The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

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Nov 8 Thanks for posting this, this is an amazing book. I have added text and epub versions of this text now. Chilli Sauce Nov 9 EDIT: I'm lying, that's the 54 chapter vision in 68 parts. Also, just to say, I can't say trousers in anything but a Scottish accent. Chilli Sauce Nov 27 And while the book is obviously a good read, I think it's definitely not good organising or good revolutionary practice to suggest the main role of revolutionaries should be out-debate their workmates on the virtues of socialism The book seems to suggest that it will be a combination of propaganda, winning the argument, and the immiseration of the working class which will eventually lead to socialism.

Nov 27 Sike Aug 4 Pannekoek and Workers' Councils - Serge Bricianer. Serge Bricianer on council communist Anton Pannekoek and his ideas on workers' councils.

Damnably Subversive but Extraordinarily Real: The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists

Comments 1. Andrews Church, Hastings. Pope edited the manuscript drastically, deleting many socialist references. An impoverished, unorganised group of workers is at the centre of the novel — for this first time in the history of the English novel. Their class consciousness is at a primitive level — they are duped by the capitalist and imperialist media, for example by what they read in The Daily Obscurer , with its demagogy and jingoism.

The boss Rushton rush-it-on and his middle-men force the workers to hurry and slobber the work, use inferior materials, while charging for excellence, and looting the premises for their own benefit. They also threaten the casual labourers with unemployment, effectively the workhouse and pauperism. The novel also develops fully individualised women characters. Nora Owen is as class conscious and conversant with Marxist ideas as her husband.

While the working-class characters are fleshed-out individuals, whom the reader follows into their home lives, the bosses are simply types. This is a refreshing reversal of the usual pattern of individualised middle-class lives and worker stereotypes. In this way, the breadth of depiction is matched by deep insight into the interior of working-class life. Before The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, fictional proletarian characters lived a far less rich life than the great middle-class figures of the bourgeois realists.

In the Philanthropists , we are presented with individuals with a personal — and in the case of Owen, inner — life which is rich, humane and full of drama.

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We are presented with a conviction that the working class way of life has the potential to encompass all aspects of truly human living. The ruling class, by contrast, is put beyond consideration as a human way of life, its purpose being to block the working-class from free development, and to impose both physical and political degradation.

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists Part 2 of 3

His dinner break lectures on capitalism and socialism form an enriching commentary on the events of the novel. However, Owen is depicted as part of this labour collective, made up also of opportunists, the non-socialist rank and file, as well as highly class conscious workers, forming an organic, complete image of the working-class. He shares the same qualities as the other workers, only more developed and conscious: this is his socialism.

In this realistic, heterogeneous portrayal of the working class, Tressell is like his contemporary, Maxim Gorky. As Alan Dent remarks in his Introduction to the recent collection of poems by Martin Hayes, although work is a central reality in life for most people, it is rarely depicted in art. Never before in the English realist novel had the actual labour process been central to the depiction of class struggle. For the first time, Tressell reverses the assumption that life begins where work ends — work is essential to a fully lived human life.

Labour means nothing to Rushton, Sweater and the bosses. Crass, Slyme and other labourers display the least humanity, betraying and tricking their mates, and toadying to the bosses. In all the decent workers, pride in their work and their efforts to do it properly, despite threats of instant sacking, emerges damaged but basically intact.

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He takes the annihilating material environment, the central tool of capitalist oppression, and turns it into a vessel of creative proletarian living, an opportunity to express his humanity through his work. In the struggle over how the work should be done, Owen lays down the law to the bosses: during the period of this work, Owen achieves his fullest humanity and the bosses lose control of him and the entire situation. Haunted by fears of unemployment, the men struggle to keep their jobs at any cost but, in the course of events, some of them begin to realise that their condition of miserable poverty is neither 'natural' or 'just'.

These workers, the 'philanthropists' of the title, who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poor wages to generate profit for their 'masters' are joined by an artist, Owen, whose spirited attacks on the dishonesty of capitalism, along with his socialist vision, highlight their workplace exploitation and the inequality in society as a whole.

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Writer and adapter of the book, Neil Gore said: "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was published originally in , but the themes explored in the book are still relevant today. When Tressell wrote the book, Britain was on the brink of war, and the majority of the population were living in a very tight economy with low wages and appalling working and living conditions. These themes will resonate with many working and living in our current regime of austerity, where wages and working conditions are squeezed and where many struggle for the basic necessities of life in the midst of spiralling rises in the cost of living and housing. Meanwhile the richest in society just seem to be getting richer.

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