Friday, 27 July 2012
How the Magna Carta became a Minor Carta, part 2 The Obama administration has perpetuated an assault on the foundations of traditional liberties
Guardian Comment is Free by Noam Chomsky
The post-civil war 14th amendment granted the rights of persons to former slaves, though mostly in theory. At the same time, it created a new category of persons with rights: corporations. In fact, almost all the cases brought to the courts under the 14th amendment had to do with corporate rights, and by a century ago, they had determined that these collectivist legal fictions, established and sustained by state power, had the full rights of persons of flesh and blood; in fact, far greater rights, thanks to their scale, immortality, and protections of limited liability. Their rights by now far transcend those of mere humans. Under the "free trade agreements", the Pacific Rim can, for example, sue El Salvador for seeking to protect the environment; individuals cannot do the same. General Motors can claim national rights in Mexico. There is no need to dwell on what would happen if a Mexican demanded national rights in the United States.
Domestically, recent supreme court rulings greatly enhance the already enormous political power of corporations and the super-rich, striking further blows against the tottering relics of functioning political democracy.
Meanwhile Magna Carta is under more direct assault. Recall the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, which barred "imprisonment beyond the seas", and certainly the far more vicious procedure of imprisonment abroad for the purpose of torture – what is now more politely called "rendition", as when Tony Blair rendered Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj, now a leader of the rebellion, to the mercies of Colonel Gaddafi; or when US authorities deported Canadian citizen Maher Arar to his native Syria, for imprisonment and torture, only later conceding that there was never any case against him. And many others, often through Shannon airport, leading to courageous protests in Ireland.
The concept of due process has been extended under the Barack Obama administration's international assassination campaign in a way that renders this core element of the Charter of Liberties (and the Constitution) null and void. The Justice Department explained that the constitutional guarantee of due process, tracing to Magna Carta, is now satisfied by internal deliberations in the executive branch alone. The constitutional lawyer in the White House agreed. King John might have nodded with satisfaction.
The issue arose after the presidentially ordered assassination-by-drone of Anwar al-Awlaki, accused of inciting jihad in speech, writing, and unspecified actions. A headline in the New York Times captured the general elite reaction when he was murdered in a drone attack, along with the usual collateral damage. It read: "The west celebrates a cleric's death." Some eyebrows were lifted, however, because he was an American citizen, which raised questions about due process – considered irrelevant when non-citizens are murdered at the whim of the chief executive. And irrelevant for citizens, too, under Obama administration due-process legal innovations.
Presumption of innocence has also been given a new and useful interpretation. As the New York Times reported: "Mr Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent." So post-assassination determination of innocence maintains the sacred principle of presumption of innocence.
It would be ungracious to recall the Geneva conventions, the foundation of modern humanitarian law: they bar "the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognised as indispensable by civilised peoples".
The most famous recent case of executive assassination was Osama bin Laden, murdered after he was apprehended by 79 Navy seals, defenceless, accompanied only by his wife, his body reportedly dumped at sea without autopsy. Whatever one thinks of him, he was a suspect and nothing more than that. Even the FBI agreed.
Celebration in this case was overwhelming, but there were a few questions raised about the bland rejection of the principle of presumption of innocence, particularly when trial was hardly impossible. These were met with harsh condemnations. The most interesting was by a respected left-liberal political commentator, Matthew Yglesias, who explained that "one of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers", so it is "amazingly naïve" to suggest that the US should obey international law or other conditions that we righteously demand of the weak.
Only tactical objections can be raised to aggression, assassination, cyberwar, or other actions that the Holy State undertakes in the service of mankind. If the traditional victims see matters somewhat differently, that merely reveals their moral and intellectual backwardness. And the occasional western critic who fails to comprehend these fundamental truths can be dismissed as "silly", Yglesias explains – incidentally, referring specifically to me, and I cheerfully confess my guilt.
Executive terrorist lists
Perhaps the most striking assault on the foundations of traditional liberties is a little-known case brought to the supreme court by the Obama administration, Holder v Humanitarian Law Project. The project was condemned for providing "material assistance" to guerrilla organisation PKK, which has fought for Kurdish rights in Turkey for many years and is listed as a terrorist group by the state executive. The "material assistance" was legal advice. The wording of the ruling would appear to apply quite broadly, for example, to discussions and research inquiry, even advice to the PKK to keep to nonviolent means. Again, there was a marginal fringe of criticism, but even those accepted the legitimacy of the state terrorist list – arbitrary decisions by the executive, with no recourse.
The record of the terrorist list is of some interest. For example, in 1988 the Reagan administration declared Nelson Mandela's African National Congress to be one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups", so that Reagan could continue his support for the apartheid regime and its murderous depredations in South Africa and in neighbouring countries, as part of his "war on terror". Twenty years later Mandela was finally removed from the terrorist list, and can now travel to the US without a special waiver.
Another interesting case is Saddam Hussein, removed from the terrorist list in 1982 so that the Reagan administration could provide him with support for his invasion of Iran. The support continued well after the war ended. In 1989, President Bush even invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the US for advanced training in weapons production – more information that must be kept from the eyes of the "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders."
One of the ugliest examples of the use of the terrorist list has to do with the tortured people of Somalia. Immediately after 11 September, the US closed down the Somali charitable network Al-Barakaat on grounds that it was financing terror. This achievement was hailed one of the great successes of the "war on terror". In contrast, Washington's withdrawal of its charges as without merit a year later aroused little notice.
Al-Barakaat was responsible for about half the $500m in remittances to Somalia, "more than it earns from any other economic sector and 10 times the amount of foreign aid [Somalia] receives" a UN review determined. The charity also ran major businesses in Somalia, all destroyed. The leading academic scholar of Bush's "financial war on terror", Ibrahim Warde, concludes that apart from devastating the economy, this frivolous attack on a very fragile society "may have played a role in the rise ... of Islamic fundamentalists" – another familiar consequence of the "war on terror".
The very idea that the state should have the authority to make such judgments is a serious offense against the Charter of Liberties, as is the fact that it is considered uncontentious. If the charter's fall from grace continues on the path of the past few years, the future of rights and liberties looks dim.
Who will have the last laugh?
A few final words on the fate of the Charter of the Forest. Its goal was to protect the source of sustenance for the population, the commons, from external power – in the early days, royalty; over the years, enclosures and other forms of privatisation by predatory corporations and the state authorities who co-operate with them, have only accelerated and are properly rewarded. The damage is very broad.
If we listen to voices from the south today we can learn that "the conversion of public goods into private property through the privatisation of our otherwise commonly held natural environment is one way neoliberal institutions remove the fragile threads that hold African nations together. Politics today has been reduced to a lucrative venture where one looks out mainly for returns on investment rather than on what one can contribute to rebuild highly degraded environments, communities, and a nation. This is one of the benefits that structural adjustment programmes inflicted on the continent – the enthronement of corruption." I'm quoting Nigerian poet and activist Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, in his searing expose of the ravaging of Africa's wealth, To Cook a Continent, the latest phase of the western torture of Africa.
Torture that has always been planned at the highest level, it should be recognised. At the end of the second world war, the US held a position of unprecedented global power. Not surprisingly, careful and sophisticated plans were developed about how to organise the world. Each region was assigned its "function" by state department planners, headed by the distinguished diplomat George Kennan. He determined that the US had no special interest in Africa, so it should be handed over to Europe to "exploit" – his word – for its reconstruction. In the light of history, one might have imagined a different relation between Europe and Africa, but there is no indication that that was ever considered.
More recently, the US has recognised that it, too, must join the game of exploiting Africa, along with new entries like China, which is busily at work compiling one of the worst records in destruction of the environment and oppression of the hapless victims.
It should be unnecessary to dwell on the extreme dangers posed by one central element of the predatory obsessions that are producing calamities all over the world: the reliance on fossil fuels, which courts global disaster, perhaps in the not-too-distant future. Details may be debated, but there is little serious doubt that the problems are serious, if not awesome, and that the longer we delay in addressing them, the more awful will be the legacy left to generations to come. There are some efforts to face reality, but they are far too minimal. The recent Rio+20 Conference opened with meagre aspirations and derisory outcomes.
Meanwhile, power concentrations are charging in the opposite direction, led by the richest and most powerful country in world history. Congressional Republicans are dismantling the limited environmental protections initiated by Richard Nixon, who would be something of a dangerous radical in today's political scene. The major business lobbies openly announce their propaganda campaigns to convince the public that there is no need for undue concern – with some effect, as polls show.
The media co-operates by not even reporting the increasingly dire forecasts of international agencies and even the US Department of Energy. The standard presentation is a debate between alarmists and sceptics: on one side virtually all qualified scientists, on the other a few holdouts. Not part of the debate are a very large number of experts, including the climate change programme at Massachusetts Institute of Technology among others, who criticise the scientific consensus because it is too conservative and cautious, arguing that the truth when it comes to climate change is far more dire. Not surprisingly, the public is confused.
In his State of the Union speech in January, Obama hailed the bright prospects of a century of energy self-sufficiency, thanks to new technologies that permit extraction of hydrocarbons from Canadian tar sands, shale and other previously inaccessible sources. Others agree. The Financial Times forecasts a century of energy independence for the US The report does mention the destructive local impact of the new methods. Unasked in these optimistic forecasts is the question, what kind of a world will survive the rapacious onslaught?
In the lead in confronting the crisis throughout the world are indigenous communities, those who have always upheld the Charter of the Forests. The strongest stand has been taken by the one country they govern, Bolivia, the poorest country in South America and for centuries a victim of western destruction of the rich resources of one of the most advanced of the developed societies in the hemisphere, pre-Columbus.
After the ignominious collapse of the Copenhagen global climate change summit in 2009, Bolivia organised a People's Summit with 35,000 participants from 140 countries – not just representatives of governments, but also civil society and activists. It produced a People's Agreement, which called for very sharp reduction in emissions, and a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. That is a key demand of indigenous communities all over the world. It is ridiculed by sophisticated westerners, but unless we can acquire some of their sensibility, they are likely to have the last laugh – a laugh of grim despair.
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Noam Chomsky How the Magna Carta became a Minor Carta, part 1 The Magna Carta was a milestone in civil and human rights. Can we stop its principles being shredded before our eyes?
Guardian Comment is free article.http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/24/magna-carta-minor-carta-noam-chomsky?CMP=twt_fd
Diggers 2012 camped at Runnymede near Magna Carta memorial say wow Chomsky on the Magna Carta
Phoenix note:(We wonder if the actions of a brave few at Runnymede (diggers 2012) may be sending Ripples in all directions.In 3 years 2015 it will be the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.Apparently we are told plans are already afoot to control this celebration ( see video of a Professor of History from Brunel University warning us at the Runnymede memorial 4-5 weeks ago posted on this blog via the Phoenix Report soon)
A rare copy of the Magna Carta in New York Sotheby's, auctioned off for $19m in 2007. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Getty Images
Down the road only a few generations, the millennium of Magna Carta, one of the great events in the establishment of civil and human rights, will arrive. Whether it will be celebrated, mourned, or ignored is not at all clear.
That should be a matter of serious immediate concern. What we do right now, or fail to do, will determine what kind of world will greet that event. It is not an attractive prospect if present tendencies persist – not least, because the Great Charter is being shredded before our eyes.
The first scholarly edition of Magna Carta was published by the eminent jurist William Blackstone. It was not an easy task. There was no good text available. As he wrote, "the body of the charter has been unfortunately gnawn by rats" – a comment that carries grim symbolism today, as we take up the task the rats left unfinished.
Blackstone's edition actually includes two charters. It was entitled The Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest. The first, the Charter of Liberties, is widely recognised to be the foundation of the fundamental rights of the English-speaking peoples – or as Winston Churchill put it more expansively, "the charter of every self-respecting man at any time in any land." Churchill was referring specifically to the reaffirmation of the Charter by Parliament in the Petition of Right, imploring King Charles to recognise that the law is sovereign, not the King. Charles agreed briefly, but soon violated his pledge, setting the stage for the murderous civil war.
After a bitter conflict between King and Parliament, the power of royalty in the person of Charles II was restored. In defeat, Magna Carta was not forgotten. One of the leaders of Parliament, Henry Vane, was beheaded. On the scaffold, he tried to read a speech denouncing the sentence as a violation of Magna Carta, but was drowned out by trumpets to ensure that such scandalous words would not be heard by the cheering crowds. His major crime had been to draft a petition calling the people "the original of all just power" in civil society – not the King, not even God. That was the position that had been strongly advocated by Roger Williams, the founder of the first free society in what is now the state of Rhode Island. His heretical views influenced Milton and Locke, though Williams went much farther, founding the modern doctrine of separation of church and state, still much contested even in the liberal democracies.
As often is the case, apparent defeat nevertheless carried the struggle for freedom and rights forward. Shortly after Vane's execution, King Charles granted a Royal Charter to the Rhode Island plantations, declaring that "the form of government is Democratical", and furthermore that the government could affirm freedom of conscience for Papists, atheists, Jews, Turks – even Quakers, one of the most feared and brutalised of the many sects that were appearing in those turbulent days. All of this was astonishing in the climate of the times.
A few years later, the Charter of Liberties was enriched by the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679, formally entitled "an Act for the better securing the liberty of the subject, and for prevention of imprisonment beyond the seas". The US constitution, borrowing from English common law, affirms that "the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended" except in case of rebellion or invasion. In a unanimous decision, the US supreme court held that the rights guaranteed by this Act were "[c]onsidered by the Founders [of the American Republic] as the highest safeguard of liberty". All of these words should resonate today.
The Second Charter and the Commons
The significance of the companion charter, the Charter of the Forest, is no less profound and perhaps even more pertinent today – as explored in depth by Peter Linebaugh in his richly documented and stimulating history of Magna Carta and its later trajectory. The Charter of the Forest demanded protection of the commons from external power. The commons were the source of sustenance for the general population: their fuel, their food, their construction materials, whatever was essential for life. The forest was no primitive wilderness. It had been carefully developed over generations, maintained in common, its riches available to all, and preserved for future generations – practices found today primarily in traditional societies that are under threat throughout the world.
The Charter of the Forest imposed limits to privatisation. The Robin Hood myths capture the essence of its concerns (and it is not too surprising that the popular TV series of the 1950s, "The Adventures of Robin Hood," was written anonymously by Hollywood screenwriters blacklisted for leftist convictions). By the 17th century, however, this Charter had fallen victim to the rise of the commodity economy and capitalist practice and morality.
With the commons no longer protected for co-operative nurturing and use, the rights of the common people were restricted to what could not be privatised, a category that continues to shrink to virtual invisibility. In Bolivia, the attempt to privatise water was, in the end, beaten back by an uprising that brought the indigenous majority to power for the first time in history. The World Bank has just ruled that the mining multinational Pacific Rim can proceed with a case against El Salvador for trying to preserve lands and communities from highly destructive gold mining. Environmental constraints threaten to deprive the company of future profits, a crime that can be punished under the rules of the investor-rights regime mislabeled as "free trade." And this is only a tiny sample of struggles underway over much of the world, some involving extreme violence, as in the Eastern Congo, where millions have been killed in recent years to ensure an ample supply of minerals for cell phones and other uses, and of course ample profits.
The rise of capitalist practice and morality brought with it a radical revision of how the commons are treated, and also of how they are conceived. The prevailing view today is captured by Garrett Hardin's influential argument that "freedom in a commons brings ruin to us all," the famous "tragedy of the commons": what is not owned will be destroyed by individual avarice.
An international counterpart was the concept of terra nullius, employed to justify the expulsion of indigenous populations in the settler-colonial societies of the Anglosphere, or their "extermination," as the founding fathers of the American republic described what they were doing, sometimes with remorse, after the fact. According to this useful doctrine, the Indians had no property rights since they were just wanderers in an untamed wilderness. And the hard-working colonists could create value where there was none by turning that same wilderness to commercial use.
In reality, the colonists knew better and there were elaborate procedures of purchase and ratification by crown and parliament, later annulled by force when the evil creatures resisted extermination. The doctrine is often attributed to John Locke, but that is dubious. As a colonial administrator, he understood what was happening, and there is no basis for the attribution in his writings, as contemporary scholarship has shown convincingly, notably the work of the Australian scholar Paul Corcoran. (It was in Australia, in fact, that the doctrine has been most brutally employed.)
The grim forecasts of the tragedy of the commons are not without challenge. The late Elinor Olstrom won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2009 for her work showing the superiority of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins. But the conventional doctrine has force if we accept its unstated premise: that humans are blindly driven by what American workers, at the dawn of the industrial revolution, bitterly called "the New Spirit of the Age, Gain Wealth forgetting all but Self."
Like peasants and workers in England before them, American workers denounced this New Spirit, which was being imposed upon them, regarding it as demeaning and destructive, an assault on the very nature of free men and women. And I stress women; among those most active and vocal in condemning the destruction of the rights and dignity of free people by the capitalist industrial system were the "factory girls," young women from the farms. They, too, were driven into the regime of supervised and controlled wage labour, which was regarded at the time as different from chattel slavery only in that it was temporary. That stand was considered so natural that it became a slogan of the Republican party, and a banner under which northern workers carried arms during the American civil war.
Controlling the Desire for Democracy
That was 150 years ago – in England earlier. Huge efforts have been devoted since to inculcating the New Spirit of the Age. Major industries are devoted to the task: public relations, advertising, marketing generally, all of which add up to a very large component of the Gross Domestic Product. They are dedicated to what the great political economist Thorstein Veblen called "fabricating wants." In the words of business leaders themselves, the task is to direct people to "the superficial things" of life, like "fashionable consumption." That way people can be atomised, separated from one another, seeking personal gain alone, diverted from dangerous efforts to think for themselves and challenge authority.
The process of shaping opinion, attitudes, and perceptions was termed the "engineering of consent" by one of the founders of the modern public relations industry, Edward Bernays. He was a respected Wilson-Roosevelt-Kennedy progressive, much like his contemporary, journalist Walter Lippmann, the most prominent public intellectual of 20th-century America, who praised "the manufacture of consent" as a "new art" in the practice of democracy.
Both recognised that the public must be "put in its place," marginalised and controlled – for their own interests of course. They were too "stupid and ignorant" to be allowed to run their own affairs. That task was to be left to the "intelligent minority," who must be protected from "the trampling and the roar of [the] bewildered herd," the "ignorant and meddlesome outsiders" – the "rascal multitude" as they were termed by their 17th century predecessors. The role of the general population was to be "spectators," not "participants in action," in a properly functioning democratic society.
And the spectators must not be allowed to see too much. President Obama has set new standards in safeguarding this principle. He has, in fact, punished more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, a real achievement for an administration that came to office promising transparency. WikiLeaks is only the most famous case, with British cooperation.
Among the many topics that are not the business of the bewildered herd is foreign affairs. Anyone who has studied declassified secret documents will have discovered that, to a large extent, their classification was meant to protect public officials from public scrutiny. Domestically, the rabble should not hear the advice given by the courts to major corporations: that they should devote some highly visible efforts to good works, so that an "aroused public" will not discover the enormous benefits provided to them by the nanny state. More generally the US public should not learn that "state policies are overwhelmingly regressive, thus reinforcing and expanding social inequality," though designed in ways that lead "people to think that the government helps only the undeserving poor, allowing politicians to mobilise and exploit anti-government rhetoric and values even as they continue to funnel support to their better-off constituents" – I'm quoting from the main establishment journal, Foreign Affairs, not from some radical rag.
Over time, as societies became freer and the resort to state violence more constrained, the urge to devise sophisticated methods of control of attitudes and opinion has only grown. It is natural that the immense PR industry should have been created in the most free of societies, the United States and Great Britain. The first modern propaganda agency was the British Ministry of Information a century ago, which secretly defined its task as "to direct the thought of most of the world" -- primarily progressive American intellectuals, who had to be mobilized to come to the aid of Britain during the first world war.
Its US counterpart, the Committee on Public Information, was formed by Woodrow Wilson to drive a pacifist population to violent hatred of all things German – with remarkable success. American commercial advertising deeply impressed others. Goebbels admired it and adapted it to Nazi propaganda, all too successfully. The Bolshevik leaders tried as well, but their efforts were clumsy and ineffective.
A primary domestic task has always been "to keep [the public] from our throats," as essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson described the concerns of political leaders when the threat of democracy was becoming harder to suppress in the mid-19th century. More recently, the activism of the 1960s elicited elite concerns about "excessive democracy," and calls for measures to impose "more moderation" in democracy.
One particular concern was to introduce better controls over the institutions "responsible for the indoctrination of the young": the schools, the universities, the churches, which were seen as failing that essential task. I'm quoting reactions from the left-liberal end of the mainstream spectrum, the liberal internationalists who later staffed the Carter administration, and their counterparts in other industrial societies. The right wing was much harsher. One of many manifestations of this urge has been the sharp rise in college tuition, not on economic grounds, as is easily shown. The device does, however, trap and control young people by debt, often for the rest of their lives, thus contributing to more effective indoctrination.
The Three-Fifths People
Pursuing these important topics further, we see that the destruction of the Charter of the Forest, and its obliteration from memory, relates rather closely to the continuing efforts to constrain the promise of the Charter of Liberties. The "New Spirit of the Age" cannot tolerate the pre-capitalist conception of the Forest as the shared endowment of the community at large, cared for communally for its own use and for future generations, protected from privatisation, from transfer to the hands of private power for service to wealth, not needs. Inculcating the New Spirit is an essential prerequisite for achieving this end, and for preventing the Charter of Liberties from being misused to enable free citizens to determine their own fate.
Popular struggles to bring about a freer and more just society have been resisted by violence and repression, and massive efforts to control opinion and attitudes. Over time, however, they have met with considerable success, even though there is a long way to go and there is often regression. Right now, in fact.
The most famous part of the Charter of Liberties is Article 39, which declares that "no free man" shall be punished in any way, "nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land."
Through many years of struggle, the principle has come to hold more broadly. The US Constitution provides that no "person [shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law [and] a speedy and public trial" by peers. The basic principle is "presumption of innocence" – what legal historians describe as "the seed of contemporary Anglo-American freedom," referring to Article 39; and with the Nuremberg Tribunal in mind, a "particularly American brand of legalism: punishment only for those who could be proved to be guilty through a fair trial with a panoply of procedural protections" -- even if their guilt for some of the worst crimes in history is not in doubt.
The founders of course did not intend the term "person" to apply to all persons. Native Americans were not persons. Their rights were virtually nil. Women were scarcely persons. Wives were understood to be "covered" under the civil identity of their husbands in much the same way as children were subject to their parents. Blackstone's principles held that "the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing." Women are thus the property of their fathers or husbands. These principles remain up to very recent years. Until a supreme court decision of 1975, women did not even have a legal right to serve on juries. They were not peers. Just two weeks ago, Republican opposition blocked the Fairness Paycheck Act guaranteeing women equal pay for equal work. And it goes far beyond.
Slaves, of course, were not persons. They were in fact three-fifths human under the Constitution, so as to grant their owners greater voting power. Protection of slavery was no slight concern to the founders: it was one factor leading to the American revolution. In the 1772 Somerset case, Lord Mansfield determined that slavery is so "odious" that it cannot be tolerated in England, though it continued in British possessions for many years. American slave-owners could see the handwriting on the wall if the colonies remained under British rule. And it should be recalled that the slave states, including Virginia, had the greatest power and influence in the colonies. One can easily appreciate Dr Johnson's famous quip that "we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes".
Post-civil war amendments extended the concept person to African-Americans, ending slavery. In theory, at least. After about a decade of relative freedom, a condition akin to slavery was reintroduced by a North-South compact permitting the effective criminalisation of black life. A black male standing on a street corner could be arrested for vagrancy, or for attempted rape if accused of looking at a white woman the wrong way. And once imprisoned he had few chances of ever escaping the system of "slavery by another name," the term used by then-Wall Street Journal bureau chief Douglas Blackmon in an arresting study.
This new version of the "peculiar institution" provided much of the basis for the American industrial revolution, with a perfect workforce for the steel industry and mining, along with agricultural production in the famous chain gangs: docile, obedient, no strikes, and no need for employers even to sustain their workers, an improvement over slavery. The system lasted in large measure until World War II, when free labour was needed for war production.
The postwar boom offered employment. A black man could get a job in a unionised auto plant, earn a decent salary, buy a house, and maybe send his children to college. That lasted for about 20 years, until the 1970s, when the economy was radically redesigned on newly dominant neoliberal principles, with rapid growth of financialisation and the offshoring of production. The black population, now largely superfluous, has been recriminalised.
Until Ronald Reagan's presidency, incarceration in the US was within the spectrum of industrial societies. By now it is far beyond others. It targets primarily black males, increasingly also black women and Hispanics, largely guilty of victimless crimes under the fraudulent "drug wars". Meanwhile, the wealth of African-American families has been virtually obliterated by the latest financial crisis, in no small measure thanks to criminal behaviour of financial institutions, with impunity for the perpetrators, now richer than ever.
Looking over the history of African-Americans from the first arrival of slaves almost 500 years ago to the present, they have enjoyed the status of authentic persons for only a few decades. There is a long way to go to realise the promise of Magna Carta.
• Part 2 of Noam Chomsky's discussion of the Magna Carta will be posted here tomorrow
Monday, 23 July 2012
In Iceland, the first European country to wake up to an economic crash, people became aware that they could and should intervene in society and started demanding more democratic participation.
The payment of bank debts by citizens went to referendum. The government was forced to create a Council to write a new constitution: a citizens’ group - without politicians, lawyers or university professors – who opened the discussion process to everybody and managed to approve by consensus a draft proposal.
In Iceland, many citizens are now organized in associations and have substantial proposals for a society where everyone can participate.
Let’s meet the Icelanders that the media refuse to talk about.
This documentary was idealized, conceived and produced by Miguel Marques, Yolanda Rienderhoff, Pedro Bruno Carreira and LIGHTS ON(E). We had no sponsors whatsoever.
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The people of Iceland removed their government,put some leaders in prison,fought corruption,kicked out the IMF and wrote off the false debt loans that the central banking system had imposed on them.
This Revolution in Iceland has been very under reported in the main stream media,they wouldn't want it catching on.do some research check the Iceland revolution much is to be learned from these brave people.
Saturday at the Runnymede Eco village we have discussions on land rights and civil liberties at the Runnymede memorial around 1pm. Afterwards there are a variety of workshops on Permaculture,wild food foraging,Long house creation and any skill anyone wants to share.With some acoustic music in the evening ,bring an instrument.
This week there was a family atmosphere with children and older folk visiting to see the garden and longhouse, as well as a tour of the massive empty Runnymede campus.
Barbara an elder who lives nearby gave the place a thumbs up and wished us luck in the campaign for disused land to grow food and create low impact homes.
We discussed over tea in the longhouse the War years campaign to 'dig in for victory',and the need to reduce shipping in food from across the world with air miles of pollution ,when we could be growing locally.
It was good to see 3 generations together at the village.Some women who had been camped at St pauls occupy london also said they would come and camp for 2 weeks.Its good to see the campaign growing.
Help and support needed especially from experienced activists.Bring what u expect to find:tent bowl spoon,tools,weather proofs,torch,climbing gear,rope and of course cake to the frontline.
Dig in for victory we hope to see many more campers as the weather improves.
NOW is the time to stand up for your land rights.
Friday, 20 July 2012
Squatting law update as of July 11th 2012
1. Don't panic, Squatting is not illegal yet. Section 6 rights still apply.
2. You're not alone; there are thousands (estimated 20-50,000} squatters in residential properties; this will make the new law very hard to enforce and potentially unworkable.
3. In Holland, anti squatting legislation was successfully challenged under the European Human Rights Legislation. In the UK, legal experts are already building a case to challenge this legislation.
4. In the governments consultation, 96% of people said they didn't want any criminalisaation including the Metropolitan Police, Judges and the Law Society. Criminalising squatting in residential properties is not popular legislation, it has and will continue to come under attack from all sections of society.
5. The police and bailiffs may act as if the law has already come into force. It has not. If police/bailiffs attempt to unlawfully evict, threaten legal action, take their details and contact ASS in relation to making a complaint.
6. The commencement order has not been made, meaning we don't know yet when the law will take effect although we can expect it will be sometime around September.
7. The new law: Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 Section 144 Offence of squatting in a residential building The new law makes it a crime where:
• You trespass in a residential building, and
• You entered the building as a trespasser (rather than e.g. by invitation), and
• You know or ‘ought to know’ that you are a trespasser, and
• You are living in the building or intend to live there (for any length of time)
It is not a crime to remain in a building after the end of a lease or licence, even if you leave and re-enter the building.
The law only applies to 'residential buildings.' A building is “residential” if it is designed or adapted, before the time of entry, for use as a place to live - in other words if commercial premises are squatted and turned into residential premises by the squatter, the law won't apply.
It is not clear whether a residential part of a pub (for example) would therefore count as a “building” but it would be safest not to live in that bit (just use it for other things)."
Penalty - If convicted of this offence by the court, the maximum penalty is
imprisonment for 51 weeks or a fine not more than £5,000 or both a fine and imprisonment. Police powers - Police can enter and search squatted premises to arrest a person for squatting.
Be prepared for when this legislation comes into force. We need to work as a community to fight this. This law will be resisted all the way. Together, we will show this law is unworkable by building networks of solidarity, having regular meetings, meals, socials, football games, parties. Turning up to eviction resistances, networking with other housing groups and local communities.
Tell SQUASH and ASS and other groups about positive squatting case studies, illegal evictions by police and bailiffs and other information that would be useful for media and court cases. Filming can help.
Timeline: In May the Queen gave Royal Assent, therefore law is now on the statute books; the law is not in force until a commencement date has been set.
From now onwards guidance will be written for the police and other authorities on how to put the law into practice. There may be opportunities to influence this guidance. There will also be the possibility of challenges to the legality of the new law and any guidance. When the law comes into effect these challenges will have to be continued and stepped up. We will start to understand better how the law will work in practice and so be able to develop better strategies to work around it."
September onwards: Prosecution cases will start to define how these cases are handled by the courts, eg setting precedents, punishments, evidence. There may be opportunities to repeal Section 144 of LASPO.
For more and updated info check
1) SQUASH – Squatters Action for Secure Homes www.squashcampaign.org
Provide positive case studies and support when dealing with the media.
2) Advisory Service for Squatters (A.S.S) www.squatter.org.uk
Legal and practical advice and support, including help with court papers and dealing with illegal evictions.
3)Squatters Legal Network sln@aktivix Assisting with legal cases, arrestee support
4) Squatters Eviction Resistance Network: firstname.lastname@example.org 07591 415860 Support and advice before, during and after an eviction attempt.
The government said that it would not bring in any new laws to unnecessarily criminalise people, yet they are criminalising the homeless in the middle of a housing crisis, which makes this law unjust and unworkable. The whole process has completely bypassed any kind of democracy. It will cost the government an estimated £790 million in the first 5 years to implement even though the aim was to cut Legal Aid expenditure by £350 million a year. This new law will be difficult to interpret and enforce, taking up massive amounts of police time.
Whatever they say, squatting will stay!
Monday, 16 July 2012
After 800 years, the barons are back in control of Britain - Excellent article in the Guardian by George Monbiot
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/16/barons-in-control-of-britain?CMP=twt_fd Hounded by police and bailiffs, evicted wherever they stopped, they did not mean to settle here. They had walked out of London to occupy disused farmland on the Queen's estates surrounding Windsor Castle. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that didn't work out very well. But after several days of pursuit, they landed two fields away from the place where modern democracy is commonly supposed to have been born. At first this group of mostly young, dispossessed people, who (after the 17th century revolutionaries) call themselves Diggers 2012, camped on the old rugby pitch of Brunel University's Runnymede campus. It's a weed-choked complex of grand old buildings and modern halls of residence, whose mildewed curtains flap in the wind behind open windows, all mysteriously abandoned as if struck by a plague or a neutron bomb. The diggers were evicted again, and moved down the hill into the woods behind the campus – pressed, as if by the ineluctable force of history, ever closer to the symbolic spot. From the meeting house they have built and their cluster of tents, you can see across the meadows to where the Magna Carta was sealed almost 800 years ago. Their aim is simple: to remove themselves from the corporate economy, to house themselves, grow food and build a community on abandoned land. Implementation is less simple. Soon after I arrived, on a sodden day last week, an enforcer working for the company which now owns the land came slithering through the mud in his suit and patent leather shoes with a posse of police, to serve papers. Already the crops the settlers had planted had been destroyed once; the day after my visit they were destroyed again. But the repeated destruction, removals and arrests have not deterred them. As one of their number, Gareth Newnham, told me: "If we go to prison we'll just come back … I'm not saying that this is the only way. But at least we're creating an opportunity for young people to step out of the system." To be young in the post-industrial nations today is to be excluded. Excluded from the comforts enjoyed by preceding generations; excluded from jobs; excluded from hopes of a better world; excluded from self-ownership. Those with degrees are owned by the banks before they leave college. Housing benefit is being choked off. Landlords now demand rents so high that only those with the better jobs can pay. Work has been sliced up and outsourced into a series of mindless repetitive tasks, whose practitioners are interchangeable. Through globalisation and standardisation, through unemployment and the erosion of collective bargaining and employment laws, big business now asserts a control over its workforce almost unprecedented in the age of universal suffrage. The promise the old hold out to the young is a lifetime of rent, debt and insecurity. A rentier class holds the nation's children to ransom. Faced with these conditions, who can blame people for seeking an alternative? But the alternatives have also been shut down: you are excluded yet you cannot opt out. The land – even disused land – is guarded as fiercely as the rest of the economy. Its ownership is scarcely less concentrated than it was when the Magna Carta was written. But today there is no Charter of the Forest (the document appended to the Magna Carta in 1217, granting the common people rights to use the royal estates). As Simon Moore, an articulate, well-read 27-year-old, explained, "those who control the land have enjoyed massive economic and political privileges. The relationship between land and democracy is a strong one, which is not widely understood." As we sat in the wooden house the diggers have built, listening to the rain dripping from the eaves, the latest attempt to reform the House of Lords was collapsing in parliament. Almost 800 years after the Magna Carta was approved, unrepresentative power of the kind familiar to King John and his barons still holds sway. Even in the House of Commons, most seats are pocket boroughs, controlled by those who fund the major parties and establish the limits of political action. Through such ancient powers, our illegitimate rulers sustain a system of ancient injustices, which curtail alternatives and lock the poor into rent and debt. This spring, the government dropped a clause into an unrelated bill so late that it could not be properly scrutinised by the House of Commons, criminalising the squatting of abandoned residential buildings. The House of Lords, among whom the landowning class is still well-represented, approved the measure. Thousands of people who have solved their own housing crises will now be evicted, just as housing benefit payments are being cut back. I remember a political postcard from the early 1990s titled "Britain in 2020", which depicted the police rounding up some scruffy-looking people with the words, "you're under arrest for not owning or renting property". It was funny then; it's less funny today. The young men and women camping at Runnymede are trying to revive a different tradition, largely forgotten in the new age of robber barons. They are seeking, in the words of the Diggers of 1649, to make "the Earth a common treasury for all … not one lording over another, but all looking upon each other as equals in the creation". The tradition of resistance, the assertion of independence from the laws devised to protect the landlords' ill-gotten property, long pre-date and long post-date the Magna Carta. But today they scarcely feature in national consciousness. I set off in lashing rain to catch a train home from Egham, on the other side of the hill. As I walked into the town, I found the pavements packed with people. The rain bounced off their umbrellas, forming a silver mist. The front passed and the sun came out, and a few minutes later everyone began to cheer and wave their flags as the Olympic torch was carried down the road. The sense of common purpose was tangible, the readiness for sacrifice (in the form of a thorough soaking) just as evident. Half of what we need is here already. Now how do we recruit it to the fight for democracy? Twitter: @GeorgeMonbiot
A message from the Greek uprising.From the taking of 60 public squares that gave the people a chance to meet in the open and have discussionsand debates.That raised the curent situation and how we create a better future out of the crisis we find ourselves in.The European spring under way,the recent mass demos around the world from Germany to Canada and Mexico show the people are on the move ,filling the streets and demanding change in the unsustainable and undemocratic corporate system that has eroded our civil liberties and democratic rights.
Sunday, 15 July 2012
Headed to squattastic today 2-6pm calling all squatters and supporters to resist the new homeless/squatter criminalisation laws. http://www.squattastic.blogspot.co.uk/
Saturday, 14 July 2012
A great day resisting the 3rd eviction attempt.The baliff turned up with 3 yellow jacketed security and the 3 on site security carrying an axe to demolish the Saxon replica longhouse.Escorted by 2 police.After a prolonged delaying tactic of doing the washing up one brave digger climbed into the rafters.Shortly followed by another climbing through the trees into the cross beams. This tactic led to a 2 hour stand off with the inexperienced bailiff and security being told they could not knock down the structure with people on it and they would have to get more 'troops' and a professional climbing team.The police stood by and watched bemusedly occasionaly asking us to come down. Once they mentioned 'breach of the peace' but were told in no uncertain terms 3 times,we are very peacefull people there is NO breach of the peace here.After a couple of hours of frontline comedy banter and a few singings of the Diggers song.The forces of yellow beat a hasty retreat around 7.30pm 3 hours after they arrived.The forces of babylon do not like trying to evict after dark and we descended to make tea and contnue coooking dinner. Viva the resistance dig in for victory you Cant kill the spirit.The bailiff said they would take up to 2 weeks to add a criminal sanction on to what is still a civil dispute betweeen the landowner and the Diggers. Together we are challenging the monopoly of the land owning 1% and the banksters who are holding the country to ransom.(£465 billion they got while we have all our public services,community centres,hospitals,schools cut) The camp reminds me of some of the hey days of the road protest movement of the 90's that helped in some way to seed the 'Climate camp' and 'Occupy Movements' Land distribution and growing food locally is a key point in the quest for sustainability and a peacefull future.As we are in the age of peek oil we need to Dig in for victory as in the war years ,grow locally rather than shipping food from round the planet. As a Kenyan woman put it at the Copenhagen Climate Summit: we want food sovereignty in our own country. Land and freedom. Hope to see you soon at Runnymede a place that has inspired the world,from the days of the Magna Carta to the present day.It is a place for people to gather and demand that our in-alienable rights are upheld.That arbitrary and unjust laws are not enforced.(Ref new criminalising homless/squatting in residential buildings being attempted to be enforced from September)This draconian law will be resisted in many ways. Keep networking 'other worlds are possible'. Come visit more info at www.diggers2012.wordpress.com facebook 'make the waste land grow' or 'diggers 2012' twitter @freetheland or #diggers2012 More bambuser videos viewable below link above.
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
NEWSFLASH DIGGERS face eviction within 24 hours time to go down and support the ongoing action to Reclaim the disused land to grow food and create low impact homes. Sunday at Runnymede Eco village check this Bambuser link for latest videos.
http://occupynewsnetwork.co.uk/ For the latest from the folks at Occupy,seems to have its finger on the pulse with reports coming in from across the world from Saudi Arabia to Spain from Windsor to Bahrain. Dont hate the media be the media as we say at Indymedia. 95% of our mainstream media oulets are owned by just 5 mega companies.Its very important to search far and wide across the net to try and get a balanced view in these times of media manipulation,lies and propaganda.It will be intresting to see the Occupy News Network evolve,get involved send in articles become a citizen journalist for your area.Keep networking for a brighter future.
Monday, 9 July 2012
Back in 2010 a very early proto type,Solutions Zone TV trial interview with the incredible Trevor Baylis Inventor of the wind up radio,wind up computer and supporter of many new inventors.
This incredible man has a long history,he used to be a circus performer and escapologist.Performing the famous Houdini trick of escaping from a straight jacket and chains while suspended upside down in a glass water cabinet.
He has featured on many TV shows,we spent a very intresting afternoon at his home on Eel Pie Island,discussing inventions and Solutions.He even offered us a space at his place for a Solutions Zone studio space to do interviews,with a backdrop of the Thames.
Eel pie island was very famous in the 60s and 70s as a home for the alternative movement,many famous bands such as the Rolling Stones played there. NB Apologies for the rough edit.
This incredible man has a long history,he used to be a circus performer and escapologist.Performing the famous Houdini trick of escaping from a straight jacket and chains while suspended upside down in a glass water cabinet.
He has featured on many TV shows,we spent a very intresting afternoon at his home on Eel Pie Island,discussing inventions and Solutions.He even offered us a space at his place for a Solutions Zone studio space to do interviews,with a backdrop of the Thames.
Eel pie island was very famous in the 60s and 70s as a home for the alternative movement,many famous bands such as the Rolling Stones played there. NB Apologies for the rough edit.
Mexico Now - "The largest public protests, rallies and demonstrations that the world has ever seen are happening right now - with almost no media coverage.
Sunday, 8 July 2012
Happy days,this was an awesome event.Of the many parties we have helped to put on over the last 2 decades,this was one of the best examples of a party with a purpose. It was very hectic in the days before the event.It was organised on a need to know basis 'Top Secret'.There was even a possibility that Top stars such as members of 'Pink Floyd 'would come to play with Massive attack and Radio Head on the roof. There were concerns over health and safety for this ,Previous publicly announced Tom Yorke gigs had attracted over 3,000 people and grid locked the area.Eventually it was decided to do the gig in the cleared out basement,to avoid some safety concerns and having to hold off the Police at the doors while the gig was on the roof broadcasting to London.Some of the original vision had been to re create the Beatles playing on top of a New York Sky scraper type event. I got to escort Tom York into the building with his 'minder' and we chatted with him and Rob from Massive attack as we went aroungd the reclaimed UBS bank building.Both Rob and Tom were very supportive of The Occupy and protest movement and mentioned they would be up for Future gigs.After the basement party we went to the roof to record an interview  that would be used on a fundraising album for Occupy. Tom and Rob rooftop Interview
Early days organising circle at Parliament Square Democracy Village,Simon explains anyone can get there message out by writing up a sign or banner.This was later to be seen on a massive scale in the Occupy movement in over a thousand cities with people writing up sayings and messages on paper or cardboard and holding them up to social and mainstream media.This occupation for Peace Justice and Freedom in the heart of the British so called 'democratic system' helped to inspire and seed many other protests across the world.
The Spanish 15M movement said they were directly inspired by the London Tent protestors.Also in some way this occupation may have been seen and given ideas to the tent occupation of Tahrir square and the Arab Spring.
The worlds media came through Parliament square to hear many different opinions and voices.Helping to raise awareness and build the case against the UK and US illegal wars of aggression for resources in the Middle East.Although some of the British media was very scathing,the International media were regular visitors.After many years of A-B marches the Democracy Village DV was a visible and constant reminder for over 3 months that the majority of the British people were unhappy with the Wars.
Friday, 6 July 2012
Remember this sat 7th July is an Open day at Runnymede eco village. More info http://diggers2012.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/join-us-in-runnymede-this-saturday/
Join us in Runnymede this Saturday! by True Levellers Join us this Saturday 7th July in Runnymede for lively open discussion, picnic and woodcraft workshops.
Thursday, 5 July 2012
Wednesday, 4 July 2012
Time to gather and organise against the implementation in september of the new anti squatting laws.These laws are unjust,undemocratic unfair arbitrary and we will make them un workable. Just as in Holland the anti squatting law was challenged and defeated under The European convention on Human Rights,there will also be a challenge in this country. This squattastic will be a chance to organise and build networks of resistance. This government has atttacked so many groups with their austerity measures,the ranks of the squatters and dispossessed are swelling,fueling the coming uprising. This new law will be unworkable, if we unite and organise. Viva the resistance,keep networking,defend our ancient rights to shelter,you cant kill the spirit.
Tuesday, 3 July 2012
With the unfolding latest saga of the banking crisis,the collapsing unethical fractional reserve banking system.Its time to move your money to more sustainable places.Check the website http://www.moveyourmoney.org.uk/ For easy guides to moving that money energy in the direction of a better sustainable and ethical future.
Sunday, 1 July 2012
Diggers Discussion at Runnymede Magna Carta Memorial Saturday 30th June 2012 There was a discussion on civil liberties and land rights, how we achieve these and put them into action in the 21st century. We said we would make a sign saying 'Diggers Discussion on Land Rights and Liberties all welcome', as over 50 people passed through the Magna Carta Memorial during the discussion, and many looked as though they would join in if encouraged. We also suggested that people bring picnic food to share at the Saturday discussions. We are aiming to meet every/most Saturdays at 1pm at the Magna Carta memorial, Runnymede for discussion but it was recommended that people call the Diggers phone on Friday (or text) to check that people will be present from the camp, so that after discussion those that wanted to could be guided to wherever the latest camp or ecovillage was. This is a long term Land Rights campaign. Forward planning towards the weekend event beginning Friday August 31st 2012 as well as strategic planning to build over the next three years towards 2015 and creating a massive event for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta (which has inspired 'democracy' and civil rights across the world), especially as our civil rights have been massively eroded in the last 10 years by the war of terror and the governments recent criminalisation of homelessness and trespass with the new anti-sqautting law that they will be attempting to implement from September onwards. This law is arbitrary and unjust and has led to discussions about us collectively creating a new charter of liberties towards the 2015 anniversary. Networking was discussed, improving the current www.diggers2012.wordpress.com website, and networking of Twitter @freetheland and #diggers2012 and Facebook group 'Make the Wasteland Grow' and the new Facebook page 'Diggers 2012'. the email :email@example.com, and improving our email list and database. Also join the firstname.lastname@example.org Also, building over the next two months towards an event on the weekend of Friday August 31st about land and liberty around Runnymede. We are looking for a West London support base squat to help the campaign, there was also discussion of linking with the wider Occupy movement to set up Occupy land groups linked to Occupy city groups. Diggers Freedom discussion all welcome. As the economic situation gets worse, more people will join this movement. As the authorities are increasingly trying to criminalise trespass we reach out to more support from other groups such as the wider activist movement, climate groups, permaculturealists, the Ramblers, Woodcraft folk, Forest school etc. A Hackney walk was suggested, linking with youth groups and walking up the Lee valley into the countryside. Land and Freedom walks, North, East, South and West, going out of London, to be organised. Suggestion to organise groups of 100 activists and city youth to walk out of the city and create wild camps in an organised trespass. Creating links to Wolfing groups, which is front-line Woofing (Willing Workers on Organic farms). Staines Anarchists (who have provided solidarity) have made links to several groups, including Surrey Anti capitalists, Thames Valley Solfed, Guildford Huntsabs and more. To keep up communication with and to link more with groups such as Indymedia, The Land is Ours, Climate Camp groups, Scout groups and Forest School. There was talk of setting up Radical Forest School of London Youth, to come to the woods and build timber frame houses, cob houses, earth ovens, and to teach foraging and planting skills. Instilling an idea of Diggers style camps The book 'Who Owns Britain' by Kevin Cahill is an important reference of who really owns the country, the top landowners such as the 1%, Forestry Commission, MOD, the Church, The Crown etc. There was talk of a London discussion event. We talked about setting up video and film group to get the message out, creating a new leaflet towards the Friday August 31st event. Increasing our links to Grow Heathrow. There was talk on 'the fortress of law', protecting the land ownership of the 1%. For example the injunctions writs and 'contempt of court ' for camping we were served with the other day could have led to six months in prison. Apparently the government is again planning to have a massive forestry sell-off, this was massively opposed last time and we must link to groups and network and support action against this. If some of these camps are evicted then we need to build up more resistance, we need to choose our ground well with good research and scouting. There was discussion on creation of a New Charter of Liberties. We expect that over the months the camp may move many times. We also discussed being nomadic and moving before court orders, or sometimes when negative energies build up deciding to move. While obviously we are looking for a longer term ecovillage site. There has been discussion with the authorities and messages passed to the Crown Estate requesting communication , that all we require is disused land and to be able to get on with our ecovillage project. There was discussion on continuing the mission to set up sustainable low impact eco villages around the area including on the Crown Estate. Linking with groups such as the Ramblers to do an action similar to the Kinder scout mass trespass in the 1930s.,onto enclosed, disused land around the crown estate. We want to put out more information on the old and Ancient land laws/lores such as Celtic and Breton law, or indigenous peoples such as the Native Americans' attitude to groups sharing or taking care of the land for future generations. Also raising awareness of the recent 'declaration of Mother Earth rights' at the Bolivia Earth Summit. It was pointed out we are dealing with a thousand years land empire that will resist any change to the unsustainable system. In 1649 50+ Diggers camps with hundreds of people each containing many ex civil war soldiers were destroyed by the authorities yet their vision carries on to inspire us in the 21st century. We must be prepared for a long-term campaign to recognise land rights in this country and internationally. We must also recognise the link between the Diggers and squatters rights and the new laws which seek to criminalise trespass and the homeless (the LASPO Anti squatting/cut legal aid law)as some of the final enclosure acts. These laws will be challenged under the European convention on Human Rights. It has been questioned whether these acts may be unlawful and they will be challenged and resisted in many ways. Someone pointed out and more research is needed into the idea that these so called statute laws are of themselves unlawful. Change is cumulative and will take time and many actions. It was pointed out that for change to come many may be arrested,some people will go to prison and that people internationally and in this country have laid down their lives for the cause of land rights. The number of people joining the movement will increase as the economic situation turns from bad to worse. With the welfare state being dismantled and people being forced to partake in Workfare schemes for the corporations for below minimum wage or nothing. Create a banner saying 'We don't want workfare we want land share'. More research into our ancient rights. Reference the code of Malmutius (land shared out with early Britons). Learning our history/herstory and being able to argue our rights/put forth our rights from the Forest Charter and the Magna Carta. The Norman law of 1066-1200 caused uprising and civil war that led to the reaffirming of our ancient rights with the Magna Carta and Forest Charter. Despite some modern legal claims, these rights are still in effect as they were made by the people as a sovereign body. The people granted sovereign rights to their leaders temporarily but ultimately retain those sovereign rights. End notes: it was suggested to make a 5 minute promotional video with our request for disused land for ecovillages to grow food, linking to Occupy livestream. Filming in bambuser to livestream directly. Building links to Occupy groups worldwide, to create Occupy Land, Diggers, Land rights groups worldwide, e.g. Occupy Farm etc etc. Network www.diggers2012.wordpress.com Twitter @freetheland and #diggers2012 and Facebook group 'Make the Wasteland Grow' and the new Facebook page 'Diggers 2012'. the email :email@example.com