George Walford: Anarchism

“Anarchism is probably about nine-tenths discussion and one-tenth action.” (Freedom October 1989) The remark appears with a suggestion that anarchists should work for redistribution of goods and services, but the value of such a change is doubtful; it would mean duplicating the efforts of other groups. Ten years ago there were, for example, already some 5,000 voluntary organisations working to help the disabled [1] and the trade unions, even now, exercise more control over the distribution of incomes than anarchism can hope for in the foreseeable future. These groups have been doing these things for many years, and although their success certainly has its limitations there is little reason to think that help from the tiny number of anarchists will make much difference.

The behaviour of any group indicates where the interests of its members lie, and the passion of anarchists for critical discussion, unhampered by commitment of their movement to any course of positive action, enables them to perform a function which they alone are capable of undertaking – “blue sky” research in the fullest sense.

[1] Guardian 26 February 1979

from Ideological Commentary 46, July 1990.