woensdag 30 mei 2012

A little bit of Gerrard by my side, a little bit of Winstanley is all I need, a little bit of revolution in the sun, a bit of proto-communism all night long

The special quality of the writing of Gerrard Winstanley (1609-76), the radical English protestant priest often seen as a proto-communist-communard, is that it's easily incorporated by radicals who came after him. To give a recent example, the San Francisco Diggers named themselves after Winstanley's followers and provided free food after their example. In the light of Transition, Dark Mountain, Occupy and bioregionalism Winstanley is again quotable as a forerunner of all back-to-the-land gardeners and farmers. Question: does foraging 'make the earth fruitful?' 
...one sort of children shall not be trained up only to book learning and no other employment, called scholars, as they are in the government of monarchy; for then through idleness and exercised wit therein they spend their time to find out policies to advance themselves to be lords and masters above their labouring brethren, as Simeon and Levi do, which occasions all the trouble in the world. 
The first fountain is the right planting of the earth to make it fruitful, and this is called husbandry. And there are two branches of it: As first, planting, digging, dunging, liming, burning, grubbing and right ordering of land, to make it fit to receive seed, that it may bring forth a plentiful crop. And under this head all millers, maltsters, bakers, harness-makers for ploughs and carts, rope-makers, spinners and weavers of linen and such like, are all but good husbandry.

The second branch of husbandry is gardening, how to plant, graft and set all sort of fruit trees, and how to order the ground for flowers, herbs and roots for pleasure, food or medicinal. And here all physicians, chirurgeons, distillers of all sorts of waters, gatherers of drugs, makers of wines and oil, and preservers of fruits and such like, may learn by observation what is good for all bodies, both man and beasts.

....an idle, lazy contemplation the scholars would call knowledge; but it is no knowledge but a show of knowledge, like a parrot who speaks words but he knows not what he saith. This same show of knowledge rests in reading or contemplating or hearing others speak, and speaks so too, but will not set his hand to work. And from this traditional knowledge and learning rise up both clergy and lawyer, who by their cunning insinuations live merely upon the labour of other men, and teach laws which they themselves will not do, and lays burdens upon others which they themselves will not touch with the least of their fingers. And from hence arises all oppressions, wars and troubles in the world; the one is the son of contention, the other the son of darkness, but both the supporters of bondage, which the creation groans under.

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