Over the coming weeks, as we turn to the new year, L&F will be publishing a series of short pieces on the theme “A Vision of the Future.” The initial pieces are the result of a housewarming gathering at a friend’s house in southern Arizona with the same prompt. Friends brought dreams, poems, interpretative dances, speeches, and theses on the theme, instructed to keep them under 3 minutes long.
1. In 1525, during the Radical Reformation in Germany, millenarians and Anabaptists, followers of the revolutionary theologian Thomas Müntzer, summarized the goal of their peasant rebellion with three words: Omnia Sunt Communia. Everything for Everyone.
2. The Franciscans, a mendicant Catholic order founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi, sought a life of poverty, which they defined as “the voluntary abdication of ownership for the Lord’s
In Defense of the Mendicants, written in 1269 by the medieval Franciscan St. Bonaventure, the author examines four relationships to earthly things: ownership, possession, usufruct, and simple use. Pope Nicholas III later added a fifth: simple de facto use.
According to Agamben, they sought “to think life as that which is never given as property but only as a common use.”
3. In 1703, a travelogue entitled Curious Dialogues with a Savage of Good Sense Who Has Travelled portrayed a dialogue between the Indigenous Wendat intellectual Kandiaronk and an Enlightenment thinker named Lahontan.
- “I have spent six years reflecting on the state of European society,” said Kandiaronk, “and I still can’t think of single way they act that’s not inhuman, and I genuinely think this can only be the case, as long as you stick to your distinctions of ‘mine’ and ‘thine.’ I affirm that what you call money is the devil of devils; the source of all evils; the bane of souls and the slaughterhouse of the living.”
4. On April 1, 1649, a group of 20-30 landless peasants gathered at St George's Hill in the parish of Walton-on-Thames, England and began to squat the recently privatized land, sowing food and working the land in common. “The old world…is running up like parchment in the fire,” they declared.
They issued a manifesto, entitled: A Declaration from the Poor Oppressed People of England Directed to all that call themselves or are called lords of manors, through this nation; that have begun to cut, or that through fear and covetousness, do intent do cut down the woods and trees that grow upon the commons and waste land.
They wrote: “we shall have no occasion of quarreling (as you do) about that disturbing devil, called particular property. For the earth, with all her fruits of corn, cattle and such like, was made to be a common storehouse of livelihood to all mankind, friend and foe, without exception.”
5. In 1968, revolutionaries in Paris painted a quote on the walls of the city, attributed to St Augustine: "The cause of all wars, riots and injustices is the existence of property.
6. On January 1, 1994, a group of revolutionaries in the Lacandon Jungle of Mexico declared war on the Mexican state, proclaiming: Para todos, todo. Everything for everyone.
7. In L.A. in 1992, in Ferguson in 2014, in Minneapolis in 2020, combatants desacralized property and held their cities in common, declaring their lives sacred. In 2015, as Allen Ginsberg predicted, “Baltimore gleamed in supernatural ecstasy.”
8. In 2022, in Tucson, Arizona a group of revolutionaries sick of a life of mediocrity and languid nihilism, decided to proceed boldly…
9. To return to Paris, 1968: “Quickly, comrades, the old world is right behind you.” Omnia Sunt Communia.