Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers are inspiring a new generation of artists, writers and activists. Nearly 1,000 people came to hear Tony Benn and Paul Mason discuss the Diggers and the legacy of English radicalism at the Southbank last month (to launch Verso's new collection of Winstanley's writings). Now the composer James Weeks has written a new choral piece inspired by Winstanley, which will be premiered at Spitalfields Music Festival on Monday 13th June.
Most brilliantly, squatters have returned to St Georges Hill, site of the Diggers' original land occupation, and now site of an expensive gated estate with golf course and private security. As reported on Ian Bone's blog:
‘A private estate that is home to a host of celebrities - including former Chelsea star Claude Makelele and Big Brother contestant Shilpa Shetty - is being taken over by a gang of squatters.
John Berger guested on BBC Radio 4's "Front Row" show yesterday to discuss Bento's Sketchbook, and how his relationship with Britain has changed since he moved to live in France.
Visit the BBC to listen to the interview in full.
Susan Mansfield interviews John Berger for the Scotsman. Discussing the relationship between Spinoza's philosophy, Berger's drawings, and ways of understanding the world, Mansfield questions Berger's understanding of hope:
Spinoza has been a favourite of Berger's since he was a teenager, "when I read not always understanding, perhaps very seldom". In the writing of the book, he regarded the philosopher more as a "companion" than a "master". Both Berger and Spinoza share a fascination with the nature of looking: Bento worked as a lens grinder in the new science of optics; both men liked to draw. "Right from the beginning, I didn't think it was a book about Spinoza. I thought of it as a book about the world we are living in, and which so often we refuse to look at, for the good and the bad. The project was to try to see the world today in which we are living."
In his introductory remarks at the recent Anarchist Turn conference at the New School, Simon Critchley, author of Infinitely Demanding, recalled being handed photocopies of a text from a then-virtually-unknown French journal called Tiqqun. At the time, the second New School student occupation was underway, and hundreds of polices officers had descended upon the school, pepper-spraying students, using force and arresting many. A few months later, Glenn Beck devoted one of his signature tirades to The Coming Insurrection (whose alleged authors have been associated with Tiqqun), which brought the group into the American public consciousness and made the book into a bestseller. “This is quite possibly the most evil thing I've ever read,” Beck had said.
Ed Cumming reviews Intern Nation for the Telegraph, calling the book "well-researched and timely." Describing how work experience and internship culture has recently become politicised in Britain, Cumming suggests that both Britain and the United States are
[S]uffering an epidemic of unpaid labour. With graduates more abundant than ever, and graduate jobs ever scarcer, it has become near compulsory for young people entering the labour market to suffer a period of working for low pay or, often, for none at all...
Parliament is accused of “jaw-dropping hypocrisy” about its army of free workers, estimated to provide 18,000 hours of free labour per week...
Intern Nation contains plenty of lessons for Britain. It was interesting to note that Germany and Switzerland, both of which have recovered faster than Britain from the recession, have lower rates of internship and higher rates of traditional apprenticeship.
On Wednesday June 1st, WNYC's Brian Lehrer spoke to Ross Perlin on air about his new book Intern Nation and the good the bad and the ugly of internships.
Several listeners called in to join the discussion and share their own diverse experiences with internships, and you can read additional comments to the segment by visiting wnyc.org.