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horizon of the commons Arrow vol 11 no 2 contents
About borderlands VOLUME 11 NUMBER 2, 2012


The Horizon of the Commons

Peter Linebaugh
University of Toledo

The bowels of the earth or the heart of the earth is in parallel to both ‘the belly of the great fish’ or ‘entrails of the monster’ and with ‘history from below’. ‘The heart of the earth’ may have these three meanings: 1) the location of dark energies like the ‘thesterness’ of coal and petroleum, 2) the inferno, the place of great heat, and thus of diastrophic change causing the twisted inequalities of rich and poor on the earth’s crust, 3) the existence of several horizons of the commons. In the folklore of the New Left when Che Guevara advised struggle in ‘the belly of the beast’, the implication was to go underground. Certainly, he referred to depths of struggle. He referred to a situation of near hopelessness on the one hand, Hell, and on the other of redemption by the word, and the preservation of the commoning. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. Égalité opposed privatization by enclosure or conquest. Fraternité was to be united (to use the Irish phrase) or unseparated from kin and country, family and land. Together they referred to a horizon of the commons in 1803, despite the nights of carnage and in the midst of repressive terror by the British Empire, French Bonapartism, and American expansionism. Edward and Catherine Despard fought for this horizon, Babeuf died for it, Robert Emmet alluded to it, Friedrich Engels remembered it, and it preoccupied the late Marx’s study of Russia, North Africa, and the Iroquois of the Finger Lakes.

The full article is available as a PDF document: click here.

© borderlands ejournal 2012



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ISSN 1447-0810