With much of 2013 given over to rebuilding the downstairs shop, 2014 saw Haven Press and the Anarchist Federation move into Freedom offices, while slow work went on fixing up bits and pieces which hadn’t been dealt with in the main surge of enthusiasm which saw so much of the damage cleaned up, walls repainted, electrics fixed and the like. But cash was tight, as both legacy money from years gone by had been used up, and donations used on things like the absurdly expensive custom windows required to replace the ones ruined in the fires.
Even with income from the new tenants, it was obvious that something would have to give, and in March the Collective was forced to announce the upcoming closure of the monthly newspaper, moving much of its content online while keeping a smaller freesheet going in its place. The statement read as follows:
Since Freedom: A Journal of Anarchist Socialism first appeared in 1886 it has been in the form of a newspaper to be sold. Now the Freedom Collective has decided that we shall move content online accompanied by a freesheet after publication of the upcoming second issue of 2014.
We have come to realise that a sold hardcopy newspaper is no longer a viable means of promoting the anarchist message. Despite a huge publicity boost to Freedom following the firebomb attack last year (shop sales rose 50%) there has not been a corresponding increase in distribution of thepaper. Only 29 shops, social centres and individuals now sell it and the number of paying subscribers has fallen to 225.
As a result annual losses now amount to £3,500, an unsustainable level for our shoestring budget.
Readers will have noticed that the paper has struggled to come out on time for some while. An underlying problem has been a lack of capacity to sustain it. We had hoped that Freedom would be adopted as THE paper of the anarchist movement. Despite a great deal of goodwill from anarchist groups and individuals over the years, sadly this has not been the case.
Although Freedom Press has changed from a political group with a particular point of view to a resource for anarchism as a whole, we have not managed to shake the legacy of the past and get different groups to back it as a collective project. We hope an online version and freesheet will make that possible.
Subscribers will be offered a refund or book in lieu but we are happy to accept donations towards the costs of the new project.
Charlotte Dingle will remain as editor and of course the shop, publishing and book distribution will continue as normal. As will the use of Angel Alley for meetings, events, offices, postal address and drop-in protest advice.
The print version could not have continues so long without the generosity of Aldgate Press, currently amounting to a subsidy of nearly £10,000 a year. They have very kindly agreed to print a regular freesheet/news compilation to enable us to keep in touch with our readers who don’t have the internet, and a special final edition, which will be released for the London Anarchist Bookfair in October.
Without that cost, and with extra income from Haven and the AF, Freedom was able to slow losses to a minimum, covering rates, fire safety improvement costs, utilities and the like. Major works or big projects however were unlikely. and the year saw the Press largely concentrating on balancing the books.