Monday, April 23, 2012

Remembering St George's Day - Gerrard Winstanley - England is a Prison for the Poor

"England is a Prison; the variety of subtilties in the Laws preserved by the Sword, are bolts, bars, and doors of the prison; the Lawyers are Jaylors, and poor men are the prisoners; for let a man fall into the hands of any from the Bailiffe to the Judge, and he is either undone, or wearie of his life."

Gerrard Winstanley
Born 1609 – Died September 1676 

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We whose names are subscribed, do in the name of all the poor oppressed people in England, declare unto you, that call yourselves Lords of Manors, and Lords of the Land, that in regard the King of Righteousness, our maker, hath enlightened our hearts so far, as to see, that the earth was not made purposely for you, to be Lords of it, and we to be your slaves, servants, and beggars; but it was made to be a common livelihood to all, without respect of persons. And that your buying and selling of land, and the fruits of it, one to another, is the Cursed Thing, and was brought in by war; which hath, and still does, establish murder and theft in the hands of some branches of Mankind over others, which is the greatest outward burden, and unrighteous power that the Creation groans under.

For the power of inclosing land, and owning property, was brought into the Creation by your Ancestors by the Sword; which first did murder their fellow Creatures, Men, and after plunder or steal away their land, and left this land successively to you, their Children. And therefore, though you did not kill or thieve, yet you hold that cursed thing in your hand, by the power of the Sword; and so you justify the wicked deeds of your Fathers; and that sin of your Fathers, shall be visited upon the head of you, and your Children, to the third and fourth generation, and longer too, till your bloody and thieving power be rooted out of the land.

For though you and your Ancestors got your property by murder and theft, and you keep it by the same power from us, that have an equal right to the land with you, by the righteous Law of Creation, yet we shall have no occasion of quarrelling (as you do) about that disturbing devil, called Particular Property: For the Earth, with all her Fruits of Corn, Cattle, and such like, was made to be a common Store-House of Livelihood to all Mankind, friend, and foe, without exception.

And to prevent your scrupulous objections, know this; that we must neither buy nor sell, money must not any longer (after our work of the Earths community is advanced) be the great god, that hedges in some, and hedges out others, for money is but part of the Earth: And surely, the Righteous Creator, who is King, did never ordain, that unless some of Mankind do bring that mineral (silver and gold) in their hands to others of their own kind, that they should neither be fed, nor be clothed. No surely, for this was the project of Tyrant-Flesh (which Landlords are branches of) to set his Image upon money. And they make this unrighteous law: that none should buy or sell, eat, or be clothed, or have any comfortable livelihood among men, unless they did bring his image stamped upon gold or silver in their hands.

As our work of the Earthly community is advanced, we must make use of gold and silver, as we do of other metals, but not to buy and sell withal; for buying and selling is the great cheat, that robs and steals the Earth one from another: It is that which makes some Lords, others beggars, some Rulers, others to be ruled; and makes Great murderers and thieves to be imprisoners, and hangers of little ones, or of sincere-hearted men.

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