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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Radicalism In 19th Century Britain

The 19th Century saw a notable rise in status for the working classes. This was, in part, made possible by the working classes themselves and by Victorian philanthropists, who were appalled by the living conditions of some of the poor.

Peterloo Massacre

In the 1800s, workers in England stood up for their rights with a determination not seen since the Peasants' Revolt of 1381. The century was full of examples of a radical actions, which were often put down in a brutal way, as with the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, when cavalry troops used lethal force to cut down peaceful demonstrators in Manchester.

Luddites

19th Century England's first great radicals were the Luddites. In 1811, the Luddite riots affected major cities in Central and Northern England, as workers feared the financial impacts of the Industrial Revolution. Luddites destroyed machinery, which they feared would replace skilled manual labour. Riots led to executions and transportation for some of those involved, with the British Army used to quell the disturbances. The poet Lord Byron was a Luddite supporter and was an example of how some of the elite championed the cause of the working classes in the 1800s.

The 1830s were a turbulent time in Britain. 1830 saw another working class uprising, but this time disturbances began in the South and East of England before spreading to the Midlands and North. These were called the Swing Riots. Machinery was again targeted. With the advent of new machinery, wages for workers had actually decreased - because there was less need for manual labour. The years after the Napoleonic Wars had brought in a time of austerity and, combined with the effects of the Industrial Revolution, poverty was a fear of many.

Tolpuddle Martyrs

The six Tolpuddle Martyrs, in 1834, were an example of how desperate the State became in trying to suppress dissent. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were from Dorset and were the main inspiration for the eventual formation of trade unions in Britain. They sought better wages, and the support for them was so widespread that their original sentence of being transported to Australia for seven years was quashed.

Tolpuddle martyrs museum
Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum. Photo by Stephen McKay
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ATolpuddle_martyrs_museum.jpg

Rebecca Riots

In Wales, the Rebecca Riots, which took place from 1839 to 1843, were displays of anger by farmers and agriculture workers at what they claimed to be unfair taxes. Often male protestors would dress up as women, being inspired by a reference to Rebekah in The Bible.

Chartism and Anti-Corn Law League

Chartism was a movement that flourished from 1839 to 1848, and it was the first British working class movement to make an impact on government. The Chartists wanted six points to be agreed to and five were. Most notable was that every man over the age of 21 was allowed to vote - regardless of wealth or status. Also, working class men were to be given the chance to become MPs. The Chartists had organised a General strike in 1842 and many Christians were Chartists, which began a growth in philanthropy. Another strong working class movement at this time was the Anti-Corn Law League, which was formed to protest against higher bread prices and the resultant poverty enforced on the working classes.

Communist Manifesto, Trade Unions and Fabian Society

Europe in 1848 was in turmoil and it was the year that the Communist Manifesto was published by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. There were to be no more really major changes in British politics for the working classes until 1871, when trade unions in Britain were made legal. The socialist movement, the Fabian Society, was founded in 1884 and effectively spawned the Labour Party, which emerged in 1900. The London Dock Strike of 1889 was the last great working class protest of the 19th Century as the rights of the working classes became more respected.



Thursday, November 09, 2017

Why Philosophy Is Important

Philosophy is important, even if the views of each different philosopher can be radically different, and philosophy itself is not a precise science. Thus, how reliable philosophy is remains open to debate.

The importance of philosophy can be understood when we think about things such as ethics, and the fact that from Plato, Socrates and Aristotle right up to the present day, philosophers were impacting on society, and laying down their own theories, which formed a lot of the tenets on which civilization is judged and based.

With philosophy, we have something which are, often unproven, opinions, but they are opinions which often ring true in the human heart. That is why the names of so many philosophers resonate down the centuries. We can almost say that philosophers were the guardians of civilization.

Philosophy is reliable to the extent that logical explanations are sought to explain things, and in philosophy this can be anything from politics to religion to aesthetics, and, as mentioned earlier, ethics.

Human beings have a capacity to never stop looking for answers to questions - whether it be the physical problem solved by early man in discovering fire to keep warm, or with the more modern problems of politicians solving an argument without losing face, but without causing offence either. Continually overcoming problems, often with great ingenuity, throughout the centuries has been the reason the human race has evolved into the most powerful species on the planet. Philosophy may, on the face of it, seem to be of no importance in a practical world, but it is something which has made us think about so many things. Would mankind have been interested in going into space, but not for philosophers wondering for centuries why we were here and where we came from?

Because of philosophy, and it inspiring the urge in successive generations to find answers to many things - from the meaning of life to what defines civilization, we can say that philosophy is extremely important to society. Philosophy wondered about the workings of the universe and the human mind in ancient times, and, as a result, science was prodded into looking, sometimes unethically, for the answers to those questions.

The benefit philosophy has played in the history of mankind has been profound, and though, by itself, philosophy has not provided many answers, it has provided many questions that we have striven to have answered, and are still striving to have answered.


Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Chinese Herbs That May Be Beneficial For The Mind And Memory

Herbs have been used in Chinese medicine for millennia, dating back to at least 1,000 BC. Chinese medicine has had a controversial reputation in recent years because of the use of parts of endangered animals for alleged medicinal purposes. More acceptable to the rest of the world is Chinese herbology. Chinese herbs can be used to help people with all sorts of ailments, and there are a clutch of Chinese herbs which are considered beneficial for the mind and memory. Listed below are some of the most beneficial.

Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba

Ginseng has an excellent reputation because of how it can boost both physical and mental energy. Ginseng is also a herb which is good for calmness and concentration, and for the memory. Ginkgo biloba is a herb which improves circulation throughout the body, can help with dealing with asthma, improves concentration and clearness of thought, helps to combat depression, and is a major herb used for treating Alzheimer's disease, especially in Europe.

Schizandra Berry, Gotu Kola, Polygala, Gastrodia and Peony

Schizandra berry is a herb which is beneficial to the body and mind in many ways, and aids memory. Gotu kola is a Chinese herb which is very helpful to the circulation, reduces swelling and pain, helps with fighting fever and colds, and has an overall calming effect. Gotu kola boosts the brain and memory. Polygala also helps with regards to memory, and is used to combat Alzheimer’s disease. The tuber plant gastrodia has been used as a treatment for headache and dizziness for centuries in China, and is used as a treatment for stroke, especially with regards to combating vascular dementia. Peony is useful as a treatment for the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia generally.

Hawthorn and Rosemary

Two herbs which are popular elsewhere in the world are hawthorn and rosemary, but they are two important herbs in Chinese herbology. Hawthorn is an antioxidant and is of use for boosting memory. Rosemary is a herb which helps allay bad breath and can combat colds and digestive disorders. Rosemary is known to increase blood flow to the head, is used to treat headaches, and is also of benefit to both memory and concentration.

None of these herbs can be considered miracle cures for the more serious memory problems which can afflict people, but the herbs listed have a proven track record of being beneficial in helping people with memory problems. Seek medical advice if you have any concerns about allergic reactions.