Colin Ward, 1924-2010

Tributes paid to a "gentle anarchist".

Colin Ward, who has died aged 85, was a prolific author, social theorist and campaigner. A lifelong anarchist, he championed the right of ordinary people to have control over their own lives.

Ward was a frequent contributor to the New Statesman (and to New Society, which merged with the magazine in 1988). Here, the Independent's Boyd Tonkin -- formerly literary editor of the NS -- pays tribute to his work:

In Colin Ward's Utopian junkyard, scruffy, unrespectable people and places survived and thrived on the edge of wealth, influence -- even legality. As far as mainstream journalism went, these marginals and mavericks might as well have lived on Pluto. Often taking as his subjects people in or near his own Suffolk village, he championed the twilight world of allotment-diggers, unofficial smallholders, prefab dwellers, caravan habitués, rural squatters, estate children, multi-tasking traders, DIY artisans and housebuilders, most as remote from the trim land of planning applications as they were from tax demands. If you needed to reclaim a bad word, you might even want to say that Colin opened the gates of Pikey Paradise and praised all its delights.

Elsewhere, Slugger O'Toole writes: "in Colin's hands, anarchism was less of an improbable ideal and more of a perspective that could comfortably coexist with and inform lots of shades of political thought".

Indeed, over at the Fabian Society blog Next Left, Stuart White claims Ward as a pioneer of mutualism -- the values of co-dependency and collective control currently in vogue with our political class.

Naturally, Ward's own commitment ran deeper than headline-grabbing announcements in the run-up to an election. Selections from his own writings are available to read here (PDF).

Daniel Trilling is the Editor of New Humanist magazine. He was formerly an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman.

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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink