Joe Thomas [obituary]

Joe Thomas, who died at 78 in London in February, was an old friend of anarcho-syndicalism who worked together on many industrial fights, with Tom Brown of the old Syndicalist Workers Federation, as well as with Miguel Garcia for the CNT prisoners. Though Marxist (but not a Leninist – his distinction) he consistently supported the Flag even through the difficult Angry Brigade days when Marxists and pseudo-anarchists had gone with the wind up. (The support was often financial and we are told is reflected in his will). 

Originally with the Young Communists, and a committed trade unionist well known among Fleet Street printworkers, he later went over to council communism. While his main interest politically was workers councils, and at the same time forming and re-forming small groups of those who were disillusioned with State Communism, or seeking an alternative to the liberalism masquerading as ‘airy-fairy anarchism’ (as he put it), he was (to the surprise of his many friends in the trade union movement) a good friend to revolutionary anarchism and to the practicalities of anarcho-syndicalism (to the dismay of his Marxist friends). 

Once when he told a surprised trot he was coming with me and Miguel Garcia to speak at our meetings in Wales, he was asked in surprise, ‘Why should anarchists be interested in miners?’ and he melodramatically whispered ‘Dynamite!’ To a ‘Christian Anarchist’ who doubted the existence of ‘violent’ anarchists and suspected police agents, he told him, ‘They’re among my dearest friends’. 

A memorial meeting (paid for by Sogat, in appreciation of his work) was held in March. There was no funeral as such – as a strict atheist (with Britain’s leading evangelist as a brother-in-law) he was taking no chances on an occasion where for once he couldn’t answer back. 

AM [Albert Meltzer]

Black Flag 198 (May 1990)

[See also: Life and Times of Joe Thomas :The road to libertarian socialism by Alan Woodward ]