Scottish Anarchism

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Scottish Anarchism

Anarchism in Scotland has been surprisingly strong, given the numerically small anarchist movement in the U.K. George Woodcock doesn't cover it in [1], but mentions that Glasgow and London were the traditional centres of British anarchism. John Quail[2] describes the formation of anarchist groups in Paisley, Dundee and Glasgow, in 1903, and later in Edinburgh; a single edition of a syndicalist paper, the Voice of Labour, was produced, and the Dundee anarchists tried to reform the jute workers' union along federalist lines.

Glasgow Anarchist Group

Tom Mann's 'Industrial Syndicalist', [3] produced in 1910-11, had supporters in Glasgow. The Glasgow Anarchist Group, formed by George Barrett and John Paton, had fifty members in 1911, including Willie Gallacher, who was later elected M.P. for Fife as a Communist. The group was active in a seamen's strike, expanded and produced a weekly paper, with 34 issues between May 1912 and early 1913.

Open Air Meetings

The veteran British anarchist Guy Aldred lead a free speech fight on Glasgow Green in 1924 [4]. The Glasgow Anarchist Group had around sixty members in 1944; Charlie Baird was the secretary, and other activists included Robert Lynn and Eddie Shaw. Interestingly, the ideas of both Stirner and Kropotkin were much discussed ('most of the comrades could accept the philosophy of Egoism and dovetail it into the Syndicalist tendency within the movement').In Glasgow,weekly meetings were held outside Yarrow's, John Brown's and Blythswood shipyards, Dalmuir Ordnance Factory, in Paisley, Hamilton and on the Mound in Edinburgh.

Class War

This tradition continues; Class War is active in both Glasgow and Edinburgh (there is a Class War Postal Workers section in Glasgow), the Anarchist Black Cross has a Scottish section, there are several anarchist publishers[5] (Counter Information and A K Press in Edinburgh), It isn't clear whether the Anarchist Communist Federation, the Direct Action Movement or Green Anarchists have support in Scotland.

Glasgow Anarchist Summer School

The Glasgow Anarchist Summer School, May 29th-30th, is being organised by, among others, the same Robert Lynn (now 69) and the son of Charlie Baird ('event organised by Summer School group drawn from Glasgow Class War, Counter Information, Free University Network, Libertarian Social Committee and individual anarchists and libertarian socialists').


  1. 'Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas And Movements', by George Woodock, 2nd edition, 1986, Pelican (ISBN 0-14-022697-4).
  2. 'The Slow Burning Fuse: The Lost History of the British Anarchists' by John Quail, 1978, Paladin (ISBN 0 586 08225 5).
  3. 'The Industrial Syndicalist', introduced by Geoff Brown, Spokesman Books (ISBN 85124 082 8)
  4. 'Workers City: The Real Glasgow Stands Up', ed. Farquhar McLay, 1988 Clydeside Press (ISBN 0 9512057 22)
  5. 'Anarchist Yearbook 1993', Phoenix Press (ISBN 0 948984 25 2)

Article by Ian Heavens first appeared on [Spunk].

Posted by John Couzin

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