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The Diggers

  1. Oct 28, 2005 #1


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    A form of communism that was persecuted by none other than Francis Drake
    amoung others.
    Winstanley and fourteen others published a pamphlet[1] in which they called themselves the True Levellers to distinguish their ideas from the Levellers. Once they put their idea into practice and started to cultivate common land, they became known as "Diggers" by both opponents and supporters. The Diggers' beliefs were informed by Gerrard Winstanley's writings, which encompassed a worldview that envisioned an ecological interrelationship between humans and nature, acknowledging the inherent connections between people and their surroundings.
    An undercurrent of political thought, which ran through English society for many generations and re-surfaced from time to time (for example, during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381), was present in some of the political factions of the 1600s, including those who formed the Diggers, and held the common belief that England had become subjugated by the "Norman Yoke." This legend offered an explanation that at one time a golden Era had once existed in England before the Norman Conquest in 1066. From the conquest on, the Diggers argued, the "common people of English" had been been robbed of their birthrights and exploited by a foreign ruling class. The Diggers believed that if only the common people of England would form themselves into self-supporting communes, there would be no place in such a society for the ruling classes. The ruling elite would be forced to join the communes or starve, as there would no longer be anyone left to hire to work their fields or pay rent to them for use of their property.
    What are the pro's and con's for the diggers communism ideal ?
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2005 #2


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    Your Wiki article has a link to the process of Enclosure.


    My feeling is that there are all kinds of Consciousness-Polarities. People can be polarized by race and culture and education and religion and probably other ways I havent thought of as well as along economic CLASS lines.

    the Peasants Revolt of 1381 (right after about 1/3 of the population had died of a central-asian flea-born ailment and working-class laborers were in short supply) shows that one can have an outbreak of commonfolk class-consciousness pretty much anytime

    My sense of it is that there are economic Overlings and Underlings and that the Overlings almost ALWAYS act cooperatively with a sense of who they are and what their interests are. But this does not irritate the Underlings and trigger an outbreak of class consciousness as long as the Overlings are not too aggressive or, as one might say, greedy.

    In Britain in the 16th and 17th, at least in some regions, it is believed that the Rich and Powerful pushed it a little hard, they were eager to ENCLOSE lands which had been used commonly and rescind traditional rights of grazing and gathering etc. so they could raise sheep and make a bundle on the continental wool market. So the dispossessed peasants took to starving and suffering and migrating to the cities so they and their children could be put to work in factories and hopefully contract tuberculosis etc. This apparently led to faint glimmerings of CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS. Like the Diggers dogma, which contained I think some mythological embellishment but also contained as well a kind of awareness of the basic situation.

    Personally i think Ideal-Communism is silly. I like a mixed system with a competitive private sector plus PROGRESSIVE TAXATION (graduated income tax, estate tax...) to constantly level things out, and lots of EDUCATION, and the political/legal/media processes protected from money influence by ANTI-CORRUPTION SAFEGUARDS, and I also like some public ownership or control or regulations of certain basic infrastructure and resources like fisheries, parkland, roads, some basic grids and networks but how much regulation is negotiable---I'm flexible about that.

    My notion is that free public EDUCATION has to be put on steroids because it can create a buffer of articulate intelligence between money and power.
    Money interests will always have a tendency to remake the laws to suit themselves and to create special loopholes and opportunities. We see this run amok in the US today. Wealth has corrupted the politicians and has a direct grasp of the levers of power.
    What education can do HOPEFULLY is constantly replenish a class of individuals who are not rich, not part of the Overling class, and not in collusion with the corporate rulers.
    Unfortunately in US the general population has somehow become de-educated. the Average Guy's head, if you believe the polls, is not working. the Print Culture has dwindled and been to some extent supplanted by a teeveereeflex sort of collective MushMind----what's real is what's on TV and what's on TV is determined by dollar-power. newspapers used to criticise and crusade sometimes, but now our reality is created by media that are in turn controlled by money.

    So you ask about the communistic ideal of the DIGGERS, and must say I do not find it of any practical interest. What a UTOPIAN DREAM can do is help promote class consciousness among the underlings (the overlings already have plenty of awareness and ability to cooperate among themselves). What the underlings have to do is get things like progressive taxation, decent education for their children, and anticorruption safeguards for their media, legal system, and political process. If it helps them to have a utopian fantasy---if this makes it easier for them to become aware of the situation and to act cooperatively to protect their interests, then that's fine, let them have the fantasy.

    I saw a group called the Diggers operate in the Sixties in the SF Bay Area. They were inspired by the original Diggers of the 16th Century or whenever. They were in certain respects charming.
    Indeed in some ways the Hippie "movement" was a HISTORICAL COSTUME DRAMA evoking the bohemianism and the utopian communities of the past. Certain kinds of communal wackiness have broken out in Europe periodically, it is part of our common heritage. Probably it is good to remember these things. The way one might go around Wassailing at Christmastime and if one is good and spry one might indulge in Morris Dancing in the Spring.

    but I just wish they'd vote the Republicans out of office. that were Utopia enow.

    regards and best wishes Wolram,

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2005
  4. Oct 28, 2005 #3


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    The start of the capitalist land owners :smile:


    "The townes go down, the land decayes;
    Off cornefeyldes playne layes (grass-land);
    Gret men makithe now a dayes
    A shepecott in the church.

    Commons to close and kepe;
    Poor folk for bred to cry and wepe;
    Towns pulled downe to pastur shepe;
    This ys the new gyse!"
  5. Oct 28, 2005 #4


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    Marcus, if all you wished for above came true i woul be a happy man, but i fear
    the $ £ yen will lead to the ultimate corruption, so would be a good plan to have
    a back to basics booklet in your back pocket.:smile:
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