John Lilburne. Photo: Wikimedia Commons John Lilburne. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In an essay soon appearing in the Bunyan Studies journal, John Rees looks at the Leveller programme in relation to the social structure of 17th century England

The Levellers are best known as early advocates of an extended franchise and of religious and political liberties. They also claimed, and were understood by contemporaries, to be advocating social reforms that would improve the lot of the poor. William Larner, later a mainstay of the Leveller printing operation, was as early as 1641 producing material which wove together political demands and complaints about economic distress.[1]Bitter attacks on the wealthy and the powerful were a staple of Richard Overton’s penmanship, but the quieter prose of William Walwyn was equally insistent on drawing attention to economic inequity and the plight of the poor. At least half of the 13 demands that conclude Walwyn’s Gold Tried in the Fire are of this kind.[2]

Yet the Levellers were equally clear that they rejected ‘economic levelling’ and historians have been quick to point out that they also were sometimes willing to qualify the widening of the franchise in important ways. This short article seeks to show that this ambiguity in the Leveller programme was rooted in their social location and in the political allegiances that they chose to construct as a result.

It will further suggest that the paradoxes of the Leveller programme should not be read as dishonesty or incoherence but as a necessary reaction to the social structure of 17th century England. Leveller propaganda and programme embodied, sometimes consciously, sometimes instinctively in reaction to events, an attempt to construct a political alliance of sufficient breadth to have an impact on the development of the revolutionary crisis. I begin with a sketch of some relevant features of the social and economic layer from which many Levellers came.

The social paradox

The immediate social circumstances in which the Levellers lived had a powerful impact on their conception of how society was, and should be, ordered. The Levellers were embedded, like most citizens, in a household economy. This was both a powerful economic reality and an equally influential ideological construct. Citizens were not atomised individuals going about their work or leisure in a society dominated by a free market either in labour or in commodities. The most common unit of production was not a large-scale workplace but the household, in both agriculture and urban manufacture.

Class location shaped Levellers’ attitudes. The leaders of the Levellers were overwhelmingly from the middling sort.[3] They were, or had been, apprentices and became craftsmen, free of their respective City companies. John Lilburne, was famously apprenticed to the clothier Thomas Hewson. Thomas Prince, eventually co-treasurer of the Leveller movement, was also a clothier. Samuel Chidley, Prince’s co-treasurer, was, like his father Daniel, free of the Company of Haberdashers. William Walwyn, older and more prosperous than most Leveller leaders, was from the Merchant Adventurers. William Larner, originally a Gloucestershire yeoman, was first apprenticed to the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Edward Sexby was originally apprenticed as a grocer.

The head of household was not simply the dominant figure in the family, although this was also true, but the figure who determined the lives of servants and apprentices in the household. The head of household was automatically assumed to represent the whole household legally and politically. This is why there was no discussion of women being included in the franchise. The patriarchal structure of the fundamental economic and social unit of 17th century society precluded such notions. Often when we use the term patriarchy today it is simply as a synonym for ‘women’s oppression’ or ‘sexism’. But in 17th century England patriarchy was a much more all-encompassing social reality. And it included within it a relationship with the apprentices and the servants in the household as well as with female members of the family. For many there was no such thing as ‘going out to work’. Work was in the household, and the head of household was both head of the family and head of the business.

In such a society it was difficult to imagine that either women, or servants, or wage labourers, dependent on others economically and socially, could exercise independent political agency. Later decades, indeed centuries, would show that this was not an unfounded concern. Landlords and masters were fully capable of using the economic power to influence the way that their ‘social inferiors’ voted in elections.

Some of these figures, like Lilburne and Sexby, were from gentry families. But significantly they were both second sons. As Earle observes, the spread of primogeniture meant that, as a study of Northamptonshire showed, ‘by 1700, most younger sons of the county’s gentry families had either gone into the church or into trade in London, while the daughters had married London merchants…’. So, the term ‘second son’ was an acknowledged social category in mid-17th century England, carrying something of the meaning that ‘angry young man’ would carry in 1950s England. Second sons would not inherit, and therefore had to be apprenticed into trade. They were seen as a displaced and volatile social layer.[4]

The ‘middling sort’ would be thought of today as a smaller social category than those, however defined, working for wages. Wage earners are seen as a substantial, perhaps the largest single, category making up modern society.[5] In mid-17th century England the social weight of these two elements was more or less reversed. One way of grasping this is to take a look at Gregory King’s 1688 table of social classes.

What is important in this context is the broad delineation of social groupings by a contemporary. From King we can see the wide variances social layers that lie between the gentry and the labouring classes, all of whom might have been described as the middling sort. But what is also clear is that they are both numerically and in terms of economic, social, and cultural importance, a much more decisive sector of society that they are today. Those working for wages by contrast are much smaller and less important section of society than they are today. Kings estimates showing about 2.5 million people in the middle class and a similar number in the working class. This would make the middling sort in the 17th century in the order of twice the proportion of the modern middle-class in contemporary society.

There is been some considerable debate about the accuracy of King’s figures. But one important investigation, by Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson, suggest King actually underestimated the size of the middling sort and overestimated the size of the labouring classes.[6] Lindert and Williamson looked at 26 local censuses and burial records from 41 parishes in order to try and get a more accurate picture than King provided. The revised table of professions indicates that tradesmen and shopkeepers were more than double King’s figure, while ‘labouring people and outservants’ were 80,000 fewer than King thought. The number of ‘cottagers and paupers’ were nearly 90,000 lower than King’s figure. They concluded, ‘numerous 17th century documents strongly suggest King grossly overestimated common labours and paupers, while undercounting artisans’. Moreover, the England revealed in Lindert and Williamson is, compared to King’s picture, ‘less agricultural and more industrial… the rich have got richer, the poor are fewer, and the middle groups more populated’. These conclusions are similar to those made in Brian Manning’s survey of the work of a wide range of historians, which estimated that wage labourers make up between one quarter and one third of the population.[7]

Source: G E Barnett (ed.), Two Tracts by Gregory King (Baltimore, John Hopkins Press, 1936) via
Source: P H Lindert and J G Williamson, ‘Revising England’s Social Tables 1688-1812’, Explorations in Economic History 19, (1982) p.393.

So, the conclusion that we might draw from all this is that the Levellers were part of an increasingly self-conscious and socially decisive group. Their ideas appealed to social groups below them, but these layers were less numerous than in modern society and were more socially marginalised than the middling sort to which the Levellers belonged.

The Levellers were of course not the only ones to appeal to the labouring classes and the poor. The Clubman movement was also an elemental expression of discontent among the same social group. After the revolution had established a republic the Digger movement expressly raised the question of private property, making its abolition central to its programme.

These two alternative expressions of this discontent by wage labourers and the poor make an interesting comparison with the Levellers. The Clubmen were primarily a reaction to plunder, free-quarter, and taxation in the wartime conditions. They developed no political programme other than neutralism, although experience of treatment by Royalist and Parliamentarian forces led them to greater sympathy with the Parliamentarian cause. The Diggers were neither as numerically significant as Clubmennor Levellers. And they did not have the level of support for their programme nor the practical effectiveness of the Leveller movement. They were a small minority protesting in eloquent and incisive terms about the nature of the emerging Republic.

The Levellers’ appeal to the poor and to the wage labourers was real enough. In what they had to say about equality before the law, abolishing monopolies, relief from debt, the treatment of prisoners, they were genuinely raising issues of concern both to the middling sort and to those below them. Whether all these groups would benefit from the extended franchise was only part, if an important part, of what the Levellers had to say.

Political paradox

Perhaps the most famous discussion of the relationship between the Levellers and the labouring classes of the mid-17th century comes in the Putney debates of 1647. These critical discussions between the most senior officers of the New Model Army, elected representatives from the army rank and file, and civilian Levellers have rightly fascinated historians.

One issue to which historical debate has frequently returned concerns whether or not the Leveller spokespeople at Putney advocated the expansion of the franchise implied in the Agreement of the People, first presented at Putney. Should it include the poorest males in society, or should servants and wage labourers be excluded from the vote?

It might be said that this issue has been over-analysed by historians. Jason Peacey, for instance, has suggested that historians have tended to divorce the study of a Levellers from the broader spectrum of radical Parliamentary opinion of which they were a part and also that they have concentrated too narrowly on the franchise debate at Putney.[8] Both issues are of relevance here. The Levellers certainly were part of, indeed emerged from, a wider current of radical parliamentarianism. And the debate over the constitutional settlement of the nation after the First Civil War was actually one in which Levellers were engaged in debate with a much wider constituency of parliamentarians, some of whom contributed directly to the content of the Agreement of the People. Others held opinions with which the Levellers had to contend, even if they disagreed with them or distrusted those advancing them. We will see this dynamic at work throughout this discussion. But for all the differentiation among them it is still the case that the Levellers were a distinct political movement. They recognised themselves as such, and their opponents did likewise.

Jason Peacey’s second criticism is that discussion about the franchise debate is too narrowly focused. It is certainly true that the Levellers’ reservations about the extension of the franchise are most easily seen in places other than the Putney debates. Especially since, for the most part Leveller supporters at Putney are pretty clear that their proposals are meant to apply universally.

Thus, in perhaps the most famous statement of their case to come down to us from Putney, Colonel Thomas Rainsborough declares that ‘the poorest hee that is in England’ should have the same political rights as any other member of society, specifically the ‘greatest he’. But this formulation was not new to Leveller thought. Both Elizabeth and John Lilburne had previously made precisely the same point in almost the same words. John Wildman, one of the Leveller representatives at Putney, also thought that ‘every person in England hath as clere a right to elect his representative as the greatest person in England’. Edward Sexby thought that ‘the poor and meaner of this kingdom’ could not be denied the vote. Lieutenant Colonel John Rede spoke at Putney insisting that he could see ‘noe reason why any man that is a native ought to be excluded’.[9]

The main axis of debate on both sides assumes that what is under discussion is a universal male franchise. Cromwell and Ireton object to this proposal on the basis that if the poor are given the vote they will use it to take property away from the rich. Rainsborough responds that unless the poor are given the vote ‘I say the one parte shall make hewers of wood and drawers of water’ of the rest and ‘the greatest parte of the Nation bee enslav’d’. Sexby argued that though the soldiers had little property in the kingdom that they must be included in its political settlement.

Only on one occasion during the Putney debates does Leveller Maximillian Petty retreat from the idea of universal male suffrage. Petty suggested that servants or those dependent on others might be excluded from the franchise. This reads as a rather off-the-cuff response to debate with Henry Ireton, who has himself admitted that the franchise might be ‘better than it is’. John Rede also adds an interesting cautionary note. He says that those who have given themselves over to ‘voluntary servitude’ should also be excluded from the vote.[10]

We can see a similar balance of opinion running throughout Leveller propaganda. There are frequent calls for the abolition of the Corporations and church tithes, both being seen as oppressive to the poor and all labourers. Equally frequently there are calls to relieve prisoners of debt.[11] The cause of the poor was espoused as: ‘the too long continued shame of this Nation… of any to suffer such poverty as too beg their bread’. This condition should be ‘forthwith effectually remedied: and to that purpose that the Poor be enabled to choose their Trustees, to discover all Stocks, Houses, Lands… which of right to belong to them…’.[12]

Nowhere is this approach more clearly displayed than in The mournfull Cryes of many thousand poor tradesman, who are ready to famish through decay of Trade, published in January 1648. The language was direct, and heavy with class antagonism:

‘it’s your Taxes, Customs, and Excise, that compells the Countrey to raise the price of food, and to buy nothing from us but meer absolute necessities; and then you of the City that buy our Work, must have your Tables furnished, and your Cups overflow; and therefore will give us little or nothing for our Work, even what you please, because you know we must sell for moneys to set our Families on work, or else we famish: Thus our Flesh is that whereupon you Rich men live, and wherewith you deck and adorn yourselves’.[13]

Popular petitions which supported the Levellers’ key demands struck the same note. The petitioners who wrote A Declaration of the Wel-Affected in the County of Buckinghamshire assailed the ‘extorting Lords of Mannors, Monopolists, Incroachers, Inhancers and other interested parties,’ who act as ‘great obstructors and hinderers of all our Liberties, Freedoms, and naturall Rights.’ and goes on to attack the ‘arbitrary nature of Customs, Tolls, Monopolies,’‘wicked Customs, as Fines, Hariots, Quit-rents, and Headsilvers, with all slavish and base Tenours, Tyths, Impropriations, and Patents, Prerogative Charters’ that violated the ‘Liberties, Freedoms, and naturall Rights’ of the commons. They argued that this was ‘the originall of all our slavery, both in Tenure, Termes, tyrannical Laws, Customs, &c. whereby we, the lower sort of People, are made slaves to the wills of Tyrants, by reason the Law, being an outlandish Tongue, and withall bought and sold by the lawyers, who judge the Causes according to the Purse, and will do no Justice without money; so for filthy lucre, will stand to justifie and maintain any unjust, and wicked, and tyranicall Custome, or illegal persecutions of any Tyrants whatsoever; although to the utter deprivation and undoing of the poor widows, fatherless, & to the advancing the Wills of merciless Tyrants’.[14]

The Levellers’ Large Petition of 11 September 1648, the most extensive programmatic collective document the movement produced, the Agreement of the People notwithstanding, contained a raft of social reforms. The Levellers enemies were quick to point this out. In a substantial pamphlet produced to refute the Large Petition we read that the social demands are those of ‘absolute Levellers’ who are ‘labouring to make Kings, Queens, Princes, Earles, and Lords with themselves as fellows at football, and equall to the poorest Peasant…they desire…that all Excise may-be abolished, and that all inclosures of Fens, and other Commons should be laid open, or inclosed onely and chiefly, to the benefit of the poore, whose Patrimonie they are’. The wave of popular petitioning that followed the Large Petition, at a time when purely political demands might predominate, Norah Carlin has found that ‘many subsequent petitions show knowledge of and support for these reforms, and half a dozen include a selection, or their own similar proposals’.[15]

This then was the dominant tone of Leveller rhetoric. But amidst this the second strand of argumentation, just audible at Putney, also persisted. There were clear denials that economic levelling of any kind was part of the programme, and in the second edition of the Agreement of the People it was explicitly stated that electors would not include servants or those ‘receiving wages from any particular person’.[16] This exclusion also appears in the Agreement of the People of December 1648. Also excluded were those who had aided the King or who were not willing to sign the Agreement.[17]

So how should we understand this ambiguity in Leveller politics? At one level we can understand Leveller reservations about the inclusion of servants and wage labourers, and indeed royalist sympathisers, as a response to immediate political pressures.

At Putney the Levellers were in debate with the most senior officers in the army who also happened to be leaders of the Independents. They were under some considerable pressure to modify the Agreement of the People in ways acceptable to the Independents. The subsequent two editions of the Agreement of the People were produced when cooperation between the Levellers and the Independents was at its peak. It is certainly possible that the Levellers were attempting to produce a document that would gain the support of Cromwell, Ireton, and their co-thinkers.

They may well have been encouraged to think that this was a compromise worth making because servants and wage labourers, dependent on their masters in a way that the middling sort of craftsman were not, were seen as not fully capable of exercising their vote independently. And so, as with the supporters of the King, it might be unwise to include them in the franchise least they pose a threat to a political settlement aimed at by the radical leadership of the Parliamentary cause, Leveller and Independent alike.

Ultimately of course the Cromwellians decided that a republic without any form of democratic consent was necessary, but at this earlier stage we can see that Levellers too had to reckon with the possibility that too wide a franchise would open the door to counter-revolution.

This political paradox was real enough. But it rested on the deeper economic differentiation among supporters, or potential supporters, of the Leveller movement discussed earlier.

Levellers, wage labourers, and the poor in the dynamic of revolution

Let’s look at how this relationship between Leveller demands and social layers beneath the middling sort worked in the dynamic process of revolution. Several complex issues are involved here. For instance, although class location, political consciousness, and political programme are related, they are not always related in simple and direct ways. So, although it is possible to see the way in which the social position of the Levellers was reflected in their political programme it is also the case that others from very similar social backgrounds adhered to other political programmes. Similarly, as we have seen, the poor and wage workers might be attracted to the Clubman movement, the Levellers, or the Diggers. Or to more than one of these at different stages of the revolution.

What this should tell us is not that analysis of economic location is irrelevant but that alone it is not a sufficient explanation of political allegiance. For that an additional analysis of politics is required, specifically the competitive process of constructing political loyalty and the dynamic of the social process in which this takes place.

Marx and Engels provided a specific account of these determinants for the pre-capitalist revolutionary experience. They maintained that English and French revolutions were made by ‘minorities, or in the interests of minorities’. In other words, while their expectation was that the revolutionary subject in modern society, the working class, was a majority and could be seen as speaking for a majority, this was not the case for the revolutionary movements which preceded the full establishment of capitalism. But if previous revolutionary movements were the movements of minorities, this immediately raises the question of what the relationship was between the revolutionary minority and broader sections of society who might or might not be in engaged in the struggle with the old order.[18]

Marx and Engels argued that to engage such decisive wider forces the assault on the old order had to be carried out under universalist demands which, though they resulted in the triumph of a minority, still held meaning for the plebeian forces mobilised in the conflict. As Engels put it, …although, on the whole, the burghers in their struggle with the nobility could claim to represent at the same time the interests of the different working classes of that period, in every great bourgeois movement there were independent outbursts of that class which was the more or less developed forerunner of the modern proletariat…in the great English Revolution, the Levellers; in the great French Revolution, Babeuf’.[19]

Even in the French Revolution, Engels thought the bourgeoisie was too timid to carry through its own revolution and that ‘the plebs had to do all the work’. This would not have happened unless the ‘plebeians hadn’t read a meaning into the revolutionary demands of the bourgeoisie they didn’t have, if they hadn’t pushed equality and fraternity to extreme conclusions turning the bourgeois meaning of these catchwords on its head’.[20]

Marx and Engels were careful, as Christopher Hill long ago noted, not to overstate the degree of working class development: ‘In both revolutions [the English and the French] the bourgeoisie was the class which found itself effectively at the head of the movement. The proletarians and those fractions of the burgher class that did not belong to the bourgeoisie either still had no interests separate from the bourgeoisie or still did not form independent evolved classes or sub-classes’.[21] Nevertheless, the necessary ‘excess of revolutionary activity’ imparted to the movement by the mobilisation of the lower orders is one element that makes victory possible: ‘…as always-irony of history-this plebeian conception of the revolutionary catchwords became the mightiest lever for accomplishing this opposite: bourgeois equality-before the law, and fraternity-in exploitation’.[22]

Once the victory against the old order has been obtained the social bloc between the middling sort, the labouring classes, and the pooris bound to break apart. Then a reverse dynamic takes over: ‘It is the fate of all revolutions that this union of different classes, which in some degree is always the necessary condition of any revolution, cannot subsist long. No sooner is the victory gained against the common enemy than the victors become divided among themselves into different camps, and turn their weapons against each other’.[23]

We can see this dynamic at work in the relationship between the Independents and the Levellers, and between the Levellers and wage labourers and the poor. The social location of the Levellers is clear. They were the middling sort of craftsman and apprentices. They were not court monopolists, and not at the top of livery companies and, therefore, of City government. Nor were they, with the exception of Henry Marten, leaders in parliament or, with the exception of Thomas Rainsborough, in the armed forces of Parliament. But neither were they poor, or wage workers. Their programme reflected this: political and religious freedom of expression, equality before the law, democratic accountability…but also free markets, the right to property, no economic levelling. But that was not the end of the matter. Leveller rhetoric did speak of the poor and their plight. They were not acting or speaking dishonestly in this matter. Political democracy must be universalist, and the long-term impact of raising this issue, even when programmes of the day did not fully embody it, was bound to enlarge the political possibilities of the poor as well as of the middling sort.

Nor can demands for democracy wholly ignore its economic impact: the poor may use their vote against the rich, as Cromwell feared. Ireton argued against Rainsborough because he had ‘an eye to property’. The Levellers may have actually refused to countenance ‘economic levelling’, but on many occasions, if not always, their advocacy of the political rights of the poor was bound to embolden those who did wish to use political power for the purposes of advancing an egalitarian economic programme. And many Leveller social demands raised the condition of the poor quite independently of the relationship of these issues to the franchise. And so even though the poor would find new masters in the new world their political horizons had been enlarged.


  • This paper was first given at Honest Labour: exploring the interface between work and nonconformity, a regional day conference of the International John Bunyan Society, organized in association with the University of Bedfordshire, Keele University, Loughborough University and Northumbria University in April 2019. It will appear in the forthcoming issue of Bunyan Studies.

[1]To the Honourable House of Commons… (London, 1641) Wing T1437.

[2] W Walwyn, Gold Tried in the Fire… (London, 1647). E392[19]. See also W Walwyn, Gold Tried by Fire in J R McMichael and B Taft, The Writings of William Walwyn (Athens and London, Georgia, 1989) pp. 283-285.

[3] For an introduction to discussions around the middling sort see P Earle, The Making of the English Middle Class (London, Methuen, 1989). For my review of Earle, see J Rees, ‘The rising bourgeoisie’, in International Socialism 46 (London, Spring 1990) pp.159-165. See also B Manning. The English People and the English Revolution (London, Bookmarks, 1991) Ch. 6.

[4] G E, Aylmer, ‘Gentlemen Levellers?’, Past and Present, No. 49 (Nov., 1970).P Earle, The Making of the English Middle Class, p.7.

[5] In proportions unchanged since 1983 the British Social Attitudes Survey finds that 60 percent of respondents identify as working class while 40 percent identify as middle class, see

[6]P H Lindert and J G Williamson, ‘Revising England’s Social Tables 1688-1812’, Explorations in Economic History 19, (1982) p.387.

[7]P H Lindert and J G Williamson, ‘Revising England’s Social Tables 1688-1812’, Explorations in Economic History 19, (1982) p.387, 392-394. B Manning, the far left in the English revolution, 1640–1660 (London, Bookmarks, 1999) p.9.

[8]J. Peacey, ‘The People of the Agreements: the Levellers, Civil War Radicalism and Political Participation’ in P. Baker and E. Vernon, (eds), The Agreements of the People, the Levellers and the constitutional crisis of the English revolution. (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) pp. 76-96. See also M Mendle (ed), The Putney Debates of 1647 (Cambridge, CUP, 2001), P Baker, ‘The Franchise Debate Revisited: the Levellers and the Army’, in S Taylor and G Tapsell, The Nature of the English Revolution Revisited (Woodbridge, Boydell and Brewer, 2013) Ch. 5.

[9]J. Rees, The Leveller Revolution (London, Verso, 2016) pp. 210-211.

[10]J. Rees, The Leveller Revolution,pp. 210-212

[11]The petition of March 1647, in Wolfe, pp. 139-140. The petition of January 1648, in Wolfe, p. 268. Petition of September 1648, in D Wolfe, Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (Frank Cass 1967) p.288. And one Leveller at least, James Freize, was a consistent advocate of prison reform. See R Bell, ‘Dens of Tyranny and Oppression: the Politics of Imprisonment in Seventeenth-Century London’ (PhD dissertation, Stanford University, 2017) see especially pp. 343-369. I grateful to Richard Bell for sending me his work. On Freize’s Leveller affiliation see J Freize, The Levellers Vindication…(London, 1649). E573[8].

[12]The petition of January 1648, in D Wolfe, Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (Frank Cass 1967), p. 270.

[13]The mournfull Cryes of many thousand poor tradesman, who are ready to famish through decay of Trade in D Wolfe, Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (Frank Cass 1967), pp. 275–276.

[14]See G Kennedy, Freemen, Free Labor, and Republican Discourses of Liberty in Early Modern England, available at See also, for instance, the programmatic New Engagement, or, Manifesto of 1648 (noted as collected August 3rd) 669.f.12/97.

[15]A Full Answer to the Levellers Petition (19 September 1648) Wing F2343. The Large Petition of 11 September 1648 is The Humble Petition of divers well-affected Persons (London, 1668) E464[5].N. Carlin, Regicide or Revolution? What Petitioners Wanted, September 1648-February 1649 (London, Breviary Stuff, 2020) p.9.

[16]The petition of January 1648, in Wolfe, p. 270. The Agreement of the People, in D Wolfe, Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (Frank Cass 1967), p.297.

[17]Foundations of Freedom: or an Agreement of the People, in D Wolfe, Leveller Manifestoes of the Puritan Revolution (Frank Cass 1967), see pp.291,342.

[18] H Draper, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol.II, The Politics of Social Classes (New York and London, Monthly Review, 1978) Chs. 7, 10. 

[19]F Engels, Anti-Duhring (Peking, Foreign Languages Press, 1976) pp. 20-21.

[20] F Engels, Letter to Kautsky, 20 February 1889,

See also H Draper, Karl Marx’s Theory of Revolution, Vol. II, pp. 273-275.

[21]K Marx and F Engels, quoted in C Hill, ‘The English Civil War Interpreted by Marx and Engels’, Science and Society XII (1948), p. 145.

[22]F Engels, Letter to Kautsky, 20 February 1889.

[23]F Engels [and K Marx], Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany (London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1933) p.41.

John Rees

John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.