Anarchy 15

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Contents of No. 15

May 1962


The work of David Wills Anthony Weaver 129
Clinical aspects of the work of David Wills ‘Consultant Psychiatrist’ 139
Down in the jungle David Downes 146
Do we want happy children? Dachine Rainer 151
Cover by Rufus Segar, Cover drawing by Dick Hart
Dick Hart’s drawing is one of his illustrations to Magnolia Buildings by Elizabeth Stucley, and is used by kind permission of the publishers, The Bodley Head Ltd.


Tony Gibson

YOUTH FOR FREEDOM:
FREEDOM FOR YOUTH

This challenging pamphlet, by a research psychologist with many years of teaching experience behind him, is sub-titled “A consideration of the factors influencing the development of a free and socially effective youth”. It begins with some reflections on the significance of education, and the second chapter, on “The Revolt in the School” describes the work of three progressive schools, the Burgess Hill School of ten years ago, Neill’s Summerhill, and St. George-in-the-East Secondary School in the period of Alex Bloom’s headship. The third chapter discusses the nature of the young child, the fourth is on “The Child Rebel” and the brilliant final chapter is on the Adolescent. The author concludes that

“Young people sense that there is a conspiracy of age against youth, and they are right. Too much is preached about the responsibilities which adolescents must learn to accept, responsibilities which involve going like cattle into the military corral, sweating as underpaid apprentices, grinding at studies to make themselves more efficient units of production, denying their lusty sexuality when it is at its height, dutifully fulfilling the vicarious ambitions of their parents. We are not going to preach ssocial revolution as another duty which the young generation have got to shoulder. Our message to the young is entirely one of encouragement, of realizing the value of their own aspirations, of spurning the burdens that authority would place upon them and the shoddy rewards cynically offered in return for the sacrifice of their own natures. Emotionally frustrated boys and girls turn to idealism all too easily, but it is idealism of an impractical and sentimental kind. A youth who burns to sacrifice himself to a revolutionary cause may be as mentally sick as the one who burns to lay down his life for his king. It is no great task to capture the frustrated emotionalism of adolescence with bands and banners and songs, but such mysticism is useless for truly revolutionary ends. Youth disturbed in its natural harmony, is too willing to sacrifice, to give, we must show it how to take.”


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The greater part of this issue of ANARCHY is devoted to two men who have spent most of their lives in the liberation of the young: David Wills, who is about to begin another of his experiments, and A. S. Neill, whose book Summerhill (an extract appeared in ANARCHY 11) has just been published in London, and is discussed here by Dachine Rainer.

Why are such men rare? Paul Reiwald asks himself this question and answered “Because we do not want them.” And Howard Jones in Reluctant Rebels, notes that “It has been necessary for A. S. Neill, G. A. Lyward, W. David Wills, and other pioneers, to carry out their group experiments with children outside the official educational system. Wills, when running Hawkspur camp, a therapeutic community of unsettled adolescents, once approached the British Home Office for sponsorship and was told that this camp would not receive such official support until it was much more orderly.”

The fact is, Wills writes, “that we are all offenders under the skin. We all have ungenerous, malicious, even murderous thoughts and impulses which we are careful to keep in check, but which nevertheless are there under the surface, as roaring lions seeking whom they may devour. These impulses are often stronger than we suspect and we are frightened of them. When we see them ‘escape’ in other people, those people become for us symbols of our own unconscious impulses, and we want to stamp on them. ‘Punish him’, we cry, ‘whip him, hang him’; and we feel a little better. Therefore, send not to know for whom the hangman’s bell tolls; it tolls for thee. It is ourselves we want to punish.”

Our society does not really want the liberators, because it does not want freedom and responsibility. It wants conformity and gets it, and it goes besides, the pathetically inadequate characters whose case histories appear in Wills’ books, as well as people like Robert Allerton, who has formed, as Tony Parker puts it “a viable asocial pattern of his own.” David Downes in ANARCHY’s review of The Courage of His Convictions by Parker and Allerton, concludes that before we stand any chance of changing him we must change ourselves.

But our society gets too, the questioning, non-conforming characcters who are the agents of social change, and among them we affectionately number Neill and Wills. “I have every sympathy,” Wills writes in his little book Common Sense About Young Offenders “with those who, seeing the State as an evil, would like to do away with it and substitute some form of voluntary association. But in the meantime it is with us …”

In the meantime it is with us and this is the aspect of our theme which links it with the last two issues of ANARCHY, which were on Direct Action and Disobedience. For the State is not a thing, it is, in the words we quoted from Gustav Landauer, ‘a condition, a certain relationship between human beings, a mode of human behaviour; we destroy it by contracting other relationships, by behaving differently.’ Neill and Wills are exemplars of this different mode of human behaviour.



Other issues of ANARCHY

  1. Sex-and-Violence; Galbraith; the New Wave, Education, Opportunity, Equality.
  2. Workers’ Control.
  3. What does anarchism mean today?; Africa; the Long Revolution; Exceptional Children.
  4. De-institutionalisation; Conflicting strains in anarchism.
  5. 1936: the Spanish Revolution.
  6. Anarchy and the Cinema.
  7. Adventure Playgrounds.
  8. Anarchists and Fabians; Action Anthropology; Eroding Capitalism; Orwell.
  9. Prison.
  10. Sillitoe’s Key to the Door; MacInnes on Crime; Augustus John’s Utopia; Committee of 100 and Industry.
  11. Paul Goodman; Neill on Education; the Character-Builders.
  12. Who are the anarchists?
  13. Direct Action.
  14. Disobedience.


The relevance of ANARCHISM

London New Left Club, Monday June 4th, 8 pm at The Partisan,
7 Carlisle Street, W1


Coming soon in ANARCHY

Harold Drasdo on the Poetry of Dissent
Bob Green on the Ethics of Anarchism
Maurice Goldman on Anarchism and the African
Maurine Blancke on Benevolent Bureaucracy
A symposium on comprehensive schools


Universities and ANARCHY

Anarchy can be obtained in termtime from:
Oxford: Martin Small, Trinity College
Cambridge: at University Labour Club meetings or from Tim Oxton, Trinity Hall.
Leicester: University Socialist Society Bookstall.



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