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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Diggers on the Hill

Little Red Blogger has an interesting post on a modern-day enclosure, thinly disguised as the creation of a national park.

The New Forest has a fascinating history, of which the Guardian's story says little:

The new park will have an estimated resident population of around 34,000, and although the days of death penalty are long gone, some are concerned that the new park authority will erode ancient grazing rights and a locally managed process of change for the forest.

"What this does is remove a consensual system, a system of checks and balances, that has been in place for centuries and replaces it with a single overarching body," the Tory MP for New Forest East, Julian Lewis told BBC News.

What, exactly, do "ancient grazing rights," "locally managed process of change," "consensual system" and "checks and balances" add up to? Reading the Guardian piece, you'd be hard-pressed to say. Little Red Blogger, however, elaborates:

The New Forest is one of the few places in the late Capitalist UK where land enclosures were successfully resisted and the tradition of commoners using common land persisted for over a thousand years. It also gives a partial glimpse of how a society could structure itself in a true non-capitalist voluntary free market...

....So the New Forest is a good example of a society that does not operate according to the accepted rules of either the right or the left. Many vulgar Libertarians find it hard to get their heads round the idea of common but not collectively owned land. Whilst left wingers would tend to see the arrangements in the New Forest as a historical anachronism standing in the way of progress, rural stick in the muds who have yet to arrive in the twentieth century.

....The commoners rightly fear that power over the running of their forest will be taken out of their hands and professionalised by local politicians and wider national interests.

(Sounds like they have something in common with that rather hysterical "progressive" gentleman who wanted to ban the small-scale use of wind power.)

More information on the history of New Forest and the Commoners' Defence Association is available here.

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