This book traces the development of agrarian ideas from the 1770s through to Chartism, and seeks to explain why, in an era of industrialization and urban growth, land remained one of the major issues in popular politics. Malcolm Chase considers the relationship between ‘land consciousness’ and early socialism; attempts to create alternative communities; and contemporary perceptions of nature and the environment. He concludes that, far from being an anachronistic, utopian, and reactionary movement, agrarianism was an integral part of the working class experience and of radical politics.
The People’s Farm also provides the most extensive study to date of Thomas Spence, and his followers the Spenceans. New light is thrown on the Spa Fields and Cato Street conspiracies, in which they were involved; but their true significance lies in their contribution to English radicalism — a key factor in shaping the politics of agrarian reform in the 1820s and 1840s.
With a new preface.
Malcolm Chase has published widely on the history of radical politics and the labour movement. His other books include studies of early trade unionism and of Chartism. He is Professor of Social History at the University of Leeds.