Friday, June 26, 2015

Comradely 80th Birthday Greetings to KEN WELLER

Through Alan Woodward (“a born-again Solidarist” – KW) and a number of other RaHN members Ken can be counted as having had a significant influence on the Radical History Network of North-East London.

                 For  30/6/2015                    80           

To mark the occasion…

Some historic documents dating from the early days of Solidarity:

 KW to Syndicalist Workers' Federation (SWF), mentioning early issues of the Solidarity magazine (nos. 1 to 4 were called Agitator; the group at this stage was called Socialism Reaffirmed)

RON00779 KW to SWF Oct. 1961 re industrial activity

RON00787 KW for C100 Industrial Sub-Committee [Sep.] 1961

Committee of 100 demo in Trafalgar Square

Letter to publishers of World Labour News naming KW as a speaker on Problems and Possibilities of Workers’ Control: at a NALGO conference, to be paired with a speaker from the Yugoslav embassy (which must have made for a lively exchange of views).

 Historian Angus Calder, later well-known especially as author of The People’s War, writes to the SWF saying he and associates (context unspecified) would like to have KW as a speaker.

Above Images from:                References (RON---) as indicated.
   With thanks to Sparrows' Nest.

Previously on this blog: something about Ken’s role in the pre-history of Solidarity, as well as the interview where he talked about how his political position evolved in the late 1950s.

Publications by Ken Weller

Pick up or look up (some are on-line as images and/or text) any issue of the magazine over the more than 30 years of Solidarity’s existence and there will probably be at least one item by Ken Weller/KW (or Mark Fore/MF) – a full list would take a deal of researching and would include articles, letters and reviews on a variety of subjects. And of course he had a lot to do with the Motor Bulletins, of which at least 8 were produced, in the 1970s. There were also the pamphlets, more written wholly or partly by Ken than by any other individual Solidarist (not counting Cardan/Castoriadis), some of which are currently (June 2015) available on-line to download or for sale.

‘Mark Fore’ was the name used for some of the industrial material, a sensible precaution in view of, for example, the interest taken by the likes of the Economic League in a certain “A.E.U. shop steward from North London” (National Archives file LAB 43/368: Economic League: statement on subversive activity in the motor industry 1961). 

Date first published
on-line* price from
available at libcom (free)
Tom Hillier, Jim Petter


THE B.L.S.P. [British Light Steel Pressings] DISPUTE: THE STORY OF THE STRIKE

Brian Whitby, Fred Whelton, Arthur Moyse, Bob Potter
What Happened at Fords
Ernie Stanton
G.M.W.U. Scab Union
as Mark Fore
Strategy for Industrial Struggle
as Mark Fore
The Lordstown Struggle and the Real Crisis in Production


A short history of the police strikes of 1918-1919**
(Not a pamphlet)

libcom only
*These prices normally have a substantial whack added on for shipping.
Most items cost a few pennies, or pence, when first published.
**The piece on police strikes is taken from "Don't be a Soldier!" - see below.

Amazon's Ken Weller Page: Bestselling Books: Don't be a Soldier!: Radical Anti-war Movement in North London, 1914-18, WHAT NEXT FOR ENGINEERS?, THE B.L.S.P. DISPUTE: THE STORY OF THE STRIKE.             
[abebooks usually have more listed, and offered at prices starting a bit cheaper]


Don't be a Soldier! The Radical Anti-war Movement in North London, 1914-18, Journeyman Press/London History Workshop Centre, 1985. (Currently second-hand on-line from £11.69) 

The book that has been cited by so many historians of the First World War (and referred to in meeting after meeting of people interested in Remembering the Real WW1, e.g. in the Radical History area at the Anarchist Book Fair in October 2013), right up to the extensive review by Cyril Pearce, Writing about Britain’s 1914-18 War Resisters - Literature Review published  on-line this month: 
Possibly the first work to contradict the assertions that from 1914 to 1918 there had been a ‘national’ consensus in favour of war was Ken Weller’s ‘Don’t be a soldier!’ The Radical Anti-war Movement in North London, 1914–1918.  It is an account of the anti-war movement in the North London boroughs of Islington, Hackney, Stoke Newington and parts of Middlesex […]Weller’s work has been influential in encouraging others to look more closely at their local war resisters. 
There has been word of a new edition, and it’s about time, but apart from an ad-hoc reprint by Past Tense for some meetings last year none seems yet to have seen the light of day except on line (thanks to libcom again). Lots more of the KW oeuvre would be worth re-publishing too, both as original radical history documentation and commentary on the times, with much still relevant in the way of analysis and insights.


  1. Don't be a soldier is online at Libcom:

  2. Yes, as well as that book we have an extensive archive of Ken Weller's writings here:

    Ken also kindly donated loads of Solidarity materials which we have put online here: