The University of Leeds closed its School of Continuing Education in 2005, bringing to
a conclusion 59 distinguished years. This was not an academic failure – far from it -
but a financial problem. I had worked for the School (under its varying names) since
1969 and an unintended consequence of the closure was that my name was difficult
to locate on the University’s website and a Google search was no longer headed by
my email address. I therefore set up my own website to enable old friends to
contact me as well as anyone else with offers of whatever kind.
For the academic year 2006-7 I was Helen Cam Visiting Fellow, Girton College,
I am now, as of September 2007, fully retired.
I cut my teeth as an historian with a doctoral thesis on ‘Chartism in London’,
supervised by Eric Hobsbawm and published as London Chartism, 1838-1848
(Cambridge University Press, 1982; paperback edition, 2002), and I have retained a
specialist interest in the Chartist movement. More recently, however, I have become
increasingly known as an authority on anarchism. But for many years I taught a
series of interdisciplinary courses on Victorian studies, combining social and political
history, literature, art history and architecture.
See also 'Texts' below.
‘A Cult of Sensations: John Cowper Powys’s Life-Philosophy and Individualist
Anarchism’, Powys Journal, XIV (2004), pp. 45-80.
Entries on George Julian Harney, James Leach, Peter Murray M’Douall and William
Lovett, in H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds.), Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
(editor) For Workers’ Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton (Oakland,
CA: AK Press, 2004), 379 pp.
(with Paul Lewis) ‘Obituary: Christopher Pallis’, Guardian, 24 March 2005.
L’Anarchie en société: Conversation avec Colin Ward (Lyons: Atelier de Création
Libertaire, 2005), 151 pp.
‘Aldous Huxley and Alex Comfort: A Comparison’, in H. Gustav Klaus and Stephen
Knight (eds.), ‘To Hell with Culture’: Anarchism and Twentieth-Century British
Literature (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2005), pp. 111-25.
(editor) John Cowper Powys, The Art of Forgetting the Unpleasant and Other
Essays (Bath: The Powys Society, 2006), 60pp.
Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers
from William Morris to Colin Ward (Liverpool University Press, 2006), xi + 401pp.
'Anarchism and the Welfare State: The Peckham Health Centre',
<http://www.historyandpolicy.org/archive/policy-paper-55.html> (May 2007).
(editor) Nicolas Walter, The Anarchist Past and Other Essays (Nottingham: Five
Leaves, 2007), 253 pp.
(editor) The Letters of John Cowper Powys and Emma Goldman (London: Cecil
Woolf, 2007), 188 pp.
Herbert Read: Yorkshireman, Anarchist, Modernist (Kirkdale: Trustees of the
Friends of St Gregory's Minster, 2009), 30pp.
'Herbert Read, Organicism, Abstraction and an Anarchist Aesthetic', Anarchist Studies, XIX (2011), pp. 82-97.
(editor) Nicolas Walter, Damned Fools in Utopia and Other Writings on Anarchism
and War Resistance (Oakland, CA: PM, 2011).
'Not Protest but Direct Action: Anarchism Past and Present', <http://www.historyandpolicy.org/archive/policy-paper.html>
Seeds beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward (2nd edition; Oakland, CA: PM, 2011).
Joint entry on G. Scott Williamson and Innes H. Pearse, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
'Colin Ward and the New Left', Anarchist Studies, 2011.
‘Literature and Anarchism’, in Ruth Kinna (ed.), Continuum Companion to Anarchism (London and New York: Continuum).
8 March: 'William Morris and the Libertarian Tradition in Britain', William Morris
Society, Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mall, London W6 9TA.
17 May: 'Herbert Read: Yorkshireman, Anarchist, Modernist', Kirkdale Lecture
2008, St Gregory's Minster, Kirkdale, North Yorkshire
[Read is buried in the churchyard].
19 June: 'The Mexican Revolution and Music', Leeds B'nai B'rith Music Society, Beth
Hamidrash Hagadol Synagogue, Street Lane, Leeds 17.
20 August: 'Introductory Reflections on the State and the Institution', PRAXIS 3
(On the Future of the Art Institution), The Röhsska Museum, Gothenburg, Sweden.
30 August: 'John Cowper Powys, Emma Goldman and Anarchy', The Powys Society,
Bishop Otter Campus, University of Chichester, College Lane, Chichester, West Sussex.
4 September: Keynote Speaker, 1st Anarchist Studies Network Conference,
Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire.
8 September: 'Chris Pallis (aka Maurice Brinton) and Solidarity', Is Black and Red Dead? conference, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Nottingham.
30 May: 'Colin Ward's Anarchism', Anarchia come organizzazione: Ricordando Colin Ward (1924-2010), Casa della Cultura, Via Borgogna 3, Milan.
11 December: 'Colin Ward's Seed beneath the Snow and the "Big Society"', Northern Anarchist Network, Bolton Socialist Club, Wood Street, Bolton, Lancashire.
11 March: 'Colin Ward (1924-2010)', Colin Ward (1924-2010): Education, Childhood and Environment: A Multi-Disciplinary Conference, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.
2 July: 'Dorothy Thompson's Legacy for Chartist Studies: A Roundtable Discussion', Chartism Day, University of Leeds.
Peter Cadogan (1921-2007)
Peter Cadogan, who died in November aged 86, was born on Tyneside, where he was brought up and educated. After war service in the RAF he read history as a mature student at what was to become the University of Newcastle. He first came to public attention when a Cambridge schoolteacher and secretary of the local branch of Communist Party, for the Minority Report on Inner Party Democracy which he had drafted with Christopher Hill and Malcolm MacEwan was rejected in 1957 by the executive committee and all three resigned from the CP. Cadogan proceeded to flirt with Trotskyism and Raya Dunayevskaya’s Marxist Humanism, but discovered his natural politics in the early 1960s as an active participant in direct-action nuclear disarmament, actually becoming the final secretary of the National Committee of 100 from 1965 to 1968. He then launched the first of his numerous agitational initiatives, the Save Biafra Campaign. He never returned to schoolteaching, for in 1970 he was appointed general secretary of the South Place Ethical Society, the veteran London rationalist organization best known for its ownership of Conway Hall, the historic radical meeting-place in Red Lion Square. Here he conducted humanist weddings and funerals, ceremonies displeasing hardcore secularists who did not share his belief in ‘rational religious sentiment’ or a sense of the sacred. After losing a vote of no confidence in 1981 he spent the remainder of his life as an indefatigable political activist (and was a part-time extra-mural tutor for London University for twelve years).In 1962 he had denied being an anarchist, instead associating himself with what he called ‘the English radical-revolutionary tradition’ of John Lilburne, John Bunyan,
Jonathan Swift, Tom Paine, George Julian Harney, William Morris, Tom Mann, R.H.
Tawney and Christopher Caudwell (although several of these names would seem
incompatible). Thereafter he moved to an entirely anarchist position, even if always
critical of classic anarchism and its thinkers – though equally other anarchists were
uneasy with his idiosyncratic opinions which, while always expressed with dogmatic
certainty, were continually changing. He set great store on his pamphlet Direct
Democracy (1974), convinced that issues had to discussed face to face. His position
developed so that in 1991 Values and Vision was founded in his own area of London
NW6 as a group with a maximum membership of twelve people (though later he
reduced the optimum number for decision making to only seven), but with the hope
that similar groups would be set up in other parts of the city. Central to his ‘third
way’ was the community as ‘an aggregation of people in a given geographical area
who are substantially self-sufficient’.
Cadogan came largely to eschew foreign influences, with the principal
exceptions of Tolstoy and Gandhi. His very personal trajectory from Communism in
the 1940s and fifties, through his undoubted importance as a peace campaigner in
the sixties, to Values and Vision at the end of the century begins to make some
sense when it is appreciated that his late passion for William Blake was shared with
E.P. Thompson, the contemporary he perhaps most admired. He was a founding
member of the Blake Society, its chairman, 1988-94, and later life vice-president. A
self-described loner, his quirky politics can be best understood as a very British,
even English, form of left libertarianism.
William Morris, Our Country Right or Wrong: A Critical Edition
(Edited by Florence S. Boos. William Morris Society, 2008, 95 pp, pbk. £7.00.
When I was told this booklet was an edition of an unpublished lecture by Morris,
my assumption was it was newly discovered and had previously been unknown.
That is not the case, though, since extracts, amounting to a third of the text, were
included by May Morris in William Morris: Artist, Writer, Socialist (Oxford: Basil
Blackwell, 2 vols, 1936), II, pp. 53-62 - her indispensable supplementary volumes to
the Collected Works. Morris signed the manuscript ‘W.M. Jan 30th 1880 /
2.30 a.m. / Kelmscott House Upper Mall Hammersmith’ (the holograph concluding
folio is reproduced most attractively inside the covers of Our Country Right or
Wrong), his daughter commenting: ‘In 1880, towards the last of Morris’s days of
Liberalism, he was lecturing (to some Radical body) on War and Peace and [this is]
the MS. he was preparing…’ (ibid, pp. 52-3). Eugene D. LeMire lists it in The
Unpublished Lectures of William Morris as ‘Our Country, Right or Wrong’.
(Incidentally, it makes considerably better sense to use the punctuated title rather
than the one Florence Boos has chosen; ‘Our country, right or wrong’ was the title
of as well as a line from a pro-Union recruiting song in the American Civil War and
how Morris quoted it in his manuscript.) Although nobody knows whether this
lecture on ‘War and Peace’ was actually delivered, the likelihood is that it was
either to one of London’s numerous Radical Clubs or to a similar organization of
The overall context is ‘the Eastern Question’, the issue that had politicized
Morris, leading him to become treasurer of the Eastern Question Association in 1876
and enter public life (though his first speech was to come several months later when
he chaired the foundation meeting of the Society for the Protection of Ancient
Buildings). The Eastern Question, Britain’s central foreign policy problem for most of
the nineteenth century, concerned the pressures on the sclerotic Ottoman Empire
occasioned by Russian expansionism – there were successive Russo-Turkish wars,
the last being subsumed in the First World War - and the increasing restiveness of
her subject peoples, in not only the largely Christian Balkans but also Asia and north
Africa. The interests of British commerce and hence the British State were clear: to
protect against the intrusion of Russian naval power the Mediterranean and
communications with the Near and Middle East – and beyond the routes to British
India, with the Suez Canal being opened in 1869 – and the preservation of a large
area susceptible to British economic penetration, Turkey being an important
component of Britain’s informal empire. Castlereagh, Foreign Secretary from 1812
until his suicide in 1822, concluded that ‘barbarous as it is, Turkey forms in the
system of Europe a necessary evil’.
Successive crises ensued, with sections of the British public often heatedly
embroiled: the Greek struggle for independence in the 1820s; the Crimean War of
1854-6, enthusiastically supported by radicals, as Russophobic as their rulers, and
at the time incensed by Russia’s suppression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1849 on
behalf of the Austrian Empire; the Bulgarian atrocities of 1876 in which some 13,000
Christians were massacred, bringing Gladstone out of retirement and causing him to
write his best-selling pamphlet, The Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East;
further horrendous bloodletting (a recurrent feature of Turkish rule) in the 1890s to
suppress Armenian unrest, followed by insurrection in Crete; and the Balkan Wars
of 1912-13, in which the future novelist Joyce Cary fought on behalf of the
Montenegrins. Turkey’s defeat in the First World War, leading to the
dismemberment of its remaining empire, brought the Eastern Question largely to a
In 1877 the establishment of an independent Bulgaria was rejected by Turkey.
Russia therefore went to war once more and by the Treaty of San Stefano of March
1878 achieved all its demands, with Turkey agreeing to a ‘big’ Bulgaria (as well as
the full independence of Serbia). The other Great Powers then proceeded to work
for the nullification of Russia’s gains; and in June-July 1878 a European Congress,
meeting in Berlin under Bismarck’s chairmanship, substituted the Treaty of Berlin for
that of San Stefano. Disraeli (Earl of Beaconsfield since 1876) with the Marquess
of Salisbury as his Foreign Secretary (a position he had only occupied since April)
achieved almost all of their aims. The ‘big’ Bulgaria did not materialize, instead being
divided into three: only the northern part became independent, ‘Eastern Rumelia’
was to be a Turkish protectorate, and in the south Macedonia was to remain within
the Ottoman Empire. (The British fear that new Balkan states might be
independent in name but in reality become Russian satellites was soon to be shown
as groundless.) Herzegovina and Bosnia (where revolts had initially broken out in
1875) were handed over to Austria-Hungary, which occupied without annexing
them. As for Britain, she acquired Cyprus, a valuable naval base, but otherwise
guaranteed ‘Turkey-in-Asia’ (in contrast to the increasingly untenable ‘Turkey-in-
Europe’ and ‘Turkey-in-Africa’). All in all, Russia was given the opportunity to
retreat without too much loss of face; and the diplomacy was regarded as an
enormous personal triumph for Disraeli - save by radical opinion, including Morris
and the Eastern Question Association, in his own country.
In Our Country Right or Wrong Morris lambasts with considerable eloquence
what he calls ‘National Vain-glory’, which he explains is
both begotten of ignorance and begets it: a legacy of the injustice of past times,
it breeds injustice in us in the present that we may be injustly dealt with in the
future: it gabbles of the valour of our forefathers, while it is busy in undoing the
deeds that their valiant lives accomplished: it prates of the interests of our
country, while it is laying the train of events which will ruin the fortunes, and break
the hearts of the citizens: it scolds at wise men and honest men for what it calls a
policy of isolation, while itself it would have nothing to do with foreign nations
except for their ruin and ours: its great offence is for ever to cry out for war
without knowing what war means: all other nations, it deems, pay the price of
war; but we never do, and never can pay it, and never shall. The price of war –
a heavy price is that; confusion and reaction at the best, ruin at the worst.
‘Yes’, he concludes, ‘that is National Vain-glory’ (pp. 53-4). It, he says later,
must be appealed to, before any set of men in this country can get us to start
them off in the quest of gain by foreign conquest or foreign embroilment: people
at large do instinctively feel that a war in which one side at all events cannot
appeal to the highest principles of truth and justice is a scandal to the world, a
ruinous blow to the hopes of humanity. I know that it is unhappily true, that over
and over again we have allowed ourselves to be satisfied, to be gulled, by
wretched travesties of justice, and, I am ashamed as I say it, seldom more grossly
than in the luckless year we have just passed through…(p. 71)
Two pages on he refers to ‘the dreadful deeds of the past year’ (p. 73). The
crisis of 1876-8, as has been seen, was resolved by the summer of 1878. The very
justified fears of war had occurred early that year with the Mediterranean fleet
being ordered by the British cabinet in January to steam through the Dardanelles to
Constantinople to support Turkey against Russia. It was in these weeks that the
‘Jingo song’ had great popularity in the London music halls (sung by overwhelmingly
middle-class enthusiasts, it has been shown) and the words ‘Jingo’ and ‘Jingoism’
entered the language:
We don’t want to fight;
But, by jingo, if we do,
We’ve got the men, we’ve got the ships
We’ve got the money too.
Morris himself remarks that the words, ‘Our country, right or wrong’, had been
‘taken as the motto of a banner, as it were: the banner of a tribe clamorous once,
now somewhat subdued by force of circumstances, but which may as circumstances
change become clamorous once again, and unless they are well looked after
dangerous also: that tribe has been called the tribe of the Jingos’ (p. 53). So he
appreciates that war dangers of early 1878 had, for the time being, evaporated.
1879, in contrast, was ‘luckless’ and stained with ‘dreadful deeds’ because Britain,
first suffering humiliating defeats in Zulu and Afghan wars, countered with punitive
Interestingly, Morris does not especially blame Disraeli – or his ministers – for
the adventurism and imperialism of his government of 1874-80:
…it is unfair to lay the blame of the dreadful deeds of the past year, of the
anxious toil of two years ago on the Tory House of Commons or on Lord
Beaconsfield, and his ardent friend, admirer, & follower Lord Salisbury. Lord
Beaconsfield and his tail rule England at present? Too true – but why? Who made
the House of Commons a Tory one?....It was ourselves, Sirs, Ourselves (p. 73).
Responsibility is, then, attributed to the electorate (which he in no way
acknowledges as still extremely restricted: householders in the boroughs
enfranchised, but only the £12 ratepayers in the counties, and exclusively male), an
electorate that in 1874 had had the audacity to oust ‘a great statesman’ (p. 74):
Gladstone. Our Country Right or Wrong is effusively, embarrassingly Gladstonian.
This is surely the principal reason why neither Morris himself nor Eugene LeMire
chose to publish it and his daughter no more than selected passages. The future
anti-parliamentarian is revealed in 1880 as a gullible worshipper of a politician. It
was going to take the inglorious record of Gladstone’s government of 1880-85 –
with the occupation of Egypt; coercion in Ireland and the imprisonment of Parnell;
participation in the partition of west Africa - to move Morris on to socialism.
Still there are excellent things in the lecture (as I trust my quotations indicate)
and it certainly needed to be printed in its entirety. On the other hand, I regret to
say, Florence Boos is an inappropriate editor. She has produced (unlike May Morris)
a fussy, literary scholar’s text, not the reader-friendly edition that is called for; and
struggles with the fearsome convolutions of the Eastern Question, but is no more at
home with general British or European history and politics. For example, Britain did
not ‘stay’ from 1882 till 1956 (save in the Suez Canal Zone) in Egypt, which became
independent in 1922 (p. 42). It is oxymoronic to say (twice!) that MacMahon was
the President of France during the Second Empire (it was the Third Republic) (pp.
61, 91). She predictably puts her boot into Salisbury in an endnote: ‘During three
subsequent terms of office as Conservative prime minister, Salisbury’s advocacy of
Disraelian “peace with honour” led him to block Irish Home Rule, co-broker the
partition of Africa, and preside…over British entrance into the Boer War’ (p. 92).
But it was Salisbury, combining the premiership and Foreign Secretaryship, who
extricated Britain in 1897 from her traditional support of the Ottomans (Germany
moving rapidly to take over from her). (The old Chartist and lifelong friend of
Engels, George Julian Harney - born in 1817 - judged Salisbury’s administration of
1886-92, with its innovative social policy, as the best within his memory.) And
readers baffled by the note on ‘the New Road’ (p. 91) – occasioned by Morris’s
‘Say 3 men shot stone dead: no great harm to them perhaps: but how would your
hearts have been frozen with horror if you had seen that done in the New Road this
afternoon…’ (p. 64) – may like to know that was how the modern Euston and
Marylebone Roads were known for much of the nineteenth century.
That Boos is agonized by contemporary US foreign policy and particularly the
occupation of Iraq breaks through several times into her introduction. She
introduces A.J.P. Taylor’s essential distinction, popularized by Martin Ceadel,
between ‘pacificism’ - ‘the assumption that war, though sometimes necessary, is
always an irrational and inhumane way to solve disputes, and that its prevention
should always be an over-riding political priority’ - and ‘pacifism’ - ‘the belief that all
war is always wrong and should never be resorted to, whatever the consequences
of abstaining from fighting’ (Pacifism in Britain, 1914-1945: The Defining of a Faith
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980), p. 3); yet immediately declares, without
explanation, that she proposes to speak of, not pacificists, but ‘anti-bellicists’ (p.
16). Her programme is to enlist Morris, not merely as the pacificist, or ‘anti-bellicist’,
he clearly was, but as a pacifist. This seems implausible given his general character
and long-term admiration for the valour of the warrior north. She is able, however,
to trump Morris’s pacificist ‘acts of violence…are still acts of violence, and therefore
degrading to humanity, as all war is’ (p. 31 – and Morris’s emphasis), with a pacifist
statement a year later in 1893 that suggests a significantly new attitude: ‘I will say
once for all, what I have often wanted to say of late, to wit, that the idea of taking
any human life for any reason whatsoever is horrible and abhorrent to me’ (p. 32).
She continues this with a section on ‘Violence in Morris’s Literary Writings’ (pp. 33-
38), at last analyzing literary texts and commanding my respect.
An autobiographical statement written at the request of Bollettino Archivio G. Pinelli
I was born in Rugby, Warwickshire, 1942, and received my formal education in the town (winning a scholarship to the famous Rugby School, home of Rugby football), at Corpus Christi College, Oxford (taking a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics) and Birkbeck College, London (converting to History and taking my doctorate). I then spent my entire professional career at the University of Leeds, working in its continuing (or adult) education department and teaching social, political and cultural history, sociology and Victorian Studies.