May 2014 is the eighteenth anniversary of the death of Albert Meltzer. To mark it, the Kate Sharpley Library collective have put together this (small) collection of quotes to salute our comrade.
The Anarchism I advocated from the start, and never varied from
is that born of the class struggle, which was certainly taken into
account by philosophers but came out of the working class. It had a
proud fighting history in the struggle against Statism and every
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 174
There was by now a major difference as to what Anarchism was all
about. Either it was a marble effigy of utopian ideals, to be admired
and defined and even lived up to by some chosen individuals within the
framework of a repressive society, or it was a fighting creed with a
programme for breaking down repression.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 104
Fleet Street workers long held the cynical view that theirs is a
lie factory and the extra money they get is like the extra for playing
the piano in a whorehouse.
‘Mirror to Maxwell’ Black Flag no.139 page 5
Such were the restrictive practices denounced as being a
restraint of the freedom of the press-lords to decide who should work
and who shouldn’t that the management was not consulted as to our
political reliability and the only test applied was whether we could do
the job or not. This type of abuse of the employer’s natural rights was
later held up by Tory propagandists as an example of union power at its
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 170
Nobody criticised the trade unions more than I did whilst they
were powerful. I plugged syndicalism for over half a century and for
what my powers were worth never spared the lash on bureaucracy and
reformism. In the Nineties legislation and unemployment have reduced
their power no less surely than was done in fascist countries abroad
during the Thirties. I can now see the worst union was better than the
best political party, and their faults were as nothing compared with the
absence of any form of workers’ defence.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 373
When the ambitious have power, they preach self-sacrifice by others.
The Floodgates of Anarchy (with Stuart Christie), PM press edition page 32
The theme of politics is always the same - that one must work harder and get less.
The Floodgates of Anarchy (with Stuart Christie), PM press edition page 76
What above all is the curse of leadership is not the leaders
themselves, but agreement to being led blindly — not the faults of the
shepherd but the meekness of the sheep.
Anarchism: Arguments for and against (2nd ed.) page 59
Most people, whether they admit it or not, are conditioned by the
mass media, the neo-Church, and they deplore the type of violence that
the state deplores and applaud the type of violence that the state
The Floodgates of Anarchy (with Stuart Christie), PM press edition page 111
It is obviously sometimes necessary to use violence, since laying
down a code that says one may not use it in any circumstances leaves
one helpless against attack. Everyone except an extreme pacifist would
admit this, yet a different standard is laid down up for anarchists. It
seems the official line, certainly the judicidal view, is they must
either be believers in “mindless violence” or woolly-minded idealists,
so-called “non-violent anarchists” or “violent” ones, as if 99.9 per
cent recurring of the population were neither ultra-pacifists nor mad
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 256-7
In our day ‘the Left’ has changed from having any
association whatever with the working class and even from State
socialism to meaning a package-deal of reforms and attitudes generally
expected of a ‘progressive’ person with no class connotation.
Introduction to modern politics - Leftism Black Flag 146 17/12/1985 page 6
Are we calling these Intellectuals idiots? Who called these idiots Intellectual?
Liars and Liberals, Black Flag supplement page 3
The name “libertarian” was still, at any rate in Spain, used only
by the anarchists and syndicalists; the hi-jacking of the name by right
wing private enterprise people not yet having become widely known
outside the USA — it still signified “libertarian socialist” as opposed
to “State socialist”.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 233
I moved in the early Seventies to a Greenwich council flat, and was there when a widely-advertised fascist march took place, passing a few streets away in Lewisham which had a high proportion of Black residents, As usual, it was more a police demonstration guarding bussed-in fascists marching between their lines.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 290
Many subsequent experiences show that the British secret
political police, if not the worst in the world, are the most secret.
The writer C. S. Lewis says the greatest success of the Devil is to
persuade people he doesn’t exist, which makes it easier to get them to
obey him. I never had any experience of this, but it certainly applies
to the secret political police. Perhaps Lewis was understandably
confusing the two.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 86
Our historical judgement was criticised as based only on
anecdotal history from veterans but knowing how conventional history is
concocted I doubt if it suffered from that.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 182-3
‘Research’ often means looking up dated reference books, and passing it off as knowledge.
I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels page 166
Working-class theoreticians who express and
formulate theories are totally ignored as of no consequence: what they
say is attributed to the next available “Intellectual”.
‘Only a few intellectuals’ Black Flag v3n19 page 7 April 1975
The histories of whole peoples were wiped out for precisely the
same reason that the history of the working class movement in recent
times is wiped out: it does not suit the conquerors for it to be known,
because traditions keep alive the spirit of revolt.
Review of British syndicalism by Bob Holton, Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review no.2 page 16 (1977)
In KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library No. 80, October 2014