September 3, 2012 by alunparry
Wigan Diggers Festival: Guest Blog From Madrid
When I announced that I am playing the Wigan Diggers Festival this Saturday (8 September), I received a message from a fan from Madrid, Pablo Gutierrez.
Unlikely as it seems, Pablo told me that the 17th century Wiganer was his hero!
So I invited him to write a guest blog here explaining why. Here it is:
Gerrad Winstanley: An Unlikely Personal Hero
Many of us have our own personal heroes. At least, I certainly have some of them.
And, right there amongst them, Gerrard Winstanley has a prominent place.
It is really unlikely for a twenty-first century Spaniard to have a seventeenth century Englishman as a hero. Even more so if he is not one of the widely known figures of the time, but a relatively obscure secondary character.
So, how is it that the huge gap between seventeenth century England and twenty-first century Spain is bridged? Well, to start with, getting to know remarkable (though to a certain extent forgotten) figures of the past is one plus of studying History, particularly with good teachers.
So I have been lucky enough to learn about Winstanley through books and articles by great historians.
And in Winstanley one finds a very inspiring figure.
During extremely difficult times, in the midst of a revolution, in moments in which the whole world seemed to be turned upside down, he found the right questions to be asked, the real concerns that should be dealt with, in designing a functioning society.
He was a profound and thorough thinker, and worried about common people, not the elites. He reflected on the very foundations of the society, and found no reason why some would have wealth and properties and many would have almost nothing but suffering, why so many needed to tirelessly work only for so few to have easy lives.
And he envisioned a new society, with new foundations, in which every person would have equal rights and equal duties; in which the focus would be put in the common good.
He rightly pointed to the greed of the few, to the “covetousness”, as the very root of the evil in the society, given than the Earth was a common treasure able to provide enough for everyone. And proposed a way to avoid that greed and build a just society.
There is much in his books to learn. Not the exact proposals, but the principles and ideas on which those proposals were based on.
Justice, fraternity, fairness, common good. He was a pioneer in political science in putting the economy at the very centre of the social structure. A path that was fruitfully followed a couple of centuries later.
But, enough as all of this is to make him a true hero, what made him a proper legend is that he not only proposed, not only thought, not only wrote.
As he famously wrote, “..yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts ran into me, that words and writings were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing”.
So he acted accordingly.
He tried to lead by example, and led a group that tried to put in action his ideas, building a little society with common shared property that would be an invitation for other people to join and peacefully extend the model.
That didn’t work, having to face all kinds of opposition and problems. Still, the dual process in which thinking and acting mutually enrich each other provided a fit model for a social leader.
He might have failed in one sense, but he still provided a valid example that shed light on the still unsolved problems of building a society in which each person can have his or her fair share of the common good, in which every person is a citizen and have equal dignity.
In these times of crisis, of uncertainty, of relentless attacks by the powerful elites on the common people, Winstanley can still be a source of inspiration, and has every right to be a personal hero of a twenty-first century Spaniard.
Note about the author:
LFC fans may be interested to know that Pablo Gutierrez is author of An Eventful Season (And A Half) – A personal account of the second spell of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool FC manager which is available from Amazon for just £1.66