freedom manifesto

Capitalism versus Freedom

Capitalism is not freedom. Capital is a condition of freedom under capitalism.

What does that mean?

In order to have “freedom” of choice, you must have capital (wealth/property).

For example, those with capital can choose not to work.

Those without capital must find employment in order to buy food, clothes, shelter, etc. or to maintain acceptable living standards, although workers often live in poverty anyway. This means they have to sell their ability to work. The capitalist exploits the worker.

Employment does not provide workers with a wage that would allow them to accumulate enough capital to leave employment. This is a form of coercion, which holds the capitalist economy together.

In other words, the purpose of the wage is to ‘keep the labourer in bare existence as a labourer’.

This is known as ‘wage slavery’.

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HISTORY MEME → [6/9] Figures: Catherine the Great

Catherine II (Russian: Екатерина Алексеевна Yekaterina Alekseyevna; 2 May [O.S. 21 April] 1729 – 17 November [O.S. 6 November] 1796), also known as Catherine the Great (Екатери́на Вели́кая, Yekaterina Velikaya), was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country’s longest-ruling female leader and arguably the most renowned (although Peter the Great was the only Tsar officially designated as “The Great”). She came to power following a coup d'état when her husband, Peter III, was assassinated. Russia was revitalised under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognised as one of the great powers of Europe.

In both her accession to power and in rule of her empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favourites, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by highly successful generals such as Alexander Suvorov and Pyotr Rumyantsev, and admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding rapidly by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate was crushed following victories over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish wars, and Russia colonised the vast territories of Novorossiya along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas. In the west, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine’s former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski, was eventually partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started to colonise Alaska, establishing Russian America.

Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas, and many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and the economy continued to depend on serfdom, and the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs. This was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachev’s Rebellion of cossacks and peasants.

The period of Catherine the Great’s rule, the Catherinian Era, is often considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire and the Russian nobility. The Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country. She enthusiastically supported the ideals of The Enlightenment, thus earning the status of an enlightened despot. As a patron of the arts she presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, a period when the Smolny Institute, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established.

In the Middle Ages, rents tended to be low, as the properties were administered by the monks. Even the manor houses tended to be kinder landlords than is generally considered. In The Common Stream, Rowland Parker’s history of the Cambridgeshire village of Foxton, we read of annual rents of one penny for a twenty-seven-acre smallholding, a sum which could be a hundredth of the peasant’s annual income. Imagine paying £300 a year today for a ten-acre farm.

Land was more evenly shared: in Foxton, 27 families shared 840 acres. Manor house owners and monks weren’t like today’s property developers; they did not buy and sell properties in the hope of making vast capital profits. They were long-term stewards of the properties and the lands that went with them. The institution -whether family or monastery - was bound to outlive any individual. Therefore, sustainability was built into the programme.

Rowland Parker finds examples of rents unchanged for five hundred years; there were also peppercorn rents, meaning, nothing. As in other areas of life, the maintenance of a healthy community, a commune, was more important than money-getting, and low rents with long leases tended to promote local harmony.

[…]

Before 1600, the average peasant was living very well. He was more free than is generally thought. He was living exactly the life to which today’s stockbrokers aspire: a big house in the country with horses, animals and land. It’s just that the peasant didn’t have to slave in the city from 7 a.m. every weekday to get it: he just had to work for a day or two each week on the manorial land. Every tenant peasant had his own arrangement with the manor house. Here are two thirteenth-century examples from Rowland Parker:

Thomas Vaccarius holds 9 acres of land with a house, and he must do each year 100 days work, plough one acre and do carting service when required. He shall receive one hen, and shall mow and stack. His services are valued at 10s a year, and he pays a rent of 3d.

John Aubrey holds 18 acres of land with a house, and he must do 52 days work a year, must plough for 2 days, do 2 boon-works at harvest, mow the meadow for 2 days, cart the hay, repair the roof of the hall, harrow the oat-land along with his fellows, and he shall receive one hen and 16 eggs. His services are valued at 9s 8d and he pays a rent of 2s 6d.

Thomas Vaccarius paid a tiny fraction of his wages in rent for his nine-acre holding. He worked just two days a week. John Aubrey had eighteen acres of land and a job which only required him to work one day a week and which, in today’s values, pays him thirty grand a year (putting his rent at £7,000, a modest amount for such a considerable property). The rest of the time, John and Thomas would be working on their smallholdings and practising a craft or several crafts by which they earned more money.

—  Tom Hodgkinson, Freedom Manifesto

On This Day In History~ May 2nd

1729; The birth of Catherine the Great

Catherine II, also known as Catherine the Great (2 May 1729 – 17 November 1796), was the most renowned and the longest-ruling female leader of Russia, reigning from 9 July 1762 until her death in 1796 at the age of 67. Her reign was called Russia’s golden age. She was born in Stettin, Pomerania, Prussia as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, and came to power following a coup d'état and the assassination of her husband, Peter III, at the end of the Seven Years’ War. Russia was revitalized under her reign, growing larger and stronger than ever and becoming recognized as one of the great powers of Europe.

In both her accession to power and in rule of her empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favourites, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by highly successful generals such as Pyotr Rumyantsev and Alexander Suvorov, and admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding rapidly by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate was crushed following victories over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish wars, and Russia colonised the vast territories of Novorossiya along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas. In the west, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine’s former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski, was eventually partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started to colonise Alaska, establishing Russian America.

Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas, and many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and economy continued to depend on serfdom, and the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs. This was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachev’s Rebellion of cossacks and peasants.

The period of Catherine the Great’s rule, the Catherinian Era, is often considered the Golden Age of the Russian Empire and the Russian nobility. The Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country. A notable example of an enlightened despot, a correspondent of Voltaire and an amateur opera librettist, Catherine presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, when the Smolny Institute, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established.

The love of freedom and the freedom of love will make love in the bed of freedom.
—  The Manifesto of Surrealism (qtd in “Surrealist Subversion in Chicago,” by Ron Sakolsky)