FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Whole World is Watching

by KEVIN CARSON

In 1649 at St. George’s Hill in England, as recounted in the revolutionary anthem “The World Turned Upside Down,” a band of landless peasants who called themselves the Diggers tore down enclosures, built themselves cottages, and began spading up land to grow food. Their goal was to set an example for the people of England, to throw off their chains and reclaim their ancient birthright. They were eventually driven off by the local Lord of the Manor, but they survive in memory as heroes in the bloody five thousand year war between those who claim to own the Earth and those who live and work in it.

Thus it always has been, in this age-old war, going back to the time when the first landed aristocracies, by supposed right of conquest, forced those working the land to pay rent on it. We saw it reenacted throughout the twentieth century. Whenever the people of a Third World country like Guatemala or El Salvador tried to restore the land to its rightful owners, the cultivators, the United States would openly invade or secretly train and arm death squads to leave “disappeared” activists in ditches with their faces hacked off. Most starvation in the world today results not from insufficient production of food, but from enclosure of land that previously fed the people working it — by landed oligarchs in collusion with Western agribusiness — to raise cash crops for export.

Today another groups of heroes, of whom the Diggers at St. George’s Hill would be proud, are making their own stand for justice. Thousands of villagers at Wukan, in China’s Guangdong province, are protesting the theft of their communal land by a corrupt local government in collusion with developers. In its own reenactment of the Enclosures, the Wukan Party Committee decided to sell off most of the village’s common land to a factory pig farming operation owned by a former local official.

The immediate trigger of the uprising was not the land seizure itself. The village had already had altercations with the authorities over that, and retaken the land, back in September. The government invited the village to appoint negotiators — a ploy, as you might guess, to identify the ringleaders. And sure enough, the government then arrested the representatives. It was the death of the chief representative, Xue Jianwan, in police custody — you folks living in Mississippi know what that’s all about — that led to the massive outpouring of protest.

The Chinese state has reacted with exactly the sort of panic you’d expect, attempting to cut off Wukan from the outside world and starve the rebellious villagers into submission.

But it’s a lot harder to keep things secret these days than in the days of the Diggers four hundred years ago. Sympathy for the embattled peasants of Wukan has spread throughout the working population of China — and of the world. Police have had to suppress pro-Wukan demonstrations by migrant factory workers in the provincial capital of Guangzhou.

The mutual sympathy between migrant workers and peasants is understandable. As sweatshop workers told Naomi Klein when she was researching No Logo, many of them would prefer to work their own land in their home villages, among their families — but there’s no land for them to work. Can you guess why? The Chinese working population, like the population of England before it, has been driven off the land and into the factories like cattle.

The villagers’ heroic stand at Wukan, unlike that of the Diggers at St. George’s Hill, is being tweeted and blogged all over the world.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Occupy movement has undertaken the Occupy Our Homes campaign — like the Diggers on the Hill — as an example to be propagated, and imitated, far and wide. There are millions of homeless, and millions of vacant homes and commercial buildings in the banksters’ possession — and not enough sheriffs’ deputies and cops in creation to keep the two apart. When homeless people squat a foreclosed home, and later get evicted, they’re ahead by the amount of time they were housed. And every eviction puts the recorded brutality of the black-uniformed thugs front and center in the court of public opinion.

Thanks to the power of networked communications, the Wobbly slogan “An Injury to One is an Injury to All” has never been closer to realization. Injustice can no longer be carried out under cover of darkness. You hirelings of the ruling class, you who repress our brothers and sisters wherever in the world they may be, always keep in mind that the days of the powers you serve are numbered. Take care lest you one day fall into the hands of our justice.

Kevin Carson is a research associate at the Center for a Stateless Society. his written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online.

Kevin Carson is a senior fellow of the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org) and holds the Center’s Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory. He is a mutualist and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective, and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto, all of which are freely available online. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail