The Enclosure of the Commons

Source: New Frame

This is an edited extract from Red Round Globe Hot Burning: A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons and Closure, of Love and Terror, of Race and Class, and of Kate and Ned Despard, which has recently been published by the University of California Press.

Global phenomena of resistance to enclosures have been led by the Zapatistas in Mexico (1994), the anti-globalisers of intellectual property at the “battle of Seattle” (1999), the women of the Via Campesino against the corporate seizure of the planetary germplasm, the shack dwellers from Durban to Cape Town, the women of the Niger River delta protesting naked against the oil spillers, the indigenous peoples of the Andes Mountains against the water takers, the seed preservers of Bangladesh, the tree huggers of the Himalayas, the movement of “the circles and the squares” in the hundreds of municipal Occupys (2011) and the thousands of water protectors at Standing Rock (2017). Inspired by these phenomena, revisions of the meaning of “the commons”, and its relationship to communism, socialism, anarchism and utopianism, have become part of the worldwide discourse against the effort to shut it down or enclose it. In general the story is a couple hundred years old.

In 1793, William Blake, the London artist, poet and prophet, came to the conclusion that Enclosure = Death.

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