Issued alongside the Magna Carta on November 6, 1217, the Charter of the Forest is among the first ecological charters in history and among the first to assert the rights of the common man and woman. It is an assertion of the rights of ordinary people to the right to subsistence.
For hundreds of years after 1217 it was more influential than the Magna Carta itself; every church was required to read it out four times a year in designated services.
In August by wonderful serendipity I joined with others on a Barge trip from Windsor to Runnymede to learn about the Charter of the Forests from Guy Standing and others. Guy coined the notion of the dangerous ‘precariat’ class, has written two books about it and has visited New Zealand a number of times.He has also written about and supports Universal Basic Income. Cricket tragic and bloody good bloke. Big brain too. He has written about the Charter of the Forests here and here.
Of the Charter of the Forests he says:
We must use this anniversary year to revive and to defend the Charter’s principles, including its assertion that every commoner has the right to subsistence. It is a wonderful opportunity to organise a series of events to celebrate, defend and revive the commons, thereby exposing the ideology behind the ongoing plunder of the commons and the micro-politics behind it.
I’ll be celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Charter with others at the Southern Cross in Wellington at 6pm tomorrow, November 6th 2017. All welcome.
Some things never die. The idea of citizens’ rights to the commons has real power.