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The Craft of Levelling

"We whose names are subscribed, do in the name of all the poor oppressed people in England, declare unto you, that call your selves lords of Manors, and Lords of the Land, That in regard the King of Righteousness, our Maker, hath inlightened our hearts so far, as to see, That the earth was not made purposely for you, to be Lords of it, and we to be your Slaves, Servants, and Beggers; but it was made to be a common Livelihood to all, without respect of persons.

And that your buying and selling of Land, and the Fruits of it, one to another, is The cursed thing, and was brought in by War; which hath, and still does establish murder, and theft, In the hands of some branches of Mankinde over others, which is the greatest outward burden, and unrighteous power, that the Creation groans under.

For the power of inclosing Land, and owning Propriety, was brought into the Creation by your Ancestors by the Sword; which first did murder their fellow Creatures, Men, and after plunder or steal away their Land, and left this Land successively to you, their Children. 

And therefore, though you did not kill or theeve, yet you hold that cursed thing in your hand, by the power of the Sword; and so you justifie the wicked deeds of your Fathers; and that sin of your Fathers, shall be visited upon the Head of you, and your Children, to the third and fourth Generation, and longer too, till your bloody and theeving power be rooted out of the Land."

introduction to A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England , 1649

Latest personal news

Went to Moscow for two months to do language training at a partially competent institution. I didn't learn much there, but I got to go to Priamukhino for a few days to help fix Bakunin's roof. Also I jumped three times from an old Soviet biplane (AN-2) the day before I left the country.

New at the Site

28 May 1999: some photos of modern animal-drawn farm equipment.
28 May 1999: my Info-Shrine to Phoolan Devi.
7 Aug 1998: Critiquing Active Resistance 1996

Harry Cleaver notes that people who provide information and counsel to the state-corporate axis are known as policy analysts, whereas people providing those services in opposition are called activists. In some ways I count as an activist, but for reasons not yet sorted out I have always disliked the term. One intent of this page is to explore the connections and influences between the anarchist political tradition and self-conscious attempts to grapple with our collective future in a public and accountable way. You can call this reform or revolution, but for the time being I am studying it under the heading of planning. For now I'm still stuck being a Master of Regional Planning student at a department that doesn't seem to care much about teaching regional planning or social change.

So I'm going to Russia not only for language training, but to look for people that speak my language. What I'm most interested in examining is how the problems of countries undergoing sharp economic decline now may have lessons for other industrial societies as they approach economic and ecological limits. Naturally there are other socialist or quasi-socialist systems such as Cuba or Kerala that one could look at, but as the introduction above makes clear what I'm really interested in, for better or worse, is the communalist, revolutionary, and rationalist traditions of the European world. We turn ourselves inside out looking at Third World or Fourth World examples of resistance and innovation when in fact we have such traditions of our own. The difference is that ours have been more successfully dispersed and suppressed, and we tend to live in a state of forgetfulness that they ever existed.

My hope simply is that the post-communist world, beset by contamination of soils, breakdown of the social-economic contract, and shortages of fuel and spare parts will find a way forward out of necessity. The economic facts of life are such that people survive by elaborate and informal mutual-aid networks. One of the agendas of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences is to characterize the informal networks that have kept the Russian rural population alive, if not always well, despite having no jobs and little money. It's exactly such networks that enable economically marginal people to survive everywhere, and from which we may be able to learn the most.

In Russia particularly I fail to see that anything other than extra-state/ extra-legal social networks has a chance. State power is a basket case, and the question is not whether anarchist or syndicalist political modes can compete with liberalism or pluralism, but how. When I find out, you'll see it here.


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