Obituary: Alex Anderson
THE DEATH OF COMRADE ALEXANDER ANDERSON
It is with profound regret we have to inform our readers that, after a long and distressing illness, our old comrade, Alexander Anderson, died on September 16th, at the age of 48. He was one of that determined few who in 1904 made history by founding the Socialist Party of Great Britain. During the twenty-two years of our existence his loyalty to the Party and to the working class has been steadfast and unwavering. A born orator, he was never happier than when on the platform, expounding our position, or riddling that of our opponents. Hundreds attended the funeral at Tottenham Cemetery, and a short address was made on behalf of the Party. To those who did not know our comrade, a pen portrait would convey little, and to those who knew him it would be sadly inadequate. It is at intimate, human moments such as these that we realise how much is embraced in the term “Comrade.” There is an old and hackneyed saying that in death all men are equal. It is our late comrade’s chiefest glory that his life-long efforts were directed towards the achievement by mankind of equality in life. He died a member of the Party he helped to found. We tender to his wife and children the warmest sympathy of the whole Party.
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We print the following letter from Comrade Jacomb as a personal tribute from an old Comrade in the Cause :-
Comrades Editors of the Socialist Standard,—Will you kindly allow me, as one of the “old originals,” a little space in which to pay my humble tribute to the memory of our departed comrade, Alexander Anderson?
I have never taken up my pen in greater sadness of heart than I do to write these lines—which, I suppose, is natural in one paying his last respects to an old friend and comrade with whom he has worked for nearly a quarter of a century in such a cause as Socialism.
Those members who have joined the Party during the last few years, and to whom Anderson can hardly be more than a tradition, can have no conception of what he was in the time of his virile strength. In outdoor propaganda work he gave of his best with a lavish freedom which has had tragic results. For years, almost without a break, he addressed several meetings a week. It was no unusual thing for him to be speaking for six or eight hours on a Sunday, and he has at times started to address a meeting before noon and carried on into the small hours of the following day. In debate he was a giant, as many a capitalist henchman discovered to his cost; and in the Party councils he was a force of the first magnitude.
Indeed, it is more for his labour and ability in the internal affairs of the Party that his older comrades will treasure his memory. It was there that his light shone clearest. Particularly does the present scribe recall how, when the Party was new, and strong men were striving to shape it each in accordance with his own conception of what was best, he stood his ground beneath attacks from our opponents of such bitterness as would have overwhelmed most men. He fought back, and stuck it out with a firmness which could only compel admiration.
Anderson was a great fighter, and had the qualities in abundance of a great fighter. He also had the faults of those qualities, and these, naturally enough, did not tend to make what is called in the ordinary way a lovable nature. Therefore it speaks all the more eloquently of his merit and value in the sphere in which he did his life’s work that those who were most often opposed to him feel his loss most poignantly.
I am not claiming any martyrdom for Anderson’s life. If ever a man was happy in the work he had put his hand to, that man was Anderson. But I do think that it is incumbent upon his comrades, in fairness to his children and to that splendid comrade, his wife, who for so many years buckled on his armour and sent him forth fit to the fight, to acknowledge that, so far as human intelligence can judge, his strenuous struggle for the emancipation of his class was the direct cause of his early breakdown and death. His breakdown was a serious blow to the working class, as his death is an infliction to his comrades.
The Party has lost a great asset, and is poorer therefore. The more reason, then, for redoubled effort, If he could give us a message now, it would be this prosaic one—”Get on with it.”
Yes, comrades; in memory of Alexander Anderson, let us get on with it.
A. E. Jacomb