Book Review from the February 2015 issue of the Socialist Standard
'Mutinous Swine'. Past Tense, 2014
This adapted reprint from John Taylor Caldwell’s biography of Guy Aldred Come Dungeons Dark records the story of the resistance of the conscientious objectors in Wandsworth Prison towards the end of the First World War. Thankfully, it is largely devoid of Caldwell’s obsessive hero worship of the disputatious and divisive Aldred, focusing instead on the industrial unionist and ex-SPGBer RM Fox. It is, however, still marred in places by Caldwell’s Strange Misuse of Capital Letters. If the point of the pamphlet is to demonstrate the efficacy of direct action, the prisoners seeking by means such as hunger strikes and refusal to obey prison regulations to obtain concessions, it fails signally. Although direct action can be of use in achieving limited objectives, the results here were minor to say the least, redress being only obtained by the post-war amnesty. Nonetheless, the pamphlet is a good read, as indeed are most publications of the group, and provides a valuable antidote to the 1914-18 blood-and-mud remix currently peddled elsewhere.