George Walford: Notes for Correspondents

IC seeks to encourage responsible discussion. It does not make statements it knows to be false, misleading or inaccurate, and it does its best to avoid printing such statements by other people, even (perhaps especially) when they are about things said in IC. If you are sending a letter intended for publication, please be careful to avoid misrepresenting anything you criticise (or, of course anything you commend). To give one example of the sort of thing to be avoided, IC34 included a piece entitled THE POLITICAL SERIES which had this to say of anarchism:

…we all know from experience that external controls can never be completely effective. Even the most tyrannical state cannot be constantly watching each of its members, and anarchism advocates a type of control not subject to this limitation. The people living in an anarchist society are to be free of control by the state and subject to no coercive forces; without these constraints they will, anarchists believe, conduct their economic affairs in a more sensible and orderly manner than has yet been known, and this will be due to the self-control to be exercised by each of them. The economic system envisaged is sometimes described as “free access”; since resources are inescapably limited this could work, in the absence of coercive forces to compel restraint, only so long as people voluntarily restricted their own demands. Far from offering freedom of action in the economic field, an anarchist society would depend upon exercise of the only inescapable form of regulation, namely self-control by every member of the community.

That short passage specifies, twice, an absence of coercive forces, speaks twice of members of the community controlling themselves, and refers also to people voluntarily restricting their own demands. Five times it says, in different ways, that in the economic system envisaged by anarchists people would control themselves. In spite of all this a letter intended for publication was received charging us with having asserted ‘that anarchist societies restrict economic freedom.’

We want feedback, we want letters from readers, we want to keep a dialogue going. But discussion has to be responsible, comments have to be directed at what has been said, not at a misreading of it.

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MRS. THATCHER has not yet proposed privatising the churches, but there is good precedent for doing so. In 1815 John Gladstone, father of the Liberal Prime Minister (but himself closer to the Tories) built two churches in the Liverpool area, St.Andrews Episcopal Church in Renshaw Street and St.Thomas’s at Litherland. A true precursor of Thatcherism, by renting out pews and selling burial plots he won a return of 5% annually on his investment, even though it was pointed out to him that the high pew-rents were excluding many of the poor from the churches. (Checkland S.G., The Gladstones, a Family Biography 1764 1851, Cambridge UP 1971, pp 78,93).

DAVID Caute, writing on the French student troubles of 1968 and their failure to produce any wide-scale results, speaks of ‘the constant cultural neutering of dissent.’ (Caute D., Sixty-Eight: The Year of the Barricades, London, Hamish Hamilton 1988)

WE HAVE just met the suggestion that the Department of Health and Social Security would be better known as the Department of Stealth and Total Obscurity.

from Ideological Commentary 35, September 1988.