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The book tells the history of the brief insurgent response to the arrogance of both Liverpool City Council and the British Government in their dealings with Wales in the late 1950s and early 1960s.There is an indirect link with the story told in Lyn Ebenezers book on the Fron Goch internment camp which we reviewed in January - http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... The internment camp, which was the bungling British Governments school for the IRA, was situated only a very short distance from what was to be the Tryweryn Reservoir, the creation of which, alongside the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales, proved the trigger for the events described in the book.A bombing campaign was signalled in 1963 with an attack on the transformer of the construction crew for the reservoir but by the time that the insurgents were defeated, there had been significant attacks not only in every part of Wales but also on pipeline outlets in England.The narrative here is very much from a radical Welsh Nationalist perspective and that has to be borne in mind, but it is clearly written and fair and so it offers us a rare insight into how an insurgency starts and how it is defeated in a developed country.My position in what follows should be made clear and was outlined in the Fron Goch review. Nationalism is intellectually absurd but then so is any ideology. However, as a binding force for resistance to the arrogance of power, it has its uses and it is elite mismanagement that tends to trigger violence rather than the inherent malice of the insurgent. This is certainly borne out by the testimony of Jenkins who founded MAC (Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru).Here we are speaking of two wholly separate cell-like operations, the Free Wales Army (which existed as much for publicity as for action) and MAC as well as individuals whose actions proved strategically problematic.There were also radical propaganda operations in the borderland between the insurgents and the disapproving official nationalism of Plaid Cymru. The growth of insurgency within a few years makes this a case study in the initial success and eventual inevitable failure of the sort of leaderless resistance strategies much favoured by the revolutionary radical right.The strategy of both the FWA and MAC (though they did not connect) was similar - to use violence to raise consciousness. The author insists, and I accept on the evidence, that both sets of operation were careful to avoid deaths and to direct their attacks on property, although the FWA was much less inherently disciplined in this respect than MAC.The total number of casualties was small given the amount of gelignite used, even in urban areas - one RAF man (though this may not have been an insurgent action), two insurgents blowing themselves up very late in the campaign and a young boy getting his leg badly injured. One suspects though that the insurgency was heading to a tipping point where violence might have become more widespread after the failure to stop the investiture.The bulk of the Welsh were torn between admiration for someone standing up to the English and a traditional loyalty to the Crown, depending on their location and self-perceived Welshness. Strategists on the insurgent side would have been minded, we believe, to jolt the population with increasing extremism if they had not been removed from the scene soon after the investiture.The Free Wales Army was a classic romantic nationalist petit bourgeois operation, consciously anti-communist and operating under conditions where the dominant party of Welshness at the time was the South Wales Labour Party with its phalanx of left-wing but centralising mining constituency MPs.You can study its founder Julian Cayo Evans and the operation at length in the book but it was surprisingly open in the field, somewhat ramshackle, but it did what it said it would do until the raids that finally broke it up at the end of the decade.Cayo was partly inspired by an (unwitting) Polish romantic exile, a teacher, and all the paraphrenalia of interwar romantic small nation fascism emerged in reduced form within the FWA as it did in its non-Marxist celtic nationalist contemporaries.There were fraternal links with exiles and other Celtic nationalists, as well as the IRA which used them for its own purposes, but these were people of limited means, if of passion, who only required a determined and brutal response by a competent security apparat to unravel.Still, they may have become a threat if they had taken a hold on a greater proportion of Welsh sentiment. They were representing a genuine and widespread resentment at English demands on water resources and an historic lack of respect for their culture (although Prince Charles determination to learn Welsh proved an imaginative act of partial and symbolic restitution by the Crown).A turning point might have been the FWAs active support for the Aberfan community (after the disaster that led to the deaths of many of their children).The community was disgracefully, almost psychopathically, treated by the clumsy British bureaucracy and by the National Coal Board. This might have turned moderate men like me into supporters of radical responses if it had become more widely known.MAC was a different kettle of fish. It was also the creation of one man but one with a well thought out ideology of resistance, closer to the partisan mentality of the Second World War, John Barnard Jenkins.Jenkins was a common soldier in the Malayan insurgency. It is striking how many British-Welsh ex-soldiers found themselves, despite their emotional allegiance to the British Army, fighting against the Crown as romantic nationalists.This is a phenomenon of spirit. The current British Government may be making its own blunder in letting loose on a troubled English community a large number of well-trained but only partly educated men without a purpose in life.That is another story but rightist insurgency in the developed world has always had a strong element of resentment from ex-military about their former or current masters. The Freikorps in post-first world war Germany were not unique in history and the Fron Goch book showed us examples too of British-Irish soldiery turning to the IRA and romantic nationalism.Be this as it may, Jenkins, working as a lowly NCO still within the territorial structure of the British Army, ran a small but effective terrorist (that is, insurgent) cell in North Wales in the latter part of the period.Jenkins evidently gave an extensive interview for this book and its honesty and ability to analyse self-critically is remarkable. He clearly had and has a good mind. All policy makers could learn from his frank testimony. These were not bad men but frustrated men.Perhaps the most valuable insight is psychological because it is true. Consciousness-raising in the individual is very different from ideologicial consciousness-raising of the mass. In the first case, an act or an experience shatters a way of seeing and forces the world to be rebuilt along new lines. The latter is simply a matter of taking a grazing herd from one field to the next.Here is Jenkins on the moment of action and its effect on him:My basic feeling going home in the car [after the first bombing of a pipeline] was one of great sadness because it had come to this. The thing is that the first time you deliberately break the law ... then that is the first time you snatch the blinkers away. The web that has been carefully and steadily drawn about you since the day you were born is suddenly cut through. All the taboos, such as the policeman is a nice chap, and the government is always right, and the state is there for the citizens own good ... I was reacting violently against everything that up until then had been the whole basis of my existence. What I felt when I left that bomb on the pipeline was that since before my action I had been within the law and a respected member of the public within the law; now I was outside the law ... and I was filled with a sort of sadness, a sense of loss because I had cut myself off. I felt a totally different person. Once one has taken a bite out of the state and it succeeds, then one is totally different, totally divorced. I felt that I could then for the first time look at things with complete objectivity, because I no longer has these should I or shouldnt I? doubts. I could go against the state, I had gone against the state, and I was still here ... This is probably the best account I have ever seen of the transformative and liberating effect of transgression (including the sense of loss).It helps to explain why controlling the cultural infrastructure is always going to be more important even than controlling access to weaponry as far as the defensive state is concerned. The end of the insurgency owed itself to two causes. The first was inherent in the approach of the insurgents and the second inherent in the state machine of the day.Things started to go wrong when the insurgents failed to win a base in the community that could sustain them. They could not expand until they no longer feared ordinary people as law-abiding informers and that point never came.Worse, as an early example of leaderless resistance, excitable individuals outside the relatively disciplined structures of FWA and MAC began amateur bombing attempts that endangered life.The FWA was also once too close to declaring war on the English rather than the British Government (a mistake MAC never made) when one bomb attempt threatened to deprive 1.5m people in Birmingham of water as early as 1967.This sort of thing (if it had later been pursued as a strategy) or the assassination of Prince Charles (which was discussed but not pursued) might have given the FWA what it wanted - the equivalent of the black & tans in the Cambrian Mountains to alienate the population - but the Welsh People would probably have turned on them long before that.The insurgents also had minimal resources. The Official IRAs half-baked support at the margins and the odd secret wealthy donor were not sufficient to provide more than a few guns.We leave you to read in the book the tragi-comical story of the IRA deal involving a brochure offering armoured cars and tanks when the FWA could scarcely scrape the cash together to buy a second hand motorcycle and a sidecar.Above all, Wales in the 1960s was mostly a modern industrial nation (certainly in the South) and the ideology of the FWA was that of small people outside the mainstream of history.A genuine insurgent response to London would have required an ideology that did not look back to the 1916 Dublin Rising which in turn looked back to the 1840s but would have detourned socialism in the Welsh Valleys much as Hitler detourned socialism in the industrial zones of Germany.However, all this is academic, because we must turn to the response which showed all the essential characteristics of the British State when it looks like it is going to lose a bit of its property.The crisis started because of the utter arrogance over Trywern. The first reactions to extremism were mostly outrage, huffing and puffing and posturing.One of the biggest huffer and puffers was Plaid Cymru which had decided on a constitutional route to independence which (at that time) had achieved nothing. The drift into the Establishment of constitutional radicals is an eternal of history. The next phase was one of somewhat desultory policing where (as far as the FWA concerned) both sides, FWA and police, engaged in a somewhat autistic rivalry where each taunted the other but no decisive evidence brought men to trial.The reason for this is clear. Central Government saw Wales as a strategic problem that had to be dealt with strategically, until then it was a matter of local policing within the law. The eventual strategy was to appropriate Welsh feeling to the Crown and isolate the nationalists by offering the young Prince Charles up as Prince of Wales direct to the people.This was a risky strategy tactically - it could centre violent protest on the Prince and on the event (which it did) and it could mobilise more awareness-raising activity about the imposition of the Crown on Wales - but it proved the correct strategy if only because the working classes of Wales love an excuse for a party.From this point on, matters escalated. The British system is centred on the Crown to a degree not always appreciated by its own population, let alone foreigners. The Prince of Wales was being gambled against not only the FWA but possibly the IRA which was then in a highly unstable state. Needless to say, every stop was pulled out to protect the Prince and control the media. Equally needless to say, the somewhat thuggish Special Branch (the more discreet Black & Tans of the day) went into what amounted to gang warfare mode with the FWA, supported by the magistrates.Again, I refer you to the book on the detail but it is a truth universally acknowledged - from the Easter Rising to the London Riots - that the British State, when faced by the first signs of an existential threat, mobilises itself to crush that threat with consummate ruthlessness, without morality and only barely constrained by its own laws. The characterisation of James Bond as representative of the British Establishment in defence mode is in this respect accurate. The operations against radical Welsh nationalism, also had the full political support of even the official Welsh nationalists.Needless to say, the FWA were taken out largely by judicial means (not without back room beatings and bad faith). The amateurs were removed by the professionals. MAC was more conventionally defeated when Jenkins, its only central co-ordinator, was removed from the scene by solid conventional policing.The principals were jailed and the story somewhat suppressed (there is, for example, as of today, no reference to the FWAs role in the Aberfan disaster relief campaign in Wikipedia). The individuals left prison in the coming years with no machinery in place, no popular support and under permanent surveillance.But there is a coda not in the book. Wales, forty years on, has its own autonomous Assembly within the United Kingdom and the Welsh language has equal status to English. The police are now Heddlu.Plaid Cymru would like to claim that this was all their doing. The South Wales Labour Party would like to claim the political credit since they implemented it through the Blair Government (which, incidentally, recognised the wrong-doing at Aberfan if in a somewhat mealy-mouthed way as soon as it got into office).In fact, the FWA and MAC gave the British Establishment a bit of a scare and Home Rule for Wales seriously entered the agenda from that point on even if it would be resisted until the right way of doing it had been offered. If a tiny group of marginalised young males could threaten water supplies, gain growing acceptance amongst others (as was happening) and offer a terrorist threat that stretched into England, then it could happen again if Welsh culture and aspirations were ignored.Plaid Cymru and the (mostly South Wales) Labour Party were henceforth competing to claim that they were the party of Welsh aspirations and culture.The process only awaited a new Labour Government to see that the British State could safely grant those aspirations without detaching the country from the Crown.There were important steps along the way - the subsidised Welsh television station S4C in the early 1980s, for which Plaid Cymru should take the political credit, is one. Home Rule was not automatic but it was probable.FWA and MAC were, thus, failures as political strategies but they are not unimportant. They helped to force autonomy on to the agenda by showing that resentments were real enough to force some ordinary people into direct action. The Trywern reservoir campaign in which the FWA played a critical role, the skilled public relations operations of the FWA and the FWAs Aberfan activity at a very local level, showed that anger and resentment could be exploited by extremism and that simply removing the obvious extremists from the stage was not enough.The British State wisely removed those extremists by fair means and foul but then allowed democratic competition to permit eventually a solution for Wales. If the same wise strategy had been followed in Ireland, it might have remained within the Kingdom.So, this short and not easily available (I picked it up by chance on a visit to the Lleyn Peninsula) must be added to any library on insurgency and terrorism as testimony from within a movement that was very close to home. There is nothing in the interviews in this book that might not be said one day by resentful working people in British Columbia or Bethnal Green so one hopes lessons have been learned.

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