Explore the history of commons and capitalism at Everyone's Books


BRATTLEBORO — In 1803 an Irish renegade, Ned Despard, stood on the gallows in London to be hanged for revolutionary conspiracy. His final speech, written with his Caribbean-born wife, Kate, expressed the hope that "the principles of freedom, of humanity, and of justice will triumph over falsehood, tyranny, and delusion." The radical love between Kate and Ned serves as a cornerstone for "Red Round Globe Hot Burning," a monumental history of the origins of capitalism (and simultaneously the UK and USA) as well as resistance to it, told through the lives and deeds of people whose opposition to war, privatization, exploitation and inequality resonates into the present.

The book, with its author, Peter Linebaugh, will be discussed at a free public event at Everyone's Books, 25 Elliot Street, at 6 p.m. Friday, July 19. The event is co-sponsored by the Kopkind Colony. Kopkind's first seminar/retreat session this year centers around the theme "Democratizing the Economy."

Central to Linebaugh's work is the popular struggle over the Commons. The term denotes not just those customary rights and communal property traditions that were attacked by capitalist privatization but the very idea of community, universality and human mutuality in practice.

"This book looks at many forms of the actual Commons throughout the Atlantic world, starting in Ireland," Linebaugh said recently. "Practitioners in these Commons, or commoners, began to exchange experiences, and from those the idea of the Commons became part of general discourse and of the revolutionary upheavals of the 1790s. It spread so widely and so fast it caused a tremendous backlash among the powers that be. The ruling class of the UK, like the Founding Fathers of the USA, were deathly afraid of `the agrarian law' or `the people's common.'"

"Red Round Globe Hot Burning" (the title is from a poem by Robert Blake, written after the American Revolution, in the midst of the French Revolution, and at the start of the Haitian Revolution) explores the inherent conflict from the side of the people: through Ned and Kate and the working class, or "common folk," with whom they worked against what they called "the system of man-eaters." Language itself was part of the struggle, and the capitalist victors made "common" a dirty word.

For more information about Everyone's Books, call 802.254.8160. For more information about Kopkind, email JoAnn Wypijewski at jwyp@earthlink.net



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