Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Commemorating PeterlooViolence, Resilience, and Claim-making during the Romantic Era$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Michael Demson and Regina Hewitt

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474428569

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428569.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 04 April 2020

‘Reform or Convulsion’: Jeremy Bentham and the Peterloo Massacre

‘Reform or Convulsion’: Jeremy Bentham and the Peterloo Massacre

Chapter:
(p.229) Chapter 10 ‘Reform or Convulsion’: Jeremy Bentham and the Peterloo Massacre
Source:
Commemorating Peterloo
Author(s):

Victoria Myers

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474428569.003.0011

By 1819, Jeremy Bentham was fully aware that the law courts' entrenched practices, perverting and denying justice, were countenanced by parliamentary inaction and required not only law reform but reform of parliament itself - pushing the nation's choice to one between 'reform or convulsion'. This chapter demonstrates Bentham's understanding that, despite all the attention given to popular resistance and uprising, several sorts of violence dominated the British judicial and parliamentary system: violence-promoting language such as legal fictions, 'sinister interest' motivating corruption, as well as legalized violence through punishment. Bentham showed that, those with authority pursued sinister interests by taking the opportunities afforded by natural desires and the situations created by the system. The chapter argues that, through application of his utility principle and through ridicule (his rhetorical counter-violence), Bentham revealed systemic violence, undercut the fallacious and fiction-dependent arguments upholding the system, and challenged legal and parliamentary authority.

Keywords:   Bentham, Jeremy, violence, law reform, parliamentary reform, Peterloo, legal fictions, sinister interest, violence, authority, utility

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.