Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Monday, February 27, 2006

More on the Early Factory Workers

As a follow-up to my post below on factory workers, I quote this from Kevin Carson:
[T]he ruling class literature of the period is chock full of complaints about just how hard it was to get workers into the factories: not only were the lower classes not flocking into the factories of their own free will, but the owning classes used a great deal of energy thinking up ways to force them to do so.

Although the kind of thing I'm saying is denounced as "Marxist class warfare" these days, the land-owning and employing classes of early industrial Britain said the same thing in very nearly the same words, in a pretty frank "we're all men here" style. The cottager with independent access to a piece of land, it was complained, would only work a few days a week to supplement his income, and perhaps even then only work seasonally when he needed an extra stake of money to pay taxes or buy some luxury item. The periodical press resounds with demands for enclosure, the reduction of land available for household gardens, and forcible restriction of independent access to the means of subsistence so that the working population would have no choice but to work in the factories or as agricultural wage-laborers for whatever hours a master saw fit to demand of them.
Chapter 4 of Carson's book, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, has supporting quotations and citations. (It's also online here.)

Carson adds in a Monday post: "When laborers had independent access to the means of subsistence, they worked at wage labor only seasonally, for supplemental income; they could afford to rely on subsistence farming for long periods, and go back to working for a boss only when they felt like it."

This is an important issue that I expect I will be returning to now and then as I learn more.

1 comment:

Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for the link, and for your thought provoking comments in the earlier post. I'll be responding in the next few days.