Hmmmmm so I’ve been pondering ….yet again I say the following is just my meandering thoughts after commenting on a blog I am following…it’s not researched or particularly well thought out …I am NO academic:D:D:D
BUT ….growing up I was lucky enough to have had what I view as some remarkable ‘teacher’s ….my junior school teacher Mr Kellet and My Great Aunt Emma who I have mentioned before come to mind, even tho I took them for granted at the time:D:D…ironically they were BOTH 2 generations above me …maybe 3 really …I was an afterthought after all or maybe it was an accident:D:D:D ….ANYWAY I digress
SO ….both these guys taught me a lot about my cultural heritage ….or history …no not the usual stuff of history books but being from the industrial north of England taught me socio/political history from the Industrial revolution onward …from the ordinary person …or ‘working class’ perspective ….BOTH drawing on their own personal experiences and knowledge.
I’ve posted before about the story of Emma, Alice ( my grandmother) and their mother who JUST avoided the notorious ‘workhouse’ by the covert support of extended family and later a small woolen textile mill fortunately run on philanthropic lines giving them work and decent accommodation.
I was taught about socialism and feminism from an early age and the hard won battles for both to be accepted and integrated into the democratic process.
Now I’m not sure if many folk are aware of this but Mahatma Ghandi came to the industrial north when he was on a three month visit to England between WW1 and WW2 …..and in his usual style he made it a priority over and above meeting with dignitaries to spend time with ordinary people……or should I say ‘the poor’.
This was in the latter days of the ‘British Empire’ ….Ghandi was seeking ‘independence’ …. or should I say …seeking to ‘reclaim’ India from the British who had sneaked in and taken over via the founding of the East India Trading Company in the 19th century ( which ties in nicely with the Luddites ….but I’ll come to that in a minute)
ANYWAY ….Ghandi was both a deeply spiritual man AND a politician …my understanding is his desire was to raise the quality of life of ‘the poor’ in India as he believed in equality for ALL….no small task
At the time cotton was imported into the UK from India ….made into cloth at the textile mills in Lancashire and then sold on for a massive profit, and part of the struggles in India was to boycott this trade …which of course had a knock on effect for those working in the cotton mills.
I believe Ghandi met with the mill workers to try to get them to understand what was going on. When he came THOUSANDS turned out to meet him at the station but the authorities had got him to exit at the stop before …..folks were enthralled by Ghandi …they ADORED him …and it is my view that perhaps the authorities were worried about his popularity.
NOW …..stuff I have READ states that the reason folk LOVED Ghandi as they did was because they were hoping negotiations would be had and it would herald a return to ‘business as usual’ but that is not the impression I got from my elders …although I guess they didn’t work in the cotton industry and were also talking with hindsight by the time they were talking to me:D:D:D
And I also believe in spending a good deal of his time with the mill workers will surely have strengthened HIS belief that this WAS NOT a healthy lifestyle ….I mean c’mon …working in those large scale mills all hours …living among row upon row of terraced housing and breathing in the grime belched out from the mill chimneys ..can’t have been a picnic for ANYONE …..hmmmmm and that Protestant ‘work ethic’ …..there IS more to life isn’t there?:D:D:D
Which brings me on to the ‘Luddites’ of the 19th century:D:D
Again I personally believe that there is a misconception that the Luddites were just a bunch of ignorant thugs who were against ‘progress’
At the beginning of the Industrial revolution ….textiles were largely produced by craftspeople in their own homes using traditional spinning and manufacturing techniques ( hence the term ‘cottage industry) …their life might have been simple …but they tended to live in cottages in rural areas and got paid a set price for their cloth …a simple pretty laid back lifestyle but a liveleyhood made ….hunky dory maybe?( can you see where I’m heading with this:D:D:D
ANYWAY once the larger scale mills started to be built it is my understanding ( but don’t quote me I’m not a historian either:D:D:D that to force folk to work in them the authorities reset the prices so low that a liveleyhood could no longer be made in the ‘cottage industry’ YET the large mills could still turn a profit due to the introduction of industrial machinery.
It could be argued that there was a shift in ideology from ‘liveleyhood’ to ‘wage slave’ and ever increasing ‘profit’ and ‘power’ for ‘business’ owners.
The Luddites WERE resistant to this change …well …wouldn’t YOU be? ….in whose interest was this shift in lifestyle? …Hmmmm not the ordinary workers that’s for sure…SO …these guys took to meeting and going in the dead of night to sabotatage by vandalising the industrial machinery as the mills were being built …it almost became a civil war in the north of England ….you could argue it WAS
Anyway in the end one of the Luddites got carried away and murdered a guy …..a group of them were rounded up and publicly executed …they were made an example of to stifle the troubles..and so cottage industry died and large scale manufacturing was born. And I think it’s pretty safe to say that in the British working class …women have ALWAYS worked …children too …none of these working people had any ‘rights’ …untill the recognition of ‘suffrage’ and political socialism but that’s ANOTHER story:D:D:D
And so there are my reasons why I believe Ghandi WAS not only an incredible Yogi .BUT for his own country BOTH a kind of Luddite and Suffragette of his time:D:D …make no wonder he’s considered a Saint:)
And yes ..yes ..I know this is an oversimplification ..but it’s my thoughts worded my way ..feel free to comment if you wish:D:D