A Short History of the British Working-Class Movement, 1789-1947 - Vol. 2

A Short History of the British Working-Class Movement, 1789-1947 - Vol. 2

A Short History of the British Working-Class Movement, 1789-1947 - Vol. 2

A Short History of the British Working-Class Movement, 1789-1947 - Vol. 2

Excerpt

I had intended to complete in this second volume my short survey of the history of the British Working-class Movement. But, as soon as I began to reduce to order my accumulated material, I saw that it would be impossible to do this without making the second volume nearly twice as long as the first. It seemed, moreover, that there was a natural break in the story just about the end of the century. The Victorian age appeared to be a chapter complete in itself, and deserving to be dealt with as a rounded whole. I therefore decided to make a second break about 1900, and to complete my study in three volumes instead of two.

Just as, in the first volume, I was trying to present a coherent account of the successive waves of working-class revolt against the new economic and social conditions created by the Industrial Revolution, so here I have attempted to present a picture of the new working-class movements which, from about 1850 onwards, based themselves on an acceptance of Industrialism, and an attempt to make the best of the new structure of economic society. For a time this acceptance was to a great extent an acceptance, not only of Industrialism, but also of that individualist Capitalism in which the new industrial order was first embodied. Later, it found expression in a Socialism which, hostile to Capitalism, was no less definitely based on accepting Industrialism as the basis of social organisation.

In my first volume I had to stress the unity of the entire Working- class Movement--the common basis and the close actual connection of the early experiments in Trade Unionism, in Co-operation, and in Radical political reform. Here, in dealing with the Victorian era, I have rather to lay stress on the division of the workers' movement into a number of distinct and separate expressions. Co-operation and Trade Unionism drifted apart; independent working-class political action was for a time submerged. The . . .

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