The World Turned Upside Down (One version of the Digger’s Song)
In 1649 to St. George’s Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will.
They defied the landlord, they defied the laws,
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.
“We come in peace,” they said, “To dig and sow,
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow.
This earth divided we will make whole
So it will be a common treasury for all!
The sin of property we do disdain,
No man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain.
By theft and murder they took the land,
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command.
They make the laws to chain us well,
The clergy dazzle us with heaven or they damn us into hell.
We will not worship the god they serve:
The god of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve.
We work, we eat together, we need no swords;
We will not bow to the masters or pay rent to the lords.
Still we are free, tho’ we are poor,
You Diggers all stand up for glory, stand up now!
From the men of property the orders came:
They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers’ claim.
Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn,
They were dispersed, but still the Vision lingers on!
“You poor, take courage, you rich take care,
This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share.
All things in common, all people one, We come in peace…”
– The order came to cut them down.
Dystopia 16: A Place of Her Own
Jack had taken pride in the things he had produced with his own hands before. He had made tools and clothes. He was an accomplished button maker. But this was different. He had never helped to make something so large, so permanent. Something that would outlast himself. Something that tied him to a place and a people. He stood back examining the work. His arms and bare chest were covered in a gray, fine clay that the Jaguars used to plaster over the sun dried bricks that made up their homes. In fact the plaster was on his face and in his hair as well. Small dots of it stood out on his pants. Callum and Micha had more experience and fared better in that respect. The plaster only went up to their elbows and their chests, also bared for the work despite the winter chill, were clean.
The last corner of the wall had just been plastered and Jack stood gazing at the project. He could not wait to show it to Laissi, even though it barely looked different than yesterday. It was finished. A slow smile began to spread across Jack’s face. Callum approached him with a cup and a large glass jar he had just opened. The smell of hops filled Jack’s nostrils and his smile grew wider.
“A man’s first home deserves a celebration.” Callum said as he handed Jack the cup and filled it with the home made brew.
Jack took a sip of the warm foamy liquid as Callum and Micha filled their own cups.
“Good thing I checked it before the women got here. You missed a few spots near the top on that corner, there.” Callum indicated the last place Jack had been working. Then he smiled at Jack.
“Yeah, well I can’t help it if I’m not as tall as you.”
“Or as good looking.” Micha put in.
Jack’s hands still had wet plaster on them and he used it to his advantage. He flicked his hand at Micha. Micha ducked and rolled a shoulder so that the splattered clay hit him in small dots across his back. The beer added its due to the general sense of celebration and soon they were throwing left over handfuls of plaster at each other, dodging the missiles and laughing like boys.
Jack did not have to wait long to show Laissi her new home. She came accompanied by Callum’s mate, Araceli, and Malu, Micha’s mother. They each carried a basket with a small stack of clean clothing for the men.
Jack stopped his horseplay as he saw the women approaching. The beer had quite definitely gone to his head. He favored the approaching women with a smile that showed off all of his remaining front teeth and a pair of glassy half lidded eyes as well.
Laissi was now unmistakably pregnant. She was actually starting to waddle as she approached. Her eyes were wide as she looked at the tiny hut. Callum had apologized for the small size of the hut but promised they could add to it later. Neither Jack nor Laissi had ever had a place of their own and so the tiny hut was a palace to them. And to Jack’s pride this showed in Laissi’s eyes.
He bowed to Laissi melodramatically, “I welcome the lady of the house to her new home.” He gestured to the recently completed wall.
She gazed at the hut and then to him adoringly “Beautiful.” she whispered.
He rose and began to approach her for an embrace.
She laughed and stepped away. “I meant the house, not you. You need a bath!” she held out her basket. He ignored it and continued his approach. She danced away from him easily despite her unbalanced appearance. He feigned continued attempts to hug her as she actually giggled and continued to bob and weave away from him.
As he chased Laissi he caught a glance of Araceli. Her face was dour as her eyes followed Laissi. He watched as Callum wrapped his now dry arm around her small waist and cupped her chin to force her to look away from Laissi to his own face. Jack understood her pain. He had seen the look many times before in the forts where children were a rarity. She longed for the happiness that Jack and Laissi had unintentionally stumbled upon. Jack averted his eyes from the private scene. He found Laissi and lunged for her as she waddled away again with a joyful shriek.
“Not until you clean up.”
“You don’t like it?” he pouted.
“NO! Of course I like it. It is beautiful!”
“Then why not show your appreciation?” he tease as he attempted to hug her again. She laughed again and skated around him and held out her basket instead. He took the clothing from her, careful to hold the basket away from his body. “Why don’t you inspect the inside while I clean up?”
The three men walked to the bathing room. Jack had grown accustomed to the communal bath but he was far more dirty than his companions. He took almost twice as long to get the clay off his skin and out of his hair. By the time he was toweling off and walking out to the antechamber his companions were in their cloths already and sitting on a bench together speaking in a hushed tone. Their conversation stopped as Jack entered the antechamber. Paje had joined them. Jack instantly felt the tension. Callum was the unofficial leader of the Jaguars but Paje was their soul. He was present when any important decisions were made. Jack hurriedly reached for his clean pants and began to put them on. He was pulling on his shirt whenCallum asked him, “Jack…Do you like being a Jaguar?”
“Yes. Of course I do. The village is my home!”
“Good. Because the village needs you. It needs all of us.”
Jack paused in his rush to dress himself, “What ever you need Callum, I will do my best.”
“You should hear the task before you agree.” Paje interjected in a soft voice. Callum glanced at him with a look filled with meaning but said nothing.
Jack stiffened, “OK. So tell me.”
“We can not hide here forever. Eventually the eyes in the sky will find the Jaguars. They will discover the pump and the water and they will come to destroy us.”
Again with the “eyes in the sky” nonsense. Jack did not believe that Fort Jenna had the ability to fly or to see from the sky. But they did haveBlackwater reconnaissance and he was all to aware that Jaguar would eventually be found. Jack only nodded and began to button his shirt.
“They will do to us what they did to so many villages. To Epi’s people.”
Jack’s fingers paused at their task of buttoning his shirt. He still said nothing but a cold wind passed over his skin. At the time ofEpifanio’s destruction he had not been friends with them. He had not known them as he knew Callum and Micha . He had not been in love with Laissi. At least not like he felt now. Jack noticed everything about her. Her rounder curves. Her once diminutive breasts filled and then overflowed his palm. The round fullness of her belly that rolled and jumped under his hand. Even the texture of her hair and the feel of her skin had changed. Right down to her scent. She always smelled of kitchen spice but the perfume under that. The essence that was distinctly hers, that clung to her clothing and to the side of the bedroll where she slept. That had changed too. And all of it made him want her more. And in a much deeper way. Like wanting to breath or eat. The thought ofBlackwaters coming to the village and touching her, harming his unborn child, left an icy cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. For an instant his mind showed him a picture of her crouching in a dimly lit cave, breathing too fast and eyes wide in terror, as she waited to be discovered by those men. “I’m listening.” he murmured.
“The time has come for our people to make a stand. Not just the Jaguars but all of the Guarani. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” He finished buttoning his shirt. “But you are not strong enough. There are many of them and they are very well armed.”
Callum nodded with a grave expression on his face. “It will be difficult. This is true. But we have more people than they do. Jaguar is just one village among many. We have been planning this attack for 2 years. Now the time has come.”
Jack sat down on the bench across from Callum. Shocked by this revelation.
Callum held up his hand as a sign to Jack that it was not as dire as it seemed. “I will not ask you to carry a weapon against the men who were once your friends, Jack. No. But I will ask you to betray them just the same.”
Jack looked at the floor for a moment. He thought of Laissi again. Jack wondered if Callum knew about the scars across Laissi’s back. If he knew about the other scars on her front? If he knew how she had gotten those scars. Surely Paje knew. He had cared for her for weeks when she was near death. Had he told the others? Had he told Callum? Would they know how this had changed things for Jack? Jack was a traitor to his people. Not just in action but in his heart. The desire to return to the relative luxury of the Fort had long ago faded. In fact he felt nothing for them and no sense of regret filled him at the thought of betraying them. Carrying a weapon against them to ensure Laissi’s safety would have been easy for Jack. “What would you have me do?”
Callum leaned back against the antechamber’s wall. “You are unique among us, Jack. You can enter the Fort as a friend. You can get into places and see things we can not. I need you to go back to Fort Jenna. You are right about the fact that they are strong. But it is not men or weapons as much as the fort itself. They have water and food. All that they need to survive in the fort. They can seal it and be there for a long time. They can out wait us. I need you to help us defeat the fort itself. We need to know the best time to attack. Where we can get in. Where they keep their weapons. Where they are weak. Can you do that?”
Jack thought about how the Blackwaters had treated him prior to his getting lost. He was unlikely to be welcomed back as the prodigal son. “What makes you think that they will trust me so much as to allow that?”
“Because we will make it appear that you are giving them information about where we are weak.”
“That is a dangerous game indeed my friend.”
“Yes…It is all a dangerous game. If we fail, they will likely kill us all. Even Laissi. Even the children.”
Again the icy fingers invaded his stomach.
“But if we win, be assured that we are not like them, Jack. We will not kill the children or the women. We will let those men who would, live among us, like you Jack.”
Jack studied his hands as they rested in his lap.
“This is our one chance to take back our land and our water, Jack. To give our children a future. I want the Jaguars to have a future. I will do whatever it takes to get every advantage. Every chance at winning this battle because there will not be a second chance. Do you understand?”
“You have as much at stake as the rest of us Jack. Will you help us? Will you give us that advantage?”
“Yes. I do.” Jack’s eyes met Callum’s for the first time during their conversation and they bored through Callum with an intensity that caught Callum off guard. “When do I leave?”
The Concepts Behind the Fiction:
1. Ownership of Property
And hereupon, The Earth (which was made to be a Common Treasury of relief for all, both Beasts and Men) was hedged in to In-closures by the teachers and rulers, and the others were made Servants and Slaves: And that Earth that is within this Creation made a Common Store-house for all, is bought and sold, and kept in the hands of a few, whereby the great Creator is mightily dishonoured, as if he were a respector of persons, delighting int he comfortable Livelihoods of some, and rejoycing in the miserable povertie and straits of others. From the beginning it was not so.
and so by the power of Reason, the Law of righteousness in us, we endeavour to lift up the Creation from that bondage of Civil Propriety, which it groans under…
Excerpts from The True Levellers Standard Advanced 1649
Who owns Jack’s house? Did you even consider this while you were reading? Probably not. When he leaves will Laissi be kicked out? Of course not. If I wrote that, you would not find it credible anyway. If Laissi also left, what then? Would she rent it to someone? Charge somebody for the right to live in it themselves? No. Likely the village would give it to someone else who needed a home. If I wrote that into the story, you likely would not question it. Within the confines of a story, communal ownership seems acceptable to us. But if I had suggested that you should live in a home provided by communal consent, what thoughts would have gone through your mind? That it is not possible? Well in our culture, no. But for most of man’s history it was not only possible it was the way things were. A shelter in a village never stood empty while others in the village went homeless. Such an event would be as unthinkable to previous generations as the homeless being placed in a home owned by bankers is to us.
I say that I own property but in fact the bank owns it, and I am unlikely in my lifetime to stop paying for it. In fact “mortgage” is a French word for “debt until death”. Recently a vast number of people in America discovered that they did not own their own homes and a few banks that thought they owned homes also discovered that through derivatives they had also been cheated out of ownership. (The question of just who does own these homes is still up in the air.)
Is ownership of property good? We have been raised and indoctrinated to think so. In fact it is frequently a very strong belief. In our culture it is certainly better than the alternative. But is the ownership society, itself, good for the majority of us? Is it really good for you? Is it even real or, as recent events point out, is it an illusion of ownership? The banks have resisted putting people back in their homes and refinancing the loans in a sane way. Are they benefiting from confiscating so much property? Is there a long term plan with all this property? Do the very rich and powerful know something we do not?
There was a time when most of the land was not owned by anyone and therefore was seen as owned by everyone and farmed or hunted by all. It was during feudal society that this changed and the change was resisted bitterly. It is what lead to the Inquisition.
That resistance has never completely vanished.
2. The Diggers
And the First Reason is this, That we may work in righteousness, and lay the Foundation of making the Earth a Common Treasury for All, both Rich and Poor, That every one that is born in the land, may be fed by the Earth his Mother that brought him forth, according to the Reason that rules in the Creation. Not Inclosing any part into any particular hand, but all as one man, working together, and feeding together as Sons of one Father, members of one Family; not one Lording over another, but all looking upon each other, as equals in the Creation; so that our Maker may be glorified in the work of his own hands…
The original Diggers were a group in England lead by Gerrar Winstanley and William Everard. They felt that the English civil war had been fought to reduce the power of the King and the great Landlords. In 1649 they took over St. George’s Hill in Surrey. The land was largely considered wasteland. They began to cultivate it and preached that other poor do the same. (Like now, food prices were at a maximum in the 1640’s.) Their numbers increased quickly and this aroused the attention of the Landlords who intended that all the unclaimed land eventually be awarded to them. They brought pressure on the Commonwealth government of England and the Diggers were eventually violently driven from St. George’s in 1950. Several other similar colonies were also destroyed.
Other groups with similar ideas calling themselves the Diggers have come and gone in history. Most recently during the turbulent 1960’s in San Francisco a group who went by the name Diggers started several “free” stores in the Haight-Ashbury area. They advocated a free society. A society without ownership of property or use of money. In short they longed for the gift economy. They are responsible for several things that survive in our culture today including the connection between hippies and whole wheat bread. They cooked whole wheat bread in coffee cans and distributed it for free in the park along with soup. They also started a free medical clinic. They are responsible for some of the popularity of tie dye clothing and phrases that survive them like, “Do your own thing.” and “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
They also staged direct actions and street theater to familiarize people with their philosophy. Events that went by names like: the Death of Money Parade, Intersection Game, Invisible Circus, Death of Hippie/Birth of Free.
Though Haight-Ashbury is now a poor and drug ridden area and the diggers are no longer there, their ideas live on in the writings of many fringe thinkers today.
3. Capitalism and Coops
And that this Civil Propriety is the Curse, is manifest thus, Those that Buy and Sell Land, and are landlords, have got it either by Oppression, or Murther, or Theft; and all landlords lives in the breach of the Seventh and Eighth Commandements, Thous shalt not steal, nor kill…
First by their Oppression. They have by their subtle imaginary and covetous wit, got the plain-hearted poor, or yonger Brethren to work for them, for small wages, and by their work have got a great increase; for the poor by their labour lifts up Tyrants to rule over them; or else by their covetous wit, they have out-reached the plain-hearted in Buying and Selling, and thereby inriched themselves, but impoverished others: or else by their subtile wit, having been a lifter up into places of Trust, have inforced people to pay Money for a Publick use, but have divided much of it into their private purses; and so have got it by Oppression.
Then Secondly for Murther; They have by subtile wit and power, pretended to preserve a people in safety by the power of the Sword; and what by large Pay, much Free-quarter, and other Booties, which they call their own, they get much Monies, and with this they buy Land, and become landlords; and if once Landlords, then they rise to be Justices, Rulers, and State Governours, as experience shewes: But all this is but a bloudy and subtile Theevery, countenanced by a Law that Covetousness made; and is a breach of the Seventh Commandement, Thou shalt not kill…
Fiftly, That which does incourage us to go on in this work, is this; we find the streaming out of Love in our hearts towards all; to enemies as well as friends; we would have none live in Beggery, Poverty, or Sorrow, but that everyone might enjoy the benefit of his creation: we have peace in our hearts, and quiet rejoycing in our work, and filled with sweet content, though we have but a dish of roots and bread for our food.
Excerpts from The True Levellers Standard Advanced
So I got to see Michael Moore’s Capitalism last week end. I had to travel 100 miles to do it. I grew up about 30 miles from Flint, MI and left there when both my parents lost their jobs while Mike was filming Roger and Me. Maybe that is why I can’t help but have a fondness for Mike.
Cinematographically, Capitalism is not his best work, but content wise it is a very hard hitter. He actually shows a Citibank memo that not only admits that they know that the American government is now a plutocracy ($1, one vote) and not a democracy (one person, one vote), but gives a plan to increase their power over the government and bemoans their fears that the American people might some day catch on and vote the current government out of office. Are you kidding me? Really, they actuallyacknowledged it? Like, wrote it down for all to see? For Michael Moore to see? Yup. Guess so. What hubris!
So what do we do? Do we get mad and vote them out?? Do we vote to dissolve the government, throw out the Constitution and start over with the Articles of Confederation?? (I’m not entirely against that, by the way.)
Well here are Michal Moore’s Suggestions. All great advise by the way. He has planned a demonstration in Chicago Oct 25-27. You can find out more about that here. You can endorse his activity here.
Here is my suggestion. There is another scene in the movie that shows a series of worker coops. How about starting there. Owning where you work. “Not some bullshit stock option…” (quoted from the movie) but actual ownership in which the decisions are made by the workers.
Here is an idea. Since our
democratic plutocratic government will not give us health care lets start with that. They want to give us a series of health care coops that will be small and toothless. This works on two levels. It undercuts any meaningfulhealth care reform and it makes coops look bad.
Dennis Kucinich passed an amendment to the House of Rep health care bill that allows states to create their own single payer option on a state by state basis. The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) pre-empts legislating health care reform at a state level if the state efforts challenge employer-based health care plans. Kucinich’s amendment overturns that prohibition. So far their are 10 states with legislation in the works if the amendment passes. The amendment is looking like it will get nixed in the final bill, though. You can supportDennis’s amendment here.
But what if Dennis is not able to pull it off? I say lets take what they are offering, coops, and use our trickster energy on it. Use a bill to turn local health departments into health care coops run by democratic vote but have legislation in the bill that interlocks them into one larger institution that bargains collectively with pharmacies, etc. A public option voted in and controlled directly by the people. You can get a fill in the blank bill to do just that here.
Sign a Petition that make Health Care a Civil Right!
4. One Last Thing
Stand Up Now (More Commonly Known Diggers Song)
You noble Diggers all, stand up now, stand up now,
You noble Diggers all, stand up now,
The wast land to maintain, seeing Cavaliers by name
Your digging does maintain, and persons all defame
Stand up now, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down, stand up now, stand up now,
Your houses they pull down, stand up now.
Your houses they pull down to fright your men in town,
But the gentry must come down, and the poor shall wear the crown.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
With spades and hoes and plowes, stand up now, stand up now,
With spades and hoes and plowes stand up now,
Your freedom to uphold, seeing Cavaliers are bold
To kill you if they could, and rights from you to hold.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now, stand up now
Theire self-will is theire law, stand up now.
Since tyranny came in they count it now no sin
To make a gaole a gin, to serve poor men therein.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The gentrye are all round, stand up now, stand up now,
The gentrye are all round, stand up now.
The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,
Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground.
Stand up now, stand up now.
The lawyers they conjoyne, stand up now, stand up now,
The lawyers they conjoyne, stand up now,
To arrest you they advise, such fury they devise,
The devill in them lies, and hath blinded both their eyes.
Stand up now, stand up now.
The clergy they come in, stand up now, stand up now,
The clergy they come in, stand up now.
The clergy they come in, and say it is a sin
That we should now begin, our freedom for to win.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The tithe they yet will have, stand up now,stand up now,
The tithes they yet will have, stand up now.
The tithes they yet will have, and lawyers their fees crave,
And this they say is brave, to make the poor their slave.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
‘Gainst lawyers and gainst Priests, stand up now,stand up now,
‘Gainst lawyers and gainst Priests stand up now.
For tyrants they are both even flatt against their oath,
To grant us they are loath free meat and drink and cloth.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The club is all their law, stand up now, stand up now,
The club is all their law, stand up now.
The club is all their law to keep men in awe,
Buth they no vision saw to maintain such a law.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now, stand up now,
The Cavaleers are foes, stand up now;
The Cavaleers are foes, themselves they do disclose
By verses not in prose to please the singing boyes.
Stand up now, Diggers all.
To conquer them by love, come in now, come in now,
To conquer them by love, come in now;
To conquer them by love, as it does you behove,
For he is King above, noe power is like to love,
Glory heere, Diggers all.