Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History

Thomas Carlyle and the Australasian Labour Movement

Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History (2021), 120, (1), 1–20.

Abstract

The influence of the great Scottish man of letters Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) on the British labour movement is well known. Drawing largely on the Australasian labour press, this article explores the influence of Carlyle on the intellectual culture of the Australasian labour movement, demonstrating that Australasian labour activists (including many Scots) derived considerable inspiration from Carlyle, with regard to idealist ethics and the nobility of work, social criticism, and constructive political thought. In all these regards, Carlyle provided not only ideas, but also language, rhetoric, and cultural authority. In this sense, Carlyle was just as crucial an influence on the Australasian labour movement as he was on the British labour movement.

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Author details

Jordan, Alexander