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 Not much use trying that these days…not enough parish clergy for one thing and sermons superseded by ‘messy church’.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.

‘No sex please, we’re British.’

In England, the lockdown is easing….officially. Unofficially it is dead in the water, but officially it is easing. Six people can meet in the park…or in the forecourt of a car showroom or at open air markets. Must have open air markets…how else are Toby and Fiona to sell the New Age crap they have been fabricating during the lockdown? Whether such a term includes car boot sales – more like Bob and Beryl selling the stuff they finally sorted twenty years after moving house – is open to question…as is just about everything – except for one firm stricture.

Meetings of two or more people indoors are forbidden. Strang verboten.

So bang goes the Socialist Workers Party meeting….two in a ‘phonebox is one too many.

So if you are having an – authorised – barbecue in the garden – for no more than six persons, all duly sanitising their hands, plates and probably the food – then in the name of all that is holy make sure that no one can meet whil trotting to the loo in the house.

A system of red and green lights? A door monitor? Tickets? A chemikarzie in the shrubbery?

Whatever your solution make sure you oberve it…because others are observing too. No, not observing the rules, but observing you observing the rules.

Not necessarily the police, though given the attitude of some Chief Constables it is a wonder the skies are not full of drones monitoring the new ‘freedom’ which you are ‘privileged’ to enjoy. You have invited your neighbours to the barbecue in your garden and all is going swimmingly…the pinot grigio is on intravenous drip and the salmonella chicken is strutting its stuff when someone drops in through the back gate to warn you that police drones are in the area. Seven people in your garden!

Immediately a voice from the heavens announces that groups of more than six are forbidden to associate…

‘Isolate by order of the Daleks – sorry, the Chief Constable…exterminate…exterminate…’

Better take shelter before it has you filmed, identified, fined and filed as a dissident…but whatever you do…do not go into the house!

Flee for the shelter of the gazebo, and try not to fall over the chemikarzie.

The police cannot be everywhere…but Neighbourhood Watch certainly can! The idea was to keep an eye out for potential crime problems, but the lockdown has led to the discovery that while the television might be boring, the goings on of the neighbours has more than compensated.

‘George! The woman at no 31 is out again with her dog!’

‘It isn’t her dog, Marjorie! It’s Shep, old Mac’s dog….he’s half blind and incontinent. Mac can’t get out with him anymore – his daughter used to walk it but she’s not allowed to come to see him.’

‘So that woman has appropriated a dog in order to leave the house! Three times today!’

‘It pees a lot…don’t you remember, Mac’s daughter had to replace the hall carpet?’

‘Well, she isn’t incontinent…or not in that sense!! I should report her to the police…’

As night falls and television programming leaves a lot to be desired, Marjorie is again at her upstairs window…

‘George!’

‘What is it, Marjorie?’

‘A car has pulled up outside no. 31!’

”That’s a surprise…never a parking space normally when you want one..’

‘A man has got out! I think it is that foreign looking one who was always hanging around there when her husband was out…before he left, that is…the husband, I mean, if he was a husband and not just some toy boy.’

‘For goodness’ sake, Marjorie he was forty if he was a day!’

‘That’s nothing now…and she could be any age under all that make up… Oh look! He’s going round the back!’

‘So that’s that…you can’t see anything…come and watch the Sewing Bee.’

Blast the Sewing Bee! I’ll ring Tessa…her house overlooks the back of no.31.’

‘Tessa? Marjorie here. Remember that foreigner who used to visit no 31 when her husband was out? Yes, him, with that pointy beard! Well, he’s here again and he’s gone round the back!…Yes, I can hold on until you get upstairs….ooh, there’s a light on in the back? Can you see any more? No…the blinds are down…I see…but it is clear that he is there? Thanks, Tessa…I’ll call the police.’

Thus it is that the lady at no.31 hears the repeater of the doorbell, and, unentwining her self from the gentleman with the pointy beard, goes to the front door, where she encounters two policemen.

They tell her that they have information that she is entertaining a person in her house, contrary to government guidelines.

‘No officer…your informant is mistaken. I am indeed entertaining a friend….in the gazebo in the garden. We are but two…unless you care to join us…..’