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Three Veterans

First and most senior is Christopher Hill who died last Monday at the age of 91. In 1940 on the verge of war he wrote The English Revolution To help soldiers understand that war might sound the death knell To capitalism, in its first and English variety. He also wrote The World Turned Upside Down. This was his sixties book (1972). It told the story of the ranters, the diggers and the Levellers who mutinied against Oliver Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland.

As Christopher lay dying last weekend, four INS officers in Chicago’s O’Hare airport, Prevented the grannie of Northern Ireland, Berndadette Devlin McAliskey, From entering the U.S.A., probably on direct orders from Ashcroft himself. She was elected to Parliament at the age of 21 in 1969, the youngest MP ever. That summer she fought in the Battle of the Bogside “Throw them hard and throw them straight” she advised the ten-year old rock throwers. She’s the second vet.

Christopher’s an Englishman who left the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1957 Because the Party lost its principles. The Marxists thought he was too much of a Methodist, The Methodists thought he was too much of a Marxist, Bernadette’s an Irishwoman Who campaigned among the British troops Asking them to desert and come to Ireland’s aid.

Such a British soldier who had served in Ulster Remembered such words as hers later while serving in the Mid East, And he heeded them: he left the military and became anti-imperialist. Last September I met him on a glorious sunny market-day in Manchester, The Irish town where the English working class was made. He had studied Christopher Hill and was passing out leaflets on behalf of Palestine In front of the great department store founded by Marks the Manchester Zionist. I was on my way to Bard and thought that we could do worse than the same:

Study Hill, Fight Empire.

PETER LINEBAUGH teaches history at Bard College. He is the author of the London Hanged and The Many-headed Hydra.

 

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Peter Linebaugh teaches history at the University of Toledo. His books included: The London Hanged,(with Marcus Rediker) The Many-Headed Hydra: the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic and Magna Carta Manifesto. His essay on the history of May Day is included in Serpents in the Garden. His latest book is Stop Thief! The Commons, Enclosures and Resistance.  He can be reached at:plineba@gmail.com

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