They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.
And they inclos’d my infin­ite brain into a nar­row circle,
And sunk my heart into the Abyss, a red round globe hot burning
Till all from life I was oblit­er­ated and erased.

Blake, Vis­ions of the Daugh­ters of Albion (Plate 2, Erd­man 47)

Down sunk with fright a red hot globe, round, burn­ing, deep,
Deep down into the abyss, pant­ing, con­glob­ing, trembling;
And a second age passed over, and a state of dis­mal woe

Blake, The Book of Urizen (Plate 11, Erd­man 75)

Thanks to Noel Che­va­lier for spot­ting the ori­gin­al misat­tri­bu­tion of Blake’s quote (see com­ments below).

Linebaugh: Red Round Globe Hot BurningJohnny Flynn, of the Irish Inde­pend­ent Left, has con­duc­ted an excel­lent inter­view with the his­tor­i­an Peter Line­baugh, dis­cuss­ing his new book, Red Round Globe, Hot, Burn­ing: A Tale at the Cross­roads of Com­mons and Clos­ure, of Love and Ter­ror, of Race and Class, and of Kate and Ned Des­pard, an ana­lys­is of the devel­op­ing pro­cess of enclos­ure and exploit­a­tion dur­ing a crit­ic­al era of the devel­op­ment of cap­it­al­ism in the Atlantic world.

Line­baugh has writ­ten a series of his­tor­ic­al works, focussed around issues of the com­mons and cap­it­al­ism, all of which bear heav­ily on con­tem­por­ary polit­ics. His works con­sist­ently chan­nel the voice and exper­i­ence of the work­ing classes, and track the bru­tal­ity of emer­ging cap­it­al­ism, and the resource­ful­ness and hero­ism of those who res­isted it. 

In this case, not only does he take the title of his book from Blake’s Vis­ions of the Daugh­ters of Albion, but in the book and inter­view itself he touches on the con­tin­ued sig­ni­fic­ance of Blake’s for rad­ic­al politics.

The dom­in­ant reli­gion of white suprem­acy was this dual­ist­ic view of the dev­il versus Yah­weh or a king of the uni­verse

“Tak­ing the repub­lic, the Anthro­po­cene, white suprem­acy, the modes of pro­duc­tion and put them togeth­er and it’s a massive attack, it’s a massive coun­ter­re­volu­tion, I would even say, on the plan­et and on social life of not only two-footed crit­ters but horses, live­stock, oth­er spe­cies. This is really mind blow­ing in the sense that it con­tra­dicts so many stand­ard nar­rat­ives, you know, of the sci­entif­ic revolu­tion, of indus­tri­al pro­gress, of sec­u­lar life, of the enlightenment.

I said four things. Let’s see: Anthro­po­cene; the repub­lics; white suprem­acy; modes of pro­duc­tion. I’m sure I’m miss­ing a few oth­er fun­da­ment­al pil­lars that had their found­a­tions knit togeth­er in the 1790s… Robert John­son, the blues man from the Mis­sis­sippi Delta, who was said to have made a pact with the dev­il at the cross­roads where he was gran­ted geni­us at the gui­tar and in music at the price of his soul. And far be it from me to do a soci­ology of the blues but it is one of the cul­tur­al expres­sions from Turtle Island that arose out of the plant­a­tion and against white supremacy.

The dom­in­ant reli­gion of white suprem­acy was this dual­ist­ic view of the dev­il versus Yah­weh or a king of the uni­verse, and Robert John­son defied it in his music. And I see a dir­ect rela­tion­ship between that and Wil­li­am Blake. Wil­li­am Blake’s Vis­ions of the Daugh­ters of Albion is a beau­ti­ful med­it­a­tion against white suprem­acy, against polit­ic­al dom­in­a­tion, against the love of the body, against Eros, against the ali­en­a­tion of labour. It’s a great poem inspired by the Haitian revolt of 1791.”

“I think the USA and the UK are def­in­itely hanging on, gasp­ing for life towards the end of their sell-by date. They’re no longer polit­ic­al organ­iz­a­tions that can solve the prob­lems that are facing us, begin­ning with the effects of the Anthro­po­cene or plan­et­ary warm­ing. Their answer, at least, has been to intensi­fy class inequal­it­ies and to intensi­fy white suprem­acy and they’re totally at a loss about what to do against very vibrant forces from the assem­blies of the Occupy era from 2011, to the attempts at, quote, ‘social­ist con­sti­tu­tions’ in Lat­in Amer­ica, against the George Floyd upris­ing of this last sum­mer. They’re not able to meet these challenges.”

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