Notes on the Durham Miners' Strike

By William Morris

Entry 8754


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


Revolt Library Anarchism Notes on the Durham Miners' Strike

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(1834 - 1896)

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a British textile designer, poet, novelist, translator and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. He was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he helped win acceptance of socialism in fin de siècle Great Britain. (From:

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Notes on the Durham Miners' Strike


We are hearing a great deal of the suffering in Cleveland consequent on the miners' strike, and it is a dismal business enough; but after all, it is only and exaggeration of an ordinary incident in the war commercial which is the essence of our epoch and that which distinguishes it from others, and some quite in itself unimportant change in the market has before this caused as much suffering as this great strike has done, and will do henceforward as long as the workers have not command of the market.

For the rest, if the Durham miners are striking with an ultimate intention of gaining that command of the market— that is, the realization of Socialism, this suffering, terrible as it is, is not too high a price to pay for the chance of success. But if the strike is a mere limited business dispute of the men with the masters, the price is altogether too high: for in that case, the strikers are merely unintelligent instruments of commercial war, which will go round and round the circle till the workers are determined to take their due place in Society— that is, to be Society.

Again, if the workers were striking as Socialists, and a large proportion of the working classes were intelligent Socialists, such miseries as this Cleveland destitution need not be, even as incidents of the labor war. Instead of workers not themselves on strike, having to pay for the striking of others by falling into the clutches of destitution or charitable relief, the expenses of the war could easily be met by a self-imposed tax of no great amount on their ordinary earnings, which undoubtedly they would be willing enough to pay if anything of importance were likely to come of it; which means, if they saw that any strike were but a part of the universal strike which in some form or another, though not in the formal way of the old Chartists' Holy Month, must be the weapon of the worker in the long run. The Cleveland workers are not suffering from a strike but from the incompleteness of a strike: from the fact that it is a trade strike and not a Socialist one.


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