Friday, December 14, 2007

Bronterre O’Brien and Working Class Radicalism 10/10/82

Back To The SPGB Basement Tapes

As promised, another old SPGB talk/lecture spirited from the vaults.

The following talk on the Chartist leader, James Bronterre O'Brien - split into three audio files for some reason - was, I think, the first lecture in a seven part series of talks which were grouped together under the title of, 'Socialist Thinkers – People Who History Made', and dates from early October' 82. (A time when Musical Youth was number one; Luther Blissett was the most prolific striker in English football; and I was coasting headfirst into my worst ever School Report Card*).

Once again, the SPGB speaker is Steve Coleman - who gave all the talks in the lecture series - which suggests that I've got some sort of political man-crush on the bloke that knocks Will's love-blog to Christopher Hitchens into the bleachers**, but probably owes more to the fact that once upon a time I was a labour history nut, and that was Coleman's field of expertise.

On the subject of O'Brien himself, I can't pretend to know a hell of a lot about him beyond what I've read in the past in the general histories of Chartism. He was always there or there about in the books about that tumultous period, but obviously the likes of Fergus O'Connor, Ernest Jones and Julian Harney always seemed to take top billing in such narratives.

What I do find interesting about O'Brien is that from what I remember of Stan Shipley's 'Club Life and Socialism in Mid-Victorian London', he had a dedicated group of supporters/followers who carried the mantle of his politics and legacy long after the slow political death of Chartism in the early 1850s, and this group of radicalised workers were one of the few groups who tried to sustain any sort of genuine independent working class politics during the difficult times of the 1850/60s.

Before I forget, an old quote from O'Brien that I dug out once upon a time:

“Lift up your democratic heads, my friends! Look proud and be merry. I was at a meeting on Tuesday night which does one's heart good to think on. I have been present at all sorts of political meetings, Whig, Tory and Radical, but never was it my good fortune to witness so brilliant a display of democracy as that which shone forth at the Crown and Anchor on Tuesday night. I often despaired of Radicalism before; I will never despair again after what I witnessed on that occasion.” London Mercury, 4th March 1837

Christsake, doesn't matter if it's 1837, 1977 or 2007, it looks like us lefties will always fall victim to the 'After The Pub Shuts' syndrome. I'll have a Vodka and Red Bull, thanks.

First Part

DOWNLOAD LINK: Bronterre O’Brien and Working Class Radicalism

FILE NAME: part 1.mp3

FILE SIZE: ~44.70 megabytes

LENGTH: 48:31

Second Part

DOWNLOAD LINK: Bronterre O’Brien and Working Class Radicalism

FILE NAME: part 2.mp3

FILE SIZE: ~15.17 megabytes

LENGTH: 16:28

Third Part

DOWNLOAD LINK: Bronterre O’Brien and Working Class Radicalism

FILE NAME: part 3.mp3

FILE SIZE: ~20.97 megabyte

LENGTH: 22:46

More lectures in the same series to follow*** when I'm in need of a blog-filler to mask the bloggers block.

*If memory serves me right, out of nine subjects taken: five C minuses; two Cs; one B minus; one C plus; and one A plus. Happy days.

**"bleachers"? Can't stand baseball, but its terminology has invaded my vocabulary for some reason.

***Featuring such oddballs as Kautsky, Dietzgen, Bax and Plekhanov amongst others.


prolerat said...

Thanks for your good work in preserving these Darren.
I intend to make use of them.

James said...

Hi there,
the files for this talk (and the one on Martov) appear to be unavailable. I would be interested in listening to them if they are still lurking somewhere in the SPGB vault.

PS, I hope the SPGB is maintaining the tailoring standards of your predecessors in the banner photo.

Darren said...

Hello James,

I'm a bit busy today but I'll try and repost the files later on tonight.

all the best,

James said...

The Bronterre file is available from One Big Torrent:

Darren said...

Good to know that it's elsewhere on the net.