At the Old Bailey on Monday, fifteen months’ imprisonment was imposed on an Anarchist comrade, T. W. Brown, for distributing a leaflet which the ruling class didn’t like. Tom W. Brown (not to be confused with Tom Brown, the author of Trade Unionism or Syndicalism and The British General Strike) had written several articles in War Commentary, in most of which he vigorously attacked the hypocrisy and cruelty of war, and especially the meanness of the ruling class. The spectacle of profits being made from the sacrifice of soldiers’ lives and limbs, aroused in him a passionate indignation and spirit of revolt. He was particularly infuriated by Churchill’s comfortable cynicism about the bombing of workers’ homes, and it was the remark “it’s just like old times” with which the Prime Minister greeted the return of bombing raids to London last February which stung him into producing the leaflet to which exception was taken. Later he was similarly affected by Churchill’s advice on the flying bombs: “We’ve just got to get used to them”.
The callousness of these ruling class utterances provoked in our comrade a personal response. He produced a duplicated leaflet drawing attention to this callousness, and circulated it himself. It was the act of a man chafing at the injustice and cruelty he saw around him, an act which, in a way, itself reflected the powerlessness of the individual in revolt against reactionary power.
A mere three or four hundred copies were distributed. Yet the State prosecutor screamed that it was a “wicked leaflet”, and denounced our comrade as an “agitator” – that word so beloved of reactionaries! Tom. W. Brown expressed his reactions to the prevailing insanity of war. The State was scared that people might express similar views; so our comrade is put out of the way for 15 months. He is just one more who is paying the penalty for his opinion.
War Commentary for Anarchism October 1944