Albert Meltzer: 1920-1996

Many of you will know of Albert’s involvement with the Kate Sharpley Library. He was one of the original enthusiasts for the creation of an archive that would reflect the complexities and cross-currents of Anarchism and be accessible to comrades.

This is not an obituary of Albert - they’ve been written - but some things do need to be said. Albert was a kind, loyal man whose essential humanity permeates the pages of his autobiography (I Couldn’t Paint Golden Angels AK Press/KSL). Albert was always concerned about how Anarchism had drifted away from its natural base in the working class. To Albert Anarchism was not a philosophical/ intellectual idea but how working class people behaved, lived and struggled in times of calm and social crisis. The Anarchist who influenced him most was Billy Campbell (killed in the Second World War) - not by his writings but by his behaviour.

As his life moved on Albert became more and more concerned that Anarchism appeared to be a constituency that seemed more concerned with single issues or how one dressed rather than the simple humanity he had witnessed in his dealings with the Spanish Resistance and those who supported it.

All this made him aware of the importance of Anarchist history (not just the history of Anarchism!). Working class militants who had suffered emotionally and physically for their belief did not appear in any of the standard histories (written by Anarchists or non-anarchists alike). To forget about them was to re-write what Anarchism is, to substitute the conveniencies of today’s beliefs onto yesterday - an act of stalinisation of the worst kind.

As Francisco Torres says in his introduction to our pamphlet The Anarchist Resistance To Franco by Antonio Tellez:

What is important is the attempt to wipe out from memory the generosity of spirit and physical courage of these combatants and to convert the absence of this reality into normality.”

Albert could be a fierce opponent - but always tried to make sure that his criticism was informed by his beliefs. The obituary published in Freedom was disgraceful. Others around KSL had never particularly shared Albert’s antipathy to this paper. The fact that the editors of Freedom published such an obituary riddled with personal vindictiveness has changed that. Letters from all over the world to us have echoed our feelings of anger and disgust.

we now know where we stand

KSL Collective