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Gerrard Winstanley




Introduced by TONY BENN

Published 10th April 2011



TONY BENN in conversation with PAUL MASON at the Southbank Centre on WINSTANLEY, the Diggers and English radicalism.

Monday 23rd May, 2011

Part of the Festival ofBritain

More information and tickets:

”Sick to death of the royal wedding? Then where better to take refuge than in the radical ruminations of Gerrard Winstanley, the voice of revolutionary republican England?…a useful and inspiring collection” — SOCIALIST REVIEW

”With house prices at ridiculous levels and employment plummeting, perhaps this neat introduction to Winstanley’s writings could provide an excellent instruction manual for a new breed of 21st century Digger?” —  MORNING STAR

In Spring 1649, at the end of the English Civil War, Gerrard Winstanley and his comrades, the Diggers, went to St George’s Hill to farm the common land and to distribute the food amongst themselves. Winstanley’s extraordinary writings from this period have remained a huge influence for many on the left, and are cited as some of the earliest examples of communist thought.

Legendary voice of the left, Tony Benn, introduces this collection of Winstanley’s work and shows how it still has the power to inspire us to turn our world upside down. Benn credits the Diggers, along with the Levellers, with helping to launch into the public domain ideas about freedom, equality and democracy which, though now regarded as normal were then hugely threatening of the status quo, and are “some of the most important radical ideas of all time.”

Winstanley and the Diggers saw the earth and its natural resources as belonging to all mankind, a “common treasury”.  Since the 15th century, the enclosure of land by private landlords had meant that the poor were unable to farm and increasingly had to rely on wage labour. The Diggers attempted to seize the revolutionary moment to reclaim these common rights to the land through both argument and direct action.  Protestant agrarian socialists, the Diggers are an example of the long-standing relationship between Christianity and radicalism.

Emerging at the end of the English Civil War, the Diggers started their colony at St George’s Hill on 1st April 1649, just two months after the King, Charles I had gone to the scaffold. While the Diggers were ultimately unsuccessful in reclaiming the common land and destroying the system of “enclosures”, Winstanley’s ideas resonate to this day.

ISBN: 978 1 84467 595 1 / $15.95 / £8.99 / CAN$20 / 192 pages
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Part of Verso’s REVOLUTIONS series

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‘I believe in the afterlife.

It starts tomorrow,

When I go to work’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Human Herbs’ at: (recording) and (live)

‘Maximum levels of boredom

Disguised as maximum fun’

Cold Hands & Quarter Moon, ‘Stagnant’ at: (recording) and (live, at the Belle View pub, Bangor, north Wales)  

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December 1, 2010, 7PM @ Bluestockings Books

172 Allen Street (between Stanton and Rivington), New York

At the dawn of the 1980s, in the wake of the defeat of the autonomous movements of the 1970s, Félix Guattari and Antonio Negri embarked on an extraordinary collaboration to rescue communism from its own disrepute: to rethink categories of economic analysis and political organization. Today we find ourselves in a situation where such a rethinking is needed more than ever. Come join us for a celebration of the re-release of an expanded version of their work. Discussion and commentary with Jim Fleming, Alexander Galloway, Stevphen Shukaitis, and Miriam Tola

Information about the book:

“The project: to rescue ‘communism’ from its own disrepute. Once invoked as the liberation of work through mankind’s collective creation, communism has instead stifled humanity. We who see in communism the liberation of both collective and individual possibilities must reverse that regimentation of thought and desire which terminates the individual….”

Thus begins the extraordinary collaboration between Félix Guattari and Antonio Negri, written at dawn of the 1980s, in the wake of the crushing of the autonomous movements of the previous decade. Setting out Guattari and Negri diagnose with incisive prescience transformations of the global economy and theorize new forms of alliance and organization: mutant machines of subjectivation and social movement.

Prefiguring his collaboration with Michael Hardt, Negri and Guattari enact a singular hybridization of political and philosophical traditions, bringing together psychiatry, political analysis, semiotics, aesthetics, and philosophy. Against the workings of an increasingly integrated world capitalism, they raise the banners of singularity, autonomy, and freedom to search out new routes for subversion.

This newly expanded edition includes previously untranslated materials and a new introduction by Matteo Mandarini.

“After the highpoint of the subversive decade 1968-1977, Italian autonomist Marxism and French theory of desire meet at the intersection of two different methodologies of subjectivation. Social recomposition of the working class and molecular proliferation of desire merge, and together open a new space for theory and for social action. While the ideologies of the twentieth century are falling, Toni Negri and Félix Guattari trace the lines of a new vision of autonomy.” – Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi

Released by Minor Compositions, London / New York / Port Watson

Minor Compositions is a series of interventions & provocations drawing from autonomous politics, avant-garde aesthetics, and the revolutions of everyday life.

Released in conjunction with MayFlyBooks (

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