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19 February 2010

Colin Ward, 1924-2010

Tributes paid to a "gentle anarchist".

By Daniel Trilling

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”.

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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).