The Geese and the Common

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who take things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Until they go and steal it back.

Written in respect of the enclosures which from the sixteenth century onward, but most prominently in the eighteenth cenury, deprived villagers of their grazing rights in favour of the local landowner.

“Laws! We know what they are, and what they are worth! Spider webs for the rich and powerful, steel chains for the weak and poor, fishing nets in the hands of the government.”

Thus Proudhon in the nineteenth century.

Let us now turn to the contemporary.

Since the banking debacle of 2008 when those who had played wily beguiled were bailed out with public money the people in general have suffered ‘austerity’…cuts to those public services that made a civilised life possible.

Further, thanks to the draconian governmental response to Covid, we have seen national economies tanked, national debt inflated beyond belief and basic liberties abrogated, without a dissenting voice either in politics or on the mass media.

Now we have war in the Ukraine, with governments damaging the interests of their own industries and people by their sanctions on Russian oil and gas, while inflation, born of policies aimed at boosting the stock markets at all costs, roars ahead.

And their solution to their own incompetence and cupidity? Work more years, tighten your belts and keep your traps shut.

WheGood Queen Bess wanted to get her point across, she would ‘tune the pulpits’…..have sermons delivered to the faithful, which in that era meant everyone who did not want to be regarded as a closet Catholic or Anabaptist. Not much use trying that these days…not enough parish clergy for one thing and sermons superseded by ‘messy church’.

These days governments have ‘nudge’ units at their disposal, to push people into the desired behaviour – desired, that is, by governments – and given the long term dumbing down of education and the monopoly ownership of the press this has been a very successful process resulting in people accepting restrictions which pervert family and social life for fear of social pressure – and of the police, who have hardly covered themselves in glory.

In H.G. Wells ‘Time Machine’ we meet the Eloi, gentle beings who swan along on the surface of life, and the Morlocks, who capture and eat them. Do the Eloi gather together to repel the Morlocks? No…they are totally inapable of defending themselves and accept the situation as ‘how things are’, just as the majority of people now see their stability, their ability to plan for the future of themselves and their children, their access to health services, decent housing and education going down the tubes….and do nothing.

But what can one do against the power of the state? It has the ability to bankrupt you, make you homeless, imprison you, take away your children….and if you poke your head over the barricade it can and will do all it can to chop it off ‘pour encourager les autres’. And don’t count on your friends and neighbours to support you either – you risk being a pariah.

Two things are possible….but they are long term.

We need to get away from the established political parties who have become nothing more than enablers for wealthy lobbyists. We all know, at our local level, people who are both honest and competent. We might not agree with them on everything, but we can trust them not to sell us down the river on party orders. We need to enourage them to stand for office, to work to get them elected and to crowd fund to make it possible to meet the financial hurdles imposed by legislation.

The other possibility has been demonstrated to me here.

A road subject to subsidence has been ‘repaired’ year after year by corrupt contractors. The council could not give a toss about the problems of those affected. Finally a local man, Don Kiki, took measures into his own hands and and gathered a group of supporters who with their own labour remodelled the road completely so that even after two years of exceptionally heavy rainfall the road is passable so that kids can get to school and farmers to market.

This year, a bridge on the main road to the capital was declared dangerous and was replaced by a Bailey bridge. But somehow the making good of the access on both sides was not included in the contract by the roadworks department. A local gentleman took the initiative and with the help of neighbours and money collected via local internet media has not only made good the access, but has a team of volunteers repairing any problems that arise day by day.

Local action not only gets things done, it makes for local solidarity too, which in turn throws up people able to truly represent the ordinary person’s concerns.

As I say…long term measures. I just hope we have the time, otherwise life will become nasty, brutish and short for the Eloi while the Morlocks feed.

Start hissing and flapping your wings. You have more power than you realise.


36 thoughts on “The Geese and the Common”

  1. My thoughts today concentrate on the horrible feeling that while Boris remains in office his fans will remain behind him. It matters not what he has done, they are for him! Many proper Conservatives have lost interest in Boris, some oppose him, but the Boris fan is still behind him, reality will not change this.
    The idea that people will rise up and change things, as they did in the past, is a good one. Today however, the people do not rise up, something is not there amongst many. I know not what the reason, but people are not revolting as they ought.
    Local people rising up? Maybe in Costa, I cannot see that here these days.

    1. Thanks to the trivialisation of everything in the media they see Boris as a ‘cheeky chappy’, outraging the moral compass and getting away with it, thus satisfying their own desires without having to do anything about it…well, that’s how I see it.
      I too don’t see people rising up….quite rightly frightened what will happen if they do….but I keep hoping they will try to reform things on the ground that affact them…and perhaps have some idea of what can be done if you get rid of party politics.
      Can’t say I’m optimistic.

  2. The governing gentry seem to delight in tamping things down for the middle and lower classes yet go on spending sprees for weaponry and inefficiency in general. Sigh. And yet I’m not sure how to boot the buggars out without getting more of the same.

    1. Thepeople who want power are the last people who should have it, that is true!
      I just hope that through local associations – non political – we could find people to stand for office who will do it as a duty and not as a chance to hit the jackpot, though gien the financial obstacles we would have to be ready to put our hands in our pockets to fund them.
      Where’s Cincinnatus when you need him?

      1. If it weren’t for the money, I think more people might run but especially in the states, the system is set up to favour those whose resources can best manipulate things. Far too many people use politics to improve their balance sheets rather than for the greater good of the constituency. 😕

          1. Just what our masters want!
            Feed them mindless ‘celebrities’, women with more bosom than brain, royal family gossip – the modern version of the Roman circuses to fill minds already deadened by what is laughingly called education.

          2. Which is why we really have to do something to improve education and break the media monopolies that produce these people… we might be able to change, but the proposed censorship of the internet will only reinforce the latter.

  3. You’re most certainly not wrong there. The local approach is the only safe and efficient one in most arenas of The Modern Liffe – local food production, local power stations and distribution, small local industries (that might still be connected and coordinated via the interwebnettings). I do fear however that there is something basic and fundamental in the Hooman psyche that will always produce imbalance and civic disaster – most of the species seems to relish being “governed” and ordered about while the remainder loves barking orders. In so many ways we’re just not a stable species…

    1. Anything but!
      People have been conditioned to obey, nomatter how daft…and just wait for Raab’s new Human Rights Act, where you have rights – but only insofaras they do not impinge on the rights of society, and guess who decides what they might be!

  4. Humans are complicated creatures, each driven by a range of emotions to one degree or another. That being the case, to me it’s pretty much amazing when groups of people (whether small, such as families, or huge, such as nations) get along.

    1. I think we all get along better when not divided into groups and propagandised about how awful the other groups are in order that someone can profit from the bad feeling thus roused.

  5. In my old age I can only say, over and over, to everyone, VOTE. Vote in every election. Tell young people how to register to vote. Remind them to vote. On election day, volunteer to drive other voters to and from the polls. Do everything you can think of the encourage and enable the vote.

    1. I come from a family which not only voted but got out the vote for the Labour party. How many hours I spent knocking on doors, talking to voters, delivering leaflets, taking the exit polls and supervising the count….but the Labour party betrayed those it was founded to represent under the Blair years and I resigned membeship. Yes, it is important to vote – people died and were imprisoned to achieve the vote – but we need to vote for people who are not tied to the parties which have shown themselves to be so corrupt.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. It amazes me that more people don’t see what’s happening. And it scares me as well. I think you idea that locals can do more than they think is absolutely correct.

    1. We are not encouraged to take matters into our own hands…in case we find out that we can not only do it, but that we can do it better and in the interests of our locality, not working to a national norm where one size certainly does not fit all.
      We need people to pay less attention the the ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ of some half naked woman dressed like something from a porn catalogue and a great deal more to the societal malfunction which affects every aspect of our lives.

    1. Is the AJF out of the house? Thought so.
      What about ‘half naked woman dressed like something from a porn catalogue’?
      And before you enquire as to my acquaintance with porn catalogues I had colleagues who defended in ‘dirty books’ – you know, the sort of thing posted ‘under plain cover’ – cases whose cries of ‘Good Lord!’ and ‘No, it’s impossible!’ would have us gathering round their desks like hyenas at the feast to have our flabbers ghasted.
      These women – and after the Me Too campaign, Lord help us – cavorting on the red carpets make those dirty books seem tame.
      Do let me know when you start blogging again…I miss the insults to the Scottish nation…and the rest.

      1. I trust you appreciated that I waited until all the polite and erudite comments had been made before adding my observation.

        I agree with most all of your post, and it was a very good one as usual. We differ in the conclusion. I am less confident that any organic action such as increased voting or additional political parties can make a difference in our sad state of affairs. The oligarchs and power brokers, the complacent media, the political pawns posing as leaders, they all benefit mightily from the existing confused, distracted bread and circus environment.

        Given their collective wealth, control of the press, militarized police resources and personal agendas, I fear any grassroots change would be stifled at birth.

        To my mind, only an immensely disruptive and precipitating event, possibly on a global scale, offers the real chance of change. I don’t know what that event might be but perhaps a broad scale economic black swan, nuclear confrontation, famine or something of that magnitude could activate people to try and find a new and better way forward. Grim, eh?

        1. You speak my worst fears.
          Growing up in the Cold War era at least the leaders had been through actual, bloody war. This bunch of entitled fartarses see only balance sheets in which human life, love and happiness do not appear,
          I just hope that if the black swan appears the people fly with its wings and do not obey the commands to kill it.

          1. What worries me is, in the event of a disaster, that people will turn in on themselves and not on their oppressors – who are, after all, well protected.

  7. The deck was ever loaded – however the cardsharp’s deceitful, slight-of-hand has now been pinned to the Ukrainian card table by the newest and far sharper sheriff on the block and his gang have his back!
    ps so watch yours!

  8. The global situation is similar in the first world over. Comfort and security has brought us professional politicians that are anything but professional. In fact, their egos and hunger for a headlines gets in the way of running their countries. I like your suggestions of a grass roots approach and the calls to get out there and vote. Australia has a mandatory voting and maybe that accounts for a little backlash against the party machine. The now incumbent Labour government calls for unity and collaboration – something we haven’t heard about for ten years. There is a new wave of elected teal independent politicians – mostly professional women who are popular in the electorates in which they stand, but the Greens seem to have become heady with their recent success and are destabilizing the ability to make progress in collaboration. Having said all of that, at least we don’t have to deal with Boris.

    1. That is certainly a positive!
      Whil I like the idea of collaboration and unity, I am pessimistic as to what they will be united and collaborationist about! Memories of the Liberal Democrat Conservative combination leaves a very sour taste!

      1. It could all go awry very quickly. But as they have secured a very slim majority collaboration with other parties is not essential, but they desire it. The trouble is, the minors wrestle for influence over the agenda and I feel like you, a little pessimistic of how it will work out in the long run. In the meantime, they are working very fast to get as much done early on as they can. Wise, I think.

  9. That was fascinating, Helen. Fancy carrying on the conversation over a few pints?! I couldn’t agree more about our political parties and their funding – certainly Conservatives and Labour; it is, quite bluntly, corrupt. There are also far too many ‘professional’ politicians, many of whom are out of touch or blinded by having massive chips on their shoulders. As for localism – it is hard work. I very reluctantly rejoined the Parish Council in the last year, having sworn I’d never waste my time with such a dysfunctional organisation again. Local government generally isn’t interested in the people it purports to serve and is often, at best, incompetent, overly bureaucratic and inefficient.

    1. As long as it isnlt Costa Rican beer! The brewery can’t brew two bottles the same!
      Back in the dark ages I was elected to our rural distrct council. It was run by one man and his dog and although every other councillor was a Tory – but standing as independents – we did get together to try to serve our area. Look at the situation now…council official on obscene salaries, councillors putting party above people and ridden with political crorectness

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