I am what is known in the trade as a red diaper baby. But that was only on my Father’s side. I have always wondered about William James’s observation that the children of parents of conflicting temperaments find those conflicts raging inside themselves. I followed my Father’s communist line right through to the end of university, then took my second degree and spent a year and a half as a gardener in London working things through. It was then that I read Solzhenitsyn who may have been the catalyst or perhaps only the vehicle to announce to myself how my philosophy of life had sorted itself out, more towards my Mother’s side of the family tree.
Yet I am like my Dad in my allegiance to Mill in the way he had his allegiance to Marx. I loved my Dad who loved me in turn, but I ended up in Australia as far from his influence as I could possibly go. So I will tell my favourite story of my Dad, about when he had been made a manager in a factory where he then set up a union which he could not become a member of. The management knew someone had organised the union but didn’t know who. So they brought in each of the workers, asked who it was who had set up the union, and when they refused to say, fired each of them on the spot [it was the 1950s]. They then hired them all back, no one ever found out who had been the organiser and the factory remained unionised from that day on.
He had himself always remarked on his having been born almost to the day of the Russian Revolution, which is why I was so aware of the timing of the October Revolution and the storming of the Winter Palace. He outlived the Communist era but never gave up the faith. May he rest in peace wherever he may be.