The Black Country flag and the uses of history (again)

In 1897, Robert Sherard published a collection of his Pearson's Magazine articles documenting the exploitation and suffering of the working men and women of Britain in some of the 'sweated' trades - he visited chemical works in Widnes, white-lead works in Newcastle, nailmakers in Bromsgrove, chainmakers in Cradley Heath, and more. The title, The White Slaves of England, has …

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Coming over here, taking our jobs…

Crowds of miserable Irish darken all our towns. The wild Milesian features, looking false ingenuity, restlessness, unreason, misery and mockery, salute you on all highways and byways... He is the sorest evil this  country has to strive with. So wrote the great crusading reformer Thomas Carlyle in 1839. Heroes of the Left like Friedrich Engels were little better: True, the …

Reformers and racists

I'm no political historian, and I've no desire to get here into the whys and wherefores of last week's general election. Suffice to say, I'm appalled to be under a Conservative government; and feel defrauded by the most disproportionate election result ever. On Thursday I distracted myself from work by posting some themed pictures on BlackCountryPics, …

Poor Door

Before I moved to the midlands I lived in London for nearly ten years, starting at university. A penniless student is not exactly the best way to enjoy life in the Great Wen, but on leaving and finding a Real Job (albeit nothing to do with my degree), I was able to find out a …

We learn from history that man can never learn anything from history

It's a bit un-nuanced to simply say "history repeats itself". I'd be arguing with Marc Bloch ("it is impossible to find two events that are ever exactly alike, because the conditions from which they spring are never identical") and Jacques Ellul ("any philosophy which asserts that human experience repeats itself is ineffectual") for a start, …