1990s >> 1992 >> no-1050-february-1992

Obituary: Ian Jones

Obituary: Ian Jones

It is with sadness that we report the unexpected death of comrade Ian Jones in November after missing several Executive Committee meetings due to trouble from asthma. He still had a few years to reach retirement age although he was working a shortened working week. Ironically for a fighter for a world without money, he spent his working life in the employ of National Cash Registers, a multi-national corporation whose activities epitomise what our present society is all about.

Ian hailed from Birmingham and it was there that he joined our local branch on 1951. A few years later he moved to London and transferred to the old Paddington branch, of which he was an active member in the fifties and sixties. He was an occasional speaker for the Party and also wrote for this journal (under the initials “IDJ”, his last article appearing in our December issue).

Ian was keenly interested in the theatre and his early articles were reviews of plays by Arthur Miller, Arnold Wesker, Eugene Ionesco and others in which he developed the theme that “if and when the development of a socialist theatre is possible, giving voice to Socialist ideas, aspirations and criticism, it can only be through the medium of ‘social’ theatre that it can be accomplished”. For years he was the stage carpenter of the Questors Theatre, Ealing, and when it was his turn to direct a play he made a brilliant success of Ibsen’s The Master Builder. In the fifties when Bertolt Brecht was the cultural figurehead of the odious Leninist dictatorship controlling the German (un)Democratic Republic, Ian was able to prove to a number of us, by chapter and verse, that Brecht’s compromise with the oppressive system was of secondary significance as compared to the profoundly Marxian insights which the body of his humanistic drama and poetry provide.

Ian was a musician as well as being a man of the theatre. His first love was the piano, and in recent years found much satisfaction in working with a choir in his home area of Wallington in Surrey. He had reason to be proud of the fact that when his only daughter went to college to study music, such was her accomplishment with the violin she became leader, whilst still a first-year student, of the Cardiff University Orchestra.

Christopher Wren’s son had chiselled in Latin on the North portico of St Pauls “if you want a monument, look around you”. Reapplying this advice, I have looked around my bookshelves and see a handful of volumes which between them give the measure of our departed comrade. These were either given to me or acquired on my behalf in the course of his assiduous rounds of second-hand and remaindered bookshops throughout the home counties. They serve to reflect his broad and deep Socialist culture and knowledge.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s collection of West Coast “beat” poems, The Coney Island of the Mind, given when first published in 1959, is a happy reminder of the introduction Ian gave many of us to this whole new wave of American libertarian thought and sentiment. An old edition in mint condition of Kropotkin’s memoirs stands near to a fine copy of the book William Morris wrote jointly with Belfort Bax, Socialism, ITS Growth and Outcome. documentary refutation of the hoary myth of Morris as the unscientific utopian “dreamer of dreams”. Lucien Laurat’s Marxism and Democracy, a book of major importance to Party thought, published by Gollancz in 1940, one of the surviving voices of classical continental Marxism, uncontaminated with Leninist distortion albeit flawed with a certain amount of Social-Democratic reformist illusions. Such were the kind of books Ian was so adept in tracking down and making available to Party members.

E.S.G.

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