Clark is part of the broader feminist perspective alongside Joan Scott, Barbara Taylor, SallyAlexander. Clark does not want to force femalelabourers 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 theBritish working-class-consciousnessby honing on the effect gender roles had on the industrial regions.
Sheintersects his approach by analysing the development of the working-class interms of gender, arguing it played a “profound” role.1 She positsthat the making of the working-class was closely aligned to the politicalradical movement that sought to unite the class-bound idea of gender.2 Clark is on a similar mission to rescue genderfrom the ‘condescension of posterity’ in the Thompsonian process of classformation Agency and consciousness are so intimatelyintertwined with class as a historical phenomenon. Thompson puts forward a counterapproach to theeconomistic notations of Marxism, the defence argued by structuralists, oneexample being Louis Althusser, who was keen to place an emphasis on scientificaspects 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 classwas a socio-historical process and relationship.
3 This contrasts greatly to Marx who viewedthe peasants as a passive force, equating them to a ‘sackful of potatoes’ thusnegating their agency. Forconventional economic historians, the economic base is closely credited withhuman progress, Thompson in contrast goes against the grain, but theoreticallyhe does not offer a viable alternative to the base-superstructure model thatOrthodox Marxists posit. From the Critique of Political Economy andother comments made by Marx, conventional Marxisthistorians take the base-superstructure model at face value, they do notconsider the fact that he himself did not explicitly state that thesuperstructure could not affect the base. A refinedfocus shows Thompson adhering to a Marxist framework butdistinguishes himself from structuralistdeterminism in favour ofincorporating human agency. Marxist history is largely deterministic; it posits a forward-marchview.
This is problematic as it suggests that history is always about movingforwards, rather than viewing it as broadly a larger process, which can becyclical in nature. Thompson in this sense is deviating from the Marxist norm,with his rescue mission putting spotlight on the ‘Luddite croppers,’ themachine breakers who were seen as emblems of pre-industrial society as they werehindering history from progressing. Industrialisation is taking the nation towardsthe industrial age, towards a future that isperceived as superior. Notonly is he restoring voices to groups from subordinate, lowly positions but heis also questioning the very linear trajectory of progress, by consideringother 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 theirmovements,’ echoing Thompson’s mission.
4The Swing rioters: ‘nobody except themselves’ knew who they were, onlyidentifiable by their children and gravestones. Thompson, Hobsbawm and Rudé arerewriting history, giving voice to the voiceless; the losers. Marking adeparture from the study of study ofgreat events, with a focus on the political and social elites, primarilywealthy, European men However, the way in which they write about the figures evokesdifferent meanings; Thompson views the ‘Luddite cropper’ as heroes, they werethe ‘casualties of history,’ the victims of the Industrial Revolution who wereso easily replaced by machinery.
5He seeks to recover their reactionary views from the margins of the history andgive them a leading role in their own drama. How Hobsbawm and Rudé’s representthe ‘casualties of history,’ arouses contrasting connotations.6They are described as ‘primitive rebels’.7Hobsbawm and Rudé view the nature of the disturbances as ”improvised, archaic,and spontaneous,’ whereas Thompson sees them as ‘curiously indecisive andunbloodthirsty.’8 Thetrajectory of Marxism following Marx’s death has been strongly influenced by aproductivist, economistic and evolutionist determinism. Thompson differentiateshis approach, he is a romanticist who writes a eulogy, a utopian-revolutionary dialectic onpre-industrial subordinate people.
Thus, highlighting the dialectic of Marxism and romanticism. 1 Clark, The Struggle, p.264.
2 Ibid. p.2. 3Thompson, The Making, p.1.4 Hobsbawmand Rudé, Captain Swing, p.
12.5 Thompson, TheMaking, p.4.6 Ibid.7 Hobsbawmand Rudé, Captain Swing, p.249.
8 Ibid. p. 19.
Thompson, The Making, p.250.