Bob Miller 1953-2011 – obituary by Nick Heath, also published in Freedom
Over the last few years I have penned a number of biographies and obituaries of anarchist militants. One of the most poignant of these was a piece I had to write on the Spanish militant Luis Andres Edo whom I had known personally whilst living in Paris in the early 1970s. But nothing compares to the painful task of writing this remembrance of a comrade I have known for forty years.
I first met Bob Miller in 1973 or 1974. He participated in a libertarian communist group within the Socialist Party of Great Britain. This group contacted the London group of the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists of which I was a member and we began to have discussions. They had wanted to orient the Party more to the workers’ and social struggles that were in full swing at this time. Just after the 1972 SPGB conference they began publishing a magazine called Libertarian Communism and ORA comrades gave some support in terms of resources, I seem to remember. People outside the Party contributed to the magazine. They and other SPGB members were expelled or left in support not long after. I remember Bob coming round to the North London flat I shared with 2 other ORA members for discussions, always lively and sometimes heated , and in retrospect I have to admit Bob was more accurate on some of the finer points of analysis than we were!
The expelled group linked up with other SPGB dissidents who had been expelled at the same time and eventually a group emerged called Social Revolution. We organised joint day schools with them and with Solidarity at the Centro Iberico in North London, and there were high expectations of a merger between ORA and Social Revolution. However this was not to be and Social Revolution then completed a merger with the libertarian socialist organisation Solidarity. I lost track of Bob and his comrades after that. He and they passed through Solidarity and then were involved in the founding of the Wildcat group and then of the Subversion group which produced a journal of the same name.
InFebruary 1988 I was handing out a leaflet produced by the Anarchist Communist Federation aimed at the large demonstration in Manchester called to combat Section 28 ( a significant attack by the Thatcher government on gay people).Bob was at the demo with the Subversion comrades and they liked our leaflet. Contact was established and we got around to organising a series of joint day schoolsaround the country. With the demise ofSubversion Bob joined the ACF in 1998 with a couple of other ex-members of Subversion and we began to work closely over the next decade.
Bob was an enthusiast of cheap pamphlets and he was instrumental in developing a whole range of Anarchist Federation pamphlets . In addition he was a dynamic activist within the Manchester AF group and was involved in many local activities. The testimony of many who were influenced by Bobover the years can be found on internet boards like Urban 75 and libcom and they stand as a fine tribute to both his influence and importance.
Bob had many fine qualities, chief of which were his generosity and hospitality and his desire to make libertarian communist ideas accessible; he was always welcoming to new comrades, he was almost always reasonable and always attempted to act in a non-sectarian way to other libertarians, and he rarely lost his temper during political encounters. He and I sometimes had disagreements, but they were like the quarrels of brothers, and I always had great respectand admiration for his political longevity and his continuing optimism about social change.
He is a great loss to the Anarchist Federation and to the movement in general. I miss him very much.
Bob passed away shortly before midnight the night of 17th June 2011.
http://libcom.org/history/miller-bob-1953-2011 contains a link to recollections of Bob’s life and a nice photo.
The previous issue of Freedom also contained letters submitted and collected following Bob’s death: http://www.freedompress.org.uk/news/2011/07/02/bob-miller-rip/
Watch this video of Bob speaking at a Mayday event (2008) in Manchester “No Borders, No Nations, Free Communism!”:
The photograph accompanying this article was taken at the The Communards’ Wall (Mur des Fédérés) at the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and left there with a red rose (see shadow on poster) and a red & black flag. 2011 was the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune.