From International Socialism, No.27, Winter 1966/67, p.34.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
The Crowd In History
The subtitle accurately indicates the subject matter of this book – ‘a study of popular disturbances in France and England, 1730-1848.’ The author’s approach is sociological. He sets out to describe and comment on ‘the crowd’ in various historical events within the period. This pre-supposes that ‘the crowd’ – the group of people meeting in direct contact on a specific historical occasion – is a significant entity in itself, whereas to a Marxist the significance of ‘the crowd’ is determined by the wider group – the class – from which it is drawn and the social and economic forces that shape its character and behaviour. Consequently to a Marxist reader Mr Rudé’s analysis sometimes seems superficial and irrelevant. But the account of the various ‘disturbances’ which are dealt with is interesting, particularly the lesser-known examples such as the Gordon Riots in the eighteenth century. When he turns to the French Revolution, the subject is too vast and complicated to be satisfactorily treated in the three short chapters into which it is compressed. But there are useful chapters on Luddism and Chartism.
Last updated on 20.12.2007