Commons, Enclosures and Resistance

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* Book: Stop, Thief! The Commons, Enclosures and Resistance. Peter Linebaugh. PM Press, 2014

URL = https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=568


Description

1. From the publisher:

"In this majestic tour de force, celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of the seas, the ravagers of the forests, the despoilers of rivers, and the removers of mountaintops. Scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth that has not had commoning at its heart. “Neither the state nor the market,” say the planetary commoners. These essays kindle the embers of memory to ignite our future commons.

From Thomas Paine to the Luddites, from Karl Marx—who concluded his great study of capitalism with the enclosure of commons—to the practical dreamer William Morris—who made communism into a verb and advocated communizing industry and agriculture—to the 20th-century communist historian E.P. Thompson, Linebaugh brings to life the vital commonist tradition. He traces the red thread from the great revolt of commoners in 1381 to the enclosures of Ireland, and the American commons, where European immigrants who had been expelled from their commons met the immense commons of the native peoples and the underground African-American urban commons. Illuminating these struggles in this indispensable collection, Linebaugh reignites the ancient cry, “STOP, THIEF!” (https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=568)


2.

“Linebaugh describes a host of historical commons that have receded into the mists of history: “the Irish knowledge commons, the agrarian commons of the Nile, the open fields of England enclosed by Acts of Parliament, the Mississippi Delta commons, the Creek-Chickasaw-Cherokee commons, the llaneros and pardos of Venezeula, the Mexican communidades de los naturales, the eloquently expressed nut-and-berry commons of the Great Lakes, the customs of the sikep villagers of Java, the subsistence commons of Welsh gardeners, the commons of the street along the urban waterfront, the lascars crammed in dark spaces far from home, and the Guyanese slaves building commons and community….” (http://bollier.org/blog/%E2%80%9Cstop-thief%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-peter-linebaughs-new-collection-essays)


Review

David Bollier:

" a collection of fifteen chapters on many different aspects of the commons, mostly from history. The book starts out on a contemporary note by introducing “some principles of the commons” followed by “a primer on the commons and commoning” and a chapter on urban commoning. For readers new to Linebaugh, he is an historian at the University of Toledo, in Ohio, and the author of such memorable books as The Magna Carta Manifesto and The London Hanged.

Stop, Thief! is organized around a series of thematic sections that collect previously published essays and writings by Linebaugh. One section focuses on Karl Marx (“Charles Marks,” as he was recorded in British census records) and another on British enclosures and commoners (Luddites; William Morris; the Magna Carta; “enclosures from the bottom up”). A third section focuses on American commons (Thomas Paine; communism and commons) before concluding with three chapters on First Nations and commons.

This sampler reflects Linebaugh’s eclectic passions as a historian. They are united by the overarching themes of commoning, enclosure and resistance, as the subtitle puts it. This framework makes for some unanticipated historical excursions, such as the chapter on the theft of forest products and abolition of forest rights in 19th century Germany, which made quite an impression on Karl Marx. Another chapter – Linebaugh’s foreword to E.P. Thompson’s book on William Morris – situates Morris as a communist, artist, prophet and revolutionary.

Some of the historical explorations journey into areas that are frankly obscure to me, so I don't always appreciate the fuller context and circumstances. But this is part of the pleasure and fun -- to be introduced to new areas of commons history. " (http://bollier.org/blog/%E2%80%9Cstop-thief%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-peter-linebaughs-new-collection-essays)