Colin Ward.

Author:Nightingale, John
Position:Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow, A British Anarchist Tradition, Colin Ward: Life, Times and Thought - Book review

Colin Ward

David Goodway, 'Colin Ward' in Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow

Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2006; 401pp; ISBN 978-1-84631-025-6

Carissa Honeywell, 'Colin Ward and the Future of British Anarchism' in A British Anarchist Tradition

London: Bloomsbury, 2011; 204pp; ISBN 978-1-4411-7689-9

Carl Levy (ed.), Colin Ward: Life, Times and Thought

London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2014; 144pp; ISBN 978-1-907103-73-5

The latter years of the life of Colin Ward--and, to a greater extent, those since his death--witnessed the emergence of a modest but steadily expanding secondary literature on the life and work of the pioneering anarchist writer. This trend should be embraced by those within anarchist circles and beyond, for the far-reaching influence of Ward's work had previously been somewhat overlooked. Here, I briefly survey a small sample of commentary, considering alongside a recently published collection edited by Carl Levy, chapters by David Goodway and Carissa Honeywell--both of whom, incidentally, also contribute to Levy's book.

The essays presented in Levy's volume are not new, but originally appeared in an Anarchist Studies special issue on Ward in 2011. Nevertheless, a second outing in this tidy and really rather enjoyable anthology is very much welcome, and it represents a worthy attempt at securing wider exposure both for these eight articles and the work of Ward himself. Colin Ward: Life, Times and Thought is a slender little number, weighing in at just shy of 150 pages but, thankfully, Levy's editorship has maximised their usage. The style remains very much true to Ward's own: low on verbosity and academic jargon; high on clarity and readability. Importantly, this is achieved without compromising on analytic insight or originality, and the book ticks pretty well all of the boxes one might demand of this type of collection, placing Ward clearly in both biographical and intellectual contexts and flagging up the relevance of his work for contemporary politics.

Highlights include David Goodway's piece on the relationship between Ward, his anarchism and the New Left, which, though unacknowledged at the time, was particularly marked, he argues, in the period up until Perry Anderson took up editorship of the New Left Review in 1962. Carissa Honeywell's article locates Ward within the context of the anarchist critique of the welfare state and, in the midst of neoliberalism's austerity drive, the arguments for working-class...

To continue reading