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The Plebeian ExperienceA Discontinuous History of Political Freedom$
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Martin Breaugh

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156189

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156189.001.0001

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The London Corresponding Society and the English Jacobins

The London Corresponding Society and the English Jacobins

(p.142) 4 The London Corresponding Society and the English Jacobins
The Plebeian Experience

Martin Breaugh

, Lazer Lederhendler
Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on E. P. Thompson's analysis of the English plebs' political practices, especially as regards English Jacobinism in the late eighteenth century. Thompson attributes the transformation of social relationships that occurred during the Industrial Revolution as much to the collective action of the plebs as to the structural transformations of the economy, the international situation, or the various religious movements. He maintains that the politically and economically excluded members of society had their own values and political practices. Thompson's analysis suggests that the London Corresponding Society (LCS) was the English Jacobins' major contribution to communalism and agoraphilia. Just like the Parisian sectional societies, the LCS was a decisive political body in that it set the tone for and established the parameters of the English Jacobins' actions both in London and the rest of the country. It represented the core of Jacobinism as well as the hub of the English oppositional forces' deployment. The LCS was thus the site from which the plebeian principle could assert itself on the political scene of eighteenth-century England.

Keywords:   English Jacobinism, Jacobins, plebeian, London Corresponding Society, communalism, agoraphilia, plebeian principle, collective action

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