Chris Wilbert and Damian F. White (eds), Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader.

Author:Nightingale, John
Position:Book review

Edinburgh: AK Press, 2011, 375pp.; ISBN: 978-1-84935-020-4

The death of Colin Ward in 2010 left British anarchism bereaved of one of its most prominent and best-loved advocates. This timely collection represents a fine sample of Ward's writings which will provide newcomers to his work with a rich and balanced introduction. There is also plenty here that will excite those who are more familiar with Ward's output, for the editors have done well to combine essential extracts from many of Ward's best-known works with some of his less widely read journalistic and propaganda pieces. What really stands out here is an editorial sensitivity which allows Ward's central concerns to be conveyed with a gentle, yet persuasive emphasis and the essays are presented with a level of clarity that complements the writer's own agreeable style. What the selection facilitates particularly well is an exhibition of Ward's perpetual concern for the practical issues of day-to-day living, and the way in which his unerring quest for human dignity is constantly informed by an application of the anarchist principles of self-organisation and individual autonomy to the problems and opportunities presented by everyday life.

The volume is neatly divided into five sections, each of which groups together several pieces on a broad subject area. Section one, 'Life, Politics and Journalism', incorporates an edited transcript from an interview with Ward ('Talking Anarchy', pp.3-11) and an extract from one of his most notable texts, Anarchy in Action ('The State', pp.13-20), with a variety of his early journalistic pieces, most of which were originally printed in War Commentary, Freedom or Anarchy. Sections two ('Culture, Place and Housing'), three ('Design, Architecture and Creativity') and four ('Work, Leisure, Education and Play') see Ward grappling with his perennially favourite questions concerning the practicalities of everyday living, particularly those to do with our use of space and our relationships with the natural and built environments. Indeed, it is when writing on praxis, when applying his political convictions to the practical procedures and...

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