Terry Liddle (1938-2012)

KSL collective members were saddened to hear of the death of Terry Liddle. He was a thinker and writer with his roots in the ideas of William Morris, Henry Salt, Frank Ridley and a myriad of freethought and republican thinkers from the UK and the European continent. We will leave it to others to accurately describe his politics. For us Terry was the quintessential autodidact whose extensive reading and reflection lead him down many pathways that made up the countryside of the British radical movement. Some might argue that a few of these paths were dead ends but we rather think that Terry would have argued that the journey was as important as the arrival when it came to travel.

These journeys had provided Terry with an impressive knowledge of movements and people. Some of it was arcane, some scurrilous and some deeply moving. A lot of it he wanted to keep alive. His last contact with us was to get a copy of “Peter Annet, 1693-1769” by Ella Twynam for his work with the Freethought History Group. It’s a little gem of freethought history and typical that Terry wanted it back in the world. As always he was funny, knowledgeable and thorough. He shared those qualities with other researchers and contributed his knowledge (in a sadly unrecognized way sometimes) to a host of scholars and their work.

Terry spent a lot of time on boundaries of Anarchism, Marxism and Socialism. It could be a lonely place but one that rather suited him. He was stringent in his critique of Marxism but not as forceful in his critiques of Anarchism. His work against Marxist oppression in Eastern Europe shown in the broadsheet Volya and the publications of Kulak Press struck a chord with us in the eighties. Other friends, we are sure, could produce other, completely different examples. We do sense, though, that the great drives of Terry’s life were republicanism and freethought, both reflected in the sensitive and rigorous research that was so much part of his life. We should add Terry’s name to the list of other great freethought writers such as Chapman Cohen and Joseph McCabe. He is their equal and it belongs there. It is to be hoped that, eventually, a collection of Terry’s writings will be produced that reflect the intellectual richness of the man we were proud to know and learn from, and with.