Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Ideas and Life of Thomas Spence

8pm on Wednesday 8 April Wood Green Social Club, Stuart Crescent N22

"What is the national debt?
Money borrowed, by the rich men of the nation, from the rich men of the nation, and placed to the nation's account.

What is done with the money thus borrowed in the nation's name?
The rich men of the nation, give it to each other, under pretence of places and services, civil, ecclesiastical, and military.

Are not those places and services, absolutely and indispensably necessary for the good of the nation?
So far the reverse, that many of those places are fictitious and therefore called
sinecure; but almost the whole are created under the specious but false pretence of war, religion, and jurisprudence, as a colour for distributing the public money among themselves."


Thus wrote Thomas Spence, who died in 1814 aged 64. Spence was a fighter for the poor and fought for his plan of agrarian socialism and against a society dominated by the riches acquired by landlords.

Rejected by the Newcastle Philosophical Society for his views on landlordism, he moved to London where he sold revolutionary pamphlets and books and was arrested on numerous occasions and served 3 terms of imprisonment. His views were published in his periodical called 'Pig's meat' and famously he wrote a tract called the 'Real Rights of Man' where he argued that Thomas Paine arguments for democracy would still leave the same class in power. Uncowed by this repression he continued to propagandise his ideas on his Plan for society.

Those who followed his ideas after his death were ruthlessly suppressed by the British state.

Spence is one of the great prerursors of the traditions of radical British socialism and political economy and his life and ideas should not be forgotten.

For those who would like to read about his life and ideas before the meeting there is the website of the The Thomas Spence Trust at