One Man’s Revolution by Dan Todd: a Review
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Whilst One Man’s Revolution has an image of Red Action’s dark ‘Voice of Reason’ t-shirt the memoire largely covers Todd’s life prior to joining Anti-Fascist Action in 1992 and Red Action in 1994. Obviously, it’s this period the Archive is most interested in. However, Todd writes a fluent and interesting account of his political development and his personal life, giving an insight into a Red Action member. One criticism of the writing is that the chronology can sometimes be hard to follow. From the interviews I conducted for my thesis, Todd has a lot in common with their responses. Including, believing the Socialist Workers’ Party to be neither revolutionary nor working class.
In the fourth chapter Todd reaches the AFA and Red Action stage of his political life. Todd is modest in his role in AFA prior to joining in Red Action but once joining Red Action he was thrown into a full-time role despite wanted to be a part-time activist due to family restrictions. Red Action had no time but full-time. In Red Action and AFA he found a political role, unlike the SWP, he found Red Action to be both revolutionary and working class. Todd gives constant justification to violence throughout the book and Red Action’s promotion of violence sat well with Todd. Red Action’s social make up also made Todd feel more socially comfortable.
Todd does recount some interesting details of joining Red Action and physical contact with fascists. Regarding his recruitment, Todd joined the south London Red Action branch and names an organiser as Tubby. Tubby has an interesting story; Todd derides Tubby for lacking the precision and discipline trade mark of Red Action. He also questions his actions during preparations for a hit on Matthew Collins, later revealed as a Searchlight agent, and during the Little Driver action. Repeated failures in discipline and disorganisation led Todd and two other Red Action members to report Tubby and their suspicions of him being an infiltrator to the leadership. Tubby was given the benefit of the doubt and asked to leave Red Action and turn over any materials to Todd; which only led to further proof of Tubby holding back on intelligence. It is quite clear Todd believes Tubby to have been an infiltrator, perhaps a state infiltrator. Following Tubby’s departure Todd with help from the Greenwich Action Committee Against Racist Activity kick life into the South London AFA branch.
Whilst Red Action’s activity against fascism is features heavily its support of militant Irish republicanism does not. Todd mentions the criticism Red Action received for “links” with the INLA and a Red Action meeting with Sinn Féin member Francie Molloy, now a MP. But it seems he largely had little to do with the Republican side of Red Action, including the Saoirse campaign.
Todd remains loyal to the Red Action withdrawal from the streets and the Independent Working Class Association. He saw the continuing violence against tiny sects as futile and repeatedly criticises a character named Mickey, who he met when Mickey was filming Ratcatcher, for surrounding himself with anarchists who wanted to continue a physical only strategy against the dwindling elements of fascists who pursued the same strategy.
One Man’s Revolution is well worth a read for scholars of militant anti-fascism. It provides a glimpse into the causes of one man to join Red Action and AFA and also provides a short history of AFA and Red Action in south London. The writing style is enjoyable although the chronology can be at times confusing and it is light on any analysis of Red Action’s and AFA’s activity.
One Man’s Revolution is available for Kindle on amazon.co.uk