Clark a passive force, equating them to a ‘sackful

Clark is part of the broader feminist perspective alongside Joan Scott, Barbara Taylor, Sally
Alexander. Clark does not want to force female
labourers into the established narrative, she seeks to write privileging gender.
She furthers Thompson’s definition of the ‘working-class’
and his historical writings, regarding the emergent of the
British working-class-consciousness
by honing on the effect gender roles had on the industrial regions. She
intersects his approach by analysing the development of the working-class in
terms of gender, arguing it played a “profound” role.1 She posits
that the making of the working-class was closely aligned to the political
radical movement that sought to unite the class-bound idea of gender.2 Clark is on a similar mission to rescue gender
from the ‘condescension of posterity’ in the Thompsonian process of class
formation

 

Agency and consciousness are so intimately
intertwined with class as a historical phenomenon. Thompson puts forward a counterapproach to the
economistic notations of Marxism, the defence argued by structuralists, one
example being Louis Althusser, who was keen to place an emphasis on scientific
aspects of Marxism. ‘The working-class did not rise like the sun at an appointed time,’
Thompson argues that it ‘was present at its own making,’ demonstrating how class
was a socio-historical process and relationship.3 This contrasts greatly to Marx who viewed
the peasants as a passive force, equating them to a ‘sackful of potatoes’ thus
negating their agency. For
conventional economic historians, the economic base is closely credited with
human progress, Thompson in contrast goes against the grain, but theoretically
he does not offer a viable alternative to the base-superstructure model that
Orthodox Marxists posit. From the Critique of Political Economy and
other comments made by Marx, conventional Marxist
historians take the base-superstructure model at face value, they do not
consider the fact that he himself did not explicitly state that the
superstructure could not affect the base. A refined
focus shows Thompson adhering to a Marxist framework but
distinguishes himself from structuralist
determinism in favour of
incorporating human agency.

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Marxist history is largely deterministic; it posits a forward-march
view. This is problematic as it suggests that history is always about moving
forwards, rather than viewing it as broadly a larger process, which can be
cyclical in nature. Thompson in this sense is deviating from the Marxist norm,
with his rescue mission putting spotlight on the ‘Luddite croppers,’ the
machine breakers who were seen as emblems of pre-industrial society as they were
hindering history from progressing.  Industrialisation is taking the nation towards
the industrial age, towards a future that is
perceived as superior. Not
only is he restoring voices to groups from subordinate, lowly positions but he
is also questioning the very linear trajectory of progress, by considering
other elements.

 

Hobsbawm and Rudé, in their introduction,
make it explicitly clear that they intend to rebuild an account, to rescue an
‘anonymous and undocumented’ group, so that they can begin to ‘understand their
movements,’ echoing Thompson’s mission.4
The Swing rioters: ‘nobody except themselves’ knew who they were, only
identifiable by their children and gravestones. Thompson, Hobsbawm and Rudé are
rewriting history, giving voice to the voiceless; the losers. Marking a
departure from the study of study of
great events, with a focus on the political and social elites, primarily
wealthy, European men However, the way in which they write about the figures evokes
different meanings; Thompson views the ‘Luddite cropper’ as heroes, they were
the ‘casualties of history,’ the victims of the Industrial Revolution who were
so easily replaced by machinery.5
He seeks to recover their reactionary views from the margins of the history and
give them a leading role in their own drama. How Hobsbawm and Rudé’s represent
the ‘casualties of history,’ arouses contrasting connotations.6
They are described as ‘primitive rebels’.7
Hobsbawm and Rudé view the nature of the disturbances as ”improvised, archaic,
and spontaneous,’ whereas Thompson sees them as ‘curiously indecisive and
unbloodthirsty.’8 The
trajectory of Marxism following Marx’s death has been strongly influenced by a
productivist, economistic and evolutionist determinism. Thompson differentiates
his approach, he is a romanticist who writes a eulogy, a utopian-revolutionary dialectic on
pre-industrial subordinate people. Thus, highlighting the dialectic of Marxism and romanticism.

1 Clark, The Struggle, p.264.

2 Ibid. p.2.

3
Thompson, The Making, p.1.

4 Hobsbawm
and Rudé, Captain Swing, p.12.

5 Thompson, The
Making, p.4.

6 Ibid.

7 Hobsbawm
and Rudé, Captain Swing, p.249.

8 Ibid. p. 19. Thompson, The Making, p.250.