Class and Class Consciousness in the Industrial Revolution by R. J. Morris

By R. J. Morris

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Extra resources for Class and Class Consciousness in the Industrial Revolution 1780–1850

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The Volunteers were mainly gentry, tenant farmers, shopkeepers, professional men and the 'employers on horseback' [Western, 1956]. After Peterloo the use of the Volunteers decreased as the authorities realised that the presence of the yeomanry exacerbated class feeling rather than restoring social peace. Regular troops were essential throughout the Chartist period and beyond. Indeed the most violent Chartist years of 1839 and 1840 were noted for the skill with which the authorities deployed their forces.

The Jacobin republic of the small producer had been left behind and the socialist analysis of revolutionary aims and tactics had hardly begun. Owenite ideas, Benbow's plans for a 41 general strike and the early analysis of the exploitation oflabour by capital in the unstamped press were all available in Oldham in 1834 and 1842 but there is little evidence that any of these blueprints for a revolutionary consciousness dominated the minds of the mass of the Oldham working class in those crisis years.

Despite the activities of giants like the Peels in Lancashire and David Dale at New Lanark, the small firm retained a major place in the textile industry. 12 The factory was associated with several innovations in class behaviour. The cotton spinners provided only background support for the democratic radicals of the 17908 and 1815 - 20, but they played a major part in the development of industrial trades unions. The spinners had a tradition of sectional and communitybased trades clubs, often taking the form of friendly societies, which formed loose affiliations for assisting those tramping for work, for resisting wage reductions and the introduction of machinery.

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