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Robert Tressell Centenary Today

100 years ago today Robert Tressell, author of the inspirational Ragged Trousered Philanthropists died. Poshtumously published, his book was described by Robert on the title page as “twelve months in hell, told by one of the damned.” A tale of agitation and organisation, battling against the tide of apathy, confronting the small-time capitalists who seek to keep their employees in line. The main character of the book, Frank Owen, seeks over and over again to win his fellow workers to the socialist cause, most famously with the ‘money trick’, perhaps the best, certainly the most entertaining, explanation of Marx’s theory of surplus value!  Owen doesn’t always win the argument but he never gives up believing in “the Golden Light that will be diffused throughout all the happy world from the rays of the risen sun of Socialism.”

To mark the centenary Philosophy Football have produced a special Ragged Trousered Philanthropists T-shirt and mug depicting the workers, the agitator and the capitalist. Available from

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