they were advised by one of their leaders "to have an half-hour rest, look at the secret, then go home and tell your friends".
'Mr. Parker addressing the crowd at the site accused the British Press of "lacking the guts" to stand out against government security regulations on publication of certain items and claimed that only one publication, Peace News, had been courageous enough to do this.
'He said that places in government fall-out shelters had been reserved for various department officials, including those of the national assistance Board. "Somewhere 200 feet down, there are 60 or 70 large rooms where about 500 people are going to survive the next war", he said. "They are the same hypocrites who tell you and me that they would rather be dead than red" …
'The people of this country should take the Establishment apart at the seams' he said. He said later that the Scottish Committee of 100 was planning a march from Glasgow to London, leaving Glasgow on July 13 and arriving in London on September 7. We plan to expose three more sites on the way10 but there is a chance that one of the other committees will beat us to it. There is a considerable amount of competition.'11
'When the people are strong enough, he concluded, they will come along with ploughs and bulldozers and bury places like these."12
According to the Guardian13 'the marchers at Corstorphine Hill leant on the 8-foot high wire fence surrounding the suspect building and sang songs to a Glasgow man's guitar:-
I've got a shelter,
A nice official shelter,
But it isn'a for the likes o' you and me …'
George Williamson (Secretary of the Scottish Committee of 100) later made a speech outside the Scottish Academy. Holding the 'RSG 6' document he said: 'We want to get rid of this bloody State, this Warfare State. We are not against the British people, or the Russian people, or the American people. It is people against governments'. The police made no attempt to confiscate the document. A banner at the demonstration read: 'If the government need an 80-foot deep bunker, so do you. Order your RSG 6 do-it-yourself kit now'.14
No arrests were made. Alan Parker and George Williamson were charged with organising an illegal procession. It will be interesting to see if the destination of the said procession is mentioned in the 'official' proceedings. The accused should insist on a specific charge.
The following weekend on Saturday, April 27, the North West Committee of 100 organized a demonstration outside RSG 10 in Langley Lane, Goosnargh, Lancashire. This was done quite openly. Brian Manning, secretary of the North West Committee sent details of the proposed demonstration to the newspapers — and to the Chief Constable of Lancashire. He included some duplicated copies of the original "Spies for Peace" pamphlet for good measure.
The letter announced: 'There (at Langley Lane) we shall hold a public assembly at the gates of the establishment, demanding that the government give the people of this country the true facts about what would happen in a nuclear war and its plans to establish a military dictatorship. We will not be revealing any secrets', the letter added, 'that have not been known for a long time to every potential enemy of this country and to the readers of all newspapers except those published in Britain'.
Some 200 supporters took part in the demonstration. They set off from Broughton near Preston and marched 11-miles to Goosnargh. During the assembly speeches were made which referred to Fallex '62. Several hundred copies of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet and of the Black Paper published by Peace News were distributed. Plain clothes police took films of the demonstrators (to show their children). 'One policeman standing inside an 8 ft. wire netting fence surmounted by barbed wire was asked by one of the demonstrators if he knew what he was guarding. He replied: "I have no idea".'15
This didn't prevent a senior police officer from saying that 'the demonstrators had got it wrong and that the establishment was not an RSG at all'.16 The official sign outside the gate was 'Royal Observer Corps, No. 21 Group, Preston'. It is of course well known that Observer Corps units are always surrounded by very high barbed wire fences, particularly in peace time, and that 'symmetrical grass topped mounds and ventilation towers'16 are essential to the operation of a modern observer corps units, where the 'observers', of course, live underground.
On May 5 a further demonstration took place, this time outside the Dover RSG. The Daily Mirror17 stated that 'visitors are normally allowed to look over most of Dover Castle, which has sometimes been used as an Army "barracks".'
Over 120 people took part in this demonstration, which was quite spontaneously organized by individual nuclear disarmers from various parts of Kent. It had been planned to hold a public meeting 'near the entrance to the RSG which is situated just inside the castle gates. As the demonstrators approached the narrow drawbridge the gates were immediately closed and a tight cordon of policemen appeared. The marchers went right up to the police cordon and stated their wish to hold a peaceful assembly inside the castle. When they were stopped, between 70 and 80 demonstrators (many of whom had not committed civil disobedience before) sat down in the road and completely blocked the approach and entrance to the castle. The sitdown lasted for two hours and during this time hundreds of would-be visitors to the castle were handed reprints of the "Spies for Peace" pamphlets'.18
'After the sitdown had been going on for some 1½ hours the police threatened action if the demonstrators did not disperse, but no one moved and the police did not take action.
'Reports of battles with the police were completely without foundation. The demonstration ended at 4 p.m. with a minute's silence as a reminder of the silent world which would exist after a nuclear war. This was the first civil disobedience demonstration of any significance to be held in Kent, and it will almost certainly lead to the formation of a Kent Committee of 100'.18
One demonstrator, a woman schoolteacher from a Medway town, said she had been arrested three times at similar demonstrations. 'We're not spies' she said. But we are not apathetic cowards who do nothing about something we all know to be wrong'.19
1. April 19.
2. Isn't it about time they had another recess? Perhaps to consider the result of ten weeks of investigation?
3. April 26. 4. April 26. 5. April 26.
6. Perhaps 'Please book me a seat in RSG 6', or 'Where should applications be sent?'.
7. May 6. 8. April 22. 9. April 22.
10. These were identified by The Guardian (April 22) as 'Catterick, York and Nottingham'.
11. The Scotsman, April 22. 12. The Times, April 22.
13. The Guardian, April 22. 14. The Scotsman, April 22.
15. Peace News, May 3. 16. Guardian, April 29. 17. May 6, 1963.
18. Peace News, May 10, 1963. 19. Daily Mirror, May 6, 1963.
HIGHLY active debris from the Aldermaston explosion continued to rain down for many days. As a Guardian1 editorial put it: 'The Spies for Peace … have succeeded in annoying a lot of people'.
Some of those most annoyed were the image makers of Fleet Street. 'TOP SECRETS GIVEN OUT BY POST';2 'HUGE SPY HUNT IS ON — Find the fanatic who stole H-war secrets';3 'YARD HUNT FOR BAN-BOMB SPY'.4
The pamphlet successfully showed up the conditioned thinking of the traditional organs of 'discussion' in our sham democracy. The Press, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, the Tribunite Labour 'lefts' and the Communist Party all reacted with the predictable attitudes of defenders of the status quo or something very like it. All have an interest in preserving the existence and authority of the State since all (except the Press) compete for its administration. A direct challenge to the State was, however indirectly, a challenge to them all.
The Home Secretary gave the cue: 'This is the work of a traitor. What has been published is undoubtedly a breach of the Official Secrets Act … It is a matter of deep concern'.5
From then on traitors, sabotage and subversive elements covered the pages of the Fleet Street exhibitionists. However as the dust settled it became clear that the action of the Spies had done more damage to the image of the State than to its safety from outside attack. A change of line was needed. Mr. Macmillan gave the signal for the Telegraph6 to lead the faithful along the new course. 'The disclosure was not seriously damaging to the national interests'. It 'had little resemblance to espionage where vital secrets are involved'.
The hacks then set about playing down the real issues. They started writing articles about the anarchists, the Special Branch and other subversive groups. Meanwhile, public spirits and confidence in the institutions of the State and in its organs of repression had to be bolstered up. Times were hard. So little squeaks of confidence had to be sounded every so often. 'One or more arrests may be made soon'.7 'The inquiries … may possibly result in criminal proceedings', etc., etc.8 Pieces of inside information kept us enthralled as to the brilliance of our security services. According to the Daily Sketch9 'Security officers … were working on two theories: one, that the publication was issued to coincide with the Aldermaston March, and two, that the information could have been divulged by a person who took part in a big Civil Defence exercise last year'. Someone's due for promotion soon in the 'theoretical' section!
The press reaction to the subtle blackmail of the D notices proved an eye-opener for millions. The nature of the D notice as a form of censorship was clearly presented by the press itself. This was implicit in what it said and even more in what it didn't say! The reaction was predictable enough. Still smarting at the arrest of journalists (for refusal to divulge sources which did not exist) the press took to ridiculing the same authorities which they lacked the guts to disobey.
'The authorities are so perturbed by the scattering of thousands of the illegal pamphlets that even now they warn newspapers not to print what they contain — a case of being late in locking the stable door if ever there was one' grumbled the Herald.10
The D notice apparently also covered photographs of the demonstration at RSG 6. 'Any picture which might identify the centre must not be published in newspapers' came the official instruction. Some news agencies refused to issue pictures of the scenes. Others printed partial pictures. 'Why all the flapdoodle? queried the People11 expressing its annoyed obedience.
With classic smugness the Daily Express12 summed up the situation: 'Mr. Macmillan pays tribute to the press for "loyally" accepting the D notice … But of course the newspapers have an exemplary record for co-operating with the government in security matters. They have always acted with a sense of responsibility. There is not one instance of a newspaper ignoring a D notice on a major issue. The newspapers are as anxious as the government to preserve the safety of the nation'. Yes, and of the class which rules it.
So much for the silent 'heroes' of Fleet Street and their little trip to gaol.
One or two papers seem to have got the message that there was more to the 'Spies' action than just a few Official Secrets. The Timesl3 pontificated:
'… There is a third group within the unilateralist movement which deserves more attention than the other two. It consists of those who are resolved to use this urgent flood of protest to serve their political aims — aims which in many cases would most effectively be achieved by a breakdown of law and order in Britain … The matter of immediate concern is that a clandestine organization, in order to advance its own political cause has not hesitated to publish information which might help an enemy. This is a logical development of this form of political activity … The violent clashes with the police in London, attempts to encourage contempt for the Official Secrets Acts; and the appearance of unilateralist emblems at almost any manifestation of civil disobedience on whatever pretext, are matters of the most serious moment.'
The Telegraph14 also saw this particular writing on the wall:
'… Civil disobedience has grown in the shadow of CND. Spying and sabotage are now growing in the shadow of civil disobedience'.
The 'left' press fared little better. Their reactions were automatically, almost mechanically, predictable. As the struggle against the State develops the utterances of these 'lefts' remind one of a record stuck in a groove, again and again giving all the same old, wrong answers to new problems.
For sheer stodgy lack of political understanding, Tribune15 took the prize. How unaware of the implications of a revolutionary act can Tribune get? Presented with a direct challenge to the capitalist State, 'the paper that leads the anti H-bomb fight' was so devoid of radical instinct that it was incapable of anything better than a Party political broadcast:
'We have little interest in the content of the notorious "Spies for Peace" pamphlet which had done the nuclear disarmament movement a great deal of harm … The organization it describes becomes inevitable once
this country accepted a nuclear strategy … Yet there is a case against official secrecy … Take for instance the Nassau agreement … etc., etc!'
Even Francis Flavius was let loose: 'When I first read about the "Spies for Peace" document I thought it must be the work of an agent provocateur …'
If the workers ever build barricades in Whitehall, Tribune will be out — painting 'Vote Labour' on them.
The 'people's paper', the Daily Worker, was throughout concerned with higher things. It did not even mention the Spies for Peace pamphlet on the Saturday morning, when the rest of the press were doing their nut about it. On Easter Monday, it titled: 'March hands in plea to Queen', while the other papers were still dizzy with excitement about the invasion of RSG 6 on the Saturday morning. For as long as it dared, the Daily Worker ignored the RSG pamphlet altogether. Eventually, in a mealy-mouthed way, it referred to 'activities which to some extent divided the peace movement on the very weekend when the greatest unity was needed'.16 This was its comment on the most radical Aldermaston yet.
Peace Campaign, official organ of the British Peace Committee, went one better. It succeeded in writing an article on Aldermaston 1963 in which no reference whatsoever was made to either 'Spies for Peace' or to the demonstration at RSG 6!
We can understand their discretion in these matters. The Russian rulers, too, have secrets to keep from their own people. They too have probably dug deep bunkers in which they hope to survive while millions around them die. And anyway, bringing the State into ridicule and contempt might prove contagious. So might the example of direct action. So let's hush it all up. The Russian people are perhaps not as convinced that their is a 'workers' state', as some people over here seem to be.
The reaction of the press ('right', 'left', and 'centre') showed how futile the traditional channels of protest have become. When the CND leadership speaks of 'marching into politics', is this the kind of politics they mean? With the publication of the RSG 6 document, a real challenge suddenly confronted people. Yet from the Times to Tribune, from the Daily Mail to the Daily Worker, from the 'leaders' in Westminster to the 'leaders' in Carthusian Street, traditional politics spoke with but a single voice: 'The State is sacred. Down with the Spies'.
* * *
The reactions of a number of well-known political windbags are worth preserving for the record.
MR. PATRICK GORDON WALKER:
'They are spies and must be treated as such'17.
SIR GERALD NABARRO:
'I regard this as a flagrant contravention of the Official Secrets Act and as a matter of the utmost gravity'18.
MR. JO GRIMOND:
'… must not this cause some concern that more damaging infor-mation may indeed leak out'19.
MR. RICHARD MARSH:
'If this is a repeat of the security breaches … then this is an occasion for a full scale inquiry'20.
Vote Labour for bigger and better secrets — for 'socialist' security!
Some interesting differences of opinion were shown over the news of the actual existence of the RSG.s
'Any government … would have a clear duty to prepare for continued administration in the event of nuclear attack'.
—The Times, April 14.
'In making ready to do everything possible to protect the civilian(!) population, ministers have done nothing less than their duty. To have neglected it would have been a betrayal'
—Daily Mail, April 16.
'I recognize one hundred per cent that the government would have been the guilty party if they had not taken proper precautions for setting up an organization …'
EARL ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH The Times, April 24.
'… defence centres would be needed in any future war'.
—Daily Telegraph, April 15.
'One knows that in a nuclear war there would have to be regional headquarters'.
'Of course everyone understands that the government has to make preparations such as this'.
—CANON COLLINS Peace News, April 19.
'God save us from our friends'.
—JAMES CAMERON Daily Herald, April 17.
1. April 15. 2. Daily Sketch, April 13. 3. Sunday Express, April 14.
4. Daily Mirror, April 13. 5. Daily Mail, April 15.
6. Daily Telegraph, April 24. 7. Sunday Times, April 21.
8. Daily Telegraph, April 24. 9. April 13. 10. April 15. 11. April 14.
12. April 24. 13. April 16. 14. April 17. 15. April 19. 16. April 15.
17. Sunday Times, April 21. 18. Evening Standard, April.
19. Times, April 24. 20. Daily Mirror, April 13.
To begin with, the Government was hopeful that the culprit would soon be found. The combined forces of MI5 and of the Special Branch would most surely be able to cope with the efforts of a bunch of amateurs. 'A most rigorous investigation had been ordered', wrote the Political Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph1. 'Ministers seem confident that this will yield speedy results'. Making virtue of a necessity the article announced: 'The intention is to concentrate on the source of the breach, without paying too much attention to hundreds of people, who, perhaps unwittingly, were involved in the distribution of the pamphlet'.
'This is a direct challenge to the State' yelped the Evening News. 'Only early arrests will help to calm the worst Westminster fears'2. According to the Sunday Telegraph3 'the Special Branch was expected to trace in a matter of days those who printed and sent out the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet'. The paper called for 'stiff punishment' of the culprits. No mention here of such insignificant details as trials or verdicts.
Having called for blood, the Press then got down to some serious speculation.
The Mail4 was categorical. 'The author of the pamphlet had obviously served in a secret establishment.' Three days later it changed its tune. 'Special Branch detectives in a score of provincial towns and University cities are investigating the private lives of suspect civilians who share Government secrets … The investigation is focused on scientists and Civil Defence workers engaged in recent nuclear war exercises … These possible suspects have taken part in regular and frequent mock war exercises at RSGs throughout Britain5.
If only top Government bureaucrats didn't have to share their secrets with so many 'suspect civilians'! How much easier everything would then be for them! If they could only run their society without the participation of ordinary people. If they could just take the decisions themselves and issue instructions from time to time for the robots below to carry out! A Ford executive once said that 'the trouble with industry today is that it is full of men'. The same deplorable state of affairs seems to apply to Civil Defence
By April 17, the Mail had forgotten its previous suspects. 'Scotland Yard now have reason to believe that the RSG pamphlet was the combined work of a number of people who spent many months amassing the material'.
You pays your money and you takes your choice!
The Evening Standard6 had other ideas. 'Files of known members of extremist political movements who may have been responsible for collecting the information … were being examined today by Special Branch detectives … recalled from Easter leave in an attempt to track down the source of the leakage'. The Daily Sketch7 on the other hand strongly believed 'the mystery Mr. X. to be a top civil servant'. Perhaps both papers were right. Perhaps it was all the work of the work of the Whitehall section of the Rank and File movement.
The Daily Herald8, trying to be a 'democratic' paper, smelt Treason at the Top. 'The handful of officials who would become Government supremos in a nuclear war are to be interviewed by the Special Branch … One of these men may be able to give detectives a vital lead'. And to think we naively believed that these Top People had been vetted before they had selected one another for the Regional Survival Grottoes.
Mrs. Gillian Greenwood, wife of Labour MP Anthony Greenwood, also suspected the men at the top. 'The distributors,' she said, 'didn't look like CND types. They were well-dressed, middle class looking people'.9 She didn't say whether they were carrying umbrellas or bowler hats. Her account may help the police in their search. As for us, the only people of this description we have recently seen at CND meetings have all been delegates from the Special Branch.
The Daily Express10 started probing in other directions. 'The Special Branch's Red Squad — men who keep tabs on all Communist agitators — believe details in the pamphlet may have been collected by Communist agents throughout the country who have had access to confidential documents sent to local government departments'. In a letter to the North London Press11 the League of British Patriots (London Branch) and the British Anti-Communist League (Manchester Branch) also claimed that the Communists were behind the pamphlet. Perhaps this explains why during the March the Daily Worker preferred talk of the Pope's message and of the petition to the Queen to a discussion of the implications of the RSG disclosures.
Fortunately there were clues. 'Scores of clues' stated the Sunday Telegraph.12 'The most significant was the use of an obscene four-letter word'. The culprits were perhaps followers of D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller or Lenny Bruce. But as the Daily Mirror (May 6) pointed out in an article entitled The Cussword Age, even the Times had joined the ranks of "people blasting off about sex and other bodily functions in monosyllabic words'.
The Express13 was more down to earth. 'Stencils for the pamphlet were believed to have been cut on a foreign made typewriter'. The Sunday Mirror14 was positively jubilant: 'The Yard men have discovered that the typewriter used to type the pamphlet has a fault. After talks with the machine manufacturers they hope to trace the author'. The pundits didn't explain how one proceeded from a faulty typewriter (whose isn't?) to the Mystery Man who leaked the secrets.
The Daily Mirror15 went one better. 'Three faulty letters on a typewriter' were going to trap the ringleaders. Documents seized from ban-the-bomb organizations 'were being checked for the typing flaws found in the "Spies for Peace" pamphlet: weak impressions from the small letter "a", capital "B", and capital "G".' Some BaG!
In the understatement of the year the Evening News16 concluded one of its articles: 'It is not yet known exactly who was responsible for issuing the pamphlet containing the RSG secrets'.
Among the possibilities not hitherto mentioned in the Press and which might help the authorities in their investigations, we suggest the following:
(1) the information was leaked to the Committee of 100 by a top Russian spy, active in Cabinet circles, who had collected it several months previously. The Russians had found the information of no military value whatsoever but thought it might be of interest to the civilian population in Britain.
(2) the information was leaked by a top official in MI5 — a man absolutely above suspicion. This man had attended a meeting addressed by Canon Collins and had been instantaneously converted to the cause of nuclear disarmament. This official is continuing to leak information. He is also deliberately obstructing the searches of the authorities, directing them along false trails, etc.
(3) A group of female CND supporters, disguised as building workers, had invaded No. 10 Downing Street, where as is well known certain very deep and very complex structural alterations have been going on for a very long time. These men (sorry, girls) blew up a safe, helped themselves to some secret documents and to some port and pheasant, and left without leaving a trace. 'Just one of those things'.
1. April 15. 2. April 15. 3. April 14. 4. April 13. 5. April 16.
6. April 14. 7. April 16. 8. April 16. 9. Guardian, April 13.
10. April 15. 11. April 26. 12. April 14. 13. Daily Express, April 15.
14. April 14. 15. April 18. 16. April 18.
8 The State Hits Back
SINCE Easter the Special Branch has been searching for the typewriter and duplicator which were used to produce the original Spies for Peace pamphlet. Many houses have had a going over literally from top to bottom.
In April, my home was honoured with a visit. Five officers, including a woman police officer, arrived at 6.45 one evening. The street door was open. Their presence filled the doorway. After establishing their identity, search warrants were brandished, covering my husband and myself.
The first question asked — in a friendly tone — was: 'You have no doubt been expecting us?' Answer that on in the affirmative and you are up the creek without a paddle. Then, they asked which room I would recommend they should start with!
In the first 30 minutes or so the atmosphere was strained. The special police training came to the fore: friendliness and courtesy flowed like honey. My husband was away at a union meeting. So my two young daughters and I faced the strong arm of the law alone.
I went upstairs with the policewoman to search the bedroom. Meanwhile the other officers searched downstairs.1 The policewoman was very put out on opening a gent's tallboy — she found one suit hanging in splendid isolation. It contained books, books and more books. Everyone had to be searched in case a typewriter was hidden between the pages. The bed was completely stripped and the mattress turned over.
By this time the policewoman was joined by the inspectors. Between them they took down addresses of relatives from various letters they had found. The attic was not searched as it had obviously not been opened for years.
Downstairs the officers were having a ball, going through files, briefcases, etc. My two children looked on in shocked silence until I took them upstairs with me.
The searchers went into the garden which incidentally looks like a bomb site. They drew the correct conclusion that the earth hadn't been turned over for years.
The atmosphere by now was quite chummy. They commented on our taste in music, referring to Eddie Condon as a cracker.
The search and probing went on for 1½ hours. When the officers wished to refer to RSG 6 in front of my children, they mouthed the words. Obviously these words were 'treason' and not meant for the ears of anarchist children.
Finally they left taking with them a duplicator, a typewriter, various publications, correspondence and lists of addresses. I was informed there was no need for a receipt to be issued. In fact I didn't know what they had taken, until my husband came home and went through all his things.
All this took place four weeks ago. Since then we have heard nothing. I would venture to suggest that our typewriter and duplicator doesn't match the 'Spies for Peace' pamphlet and that they are being kept purely for the nuisance value it causes us.
My daughters thought the police were all like Jack Warner. Now they know different.
This is the State's reply to the exposure of a secret which isn't a secret. One wonders how far police powers will extend, when the chips are really down.
1. The police pulled a fast one here. When they search your house you are legally entitled to be present during the search. In other words they can't search two rooms at a time.
9 Onto the Banned-Wagon
ALDERMASTON '63 caught the CND leadership in a weak position. Steps Towards Peace had not been well received and administrative action had been threatened against certain groups. The gap between the leadership and the rank and file had been steadily widening.
On Good Friday it looked as if the CND were going to get the quiet, orderly, dignified march it wanted. The Canon held a big press conference. He talked about how his march was going to put unparalleled pressure on the government … by means of a petition to the Queen. And then the RSG bomb exploded. Without as much as a 'by your leave' from the Executive Committee.
Anthony Greenwood made it clear in the Times1 that 'We would not condone actions of this kind'. Mrs. Diana Collins 'did not take it very seriously'. She was 'rather amused by it all'. The Canon stressed again and again that 'it had nothing to do with CND'.1 Top CND marshals tried to pass it off as a 'joke', 'a tissue of lies', or 'just another Committee of 100 stunt'.
But the CND leadership was by no means united. Sanity published extracts of the secret document, together with favourable editorial comment. The leadership reacted fast. They first cut out the forbidden words, then tried to stop the distribution of the whole paper. Thousands of copies of Easter Monday's Sanity, were never sold, not for lack of willing sellers, but because further distribution of 'diversionary' views was thought undesirable.
On the Saturday morning the leadership realized that marchers might actually leave the carefully pre-ordained route and pay a passing visit to Warren Row. Frantic efforts were made to prevent the 'diversion'. Loudspeaker vans went up and down the march, warning marchers of the deviationists. We have already referred to Peggy Duff's activities at the turn-off to Warren Row.
After the demonstration, Canon Collins duly expressed his regret. 'It cannot help our cause'. An anonymous 'CND spokesman' summed up to the Sunday Times: 'The march has been much jollier and more
lively … more music, more singing, less slogan shouting … The marshalling arrangements have been more efficient'. The RSG 6 demonstration never really happened.
On Sunday things were quieter. The Labour Left, the union bureaucrats and the priest king were busy preparing their speeches for Hyde Park. Magna Carta was presented at Windsor and a delegation actually spoke to a member of the Household Staff. Naturally tired after their exertions the Executive Committee drove up to their hotel. They found time however to condemn the 'March must Decide' group as a disruptive influence. The Daily Telegraph was told they might 'have to consider dispersing the march and abandoning the final rally'. Rumour had it that after a visit from the police Collins considered enrolling CND marshals as special constables, with powers of arrest. Their nightmares were doubtless soothed by Fenner Brockway who accused the 'Spies' of providing targets for a nuclear attack. 'It has not done our movement much good', he pontificated from Frankfurt.
On Monday morning an extraordinary pronunciamento was issued in leaflet form. It was signed by 'John Horner, Chairman, Aldermaston March Committee; Ritchie Calder, Vice-Chairman of CND (for the Executive Committee); and Norman Frith, Chief Marshal (for the marshals)'. It was the reply of the CND bureaucracy to police fears of disorder and to canonical fears of disobedience. 'By decision of CND's annual conference' the leaflet stated, 'and in full consultation with CND regions and groups, this march has decided. On that basis people have been called on to join the March. On Easter Monday tens of thousands of supporters will respond to this call to join an orderly, self-disciplined march. We are confident that marchers … will co-operate as we have asked … avoiding any distractions and diversions. We believe that marchers want this Easter Monday march to be the greatest demonstration of completely united protest against nuclear weapons that London has ever seen'.
Little did the CND leadership realise that at that very moment 'Spies' and 'traitors' from every CND region and group were busy duplicating the revelations and distributing them to people along the march, in the most revolutionary act ever undertaken by the movement.
After lunch on Monday despite frantic changes in the order of contingents, and despite careful combined control by police and CND marshals, a couple of thousand people surged out all over the road, twenty or more abreast. George Clark was ignored at Hyde Park Corner when he urged marchers to proceed in fives (he had been asking for threes in the morning). CND marshals with armbands were allowed through police cordons, if they promised to try and regain control. Peggy Duff later2 described the scene in Trafalgar Square. After the 'motley, shouting band of shufflers' had left, the next contingent came 'into the suddenly silent square. They were orderly, quiet, restrained' and 'beautiful to see'. 'That' she said 'was the real Aldermaston'.
In Hyde Park the leaders gathered for the final rally. Michael Foot accused the 'Spies' of distracting attention from the real purpose of the March, (a march … is a march … is a march … etc.). He orated about 'this great democratic movement' which should continue to act democratically. Does this mean voting for Mr. Foot and his like once every five years … and in the meantime assiduously attending Labour Party ward meetings? He referred obscurely to those who sought to 'achieve the highest purposes by the lowest methods'. John Homer, of the Fire Brigades Union, agreed. He informed us that the Pope was on our side. 'A great democratic pope, quiet, orderly, restrained, and beautiful to see', you could almost hear Peggy Duff mutter to herself.
Later Peggy Duff told the Guardian3 that the 'Spies' pamphlet had not made much difference to the march one way or the other. 'It has probably affected the amount of publicity but that can't be helped'. She would doubtless have preferred less publicity. Perhaps a picture or two on the back page depicting the 'thoughtful pilgrimage of thousands'.
The March was over. The leadership reconsidered its position. It realised that hardly a member of 'their' movement did not support the 'Spies', and was not either reprinting or distributing secrets as fast as they were being revealed. The Daily Telegraph4 advised the Canon 'to discipline or expel his followers, or resign himself'. Much as he might have liked to do so, he was bowing to the biggest storm the leadership had yet faced. It was decided to hold a public meeting to erase the unfortunate image of Easter weekend.
On April 28, a most successful meeting was held in London. Some 400 people crammed the Mahatma Gandhi Hall. Michael Craft, Chairman of London Region CND said the purpose of the meeting was to express support for the 'Spies for Peace' and show solidarity with them. Speaker after speaker congratulated the 'Spies' and pledged support and solidarity. Messages were read from Bertrand Russell, Ben Levy and Robert Bolt. Canon Collins and Peggy Duff were flayed for their equivocations. Sidney Silverman said that the government were the traitors and that the 'Spies' had 'had done what the government should have done long ago … They are finding out the truth, legally or illegally, and revealing it to the people'.5
Peace News6 spoke of 'the blatant discrepancy between the CND leadership and the feeling of the meeting'. According to the Guardian7 it had been reported that the 'Spies' would use the occasion to make themselves known. There was a strong representation from Fleet Street to record the event. It is understood that the police were present as well, ready to conduct the necessary formalities. But the 'Spies' if they were there, did not announce the fact'.
We are glad they didn't. If these 'Spies' are supporters of CND their failure to 'own up' reflects the development of a new temper. Their success in eluding the authorities is itself becoming an important factor in the situation. It is showing what can be done by a few people against the whole bureaucratic might of the State. It is helping the movement against nuclear weapons pass over to the offensive. It is laying the foundations of a genuine resistance.
The last word goes to Peggy Duff. In a letter to the Guardian of May 16, a month after the demonstration at RSG 6, she said: 'The Executive Committee of CND had welcomed the revelations of the "Spies for Peace" concerning RSGs and the results of Fallex '62 because we felt that people were entitled to know, but we had reservations about the juvenile style and approach of some of the documents circulated'. So now you know. When Peg screamed at 'anarchists'. on the A4, on Easter Saturday, she was 'welcoming' their revelations. When Michael Foot whined about diversionary activities, he too was expressing his solidarity. When Anthony Greenwood said he 'wouldn't condone such action' he was actually expressing support. In fact, they had been supporting the 'Spies' all along! Within a few months, Collins will doubtless be claiming that every 'Spies' pamphlet went out with the Carthusian Street imprimatur!
1. April 13. 2. Peace News, April 24. 3. April 16. 4. April 16.
5. Guardian, April 29. 6. May 3. 7. April 29.
10 RSGs, Parliaments and the State
MANY people vaguely feel that Parliament is a lot of eye-wash, that MPs just shadow-box with each other, and that the real decisions aren't taken there anyway. One of the most important results of the RSG disclosures was to document this in the clearest possible way.
Parliament is — and always has been — a favoured instrument of capitalist class rule. It is part of the great apparatus of mystification. It is the façade of political democracy.
In theory anyone can stand for election. In theory people have a real choice between real alternatives. In theory Parliament is a forum for free and open discussion between elected representatives of the people, reflecting all shades of opinion on all vital issues. In theory, MPs are responsible to the people who elected them. In theory Parliament is a sovereign body: the supreme legislative authority in the country. In theory key decisions governing our lives are taken there, after full discussion and in broad daylight.
The unchallenged revelations of the Spies for Peace show a very different picture. The decision to build the RSGs was never taken in Parliament. Public money was never openly allotted to this purpose. No MP knows how much has been spent in digging these big holes. The principle of selective survival has never been debated by our rulers. Who was to survive in the bunkers and who to die, vomiting blood, on the surface, has never been discussed by the 'Honourable Members'. The decision of the top bureaucrats that their own survival was in the interests of the State has never been publicised. We very much doubt whether even Cabinet Ministers were aware of all these decisions.
But all this has been going on for years. The 'Spies' just focused attention on a particular aspect of the parliamentary racket.
What is the reality behind the democratic façade? At every level, the fraudulent nature of our institutions will be shown up if we but scratch their surface.
Do the main political parties really stand for different things? Do they stand for different relations between rulers and ruled? Have they different attitudes to the Bomb? To the value of human life? Was not a Labour government in power when hundreds of thousands were murdered in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Did not a Labour government vote the military appropriations which helped build Aldermaston? Have the major parties different attitudes to 'official' secrets? Or to those who divulge them? To the 'rights' of the State? To the deception of the people by official soothing syrup? Would a Labour government have published the results of Fallex '62?
Or do the main parties just stand for different ways of doing the same thing, for more or less 'efficient' methods of achieving the same objectives.
The British parliament has always been a two-party system. Whigs and Tories until the First World War. Then Labour and Tory. The structure of the electoral system strongly discriminates against any third challenger. As Ivor Jennings it it: The whole constitution, from the electoral process to parliamentary procedure assumes the two-party system; and because it assumes that system it assists in maintaining it'.1
The true character of this gigantic hoax is summed up in the phrase: 'Her Majesty's Opposition'. As far back as 1912 a shrewd American observer, Lowell, said that this conception was 'the greatest contribution in the 19th century to the art of government: that of a party out of power which is recognised as perfectly loyal to the institutions of the State and ready to come into office without a shock to the political traditions of the country'.2
To ensure the perpetuation of the said 'political traditions' the ruling class directly controls the day to day administration of the state through a carefully selected civil service. This non-elected body is completely insulated from any kind of democratic control. Even Tory ministers are sometimes amazed at how limited is their control over their own staff.3 All major decisions taken by the Executive are largely based on the 'professional advice' of the civil service, administrative, economic or military.
Can this state of affairs be changed? Could Party members really determine the policies of their respective parties. This is another of the carefully fostered myths.
In both parties all major decisions are taken by the leadership and are imposed from above. The 'leader' is neither responsible to his own Party Conference nor even to his colleagues in the House of Commons. The 1949 Report on Tory Party organization put it quite bluntly: 'Endorsements and pronouncements on Party policy are the prerogative and responsibility of the leader'. Basing himself on the same principle, Hugh Gaitskell rejected the Scarborough decision of the Labour Party Conference on unilateral nuclear disarmament. He would not be bound by rank and file decisions but would 'fight, fight and fight again' against them. With all the strength — and administrative apparatus — at his disposal.
The Party Conference cannot instruct the Parliamentary Party. The Parliamentary Party cannot instruct the Cabinet. Herbert Morrison put it quite clearly nearly a decade ago: 'Neither Party, when in power, would accept the view that its Parliamentary Party could instruct or control the Cabinet'.4
The Party leader is not chosen by the Party Conference or even by the National Executive of the Party. But he alone elects his cabinet. He is under no obligation to consult his Parliamentary Party or his own party membership at any level. Many of those chosen for the highest positions on the 'Executive' have never been elected at all. Lord Home, the present Foreign Secretary, is an obvious example.
A glance at the structure of our political parties shows how power has moved steadily away from the rank and file and into the hands of powerful bureaucracies, who manipulate the political machine in their own interests. All our political institutions are becoming increasingly authoritarian. Authoritarian in their attitudes to ordinary people (who are seen as a mass to be manipulated from the outside) and authoritarian in their patterns of internal organization. In all this, our political institutions merely reflect the basic conflict in any class society, the conflict which starts in production and from there spreads to affect all social relations, the conflict between those who own, manage, and decide, and those who merely execute and obey.
And are the major decisions now taken in Parliament anyway? For that matter are they even taken by the Cabinet?
The discipline of the modern party machine guarantees the Cabinet a mechanical majority in Parliament. Despite this most major decisions are taken nowadays without reference to MPs. The record, on the subject of nuclear weapons alone, is quite illuminating.
In 1943 Churchill and Roosevelt agreed, at Quebec, on the production of the atom bomb. Other members of the War Cabinet were not informed of this momentous decision, either before, during or after the discussion. Even Mr. Attlee who was then Deputy Prime Minister, didn't hear about it until after the formation of the Labour Government in 1945.5 As for the 'Representatives of the people' in the 'Mother of Parliaments' — they only learnt the full text of the agreement about 11 years later, on April 6, 1954.
The decision of the Labour Government to manufacture an all-British atom bomb was another instance. Writing in the Sunday Times (18/9/60) Emmanuel Shinwell described the background to this 'democratic' episode:
'I was Minister of Defence in 1950. But I knew nothing of how the decision to manufacture the atom bomb was reached. Only recently, as a result of my investigations, did I discover that the decision to undertake research and development was taken in 1947, in consultation with a few of my government colleagues. So far as I am aware the subject was never mentioned at any of the Cabinet meetings … In his book, Earl Attlee omits any reference to the subject and gives no details of how this momentous decision came to be made'.
'Socialist' secrets, perhaps, to be kept from the people?
The decision for Britain to enter NATO and the decision to station American atom bombers here were both taken without previous discussion in Parliament. So was Anthony Eden's decision to send
British troops to Suez in 1956.
The House of Commons is not consulted about appointments, however important they may be. The heads of the Armed Forces, the chiefs of the Civil Service, the Chairmen of the Boards of nationalised industries, ambassadors and colonial governors as well as judges of the High Court are all appointed without reference to the House. The relation of the House of Commons to the Executive was neatly summed up by Mr. Lloyd George when he said: "Parliament has no control over the Executive: it is a pure fiction".6
One last point about Parliament: its control over the money spent by the State.
Financial initiative, in our parliamentary 'democracy' belongs to the top bureaucrats alone. Whoever heard of an MP making a proposal to spend public money? Or not to spend public money? Whoever heard of a 'representative of the people' even moving an amendment to a Finance Bill?
When Government departments present their annual estimates to the House, there is never 'enough time' to debate them in detail. MPs can never find out how much it is proposed to spend on any individual item. The estimates are voted 'as a whole'. They receive automatic approval. MPs are the dummies mechanically endorsing — or squealing about — decisions taken elsewhere. The 'Opposition' may feebly criticize the administration of the department concerned, but it can't even make sensible comments. It is denied the inside information. This is one of the standard ways whereby bureaucracies perpetuate themselves.
The general public and even Members of Parliament, are moreover often quite deliberately misled by the faceless ones behind the top government bureaucrats. Money needed for one purpose is often entered under another heading. Double book-keeping is rampant. For example the Post Office vote of £75 million for 'capital expenditure on telephone, telegraph and postal services' in 1952 included £25 million which, it was finally admitted under pressure, really belonged to the rearmament programme. Mr. Gammons, then Postmaster General, revealed that this had been the practice for many years.7 The almost unbelievable state of ignorance in which MPs are kept was well illustrated when Mr. Churchill, disclosing in the House of Commons on October 23, 1952, that Britain's first atom bomb explosion at Montebello had cost something over £100 millions, admitted that, as an old parliamentarian, he was 'rather astonished' that this sum 'could be dispersed without Parliament being made aware of it'.8
Earlier, in July 1950, the Labour Government had perpetrated a similar swindle. On July 26-27 the House had debated exhaustively and voted an increase of £100 million on the arms estimates of £780 million. Parliament then went into recess. On August 3rd, the Government announced that the rearmament programme would be increased to £3,400 million in the next three years. This announcement had followed the dispatch of a note from the U.S. Government. So much for the respect of the 'socialist' bureaucrats, for the elementary principles of democracy.
It will be seen from all this that today ordinary people have least to say over those very matters which are of the deepest concern to them: the questions of life and death. What will the government do with the money it compulsorily takes from you in the form of taxation? Will you decide? Will your 'elected representatives' decide? Will it be spent on armaments? On Blue Streak or Skybolt missiles? On the V-bombers which the Labour Party has just promised to retain? On any other obsolescent weapons which protect no one and make us a sitting target? On deep shelters for the privileged few? Or on proper homes, on the care of the aged and infirm, and on making our lives worth living in the here and now? Were YOU ever asked what you thought about it all? And if you said what you thought, who the bloody hell paid any attention to it?
* * *
Behind Parliament and behind the Cabinet stand the other State institutions, bulwarks of the ruling class and guarantors of their right to rule. Space prevents us from here discussing them fully. There is the Monarch to whom State power 'legally' belongs, who convenes and dissolves Parliaments, who gives insignia of office to Cabinet Ministers and without whose assent no Bill can become law. Their interventions in current political affairs are usually only revealed a decade or two later — in the form of memoirs by some indiscreet politician or embittered hanger-on.
There is the House of Lords, which still retains the right to delay acts of Parliament. And the Armed Forces, an instrument of imperialism abroad and of repression at home, to be used should the police force prove inadequate. This is the same whichever political party is in power. The use of troops against striking workers by the Labour Government showed this quite clearly.
There is the Police. And the Secret Police, who open mail, tap phones and until recently had a monopoly of photographing people in public. Parliament has neither knowledge nor control of this Gestapo force. Questions about them in Parliament are always evaded as 'not being in the public interest'.
And interlocked with all the organs of coercion and repression is the whole paraphernalia of the legal system. Its prime function is the protection of private property, of managerial rights, of the 'legal right' of the rulers to rule. The law is literally something to be 'interpreted' by the magistrates in the light of whichever 'precedent' they choose to follow. This gives them considerable scope.9 The façade of democracy is further welded together by the careful 'education' and manipulation of the people through the mass media: the press, the cinema, BBC and television. The Church of England plays its part, teaching the child his catechism: 'My duty … is … to honour and obey the Queen, and all that are put in authority under her: To submit myself to all my governors, teachers, spiritual pastors and masters …' Even the Boy Scouts are dedicated to 'God, Queen and Country'.
Despite these massive built-in safeguards our rulers have regularly pushed through Acts to transfer even greater powers to the Executive, such as the Defence of the Realm Act (1914), the Emergency Powers Act (1920), the Official Secrets Act (1920) and the Trades Disputes Act (1927). The purpose of the Official Secrets Act should by now be apparent to all who have heard official pronouncements in relation to 'Spies for Peace'. In 1931 George Lansbury's son was prosecuted under this act for publishing the substance of a Cabinet memorandum on unemployment. Its purpose is not only to keep information from an enemy power. It is increasingly used to keep the British people themselves in ignorance. These acts are all designed to protect the rulers from the ruled. They are extremely elastic, and cover practically every contingency. Liberals may protest in horror at the recent decrees of the South African government. Little do they realise that the British government would not need such legislation. There are more than enough acts on the statute book already to cope with any potential opposition which reached revolutionary proportions.
Against this background, how pathetic are the claims of those who believe it possible to advance to a new and better society through parliamentary action, by 'capturing' positions', by building a 'left-wing' in the Labour Party, or by other such means. Real power does not lie in Parliament. It lies in the hands of the people. The composition of Parliament is a purely academic interest.
1. The Government of England (1912), vol. I, p.451.
2. Parliament (1939), p.504.
3. In a revealing letter to The Times (June 25, 1954), Mr. R. H. Dorman-Smith, Minister of Agriculture in 1939-1940 wrote: 'One of the very first lessons my Permanent Secretary thought fit to teach me was "Whatever you may think of me or any other Civil Servant here, you cannot sack us" … I was amazed to find that a Minister had no individual control over his staff from the newest joined junior clerk or typist right up to the top.'
4. Government and Parliament (1954), p.135.
5. The Times, April 9, 1954.
6. Harvey and Hood, The British State (1958), p.52.
7. [no source given]
8. Quoted by Harvey & Hood, The British State (1958), p.55.
9. The outlook of the typical magistrate can be deduced from the following observation made by A. M. Sullivan, Q.C., in his memoirs: he said the Bench: 'is exclusively composed of men who have grown up in the artificial atmosphere of the ruling class, the public school, the university, the well- provided apprenticeship to the Inns of Court, lucrative practice and the accumulation of wealth. None have ever suffered that excellent corrective of theoretical opinion, hunger for the price of a meal.'
The Last Sergeant (1952).
ONE lesson to be drawn from 'Spies for Peace' is the advantage of ad hoc organization, coming rapidly into being and if necessary disappearing with the same speed, but leaving behind innumerable centres of activity, like ripples and eddies in a pond, after a stone has been thrown into it.
Traditional politics (both 'revolutionary' and 'reformist') are based on a central dynamo, with a transmission belt leading outwards. Capture of the dynamo, or its conversion to other purposes, may break
the transmission entirely. 'Spies for Peace' seem to have operated on an entirely different basis. Messages were passed from mouth to mouth along the route, documents from hand to hand. One group passed a secret to a second, which then set about reprinting it. A caravan became the source of a leaflet, a shopping basket a distribution centre. A hundred copies of a pamphlet are distributed in the streets: some are sure to reach people who will reproduce them.
Contacts are built on a face to face basis. One knows the personal limitations of one's comrades. X is an expert at steering a meeting through procedural shoals, but cannot work a duplicator. Y can use a small printing press, but is unable to write a leaflet. Z can express himself in public, but cannot sell pamphlets. Every task elects its own workers, and there is no need for an elaborate show of hands. Seekers of personal power and glory get little thrill from the anonymously and skilfully illegal. The prospect of prison breeds out the leader complex. Every member of a group may be called upon to undertake key tasks. And all-round talent is developed in all. The development of small groups for mutual aid could form a basis for an effective resistance movement.
Tyrannies grow by what they feed on. The power elites of the world maintain themselves in office by pointing to exterior enemies. They grow amid a labyrinth of secrecy and 'security'. How can they effectively be challenged?
There are so many secrets about, and the movement has so many sympathisers in so many unexpected quarters, that what is surprising is that nothing like 'Spies for Peace' happened before Easter 1963. We see in what followed, a preview of new revolutionary techniques, suitable for a highly industrialised, organized and centralised society. The French Revolution intercepted the King's messengers by assassination on lonely heaths: we jam his telephone lines. The Russian revolutionaries scattered their tracts slowly and laboriously: we can send them by express post. They cannot open millions of letters a day. Illegal broadcasting has infinite possibilities. New techniques must constantly be improved and extended.
The Special Branch and M.I.5. are not fools. They have at their disposal one of the most efficient police forces in the world. They use all the modern techniques of scientific detection. The fact that those who produced the pamphlet have not yet been caught suggests certain things to us. Similar thoughts must have occurred to the Special Branch. Or are we over-rating them? We will hazard a few guesses.
A printing press is difficult to conceal and easy to trace. But a reasonably efficient duplicator has no characteristics other than those of the typewriter that cut the stencils. There are a limited number of models available, but tens of thousands of each. Clearly the 'Spies' used a machine that had not previously been used within the movement, and which was either destroyed or well hidden afterwards. The paper was not traced, and so must have been bought in small quantities, over a long period. M.I.5. must have searched for fingerprints. The fact that this didn't help suggests that gloves must have been worn. Accord-ing to the press, envelopes were posted in various parts of London, an obvious precaution. Provided nothing leaked out before publication — and provided all traces were destroyed — the 'Spies' have a clear start.
We are not interested in which the original group was, but we salute their action. There are dozens of other groups all over the country who would have acted as the 'Spies' did if they had got the information first. We would have done so. There seems to have been no organization to be broken up. Distribution seems to have been to known activists in the movement. Reprinting was undertaken by all self-respecting CND and Committee of 100 groups. The story was spread by radio, TV, and Fleet Street itself, itching for a bash at the government, following the imprisonment of the journalists.
There are important conclusions. Revolution does not need conveyor belt organization. It needs hundreds, thousands, and finally millions of people meeting in groups with informal contacts with each other. It needs mass consciousness. If one group takes an initiative that is valuable, others will take it up. The methods must be tailored to the society we live in. The F.L.N. could use armed warfare, for it had hills and thickets to retreat into. We are faced by the overwhelming physical force of a State better organized and better armed than at any time in its history. We must react accordingly. The many internal contradictions of the state must be skilfully exploited. The Dusseldorf authorities were caught in their own regulations, when the disarmers refused to fasten their safety belts. M.I.5. cannot conceive of subversion that it not master-minded by a sinister Communist agent. It is incapable of dealing with a movement where no one takes orders from anyone else. Through action, autonomy and revolutionary initiative will be developed still further. To cope with our activities the apparatus of repression will become even more centralised and even more bureaucratic. This will enhance our opportunities rather than lessen them.
The nuclear disarmament movement in Britain has gone over to the offensive. The days of protest are over. We are beginning to see the basis of a genuine revolutionary mass movement, using tactics and methods appropriate to our society. The movement must encompass all those who are opposed to the present authoritarian and bureaucratic set-up. Various groups in industry and elsewhere must be connected — and seen to be connected. With roots in industry the movement could prove invincible. Revolution once needed bombs and machine guns, Those days may or may not come. For the moment what we need is open eyes, duplicators, initiative, and a will to struggle.
SALLY ANN BLAIR, born in India and brought up in Australia is now in charge of Liberal Studies in a London technical college
THIS FILM WAS RECENTLY RELEASED IN LONDON incongruously paired with a horror film called 'Maniac' and the programme headed "Take a Nerveless Friend with You"; it then toured the suburbs for a couple of weeks still part of the same package deal and has since disappeared from view; it was not given a press showing prior to its West End run; it has had to wait two years for commercial release — so those who find the musical theme, Black Leather Rock, rather dated, can blame the distributors for the delay.
Yet this is the latest example of the work of the director, Joseph Losey, already well-known and highly respected for 'The Boy with Green Hair', 'Blind Date', 'Time Without Pity' and 'The Criminal').
The theme of 'The Damned' is extremely pertinent to other articles in this special edition of ANARCHY and readers are urged to hunt the film down locally and see it for themselves.
The story is set in the not-so-distant future. Certain trends in both the public and the private sphere of modern life are isolated, developed a stage further, and examined — violence, loneliness, lack of purpose, the breakdown of traditional groups (the family), the formation of new ones (the gang). It is quite interesting to see just how we are made aware that the action takes place in the future. Firstly, the mass of details that fixes the contemporary scene, advertisements, topical references, is just not there at all. The director of a science fiction film usually feels constrained to point out in a hundred unsubtle ways that it is now 1984, that the Chinese or Martians rule the earth, that chiffon gym tunics are normal street wear. There is nothing like that here. We see a real town, Weymouth, but no details about life in the town are given us. This is a disturbing experience, entering a world that looks familiar, but which, without the comforting trivia of everyday life, we can't feel sure we have ever experienced before. Secondly, some of the details of the plot are left deliberately vague, so that although the characters know perfectly well what they are talking about, we are not quite sure … we are strangers, out of our depth, in the conversational shorthand used by friends among themselves.
The main action of the film concerns two groups, their leaders, and three individuals, whose paths cross. The first group is a motor-cycle gang led by King (Oliver Reed), based on the town. At no time do we see this gang make contact with any person living in the town. They seem to have contracted out of the wider existence and now live solely for the gang. King uses his sister, Joan (Shirley Anne Field), as a decoy so that the gang can attack and rob Simon (Macdonald Carey), an American tourist. Even after he learns the details of this attack, Simon is still attracted to Joan and persuades her to throw off the domination of her brother and come away to France in his motor launch. She agrees but her temporary bravado ebbs and she changes her mind. They return, and the story then traces the couple's attempts to escape King's revenge.
The setting that represents the other group is a barren rocky cliff, a few miles outside Weymouth. Here Bernard, a Scottish scientist (Alexander Knox), with a team of experts and guards, conducts a top secret government project, surrounded by high barbed wire fences, constantly patrolled. Nearby there is a simple stone house occupied each summer by an old friend of his, a Swedish sculptress, Freya (Viveca Lindfors).
Joan and Simon take refuge in Freya's house, but King follows them. They run off into the night, come across the menacing wire fence of Bernard's establishment, break through it, triggering off all the alarm systems, one of the gang hard at their heels. The only escape is over the cliff edge, so steep it seems an impossible descent. They slip, slide, scramble and fall to the shallow bay at the base. Dazed and bruised, soaked to the skin, they are rescued by some children and taken into a cave in the cliff. Unknowingly they have stumbled across Bernard's mysterious experiment — nine radioactive children being brought up in subterranean quarters deep in the cliff.
King has encountered Freya at the house. Somewhat put out by her composure, and finding her unusual and therefore disturbing, he senselessly destroys one of her sculptures. Freya strikes out at him in a blind fury and together they wrestle on the very edge of the cliff. (Losey originally planned to call this film "The Brink").
King, too, tries to escape the patrols by way of the cliff face, and falls, to be revived by one of the children and taken into the cave, whereupon he is confronted by Simon and Joan. The rest of the film shows the inevitable consequences of 'warm' people being contaminated by the 'ice-cold' radioactive children though the three adults and the children are quite unaware that this is the true explanation of the situation. Above, Bernard plans how to handle this disastrous disruption of his project.
Here we reach the crux of the film. Bernard accepts the government attitude that a nuclear holocaust is inevitable and all his energies are devoted to bringing up these nine children, by accident subjected to intense radiation at birth and now immune, though of course mortally dangerous to any other human being. The logical extension of his position is to try and find the exact conditions of these 'mistakes' so they can be created at will to make a new species of man, invulnerable to radiation, the survivor of a nuclear war, the race of the future. Freya is incredulous when she learns the truth. She is profoundly shocked and feels that Bernard, by believing that life on earth as we know it must end, and pinning his hopes for the survival of mankind on nine children, has lost all sense of proportion, and lost it on a dizzying scale … in her eyes, he has sold out on the human race.
However, the film does not oversimplify the problem. Bernard is not an unfeeling monster but a serious and thoughtful man. He says he only agreed to work for the government on this job after much heart-searching. He is kind to the children and stands up for them against his colleagues who are blinkered by science. He knows about, and permits the children to keep, their one hiding place out of range of the dozens of television cameras reporting every action of the team above. But his rather limited imagination reveals itself on the kind of upbringing he insists on … neat uniforms, quiet, obedient behaviour at all times, uninteresting food, though containing all the necessary vitamins, concocted in the laboratory, rows of identical desks, chairs and beds. At question time, via closed circuit television, the children try to find out who they are and why they are there, but each time they are given the answer, 'Everything will be explained when the time comes, when you are ready to understand'. This time they are not content with the pat answer and one of them cries out that Bernard is undemocratic. This is obviously a very serious accusation, but the screens go black as Bernard refuses to answer the charge. This is an extremely moving scene and Bernard's reaction makes a lot of things clear. He obviously believes in the ideal of democracy and the education he has selected for these children includes large doses of praise for the democratic way of life. They spot that Bernard is being undemocratic and protest in bewilderment. If he says it is so important, why isn't he democratic himself? He has no answer to that one, so he uses his power, i.e. his control of the television camera, to end the interview.
The similarity of the two groups is brought out in many ways. The most obvious parallel is in dress. King's gang wear black leather jackets, ride high powered black motor cycles. Bernard's assistants look like spacemen in their black protective clothing and glass helmets. The children have dubbed these men 'The Black Death'. The guards drive black vans and take to the air in fast helicopters.
The members of both groups are almost totally anonymous, loyal to their leader and following his instructions implicitly. They show no individuality, they are never critical and display no signs of uncertainty or doubt. All these impressions are sinister and the old ideals of 'loyalty' and 'obedience' look rather featureless and subservient when represented in this way. Neither Bernard nor King will ever have to face criticism from his followers, that will have to come from outside, from Freya, from Joan, from Simon. And as at the end of the film, the outsiders, the individuals, are all dead, it doesn't hold out much hope that the Bernards of the world will ever be forced to re-examine their position.
Both groups employ violence — meaningless violence, and in each case the victims are innocent. The barbed wire, the alarm bells and searchlights, the dogs, the military alertness of the guards when intruders are signalled, convey violence as vividly as the knives and threats of King's gang. It is hard to detect any purpose in the acts of violence. Logically one could say that the public is being protected from contamination by radiation but the methods used are certainly not soothing and reassuring but menacing and threatening. I am quite sure that neither the gang member caught by the guards, nor Joan and Simon escaping a double enemy do feel the establishment is offering 'protection'.
It is true that if the children were allowed to escape they would endanger ordinary people, but Freya who does not know this, sees only the violence of their recapture — the powerful forces of modern warfare, helicopters, huge trucks, armed guards swooping down on nine small children. An eleven-year-old kicks and struggles vainly as, tucked unceremoniously under the arm of a 'Black Death', he is carried protesting back to captivity.
How can this separation of the means (violence) and the end (protection) be explained? Freya, in one of her arguments with Bernard, gives us the clue: "The public servant is the only servant who has secrets from his master". The decisions to protect the public for its own good are being made in secret … the public never hears the truth about the 'end' but sees only the 'means' employed to achieve it. So long as this continues, the ordinary person will feel the victim of oppression. Freya, King, Joan, Simon, the children, all feel bewildered, imprisoned, powerless, while they are denied the true facts of the situation. Angrily they strive to correct injustices, interpreting the situation in good faith, but also in ignorance. Their actions, thus based on incomplete knowledge, bring about their own destruction. This is why they are 'The Damned'.
Freya is the touchstone for all the characters; honest, thoughtful, strong-minded and warm-hearted, she speaks with such passionate sincerity that her words ring bell-like throughout the film. She is an artist, a creator, and she is free, uncommitted to any group or to any specific belief. Bernard may be, or may have been, her lover, but she is free to criticise him, to beg him not to have secrets from her. She lives alone, close to the sea and sky. She is free to say that she loves her work and loves what she has created, free to cry when King attacks one of her sculptures, free to wrestle with him on the cliff edge when he smashes it. Yet what happens when Bernard does tell her his secret, is she pleased? No, her horror leads her to reject him completely. Again we begin to see that an attitude like Bernard's must by its very nature be kept secret, simply because people like Freya will never, never, accept it.
The film ends with a series of terrifying scenes in which each of the contaminated persons is hunted down and killed. Simon and Joan, already weakened by radiation, are allowed to drift out to sea in the boat that was once to have seen the beginning of a new life together for them; Freya is shot by Bernard as she works on her sculptures (this shot was not planned by Losey, Freya was to be shot from the circling helicopter, but the producers wanted something more definite); King drives away in Bernard's car and is pursued by the helicopter until in despair he swerves off a bridge into the river; the children, having seen the outside world and conscious of their imprisonment, having met 'warm' people and aware of their own unnatural 'coldness', now call over and over again for help. But the secret is secure once more, and as the camera looks down on the desolate cliff face, the swift currents at its rocky base, we know that their plaintive cries will never reach outside ears.
Observations on Anarchy 27: Anarchism and public schools
I agree with just about everything Charles Radcliffe said in ANARCHY 27 about the Public Schools, but I don't think he is sufficiently optimistic about the potentialities of these institutions as breeding grounds for anarchism. It is not just that boys from major public schools have sufficient confidence to rebel and defy society when they feel it necessary. Also important is the fact that in a Public School one confronts power so often, and it is a sort of power about which one can have no 'liberal' illusions. In a school in which the staff is responsible for discipline and general organisation, it is possible for the individual pupil to feel that a decision reached, however unfavourable to him, is just.
On the other hand, an authoritarian prefect-dominated system involving fagging and corporal punishment either crushes individuality or, surprisingly frequently, leads to questioning not just of the prefect or whoever but of authority as such. And when one has confronted arbitrary authority really closely, one soon detects it later behind the 'democratic' facades of political parties. In a Public School, in order to retain one's self-respect, one is often forced into taking part in the sort of psychological duel with authority which in the outside world is often a very important part of non-violent struggle against oppression.
Moreover, if there is to be any association of boys to try and improve conditions, this will tend to resemble an anarchist group in the closeness of its voluntary co-operation and in awareness of the need for mutual reliance. In Kropotkin's 'Memoirs of a Revolutionist' there are some very exciting and impressive examples of co-operation among the boys in the authoritarian Corps of Pages, which clearly had a considerable influence on Kropotkin's later anarchism.
I would not dream of trying to defend public schools on these grounds: this would be similar to arguing that some disease was a good thing because those who survived it became particularly resistant to a further attack. But what I would say is that anarchists should realise that the desire for freedom and the capacity to form free societies are not the prerogative of any one class, any more than they are of any one race. Next time you go past a Public School remember (even if it is an effort) that the boys inside are human, just like you.
Oxford. JOHN ADAMSON.
I have set up a small anarchist discussion group here at public school, concentrating mainly now on questions in history, and various interpretations of the syllabus we have to prepare for exams. Our group, though still small is quite an active one. You may remember seeing — or hearing about — the notorious Public Schools CND banner which put in an appearance on Aldermaston 1962, and which indeed led for part of the way the swirling mob which had refused to break up at the end of Whitehall as General Peggy Duff had ordered; so what may have been inwardly a demonstration of anarchists (in preparation for Aldermaston 1963) was outwardly an expression of solidarity and strength by public schoolboys! This Public Schools banner has now been changed, unstitched and dyed black and red, with the words 'Anarchist Youth' sewn on. The banner is to be launched at the school speech day in a month's time where we shall be selling Official Secrets pamphlets instead of the crappy old school magazine which is heavily censored and smells of old dough.
Being in our last term we are producing a house magazine which will give the authorities such a hammering for the way they have muzzled us here that they will never forget it … If I could write, if I could write half of the injustices, the censoring of debating subjects, the curtailment of CND — almost non-existent here — the muzzling of people who for once have thought things out for themselves, the threats of expulsion, the refusal to allow individuals to resign from the cadet corps, the indoctrination and the brainwashing, it's enough to make an anarchist go nuts.
We cannot do much, because of the expulsion threat; this is the great weapon, the deterrent with which authority can suppress minorities who get out of hand, but nevertheless steps are being taken in the right direction, and I shall continue to distribute FREEDOM and ANARCHY as much as possible despite attempts by authority to seize them, which they once did, and proclaimed the magazine illegal. Thank you for sending it under closed cover. I must now go to chant psalms and mumble the Lord's Prayer with the rest of them.
I would like to make one or two additions on the subject of public schools. There is a marked increase once again in public school dissent. I have heard of many schools where minor forms of direct action and civil disobedience have been used to varying effect. Most of these have been fairly effectively hushed up but some details are bound to get out.
Among other things that have come to my attention are a sit down against fagging, a protest march against the cane.
A recent example was the protest organised by a number of public schoolboys in Somerset during the latest Freedom from Hunger (FFH) campaign. In an atmosphere of stifling conformity this group very courageously decided to take action against FFH, In case this seems to be an example of some brand of bloody minded tory-ism I had better briefly explain the basis of the protest. They claimed that FFH, although generously supported by a large number of decent people, was essentially a capitalist device to take attention off the real cause of hunger — which was and is capitalism, State or otherwise. They claimed that a sane society had to come through the concerted actions of the people towards a responsible and sane society, based on the principles of individual autonomy and mutual aid. Their protest ended when they symbolically dragged the Union Jack through the streets of a local town. Many may feel (I do not) that their protest was too extreme to be deemed constructive anarchist propaganda but it was brilliantly conducted and is an earnest of a new spirit, which may expand to involve more and more young people.
This is not the only example of dissent. A new campaign — The Schools Anti-Vote Campaign — also organised by a small group of public schoolboys, is getting under way. It is being run, at present, on very small scale but it is hoped that it will spread through other schools and present a serious opportunity for young people to discuss radical libertarian ideas.
With a General Election looming close, there will obviously be mock elections in many schools and it is against these that this campaign is directed. The need to oppose the election is felt to be even more urgent now that CND has endorsed the idea of schoolkid YCND-ers taking part in such elections — presumably as a beginner's course in parliamentary cretinism.
The originators of this campaign must remain anonymous in the interests of continued action but a small group has been set up in London to act (solely) as a co-ordination centre for a larger campaign directed at all schools.
Anyone who knows anarchists at schools, or other pupils likely to be sympathetic to this campaign can get in touch with the Schools Anti-Vote Campaign at Flat 4, 148 Fellows Road, London, N.W.3. It is obvious that anarchists should support this campaign which is a serious opportunity to influence young people with libertarian ideas.
It may be that CND groups and anti-election groups in schools can do a more valuable job than anti-war cells in the forces. Both activities are vitally necessary to the continuation of the human race. Both are deserving of support.
This campaign is being conducted in the best anarchist tradition by people directly involved. It is immensely encouraging.
DISSENTIENT PUBLIC SCHOOL BOY.
(These are the final paragraphs of George Woodcock's Anarchism published this month by Penguin Books, now available from Freedom Bookshop at 8s. including postage.)
If human values are to survive, a counter-ideal must be posed to the totalitarian goal of a uniform world, and that counter-ideal exists precisely in the vision of pure liberty that has inspired the anarchist and near-anarchist writers from Winstanley in the 17th century. Obviously it is not immediately realizable, and, since it is an ideal, it will probably never be realized. But the very presence of such a concept of pure liberty can help us to judge our condition and see our aims; it can help us to safeguard what liberties we still retain against the further encroachments of the centralizing state; it can help us to conserve and even enlarge those areas in which personal values still operate; it can help in the urgent task of mere survival, of living out the critical decades ahead until the movement of world centralization loses its impetus like all historical movements, and the moral forces that depend on individual choice and judgment can reassert themselves in the midst of its corruption.
The anarchist ideal may best fulfil this purpose, as its first exponents would have agreed, by the impact of its truths on receptive minds rather than by the re-creation of obsolete forms of organization or by the imitation of insurrectional methods that failed even in the past. The heritage that anarchism has left to the modern world is to be found in a few inspiring lives of self-sacrifice and devotion like those of Malatesta and Louise Michel, but most of all in the incitement to return to a moral and natural view of society which we find in the writings of Godwin and Tolstoy, of Proudhon and Kropotkin, and in the stimulation such writers give to that very taste for free choice and free judgment which modern society has so insidiously induced the majority of men to barter for material goods and the illusion of security. The great anarchists call on us to stand on our own moral feet like a generation of princes, to become aware of justice as an inner fire, and to learn that the still, small voices of our own hearts speak more truly than the choruses of propaganda that daily assault our outer ears.
"Look into the depths of your own beings", said Peter Arshinov, the friend of Makhno. "Seek out the truth and realize it yourselves. You will find it nowhere else." In this insistence that freedom and moral self-realization are interdependent, and one cannot live without the other, lies the ultimate lesson of true anarchism.