FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Whole World is Watching

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.

More articles by:

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. 

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Negin Owliaei
Toys R Us May be Gone, But Its Workers’ Struggle Continues
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail