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Ye are many - they are few
August 16, 2013 12:49 PM   Subscribe


 
In the unions it is remembered, as it was important in shaping the early history of English unions.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:30 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought at first the blue plaque in the picture was the new version, and I was going "Wow, if that's an improvement, how bad was the original".
posted by tavella at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2013


"Peterloo is a critical event not only because of the number of people killed and injured, but because ultimately it changed public opinion to influence the extension of the right to vote and give us the democracy we enjoy today. It was critical to our freedoms."

It was critical to the illusion of our freedoms.

FTFY.
posted by symbioid at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The term 'Peterloo', was intended to mock the soldiers who attacked unarmed civilians by echoing the term 'Waterloo'

"Gate" being unavailable at the time.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:37 PM on August 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maxine Peake read Shelley's magnificent Masque of Anarchy to a packed house at the Manchester Festival last month. Shelley wrote the poem to commemorate the Peterloo Massacre, and it ends like this:

'And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

'And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again - again - again -

'Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few.'

posted by Paul Slade at 1:59 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


symbioid: It was critical to the illusion of our freedoms.

FTFY.


Oh, for fuck's sake. This sounds like a sort of I'm-too-worldly-aware-and-world-weary-and-sharply-cynical-to-actually-believe-anything-can-ever-be-changed-or-bettered argument, and it's arrant nonsense. Not only is it that, but it says that any person or group who ever bothered to try and effect change – from the protesters murdered at Peterloo, to the Chartists, to the Suffragettes, to Rosa Parks and everyone who ever had the shit kicked out of them (or were murdered, or subject to political assassination) as part of the American civil rights movement of the '50s and '60s – were just naive, dreaming rubes blind to the fact that status quo gonna status quo, and if you ever think anything different can be achieved, you're an idiot.

It says no change is ever going to come, despite the fact that 200 years of social and political history is pretty good evidence to the contrary; after all, you're probably pretty happy that you weren't put to work as a 12 year old making matches, and that despite the erosion of many worker rights of the last 30 years, you can't be legally locked inside a factory all night making shirts. (Unless you live in Bangladesh.)

It's also massively disrespectful to the legions of people who have literally fought and died for what is currently being chipped away at. All those blithely earnest mooks you're mocking? They picked a hill to die on. You're still reaping the benefits of what their deaths eventually achieved.
posted by Len at 2:30 PM on August 16, 2013 [70 favorites]


There's a good In Our Time (BBC Radio 4) about The Peterloo Massacre.
posted by adrianhon at 2:33 PM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alongside that episode of In Our Time, I would heartily recommend Paul Foot's Red Shelley, which is a fantastic, slightly polemical (well, it is by Paul Foot) bit of analysis.
posted by Len at 2:35 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Peter Slade, it was Peake who reminded me that the anniversary was today. There was a short article published on BBC News online about her recital and call for a memorial.
posted by Thing at 3:01 PM on August 16, 2013


All those blithely earnest mooks were just naive, dreaming rubes blind to the fact that status quo gonna status quo

precisely
posted by telstar at 3:24 PM on August 16, 2013


Ah, sorry, rereading the thread I see it's Paul not Peter. My apologies.
posted by Thing at 3:24 PM on August 16, 2013


In the USofA, the memory of the sacrifices made and lives lost to build unions and ensure workers' rights is completely lost because unions are bad/communist/unamerican. Hold onto it, England, don't ever let go.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:46 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


telstar: precisely

I'm going to take you at your word and assume that you're arguing in good faith, because if you weren't, that would mean you were trolling. Assuming you aren't trolling, your point of view means the following: slave labour? Yeah, have at it and crack that whip! Eight year olds* down coal mines? Well, they can get into those tricky coal seams like nobody else! Oh, 14 hour days seven days a week are getting you down? Fuck you, second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired, and you can go home and play with your kids. Except you can't go home and play with your kids, because they're all working down the same mine you just got fired from.

*Eight year olds, dude!
posted by Len at 6:00 PM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


symbioid: It was critical to the illusion of our freedoms.

well, that's exactly what I'd expect from a rainbow Stalinist.
posted by philip-random at 6:02 PM on August 16, 2013


The massacre is fictionalized in the telefilm Sharpe's Justice^ [relevant segment, but skip the middle part that covers a multi-episode arc].
Sorry, wrong segment, can't find the right one immediately.
posted by dhartung at 6:05 PM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


apropos of almost nothing, John Vanderslice has a great song called Pale Horse that is based on Shelley's poem. Pretty powerful stuff. here's a link to a live performance that unfortunately doesn't do the album version justice.
posted by gorbichov at 6:10 PM on August 16, 2013


The massacre is fictionalized in the telefilm Sharpe's Justice

Yeah, I was going to bring that up too.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:29 PM on August 16, 2013


This segment is the correct one (only need watch the first half). It's an impossibly small cast and space, alas, but hits the general points.
posted by dhartung at 11:43 PM on August 16, 2013


Ah, sorry, rereading the thread I see it's Paul not Peter. My apologies.
posted by Thing at 3:24 PM on August 16 [+] [!]


You're forgiven. The BBC did a Culture Show special about the Maxine Peake event too. There's a couple of short clips available online here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01cx7l6
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01cx83y
posted by Paul Slade at 1:05 AM on August 17, 2013


Fascinating. I wasn't familiar with this. thanks!
posted by dubold at 1:43 AM on August 17, 2013


Recommended reading, on the pre-industrial revolution history of well, English revolutionaries: The Making of the English Working Class by E. P. Thompson.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:21 AM on August 17, 2013


Yet for all the importance of the day to English history, it is today poorly remembered.

This is unlikely to change at any time soon, given Michael Gove's politically right-leaning, Niall Fergusonesquely jingoistic history curriculum.
posted by acb at 4:05 AM on August 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, just to highlight that the first OP link is to a campaign that has successfully gotten Manchester council to commit to a new memorial and is now pushing for more public involvement in the design process
posted by Bwithh at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2013


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