The 1100th Movement

Let's all head to the tipping point axle and hang ten.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Co-operative Commonwealth

In the end, this is what politics comes down to, to me.
Within the context of mutual benefit biology, the creation of a society rooted in both cooperative principles and commonwealth practicalities speaks volumes to me.
Theoretical Commonwealth began life in Hobbes' 'Leviathan', written and published just at the time that Oliver Cromwell's Protectorate of landed gentry began to emerge from the shadows of parliamentary opposition to the English Bureaucracy, the unproductive Lords and their king. Leviathan appeared in the full light of the revolution led by property owners.
For Hobbes, the issues were how to make Christianity into a communitarian practice. At first he was writing for King Charles and went into exile with him. Hobbes was allowed back into England because he was willing to redefine the word sovereign to include Parliament and not just the monarch. For Hobbes, a common duty to the state was everything, for without a belief in the common cause of the governed to accept the laws of the governors there could be no justice.
From my perspective that theory also leads to tyranny, as Cromwell's Protectorate proved in practice. His was what I would call an Uncooperative Commonwealth. The Parliamentary dictatorship of the gentry went out of its way to crush or betray the people, who were represented by two groups, the Levelers and the Diggers. The Levelers were tenant farmers who made up the bulk of the Protector's Army and who wanted access to the House of Commons, while the Diggers were itinerants who wanted rights of access to the historic commons - the land.
Cromwell betrayed the Levelers and crushed the Diggers. Reforms came slowly and through stages, and it took nearly three hundred more years for Levelers and Diggers to achieve the rights they wanted in the 1650's.
The commons itself is an ancient tribal concept in which clans divvied up their territory and in which all members of the tribe had rights to a share in the bounty of the land, a kind of extended family partnership, in which the chief chartered temporal ownership. That temporal chartering process passed to the Crown, so that any given common land became the chartered domain of a lord in a manor house, tenant farmers, farmed their own lease holds and in common and had access to the bounty of the forests and waters.
A commons enclosure system developed in which ancient rights were refuted and property once held only by charter became private, usually with a kickback to the crown, since sovereigns were always in need of money and what better way to get then to sell things they didn't actually own.
Much of Canada is still crown land, still chartered, and/or licensed for mineral or timber extraction. And of course, the friends of the crown still have ways of ending up with large private chunks of it.
As the earth races towards ecological disaster, Cromwellian Uncooperative Commonwealth represented by men like former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, will pit the new landed gentry against the majority of the people, only this time, Hobbesian philosophical/theological arguments about duty, will not see a populace willing to wage war on itself, there will be no sacrifice for their betters, they will not accept any sovereignty that does not include mutual benefit.
The only option is Co-operative Commonwealth, not quite a return to the primivatist extended family model where it all began, but nonetheless, an extended human family model, where everyone has a share, and a reason for ensuring the stability of the whole.

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