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'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

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'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by boatlady on Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:56 am

Saw this last night with Neil Gore and Richard Stone. sponsored by several trade unions.
 
A very truncated and fast-paced version of the iconic book of the same name, with lightning role changes, multi-purpose scenery, songs, audience participation - the lot.
 
The full thrust of the novel of course can't be contained within such a format, but the explanation of the lie that is capitalism is very well done in Act One, and the piece itself as a whole is bound to engage, to promote discussion and to stimulate thought on the subject even possibly leading to relevant study and research.
 
One of the best nights out at the theatre I can remember- entertaining and thought provoking.
 
Probably coming soon to a small intimate venue near you - i urge you to see it if you get the chance
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Ivan on Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:06 pm

Take away prisoners' books and you take away their only hope
 
From an article by Ricky Tomlinson:-
 
“From 1973 to 1975, I was a political prisoner of the Conservative government – charged with conspiracy because I had taken part in a building strike. I served time in 14 British prisons, mostly in solitary confinement because I refused to accept that I should be in prison.

My outlook on life changed completely in 1975 when a prison governor in Leicester gave me a book. He was a former bricklayer whose hands had been crippled by arthritis. He gave me a novel, ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’. That book, published in 1914, and written by a house-painter, taught me more about our society than a hundred political speeches. It taught me that wealth is made by working people, not by bankers and bosses. It taught me that people cannot change things individually by turning their backs on their fellow worker or by robbing. We can make things better for ourselves if we join a trade union at work and speak as one powerful voice.

‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ should be given to every inmate when beginning a prison sentence. It’s a book that explains why the likes of Grayling are in positions of power. It even explains why someone like him can use a cruel measure of preventing a prisoner from reading as a form of control and discipline.

Thanks to this government, prisoners may now only receive letters and cards from home. No life-changing books. But when any of Grayling’s kind go to prison they don’t suffer the same petty rules. Remember Jeffrey Archer? When he was inside he not only read books – he was allowed to write them!”

 
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/take-away-prisoners-books-you-3285598#
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:21 pm

The petty spite constantly displayed by Ministers in this Coalition must surely be remembered by the electorate at the next General Election.
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Ivan on Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:55 pm

The greatest, wealthiest and most powerful empire the world has ever seen.”

That’s what the American writer Jack London said when he visited Britain in 1902. Canada, India, Australia and many other colonies were pouring wealth into the country, but Mr London also noted the contradictions of that empire, with its underside of poverty, poor housing, sickness and unemployment. So what, if anything, has changed in over 110 years? The empire has gone (though we like to pretend that it hasn’t with our MBEs, OBEs and CBEs), but Britain is the seventh richest country in the world and home to 104 billionaires who have, according to the 2014 Sunday Times Rich List, a combined wealth of more than £301 billion. Yet at the same time, at least 500,000 people are relying on foodbanks and about one-third of our children – between 3.5 and 4 million – are living in poverty.

On reading ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ (RTP) for the third time recently, I felt depressed at how the real improvements which have been made in the past century – council housing, the welfare state, the NHS and better health and safety at work – are now constantly under attack and being destroyed by the most malevolent government this country has seen for decades. RTP was written in Hastings around 1906-10 by a skilled Irish painter and decorator named Robert Noonan who used the pen name Robert Tressell. He changed the name of the town to Mugsborough and for some reason located it 200 miles from London (Hastings is only 66 miles away). The hero of the story, Frank Owen, uses the surname of the famous 19th century socialist Robert Owen, one of the founders of the co-operative movement. Grant Richards, the publisher of the first abridged version of the novel, called it “extraordinarily real and damnably subversive”. An unabridged version was first published in 1955.

In March 2004, this comment was made on a website in the Philippines: “The injustices suffered by Frank Owen at the hands of the vicious foreman, the corrupt politicians, the hypocritical churchmen are all around me in Manila. It makes me so angry that we have made so little progress over 100 years.” What makes me angry is that inequality in the UK has increased since the mid-1970s, often deliberately because of Tory government policies. We’re told that once wealth is created, some of it will ‘trickle down’ to the masses, but in effect wealth has been flowing up to the very rich. What also makes me angry is that firms are hiring immigrants without even advertising their vacancies in this country, while a Tory donor named Adam Beecroft has produced a report advocating no-reason dismissals at work. That sounds worse than the situation in the RTP, where the foreman Hunter is ever on the watch for at least a token reason to sack a workman to enable another one to be employed more cheaply.

Tressell, as Frank Owen, attacks what we now call the 1%, most of whom are people who do absolutely nothing except devour or enjoy the things produced by the labour of others. His central argument is that money causes poverty, because it is “a device for enabling those who do not work to rob the workers of the greater part of the fruits of their toil”. He says that there are enough raw materials in existence and plenty of machinery available. There is no shortage of jobs that need doing and no shortage of people to do them, but capitalism (which he calls ‘the Money System’) prevents that from happening and consequently causes the majority of the population to go short of the things that can be made by work.

Tressell emphasises the resistance of so many workers to the idea of changing the system which fleeces them. He says: “Some of them were under the delusion that they were Conservatives: similarly, others imagined themselves to be Liberals. As a matter of fact, most of them were nothing. They knew about as much about the public affairs of their own country as they did of the condition of affairs on the planet Jupiter.” Perhaps Tressell goes some way to answering Nye Bevan’s question: “How can wealth persuade poverty to use its political freedom to keep wealth in power? That's the whole art of Tory politics.”

When Tressell talks about “newspapers, pubs and much popular culture as a class and state apparatus, moulding the ideology of working people towards a self-destructive passivity and acceptance of their situation”, it’s hard not to draw parallels with Britain today. In Tressell’s time there were songs such as ‘Work, Boys, Work’, urging you to be contented with your lot, and ‘Two Lovely Black Eyes’ (‘Only for telling a man he was wrong’), which instilled the virtue of keeping out of political arguments. We have mind-numbing distractions on television, such as ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, to stop us thinking about the asset-stripping of the state and the corruption of this government. And then, as much as I love it, we also have football to take our attention away from things that really matter.

In his introduction to the 2005 Oxford University Press edition of RTP, Peter Miles comments: “No book has ever explained more clearly or more ironically how working people have been the true ‘philanthropists’ and why, on account of their unwitting generosity to their ‘betters’ through the trick of the Money System, their fate should have been to remain ragged trousered.” My overriding thought when re-reading RTP was that the issues haven’t really changed since Tressell put pen to paper, making the book as relevant today as ever. Tony Benn used to argue that every generation has to re-fight the same battles, and he urged us to pass on RTP to our children and grandchildren. Let’s make sure that we do.
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Jul 05, 2014 7:35 pm

Having read "TRTP", people might be drawn to other literature in similar vein ...

http://www.fabians.org.uk/category/book-reviews/
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by boatlady on Sun Jul 06, 2014 8:38 pm

Ivan - excellent review of the book, which is I believe as relevant today as it was in 1910 - and how that breaks my heart
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Stox 16 on Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:15 pm

a classic book this and good read too
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Ivan on Thu Jul 17, 2014 11:44 pm

In the preface to RTP, Tressell says that in his novel “no attack is made upon sincere religion”, but his book contains little sign of any “sincere” religious characters. He talks of the ‘Forty Thieves’ – a term used in Sussex for the network of non-productive people lining each other’s pockets (just as we have today) – and reveals hardly any evidence from them of “love your neighbour as yourself”, even though that's supposed to be the second greatest commandment to all Christians.

In his introduction to the 2005 Oxford University Press edition of RTP, Peter Miles says: “Tressell, like many early socialists, had little argument with the moral teachings of Christ, but for him the value of Christianity in society stood or fell by the extent to which the Sermon on the Mount was put into practice personally and institutionally as a cornerstone philosophy of daily life and social policy.”
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by stuart torr on Thu May 14, 2015 8:24 pm

After a hundred years, does anybody still read this book,or see the play on stage?
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Ivan on Thu May 14, 2015 9:01 pm

Yes!!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-29632294
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by stuart torr on Thu May 14, 2015 9:23 pm

It seems like they should put up a monument to the poor man Robert Tressel the author,who died penniless, such a shame.
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by boatlady on Thu May 14, 2015 10:24 pm

oftenwrong wrote:The petty spite constantly displayed by Ministers in this Coalition must surely be remembered by the electorate at the next General Election.

Ya think?
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by stuart torr on Thu May 14, 2015 10:28 pm

Need more than petty spite for this coalition to be remembered I do believe do you not think boatlady?
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by oftenwrong on Thu May 14, 2015 10:54 pm

For "this coalition", I think I might have chosen "mongol horde" there, Stu.
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by stuart torr on Thu May 14, 2015 11:20 pm

That is one that ought to be remembered OW but whether it will in 4 or 5 years time is a different matter is it not?
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by boatlady on Fri May 15, 2015 7:10 am

For "this coalition", I think I might have chosen "mongol horde"

Have to say, for the first few days after the election, I felt we had been invaded by aliens
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Claudine on Wed Jun 10, 2015 1:08 am

I've just downloaded this book and I'm already hooked after the first few pages. Thanks for the recommendation, Ivan.
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Ivan on Thu Sep 10, 2015 1:58 pm

This poster dates from 1911, just after 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' was written. Has anything really changed since?  Crying or Very sad


https://pbs.twimg.com/media/COTzcBfUwAAW3V4.jpg
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by boatlady on Thu Sep 10, 2015 4:11 pm

Not a thing - they just have better tools now
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by oftenwrong on Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:04 pm

All true, but what are the alternatives? Neither the Russian nor Chinese peoples achieved anything resembling economic freedom until they had exchanged Communism for Capitalism.

Discuss.
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Re: 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressell

Post by Ivan on Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:39 pm

'Economic freedom' is not all it's cracked up to be for many people, especially when it involves rampant inequality:-

A survey by Peking University in 2013 found that the top 5% of the country’s households took home 23% of the total household income in 2012, while the bottom 5% earned just 0.1%. China’s income inequality started rising when the country’s former leader Deng Xiaoping launched market-oriented reforms and opened the economy in 1978.

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/international/china/income-inequality-todays-china

I'd settle for a Scandinavian social democracy:-

http://cuttingedge2.forumotion.co.uk/t1035-would-you-be-happier-living-in-denmark
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