The Town Labourer, 1760-1832: The New Civilisation

The Town Labourer, 1760-1832: The New Civilisation

The Town Labourer, 1760-1832: The New Civilisation

The Town Labourer, 1760-1832: The New Civilisation

Excerpt

This book was almost ready for publication in the summer of 1914, when it was put on one side for the more pressing tasks of the war.

It is published now, because it seems to the writers that the subject it discusses has a direct bearing on problems that are beginning to engage the attention of the nation as the war draws, however slowly, to its end. The more closely any period of history is studied, the more clearly does it appear that the mistakes and troubles of an age are due to a false spirit, an unhappy fashion in thought or emotion, a tendency in the human mind to be overwhelmed by the phenomena of the time, and to accept those phenomena as the guide to conduct and judgment, instead of checking and criticising them by a reasoned standard of its own. Men come to think that it is their business to explain, rather than to control, the forces of the hour.

The social system produced by the Industrial Revolution reflected a spirit that we may describe as a spirit of complacent pessimism, and this spirit has done more than any event in English history to create the 'two nations' of which Disraeli used to speak. Unity is only possible in a society which pursues a common aim, in which all men and women have a recognised and equal share. Such an aim must have some relation to human qualities and human needs. This age had taken for its aim the accumulation of economic power, and its guiding philosophy was a . . .

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