Sunday, March 23, 2008

If Chic Murray had subscribed to War Commentary

Hot on the heels of attending the meeting 'Towards a synthesis of Anarchism and Marxism?' at last weekend's Left Forum, where one of the panel speakers, Ruth Kinna, spoke on “Bridging Differences Through Revolutionary Action: Aldred on Anarchism and Marx”, comes news - via a SPGB google alert - of a fascinating article on the anarchist movement in the 1940s in Glasgow that has recently been posted on the LibCom website.

'Anarchism in 1940s Glasgow' contains an interview with Charlie Baird Sr that dates from '77 and the transcribed reminiscences of a roundtable discussion of Glasgow based Anarchists (1940s vintage) that dates from 1987.

Both pieces are fascinating insights into a tumultuous period for radical politics, and, like Ruth Kinna's talk at the Left Forum, it was a blast from the past for me 'cos many, many years ago, I went through a period of reading up on this subject in depth.

Not for any academic reasons, but simply because I was combining my interest in the history of radical politics with my interest in the history of Glasgow. I was reading John Taylor Caldwell's biography of Guy Aldred; Mark Shipway's book on Aldred and Sylvia Pankhurst; Wildcat's mega-pamphlet on the APCF; and Freedom's hundredth anniversary works on their tradition amongst others at a time when I would have been better served listening to Pop Will Eat Itself and getting drunk on snakebite. Maybe in my next life.

PS - Chic Murray? War Commentary? Chic Murray was a brilliant Scottish comedian who is probably best known today - if at all - for playing the headmaster in 'Gregory's Girl', and War Commentary was the name of Freedom during World War II (it's a convoluted story . . .don't ask me now), and Eddie Shaw came across as that sort of speaker even before I spotted the reference in the roundtable expression.

It seems that Glasgow has a history of outdoor speaking that comprised of half polemicist, half patter merchant.


Highlander said...

Talking of Glaswegian Anrchists, you may be interested in Ethel MacDonald's story. The docu-drama was originally shown in 2007 on BBC Scotland but you can still buy copies from Mark Littlewood, the director. Also published one of her speeches here.

Darren said...

Cheers for the tip, but I saw it when it was on the telly last year via a bit torrent download. (The wonders of the t'internet.)

Ties in with my 17 year old ultra-left geekery of the last century, as I corresponded with John Taylor Caldwell for a couple of years after I read his biography of Aldred.

Lovely bloke. One of the best.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing to this. My local library has the Caldwell bio of Aldred and I enjoyed that. Now for more.