Bardiness

"..a bardy view!"

The Mask of Anarchy

In the name of liberty and freedom from poverty, 60,000 peaceful demonstrators congregated in St Peter's Square, Manchester.

18 people were killed and 700 seriously injured. The massacre occurred amidst a period of immense political tension and protests. Peterloo_Massacre

On a platform surrounded by banners displaying Reform, Universal Suffrage, and Equal Representation,  the key speaker proclaimed to the masses to behave with dignity and respect.

The local magistrates, watching fearful and panic stricken, read the "Riot Act" which ordered the crowd to disperse.

600 Hussars, and as many infantry, plus an artillery with six-pounder guns, and 400 Cheshire Cavalry stormed the crowd and cut the protesters down.

It's legacy was influential for the common man to win the vote, leading to the Chartist movement and the establishment of Trade Unions, and the democracy and freedoms we have today. It even led to the creation of The Manchester Guardian

It was the 16th August 1819, and the event is known as the Peterloo Massacre.

Almost 192 years to the date, the streets of Manchester are aflame once more. Yet those who loot with violence and arson this August, and who pretend to be victims of social injustice, are far removed from their 19th Century predecessors who made the ultimate sacrifice.

They may be the benefactors of those hard-earned freedoms, but they are abusing them. Freedom does not give the right to loot. Freedom does mean everything is free. Freedom does not give the right to take without giving.

Freedom has to be earned, and social justice is not a phrase which can be hijacked with opportunist convenience to justify cowardice, yobbishness, anti-social behaviour and feral intent. Nor is it synonymous for respect. Respect must be earned.

Those who have taken to the streets of Manchester and elsewhere in England have already lost any shred of respect – if indeed they had any to lose.

They shame the memory of the Peterloo Massacre and they should feel very fortunate indeed that 600 battle hardened Hussars with sharpened blades are not waiting in the wings.

The Masque of Anarchy
byPercy Bysshe Shelley
(selected versus)

"Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold.

Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free.

Let the charged artillery drive
Till the dead air seems alive
With the clash of clanging wheels,
And the tramp of horses' heels.

Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war,

And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you –
Ye are many – they are few."

 

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August 10, 2011 - Posted by | Arts, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, History, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. As always a great and interesting read. I’m am reaching a stage now of almost on a daily basis, trying to work out where exactly we all went wrong. I never knew the people of Britain had rioted before and thought this was the first time? How wrong I was. I sometimes think universal suffrage is essentially not a good thing and a qualified franchise is the best way? Horror of horrors for saying that, but the very same people who are playing havoc with London and elsewhere, have at the same time the right to vote. I wonder what type of person they are going to vote for?

    Like

    Comment by Spook | August 11, 2011 | Reply


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