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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Leader of the Levellers

"If the world were emptied of all but John Lilburne, Lilburne would quarrel with John, and John with Lilburne." -- Harry Martin, fellow Leveller

1 comment:

  1. The radicalism of some factions of the English Civil War has been wrongly forgotten. The first nation to execute its king was not France but England. The Diggers and Levellers of 17th century England were the first ideological movements to make a systematic critique of the distribution of income and wealth.

    The Diggers and Levellers were important precursors of the populist radicalism that emerged in reaction to the Industrial Revolution. They were precursors of the hippies of the 1960s, of Michael Moore, and of the Occupy movement.

    I think the Diggers and Levellers did a good job of distilling the discontents of their time, of the last century, and since 2008, of our time. Face it, people, just how many of our fellow humans, especially in the English speaking world, can get our heads around the intellectual edifice and sonorous prose of Karl Marx and his ilk? Many dutifully voted for Marxist and social democratic parties, not because they truly believed in their ideology, but because they were decently organised and well-funded. In their heart of hearts, such people thought like Lilburne and Winstanley, and saw Marxism or social democracy mainly as a pragmatic way of attaining Digger and Leveller objectives.

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