Mat Kavanagh [Letter]

It is with deep regret – and this is no pious sentimentality – that I heard the news of our dear comrade’s death. The tribute by John Hewetson was movingly and grandly written, because it was true to the character of Mat: his cheerfulness, his tolerance and his sincere convictions for the cause of freedom.

What can one say? Only a fortnight ago I sent him a fair supply of literature to ease the lack of contact with old friends; and how he did enjoy going over the past of his anarchist exploits. How too, one enjoyed every minute of his lively conversation on this topic, and never tired of his wit and vital interest in political developments throughout the world.

We wrote at odd intervals of time to one another, and his letters always held for me great inspiration and practical commonsense. They were never very grammatical or even wholly legible towards the end, but they carried conviction and the honesty of one who scorned the conditioning of Authority and the whole mumbo-jumbo of political power seeking and corruption.

I remember the first evening I saw him, at a Lancashire meeting. He was very happy in his anecdotes of anarchist tradition, and gave us a delightfully humorous picture of Labour and Communist careerists, eager to deny their previous Libertarian connections and past. 

He must, indeed, have been a nightmare to those ‘safe’ political leaders of the Labour Movement, whose early associations with Anarchism were to be erased from their memory, and from other memories, at all or any costs! Mat was the boy to remind them of certain principles which no amount of political opportunism could change or destroy. Their worship of mammon was not criticised as a religious deflection, but as a concrete fact, that they approved of the money system of buying and selling – both commodities and human beings – and that the true community-purpose of living for each other, and for happiness and creative effort, was absent from every scrap of their mental and physical make up!

Many of us stray off the path of Libertarian principles and fellowship, because, of course, we are human in an often very inhuman social environment. It is the facts of our failure that convince us of the needs for community effort and community feeling – but always as individuals.

Mat was always tolerant of others’ failings as he admitted his own to be never ending! He was, however, downright critical of those who claimed the ‘Almighty’’ privilege of sending ordinary folk to their doom, in war and in political and economic slavery.

Indeed we have lost a dear friend, comrade and adviser in our Movement. May we remember his cheerfulness and his tolerance, but also never forget his deep convictions and struggle for a world of FREE MEN.


Henry Moorhouse.

Aylesbury, Mar. 21.

Freedom 27 March 1954