I was recently fortunate enough to pick up one of the original first 150 copies of Édouard Dolléans 1912 work Le Chartisme for the steal price of €1 and have been reading it with great interest since. The book itself is a description of the roots of the Chartist Movement and that Movement's history, but one of the things I was surprised to learn upon reading it was the effect upon the development of that movement that one James 'Bronterre' O'Brien had. Born in Co. Longford in 1805, the man was by all accounts a genius- he spoke French, Latin, Greek and Italian by the age of 9 and was an orator of outstanding ability, able to speak for 3-4 hours at a stretch. There are a number of things that have struck me about him from what I've read so far.
1. His recognition of the class nature of capitalism and the power possessed by the capitalist and aristocratic class over the working and labouring classes by their control of the means of production and accumlation of the workers produce- not too dissimilar from the ideas of a certain German economist.
2. His emphasis on the need for independent working class action and his point that the interests of the workers and capitalists were not reconcilable.
3. He was a great struggler for the removal of property rights for voting and a champion of universal suffrage and the free press.
He seems to have been forgotten and indeed was forgotten in his own lifetime after the end of the Chartist movement, dying bedridden and in poverty in London in 1864, where he's buried today in Abney Park Cemetery.
James Bronterre O'Brien - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia