aThe World Turned Upside Down
A song written by Leon Rosselson and sung by Billy Bragg. The song is about a 17th Century group known as the Diggers.
They simply wanted a share of the land. Unfortunately, Oliver Cromwell didn’t share their ideas and used the army to put down the Diggers, as he wanted to protect the ruling elites’ position within society.
In 1649 To St. George’s Hill,
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people’s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs
We come in peace they said To dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common
And to make the waste ground grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it will be
A common treasury for all
The sin of property
We do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Mow everywhere the walls
Spring up at their command
They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feed the rich
While poor folk starve
We work we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to the masters
Or pay rent to the lords
Still we are free
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now
From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers’ claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed
But still the vision lingers on
You poor take courage
You rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The orders came to cut them down
In 1649 Gerrard Winstanley and fourteen others published a pamphlet in which they called themselves the “True Levellers” to distinguish their more radical ideas from the Levellers. Once they put their ideas into practice and started to cultivate common land, they became known as “Diggers” by both opponents and supporters. The Diggers’ beliefs encompassed a worldview that envisioned an ecological interrelationship between humans and nature, acknowledging the inherent connections between people and their surroundings.
Winstanley would advocated a new democratic society of the “common man” as opposed to the current society based on privilege and wealth. Many of the political, economic and social reforms advocated would dramatically impact the social order. Winstanley was concerned by the plight of the people at the lower rungs of English Society, the overlooked or forgotten man. The poor, the sick, the hungry, and the destitute who often did not scrape by or were left to die.
The Digger movement at St George’s Hill (Surrey) provided an ideal venue for testing Winstanleys’ new social experiment. Winstanley rejected the concept of private ownership of all land, and called for a peaceful return of all public lands to the People. Some have even characterized the Surrey Diggers’ as a primitive Millennium movement. Later generations have called the social experiment an early form of communism or even anarchism.
After repeated attacks and destruction of their commune and crops by local landowners (particularly by hired thugs and ill-informed peasants) and fines from the high authorities, the Diggers soon faded away.
But, as with the Levellers, Winstanley and the Surrey Diggers struck a blow at the halls of wealth and power of 17th century English society. Their efforts and their philosophy were not wasted on later generations seeking the same spirit of liberty and freedom in a more democratic social structure.
Generations later their spirit lives on as an idea cannot be killed, hats off to these brave souls and continue to fight for a fair society.
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Reblogged this on this 'n that.
They’ve just held a rally in Manchester to mark the anniversary of the Peterloo massacre, and the Coucil are going to fund a statue in rememberance of the event.
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