Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Oliver Cromwell established a ‘Commonwealth’ in 1649 after the English Civil War

IE + IT = ED? from The Memory Bank 3.0 by keith
Is informal economy plus information technology a path towards economic democracy?
What follows is frankly autobiographical. It is an attempt to excavate the intellectual and political connections between my early and later work in economic anthropology...

Oliver Cromwell established a ‘Commonwealth’ in 1649 after the English Civil War. It meant a government formed with the common consent of the people and it was intended to replace the old regime of absolute monarchy and aristocratic rule. British democracy never recovered from the counter-revolution of 1660 (the restoration of the monarchy). But the American democracy subsequently retained the spirit and sometimes the name of that original Commonwealth. And it persists as the title of the largest and most diverse voluntary association of nation-states in the world today, following the break-up of the British empire. In the work of John Locke, whose political philosophy did so much to inform the English-speaking democracies, commonwealth referred not just to the form of government, but to what we might call ‘the public good’, the welfare of all citizens. Today the great corporations command our unequal world with all the haughty power and indifference to human welfare that was once the hallmark of the aristocracy in pre-revolutionary France. For us, however, ‘Commonwealth’ can no longer refer to anything less than democratic self-government by humanity as a whole; and economic democracy, in thousands of measures, large and small, is indispensable to achieving that end.

What then does the term ‘common wealth’ mean in the context of the community currency movement? What is the ‘wealth’? Not the money itself, for sure. Money, conceived of as a commodity with its own value to be hoarded and deployed as an instrument of power, as capital, is the opposite of open money. Nor is the collectivization of such capital in the manner of twentieth century socialist regimes remotely appropriate either. Rather, the wealth to be mobilized is the human creativity in all of us, resources that have been ill-used for too long, because of the money regime we have been forced to live by. This creativity belongs to each individual, but it can only be realized in society, together. Society should be conceived of as a multitude of levels of association and many of these could take the form, as one of their dimensions, of a community with its own circuit of exchange and money. Economic democracy in this limited sense would point us to more inclusive forms of polity; and then perhaps the dream of abundance that has long inspired humanity would be realized as more than just the riches of a few. Workshop: ‘Clusters, Network Organization and the Informal Economy’, Bologna, 29-30th June 2006 in the series, Rethinking Economies.


  1. Cromwell was also the original English practitioner of genocide---against the Irish.

    It could be said that his actions were a precursor for all the genocidal slaughters yet to come.

    It could also be said that the entirely pleasure-less hard-headed dour-faced PURITAN round-head Cromwell set the pattern that gave us Margaret Thatcher and "there is no such thing as society" and the consequent now-time "culture" of every man for himself, or the war of all against all.

    Or the total dis-establishment of any and everything that the word or concept "common-wealth" really represents or implies.

    Cromwell's direct legacy is PURITAN America where the doctrine of every man for himself rules. And where any kind of pleasure or spontaneous ecstatic celebration is extremely suspect.

    And where enraged neurotic anger and outrage is aroused when Janet Jackson's ample breast is "exposed" on prime-time TV.

    Meanwhile how many people are monstered and/or snuffed or blown away on TV every day. Which is oh so normal.

  2. Cromwell was so lacking in humour (as were his Puritan friends) that he also abolished the venerable English and European tradition of the Court Jester.

    Plus another Puritan precursor to the future slaughters done in the name of "righteousness" was the fascist mini-state set up in Geneva by that pleasureless psychopath Calvin.
    People were executed for the most trivial reasons.
    Execution is of course never justified once a person, any person, has been restrained.

    Plus lets remember that both the protestant and catholic authorities authorised the extermination of the Anabaptists--they were classified as sub-human.

  3. These comments may be true, but 1) what do they add to the discussion of the meaning of Commonwealth and where it came from? 2)Is one-dimensional caricature a way of opening up conversation or just an attempt to close it off?

  4. Sorry Keith, Anon has strong political views with which we seldom concur. However, as one of our regular visitors he is welcome in a democratic spirit.