"Walker (2007) expresses a sceptical view of the idea that economists have been able to prove the 'lump-of-labor' to be a fallacy indeed."
In England, strikes have regularly given rise to the invention and application of new machines. Machines were, it may be said, the weapon employed by the capitalists to quell the revolt of specialized labour. The self-acting mule, the greatest invention of modern industry, put out of action the spinners who were in revolt. If combinations and strikes had no other effect than that of making the efforts of mechanical genius react against them, they would still exercise an immense influence on the development of industry.
During my boyhood my mother took me to several exhibitions of machinery. I well remember one of them in Hanover Square, by a man who called himself Merlin. I was so greatly interested in it, that the Exhibitor remarked the circumstance, and after explaining some of the objects to which the public had access, proposed to my mother to take me up to his workshop, where I should see still more wonderful automata. We accordingly ascended to the attic. There were two uncovered female figures of silver, about twelve inches high.
I shall now return to the subject of machines, and beg your patient attention, while I discuss the interesting question before stated: that is to say, whether machinery, as it at present exists, does, or does not, "operate to the disadvantage of journeymen and labourers."
I am, from the bottom of my heart, a Friend to the Poor. I wish to plead their cause, and to speak in their favour. I feel tenderly for the poor man and his family. And, if my heart does not deceive me, I would do, I would suffer any thing for their welfare. Led by no other principle, but regard to the Poor, I now wish to enter into free and friendly conversation with you, my poor but esteemed friends, on the subject of our machines. And in order to do this to the greatest advantage, I will first lay down some things necessary to clear our way to the point, and then endeavour to answer the question, of the usefulness or injuriousness of machines for shortening labour, particularly in the Cotton Manufacture.
In our way to this place, a little on this side Chowbent, we met several hundred people in the road. I believe there might be about five hundred & upon enquiring of one of them the occasion of their being together in so great a number, he told me they had been destroying some engines, & meant to serve them all so through the country. Accordingly they have advice here to-day that they must expect a visit tomorrow the workmen in the neighbourhood having muster'd up a considerable number of arms & are casting bullets & providing ammunition to-day for the assault to-morrow morning. Sr. Rich'd. Clayton brought this account here to-day, & I believe is in the town now, advising with the inhabitants upon the best means for their safety, & I believe they have concluded to send immediately to Liverpool for a part of the troops quarter 'd there. Many of the workmen having been turn'd off lately oweing to a want of demand for their goods at foreign markets has furnish'd them with an excuse for these violent measures. The manufacturers say the measures which the Irish have adopted in their non-importation agreements have affected their trade very much. These are melancholy facts, upon which I forbear to comment. They do not stand in need of much illustration, but we must pray for better times.October 9th
I wrote to my dear friend last from Bolton, & I mention'd the mob which had assembled in that neighbourhood; but they had not then done much mischief; they only destroyed a small engine or two near Chowbent. We met them on Saturday morning, but I apprehend what we saw were not the main body; for on the same day, in the afternoon, a capital engine or mill, in the manner of Arcrites [Arkwright's], and in which he is a partner, near Chorley, was attacked; but from its peculiar situation they could approach to it by one passage only, & this circumstance enabled the owner, with the assistance of a few neighbours, to repulse the enemy and preserve the mill for that time. Two of the mob were shot dead upon the spot, one drowned, & several wounded. The mob had no fire arms & did not expect so warm a reception. They were greatly exasperated & vowed revenge: accordingly they spent all Sunday, & Monday in collecting fire arms, & ammunition and melting their pewter dishes into bullets. They were now join'd by the D. of Bridgewaters colliers & others, to the number, we were told, of eight thousand, & march'd by beat of drum, & with colours flying to the mill where they met with a repulse on Saturday. They found Sr. R'd. Clayton guarding the place with 50 Invalids armed, but this handfull were by no means a match for enraged thousands; they (the invalids) therefore contented themselves with looking on, whilst the mob completely destroy'd a set of mills valued at £10,000.Oct. 13th
On Tuesday we heard their drum at about two miles distance from Bolton a little before we left the place, & their professed design was to take Bolton, Manchester & Stockport in their way to Crumford [Cromford], & to destroy all the engines, not only in these places, but throughout all England.
The mob enter'd that Bolton on Tuesday the 5th when we had left it not more than an hour. They contented themselves with breaking the windows & destroying the machinery of the first mill they attacked, but the next, the machinery being taken away, they pull'd down the building & broke the mill wheel to pieces. They next proceeded to Mr. Keys of the Folds, & destroy 'd his machine and water wheel, and then went to work with the lesser machines, all above so many spindles; I think 24. When they had completed their business at Bolton, I apprehend they went to their homes. Jack only says they are quiet now, & that 100 of the Yorkshire militia are come to defend them. I hope the delusion is ended, and that the country may be in peace again.Oct. 16th
I hear nothing further of the Lancashire rioters only that some soldiers are sent to oppose them with orders not to fire over the poor fellows heads, but right amongst them, & to do all the execution they can the first fire, by way of intimidating them at once. This may be right for aught I know, and cause the least blood shed in the end; but it is dreadful, and I hope there will be no occasion for the military proceeding to such extremities. I do not like to have the soldiery familiarised to spilling the blood of their countrymen and fellow citizens.
Manchester, Oct. 9: During the course of the week several mobs have assembled in different parts of the neighbourhood, and have done much mischief by destroying the engines for carding and spinning cotton wool (without which, the trade of this country could never be possibly carried on to any great extent). In the neighbourhood of Chorley, the mob destroyed and burned the engines and buildings erected by Mr. Arkwright at a very great expence. Two thousand, or upwards, attacked a large building near the same place, on Sunday, from which they were repulsed, two rioters killed, and eight wounded, taken prisoners; they returned strongly re-inforced on Monday, and destroyed a great number of buildings,' with a vast quantity of machines for spinning cotton, &c. Sir George Saville arrived (with three companies of the York militia) while the buildings were in flames; the report of their intention to destroy the works in this town brought him here yesterday noon. At one o'clock this morning two expresses arrived, one from Wigan, another from Blackburn, intreating immediate assistance, both declaring the violence of the insurgents, and the shocking depredations yesterday at Bolton; it is thought they will be at Blackburn this morning, and at Preston by four this afternoon. Sir George ordered the drums to beat to arms at half after one, when he consulted with the military and magistrates in town, and set off at the head of three companies soon after two o'clock this morning for Chorley, that being centrical to this place, Blackburn, and Wigan. Captain Brown, of the 25th regiment, with 70 invalids, and Capt. Thomason, of Col. White's regiment, with about 100 young recruits, remained at Preston, and for its further security, Sir George Saville offered the justices to arm 300 of the respectable house-keepers, if they would turn out to defend the town, which was immediately accepted. In consequence of these preparations, the mob did not think it prudent to proceed to any further violences.
"It was thought a bold thing at the time for Mr. Rasbotham, a magistrate near Bolton, to publish an address urging that it was for the interest of the working classes themselves to encourage inventions for abridging labour."
1. "Think(?)tank advocates shorter working hours as cure for unemployment."We are dealing here with a really important, fundamental sociological phenomenon but I'm afraid that intelligent, polite folks don't really want to be sullied by it. They would rather come up with intellectually persuasive reports and pay no attention to the beast behind the curtain.
2. "The flaws of slashing working hours in half are so numerous that it would be an insult to the reader's intelligence to point them out, but in case any pre-schoolers with advanced reading abilities and an internet connection have found this site, I will list a few..."
3. "Why nef stands for no economics foundation"