The origins of the social war in South Yorkshire : a study of capitalist evolution and labour class realization in one industrial region, c.1750-1855
This study seeks to advance the possibility of producing 'total history' in which the working or labour class assumes its rightful place at the centre of interpreted action. This requires a practical and intellectual approach that is inspired by the Marxist tradition. In chronologically ordered chapters dealing with economic realities (the organization and dynamics of an industrial economy where cutlery, related metalware manufacture, linen making, coal. mining and iron and steel manufacture were dominant) and the realities of social conflict, the main focus remains on the latter. The periodization which orders this study is of course artificial. It derives a certain validity from the clustering of 'moments' in the progress of working people in their popular and class struggles with economic and political exploitation. My main aim was to penetrate and evaluate the nature and levels of labour class consciousness. The sources dictated that I only encountered the consciousness of vanguard groups. My evaluation was largely situational but it also shows an appreciation of the unity of historical development created by the inheritance of traditions and experiences, a process that is reinforced by persistent and unyielding processes of economic conditioning. This study mainly limits itself to what happened in one industrial region. This and the 'situational.' approach restrict the level of generalization. When more regional and town studies have been attempted in a similar progress can be made towards higher order generalizations. Hopefully my ideas and evidence concerning 'invisible exploitation', Methodist revivalism, the revolutionary 'underground', armed insurrection and its links with more recognizable forms of constitutionalist struggle, the strength of organized labour, trade union economism and the 'economic' and 'political' labour aristocracies of the 1830's and 1840's may serve to complement other people's work and stimulate positive (and critical) reactions in the future.