A Common Treasury

Some of the earliest examples of communist thought, introduced by Tony Benn.
At the end of the English Civil War, Gerrard Winstanley and his comrades, known as Diggers, went to St. George’s Hill, to farm the common land and to distribute the food for free amongst themselves. Winstanley’s extraordinary writings from this period have remained a huge influence for many on the Left and are cited as some of the earliest examples of communist thought. Legendary voice of the Left Tony Benn examines Winstanley’s work and argues that, as we face an ever greater enclosure of the commons, he can still inspire us to turn our world upside down.


  • "Everything Belongs to the Future": On the History of the Commune

    On March 18th, 1871, the people of Paris rose up against the repressive Thiers government and defiantly hoisted the red glad from the roof of the Hotel de Ville. The Paris Commune, which lasted for 72 days before its brutal supression, is only the most famous of a long list of communes that have liberated spaces across the globe.

    From its first flourishing in fourteenth century Florence to the thousands of communes springing up across Latin America, the commune has provided a vital spring of liberatory energy. To celebrate the publication of Gavin Bowd's The Last Communard (which is 50% until Tuesday!), which charts the revolutionary upheavals in the century following the Paris Commune through the story of Communard Adrien Lejeune, we bring you a timeline of communes in history taken from ROAR Magazine issue 1. ROAR is available to purchase from here.

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  • The Last Communard is 50% off until July 4th!

    The Last Communard: Adrien Lejeune, the Unexpected Life of a Revolutionary by Gavin Bowd is 50% off until July 4th! Click here to activate the discount.

    The Paris Commune of 1871 was the first experience of what a successful workers' revolution could look like, an example of what Karl Marx described as the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

    In March of that year, the workers of Paris, organized into the Parisian National Guard, defeated troops sent by France's leader, Louis Thiers. The Paris Commune was elected on March 26 and remained in power for only two months. Thiers and his troops reorganized at Versailles and eventually fought their way back into Paris, where the Communards were crushed in a massive show of violence that took 30,000 workers' lives.

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  • "Though we fail, our truths prosper" - celebrating the Leveller John Lilburne's 400th birthday!

    This year marks the 400 anniversary of the birth of one of the great revolutionary democrats of British history, John Lillburne. 200 years before the Chartists and 300 before the universal suffrage became a reality in Britain, ‘freeborn John’ and the Levellers campaigned tirelessly for freedom and justice during the turbulent years of the English Revolution.

    In honour of this, and to mark this weekend’s conference to celebrate this life and work at the Bishopsgate Institute (featuring John ReesGeoffrey Robertson QC, Peter Flannery and more) we have an extract from John Lilburne’s pamphlet ‘England’s New Chains Discovered’. Written in 1649, and thus after the execution of Charles I, the abolition of the House of Lords, and the people being declared the origin of all power by the House of Commons, Lilburne argues that the republican government is reverting to a new form of tyranny. This marked the beginning of the end for the possibilities for radical change that emerged during the great social upheavals of the ‘century of revolution’. Yet, Lilburne’s pamphlet shows that the seeds of liberty still remained. As the incomparable historian of the 17th century Christopher Hill argued, ‘Each generation ... rescues a new area from what its predecessors arrogantly and snobbishly dismissed as 'the lunatic fringe,”’ and perhaps now more than ever can we learn anew from the Leveller’s fight for freedom.

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