geotagged:england

Artist removes 1 inch off the peak of England’s highest mountain; Brits want their inch back.

It is still England’s highest mountain, but Scafell Pike is ever so slightly smaller now after an artist stole the top inch of the summit to display in a gallery.

Oscar Santillan, 34, was accused of vandalism after removing the stone pinnacle of the 3,209ft Lake District peak for an exhibition in London.

Ian Stephens, managing director of Cumbria Tourism, said: “This is taking the mickey and we want the top of our mountain back.”

How did England go from Feudalism to Capitalism?

1066: The King set up the feudal system to control everyone after the Norman Conquest. Feudalism is a hierarchy of land use, like a pyramid scheme with the King on top. The King owns all the land, divides it between nobles, who each allow peasants to live on it if they do the farming and hard work.

1200s: Use of land grew, as well as the population, but things started getting unsustainable.

1300s: Famine, disease and the Black Death spread because of poor land use. Europe’s population halved between 1315 and 1380. The nobles squeezed the remaining peasants harder (for food etc) to survive.

1381: Peasant uprising. This resistance led to nobles easing pressure off peasants and giving them land rights. Peasants lives (and power) improved.

1400s: This was “the golden age of the English Peasantry.” Some peasants had surplus cash, they reinvested it in their farms and so gained independence. More rights to their lands were won and the price of crops rose. Richer peasants now had surplus cash, which they put into improving their farms and increasing productivity. By doing this they started to gain independence, and became known as ‘yeoman’ (some see them as the start of a middle-class and of ambitious lil capitalists).

1500s: These richer peasants (“yeomans”) started controlling common land, and making deals on how poor peasants can use it.

Early-1600s: This left poorer peasants in a crap position. They now lost land rights, and were easily exploited by nobles and yeomans. Rents doubled from 1590 to 1640. This shifted things to large-scale capitalist farming, where farmers specialized in particular crops, your wealth depends on producing a surplus and the market determines prices, profits, wages and rents. The King buddied up with the yeomans, gave them political power to screw over some nobles who were causing problems. This led to a stronger Parliament, populated with landowners.

Late-1600s: The King freaked out that maybe Parliament, and these landowners, were now too powerful. He was right. The King could no longer argue ‘G*d put me here to rule!’ and maintain power. Parliament waged literal war against the Crown, and won power. That is why today, Parliament is the supreme ruler of the land and the Queen sits at behest of Parliament (signing whatever is put in front of her).

1700s: Larger landowners (some with noble titles, some without, some coming from yeoman class) now held power and could screw over smaller landowners. Parliament (which the larger landowners controlled) passed laws privatizing common lands and selling them off to the rich – 6.5 million acres of common lands became privatized by Parliament. That’s 20% of the total land of England. This was catastrophic for poor people. They lived off this common land, farming it and sustaining themselves. Now they had to rely wholly on wages from working for rich people. Since they couldn’t sustain themselves, this also meant they became consumers of goods. The structure was now: rich guy owns the large farm, a rich farmer is put in charge of it, and that farmer pays a bunch of poor people wages to work the land. Capitalism grew from this destruction of rights to commons and prioritisation of rights to individual property ownership. This was how agrarian capitalism was born.

1760s onwards: Off the back of this (and a bunch of other things) markets expanded and labor costs were high. Industrialisation kicked off as tech was created to replace/minimize use of workers. This was how industrialized capitalism was born.

This is obviously really reductive. I got this info from here. But it’s interesting how connected it is to land use and creation of the idea of property and destruction of idea of common land. Many draw parallels between native title and common land. The English rich in the 1700s did not appreciate the idea of collective ownership/use of land, and this informed their disregard for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s claims of collective ownership/use/guardianship of the land.