A real peoples history

The most obvious place to look for history, is in history books. However, don’t expect to find to much of ordinary peoples experience of events in the official tomes of historical analysis, you will find in school, or the local library. To be sure you will find reference to these events, usually a watered down or patronising representation of “a peoples history”. But if you are seeking “a real peoples history” You may have to dig a bit deeper. For the people who record, collate and publish a peoples history, are not financed by the establishment funds, as the biographers of statesmen and Kings and Queens are – nor does this interpretation of history, usually pay mortgages, or receive the accolade of what the establishment deems to be worthy. This version of history is generally financed by good will, hard work, generosity and passionate commitment.

So much of what can be learned and the possibility of empowerment through historical knowledge depends on which version you read. I know which I prefer to read, it’s the version that is a bit more difficult to find. But the effort is worth it, because it is a vibrant inspiring history of working class, issues, problems, solutions and achievements. It is the version of history that inspires a vision of what is possible.

The out of print, publication Workers City is part of that history and I wish somebody would find the money and time to expand, and republish it. Meanwhile for those who haven’t read it -I am sure – will still recognise its relevance to the issues of today, from the examples listed here

For The Battle for the Green, is just as relevant today, as it was then (1931) Freedom of speech and public green space, are still constantly under attack (privatised parks, Official Secrets Act ). The present battle for control of social housing is reflected in Gizza Noose, and Hutchie E and the following lines from Glasgow’s Smiles, brings us up to date, in the appropriation of our city by business:

“Fur thae puir sowls thit urnae followin;

Some day a comprehensive peoples history will be written, until then we need to protect and cherish the documentation, the memorable experiences and the oral traditions, of sharing our culture. And meanwhile we need to subjugate this technology you are reading this on, into serving social needs and relieving us from the boredom of rote slavery, in order that we can attend to these needs. Things like the Village Square Project hopefully can serve as a conduit for some of these ideas. And, support those who make the struggle for a better world, exciting and enlightening, through their efforts and publications.

Bob Hamilton


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