Anniversary of E.P. Thompson’s The Making of The English Working Class

Apparently, it has been 50 years since The Making Of The English Working Class was first published, or at least so says Ian Bone. I read my parents’ copy a while back (10 years ago, o dear), and keep on referring to it. When my dad gave me L’Insomiaque’s new book on the Luddites (which I strongly recommend, but as it is in French, I have not written about it), I was quite excited that it largely draws from E.P. Thompson’s book, as it guarantees an interesting approach to the Luddites (compared to works in which they are described as out-dated romantics or eco-warriors before their time).

The Making Of The English Working Class does what it says on the cover: instead of centering on the industrial revolution as the birth of capitalism, it centres on the violent process of creating an industrial working class. Sadly, I don’t have a copy around, for which I have no excuse as it is one of those Pelican major classics that can be picked up from many charity shops. It is a pretty long book, and it does have an interest to read it in its continuity, but even if you only read a couple of chapters about what interests you more particularly, it will still be worth it.

I am always highly suspicious of Marxist historians, but E.P. Thompson’s work is as far as I can tell entirely intellectually honest. I would say that its development about how the working-class was made has consequences for people who wish to ‘un-make’ it and dream of a classless society which largely contradicts orthodox Marxist views (and some anarchists’ views as well, to be fair).