Caliban and the Witch

Women the Body and Primitive Accumulation

By Silvia Federici
Caliban and the Witch: Women the Body and Primitive Accumulation
Caliban And The Witch is a history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages to the witch-hunts and the rise of mechanical philosophy, Federici investigates the capitalist rationalization of social reproduction. She shows how the battle against the rebel body and mind are essential conditions for the development of labour power and self-ownership, two central principles of modern social organization (Autonomedia). The historical […]

Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of The Third World

By Mike Davis
Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of The Third World
This book is an interesting and necessary cross discipline (historical, economic and meteorological) explanation of the horrific famines in China, India and Brazil at the end of the 19th century. Starting from the premise that revisionist and even Marxist historians (Hobsbawm gives them one line in his famous trilogy) have ignored these massive events or failed to link them across these disciplines, he goes on to explain how the dogmatic free market approach of the British ruling class married […]

King Leopold’s Ghost

A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa

By Adam Hochschild
King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa
This bestseller (selling over 400,000 copies worldwide) almost never came to print as numerous publishers rejected it on the grounds that people weren't interested in the history of Africa! King Leopold refers to the Belgian monarch of the late 19th century who worried about his nation falling behind in the 'scramble for Africa' cunningly organised the invasion of the Congo. Using fake philanthropic organisations (the International African Association) and armed 'scientific expeditions' (e.g. […]

The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the 18th Century

By Edward Thompson
Available as a PDF file here. This paper is famous, so I thought I better read it and I was not disappointed. Thompson is at his cheeky best, starting the article by taking the piss out of anthropologists and their complex analyses of 'exotic' cultures whilst the English working class is reduced to disorganised, amoral, sub-humans by historians. Thompson analyses the corn and bread 'riots' of the 18th century and not only shows their popular character but also the organised and often successful […]

Time, Work Discipline and Industrial Capitalism

By Edward Thompson
Available as a PDF file here. Another famous, readable and ground-breaking paper by Thompson, this time looking at the imposition of work discipline in the transition to industrial capitalism. He charts the change from the task orientated work of the craftsman/labourer to the division of labour in the '(manu)factory' and the consequent resistance. The use of supervision, fines, wage incentive, preaching, schooling, the suppression of fairs and sports and of course, bells and clocks to form and […]

The London Hanged

Crime and Civil Society in the 18th Century

By Peter Linebaugh
This book takes you right into the everyday life of the 18th century British working class and how their existing customary rights came directly into conflict with the new needs of emerging capitalism. Sounds boring, but Linebaugh is excellent at blending both the experiences of the individual labourer with the overall thrust of the history. This book is extremely important if you want to understand the transition from feudal to capitalist work relations. Also excellent chapters on public […]

The Making of the English Working Class

By E.P.Thompson
Classic work charting the formation of the English working class in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Thompson not only does the business in terms of the economic history but also famously charts the lives, politics and actions of the class itself in resisting the attempts to mould them into a passive, subservient and impoverished work force. (BRHG)

The Life & Family of William Penn

260 Years of Bloody Colonial History

William Penn Front Cover
This booklet is a short analysis of the role of the Penn family and other early Quakers in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and European expansionism in the North Americas. As far as I am aware this story, the links between the different generations of the Penn family, has never before been told. It is pertinent to ask, “Why is this so?” The Penn family was at the heart of the English Revolution in the 17th Century and of every important event of British colonial expansionism from the colonisation […]

The Peculiar History Of The Sect Known As The Quakers

The Quakers Front Cover
Who were the Quakers? Why were they persecuted? Why did they stop being radical? How did some of Bristol’s Quakers become so rich? From James Naylor’s blasphemous ride down Corn Street to William Penn being given Pennsylvania and Abraham Darby laying the foundations of the Industrial Revolution. This is the first of two pamphlets by Jim McNeill exploring the history of the Quakers in Bristol.

Nicotiana Brittanica

The Cotswolds’ Illicit Tobacco Cultivation In The 17th Century

Nicotiana Brittanica Front Cover
Four centuries ago a group of farmers from the West of England decided to see if they could make a living for themselves by growing tobacco. This put them at odds with the English state and its imperial ambition to build a mercantile economy driven by indentured and slave labour. This is their story of resistance. Fair-trade home-grown tobacco? Put that in yer pipe and smoke it