Library Notes (August 2014)

Our intermittent library blog ‘Notes from the KSL’ has been busy lately, with pieces on Sacco and Vanzetti, Noah Ablett, Alf Barton and the pamphlet “Jones’s Boy” by Spokeshave. Keep an eye on it for more thoughts on anarchism and history:

Also keep an eye on our website at as new stuff is posted there regularly.

I had an interesting discussion with a friend recently about anarchist history. As ever, we talked about the problem of working out how to study the history of the anarchist movement. You’ll not be surprised that neither of us thought just reading about Kropotkin was enough. But given that we can’t know everything, how do you work out what is important and where do you find it? Relying on the printed word can only give a partial reconstruction of what was going on, or what people were thinking. Worse, it can lead to neat accounts of messy processes; something that academic writing always risks, with its need to produce or refute narratives. “Snippets and traces do not make for a PhD.”

These questions won’t go away. How do you rescue the nameless ones of anarchist history? Even if you can give them a name, how much can you understand of how they saw the world, or the movement and their role in it? And how to understand anarchist history without producing a version of history that simplifies and tidies up what the movement was? Drop us a line if you have any thoughts on this.

London’s Freedom newspaper announced in March 2014 that they were moving online, complemented by a quarterly freesheet and a monthly email digest. If you want to get involved, Freedom can be found at

The London Anarchist bookfair is Saturday 18th October, Queen Mary, University of London.

This Double issue was produced by the KSL collective in August 2014. Thanks go to everyone who helped, including the friends of the library.