Big Flame

I joined the revolutionary socialist organisation Big Flame in 1975 and left around 1983-4, figuring the Thatcher had eliminated the space for the kind of libertarian, autonomous, social movement-oriented organisation I had put so much into, and learned so much from.  Many of us left Big Flame at that time and the organisation ceased to function around 1987.  I played a small part in writing the account produced by the Big Flame National Committee which appeared in Socialist Register in 1981.  The article is available here.

Big Flame: Resituating Socialist Strategy and Organisation’ by John Howell

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The Socialist Register article underplays the distinctively libertarian elements in Big Flame and says even less about its links with the autonomist sections of the Italian far left in the 1970s.  My article in Edinburgh Review (1989) on the Leeds Libertarian movement, from which the Leeds branch of Big Flame emerged, explains where my solidarity lies: with the anti-authoritarian, autonomous social movements .

The Libertarian Movements of the 1970s – What can we learn? By Max Farrar

LibertariansEdRev1989 copy

Big Flame archive

My collection of Big Flame journals, pamphlets and internal discussion documents are deposited with the University of Leeds’ Brotherton library, in their special collections.  They can’t find much of the material on Big Flame commissions that I deposited, apart from the Anti-Fascist, Anti-racist commission. To view these (and my other political documents of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, mainly of the libertarian tendencies, but including some from the Trotskyist and other left groups) contact the Brotherton library at They are catalogued as 98/005, in Stack 3 42b. And there might also be material catalogued as 06/017, in Stack 3, 49b.

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