Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Meandering on the Semantical-Historical Paths of Communism and Commons

by Peter Linebaugh, The Commoner

The story begins at Blue Mountain Lake in the Adirondacks when, at a gathering of cultural workers for the commons and through no wish of their own, Peter and George Caffentzis were asked to speak about violence and the commons. Accordingly following dinner after what had been a chilly October day, they settled into armchairs by the fire and explained to the gathering that way back in the day (history) the commons was taken away by blood and fire and that, furthermore, as we all basically knew, it was still violently happening which ever way you happened to look. Indeed, this violent taking-away, or “expropriation,” was the beginning of proletarianization and thus of capitalism itself!

George added that he thought that there was a difference between the commons and ‘the tradition of communism’ which began in the 1840s. Peter (that’s me) wasn’t so sure about that, thinking that it was earlier, and that in any case there was considerable overlap. He said something about Cincinnati and promised to get back to everyone. So, making good on that promise, here’s what I had in mind.

The full article can be downloaded at The Commoner.
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