The Emergence of the Working Class as a Learning Process

20th Sep, 2017

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 Michael Vester

(Extracts translated from Die Entstehung des Proletariat als Lernprozess. Die Entstehung antikapitalistischer Theorie und Praxis in England 1792–l848, third edn., Frankfurt 1975)

Translated by Jairus Banaji

The following is a translation of parts of Michael Vester’s classic work The Emergence of the Working Class as a Learning Process, which was first published in Germany in 1970.*  The translation below was made from the third German edition of 1975 and includes Vester’s important introduction to his study as well as smaller portions of Chapters 2 and 3.  It is itself a very recently revised version of a translation published, in cyclostyled form, in 1978 in what called itself the Bulletin of the Communist Platform.**  Small groups of anti-Stalinist Marxists and socialists active in India (in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore) led a double existence throughout the seventies into the eighties, both working with workers and unions where they could (Bombay, Pune, Bangalore) and engaged in intense theoretical study that encompassed a wide range of topics and styles of Marxist theory. Apart from Capital and everything related to it (value theory, crisis theory, etc.), those debates included Hegel, Lukács, Sartre, Althusser, Colletti, Poulantzas, Arthur Rosenberg’s essay on fascism, Kautsky’s work on the Agrarian Question, Preobrazhensky’s New Economics, Trotsky’s writings, the new feminist literature, and of course the whole debate about party and class, including the way E. P. Thompson had approached the history of the English working class. This is where Vester comes in because Emergence is a brilliant and extended reflection on Thompson’s work and fed directly into discussions of the ‘Leninist’ party and of non-party forms of class organisation, but crucially also of what it means for a working class to exist (to come into being) and to become aware of itself as a class. In Vester, the key idea (which ties in so well with the Hegel of the Phenomenology!) is the notion of a learning-process as fundamental to class formation and combativity. Vester uses Thompson’s work to construct a theory of class learning that both valorises experience and allows for the ‘rational’ moment of drawing lessons from it. The subtitle of his book The Emergence of Anti-Capitalist Theory and Practice in England 1792–1848 suggests that this dialectic (between experience and the structured reflection on it) is the heart of the process by which ‘class consciousness’ comes alive in periods of history when social learning has been effective both in terms of the goals workers set themselves and of the means by which they strive to realise those goals. - JB

* Michael Vester (b. 1939) is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the University of Hanover. Since the late seventies, he has been mainly involved in large-scale social structure studies and worked on both Portugal and Germany. A sample of his more recent work can be found here,

** There were just two issues of the Bulletin of the Communist Platform, one in each of the years 1977–78. By the end of the seventies a major part of the group in Bombay was absorbed in work with the unions, traveling widely across industrial areas in a massive city. Other comrades found themselves having to find jobs and mostly went into journalism. The comrades in Delhi either continued to be active with workers or turned to anti-communal work once that city saw horrific state-sanctioned pogroms against the Sikhs in 1984.

This book attempts to understand the history of the first workers’ movements and of the early socialist theories that were developed in England over the years 1792 to 1848 as a long and collect­ive learning-process. This was a process unleashed by the repressive political, economic and cultural upheavals bound up with the first Industrial Revolution and with the great political revolution in France. In confronting these pressures, the ‘poor and labouring classes’ of England gradually became aware of the need to evolve their own institutions and their own system of communication, to play an independent role as historical subjects and to develop their own theory of society. An apatheticised, manipulated and fragmented lower class (Unterklasse) solidified into a class movement that aspired to re-establish society as a whole on principles quite different from those of capitalism.

The discussion is arranged into two parts. Part 1 studies the working class as object of the agrarian/industrial revolution. New behavioural norms of asceticism and competition ran up against popular values opposed to capitalism. The class learning-process was founded initially on this conflict. The views traditionally advanced by social historians remain quite unsatis­factory in terms of the assumptions they make about psychology and class sociology. My analysis thus implies a critique of such views, which I lay out in chapter 4 in the form of ten short theses that are likewise a tentative summary of Part 1 of the book. I have not gone into any detailed specialist polemic, however.

Part 2, richer in details, describes the struggles between the landed, industrial-capitalist and working classes. Here six periods of struggle are distinguished, and each of these interpreted as feedback-cycles between theory and practice on the following pattern: the shortcomings of a given strategy of struggle are found out in practice through failures; this impels the intellectuals within the working class to work out new answers to the questions that still remain open; new strategies are then diffused through a determinate system of communication, they are more widely accepted and, finally, tested in practice in a new cycle of struggles. The descriptions of the culture of the lower classes, of the struggles they engaged in and of the theories that they worked out alternate in a corresponding manner. Thus, a reinterpretation of ‘early socialism’, especially of the school of Robert Owen, becomes necessary: already before Marx and Proudhon, England would witness a well-developed critical theory of society and of human capacities, one that was opposed to authoritarianism and revolutionary in its cultural aspect. For some time, this theory even gained practical influence over a broad-based political and syndicalist mass movement. The conception that prior to Marx and Chartism there existed only some small utopian groups that understood neither capitalism nor the necessity for class struggle is pure prejudice. The specific problems of the period of struggles extending from 1792 to l848, above all the conditions that determined their success and eventual defeat, are summarised in the introduction and conclusion to Part 2.

The workers’ movement emerged initially not as an articulate ‘socialist’ current, but as a theoretically fluid ‘anti-capitalist’ current. The closer historical definition of this ‘anti-capitalism was, of course, precisely a result of the learning-process that would follow. Defined in a purely negative way, ‘anti-capitalism’ embraces quite heterogeneous expressions, both practical and theoretical, of the critique of society. These are all unified by their rejection of a specific system of social and economic domination. On the other hand, they differ according to the social position of their supporters and according to the criteria by which the dominant system is interpreted, an alternative system conceived, and the means for the realisation of the goals posited by the latter actually developed. The development of criteria of this type, underlying a certain conception of society and of history, is not a linear movement but a cyclical one. It proceeds as a confrontation between the system of domination and the system opposed to it and as a feedback-process between theory and practice within the anti-capitalist movement.

Cycles of Struggle

The first phase of the struggle for emancipation from capitalism coincided for a period of time with the final phases of the struggle for the emancipation of the capitalist middle class. The decades from 1750 to around 1850 saw the completion of the agrarian/industrial revolution, or the transition from an individ­ual mode of production based on partly independent small producers to the social mode of production based on the putting-out system and finally on wage-labour. Large-scale bourgeois property in land made its breakthrough by 1820; a mass of small farmers were thereby deprived of the very foundations of their existence, and came to form a major portion of the potential labour-power, or reserve army of unemployed, for capitalism. 1787 saw the start of an industrial growth-cycle that persisted down to around 1842. Supported by a textile industry now based on steam, this was the cycle during which mechanised mass-production became established. Gradually, the small producers who had been pushed out of the countryside thanks to the competition of capitalist firms in industry found themselves dependent on those very enterprises. The 1820s formed the particular phase of this cycle of expansion during which industrial capitalism broke through as the dominant sector of the economy. Consolidated economically, the bourgeoisie could, in 1832, extort the franchise from a parliament dominated by a landed oligarchy whose economic legislation had been a fetter on capitalist development till then.

The workers’ movement developed through confrontation with a structure of domination that was changing internally. But if the bourgeoisie already controlled pre-political instruments of power such as the economic resources at its disposal, its system of communication and social ideology, the lower classes were compelled to fight for these only now.

Part 1 investigates the point at which this confrontation starts: the contradiction between the traditional structures of need and the newly enforced norms of behaviour. Of far greater consequence than mere quantitative changes such as the decline in real incomes was the change brought about in social and cultural norms, that is, the displacement of the old ‘moral economy by the ‘rational economy’ of competitive capitalism. Like the economic revolution itself, the loss of independent means of subsistence, of occupational and family status, of the relatively undisciplined rhythms of life and work and principles of solidarity underlying community, trade and family, till then all immune to the destructive force of economic calculation, was a comparatively slow process. But against the background of traditional entitlements to economic independence and community-collectivism it formed a catastrophic experience. This pattern of values, centred on mutuality and independence, was now reactivated and transfigured into an ideal nourished on memories. A utopia aspiring to restore past conditions, it formed the first alternative conception of society to emerge within the anti-capitalist movement and was already a result of incipient changes in the categories through which social processes were being perceived and evaluated. Contrasted with the fairly homogeneous character of this counter-ideology, the workers life-situation was defined by extreme heterogeneity. Due to the gradual nature of industrialisation, very different forms of economic dependence coexisted for a long period: there was the formally independent craftsman threatened by unfavourable market-conditions, the skilled worker employed in manufacture or factory-production, the unskilled wage-labourer facing the threat of unemployment, the casual and seasonal workers, and finally, the great mass of unemployed ‘poor’ dependent on social welfare. Divisions determined by trade, branch of production, religious or community or regional affiliation, formed further obstacles to any overriding solidarity.

Part 2 describes the confrontations through which the lower classes made an effort to overcome their mutual isolation and a purely backward-looking definition of their goals. Due to the heterogeneous character of its life-situations, the ‘unity of the working class’ could be achieved only in a mediated form, as a coalition. The development of an alternative system of communication was closely tied in with the development of the general goals that formed the content of that system. Only an intensive, continuous and wide­spread process of communication realised in their own press, their own schools and organisations of defence and struggle made it possible for workers to articulate, exchange, test and develop their views on an adequate scale. The right to communicate was a key objective in the conflict between the establishment and the workers’ movement. Laissez-faire had a reverse side – tight controls over the freedom to correspond, to speak in public, to publish material, to meet or to form independent associations. Initially these restrictions were enforced by violence, but later and increasingly, through manipulation. Yet precisely such repression, especially the emergency measures of 1792–1819, taught the movement the necessity for a closing of its ranks.

Because of repression and the staggered nature of the industrial revolution, the workers movement could emerge and develop only discontinuously, in a series of cycles. These cycles occasionally ended in defeat, evaluating which would then inaugurate a new and often qualitatively more advanced effort. The ‘evaluation’ of failures was basically the task of the leading theorists, journalists and organisers of the movement. In the ensuing wave of struggles, the strategies they proposed had to be tested in terms of seeing how widely acceptable and how practical they were. The most important contributions to the theory of the early workers’ movement came from ‘working class intellectuals’ (‘Arbeiterintelligenz’), a group of urban and, to some extent, rural craftsmen as well as of skilled industrial workers who relied either on their own capacities or on the interpretations proposed by theoreticians from other classes.

The struggles unfolded in six major cycles… In the first two of these cycles of struggle (Kampfzyklen) (1792–1819) the workers’ movement turned chiefly against the old oligarchy, attempting to force it politically, through laws protecting labour and concessions on the franchise, to annul the structural crisis of the small producer, till then the dominant concern of the mass movement, and to restore the old values of independence and community collectivism. The oligarchy blamed the movement of opposition on the ring-leaders. It failed to develop any deeper conception of the causes behind it and could therefore suppress it only superficially.

Over the next two cycles (1820–32) the workers’ movement turned mainly against a new enemy, a capitalism in consolidation, and sought to interpret its aspirations for solidarity and independence in correspondingly modified forms. Affirmative in its acceptance of the industrial mode of production, it now strove to overcome bourgeois relations of production through cooperative structures of decision-making. Yet even now a part of the movement continued to articulate an opposition to capital that was oriented to the past, and the great majority participated in the struggles of the middle class for the suffrage, helping the latter to victory and eventually pushing themselves into disillusionment. Through these experiences, working-class consciousness emerged in a more complete shape: workers realised that they could secure lasting improve­ment in their position only through mutual solidarity and through self-activity against the upper classes. In their new awareness of economic questions workers came around to accepting the principle of efficiency of bourgeois economy, without accepting the bourgeois form of property. In place of the earlier ‘moral economy’ there now emerged the vision of an economy of abundance based on cooperation.

The last two cycles of struggle (1832–48) were a time of trial for the class-consciousness gained in earlier phases. In 1832–34 a trade-union movement with syndicalist tendencies attempted to improve its position through direct economic action and partly to win cooperative control over the means of production. Defeated by lock-outs, the movement then attempted to realise its socialist aims indirectly, through the Chartist franchise-agitation. Even at this stage the means of struggle accessible to it economically, politically and ideologically were not sufficiently developed to enable the class to constitute itself as the nation.

From the 1840s on, capitalism entered a new period of stability, founded on a long cycle of expansion and more appropriate forms of political regulation. This lasted several decades so that in future capitalism could withstand even greater upheavals and re-establish a state of equilibrium through self-regulation. On the other hand, the workers movement lost its revolutionary will and concentrated single-mindedly on strengthening its economic organisations for wage-struggles.

The new balance of class-forces had finally crystallised by 1848 and forced Engels and Marx to review and further develop the basic outlines of their own conception of the revolution. Whereas in the Communist Manifesto political democracy still appeared as a means to the inauguration of cooperative relationships, through an abridged development of productive forces aided by state intervention, Capital investigated the possibilities, intrinsic to capitalism’s laws of motion, of a more protracted development across capitalism itself. The conception in the Manifesto is to be seen strictly in connection with a particular phase of the movement; it cannot simply be assumed to be valid for social systems at other stages of development.

The first period of development of the workers movement thus coincides with the first major growth cycle of a capitalism based on machinery. In both trajectories the l820s formed a turning-point: the bourgeoisie gained the political means with which it could realise its social aims; the working class gained a historical perception of its own goals and began attempts to realise those goals by means appropriate to them.

Cycles of Learning

The emergence of the working class’s theory of society has to be seen in strict relation to its practice. A purely intellectual history cannot account for the specific changes that it went through. Theory in the formal sense arose generally as a response to the practical failures of earlier interpretations of reality, and as a new form of interpretation it had to be both understood intellectually and testable in practice by specific social groups. In this way, there arose between the writer and his public, or between the masses and their speakers, a relation of tension which repeatedly necessitated a process of adaptation and revision. Each of the six cycles of struggle can therefore be interpreted as a cycle of learning.

1. The Jacobin suffrage movement of the 1790s was triggered by Thomas Paine’s interpretation of the French Revolution. Paine articulated the urban artisans’ striving for political democracy conceived as a means of restoring small-scale property with state protection. The radical artisans threw up their own speakers, journalists, pamphlet­eers and system-builders who engaged in clarifying problems theoretically and feeding that clarity back to the public. As Jacobinism gained influence among urban wage-earners and domestic-industry workers and similar groups in the countryside who had little previous connection with the artisan movements, their associations were destroyed and formally suppressed together with the trade unions. Nevertheless, counter­revolutionary persecution could not stop the Jacobin skilled worker from gaining an important weight in the trade union struggles of l800–1814. In the struggles for legal protection against labour-saving machinery, workers reactivated their pre-industrial notions of mutualism and independence, while the Jacobin propaganda for freedom, equality and brotherhood gave those pre-political goals a political character, in the shape of a programme for social democracy. The laissez-faire policies of the regime exposed the futility of any campaign for protectionism and forced open the road to self-help. Its basic form, the organised breaking of machinery, failed at the gates of the large factories which were better defended militarily. This in turn gave rise to the need for a strategy of struggle that factory-workers could deploy and for a more effective political movement.          

2. Both of these encountered their period of trial in the years 1815–1819. Following the suppression of machine-breaking and the post-war crisis, workers confined themselves initially to political forms of struggle and became the newly-found public of middle-class parliamentary reformers: the cleavage between town-based artisans and rural industrial workers was thus partly overcome. Due to the laws regulating association, the mass assembly was at first the most important form of communication. Yet in such assemblies both ideas and actions were capable of only a low degree of articulation due to their predominantly emotional mechanisms of consensus-building and to the demagogic tendencies of the speakers at such rallies.

A more rational system of communication came about with the rapid growth of the workers’ democratic mass press. Journalists like Cobbett could carry through the process by which a yearning for independence had already started to be transformed into a programme for political democracy, and they could mediate a sense of collective experience on the part of workers throughout the country. On the other hand, the social programme still remained arrested at the level of an opposition to capitalism looking to the past. In 1818 there sprang up a more widespread trade union movement and a more rational style of mass-demonstrations. The sense of unease drove the government to retaliate with a murderous attack on about 80,000 peaceful demonstrators in Manchester in 1819 and with new repressive legislation that put a temporary halt to political agitations and to the workers’ press.

3. The years 1820–1825 formed a period of working off the earlier experiences of failure. Both in theory and in practice the movement re-oriented to the economic level; tendencies of opposition to capital dominated over those directed against absolutism. Two theories of opposition to capitalism were now advanced: an individualist theory that sought to restore the society of small-scale producers and a cooperative theory that accepted the industrial mode of production but wanted to make it the basis of a society of abundance by vesting control in cooperatives. Both these theories reached out into the recently founded workers’ schools, the first one, which corresponded to the position of the artisan, through Thomas Hodgskin, the second, which found a response among wage-earners, through William Thompson. In both of them class-antagonism was a fundamental aspect, but both saw in peaceful direct actions by the producers an adequate basis for overcoming class-conflict. Owen’s theory was the most significant theoretical achievement of the time, and Thompson made it acceptable to the ranks of the working class by rejecting Owen’s requirement that workers should cooperate with capitalists. Over the years 1822–24 the trade unions entered a phase of consolidation against a background of general prosperity, and achieved legal recognition on this consolidated basis.

4. With legality and a militant, class-based Owenism the path was now open for the decisive upsurge of the workers’ movement that unfolded over 1826–1832. There emerged a widespread Owenite cooperative movement: small producers whose markets were threatened and wage­-earners aspiring for better living conditions founded cooperative stores and even cooperative workshops. From the defeats of isolated wage struggles there emerged, under Owenite leadership, a tendency in the direction of trade-union associations cutting across trades and geographical boundaries, and in this way a basis was created for mobilising strike-funds. Even more significant was the renewed suffrage movement of 1830, which ended however by bringing the bourgeoisie into parliament two years later. This defeat shattered all residues of any surviving sympathy for the middle classes. Due to their growing economic, political and propaganda organisations workers established solidarity on a national scale. Working-class consciousness, now realised at a national level, found its specific expression in a unifying ideology based on Owenism and accepted by almost all groups. Of course, the practical expression of this advance had still to come.

5. The syndicalist mass-movement of 1832–134 was the first practical attempt made at testing this more sharply outlined class-consciousness. Broad-based trade-union combines emerged, and their strike-policy was aimed partly at a cooperative take-over of the means of production. In common with the cooperatives, they broke up in 1834, defeated by lock-outs and state repression. The defeat of this revolutionary syndicalism forced the masses to return to political forms of struggle.

6. The Chartist suffrage movement of 1834–48 inspired an even larger mass of workers, but at the cost of a lower level of organization and consciousness. It aimed at a Workers Parliament that could provide a decisive solution to social problems. Mechanisms of agreement based on mass appeal and theories of revolution rooted in ideas of  ‘natural law’ and of Jacobinism came back into prominence. The faction defending physical attacks appealed to the masses to struggle for the franchise by violent means, following repeated rejections of their petitions in parliament; but this faction found little support in the ranks of the working class. Obviously, workers realised that without preparation they were no match for the military apparatus of a consolidated state-machine. The eventual defeat of Chartism ushered in decades of an economically circumscribed reformist practice during which the workers organisations no longer risked confrontation with the bourgeois system as a whole.

As for the relation of theory and practice in the English workers movement in its formative period, tentatively the following basic patterns are discernible:

a) The movement found its actual origin in the widespread social ‘declassing’ brought about by dynamics within agriculture and industry, a process that was subjected to interpretation in terms of criteria associated with inherited, pre-industrial patterns of behaviour.

 b) These interpretative criteria were articulated and, through feedback with practical experience, developed further by a special group with a vanguard character, distinguished by its skills and its cultural urbanity, and composed of urban craftsmen and later of skilled workers drawn from the industrial areas. (After 1820 the position of the wage-worker gradually became a more pressing problem than the crisis of craft-based small producers.)

c) The individual cycles of learning contained opposing orientations: agrarian versus industrial, craft individualism versus cooperation, economic/political, pacifist/terrorist, apathetic/  millenarian, theories looking to the past versus others that looked to the future, and theories based on conceptions of natural law vs. theories that followed utilitarian principles. Groups founded on purely individual forms of production inclined initially to utopian ideals directed towards the past; these they sought to establish by political means. Groups founded on cooperative forms of production were able to form economic associations and strive for an industrial utopia for which they would have to fight through direct economic actions. On the other hand, neither of these two groups simply remained with the positions from which they started. Skilled workers in particular were quite open to the building of more rational forms of communication, of tactics aimed at being successful, and open to a historically meaningful definition of class goals. They were likewise quite receptive to mediations between apparently opposed orientations. It follows that the individual cycles of learning should be interpreted not as meaningless oscillations between opposed extremes, but as a gradual, meaningful, and productive process of acquiring knowledge.

 d) However, the entire process of evolution from the 1790s to the 1840s is not, even if we abstract from its internal cyclical swings, something defined merely by continuity and advance. Through the defeat of revolutionary syndicalism and of the Chartist struggle for suffrage a regressive learning-process began as well, and it gripped an even larger mass of workers. Depoliticisation and bureaucratisation of the trade unions and the abandonment of any political definition of class goals were processes that defined the English workers’ movement for decades after 1848. These had already emerged prior to 1848 as the retrograde moments of a period dominated by its basically progressive tendencies.

 e) As a rule, a given cycle of learning passed through the following stages (Stadien): initially, disaffection with external conditions and the need for redress; a selective reception of redressal strategies and direct use of such strategies against the dominant system; emphatic growth following the first experiences of failure; then regress into apathy after repeated failure; and finally, renewed feelings of the need for more effective means of redress and even for a more realistic definition of goals.

f) Communication was established through specific types of persons, symbols and systems of communication. The mediation between theory and practice was embodied in the functions of publicists, journalists, educational experts, mass speakers and preachers of the various popular religious denominations. The symbols of identification at work were rituals and slogans, martyrs and icons, allegorical modes of interpretation such as anecdotes, comparisons, caricatures and satires, independent institutions, and books that were kept as classics even in the homes of families unable to read. Consensus tended to be reached in primary publics, e.g., in factories, local clubs, and reading-rooms; at formal educational events or meetings during demonstrations; in struggle; and in more formal media that went beyond the immediate neighbourhood, such as the workers’ press and workers’ associations. Because it was extremely difficult to build a formal system of communication, for the great mass of workers learning-processes followed directly from their practical experiences and, for a much smaller if expanding group of workers, from theoretical study as well.  (….)

Chapter 1 provided a summary description of the capitalist revolution in the rural and urban-industrial economies. There the interest centred chiefly on the form in which the capitalist order made its breakthrough. The position of the ‘poor and labouring classes’ was described there only insofar as the destruction of the two most important traditional structures – the village community and rural domestic industry – were preconditions of rising capitalism. In this chapter (Chapter 2), we have to look more closely at the new modes of behaviour that were imposed on the lower classes. Such impositions are deducible from the prevailing economic system, that is from the specific forms in which the valorisation-process of capital transforms humans into the commodity labour-power. Section 1 of this chapter examines the forms of behaviour required within the labour-process in the different modes of production based on domestic industry, manufacture and factory production (....)

In the general process of evolution from production based on individual craft enterprise to social forms of enterprise in which a division of labour prevails, the following stages of development are discernible. (a) A socialisation of distribution under the putting-out system, (b) socialisation of some means of production and then of labour under manufacture, finally (c) a socialisation of the total process, including the machine-system as a whole, under factory production. This logical sequence does not always coincide with the actual historical sequence. The debate on periodisation started by Sombart’s criticisms of Marx is of no concern here. It is enough to note that all these specific forms had already evolved or were doing so in the several centuries of early capitalism, and that at the start of the industrial revolution the following heterogeneous modes of production coexisted with one another: pre-capitalist forms comprising the residues of an economy of autoconsumption and larger remnants of small handicraft commodity-production; early-capitalist forms comprising a ramified and well-developed putting-out system, a small but also developed system of manufacture and a small but less developed system of factory-production. A description of their specific conditions of production would throw light on the sort of constraints which the workers’ movements based on trade unions and on cooperatives were compelled to resist. The putting-out system provoked petition-campaigns aimed at parliament and organised machine-breaking as the forms of struggle specific to unions organising workers in domestic industry. Under manufacture, and chiefly in the textile and shipbuilding industries, there emerged trade unions that evolved the strike-weapon. While these groups were already waging spectacular struggles as early as the 1790s, factory workers could organise significant strike-actions and campaigns for the defence of labour only after 1815, when the machine-system became more widespread. The different forms of struggle and aspirations of domestic-industry workers, workers in manufacture and factory-workers are to some extent easier to comprehend when related to the various forms of capitalistically-socialized production examined below.

The Putting-Out System. The first discernible predecessor of socialised production was this specific form of home-based industry. It formed a sort of symbiosis between the owners of money and domestic industry, the merchant offering several artisans an advance of money or his services as a selling-agent for their products. Through the contracts based on this system the artisan ceded his role of seller to the merchant who thereby obtained indirect control over his production. (That in this way a new relation of domination came into being is overlooked by those writers who see in this relation only a ‘differentiation’ of ‘roles’.) His superior marketing position enabled the merchant soon to force a position of dependence on the domestic worker, both as a supplier of commodities and as a buyer of raw materials  (…)

As Marx shows, down to the final breakthrough of a machine-based mode of production after 1825, the movement of opposition to capital was to a large extent shaped by the forms of dependence experienced in domestic industry (Capital, 1, pp. 595 ff. Fowkes). The entrepreneur entangled the domestic worker in various ways – through controls over the quality of his product and over prices, through clauses prohibiting work for other capitalists in the trade, and through various other restrictions like the truck-system, according to which the worker was compelled to spend the greater portion of her wages purchasing means of subsistence from the capitalist’s own store, despite their inflated prices and adulterated quality. Because craftsmen progressively lost their independence but remained formally independent, the relation of exploitation was especially obvious to them and drove them, quite early on, to associate together in unions. But the isolated nature of their mode of production severely limited the effectiveness of economic means of struggle in their case. Whereas employees in larger enterprises could develop the strike-weapon, outworkers reacted chiefly with political campaigns for protection or for the franchise and by a policy of selective machine-breaking. Their goals mainly resembled those of the urban small craftsmen. They supported the Jacobin franchise-movement as a means of politically restoring the stability and independence of small-scale production. Thus they were far more sympathetic to the individualist critique of capitalism proposed by Hodgskin than to the cooperativist critique developed by Owen. Hodgskin’s demand for the elimination of the capitalist middleman between producer and consumer who appropriated a surplus-product for himself correspond­ed to their day-to-day experience. But side by side with such individualist notions rooted in their isolated mode of production, the outworkers also entertained notions of solidarity that correspond­ed to the social and cultural values of their type of community. Thus, later it was possible for them, to join the real movement of unification based on the ideas of Owen.

The putting-out system appears to have provided arguments both to bourgeois economists and to the opponents of capitalism. Under it the capitalist’s ‘advances’ and the workers ‘surplus product’ both acquired an independent form. The capitalist could argue that without the investment-credit which he supplied the worker would not be able to carry on production. The worker could reply, that she gave over a larger product than she actually received by way of payment.

Manufacture. According to Marx, the mode of production based on manufacture was distinguished from labour organised in the guild-system initially only in terms of the number of those employed by a given capital or in terms of the size of the workshop. Its first revolutionary achievement was a more efficient exploitation of a part of the means of production. At first effort-levels changed only in terms of the gradual emergence of socially-average norms regulating the execution of jobs and expenditure of labour-time, and in terms of the competition between workers, both of these flowing from their new spatial proximity. According to Sombart, this form of manufacture, based on simple cooperation and capable of hardly any specialisation, was rarely found.

The specific outcome of manufacture was a form of cooperation based on the division of labour. The common workshop not only made possible an intensified exploitation of human and material forces of production, but brought into being a new, social, form of productive force, the ‘collective worker who combined numerous individual labours’. The distribution of the different operations under different hands and their combined cooperation as a single collective force, or mass force’ was more productive than the simple sum of all individual labour-powers. Cooperation reduced both the labour-time necessary for the production of a given commodity and the false costs’ intrinsic to a system based on the spatial separation of individual processes. The social productive force of labour thus appeared as the productive power of capital, because historically it presupposed the concentration in the hands of a single capitalist of a certain minimum quantity of means of production.

Marx argues that originally, the capitalists also contributed directly to cooperation by taking on the ‘indispensable functions of directing, superintending and adjusting’ to ‘secure the harmonious cooperation of the activities of individuals and perform the general functions’ (Capital 1, p. 448ff.). However, this function was defined specifically by the fact that it aimed not merely at cooperation but also at its profitable exploitation, that it was not simply a factor of harmony but ‘despotic in form’ (p. 450). It could only be established with the help of a quasi-military organisation of  ‘direct and continuous control’ directed against the workers whose resistance grew with their numbers. Thus, it created new false costs and became in this sense itself a new hindrance to the optimum productivity which a cooperative, that is,  non-antagonistic, form might otherwise have achieved. A further instrument of domination, the individual work-contract, which precluded payments to the combined productive force of workers, likewise corresponded to an ideology that saw in co-operation ‘a productive power inherent in capital’ (p. 451). (....)           

In the form of cooperation based on the division of labour there developed two specific types - organic and heterogeneous manufacture. In the latter, each worker produced a different part for later assembly; presence in the same workshop was accidental but it economised on time and space.

The principle of co-operation was fully realised only in organic manufacture. Here, the same product goes through a sequence of phases where it is worked upon simultaneously by a chain of different specialised workers. Marx stresses that “this direct mutual interdependence of the different pieces of work and therefore of the workers each one of them to spend on his work no more than the necessary time. This creates a continuity, a uniformity, regularity, an order and even an intensity of labour quite different from that found in independent handicraft or even in simple cooperation” (Capital, 1, p. 464-5). Norms regulating working-time and the relative size of the different groups of workers concerned with different special functions were determinable in definite ratios; the absence of any one special function would paralyse the total process, whose perfection required the one-sided specialisation of particular operations, an extreme specialisation affecting both workers and their individual work-tools. The economies in time and quality made possible by functionally-specialised individual labour were bought, however, at the cost of the psychological torment implied in monotony, time-pressure and life-long annexation to a specific function. “A certain crippling of the mental and physical powers of man is itself inseparable from the division of labour in the whole length and breadth of society’’. A further consequence was the establishment of a hierarchy of labour-powers and of wages, which allowed this introduction of unskilled and therefore cheap labour-powers, e.g., of women and children. This process of the devaluation of labour-power and higher valorisation of capital remained restricted, however, within the narrow technical limits of manufacture. For, individual craft-skill remained the foundation of manufacture, essential to its difficult detail operations and often presupposing a training of several years. The limited exchangeability of skilled labour and its concentration under a single roof facilitated resistance to the process of enforcing capitalist discipline.            

Workers in manufacture could therefore, in contrast to small independent craftsmen or to outworkers, evolve specifically non-political forms of struggle and of consciousness such as the strike. They distinguished themselves from unskilled workers by the special pride they showed in their professional skills, by their aspirations for education and their sober and respectable style of behaviour. (....)

The Factory System. Only this system, under which the functions of the collective worker in manufacture were progressively installed in automatic machinery, made possible the general devaluation and transferability of labour-powers. Marx defines machinery under three parts’ (cf. Capital, 1, pp. 494ff). The starting-point is the tool or working-machine which takes over the functions and tools of a large number of workers. Its perfection required the invention of a strong and operationally-controllable motor-mechanism not dependent on local, natural motive forces, namely, the automatic steam-engine. Both the working-machine and the motor-mechanism then required mediation through a transmitting mechanism. Over time the motor-mechanism and working-machine were rendered totally independent of human strength, they became automata.

The evolution of the mechanized factory is similar to that of the manufacturing workshop. Initially, several machines of one type were linked to the same motive mechanism in simple cooperation. Soon, the machine-system proper developed; in this the specific, individual specialised machines work on the same product according to a sequence. As in organic manufacture, so here the individual units stand in a fixed numerical proportion to one another and keep each other employed. On the other hand, whereas in manufacture the special processes were isolated by the division of labour (Capital, 1, p. 502), here their continuity reaches perfection; there arises a unified automatic system based on the progressive reduction of labour to a mere appendage. (Marx did not anticipate the mechanized stage of heterogeneous manufacture, where the underlying principle is assembly-line work.)

The mental powers of production which formerly were the property of the individual craft-worker were already in manufacture “required only, for the workshop as a whole. What the individual worker lost, capital concentrated within itself over against him or her as an alien property and dominating power”. It was the machine-system that accomplished the dissociation of these scientific powers from the worker in the form of independent powers of production: “The capitalist who puts a machine to work does not need to understand it. But the science realised in the machine takes on for the workers the appearance-form of capital.” (Results of the Immediate Process, p. 1055,  transl. modified). Science perfects machinery to the extent that its price is below the price of the labour-power that it replaces. This creates false costs insofar as in a capitalist society the price of labour-power is pushed below its value and machinery is introduced too late.

The devaluation of the labour-power of male family-heads was soon accelerated by the fact that women and children could also compete in the labour-market as additional reserves of labour-power with no skills or any special strength. They did so in ever greater numbers. The concomitant physical and psychological misery, illness, early mortality and intellectual desolation frequently shattered the resistance from male workers that was still possible under manufacture. Further, the material and moral depreciation of machinery compelled a lengthening of the working-day and, especially after the 12-hour-day legislation of 1833 applying then only to young workers, an intensification of work-effort through a speeding-up of work and an extension in the range of operations. The constant transfer of functions performed by human labour-power to machines “destroys the technical foundation on which the division of labour in manufacture was based. Hence in place of the hierarchy of specialized workers that characterises manufacture, there appears in the automatic factory a tendency to equalise and reduce to an identical level every kind of work that has to be done by the minders of the machines. In place of the artificially produced distinctions between the specialized workers, it is natural differences of age and sex that predominate’’  (Capital, 1, p. 545). (….)

The industrial revolution transformed the worker’s position on the labour-market in three respects: in terms of the number of jobs, the requisite level of skills, and the necessary level of work-effort. Given the introduction of labour-saving machinery, full employment presupposed a simultaneous extension of markets. The deskilling of labour expanded the supply of labour-power by its incorporation of female and child labour, and the resulting competition among workers made possible drastic extensions in working-time as well as wage-cuts. Finally, machinery revolutionised the mode of production itself: its full utilisation presupposed detail work, prolonged hours of work and a rapid and exact rhythm of work.

Thus labour-power had to be adapted to the needs of capital in terms of quantity, quality and specific costs. The naturally-determined level of population had to be sufficient to ensure a continual shifting of labour-power from declining branches of production to expanding ones. These persons then had to be subordinated in a psychological sense to an externally-conditioned rhythm of work and, in terms of the quality of their labour-power, to the type of technology employed. And economically, they had to be inured to arduous work-norms as well as low wages. (....)

Work-ethics and labour-skills

 To be in a position to valorise a given supply of labour-power, the capitalist must first engage the worker’s attention in factory-work. Workers have to be broken into the punctual, regular and painstaking execution of specialised jobs before the capitalist can secure his capital against losses due to interruptions and wastage. On the other hand, the traditional work-ethic bore no traces either of an accounting mentality or of a sense of enterprise; the rhythm of work associated with it was elastic and irregular. Excessively long hours of labour alternated with frequent breaks: ‘Saint Mondays’ or even ‘Saint Tuesdays’, the numerous holidays and half-day off Saturdays, as well as the periodic interruptions due to seasonal fluctuations or to shortages of raw materials or to glutted markets. Sombart refers to an  ‘impulsive’ and ‘irrational’ adherence to the pre-capitalist principle according to which one worked only in order to survive or to enjoy oneself: work-effort declined in proportion to the satisfaction of needs, and any additional effort would be squandered on festivities or the consumption of liquor. People took the trouble to expend only so much labour-time ‘as was necessary to make a normal level of subsistence possible’ (Sombart). Moreover, because the new machinery did not belong to them, they wasted or pilfered materials and neglected or destroyed the machinery itself, so that in 1769 the first legislation banning the destruction of machinery was passed. Entrepreneurs took a series of measures, one after the other, to convert workers employed earlier on the land, in domestic service, in the army or in the poor-houses – often in utterly hopeless and wretched conditions – into disciplined detail-workers. Starting in the fourteenth century. the state evolved a number of repressive methods: regulation of work-contracts and wages, workhouses and compulsory labour, and the suppression of workers coalitions. By the eighteenth century, these measures were already largely ineffective. Now the policy of low wages flourished. But under this policy work-effort could be increased only extensively, in terms of its actual duration. Initially, the attempt to increase the intensity of labour through incentives turned out to be a failure: piece-workers would cease to work at the point which they thought sufficient to enable them to recover given levels of subsistence. Moreover, the introduction of draconian factory-ordinances had a purely external impact. It became necessary to inculcate a sense of duty into workers. The role of Protestant religion in this process is debatable. The worker’s transition from modes of behaviour specific to the earlier ‘moral economy’ to those characteristic of the economy of enterprise was accomplished chiefly, as Sombart himself concedes, through the permanent external compulsions of the new mode of production itself and their associated threat of extinction in the event of resistance. This question and the problem of how far such resistance can be simply dismissed as ‘irrational’ will be taken up in more detail in later chapters.

Moreover, the new labour-processes required new skills. In England, long-accessible craft-skills could always be used. But to be able to valorise the cheaper unskilled labour-powers, complex operations were progressively transformed into simple ones through technology and the division of labour. Untrained workers were more easily transferable than trained ones. On the other hand, they were often thoroughly specialised and had to possess a general technical disposition. The simplification and decomposition of work made it possible to incorporate large sections of the population, especially women and children, as transferable labour. (....)

The emergence of the labour movement cannot be explained simply in terms of the decline in workers’ real conditions of life. The decisive factor in creating discontent was the discrepancy between the material and cultural conditions that prevailed and the entitlements in terms of which they were measured. The workers’ movement did not spring spontaneously from the factory-system. Cotton may have played a pioneering role in the general process of economic development, but it was not a total one. For a long time, it was not the workers in textiles but the handicraftsmen and skilled workers who formed the real nucleus of the workers’ movement, and taken as a whole the movement relied on a multiplicity of working classes. It is wrong to suppose, as simplistic theories do, that they acquired a consciousness of being a single class through their economic degradation and levelling and merely as the object of these processes. The decisive factor was the threefold impact of expanding population, technological revolution, and the counter-­revolutionary suppression of Jacobinism. The traumatic social experiences that hit the ‘poor and labouring classes’ are discernible chiefly at four levels. First, when they lost their traditional forms of livelihood, labour-power became their sole basis of survival, and this in the form of a marketable commodity. Secondly, their life-activity was forcibly subjected to harsher discipline and controls over time. Thirdly, the expanding metropolis ruined health, social relationships and prevailing ethical codes. Finally, traditional value-patterns and world-outlooks failed to secure any perspective in the new environment. Given the heterogeneous character of the real life-situations of different groups in the lower classes, a sense of unity could stem only indirectly – not through the passive experience of suffering but through active resistance in struggles that verged on civil war. The farming population suffered in particular from the loss of communal land-rights in the years 1760–1820, domestic outworkers suffered mainly from the process of concentration in the putting-out system that began around 1800, and the smaller entrepreneurs in charge of manufactories from their inability to purchase steam-engines.

Only a fraction of these various groups declined directly into the ranks of the factory-proletariat. On the one hand, the concentrating and disciplinary effects of factory-work strengthened the social and cultural cohesion of factory workers, on the other hand, because employer/worker relations were now defined by greater distance and anonymity, that made the process of exploitation even more transparent. Economic exploitation, reflected in the ostentatious luxury consumption of the nouveaux riches and the activity of employer associations, was reinforced by political suppression. Conflict was triggered less by living standards than by the loss of traditional relationships of mutual help and individual freedom, of mutualism and independence. What they expressed was the transition from a social order founded on mutuality to one based on competition. Thus, wages were of less importance than normative ideas about what was customary, ideas about fairness, independence, security (defined either paternalistically or in terms of of mutual aid) and ideas about family-based enterprises. The persistent nature of such memories is often underestimated. Even after 1830, wages often remained a purely secondary issue for workers who engaged in struggle, in contrast to issues such as the truck-system, cooperation, rights of association, working-time, job-security and child-labour. (….)

Organising and millenarian religions

Religion exerted a twofold influence on the nascent working class. The Methodist poor church encouraged the process by which the external compulsions of the industrial mode of production were interiorized. On the other hand, its left wing took over from the church its specific organisational techniques and introduced these into the oppositional movement. Whereas Methodism worked as an organising force, situations of despair especially tended to create more widespread millenarian movements, an apocalyptic and enthusiastic cult of the poor and downtrodden that sought refuge in the hope that Christs eternal rule would soon begin.

The special feature of Methodism lay in the fact that it could respond simultaneously to the needs of industrial employers and of large masses of workers alike. It was the most important of the poor churches. During the French Revolution, it defended the establishment. This, however, was hardly calculated to bring it any recognition. During the Napoleonic wars, it won a large following drawn chiefly from the new building and industrial working classes. John Wesley had already ascribed little value to the structures of nonconformist self-administration. After his death Jabez Bunting, who dominated orthodox Methodism from the period of machine-breaking down to Chartism, established a bureaucratic and centralised executive clergy with which he persecuted Luddite, Jacobin and specifically religious deviations. In 1811, he forced a split on the Primitive Methodists because he regarded their new institutions of mass assemblies and sermons by lay persons as well as women as politically dangerous. At the same time, political radicalism took over Methodist techniques of organisation to its own advantage. The clergy, on the other hand, promoted the psychological basis for the process of subordination and, above all, of a work-discipline grounded in puritanical codes of morality.

The attempt to transfer a Puritan work-ethic from the middle class to the lower classes ran into the problem that workers were allotted not the rewards of their individual effort but only collective distress. Weber and Tawney investigate chiefly the vocational and work ideology of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century entrepreneur. The workers adaptation to this is seen by them more or less as a result of market sanctions and of the ideology, grounded in utilitarian or puritanical conceptions, that poverty is a punishment meted out to the idle and undisciplined. Weber observes, without much empirical backing, that as the ideology of professional mobility, the Protestant ethic prevailed over Wesleys Methodism in the broad mass of the working class. Sombart argues that without a simultaneous process of interiorisation, external compulsion would have remained quite ineffective. According to him, Webers thesis of the role of Protestant asceticism in promoting a capitalist disposition applies more to workers than to entrepreneurs,  as the latter would have been sufficiently inspired by other motives. Like Weber, Sombart was referring here to the group of skilled workers who, supported by religious instruction, willingly increased their effort-levels from a sense of duty as well as to obtain higher earnings. However, because only a small fraction of workers received religious education, Sombart sees the chief basis for the acceptance of bourgeois norms in the coerciveness of the economic system and its long-term impact.

E.P. Thompson uses the example of Methodism to distinguish between these hypotheses and modify them in two respects. (His arguments are equally valid for Sombart, whom he passes over without mention.) In the first place, against Sombart and Weber, it should be noted that the ascetic ideology of upward mobility is of no importance for workers who were in no position to improve either their skills or their incomes. Secondly, material necessity did not act as a stimulus to adaptation, as the low-wage theory of the entrepreneur supposes. Because the traditional culture lacked any coercive pressures in the direction of an alienated work-ethic, external compulsion tended to provoke rebellion. Resistance was inflamed less by declining living standards than by the destruction, under the pressure of factory forms of cooperation, of largely self-determined rhythms of work and effort, both in town and country, and of the close integration between home and work-place. Methodism accomplished the cultural shift to obedience postulated by utilitarians like Andrew Ure. Instead of upward mobility, it sanctified poverty, and prosperity was a fortune it transposed to a future after life. To the extent that it broke with the intellectual traditions of the older Dissenter currents and elaborated a special theory of Grace for the poor, it came closer to Lutheranism. In a formal sense, the theory of the universal nature of sinfulness and grace possessed an egalitarian character because it put rich and poor on the same level. But the thesis of the uncertain nature of grace played an authoritarian role. Grace was attainable only for the period of repentance, so that the faithful were required to be continuously active in church affairs. Moreover, you could not buy grace from God through human accomplishments, and worldly possessions were supposed only to lead to temptation: social improvement was not in any sense a meaningful goal. Fear of losing grace became the compelling basis of a specifically ‘Methodist’ mode of life, a commitment to church activity, individual training and a disciplined life-style that included one’s attitude to work. Poverty and work became signs of grace. This ‘continuous’ repression and channelling of emotional and mental energies was compensated by the emotional orgasm implied in serving God. The repression of sexuality was a recurrent motif in the activities and symbols connected with worship. The mortification of a spontaneity that had still been possible in the old culture started with the education of children and its supporting principle of punishment. As one’s form of life became defined by a submissiveness rooted in fear and anguish, Christianity became transformed from a religion of love into a religion of death (Todeskult) centred on the crucifixion and the affirmation of suffering.

For the period from 1790 to 1830, Thompson argues, the conversion of a large number of workers to Methodism can be explained in terms of three conditions specifically: (a) direct indoctrination, (b) the still important traditional sense of community life, and (c) the psychological impact of the counterrevolution. The Methodist clergy continued to practise a system of education designed to lead children from their innate sinfulness to penitence by thrashing into them ideas of cleanliness, abstinence and submission. Wesley warned, “Break his (the child’s) will and his soul will come to life”. The Sunday schools continued these irrational principles. Except for bible-reading, reading and writing were no part of their programme. In practice, much of this was modified by the fact that individual parishes often perpetuated the old community-norms, or renovated them, and provided help and consolation to people in an environment rooted in the destruction of traditional norms of reciprocity. Furthermore, religion compensated for the despair that stemmed from political repression by allowing moods of enthusiasm or tragedy to find expression in rhetoric and sometimes in mass-hysteria and panic. The millennialism of the downtrodden masses, directed initially to the heavenly abode, could also be a source of revolutionary inspiration, as in the 1790s.

This aspect evolved into a religion of the poor that stood in sharp contrast to the Methodist church and its vengeful God. In the years 1801–14, Joanna Southcott emerged as the greatest prophet of this millenarian tendency, attracting tens of thousands, especially in the North and West of England. Her apocalyptic visions contained no trace of social revolution, being nourished instead by a belief in the supernatural. They struck a chord because they reflected the mood and emotional instability of a period defined by its anomie, that sense of despair to which Methodism likewise owed its own expansion over the years 1790–1830. In many cases, it seems, the expansion of mass movements of a religious nature followed directly on the defeats inflicted on political movements, and political radicalism itself might be seen as a more secularized or social form of millenarianism.

This internal connection between secular and religious hopes of salvation was reflected not only in the oscillation between them but in the fact that, for example, several Methodists came to play a leading role in the workers’ movement. They show the ambivalent character of Methodism. They reacted against the coercive pressures of official Methodism with a libertarian antithesis; propaganda designed to discredit democracy made democracy a desirable objective in their eyes. Thus, Cobbett confined his criticisms to the clerical bureaucracy and exempted the local preachers and laity of Methodism. The Primitive Methodists, thoroughly proletarian and lay in their attitudes, made a direct contribution to the workers’ movement by articulating the demands of the discontented population of town and countryside and attracting them to its side. The Chartists for their part appropriated the image of a vengeful God in their songs and slogans, and Chartist terrorism formed a continuation of the impulses that had animated the religious mass movements.

Hobsbawm, from whom the account given above borrows no less than it takes from Thompson, is mainly interested in refuting Halevy’s view that Methodism prevented a revolution in England. He bases his arguments on the numerous Methodist centres and supporters who were at the same time politically radical, and thus arrives, like Thompson, at the position that commitment to Methodism and commitment to political radicalism sprang from the same social sources and were in no sense mutually exclusive. He adduces the further argument that, in terms of actual numbers, the Methodists were not sufficiently large to have formed an obstacle to revolution. Overall, out of ten million persons in England and Wales, there were around 150,000 followers of this denomination, and in 1851, in a population of some eighteen million, only 500,000. Hobsbawm traces the absence of revolution to the fact that while conditions of social distress and mass discontent certainly prevailed, there was no serious crisis in the ruling classes and no well-organised, unified, experienced, ideologically solid workers movement – at least none sufficient for a revolution. These conditions form the subject-matter of Part 2 of my book. Here we can, for the moment, draw out two conclusions from the studies made by Hobsbawm and Thompson: (i) that religion does not necessarily play a counterrevolutionary role, and (ii) that the acceptance of a religious creed presupposes social and cultural needs that have already come into being. All this apart from the fact that those who accept the religion in that very process transform its official doctrines according to their own needs. (....)

As the work of Thompson and Hobsbawm suggests, it is possible to suppose that this religious backing, of the millenarian rebellion on one side and of clandestine organisational activity on the other (with their contrasting positions on the use of force) exerted a positive impact on the supporters of the early workers’ movement by imparting a certain stability to their motivations. However, because backing is not the motivation itself, a further question remains. We have to explore not only the social crisis or the social and cultural value patterns, but also the character-structures of those involved. Certainly, it was no accident that the position of ‘moral force’ should have been represented by the Chartist faction composed of the London-based artisan intellectuals, and that of ‘physical force’ by industrial workers of agrarian origin. As Lovett’s autobiography shows so clearly, the former were characterised by strict taboos on disorderly, epicurean, impulsive and violent behaviour, by a certain timidity that went with a scrupulous sense of fairness, by a capacity to see things through organisationally, by a readiness to make personal sacrifice, by pedantic affectations linked to a sense of tactical realism and by a rejection of authoritarian personality-cults and forms of communication based on mass appeal. The other type stemmed from an agrarian milieu in which precapitalist values were strong, and they set greater store by violence, festivities, irregularity, suffering and a sense of inspiration. Both contributed to the development of the workers’ movement but in their reified and fixated forms both were obstacles to its further development (as adventurism or craft legalism).