- Publisher: newheath publishing
- Available in: book pdf format
I am laying out this great book as practise, and hope you enjoy the free samples of chapters I will putting up over the next few months.
In the century since 1914, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists has had 117 printings in the UK, plus one braille version, 15 printings in several languages such as Canada, Australia, the USA and Russia, and translated printings in German, Dutch, Polish, Slovak, Czech, and even Japanese, plus several often inaccurate and overpriced print-on-demand versions in English, and various plays, radio programmes, TV films, tapes and CDs. Most book-publishers will not disclose their print runs, yet several million copies of this book must be in circulation, but why? Generations of workers have taken the book to their hearts and it is one of the most frequently loaned books of all time. True, it was the first lengthy account of how capitalism operates at shop floor level, from the point of view of a skilled British worker, and it has all the hallmarks of humour, parody, pathos, irony, rage, little victories, defeats, arguments and ideas; but while it is brim full of hatred and contempt for the capitalist ‘System’, the ruling class and their hangers-on, it is very hard on workers, and it is not quite as realistic as ‘Robert Tressell’ claimed.
A different view is shared By Dave Harker in his book Tressell: The real story of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (London: Zed Books, 2003. Manila: Ibon Books, 2004). He asks questions like why was there no mentions Tressells fellow Irishman like James Connolly and Jim Larkin who would have been fighting the socialist cause leading up to the Great Dublin lockout in 1913. Tressell does not mention other recent workers’ victories at the time, like those of the ‘match girls’ in 1888 and the dockers in 1889. Why does Tressell highlight the bloody defeat of strikes in Featherstone in 1893 and Belfast in 1907, but not the massacre that sparked a revolution in Russia in 1905? Why wasn’t past political struggles mentioned such as the strong Hastings suffragettes movement, and the nationally-famous trade union activists, like the docker, Ben Tillett, who Tressell may well have heard speak in Hastings. Maybe more mentions of Mugsborough’s organised trades unionists and socialists could have occurred, as The Great Unrest in Britain that occurred in 1911 was brewing for some years prior to this.
Thanks To Dave Harker for inspiration and facts concerning the alternate view of this great socialist book