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Posts Tagged ‘anarchism’

Following revolution in Russia, shockwaves reverberated around the world, and Aberdeen felt that impact as well. In late 1918 there was a meeting in Aberdeen with the aim of forming an ‘Industrial Council or ‘Soviet’ and according to the local newspapers, a telegram was read out from Glasgow socialist John MacLean, which simply read ‘Aberdeen Workers! Unite!’.

The Aberdeen Communist Group was formally established in September 1919. Members of the Aberdeen group included William Greig, William Leslie, J. Leslie, George Scott, James Scroggie, Basil Taylor and Robert Troup. The group was very active and often featured in local newspapers, usually being accused of being dangerous Bolsheviks, intent on revolution. The group held many public meetings, including in November 1919 for example, a talk by Guy Aldred (Aldred was from Glasgow and an anarchist communist, author/publisher and former conscientious objector who was imprisoned at the camp at Dyce).

Events nationally would alter the course though and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was formally founded at a Unity Conference held in London in late July/early August 1920. The new national committed itself to parliamentary representation and this caused a split in some local Communist groups, including Aberdeen. Many of the key members (such as Basil Taylor) did not join the new party and chose a different path, aligning themselves with the anti-parliamentarian movement led in Scotland by Guy Aldred. The Aldred grouping was a fusion of anarchists and communists and in 1921 the Anti-Parliamentary Communist Federation was founded.

Related entries: Aberdeen Communist Party and William Leslie.

References: Aberdeen Daily Journal, For Communism (Guy Aldred, The Strickland Press, Glasgow, 1943), ‘Aberdeen Was More Red Than Glasgow: The Impact of the First World War and the Russian Revolution beyond Red Clydeside’ (William Kenefick, in Scotland and the Slavs: Cultures in Contact: 1500 – 2000 (Mark Cornwall & Murray Frames (eds.), Newtonville, 2001), Red Scotland: The Rise and Fall of the Radical Left c.1872 – 1932 (William Kenefick, Edinburgh University Press, 2007) and Anti-Parliamentary Communism: The Movement for Workers’ Councils 1917 – 1945 (Mark Shipway, Palgrave, 1988).

Sources: unknown.

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There was an anarchist group in Aberdeen in the 1890s but there does not appear to have been a formal group again until the late 1960s. The Aberdeen Anarchist Group was active by 1966, and by 1968 there were 2 groups (Aberdeen Anarchists and Aberdeen Anarchist Federation (a branch of the national group, The Syndicalists Workers’ Federation), as well as a student group at Aberdeen University. Local anarchists were involved in other campaigns as well such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (Youth), Committee of 100, the anti-Vietnam war movement and tenants’ rights groups. Also of note is that the Scottish Anarchist Conference was held in Aberdeen in March 1969 and the Anarchist Federation of Scotland branch Scottish Secretary was based in Montrose.

The Aberdeen groups appear to have dissolved by 1970. From the late 1960s as well, local anarchists were now forming new groups, and calling themselves libertarian socialists: Solidarity (Aberdeen Group) (1967 – 1972), Aberdeen Libertarian Socialist Group (c.1973 – c.1982) and Social Revolution/Solidarity (c.1975 – c.1982). These groups were very active for many years, locally and nationally, and the Social Revolution group of the late 1970s was part of the Scottish Libertarian Federation.

There was an active anarchist group by the late 1980s and they issued a news-sheet titled ‘Titanic: Aberdeen Anarchist Monthly’. There have been numerous groupings active since then (such as Aberdeen Anarchist Resistance in the early 2000s), yet groups have often been short-lived and prone to lapse (the latest incarnation of a group was set up in 2016). There are strong connections with other groups such as Aberdeen Against Austerity and the Aberdeen Anti-Fascist Alliance.

Related entries: Aberdeen Against Austerity, Aberdeen Anti-Fascist Alliance, Aberdeen Libertarian Socialist Group, Aberdeen University Anarchist Group, Social Revolution/Solidarity and Solidarity (Aberdeen Group).

References: Aberdeen Press and Journal and Freedom newspaper sourced online.

Sources: some printed material (a copy of ‘Titanic: Aberdeen Anarchist Monthly’, c.1988, is held at the Scottish Radical Library/ACE archive in Edinburgh).

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The national group was formed by University students and graduates who were expelled and/or left the Socialist Party of Great Britain around 1973. There were a number of splinter groups in Britain, including one in Aberdeen (see the Aberdeen Libertarian Socialist Group, who also called themselves Aberdeen Anarchists). The national group issued publications such as ‘Libertarian Communism’, ‘Workers’ Power – for social revolution’ and ‘Social Revolution’. The Aberdeen group were very active and edited an issue in 1976 and also hosted a key conference that same year. In 1977 the movement merged with another group called Solidarity which had been formed in 1960 by former members of the Socialist Labour League (note: there had been an earlier Solidarity Group in Aberdeen between 1967 and 1972). Following the merger the new group published a journal called ‘Solidarity: for Social Revolution’.

The Aberdeen group was also part of the Scottish Libertarian Federation in the late 1970s. Members of the group were also involved in a host of local campaigns throughout the 1970s and 1980s, including the British Withdrawal from Northern Ireland Campaign/The Other Army Information Centre, Aberdeen Campaign Against The Cuts and the Stuff The Jubilee! campaign in 1977.

Related entries: Aberdeen Anarchists, Aberdeen Libertarian Socialist Group, The Big Print Collective and Solidarity.

References: information and issues of the national group magazines are available via website http://www.libcom.org. Aberdeen Group report in Scottish Libertarian Federation newsletter (1976).

Sources: there are copies of some printed material as part of Aberdeen Peoples Press archive at Aberdeen University Library.

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There was a group active in late 1968 – mid-1969 involved in leafleting local schools and University sit-ins.

There was a later group advertised in the Scottish Libertarian Federation newsletters of 1976/1977.

Related entries: Aberdeen Anarchists.

References: adverts in Freedom newspaper (1968/1969) and adverts in Scottish Libertarian Federation newsletter (1976/1977).

Sources: unknown.

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A group advertised in The Big Print newspaper in February 1979.

References: advert in The Big Print.

Sources: unknown.

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The Subversive Graffiti Collective produced a free news sheet (around 8 issues in 1981/1982), with for example, reports on male violence, strikes and direct action by communities and workers.

The aims as stated in the news sheet were: (1) to support, seek solidarity for and be involved in struggles for the needs of the vast majority of people, against the elite of businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats. This includes activities at the workplace, by the unemployed, by tenants, against oppression on the grounds of sex or sexual orientation, (2) to urge that all involved control these actions, not leaders such as Union officials or political parties, (3) to aim at the overthrow of all governments, bosses and leaders by the conscious action of the majority of the people. We want a world without any relationships of domination and submission, where all have an equal say in how things are run, and where production is for human need not profit.

As well as producing the news sheet, the Collective held informal discussions in Summer Street Community Centre. The 1st issue states the new sheet was produced by people in the group Solidarity (Aberdeen) and ‘other revolutionaries in Aberdeen and the North East’. The Collective address was c/o Boom Town Books, 167 King Street, Aberdeen.

There was also a similar news sheet in Peterhead, ‘Bloo Toon Graffiti’, produced by the Bloo Toon Graffiti Collective (also c/o of Boomtown Books).

Related entries: Aberdeen People’s Press and Social Revolution/Solidarity.

References: see below.

Sources: copies are held at the Scottish Radical Library/ACE archive in Edinburgh and also at the Spirit of Revolt archive in Glasgow.

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The Big Print: North-East Libertarian Paper, was produced by a collective, and printed by socialist publisher Aberdeen People’s Press. The Big Print had a number of similarities with the newspaper Aberdeen People’s Press (which ran from 1973 – 1976), with investigative reporting, listings of local pressure groups, yet, it was more strident in its political outlook. It had monthly sales of between 600 and 700.

The first editorial in 1978 set out the aims: “We aim to be an alternative both to the establishment and to the papers of left-wing parties who only want to take power for themselves. By exposing the day-to-day problems that most people have to face we hope to give a clearer picture of present society’s priorities , as well as publicising the activities of people engaged in changing them…Big Print has a clear political outlook. Rejecting the charade of the parliamentary system (with its M.P.s and councillors) doesn’t mean that we place our hope in some ‘revolutionary leadership’ assuming power on behalf of the working people. On the contrary we believe that only through independent action by people in similar situations, with decisions being made by everyone involved, is there any hope of changing the system as a whole”.

Related entries: Aberdeen Libertarian Socialist Group and Aberdeen People’s Press.

References: copies of The Big Print newspaper (issues 1 – 22, 1978 – 1980)

Sources: newspaper held at University of Aberdeen Library.

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