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Raymond Challinor

Out of Time

(March 1995)

From Socialist Review, No. 184, March 1995, pp. 33–34.
Transcribed by Christian Hogsbjerg.
Marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In his review of John Saville’s book on the capitalist state (February SR), Mark Thomas spews out genuine 100 percent bourgeois nonsense. He says in April 1848 the authorities prevented the planned march from Kennington Common to parliament and consequently Chartism collapsed.

But this is a myth, deliberately peddled in orthodox history textbooks.

What actually happened was that, after the Kennington Common demonstration, the government’s position grew increasingly precarious. Economic conditions worsened. Links between Irish nationalists and Chartists were forged. Numerous revolutionary conspiracies were hatched. Around Whitsun, the threat to the ruling class reached its height.

Mark Thomas will find this if he turns to my book. Dealing with Chartism and trade unionism, I use the life of W.P. Roberts, a firebrand lawyer active in both movements, as a peg around which to weave the account. Alternatively, he could read David Goodway’s excellent book, London Chartism.

Both these works are written from a revolutionary standpoint, in the tradition of Reg Groves. So many of the other history books are besmirched with a reformist-Stalinist porridge.

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Last updated: 3 November 2019