The Leadership Center for Social Justice Podcast

Theology from Below and the Struggle for the Commons: A Conversation with Peter Linebaugh

May 03, 2023 Peter Linebaugh Season 1 Episode 11
The Leadership Center for Social Justice Podcast
Theology from Below and the Struggle for the Commons: A Conversation with Peter Linebaugh
Show Notes Transcript

This episode’s guest is Peter Linebaugh, author and historian. In this episode, we are in conversation with Peter about his many books, including The Many-Headed Hydra, a widely influential book co-authored with Marcus Rediker that excavates the hidden revolutionary history of transatlantic resistance, rebellion, and solidarity against slavery and the enclosure of land. 

Peter speaks to us about the ongoing history of capitalist exploitation and extraction, the sin of private property, the connection between the prison and the expropriation of land, always seeking to make visible the centrality of how ordinary working people have cooperated together for life, freedom, and love. 

This is an episode about learning to do theology from below, that is, learning to paying attention to the revolutionary actions and possibilities of ordinary people of faith who have refused to comply with forms of social life predicated on death, resisting servitude and enclosure and with courage – and often at tremendous risk – act together to level and dig up the hedges and fences and borders intended to keep people from the land that sustains life.

Peter speaks to us about counter-movements and counter-theologies, the principles of commoning, and the ongoing forms of global resistance to enclosure and dispossession. Peter shares stories "from below" of human cooperation and considers how this is lived out today.


Red Round Globe Hot Burning

The Many Headed Hydra

The Magna Carta Manifesto

Stop, Thief!

Episode Transcription available here

Host: Ry O. Siggelkow

Producer: Adam Pfuhl

Podcast Engineer: Michael Moua

Music: Kavyesh Kaviraj

Episode Recorded on November 14th, 2022

You can find out more about the Leadership Center for Social Justice on our website and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

In Conversation with Peter Linebaugh

Ry Siggelkow [00:00:00] Hello, everybody. I'm Ry Siggelkow and I direct the Leadership Center for Social Justice at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Today, I'm excited to be in conversation with Peter Linebaugh. 

Peter is a historian and the author of The Magna Carta Manifesto, The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day and Stop,Thief!, among many other works. He's also the coauthor with Marcus Rediker of The Many Headed Hydra

His articles have appeared in publications that include Counterpunch, The New Left Review and Radical History Review. Robin Kelley has said that there is not a more important historian living today, period. And I wholeheartedly agree with Robin's good judgment on that point. Peter, it really is an incredible honor today to be in conversation with you. Welcome to the podcast. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:00:57] Thanks. I'm very glad to be in conversation with you. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:01:02] Peter, I thought we could begin our conversation by talking about your remarkable book, coauthored with Marcus Rediker. The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. This book, first published over 20 years ago now, is one of the most inspiring texts I think I've ever encountered. The central image of the book is the many headed hydra, which symbolizes the rich, multifaceted history of revolutionary activity of, as you put it, the multitudes who gathered at the market, in the fields, on the piers and the ships, on the plantations, upon the battlefields. You write that the image of the hydra became a means of exploring multiplicity, movement and connection. The long waves and planetary currents of humanity. 

This is a history which as a history from below is a recovery of the various forms of resistance, both ordinary and extraordinary, against the assault on life that began with the rise of capitalism and our modern global economy. You say that the historic invisibility of many of the book's subjects owes much to the repression originally visited upon them, the violence of the stake, the chopping block, the gallows and the shackles of the ship's dark hold. But it is, as you argue, also a challenge to the nationalist framing of so much of historical writing that has too often gone unquestioned and unchallenged. 

The book begins with an incredible dramatic story about a ship called The Sea Venture. I just want to share this with listeners, this opening to the book. The Sea Ventures was a vessel of the newly formed Virginia company, which was making its way on July 25th, 1609, from Plymouth westward to Virginia in England's first New World colony. What appears on the scene is an apocalyptic disruption, a great hurricane that shook the passengers on the ship into collective action. You write, "The shaken seamen went to work as the ship's timber began to groan, 6 to 8 men together struggled to steer the vessel. Others cut down the rigging and sails to lessen resistance to the wind. They threw the luggage and ordnance overboard to lighten the load and reduce the risk of capsizing. They crept, candles in hand along the ribs of the ship, searching and listening for weeping leaks, stoppering as many as they could, using beef when they ran out of Oakham". And yet, despite these efforts, it was not enough to stop the water from gushing in. 

Defying the strictures of private property and the authority of Captain Christopher Newport, as well as the Virginia Company gentlemen such as Sir George Summers and Sir Thomas Gates, they broke open the ship's liquors and in one last expression of solidarity, drank one to the other, taking their last leave. One of the others until their joyful and happy meeting in a more blessed world. And so they thought their lives were over, their fate sealed, but in a remarkable change of events. The ship was wrecked between two rocks in Bermuda, and miraculously, no one died. 

This is the best opening to a book, this remarkable story. Then you write about the activity among the survivors of the ship and you talk about how this activity is worth telling. And really, that's what the book is about. It's telling these kinds of stories. But I wonder if you could share about the Wreck of the Sea Venture and why you and Marcus decided to begin the book with this fascinating story, and also what lessons might be drawn from the retelling of this story today. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:05:23] Yeah. Well, today people are faced with disasters as they're severed from the land in Latin America, in Indonesia and China, especially in Africa, in Eastern Europe, in Ukraine. Disasters of flood, of fire, of war interrupt the norms of society and give those alive a chance to form means of survival anew. And so this opening shows how even in the midst of the catastrophe of a shipwreck, what appear to be miracles can take place. And the miracle on the sea venture began with helping themselves to the liquor cabinet that otherwise didn't belong to them. So what's happening in a society based on greed, private property and conquest is a moment when these are overturned and the crew, which formerly was good for nothing except to work or be hanged, avail themselves of what before had been prohibited. So that's reason number one: the relationship between commoning or sharing things equally among those who worked to produce it and disaster. That's the central paradox of the story, and it's a central paradox of the book. 

The second reason we began with the story of the Sea Venture is that it is the basis of Anglo Bourgeois civilization's leading myth. And that's the myth that Shakespeare wrote in his play, The Tempest, which is also a story of utopia. Sailors, slaves, women who form a counter society to that which had been interrupted. And just as the Roman poet Virgil wrote the Aeneid as the principal myth of Roman imperialism. So Shakespeare, in writing The Tempest, was attempting to write the main myth of Anglo imperialism. So I think those are you know, a couple reasons why we began with this, but the story continues with the refusal of those who survived to become slaves, which they were bound to become if they continued on to Virginia, where so many were starving because of the bellicose aggression against the Confederation of Native Peoples. But in Bermuda, those who survived the sea venture went on strike. Refused to obey the commandments of their self appointed leaders. They ran into the woods and lived happily and merrily even, on what they could find in shellfish and the fruits of the trees. Thus establishing a principal response to European imperialism that is named after the Maroons. 

The response might be called Marronage, which is a French term for those who flee the plantation, in this case fleeing the command of Gates and Summers in Bermuda and going to the woods. A strike, mutiny, defiant language; these became reasons for the captain of the saved ship to hang by the neck. Those who refused to obey. So it's a combination on Bermuda of terror mixed with possibilities of starting anew as Maroons that led us to this astonishing story. Including an attempt in Virginia. In 1609, the first legal code of the Anglo people of the settlers had 35 articles to it and 27 of these required punishment by death, punishment by hanging. So against the possibilities of a commons is the actuality of terror, of hanging, of the gallows tree. And this is between these two poles, the subsequent history of settler colonialism will swing between a multicultural alliance in search for or an activity of commoning versus the punishment of mutiny strikes in the form of the gallows. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:11:48] That's great. And it seems to me that this image of the ship right under attack by the hurricane, it kind of shows how disaster can create these openings for resistance and how it kind of shows the fickleness, the weakness, actually, of the regime that sustains the hierarchy. It's only through force and only under ordinary conditions when we don't have to contend with hurricanes that the hierarchy can be kept in place. It's not natural. In other words, the hierarchies are not natural. Is that part of your point? 

Peter Linebaugh [00:12:31] Yeah, for sure. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:12:35]  You begin your book, Stop Thief: the Commons and Closures and Resistance with an anonymous English poem that for you expresses a truth, which the essays in the book you say seek to merely elaborate. 

The poem goes like this:  “The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from the common, but lets the greater villain loose who steals the common from the goose”. 

I wonder if you could speak to us about the truth expressed in this poem. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:13:08] Sure. I think there are several truths and one is that property is theft. A second is that prison replaces the commons. And the third is that reality is often the opposite of appearance. This is certainly true in the capitalist regime. 

This poem is produced by the main figure of world history. Who's often footnoted just simply as anon. That is anonymous. Nobody knows the person. This is wisdom that came from Ireland in the 17th century that was refined by experience in England in the 18th century. And that reached a culmination in these four lines, in this quatrain, in the early 19th century. 

It's a critique of the law, it's a critique of the commons, and it's a critique of property. Or it's not a critique of the commons, but it tries to understand how privatization requires imprisonment because it's taking away the subsistence for the poor goose. And so, there's a lot to say here. But the principal point is imprisonment. The development and formation of first the workhouse, then the House of Correction, then the prison. We're in the United States of America, so-called. Wall Street was formed and the first prisons were formed in 1790 and 92. And the subsequent history of the stock markets, the property exchanges, and in prison go together in a quantified correlation that any historian with a little bit of trouble can easily come upon.

I mean, there was a time when geese were all around.  And there was a time when everybody on Michaelmas, the Feast of Saint Michael, ate a goose. And so I did a little bit of social science research and analyzed the time of year when people were brought to trial at the Old Bailey for stealing a goose. And I learned that out of scores of such cases, the vast majority take place in September. So the people were taking a goose for their feast of Saint Michael. Despite the law. Anyway, that is kind of a small detail that I like. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:17:05] Yeah. So it's not even just figurative. In actuality we're talking about geese. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:17:09] It's an actuality, quite right. Just as the enclosures of human beings are in actuality and are answered by the prison. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:17:23] I wonder if you could talk more about commoning and you've already mentioned it a few times here, but you've written it at great length about commoning the Commons and you've even written a brief primer on these themes.

In your book, Stop Thief, you describe 18 dimensions of the commons and commoning, addressing various aspects of life, such as food, health, housing, gender, ecology, and knowledge. I'm not going to list them all right now. But under the heading of religion, you write, "The Good Samaritan, the principle of all things in common", and you touch on how this principle surfaces in other times and places and within other faith traditions. 

I wonder if you could speak a bit more about how you understand the commons and commoning. Clearly for you, commoning is a practice or a collection of practices expressed differently, perhaps in different times and places. But it also seems to point to a kind of theological vision. If you'll allow me to use such terms. A practical theological vision with distinctive features drawn from collective practices from various communities across time and space. I wonder if you could give us a sketch of what you mean by the Commons and commoning. And also, if you're willing, to flesh out a bit of its theological dimensions. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:18:52] Yeah, I'll try. By the commons, I mean the mutual cooperation of human beings for the sustenance and maintenance of their communities. This might be too abstract. Historically, the commons has been a way in a relationship to land. That is when those who farm the land, who nurture it, who raise plants to eat from the land. When they do this work together, they assign land to one another, either at a random principle or on a periodic principle. Just think of Jubilee. You know, every 50 years the land is returned to its former owners. But other societies, like among the Patons in Afghanistan. There's a form of land redistribution called the wish. You will find such forms of periodic redistribution in ancient Sumer predating Jubilee. And in Ireland, potato beds were created in common and the land also was carefully redistributed on a periodic basis among those who work the land. So in each case, the Commons refers to an activity of workers as well as to what inanimate or other relations as the Anishinaabe people might say. Other life forms and I'm speaking of plants and herbs and gardening as well. 

The term commoning,I think it's a gerund,grammatically speaking, it arises from the verb to common. So commoning is an action. It's not an inanimate resource. And in fact, to see it as an inanimate resource is to violate in many ways the spiritual. The folk behavior, the culture that the human community forms in relationship to the land or to the earth. So broadly speaking, I would say that is my answer to that question. 

But there is another side to it which I want to emphasize. And that is the urban side in cities. In the different crafts traditions from metallurgy to leather work to woodwork. In all of those materials, the craftsman had a relationship to the materials and means of craft. And he or she besides producing a product is also producing waste and who are so called waste. But that waste is appropriated or is taken not by the owner but by the worker. That process was criminalized in the 18th century. 

In both, as an aspect of the enclosures of commons and as an aspect of the criminalization of commoning among crafts or as they were called, arts and mysteries. I do that to emphasize and at least mention urban and craft forms of commoning. Because our future forms of cooperation are future forms of commoning. Of producing and reproducing our lives and our societies with each other. It's going to require us to do things that haven't been done before and will create forms of common life and commoning that haven't existed before. So our minds and imaginations need to be wide open to the vast variety of commoning practices in the past that might help us open our minds. 

Now you ask for theological visions or aspects to these practices, and I think it depends very much. It's often presented, at least in English history, as a question of folklore and folkish traditions in the dominant religion. The dominant religion in English history has been various forms of Christianity. The leading form of Christianity in English history is the Church of England, and the Church of England was born out of a vast and bloody struggle of people being burned at the stake, of women having their heads chopped off and so on, which is associated with Henry the Eighth and Bloody Queen Mary. But I wanted to emphasize something else, which is that established religion has 39 articles of belief and the 38th one specifically prohibited any form of the commons. So official religion and the popular practices of commoning were at odds and were opposite to one another. 

This became totally clear when the poor people and working people who had lost their land. Geese, so to speak, who'd lost the commons, rose in opposition during the English Revolution of the 1640s. These were people called levelers and people called diggers. The levelers wanted to level the hedges that had enclosed previously open fields or level the fences, and the diggers wanted to dig up the hedges that had done the same confinement and closing purpose. So that's just about the Church of England. It's not that way nowadays. I think that article has been removed. 

But, Ry, speaking to you in the land that is at the headwaters of the Mississippi River. I have been moved by an Anishinaabe prophet by the name of Eddie Benton Banai, who played such an important role in the Organization of the American Indian Movement and of the Native American Liberation Struggle. So he describes prophets in the Anishinaabe history and traditions which also teach a relationship to the earth. Relationship to, as I said earlier, other relations of life and in particular for the Anishinaabe that has been Manoomin or wild rice. Which is good to remember not just if you're in Minnesota but as a way where you can begin to see the relationship between what might be called the theological or the spiritual to life, to sustenance, to subsistence. I'm not a specialist in religion generally. But I dare say there's scarcely a religion on the planet that has not praised the obligations of mutuality to our fellow creatures. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:28:31] You've described the work that you do as a practice of writing history from below, or at least I gather that is what you aspire to do. And you, at various points, situate yourself in the tradition of the British Marxist historian E.P. Thompson but I also know that C.L.R. James, W.E.B. Dubois and others have been important to you. Part of what strikes me about this tradition of historical scholarship, if we can call it loosely a tradition, is not only their attention to ordinary working people, but their attention to the prophetic faith traditions of ordinary people.

Indeed, both James and Dubois value greatly what we might call theology from below, whether we think of Dubois as treatment of the theological pamphlets of David Walker, which gave expression to the prophetic faith that attended black movements against slavery and fueled the collective struggle and practice of what he called abolition democracy in the U.S. during the era of radical reconstruction, or James's work on Pan-African revolts in which faith movements figure quite prominently. 

Of course, in your work, faith movements from below are absolutely central. Whether you are reflecting on Anabaptists like Thomas Müntzer, Prophets and Prophetesses, or the Zapatistas. You are always attentive to the ways in which scriptural texts and theological themes such as Exodus, Jubilee, the Prophets, the Acts of the Apostles and of course, other writings from other traditions are mobilized against established power structures, both ecclesiastical and secular, and against ruling ideology. And I know that you have been informed by reading liberation theology, which you mention in the opening pages of the Many Headed Hydra

But I wonder if you could share with us first perhaps an historical example or two of how Scripture has been taken up creatively from below to mobilize and energize struggles for liberation. And then perhaps if you could reflect on my description of your work as a form of excavating a kind of theology from below. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:30:44] Yeah. Thanks. It's a challenging question,  an important question. And I'd like to start out by mentioning, I guess three people. 

The first would be a woman by the name of Francis who was- had been a slave in, I think, in Barbados. Came to England in the 1640s and was active in a congregation in Bristol when it was under attack by royal forces. And to maintain the spirit of that congregation, she, Francis described as a Blackmore maid, also illustrated the principle that God is no respecter of persons. Quoting, I think from the Acts of the Apostles. Francis was a key person in the formation, the revolutionary formation of an egalitarian Atlantic working class. Egalitarian means where all people are equal. She was not alone. There's a huge number of women prophets in the 1640s on both sides of the Atlantic, of several shades of skin color, and corresponding different cultural backgrounds. So Francis is one person I would mention right away. You know, going way back. An African-American woman leading, using Christian scriptures in order to teach basic human lessons of equality. 

The second person I'd like to mention is a Quaker who was a small person. That is scarcely less than five feet tall. And my coauthor, Marcus Rediker, has written a wonderful book about him called The Fearless Benjamin Lay. And Benjamin Lay attacked directly the Quakers involved in the slave trade during the 18th century. So he had always been excluded, both from friends meeting houses and from history books until we recovered him and his story. And now Marcus has written a powerful book about him. Besides being opposed to slavery, he was for women's equality. He was a vegetarian and a sincere, authentic, dedicated man of conscience.

Now, the third person I want to mention is Ottobah Cugoano who was born in Ghana and was enslaved on a slave ship, survived the Middle Passage, arrived in the Caribbean, and suffered as a slave for more than a year. Found his way to England and there he wrote in 1788 the first unequivocal denunciation of slavery since the English Revolution and the levelers of the 1640s. This man's name is Ottobah Cugoano and he is writing in his thoughts and sentiments concerning the slave trade published in 1788, is as powerful a denunciation of this cruel abomination of human slavery as can be found in any literature  since the prophets of Hebrew tradition. Ezekiel. Isaiah. Micah. Ottobah Cugoano is his name.

This power of denunciation, this faith tradition had huge power, revolutionary power throughout Europe and then in the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. Huge power in the sugar boycott. Huge power in the mutinies on ships. I mean, let's not forget. The first person who the U.S.A. hanged, applied capital punishment to his name was Thomas Byrd, and he was a white sailor who led a mutiny on a slave ship and was hanged for it. 

So when our books tell us about excavating the commons and commoning. It is a multiethnic, multi-gender resistance to all forms of oppression and exploitation, especially against expropriation, taking you away from the land of your subsistence, taking you away and prohibiting even your mother tongue. So those are three people. But there are many others. Countless of them. Because remember when your only book is the Bible, then how you read the Bible is going to be very different from our times. Or when there are many or several sources of knowledge. This is why theology from below is sort of imposed on the historian. So theology from below. I named three people. But the principal thing about theology from below is that it's collective. And it requires cooperation and it's coterminous with forms of work such as sailoring, such as farming. 

And then I think of one of the most powerful forms of spiritual agony ever collectively expressed are the great ghost dances of the American plains that led to Wounded Knee. The white settler. Colonial colonialist power. The U.S. was frightened of a ghost dance. Anyway that's- do you have other questions about theology from below?


Ry Siggelkow [00:38:24] No. I guess I just want to hear you talk about it. I mean, I want to hear you write about these faith movements. You write about the ways that they resist dominant power, the ways they resist ecclesiastical secular power. But rarely, you know, do I see you write about and reflect on and and sort of the meaning of this theologically, in terms of identifying the ways of collective life, I suppose, in ordinary and extraordinary ways that rework scriptural texts, that rework traditions to to create a more just world, to transform the world often. And so I appreciate you taking some time to think about that.

I wanted to ask you to share about your most recent book, Red Round Globe Hot Burning: A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons and Closure, of Love and Terror, of Race and Class, and of Kate and Ned Despard. The book begins with what you call the global phenomena of resistance to enclosures. And you referenced the Zapatistas in Mexico, the anti-globalization movement in Seattle, the women of the Via Campesina, the shack dwellers from Durban to Cape Town, the women from the Niger River Delta protesting against oil spillers, the indigenous people of the Andes Mountains, the seed preserves of Bangladesh, the Occupy movement, the water protectors at Standing Rock. I mean, you've spoken now of Wounded Knee. You've spoken of Anishinaabe people. And, of course, we have Anishinaabe people protecting the water here in Minnesota. 

The subjects of your book, however, are less well known. Your book focuses on a love story between an Irish man, Ned, and an African-American woman, Kate, whom you describe as revolutionaries who yearned for another world and tried to bring it about. Their love for each other, you say, and their longing for the commons point us to a new world and a new heart. Why are these two figures so important to you? How does their story connect to these other, more recent movements against enclosure? And I think the big question I want to ask here is, why is their love so central to the book's argument? And perhaps that's a broader political point for you. But there's a centrality to their love that sort of moves throughout this text and I think moves throughout all of your work. So I wonder if you could reflect on those questions for me.


Peter Linebaugh [00:41:07] Well, it used to be the resistance to the denial of health care, the denial of food, the denial of living space. But when it took a collective form as in the municipal rebellions of the 1960s in North America. In Harlem, in Rochester and Detroit and Watts. And that resistance is called the work of criminals. So I was wondering whether that was true or not. So I read Malcolm X and learned here was a house breaker who became a freedom fighter for millions of people around the world. How did that transition happen? From crime to liberation? And it had been, you know, back in the 1960s that the answer to this question could be found in Friedrich Engels, who said that before the working class was formed as a class, it had to go through a phase of rampant individualist criminality. And I wondered, is that true? As if one sees the working class with that elemental class of society. The vast majority of people. If you see there is a possibility of social redemption or revolution to put an end to imperialist wars such as in Vietnam. Then one had to study crime. 

And so I took myself to England to study with the principal. To help form a collective to study crime. Led by the principal historian and scholar of the working class. That was E.P. Thompson, who you referred to, who had worked with C.L.R. James. And Thompson had said, well, the working class could take either a long, slow parliamentary path to socialism or there were others who said a swifter path could be found in insurrection. And there in English history the leading insurrectionist at the time that the English working class was being formed was an Irishman named Edward Marcus Despard. Now later, I learned that Edward Marcus Despard had a partner who was an African-American woman. But this had not been mentioned by Thompson. And it had not been mentioned by his sources who included the shoemaker Thomas Hardy. 

So how did it come about that this working class in England, which was formed partly by the aid of Olaudah Equiano, whose autobiography should be read just as we read Frederick Douglass or Malcolm X, one of the great African-American autobiographies. Or he's not African-American, he's Anglo African. He lived in London. He was from Nigeria. Olaudah Equiano. He, with Thomas Hardy, helped to form this English working class. But it was Edward Despard, an Irishman who came out of an Irish struggle for freedom and independence from England and led a huge revolt in 1798. By this time Despard, by the way, had been shunted off to British Honduras, now Belize, and there his practice did not respect the persons, but that is he treated all people equally to the great dismay of the white supremacist planters who only wished to enslave people to cut down mahogany trees, to make fine furniture for the English lords back in England. 

So when I saw that an Irishman teamed up with an African-American woman. I said hmm this working class it's not just Anglo, it's not just African. And that's why I wanted to explore the nature of their love. And then, too, I had understood love. Martin Luther King was the one who taught me about love, about its different forms that he'd learned from, I guess from Plato. You probably know more about this than I do. But besides Eros, there's other forms of love, friendship, and then of solidarity, human solidarity. And then Agape, which was what King was always talking about, was a higher form of love, of divine love. 

So I was interested in how this pair of revolutionaries and abolitionists were in the midst at the very birth of the Anthropocene, the very birth of coal mining, at the very birth of the industrial proletariat. How did this couple deal with the worldwide expropriation of the commons, of commoning and the installation of regimes of capitalism which depend on private property? And all of its violence. So I was so happy to learn and to see how knowledge advances and our knowledge of the past advances with our struggles in the present. Cause don't believe for a minute that I would have known any of this had it not been for the struggles of welfare mothers in the United States. Of the women who fought in the 1960s for welfare, having lost their means of support otherwise in a vast system of expropriation, which is what slavery is all about. So at the time of Despard, there were other forms of love. There's a capitalist form of love which is just pure breeding, as if human beings were livestock. And as if it is kind of cannibalizing is just to produce humans for consumption at labor and factories and endless production. Night and day. Because 1803 night work was installed. 1803 is when this guy Despard was hanged by the neck in front of 20,000 people. And his last words were so incendiary that the sheriff demanded it stop or hang him instantaneously. But his words were created with the help of his wife. Catherine who had smuggled papers in and out of Newgate Prison. You know, in her many skirts. What a powerful pair. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:50:05] So they work together.


Peter Linebaugh [00:50:07] To put it boldly? Yes, they do. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:50:12] They work together. And at some level, their politics, you know, was born out of their love, perhaps. Definitely borne out of their desire for a different kind of world. 

Peter Linebaugh [00:50:21] Yeah. For sure. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:50:25] Well, it's a wonderful book. It's a romantic book. I mean, it's a book of love, but it's also a book of resistance, of the possibilities of collective life together, the possibilities of resistance and what resistance can make possible when we struggle for the commons, which is, I think, consistent with all of your work. Peter, thanks so much for taking the time today to meet with me and to go over these questions and to reflect on some difficult theological questions. I really appreciate and I'm really grateful for your work.


Peter Linebaugh [00:51:02] Thank you, Ry. It was written for you and your co readers. 

Ry Siggelkow [00:51:07] Thanks so much. Have a great day.