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Anti-parliamentary passage: South Wales and the internationalism of Sam Mainwaring (1841-1907)

Anti-parliamentary passage: South Wales and the internationalism of Sam Mainwaring (1841-1907)

John, Kenneth B. (2001) Anti-parliamentary passage: South Wales and the internationalism of Sam Mainwaring (1841-1907). PhD thesis, Thames Polytechnic.

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The world views of Economics and History which derive from the writings (themselves often derivative) of Karl Marx have been further progressed through two channels - which I here first categorise as STATIST and ANTI-STATIST.

The historical Communist parties, and those Social Democrats who accepted a measure of Marx's analysis, have sought to gain control of some form of State apparatus. In this, they shared an objective with other groups to the Right who may well have been travelling the same route for much longer. To the Left, in the other channel, are those who refute any claimed superiority for statist formulations and who, as an alternative, offer the concept of federation among localities. In instrumental terms, this is the difference between Parliamentary or representative 'democracy' and Councillist or participatory 'self-government'; between the delegated and the mandated. It should be noted that both systems offer potential for extended, cross-boundary, co-operation; in the self-governing mode through a. federation of federations for specific purposes. This latter arrangement, which may be properly termed 'Anarchist', allows for negotiated contract as in the international postal service.

By definition, Anti-Statist concepts contain the eventual intent of a total break with, and replacement of, the historically developed 'State' - which latter is seen as a ruling-class invention and as maximising reification. Local institutions, economic and more widely cultural, can be created within the interstices of existing states as seeds of desired, post-State, circumstances. But, again by definition, Anti-Statists cannot look to take over existing Governmental systems. Rather, they must view a different perspective of change and the practice of their ideas in modern times has so far been restricted to short experiments during, for example, the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Spanish worker-managed co-operatives of 1936-1939. These were both genuinely 'bottom-up' growths, but the Anarchist dream (or tendency to be pursued) has also influenced the decentralised organisation of some more conventionally originating Socialist states - as in Algeria, Libya and Yugoslavia for different periods during the second half of the twentieth century.

The linking of Anarchism with trade-union activity in large-scale industry (Anarcho-Syndicalism) is usually associated with the nineteenth-century school of Michael Bakunin, but anti-statists also connect with more general examinations of 'freedom' such as those set out in William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice of 1798. This Thesis is concerned with the acceptance of Marx AND Bakunin's thinking into the mindset of Libertarian British working-men during the four decades immediately preceding the First World War, and relates that acceptance to longerstanding notions of 'rationalism' It does so with particular reference to the intellectual journey of one very special artisan: Samuel Mainwaring (1841-1907), South Wales born but lastingly internationalist.

A fuller summary of the content of Chapters is given in the Introduction, but the salient points are as follows. In Chapter One, I look at Mainwaring's earliest subversive, neighbourhood, links with Welsh Unitarianism and the most radical elements in the seventeenth-century English Revolution. In Chapters Two and Three, I examine the nature of early nineteenth-century proto-Syndicalism in England and its 1850s influence on the first of the New Model trade unions, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers – which Mainwaring joined as soon as he was of an age to do so. In Chapters Four and Five, I find similarities between Capitalist Exploitation in the United Kingdom and the United States (where Mainwaring lived for some years during the 1860s and 1870s), compare the writings of American mechanic Ira Steward with those of Marx and Bakunin, and discuss the Marxist-Bakuninist split in America following the transfer of the First International's controlling Council from London to New York. In Chapter Six, I show the existence of a 'Bakuninist' strand on the British Left in the last quarter of the nineteenth and early years of the twentieth centuries. Explaining Mainwaring's prominent position in that alignment, I also indicate his leading role in international Anarchist initiatives.

My research involved what I believe to be a closer reading of three relevant London-based periodicals (The Crisis, The Pioneer, and The Leader] than had previously been carried out by historians, and I also draw on largely unpublished material held at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and at the State Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin. In my Conclusion, I compare the 'hidden from history' story of the Anarchist Left with that encountered by Feminist researchers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords: social and political activism, Socialism, Marxism, anarcho-syndicalism, Britain, eighteenth century, nineteenth century,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences
School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of History, Philosophy and Politics
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 16:09

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