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This week, we start with Peter Linebaugh on Luddism and the multifaceted enclosure movement in UK. Then, a report on prison privatization in Canada. We conclude by starting chapter 10 of David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years on the decline of the Axial age empires and social systems in India and China.
Thanks to C.S. Soong of Against The Grain for the Peter Linebaugh interview and Redeye for the piece on privatization of prisons
We start this week's show with a 50 minute interview of Professor Peter Linebaugh on the privatization of the commons and the meaning and impact of Magna Carta. Nearly 8 centuries old, Magna Carta remains relevant to modern times, notably forbidding torture and requiring due process such as habeus corpus and the right to trial by jury. Did you know that Magna Carta was accompanied by another charter which defended the practice of commoning? Linebaugh takes a sympathetic look at the Luddites and their strategies of resistance, as well as detailing some of the more subtle aspects of enclosure such as the mental and social delimitation of what was permissible.
We then hear a short interview with Aiyanas Ormond by Vancouver's Redeye on the increasing privatization of prisons in Canada. As we hear, the profits of a few corporations rely on prisons are increasingly occupied by the poor. About 25% of the charges laid in Canada are there for 'administration of justice' crimes - charges related largely to the difficulty the poor have in navigating the legal system.
We conclude by starting chapter 10 of David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years, on the Middle Ages (600-1450 AD). As Graeber reminds us, the Middle Ages didn't happen only in Western Europe. Indeed, Europe in many ways was no more than a marginal outpost of the increasingly defunct Roman Empire. Focusing on the collapsing Axial age institutions, he looks at how finance changed as coins were taken out of circulation and melted down for inclusion in the treasuries of the religious institutions. How and why did the mercantile and Confucianist influenced Buddhism survive in China while Buddhism in India collapsed completely? How did social structures change when coinage was taken out of circulation? And why were peasant revolts in China so frequent -- there were years in which they averaged several revolts per hour?