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The World Turned Upside Down (Diggers)

I've been thinking about the food 'crisis' and the state of farming and land 'ownership', planning laws, right to happiness and livelihood, etc... Ouch.

Ok, so my thoughts turned to this...

A human being needs these things to survive and thrive, possibly even in this order of importance...

  • Clean Air
  • Clean Water
  • Mineral and vitamin rich Food
  • Shelter
  • Fire
  • Community
Control of which are being sneaked away more and more by power and money hungry 'others' while we stand in a daze wondering what's going on. It's all got so bloody complicated, convoluted and bureaucratic that I wouldn't even know where to start taking back control. Starting up your own smallholding used to be the way I thought I'd do it, doesn't look like it though.

It reminded me of the song The World Turned Upside down. There is a rendition of it sung by a band called Clandestine from America on my playlist at the bottom of the page (it was the only copy had!). There is the best rendition of it here by Dick Gaughan The World Turned Upside Down ... but I go on about that later!

The World Turned Upside Down is based on a very old folk ballad (Diggers Song) from the 17th century written about the Diggers described below. It was modernised in the year I was born, not very long a go by the way, in 1975, by a guy called Leon Rosselson.

Here is a selection of quotes from the amazing WIKI that give a good description of the Diggers...

"The Diggers were an English group, begun by Gerrard Winstanley as True Levellers in 1649, who became known as "Diggers" due to their activities.

Their original name came from their belief in economic equality based upon a specific passage in the Book of Acts.[1] The Diggers attempted to reform (by "levelling" real property) the existing social order with an agrarian lifestyle based upon their ideas for the creation of small egalitarian rural communities. They were one of a number of nonconformist dissenting groups that emerged around this time.

... The Diggers' beliefs were informed by Gerrard Winstanley's writings, which encompassed a worldview that envisioned an ecological interrelationship between humans and nature, acknowledging the inherent connections between people and their surroundings.

... More important was the democratic and anarchist aspect of the Diggers' beliefs. They contended that if only the common people of England would form themselves into self-supporting communes, there would be no place in such a society for the ruling classes. The ruling elite would be forced to join the communes or starve, as there would no longer be anyone left to hire to work their fields or pay rent to them for use of their property.

... The Council of State received a letter in April 1649 reporting that several individuals had begun to plant vegetables in common land on Saint George's Hill, Weybridge near Cobham, Surrey at a time when food prices reached an all-time high. Sanders reported that they had invited "all to come in and help them, and promise them meat, drink, and clothes." Their intentions were to pull down all enclosures and cause the local populace to come and work with them. They claimed that their number would be several thousand within ten days. "It is feared they have some design in hand." In the same month, the Diggers issued their most famous pamphlet and manifesto, called "The True Levellers Standard Advanced."[2

... The Digger colonies, consisting in all of only about 100-200 people throughout England, were finished by 1651. The collapse of the movement may have been due to the efforts of local landowners backed by the Council of State to crush the Digger colonies whenever they arose."


There is a fantastic website that has lots of information too.

Well, it paints a pretty bleak picture. I'm sure that the outcome doesn't have to be that one if we all tried again and rose up, oh, but there might be something good on the telly...

I used to have a quiet rage about all of this when I was younger that motivated me. Now I'm motivated by an intense, deep sadness, at the fact that the majority of humans are unable to live naturally and free from unnecessary suffering. It's no wonder there are battery chickens when there are battery humans.

What the fook?! Anyway back to music...

As I said earlier in the post I reckon the best version is this one...

The World Turned Upside Down

Sung by an incredible Scottish folk musician called Dick Gaughan, in my opinion this is by far the best version of this song ever recorded. The guys a genius. I recommend his compilation album Prentice Piece and his Definitive Collection both are astonishing. He has a new live album out actually, which I will be getting immediately!

If you're interested you can listen to bits of those albums on those links or failing that Amazon should have them. My favourites of his are many, but two that really stand out are Fathers Song and Both Sides the Tweed. You can't go wrong though, every song is an incredible rendition of old and new Scottish and some Irish and English folk songs.

World Turned Upside Down
by Leon Rosselson and performed by Dick Gaughan

In 1649
To St George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers
Came to show the people' s will
They defied the landlords
They defied the laws
They were the dispossessed
Reclaiming what was theirs

We come in peace, they said
To dig and sow
We come to work the land in common
And to make the waste land grow
This earth divided
We will make whole
So it can be
A common treasury for all.

The sin of property
We do disdain
No one has any right to buy and sell
The earth for private gain
By theft and murder
They took the land
Now everywhere the walls
Rise up at their command.

They make the laws
To chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven
Or they damn us into hell
We will not worship
The God they serve
The God of greed who feeds the rich
While poor men starve

We work, we eat together
We need no swords
We will not bow to masters
Or pay rent to the lords
We are free men
Though we are poor
You Diggers all stand up for glory
Stand up now

From the men of property
The orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers
To wipe out the Diggers' claim
Tear down their cottages
Destroy their corn
They were dispersed -
Only the vision lingers on

You poor take courage
You rich take care
The earth was made a common treasury
For everyone to share
All things in common
All people one
We come in peace
The order came to cut them down

1 comment:

  1. Most people have no imagination or vision, which suits the ruling classes just fine. We have been brainwashed into believing that this way is the only way. Notice how much anarchism is misunderstood and the people who support it maligned by the rulers. We are presented to the masses as people who would create division and unrest in the community, and the truth is the majority just cannot see past the end of the latest gadget or wardrobe full of clothes, and as long as they are kept reasonably happy they prefer to live this way.

    It saddens me too, I can imagine a society where there are not people at the top end of luxury, nor are their people at the bottom end. But we are conditioned to believe those at the bottom end (especially anyone on any kind of benefit) is a scrounger and lazy and is taking advantage of the State and of the "honest" taxpayer. When big corporations are involved in dubious activities, when they shaft society by stealing from them, precious few seem to notice! And those that do, are once again presented to society as a whole as trouble makers.

    I'll get off my soapbox now! Sorry, this is just a really big issue for me, and like you I am filled with sadness.



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