Laurens Otter’s Memoirs

Laurens Otter was born in 1930 and lives in Shropshire, England. He grew up during WW2, began campaigning against nuclear weapons in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in time became a dedicated anarchist peace activist, advocating and practising non-violence and close to the tradition of anarcho-syndicalism. Not altogether unusually, he also became a committed Anglo-Catholic in its radical tradition, which has not always been respected by others in the wider movement.

I first met him in the early 1970s, along with his wife Celia (who sadly died 1 January 2014) and daughter when I lived in Wolverhampton. We have corresponded and been friends at various times since then, despite quite diverse origins and beliefs. I persuaded him that his life story and a description of how his politics involved was worth knowing in the wider world. I feel that his story is important for the activists of the 21st century, who are trying to work out new forms of politics in new conditions and in the aftermath of huge disillusionment with the politics of the past.

We only managed to cover the period into the early 1960s, but this seems to me to be the most pertinent for modern times, as it too was a period of renewal and rediscovery. You can read ‘The Accidental Making of an Anarchist’ on this site and, if you so wish, download a PDF version, free of charge. Use the page link on the left or click on the Menu top right to navigate to the appropriate page.

Hopes for a new world

I was born several decades ago into that class of people who work by hand and by brain to collectively create the social, cultural and material wealth of the world without ever owning any of it other than what satisfies immediate needs, i.e. the working class.

I have had a dream that one day that working class people the world over will wake up from their collective stupor and create a world without classes, without wars and hunger and poverty, where we can all be free to be truly human, regardless of status, race, nation, gender, sexual tendency or any of the other identities into which our alienated spirits pour their hopes and aspirations.

I have despaired at times at how the myriad ‘~isms’ that human beings have invented in their search for the key to their emancipation end in ever more pointless schisms and sectarianism, as if we cannot talk to each other right now as equals in the same quest. We spiral down into mutual incomprehension, talking past each other, stoking up hatred, fear and promoting disillusionment.

So this is my belated contribution: the random thoughts, memories, recollections, hopes, dreams and wishes – the product of old age and apparently increasing irrelevance as Capital’s ruling elites plough on their merry way to Armageddon. Along the way I hope to review things seen, heard and read that seem to offer something more hopeful. I still have the same dream I had all those decades ago and I know that, out there, there are millions more like me.