Levellers and Diggers

The Levellers were a political movement during the English Civil War (1642–51) committed to popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law and religious tolerance. The hallmark of Leveller thought was its populism, as shown by its emphasis on equal natural rights, and their practice of reaching the public through pamphlets, petitions and vocal appeals to the crowd.

The Levellers came to prominence at the end of the First English Civil War (1642–46) and were most influential before the start of the Second Civil War (1648–49). Leveller views and support were found in the populace of the City of London and in some regiments in the New Model Army. Their ideas were presented in their manifesto “Agreement of the People”. In contrast to the Diggers, the Levellers opposed common ownership, except in cases of mutual agreement of the property owners.

The Levellers were not a political party in the modern sense of the term. They were organised at the national level, with offices in a number of London inns and taverns such as The Rosemary Branch in Islington, which got its name from the sprigs of rosemary that Levellers wore in their hats as a sign of identification.

From July 1648 to September 1649, they published a newspaper, The Moderate, and were pioneers in the use of petitions and pamphleteering to political ends. They identified themselves by sea-green ribbons worn on their clothing.

Levellers, Wikipedia

The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals in England, sometimes seen as forerunners of modern anarchism,and also associated with agrarian socialism and Georgism. Gerrard Winstanley’s followers were known as True Levellers in 1649 and later became known as Diggers, because of their attempts to farm on common land.

Their original name came from their belief in economic equality based upon a specific passage in the Acts of the Apostles. The Diggers tried (by “levelling” land) to reform the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based on their ideas for the creation of small, egalitarian rural communities. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.

Diggers, Wikipedia

Welcome to Vietnam

That night we had an alert. I found out later it was just a probe on the perimeter, but I didn’t know this while it was going on and neither did anyone else. The airfield had already been hit by sappers. People had been killed, several planes and helicopters blown up. It could happen again. You know that an attack is “just a probe” only after it’s over. I stood outside with other fresh arrivals and watched bellowing, half-dressed men run by in different directions. Trucks raced past, some with spinning lights like police cruisers. Between the high, excited bursts of M-16 fire I could hear heavy machine guns pounding away, deep and methodical. Flares popped overhead. They covered everything in a cold, quivering light.

No one came to tell us what was going on. We hadn’t received our issue of combat gear, so we had no weapons or ammunition, no flak jackets, not even a steel helmet. We were helpless. And nobody knew or cared. They had forgotten about us—more to the point, forgotten about me. In this whole place not one person was thinking of me, thinking, Christ, I better take a run over there and see how Lieutenant Wolff is doing! No. I wasn’t on anybody’s mind. And I understood that this was true not only here but in every square inch of this country. Not one person out there cared whether I lived or died. Maybe some tender hearts cared in the abstract, but it was my fate to be a particular person, and about me as a particular person there was an undeniable, comprehensive lack of concern.

Wolff, Tobias. In Pharaoh’s Army

The Warren Commission Report as The Great American Novel

Some years ago, during a telephone interview, I finally succeeded in badgering Jim Garrison into naming the Name. For years Garrison had been telling people he had the whole case cold: he knew who gave the orders, who fired the shots and from where. Still, though he had talked a lot about the Big Guys behind the plot— intelligence agencies, the military-industrial complex and the like—he had never publicly named the name of the man he believed fired the fatal head shot from the grassy knoll.

I won’t tell you that name, because Garrison didn’t give me any evidence for singling out this person for historic infamy. On another day, I felt, he might have picked another name out of the hat Still, for one guilty moment I had the land of thrill that assassination buffs live for. I had the Name everyone else was looking for and no one else had. Of course, it wasn’t an entirely unknown name. Garrison told me the person had been questioned extensively by Warren Commission investigators, and when I looked him up in the Warren Commission testimony, I found he plays a kind of Rosencrantz-and-Guildenstern-level role in the Warren Report, that of a peripheral figure in a key place: he was a live-in manager and janitor at Jack Ruby’s sleazy strip joint, the Carousel Club. There’s no doubt that the commission investigators were interested in his story—the transcript of his testimony runs more than 200 pages—but mostly because he was a source who might shed some light on the peculiarities of Jack

Ruby’s character (investigators repeatedly pressed the Name on whether Ruby had any sexual interest in his beloved dog Sheba). Though reading the testimony didn’t give me much intimation of an assassination revelation, it was a revelation of another kind. In telling his life story, of how he wound up in the Carousel Club in 1963, the Name was telling a story of an American life—of an America—far different from the one I’d known in my suburban hometown. It was a story of guy who made his living in the carnival world; he worked as a barker with small-time freak-show acts like “the two-headed baby” and “the snake girl,” he told the Warren Commission. He bummed around looking for roustabout jobs, met his first wife at a Salvation Army mission. When she left him in the summer of 1963, he hitchhiked all the way from the West Coast to Dallas looking for her. Picked up some work at the Texas state fair in a carny sideshow called “How Hollywood Makes Movies,” which featured some of Jack Ruby’s strippers.

Made some connections and soon found himself living in the back room of the Carousel Club in the midst of Ruby’s strange ménage, which included strippers, burlesque comics, stage hypnotists and, of course, the dog Sheba. I remember reading this testimony, mesmerized by my sudden immersion in a carnival-sideshow underbelly of American life. (The 26 volumes of Warren Commission testimony are like a vast, inchoate Great American Novel in that respect.) I didn’t feel I was any closer to solving the Kennedy assassination, but I did feel I had learned more about the America that produced both Kennedy and his assassin than was conveyed by the bland, complacent sitcom image of the nation and its institutions that prevailed in November 1963.

TAKING A DARKER VIEW
The conspiracy theories reflected in JFK may not be persuasive, but they churn up a murky underside of America, Ron Rosenbaum

Stone, Oliver. JFK (Applause Books) . Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. Kindle Edition.

First Memorial Day, Charleston, South Carolina

African-Americans invented Memorial Day, in Charleston, South Carolina. There are three or four cities in the United States, North and South, that claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day, but they all claim 1866; they were too late. I had the great, blind, good fortune to discover this story in a messy, totally disorganized collection of veterans’ papers at the Houghton Library at Harvard some years back. And what you have there is black Americans, recently freed from slavery, announcing to the world, with their flowers and their feet and their songs, what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a second American Revolution. That story got lost, it got lost for more than a century. And when I discovered it, I started calling people in Charleston that I knew in archives and libraries, including the Avery Institute, the black research center in Charleston — “Has anybody, have you ever heard of this story?” And no one had ever heard it. It showed the power of the Lost Cause in the wake of the war to erase a story. But I started looking for other sources, and lo and behold there were lots of sources. Harper’s Weekly even had a drawing of the cemetery in an 1867 issue. The old oval of that racetrack is still there today. If you ever go to Charleston go up to Hampton Park. Hampton Park is today what the racecourse was then. It’s named for Wade Hampton, the white supremacist, redeemer, and governor of South Carolina at the end of Reconstruction and a Confederate General during the Civil War. And that park sits immediately adjacent to the Citadel, the Military Academy of Charleston. On any given day you can see at any given time about 100 or 200 Citadel cadets jogging on the track of the old racecourse. There is no marker, there’s no memento, there’s only a little bit of a memory. Although a few years ago a friend of mine in Charleston organized a mock ceremony where we re-enacted that event, including the children’s choir, and they made me dress up in a top hat and a funny old nineteenth century suit and made me get up on a podium and make a stupid speech. But there is an effort, at least today, to declare Hampton Park a National Historic Landmark. See you Thursday.

The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877
HIST 119 – Lecture 19 – To Appomattox and Beyond: The End of the War and a Search for Meanings
David Blight
https://oyc.yale.edu/history/hist-119/lecture-19

1994

wikipedia

Essential Heresies : Manicheanism

Now, Manicheans are not exactly a heresy, but they appear in the Confessions, and they’re very important. So since we’re doing doctrinal ideas, Manicheanism is a teaching about good and evil that can be applied to other religions besides Christianity. Manicheanism basically says that good and evil have a real existence. There is a war in the universe between a good god and an evil one. And this may be applied outside of Christianity or within Christianity.

And within Christianity, the evil god is the devil, or according to the Manicheans of this period that Augustine for a while joined, the god of the Old Testament. Jehovah is the evil god, and the god of the New Testament, the Christian god, is the good one. Jehovah is the one who smites a lot of people. Jehovah is the creator god, because the Manicheans believed that matter is evil and is the source of evil. Spirit is good. The Christian god created spirit. Human beings are imprisoned in the body, and they have to figure out a way to liberate themselves from the dominion of the evil god. Vegetarianism, for a start, avoiding flesh.

But salvation means casting off the flesh. How is this different from Christianity? And doesn’t this sound to you like regular old Christianity, mistrust of the flesh? The devil is identified with sexual desire or physicality, generally. Manicheanism is very useful as an explanation of evil. And this may not be something that keeps you up at night, but it will at some point, intermittently.

Yale Open U – The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000, HIST 210 – Lecture 4 – The Christian Roman Empire, Paul Freedman

Up for debate -> Britain Should Not Have Fought in the First World War

Filmed at the Royal Geographical Society on 15th April 2014. The First World War is not called the Great War for nothing. It was the single most decisive event in modern history, as well as one of the bloodiest: by the time the war ended, some nine million soldiers had been killed. It was also a historical full stop, marking the definitive end of the Victorian era and the advent of a new age of uncertainty. By 1918, the old order had fallen: the Bolsheviks had seized power in Russia; the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires had been destroyed; and even the victorious Allied powers had suffered devastating losses. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. And yet barely two decades later, the world was again plunged into conflict. Little wonder then that historians still cannot agree whether Britain’s engagement was worth it.

https://www.intelligencesquared.com/events/britain-first-world-war/

History, Ralph Waldo Emerson

This human mind wrote history, and this must read it. The Sphinx must solve her own riddle. If the whole of history is in one man, it is all to be explained from individual experience. There is a relation between the hours of our life and the centuries of time. As the air I breathe is drawn from the great repositories of nature, as the light on my book is yielded by a star a hundred millions of miles distant, as the poise of my body depends on the equilibrium of centrifugal and centripetal forces, so the hours should be instructed by the ages, and the ages explained by the hours. Of the universal mind each individual man is one more incarnation. All its properties consist in him. Each new fact in his private experience flashes a light on what great bodies of men have done, and the crises of his life refer to national crises. Every revolution was first a thought in one man’s mind, and when the same thought occurs to another man, it is the key to that era. Every reform was once a private opinion, and when it shall be a private opinion again, it will solve the problem of the age. The fact narrated must correspond to something in me to be credible or intelligible. We as we read must become Greeks, Romans, Turks, priest and king, martyr and executioner, must fasten these images to some reality in our secret experience, or we shall learn nothing rightly. What befell Asdrubal or Caesar Borgia is as much an illustration of the mind’s powers and depravations as what has befallen us. Each new law and political movement has meaning for you. Stand before each of its tablets and say, ‘Under this mask did my Proteus nature hide itself.’ This remedies the defect of our too great nearness to ourselves. This throws our actions into perspective: and as crabs, goats, scorpions, the balance, and the waterpot lose their meanness when hung as signs in the zodiac, so I can see my own vices without heat in the distant persons of Solomon, Alcibiades, and Catiline.

EmersonCentral

Historical figures as Instagram Influencers

Which historical figure would be the most obnoxious Instagram “influencer”? from r/AskReddit

Socrates. Dude loves to stir the pot

Socrates’ instagram account would just be Plato posting stuff he heard Socrates say

Oscar Wilde. His famous quotes would seem pretty douchey as captions on Instagram photos:
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

Henry David Thoreau – Good Lord, Henry David Thoreau would be HUGE on instagram. Like a 19th century version of today’s “all natural, all good: the simple life, the real life,” hipster-like influencers. Just endless pics of his cabin that end with #thetinylife.

Thomas Edison – what a douche. He’d constantly repost without credit

Napoleon – #winner

Rasputin – Maybe not Instagram, but Rasputin would have been an absolute Tinder fiend.

Higher Naivete

Now, you might think of this as, indeed, gullible. A former colleague of mine put the thing very, very well. He spoke about, and I like to claim this approach, the position of scholarship to which we call the higher naiveté. The way this works is, you start out, you don’t know anything, and you’re naïve. You believe everything. Next, you get a college education and you don’t believe anything, and then you reach the level of wisdom, the higher naiveté, and you know what to believe even though you can’t prove it. Okay, be warned; I’m a practitioner of the higher naiveté. So, I think the way to deal with legends is to regard them as different from essentially sophisticated historical statements, but as possibly deriving from facts, which have obviously been distorted and misunderstood, misused and so on. But it would be reckless, it seems to me, to just put them aside and not ask yourself the question, “Can there be something believable at the root of this?”

And just to give you some small defense of that approach, I always like to ask students, “Suppose we didn’t have a single historical record, no newspaper, no diaries. You know nothing totally reliable for what happened in the latter part of the eighteenth century in America.” Would we know anything about what happened? Of course, we would. We would know that there was a revolution; it was against Great Britain. I’m sure we would know that the French assisted in that. I am certain we would know that George Washington was the commander of our forces in our battle. Those are easy. There’s no getting around reading those things, and then it gets to be more interesting as we speculate. We would know as a fact that George Washington threw a silver dollar across the Rappahannock River, except that it’s impossible. So, we would dismiss that one. We would be told that he was very honest and told his father he chopped down a cherry tree, which would be baloney, but we would be told that too. But I think we would be told also very many true things, which came down to us. So, the hard job would be to select among these legendary things, to see what fact can be found, and it will never be easy or deadly certain. But that’s what I’m talking about here.

CLCV 205: Introduction to Ancient Greek History
Lecture 3 – The Dark Ages (cont.), Donald Kagan

United Artists – when inmates took over the asylum

800px-Fairbanks_-_Pickford_-_Chaplin_-_Griffith
Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith in 1919

Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios.

…Pickford, Chaplin, Fairbanks, and Griffith incorporated UA as a joint venture on February 5, 1919. Each held a 25 percent stake in the preferred shares and a 20 percent stake in the common shares of the joint venture, with the remaining 20 percent of common shares held by lawyer and advisor William Gibbs McAdoo. The idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin, Pickford and cowboy star William S. Hart a year earlier. Already Hollywood veterans, the four stars talked of forming their own company to better control their own work.

They were spurred on by established Hollywood producers and distributors who were tightening their control over actor salaries and creative decisions, a process that evolved into the studio system. With the addition of Griffith, planning began, but Hart bowed out before anything was formalized. When he heard about their scheme, Richard A. Rowland, head of Metro Pictures, apparently said, “The inmates are taking over the asylum.”

via wikipedia

Armistice Day

Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.

Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armistice_Day

This is what a world war 1 battlefield in Verdun France looks like today. from interestingasfuck

Witold Pilecki

September 19, 1940 – World War II: Witold Pilecki is voluntarily captured and sent to Auschwitz to smuggle out information and start a resistance movement.

Witold Pilecki (13 May 1901 – 25 May 1948) was a Polish cavalry officer, intelligence agent, and resistance leader. He served as a Rotmistrz (captain) with the Polish Army in the Polish-Soviet War, Second Polish Republic, and World War II. He was also a co-founder of the Secret Polish Army (Tajna Armia Polska), a resistance group in German-occupied Poland, and later a member of the underground Home Army (Armia Krajowa). He was the author of Witold’s Report, the first comprehensive Allied intelligence report on Auschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust.

During World War II, Pilecki volunteered for a Polish resistance operation that involved being imprisoned in the Auschwitz death camp in order to gather intelligence and later escape. While in the camp, he organized a resistance movement and informed the Western Allies of Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz atrocities as early as 1941. He escaped from the camp in 1943 after nearly 2 1/2 years of imprisonment. He took part as a combatant in the Warsaw Uprising in August–October 1944. He remained loyal to the London-based Polish government-in-exile after the Communist takeover of Poland, and he was arrested for espionage in 1947 by the Stalinist secret police (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa) on charges of working for “foreign imperialism”, a euphemism for British Intelligence. He was executed after a show trial in 1948. Information was suppressed about his exploits and fate until 1989 by the Communist regime in Poland.

via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold_Pilecki