Colin Ward and David Goodway, Talking Anarchy.

Author:Donaghey, Jim
Position:Book review
 
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Colin Ward and David Goodway, Talking Anarchy

Oakland: PM Press, 2014 [first published 2003 by Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham]; 176pp; ISBN 978-1-60486-812-8

In Talking Anarchy David Goodway attempts to explicate a 'Wardian anarchism' (p17) by interviewing Colin Ward himself, and though pieced together from a series of written exchanges, the result feels more like a conversation between old comrades. This edition is a re-issue by PM Press, which will hopefully add substantially to the readership of the 2003 edition published by Five Leaves Press in Nottingham, and will no doubt fuel the posthumous increase in interest in Colin Ward's work.

Ward's familiar topics are all represented here: squatting; architecture; town planning; co-operatives; education; art; and all those 'parallel ... counter ... alternative organisations, which exemplify the anarchist method' (pl4, quoting Anarchy in Action). Other key twentieth-century figures are also discussed, such as Herbert Read, Alex Comfort, George Woodcock, Paul Goodman, Vernon Richards, Philip Sansom and Murray Bookchin. And mysteriously, crime fiction writer Ruth Rendell also crops up in conversation (p93).

Of especial interest are the biographical lines of inquiry, especially around the early days of the Freedom Group and 'the anarchist culture of the 1940s and 1950s' (p46). These add colour and context to Ward's written output, and are perhaps this book's best contribution. For example, while discussing the Malatesta Club in London in the mid-1950s, Ward describes one of his 'fondest recollections ... of satirical songs devised and performed by Philip [Sansom], accompanying himself by drumming on a cardboard box' (p47).

As if to scupper Goodway's efforts to identify a 'Wardian anarchism', Ward himself writes, 'I would always stress the common ground between people who have arrived at anarchist attitudes from different starting points ... I actually mistrust those anarchists who spend their time demolishing the contentions of another anarchist faction' (p28). Ward advocates an 'anarchism-without-adjectives' (so presumably wouldn't have...

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