Tony opened tonight’s session by referring to an interview we filmed with George’s two remaining sons, Roy and Derek (for future broadcast in the short film we are making about George Garrett). Towards the end of the interview I asked them if they ever felt, or got the impression, that George was disappointed by life. Their response was emphatically ‘No’. They said he always had a song, he had his faith and he had his family. But what, Tony asked, did they mean by this?
Alan O’Toole, in his as yet unpublished monograph on George, makes the point that more space should be given to that form of libertarian socialist, the anarcho – collective endeavour, and the pursuit of justice by individual radicals. He argues that this strand of left-wing radicals, this way of thinking, which applies to George Garrett, has been washed over by the tendency to look at radical history through the lens of the Communist Party and organised Labour generally.
All too often activists who fell out, for example, with the CP, became bitter, or even reactionary. Jack Carney, a radical from Widnes, who like George sailed to America and became an activist, became so jaundiced with the communism that he ended up working with the CIA, campaigning for ‘free’ trades unions. Jack Braddock, who in his early days as a Communist was what we may now term ‘ultra-left’, went over to the right at a pace of knots after WW2.