By law of trespass, we are excluded from 92 per cent of the land and 97 per cent of its waterways, blocked by walls whose legitimacy is rarely questioned. But behind them lies a story of enclosure, exploitation and dispossession of public rights whose effects last to this day. The Book of Trespass takes us on a journey over the walls of England, into the thousands of square miles of rivers, woodland, lakes and meadows that are blocked from public access.

By trespassing the land of the media magnates, Lords, politicians and private corporations that own England, Nick Hayes argues that … More

OTD, August 1845, UK Parliament passed an enclosure act, taking away common land, & appointing enclosure commissioners who could enclose more land without submitting a request to Parliament. From the 17th to 20th centuries, the British government passed over 5,000 enclosure acts, enclosing 6.8 million acres of common land, which the public previously had rights to use. Often military force was used to crush anyone who resisted. The enclosures were a vital part of the development of capitalism, as they created a whole class of landless people who had no way of surviving other than selling their labour power – the working class.

“The law locks up the man or woman Who steals the goose off the common But leaves the greater villain … More

OTD in 1381, The Peasant’s Revolt began in Blackheath. The revolt had various causes, including the socio-economic and political tensions generated by the Black Death pandemic in the 1340s, the high taxes resulting from the conflict with France during the Hundred Years’ War, and instability within the local leadership of London.

In this majestic tour de force, celebrated historian Peter Linebaugh takes aim at the thieves of land, the polluters of … More

OTD in 1217, The Charter of the Forest is sealed at St Paul’s Cathedral. This Charter is a charter that re-established for free men rights of access to the royal forest that had been eroded by William the Conqueror & his heirs. “Forest” to the Normans meant an enclosed area where the monarch (or sometimes another aristocrat) had exclusive rights to animals of the chase & the greenery on which they fed. It did not consist only of trees, but included large areas of heathland, grassland & wetlands, productive of food, grazing & other resources. Lands became more & more restricted as King Richard & King John designated greater & greater areas as royal forest. At its widest extent, royal forest covered about one-third of the land of southern England. Thus it became an increasing hardship on the common people to try to farm, forage, & otherwise use the land they lived on.

Guy Standing leads us through a new appraisal of the commons, stemming from the medieval concept of common land reserved … More

We are losing the commons. Austerity and neoliberal policies have depleted our shared wealth; our national utilities have been sold off to foreign conglomerates, social housing is almost non-existent, our parks are cordoned off for private events and our national art galleries are sponsored by banks and oil companies. This plunder deprives us all of our common rights, recognized as far back as the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest of 1217, to share fairly and equitably in our public wealth.

Guy Standing leads us through a new appraisal of the commons, stemming from the medieval concept of common land reserved … More

Book launch of ‘Plunder of the Commons’ with Guy Standing at The Printworks. Thursday 12th September. £2 OTD. We are losing the commons. Austerity and neoliberal policies have depleted our shared wealth; our national utilities have been sold off to foreign conglomerates, social housing is almost non-existent, our parks are cordoned off for private events and our national art galleries are sponsored by banks and oil companies. This plunder deprives us all of our common rights, recognized as far back as the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest of 1217, to share fairly and equitably in our public wealth.

Guy Standing leads us through a new appraisal of the commons, stemming from the medieval concept of common land reserved … More