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Colin Ward 1924-2010

by | Feb 22, 2010 | Authors, Blog | 0 comments

It’s always sad to hear that a good writer has died but Colin Ward for me represented the best, along with Nicolas Walter and Vernon Richards, in the British anarchist tradition. He was one of the most attractive faces of anarchism and there seems no one coming up to replace him. He certainly had a very long and worthwhile life during which he inspired many people with his ideas and example. I liked the way he always saw the positive potential in individuals and drew out the finer aspects of any work.

Colin knew from first hand as well as the works of Kropotkin all about the spontaneity and mutual aid of some of the most downtrodden and oppressed members of society. Like Proudhon, he understood that anarchy in the sense of a society without coercive authority is order.

In all his works and articles, which ranged from children in the city and country,town planning, self-build, water, transport, education, to anarchy in action, he celebrated the initiative, creativity and autonomy of young people and ordinary folk. While writing about utopia, he did not see it as a distant goal in the mythical future but as an ever-present possibility. Anarchist society, that is a society without government, continues to flourish in the nooks and crannies of the harshest State environment. It already exists, here and now.

Colin was very kind about my books(he only reviewed books he liked) and I was very pleased to review enthusiastically his delightful book on allotments and his excellent short introduction to anarchism. When we appeared together on radio programmes, I was invariably impressed by his calm and insightful comments. We also shared a common appreciation of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, the father of British anarchism and mother of British feminism.

Colin was a very modest man who always liked to underplay his important contribution to social anarchist ideas. Like an ancient Taoist sage, he guided from behind so that people would say “We did it” without being aware of his benign influence. As long as freedom, justice and kindness are considered important human values, he will be ‘a seed beneath the snow’ (to use one of his borrowed phrases), ready to burst forth whenever there is a thaw in the bitter winter of contemporary Western culture.