George Walford: Editorial (58)

MEET S.I., on the inside front cover, undergoes constant revision; it now incorporates two changes made at the suggestion of Trevor Blake, a new reader. From the account of the revolution ideology the clause: ‘Attempts to impose Marxist communism but fails for lack of support’ has been deleted, not for any unsoundness but because it went beyond the pattern of these abbreviated notes; no equivalent appeared for the other ideologies.

In the side-bar ‘Direction of increasing complexity…’ replaces ‘Direction of development… .’ Again, the former wording was not unsound, but the revision helps to avoid the misunderstanding which sometimes reads ‘development’ as ‘improvement.’

Freedom Press have just published Donald Rooum’s What is Anarchism? An Introduction, (with his brilliant cartoons as headings to the three main sections), and a review will appear in IC 59.

Disagreeing with much of what it says, we yet urge you to read the book. Evaluation of any political theory requires some knowledge of anarchist arguments, and you won’t find a better brief introduction than this one. [ordering information]

London readers, and many others too, will be familiar with the South Place Ethical Society and its Conway Hall, a building which has done more than any other to support the activities of British minority groups. On a ceiling-beam in the main hall appears the legend To Thine Own Self Be True. It has been proposed to substitute NOTHING IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE – a more stimulating proposition – at the next redecoration. IC must not attempt to interfere in the affairs of the Society, but we can fairly take an interest in the points of ethics and rationality arising in the course of the discussion. An account is being prepared for IC 59.

IC does not carry paid advertising on principle (the potential advertisers’ principle of not paying for the space) but this issue includes a call for contributions to the forthcoming Anarchist Studies, successor to the Bulletin of Anarchist Research.

Anarchists notoriously disagree with each other, and they don’t always maintain the urbanity of idealised academia. As Donald Rooum puts it, they ‘slag each other off as cheats, liars, thieves, agents of the secret police…’ Will the intended peer review prove practical?

On first meeting s.i. and IC people sometimes query the emphasis on British affairs. Why pay so much attention to this little offshore island? Writing in another connection, Michael Brock gives one major reason: ‘As the one sizeable country which has escaped revolution, civil war, invasion and defeat in any war near home for more than 300 years, Britain has, for good and ill, a unique cultural and historical inheritance.’ [1] The relative absence of disturbance from outside has enabled ideological development here to follow its inherent tendencies more consistently than it has been able to do elsewhere. [1] TLS 24 July 92, p. 9

THE GREEN AND THE BLUE (p. 12, below) offers reasons for expecting that when damage to the environment starts to affect the establishment (whether directly or by way of effects upon its supporters) it will be brought under control. This already happens; the Serpentine is no longer a cesspit, the Clean Air Acts reduced atmospheric pollution in the cities, and now the Forestry Commission has begun to improve its image. After decades of degrading our hills with a blank mass of uniform conifers, inimical to much wild life and producing areas of devastation when clear-felled, it annnounces a change of heart. The age-structure of its forests is to be diversified, the proportion of native broadleaves increased and more open space introduced, increasing the range of habitats.

These changes, and others to be expected, remain within the limits of the eidostatic ideologies. Motivated by expediency or the pursuit of individual interests, they do not indicate spreading adoption of the eidodynamic ideologies of the reformers and revolutionaries.

from Ideological Commentary 58, November 1992.