The social, cultural and economic milieu of pre-industrial Britain is important to help us relate to the underlying morality that governed the economy before the advent of capitalism. It was not only an economic change for them but it was an elongated moral transition as well. From the beginning the working class Britons had an unfavorable perception of the changes brought about by capitalism and took actions to counterattack its adverse effects.
In the text, The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century, Edward P. Thompson tries to explain how the working class came into existence as a self-conscious group. In his remarkable analysis, he demonstrates the power of an historical Marxism rooted in the experience of real flesh-and-blood workers. He gives us the facts and details leading up to the cataclysmic changes from one way of life to another. Thompson manages to balance the complacency and narrowness of the revisionist position with his outstanding restoration of historical truth.
He writes authoritatively about the working people in contrast to Ashton who writes economically.
Thompson indicates that traditional growth explanations are overlapping and repetitive . Contrary to the popular myth it was not just a response to hunger and high prices. Thompson illustrates that the direct action of the people comprised of rational organized acts. People were subjected to economic exploitation and political suppression . They felt that it was entirely their right to paternalist protection. The erosion of their paternalist right is why they took direct action .
A society composed of the paternalist model was one in which there was a direct link between the farmer and consumer . The operations of the middleman were subject to strict regulation and severe restrictions . It was a subsistence sort of economy, lacking the profit motive associated with...