Friday, September 18, 2015

Obituary: Charley Clarke (1962)

Obituary from the December 1962 issue of the Socialist Standard

It was with deep regret that Nottingham members heard of the death of our comrade Charley Clarke, of Burton-on-Trent, in his 87th year. Charley was the eldest of the three Clarke brothers, well known no doubt to many of the older party members, their membership of The Party having extended over many years, and anyone who came in contact with them must have been impressed by their utter and sincere dedication to the cause of Socialism.

As Socialists, their way of life did not run along orthodox lines and they were regarded as rather queer fish by the people in Burton. All three for instance were bachelors, vegetarians, and among other interests were students of natural history, astronomy, and other aspects of science. Joe the younger brother aged 70 years, has had his daily swim in the river Trent, winter and summer, for many years. Living as close to "nature" as conditions would permit, it is not surprising that the locals did believe that they were not quite "with it".

There was always great consternation when this trio attended political meetings, where they carried out devastating attacks on all non-socialists, and proceeded to mutilate the policies of the Labour and Communist Parties, much to the confusion of some speakers and audiences alike. This of course did not help their popularity among the local politicians.

Because of their opposition to the first World War, they were recipients of the honour of "The White Feather", at the hands of the local "patriots", and all three went to prison as conscientious objectors, much to the delight of the jingoists. Although their life must have been very hard, they never gave up the struggle, and indeed, by their sincerity made many friends among those who understood what they were striving for.

In their work for Socialism they have travelled many miles to political meetings, to sell literature, and ask questions. This work will be carried on by Fred and Joe. A last gesture from Charley, while he lay on his death bed, attended by his brother Joe, was to urge Joe to leave him to attend a meeting at Nottingham to carry on the work for Socialism. The most noble work that mankind can perform. That is what Charley used to say.
J. Cuthbertson


1 comment:

imposs1904 said...

I guess Orwell would have characterised the Clarke brothers as part and parcel of that group that he wrote of in 'The Road to Wigan Pier':
“One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”

But, the Clarke brothers were class-conscious objectors to the first world slaughter, so Orwell can get fucked.