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Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914)

Dandelion Salad

Robert Tressell banner

Robert Tressell banner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the inequity and iniquity of society, Tressell’s cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is “not for the likes of them”. Hence the title of the book; Tressell paints the workers as “philanthropists” who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.

The hero of the book, Frank Owen, is a socialist who believes that the capitalist system is the real source of the poverty he sees all around him. In vain he tries to convince his fellow workers of his world view, but finds that their education has trained them to distrust their own thoughts and to rely on those of their “betters”. Much of the book consists of conversations between Owen and the others, or more often of lectures by Owen in the face of their jeering; this was presumably based on Tressell’s own experiences.


MetaReaLizard on Oct 31, 2012

Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell 1914. I believe this radio series was produced by the BBC 2008.




Read the book online:



The RTP Downsized

chomskyallstars on Aug 12, 2013


An appeal to raise funds for a comic book version of Robert Tressell’s ‘Ragged Trousered Philanthropists’ aimed at readers ten years and over. More info: http://www.facebook.com/RTPdownsized or http://twitter.com/RTPdownsized


The Ragged Trousered Comic Book by Martin J. Chomsky

Vijay Prashad: Questioning the Underlying Structures of Property and Power is “Off the Table”

Socialism: Change Has to Begin at the Roots by William T. Hathaway

Vijay Prashad: Marx and Tolstoy Helped Me See the Limits of Liberalism

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists today By Jon Bounds

from the archives:

A Protest Against Real Distress: Religion and Revolutionary Struggle by Charley Earp

Tavis Smiley: Vision for a New America: A Future without Poverty + Cornel West: You Don’t Play With Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jesus was a Communist by Darren Pedigo

The Wobblies (1979)

The Iron Heel (1908) by Jack London

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6 Responses

  1. […] Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914) […]

  2. […] Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914) […]

  3. The new version of RTP ought to spell RIP for the old, cynical con-game of winner takes all.

    How anyone can rejoice in living a despicable life-long lie to exploit the willingness and scruples of others is just beyond me.

    I guess it’s all down to conditioned reflex. There are some very sad people aboard this satellite Earth..

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