It is of course in order to use a reply to an article as a chance to put one’s own case over. But the conventions require that the “reply” should at least pretend to be relevant to the main theme of the original, and Mr. Meltzer has not made much effort in that direction. The point of the original article was clear. It raised the question: was the movement, which in Spain was described as Anarchist, an Anarchist movement in the sense in which that term was used by Kropotkin and Bakunin, by Anarchist movements outside Spain, and in systematic ideology, and answered it in the negative. Mr. Meltzer hardly addresses himself to this question at all, and one of the few definite statements he does make is directly contrary to the record:
Those well-known Anarchists who did (enter the Government) entered without seeking the authority of the movement.
The four Anarchists had been previously elected as the appropriate members of their organisation to join the government as a plenum of the movement. – The Spanish Civil War, Penguin, 1977, pp 471/2.
Mr. Meltzer speaks, apparently, with a straight face, of Anarchists who enter Government. This makes us doubt whether he is qualified to speak on the subject at all. When it was first suggested that an Anarchist might reply to “The Anarchist Police Force” we particularly asked that the reply should include some indication on the grounds on which its writer claimed to write as an Anarchist. Mr. Meltzer has not done this, and consequently we are under no obligation to accept what he says as representative of Anarchist thinking. We rather hope that some Anarchist will write in disowning him, since we do not think Mr. Meltzer has come anywhere near showing the full strength of the Anarchist position.
We should be reluctant to say this correspondence is now closed, but any further contributions will need to be more cogent if they are to be accepted.
George Walford: The Anarchist Police Force
Abert Meltzer: Reply to the Article Entitled “The Anarchist Police Force”
George Walford: Reply to the Reply
from Ideological Commentary 3, December 1979.