David Goodway

David Goodway

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David Goodway is a British social and cultural historian who for twenty years has written principally on anarchism and libertarian socialism. He is the editor of two volumes of Nicholas Walter's work— The Anarchist Past and PM Press's Damed Fools in Utopia: And Other Writings on Anarchism and War ResistanceThe Letters of John Cowper Powys and Emma Goldman and collections of the writings of Alex Comfort, Herbert Read, and Maurice Brinton. His conversations with Colin Ward have been published as Talking Anarchy

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Talking Anarchy
Authors: Colin Ward and David Goodway
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-812-8
Published: 12/2014
Format: Paperback
Size: 8x5
Page count: 176 Pages
Subjects: Philosophy-Anarchism

Of all political views, anarchism is the most ill-represented. For more than thirty years, in over thirty books, Colin Ward patiently explained anarchist solutions to everything from vandalism to climate change—and celebrated unofficial uses of the landscape as commons, from holiday camps to squatter communities. Ward was an anarchist journalist and editor for almost sixty years, most famously editing the journal Anarchy. He was also a columnist for New Statesman, New Society, Freedom, and Town and Country Planning.

In Talking Anarchy, Colin Ward discusses with David Goodway the ups and downs of the anarchist movement during the last century, including the many famous characters who were anarchists, or associated with the movement, including Herbert Read, Alex Comfort, Marie Louise Berneri, Paul Goodman, Noam Chomsky, and George Orwell.


“It is difficult to match the empirical strength, the lucidity of prose, and the integration of theory and practical insight in the magnificent body of work produced by the veteran anarchist Colin Ward.”

“Colin Ward has never written a highly paid column for a national newspaper or been on the bestseller lists, but his fan club is distinguished, and his influence wider than he himself may know.”
Times Literary Supplement

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Anarchist Seeds beneath The Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward
Author: David Goodway
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-221-8
Published: December 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 448 Pages
Subjects: Politics-Anarchism, History, Philosophy

From William Morris to Oscar Wilde to George Orwell, left-libertarian thought has long been an important but neglected part of British cultural and political history. In Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow, David Goodway seeks to recover and revitalize that indigenous anarchist tradition. This book succeeds as simultaneously a cultural history of left-libertarian thought in Britain and a demonstration of the applicability of that history to current politics. Goodway argues that a recovered anarchist tradition could—and should—be a touchstone for contemporary political radicals. Moving seamlessly from Aldous Huxley and Colin Ward to the war in Iraq, this challenging volume will energize leftist movements throughout the world.


"Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow is an impressive achievement for its rigorous scholarship across a wide range of sources, for collating this diverse material in a cogent and systematic narrative-cum-argument, and for elucidating it with clarity and flair… It is a book that needed to be written and now deserves to be read."  —Journal of William Morris Studies

"Goodway outlines with admirable clarity the many variations in anarchist thought. By extending outwards to left-libertarians he takes on even greater diversity."  —Sheila Rowbotham, Red Pepper

"A splendid survey of 'left-libertarian thought' in this country, it has given me hours of delight and interest. Though it is very learned, it isn’t dry. Goodway’s friends in the awkward squad (especially William Blake) are both stimulating and comforting companions in today’s political climate."  —A.N. Wilson, Daily Telegraph

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Damned Fools In Utopia: And Other Writings on Anarchism and War Resistance
Author: Nicolas Walter
Editor: David Goodway
Publisher: PM Press
ISBN: 978-1-60486-222-5
Published: April 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 9 by 6
Page count: 304 pages
Subjects: Politics-Anarchism, History-UK

Nicolas Walter was the son of the neurologist, W. Grey Walter, and both his grandfathers had known Peter Kropotkin and Edward Carpenter. However, it was the twin jolts of Suez and the Hungarian Revolution while still a student, followed by participation in the resulting New Left and nuclear disarmament movement, that led him to anarchism himself. His personal history is recounted in two autobiographical pieces in this collection as well as the editor’s introduction. 

During the 1960s he was a militant in the British nuclear disarmament movement – especially its direct-action wing, the Committee of 100 – he was one of the Spies of Peace (who revealed the State’s preparations for the governance of Britain after a nuclear war), he was close to the innovative Solidarity Group and was a participant in the homelessness agitation. Concurrently with his impressive activism he was analyzing acutely and lucidly the history, practice and theory of these intertwined movements;  and it is such writings – including Non-violent Resistance and The Spies for Peace and After – that form the core of this book. But there are also memorable pieces on various libertarians, including the writers George Orwell, Herbert Read and Alan Sillitoe, the publisher C.W. Daniel and the maverick Guy A. Aldred. The Right to be Wrong is a notable polemic against laws limiting the freedom of expression. Other than anarchism, the passion of Walter’s intellectual life was the dual cause of atheism and rationalism;  and the selection concludes appropriately with a fine essay on Anarchism and Religion and his moving reflections, Facing Death.

Nicolas Walter scorned the pomp and frequent ignorance of the powerful and detested the obfuscatory prose and intellectual limitations of academia. He himself wrote straightforwardly and always accessibly, almost exclusively for the anarchist and freethought movements. The items collected in this volume display him at his considerable best.

“[Nicolas Walter was] one of the most interesting left intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century in Britain.” 
--Professor Richard Taylor, University of Cambridge

“David Goodway has done his usual excellent job of selecting an interesting and varied collection [and] contributed a most useful and informative introduction…” 
--Richard Alexander, Freedom on The Anarchist Past

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What Others are Saying


Talking Anarchy: A Review
By Kathy Labriola
November 2014

I rarely write book reviews, but this book got me so excited I just had to share my enthusiasm! This compact little PM Press book is essentially an extended conversation between two amazing British anarchist writers, editors, and activists. Weighing in at just 165 pages, it is jam-packed with anarchist history, events, and  ideas, and is the one book I would give to anyone who wants to understand what anarchism is all about.

Colin Ward was a working-class kid who dropped out of school at age 15 in 1939, and was quickly drafted by the British Army during World War II. During the war, he happened upon an anarchist bookshop and became a lifelong anarchist, editing the anarchist journal “Freedom” and eventually founding the journal “Anarchy” which he edited for decades. He was a tireless anarchist speaker and writer, eventually writing 30 books on the subject. David Goodway is a British social and cultural historian whose best-known book is “Anarchist Seeds Beneath the Snow.”  He had the opportunity to interview Colin Ward at length, over a period of months, just before Ward's death in 2010 at the age of 86.

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Talking Anarchy in Ojai Orange
By John Wilcock
Ojai Orange
December 21st, 2013

CAN THERE BE social organization without authority, without government? The anarchists claim that there can be, wrote Colin Ward, and they also claim that it is desirable that there should be. In most of his 30 books, Ward boosted the anarchist claim that, at the basis of our social problems is the principle of governments, which prepare for war and wage war, even though others are obliged to fight in them and pay for them. Ward died in 2010 at 86, but for decades he wrote columns for Freedom (originally called War Commentary) and now some of his wisdom has been republished in Talking Anarchy by the fledgling PM Press whose David Goodway contends that “once you begin to look at human society from an anarchist point of view you discover that the alternatives are already there, in the interstices of the dominant power structure. If you want to build a free society, the parts are all at hand”.

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Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: A Review
By Eric Laursen
George Mason University's History News Network
July 19th, 2012

The story Goodway tells is of a movement that started with the musings of a succession of highly individualistic British intellectuals who had no “native” anarchist movement to use as a reference point – just what they observed among their country's rural population and working class. Thanks in large part to Ward, Comfort, the Freedom magazine group, Anarchist Black Cross, and a few other writers and organizers including Stuart Christie and Albert Meltzer, British anarchism grew into a coherent body of thought, with the beginnings of a popular following, between the end of World War II and the mid-1970s – about the time the Sex Pistols released Anarchy in the UK, as it happens. Today, it is very much present in Occupy London – an ongoing campaign of nonviolent direct action against a crushing, state-imposed economic damp-down which Comfort would certainly have plunged into, headfirst.

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Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: A Review
by Kevin Carson
Center for a Stateless Society
February 13, 2012

I’ll start by saying I found this a very engaging read.  I learned a lot of interesting new things about people whose thought I had already encountered, like Morris, Huxley and Orwell, and developed a strong appreciation for those — like Wilde — with whom I was less familiar...

Goodway’s chapter on Thompson is especially valuable for its treatment of the influence of the Ranters and Muggletons and other antinomians of the English Revolution, by way of William Blake (another figure who would have been ideal for a background chapter, by the way), on Thompson’s thought.  Here we’re getting into Christopher Hill country — also hospitable terrain for anyone who enjoyed Ken MacLeod’s Engines of Light series.

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Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: Left-Libertarian Thought and British Writers from William Morris to Colin Ward
Publishers Weekly
February 2012

Known for an enduring fondness for queen and country, the British Isles seem an unlikely place to uncover practicing anarchists. Goodway's closer inspection, however, reveals a latent but persistent strain of left—libertarian thought stretching from the Victorian era to the Blair years. Alternating seamlessly between literary criticism and social history, this elegant study of militant ideas reveals a rousing and tragic tradition with more than its share of martyrs, sinners, and saints. Though often conflated with terrorism and mere chaos, anarchism, Goodway (editor of Damned Fools in Utopia: And Other Writings on Anarchism and War Resistance) makes clear, has been a positive political philosophy advocated by a variety of writers, scholars, and theorists who represent more of a "community of thought" than a coherent school. Though not exactly comrades-George Orwell denigrates William Morris as a "utopian dreamer"; Morris refers to Oscar Wilde as "an ass"—Goodway effectively joins these and other thinkers into a loose federation of belief, demonstrating their importance to British history and global radicalism. The book is a call to action. "These seeds need to germinate," Goodway writes, "to put forth shoots and buds, eventually to flower, if there is to be any chance of a decent life for humans in the future." Spring may finally be approaching. (Apr.)

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Damned Fools in Utopia on Powells Books
by Chris Faatz

May 28th, 2011

Imagine, then, how excited I was to find a book of essays that addresses subjects outside the narrow confines of accepted anarchist orthodoxy, a book that further investigates the work of major writers from a distinctly libertarian perspective and holds forth from an unfailingly utopian point of view on broad issues germane to the past 40 years, such as nuclear disarmament and the role of freedom of thought in a free society. Such a book is Nicolas Walter's Damned Fools in Utopia: And Other Writings on Anarchism and War Resistance.

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