The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All

The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All

The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All

The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All

Synopsis

This remarkable book shines a fierce light on the current state of liberty and shows how longstanding restraints against tyranny--and the rights of habeas corpus, trial by jury, and due process of law, and the prohibition of torture--are being abridged. In providing a sweeping history of Magna Carta, the source of these protections since 1215, this powerful book demonstrates how these ancient rights are repeatedly laid aside when the greed of privatization, the lust for power, and the ambition of empire seize a state. Peter Linebaugh draws on primary sources to construct a wholly original history of the Great Charter and its scarcely-known companion, the Charter of the Forest, which was created at the same time to protect the subsistence rights of the poor.

Excerpt

Communism was certainly the bugaboo of my cold war childhood when the FBI came knocking at the door and went snooping around the neighborhood. Nevertheless, as I think about it in light of the “fall of Communism” on the one hand and the planetary movement to “reclaim the commons” on the other, elements of the commons have never been far.

As a child in postwar London I explored bombed-out buildings, taking what I pleased with disregard of danger and private property alike. A year or two later on Hampstead Heath I freely collected horse chestnuts in season to marinate for the game of conkers. Once two older boys, Cockneys, took away from me an air pistol I had taken myself from the rubble of a bombed-out building (“finders keepers”). “All right, mate, you want to fight?” Quickly I discovered the philosophy of “easy come easy go,” and saved myself a bruising. Such were childhood lessons in the ambiguity of English commoning.

As an American I was “common,” which meant I was not part . . .

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