A time to look backwards and forwards. It’s been a privilege to act as editor for three years bringing The Gateway to life once more.
Sometimes it feels depressing to look at Leatham’s writing and realise that he had many answers to problems we still encounter – and realise that if people had listened to his reasoning then, we may not have had these problems still. If people failed to listen to him then, how much more do they need to listen to him now, when hindsight shows us where we have taken wrong forks in the path, and Leatham is able to suggest where we might have taken a more positive approach. And a positive approach is something I try to hold on to, because without it there is no possibility of change for the better.
The work of Leatham, and past/present responses to it certainly provide a salutary lesson in the way our society works and how it has developed. Utopian idealism has always been with us – but real, robust choices have also been both possible and revealed. Reading Leatham’s work has highlighted to me both the futility of going against the grain, and the very vital importance of continuing to speak truth to power without fear or favour.
It is not our personal responsibility that things have ‘turned out’ the way they have. But the realities we live in now have been explored, explained and many times presaged by Leatham’s writing. Perhaps it is too late to ‘go back’ to correct errors of the past, but surely an understanding of the path we’ve taken (or been forced to take) might help us to engage with building a better future. Or is this just another cycle of ‘utopian idealism’? Cynicism, defeatism and the drive for individualism are all victims (sometimes willingly) of the economic system we live under.
I am left with no final conclusion other than that I wish more people had taken the notion of Co-operative Commonwealth seriously in days gone by, and that more people looking for a ‘better’ or ‘alternative’ system, would educate themselves in it now. There are alternatives.
When I began my editorship I was, perhaps naively, bemused by why his work had been so ignored, so thoroughly air-brushed from our social and cultural history. Now I have grown to know Leatham more through his writing, I am confident I know the answer. He was dangerous. He is still dangerous. His ideas are complex, challenging and comprehensive. He represents over sixty years of a man’s views – a man who saw the world as it was – and knew how he would like it to be.
I am convinced he will remain in the shadows because he shines light into some very dark places – places those in power are determined will stay dark to us all. And because of all this I am proud to have been responsible in some small way to bearing witness to a truth that was not afraid to speak its name. A truth that is once more available to readers - to those brave enough to engage with it and those who want to reach out beyond the cage (gilded or otherwise) in which we find ourselves today.
In this, the last online Gateway we look both ways, with our full focus on the work of Leatham. His seven Part: Glasgow in the Limelight concludes (and will soon be available as a complete work) and we offer a chapter of the thought provoking and entertaining ‘serial’ Twixt Desk and Shelves, which ran in Gateway for twenty five years from 1916 to 1941. Written in 1917 it offers some unusual views on women’s suffrage. His argument, though perhaps unpopular, has some resonance. Far from being a misogynist, I read it as suggesting that women (people in general) should be educated before they are simply given a vote. With the power comes the responsibility after all. The argument for an educated electorate is rather compelling when you consider some of the results of our exercise of democratic votes in the past few years!
One day, I hope to edit a complete edition of Twixt Desk and Shelves, as they show an interesting ‘alternative’ social history of Turriff and its people. Also this month is Leatham’s pamphlet about the Renaissance – affording us the opportunity to reflect back on a ‘rebirth’ and consider its consequences in a post-Renaissance world. Finally, it seemed fitting to include news of the recent visit to Aberdeen and Turriff by descendents of Leatham himself. It proved, if it was needed, that there is a vibrant link between past, present and future, and I am happy to have played my part in the process.
This is the final online edition, but it is not the end either of Gateway or Deveron Press. In the future we will be putting more work online as and when we can. We will build an online Index of all articles in Gateway to aid further exploration. We will continue to work to ‘voice’ authors who have something important to say and whose stories might otherwise remain hidden. We will publish in digital and print form where possible to keep spreading the word and advocating for the writing of Leatham and others who have been forced into shadows and neglected for too long. We will keep shining light into the dark places of our country, our culture and our world. Please do keep enjoying the archive of material online as it remains freely available.
Rab Christie, Editor.
To find past articles please use monthly archives.