I thought for a change, and as I seem to be suffering from a wee bit of the old writers block at this present moment, which is a prison term of thwarting frustration immured without trial, so I thought it a good idea and that I would take this opportunity and have a look at some of my blogging comrades and friends work, whilst at the same time giving them a well-earned ballyhoo of a plug!”
Blogging can be a lonesome old place at the best of times, and during the course of last three years that I have been blogging, some really good blogs have packed-up and closed shop, which is always a real shame, but then again to keep a good blog and of the political variety takes up a great deal of time, and if you hold down a job like some of my fellow blogger’s do this can only be an added pressure to endure and countenance; so to those comrades I say well done and please keep up the great work.
Like a great many bloggers, I keep a blog roll of some of my favourite blogs, and these are the specimen samples which I will be looking at in this post and possibly the next, and not with a critical eye; although I may have my own differences on some issues or another with comrades; but their very inclusion on the roll is because I find them interesting or I believe that they have a pertinent and logical relevance that would be of interest (because it is unusual or exciting etc.) to others.
So let me start with one of my all time favorites and long time cyberspace friends. Chris H who runs Lansbury’s Lido Blog has recently turned out some great work such as this gem of a quotation from one Patrick Colquhoun:
“Poverty...is a necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilisation. It is the lot of man - it is the source of wealth, since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort, and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth.”
Colquhoun who lived from 1745 -1820, was the founder of the Thames River Police. I very much like this quotation because it amplifies the inherent contradictions of capitalism and the opposition between two conflicting forces or ideas of how society could be run; then and still existent presently, existing still in fact and not merely (socialism) potential but possible today.
What Colquhoun' was concerned with really, was that of his and his own class greed and robbery, that class that enslaved' and at times forced a working class of the improvised; then and I would indeed argue even today to go out and commit what the ruling property owning class call crimes, so they may live and survive. Back then and for a very long time the River Thames was the docking and unloading bay for the swag and looted booty from a conquered and appropriated empire. This is how and where people like Colquhoun and many others made their fortune, but the problem for them being, there were a great number of robberies of various descriptions committed on the Thames by different parties. These depredations differed in value, from the little ragged mudlark stealing a piece of rope or a few handfuls of coals from a river barge, to the lighter-man carrying off bales of silk several hundred pounds in value.
Now according to Wikpedia: ‘Mudlarks’ would search the murky and muddy shores of the River Tames during low tide, scavenging for anything of worth that could be sold, sometimes, when occasion offered, pilfering from the river traffic. By at least the late 18th century people dwelling near the river could scrape a subsistence and made a living this way.
Mudlarks’ were usually either youngsters aged between eight and fifteen, or robust elderly; and though most mudlarks were mail, young girls and women were also forced into scavenging. it is completely conceivable that these people were looked down upon and probably labeled ragamuffins, urchin, beachcomber, beggar, vagrant, tramp, bog lady and so on, but I think that Mudlark was a derogative and disparaging term formally used to designate and belittle, a favorite pastime of capitalist society still persisting, relentless and indefatigable in the age old pursuit of divide and rule.
One of my favorite pastimes is to spend some time on the banks of the Tames looking for interesting objects from the past which I collect, so the point is some years ago I did some research into the history of this great river, and in particular 17th and 18th felonies on the river at the British Library.
It is no wonder that the likes of Colquhoun, and his class sprang into action and decided to police the river and protect their hoarded loot, thereby forcibly by applying the force's of law and order - ‘their law and their order’, remember that “Poverty...is a necessary and indispensable ingredient in society.”
Just to end this post with a big ‘thank you’ to Conrade Chris, and an account about the Mudlarks that I found some years ago:
“They sell the coals among the lowest class of people for a few halfpence. The police make numerous detections of these offences. Some of the mudlarks receive a a short term of imprisonment, from three weeks to a month, and others two months with two months with three years in a reformatory. Some of them are old women of the lowest grade, from fifty to sixty, who occasionally wade in mud up to the knees. One of them may be seen beside the Thames Police office, Wapping, picking up coals in the river, who appears to be about sixty-five years of age. She is a robust woman, dressed in an old cotton gown, with an old straw bonnet tied round with a handkerchief, and wonders about without shoes and stockings. This person has never been in custody. She may be often seen walking through the streets in the neighbourhood with a bag of coals on her head.”