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Colin Ward is everyone’s favourite anarchist. He is not the kind who comes with a bomb in his briefcase. In 1914, Shaw wrote, rightly and sourly: “Anarchism is a game at which the police can beat you.” But this is not the anarchism of Colin Ward. He is the anarchist as optimist. The anarchist who seeks out corners of self-help and mutual aid in the here and now, and tries to help it evolve into something more valuable.

He has unlikely admirers. In the Times Literary Supplement, Ferdinand Mount called him “the indispensable anarchist.” The Spectator once profiled him as…

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