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3rd Letter: Syndicalist Workers Federation to Silvio Corio
Discussion of adult (working-class) education: ‘Popular
University’, WEA, NCLC:-
On headed paper:
BRITISH SECTION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL WORKINGMEN’S ASSOCIATION ORGAN: “DIRECT ACTION”
NATIONAL COMMITTEE: 25a Amberley Road., London, W.9
18th October 1953
5, Charteris Rd., Woodford.
Thank you very
much for of your letter 8th October. We note that you are wishing to
attend, and we shall send definite information as soon as the arrangements are
We have discussed the matter
raised in your letter: your son Richard is welcome to attend as an observer. It
is understood, of course, that the proceedings of the Congress are a matter of
I should have written before,
but you may be interested to know that your earlier letter to Ken, on the
subject of a Popular University, promoted a useful discussion among the members
of the National Committee and the London Group. We agreed that our movement had
not the means to start such a project effectively, in competition with the
National Council of Labour Colleges and the WEA, both of which themselves did
not have easy going. We decided, however, that our cause would be better served
if as many comrades as possible did lecture for the NCLC, [choosing], of
course, the subjects which were as relevant as possible to our ideas, e.g.
Workers’ Control. At least one comrade present at that meeting undertook to do
this, as he had at times previously. We were all of the opinion that the NCLC
was a more useful field of action than the WEA, because the former had some
influence among the most strongly organised and militant workers, and he latter
was handicapped by the doctrine that education was something apart from the war
of the classes, and must be unbiased’. I might add a personal note that I
attended a WEA class at Plaistow, near my home, and found that this ‘impartiality’
seemed to imply, in their practice, repudiation of the class struggle. The
audience seemed to be less class conscious than the average attender at a
Branch Meeting of the Transport & General Workers Union. Do not let my
personal fad dissuade you or Richard from carrying on what you are doing, though.
I expect the audiences vary in different cases, and in any case, you know best,
as you are doing it.
We were interested to hear that you had heard from Alan Smith; only
recently he contacted us again, after quite a long gap. Do you know if he is interested
in any activity?