Bronterre O’Brien (1805 – 1864) was an Irish Chartist leader, reformer and journalist. Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain. It took its name from the People’s Charter of 1838 and was a national protest movement. Support for the movement was at its highest in the 1840s, when petitions for universal male suffrage signed by millions of working people were presented to the House of Commons.
“Knaves will tell you that it is because you have no property, you are unrepresented. I tell you on the contrary, it is because you are unrepresented that you have no property. Your poverty is the result not the cause of your being unrepresented!” Bronterre O’Brien
O’Brien’s powerful rhetorical untangling of cause and consequence in matters “political” and “economic” were featured instructively by the historians who, following EP Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class (1963) crafted a “new social history” from the voices of those at the bottom looking up. Thompson’s wife Dorothy and his student Gareth Stedman-Jones did most to bring us Chartist O’Brien’s calls to clarity and action.
Pleased to see this kind analysis alive in a recent LA Times piece.
“Economic inequality is the cause and the consequence of our racial problems”
July 11, 2016 Michael Hiltzik LA Times