Friday, February 25, 2005

Government Denies Alberta Families Public Day Care

On the heels of the Federal Government announcement in it's Budget 2005 that Alberta was entitled to $70 million dollars for public day care this year, for a total of $500 million dollars over the next five years which would include expanding spaces and possible wage increases to underpaid staff, all money from one source us, Alberta taxpayers.

Alberta Government Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth still refuses to accept the money if it doesn't go to for profit day cares. Once again this government is cutting its nose to spite it's face.

As of today it has been reported in the news that a private day care operator left another of the children in their care to wander off unsupervised. In Montreal a private day care operator was charged with abusing two children in her care.

So despite the evidence that for profit day care is about business not child care or child development, Alberta being the bastion of Republican ideology in Canada, continues to insist that funds go to these profiteers.

"The program should offer parents choice and flexibility, whether it's not-for-profit or for-profit, whether they choose to a day care or day home," said Forsyth.

The Alberta government insists on short changing Alberta families as I point out in the the IWW Family Day Press Release, Alberta Families say: Show Us the Money, Ralph

"Alberta Families deserve their share of the Federal Day Care fund, they paid for it they want it and need it. The Klein government’s insistence on using taxpayer money to benefit private for profit day cares denies Alberta families access to affordable public day care. It also denies day care workers a Living Wage. Currently many child care workers in Alberta make barely above the minimum wage of $5.90 an hour. Parents are forced to work shift work in order to take care of their children at home, due to the lack of public day care spaces. Parents working two jobs each, just to make ends meet are being left out of the “Alberta Advantage”.

Alberta has the lowest use of public day care in Canada, because the Alberta Government has allowed private for profit day care centres and baby sitting services to access funds earmarked for public day care. Alberta families are paying for someone to profit off their plight and without access to Federal funds, they will be paying twice for the privilege of having no access to public day care.

Alberta Families deserve their share of the Federal Day Care fund, they paid for it they want it and need it. The Klein government’s insistence on using taxpayer money to benefit private for profit day cares denies Alberta families access to affordable public day care. It also denies day care workers a Living Wage. Currently many child care workers in Alberta make barely above the minimum wage of $5.90 an hour. Parents are forced to work shift work in order to take care of their children at home, due to the lack of public day care spaces. Parents working two jobs each, just to make ends meet are being left out of the “Alberta Advantage”.

Alberta has the lowest use of public day care in Canada, because the Alberta Government has allowed private for profit day care centres and baby sitting services to access funds earmarked for public day care. Alberta families are paying for someone to profit off their plight and without access to Federal funds, they will be paying twice for the privilege of having no access to public day care."

Forsyth and the Government continue to push their privatization ideology despite facts to the contrary. The fact is that all of the incidence of child abuse in day cares in the province have occured in for profit day cares. And still she insists on funding them at the expense of a good public day care system.

Private for profit day care is not about child development it's about profit. The Alberta government loves to spend public money on caring for millionares rather than public day care.

"Reporter Laurie Monsebraaten profiled one of Australia's richest men in the Toronto Star this week. What's the secret to Canadian-born Eddy Groves' success? Child care. Or more accurately, a government that invested heavily in child care and allowed commercial operators access to public cash. "
Big box child care: how to become a millionaire

Last Updated Thu, 24 Feb 2005 23:26:44 EST
CBC News

EDMONTON - An Edmonton day care that left an infant locked inside alone in the dark has been ordered shut down after another toddler was found unwatched in a playground.

The Alberta Ministry of Children's Services took the rare step of immediately removing the licence for the Bearspaw Day Care Centre, said Ron Bos, a spokesman for Edmonton Child and Family Services.

A 20-month-old child was left alone in an outdoor playground on Wednesday, Bos told the Canadian Press.

"It was a second incident regarding a lack of supervision and putting a child at imminent risk in the past month, so we felt we had no choice but to issue a stop order and immediately close the day-care centre."

The centre came under public scrutiny on Jan. 27, when a six-month-old boy was locked up alone for about three hours after staff went home for the night.

A provincial probe found the day care didn't have parents sign their children in and out as required under government regulations. It banned the centre from caring for children under 19 months of age.

The second incident surfaced after a man heard the child crying in the yard and took him into the day care, then called child services, who investigated.

The owner of the day care, Bonita Berezanski, declined comment Thursday.

However, a parent who has been leaving her 18-month-old child at the day care for six months was disappointed by the news.

"It was about three to five minutes before they realized the little guy wasn't there," Amanda Hall, who was there when the latest incident occurred, told the Canadian Press.

"This centre is great. –It's sad that we have to say goodbye to the people who love our children." The province has issued stop orders to only two other licensed day cares in the province.

The centre has 14 days to appeal the decision.

In the meantime, Bos said the 36 families who had children in the day care were contacted and given a letter explaining the reasons for the closure.


Mike Sadava
The Edmonton Journal

February 25, 2005

EDMONTON - An Edmonton day-care centre that locked a baby inside after hours last month and left a toddler outside on Wednesday has been closed by the province.

The Bear's Paw Day Care Centre was permanently shut down Thursday by Child and Family Services after a 20-month-old toddler was left unsupervised in an outdoor play area Wednesday morning.

A worker in an apartment building overlooking the play area apparently heard the toddler crying and eventually took the child inside the centre.

It was a sunny, spring-like day, and the child was unharmed.

A month ago, the same day care, located in a strip mall near 105th Street and 19th Avenue, had its baby room shut down by Child and Family Services after staff locked up for the night, leaving an infant in a crib for three hours.

On Wednesday, six children aged 20 months to three years were playing in the fenced outdoor area that includes several slides and small play houses.

The children were supervised by three staff members, said Ron Bos, Edmonton spokesman for Child and Family Services. When it came time to take the children back inside, the 20-month-old was somehow left behind, he said.

Paul Kovacs, the worker in the next-door apartment building, heard crying. He initially thought it was coming from one of the suites and went back to work, but still heard the crying and discovered it was coming from the day care's play area. He went down to investigate.

"He had no gloves, one boot was already off. If I hadn't come out here, who knows how long it would've been until they came out here and found the kid."

Kovacs estimated he heard the crying for about 30 minutes.

Bos said the "stop order" means the day care is shut down permanently. The fact that this is the second incident had a major impact on the decision, he said.

"To us, they're one and the same, leaving a child unattended and at imminent risk," Bos said. "Considering that, relatively speaking, they happened back to back plays a huge part in it, because we did put measures in place and ordered the day care to follow those measures.

"It doesn't stop them from applying for another licence somewhere down the road, but their track record would come into play."

Only two other stop orders have been issued in the Edmonton region over the past 20 years, Bos said.

The owner of the Bear's Paw centre, Bonita Berezanski, has a separate licence to run an out-of-school care program for school-aged children in the same building. That operation is not affected by the stop order and can remain open, he said.

The 36 families affected by the closure were contacted by Children's Services on Thursday.

Most parents interviewed after picking up their youngsters from the centre were sympathetic to the owners.

"The staff have been kind to these children, and we're all guilty of making mistakes," said Amanda Hall, who had a two-year-old at the centre.

She was dropping her child off and signing some papers around the time the toddler was found. She estimated the child was alone for three to five minutes.

"It's sad that we're losing the people who love our kids," said Hall, who had already found a space for her two-year-old in another day-care centre.

Fannie Very, whose twin three-year-old girls had been going to Bear's Paw for two months, said she didn't think the centre should be closed down.

"I have no child care as of now," said Very, who works at a call centre. "I have a full-time job I've been struggling to keep because of child-care issues."

She acknowledged that she would be angry if her child was left outside.

Bos said parents picking up children Thursday were given a list of day cares and a letter explaining that Bear's Paw was closed. "We know there are 36 families under stress, but given the circumstances, we felt we didn't have a choice."

Berezanski and staff at the centre declined to be interviewed.

© The Edmonton Journal 2005


Canadian Press

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

MONTREAL (CP) -- A day-care operator was found guilty Wednesday of two counts of aggravated assault after two babies in her care suffered skull fractures.

Cathy Matteau, 23, has yet to be sentenced.

The babies suffered their injuries within a week of each other and only days after starting at Matteau's at-home day care in early March 2003.

The six-month-old infant ended up with a skull fracture. The 11-month-old had a similar fracture, along with six smashed vertebrae, and showed signs of shaken-baby syndrome.

In a videotaped statement Matteau gave to police after her arrest in 2003, Matteau suggested the babies might have been "pitched against a wall.''

Dr. Dominique Marton, a child abuse expert, testified last week the babies probably had their heads banged against a hard, flat surface, like a wall, floor or ceiling.
© Canadian Press 2005


James Baxter

The Edmonton Journal; with files from CanWest News Service, and The Canadian Press.

February 24, 2005

EDMONTON - The Martin government pledged $5 billion over five years for a national child- care program Wednesday, but Alberta is prepared to forgo its share if it comes with too many strings attached.

Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth said there was little new in the budget to help end the federal-provincial standoff over Social Services Minister Ken Dryden's push to create a national child-care program.

She said the provinces were expecting the budget would offer a blueprint for the next round of negotiations, but their concerns went largely unaddressed.

Instead, Finance Minister Ralph Goodale announced that an initial payment of $700 million will be paid into a third-party trust from which provinces and territories can draw on a per-capita basis in the coming two years as provinces develop their respective child-care systems.

"I think it's good that we're getting some clarity on the federal government's funding commitment," said Forsyth, who was reached at a conference in Victoria.

"However, we still believe we have a long way to go. We're not sure that the money is coming to Alberta."

Forsyth did not rule out that Alberta could walk away from its share of the funding, an estimated $70 million this year and $500 million over the next five years, if it comes with onerous restrictions.

At the top of Forsyth's concerns is any system that requires funds be spent on accredited day-care programs, rather than giving individual parents the choice to use the money to raise their children however they see fit.

"There's never that kind of agreement, where we're talking that kind of money, that there's no strings attached. Never. Trust me," she said. "I think those are some of the things that we have to hammer out."

Forsyth said she is disappointed that the federal government refuses to look at other measures to ease the burden on stay-at-home parents. She said what she hears most is a request for tax relief for parents who choose to raise their own children.

"That was never discussed at the (Vancouver) meeting," she said. "It wasn't even considered or talked about at the table and Minister Dryden made that very, very clear. We're talking about a national day care (program) in this particular funding model."

Child-care advocates cheered the budget announcement and said Forsyth should use the funds to bolster child care centres.

"I am pretty confident that the (Alberta) government has a strong idea of what is needed here to develop quality child care and will look at it carefully and consider the issues," said Sherrill Brown, who chairs the Alberta Child Care Network Association.

"I know (we) believe that it is child care's turn and that we need to be putting that money into child-care programs in order to support them so that we can support families."

"I would hope Alberta would use the funding for licensed child-care programs," said Tanya Szarko, spokeswoman for the Day Care Society of Alberta, adding that the federal government should require commitments from the provinces to invest in child care. "There needs to be a clear standard on where funds are going."

Barbara Coyle, executive director of the Canadian Child Care Federation, voiced concern that the first $700 million appears to have been doled out without sufficient conditions.

"One concern we have is that the first $700 million is flowing without strings attached, which is going to mean that we're going to have to work even more closely and vigilantly with the provinces and territories to ensure that the money is tied to (the proposed child-care program's) principles," she said.

Dryden and the ministers will meet again in the next few weeks.

© The Edmonton Journal 2005


Michelle Lang
Calgary Herald; with files from CanWest News Service

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Calgary day cares aren't banking on their share of a $700-million cheque for national child care in the federal budget, saying they need details on the proposed program and how funds will be spent.

Wednesday's budget allocated cash for a much-anticipated Canada-wide child care program -- $5 billion over five years, including $700 million for the provinces to spend in 2005.

Yet, without an agreement on the national child care initiative, which Ottawa unsuccessfully tried to broker with provinces earlier this month, the budget was short on details about the proposed program.

Local day cares -- and even Alberta politicians -- were left with unanswered questions about how the budgeted cash will be spent.

"I'm very excited about idea of the national program," said Tanya Szarko, spokeswoman for the Day Care Society of Alberta.

"But there needs to be a clear standard on where funds are going.

I wouldn't want to see funds allocated to unlicensed programs."

Despite some criticism, child care advocates also praised federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale's budget for following through on Ottawa's pledge to allocate $5 billion in funds for the proposed program over five years.

In 2005, while federal-provincial negotiations on the program continue, $700 million will be available to the provinces on a per-capita basis "as they require." The money will be paid into a third-party trust.

It isn't clear how Alberta will spend its share of the cash. Alberta Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth said she needs clarification from federal Social Development Minister Ken Dryden about how the $700 million can be spent.

"We need to understand how they see the money flowing," she said.

Earlier this month, Forsyth refused to sign on to Dryden's national childcare proposal during federal-provincial talks in Vancouver, saying the initiative should be more flexible in allowing parents to choose the type of day care they prefer. Forsyth also wanted guarantees Ottawa will fund the national program after its five-year commitment.

On Wednesday, she said her position hadn't changed.

"The program should offer parents choice and flexibility, whether it's not-for-profit or for-profit, whether they choose to a day care or day home," said Forsyth.

Some in Calgary's day care community agreed the cash should simply be handed over to lower- and middle-income families to subsidize child care costs at licensed facilities.

Georgina Leimert of Mount Royal Day Care suggested some funds might also go to upgrading day cares and paying for more staff training.

Leimert said it shouldn't pay for parents to stay at home and take care of their children themselves.

"I'm wondering where is this money supposed to go," she said. "The government hasn't said."

The $5-billion child-care investment also includes $100 million to develop early childhood programs on First Nations reserves. Moreover, government proposed $120 million over five years to improve an existing on-reserve special education program for First Nations children.

While child-care initiatives made headlines in Wednesday's budget, the spotlight was off of health care.

The budget did, however, outline the payment plan for the $41-billion health-care accord Ottawa and the provinces reached last fall.

Federal cash transfers will rise from $16.3 billion this year to $19.6 billion next year, Goodale said.

After that, transfers will escalate by six per cent annually until they reach $30.5 billion in 2013-14.

© The Calgary Herald 2005

February 24, 2005


CALGARY - Turning away from $500 million in daycare funding for Alberta would leave Alberta parents in a lurch. That was the opinion of D'Arcy Lanovaz, Alberta President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Lanovaz was responding to media reports that Children's Services Minister Heather Forsyth might turn down federal day care funds if the money has to go to accredited day care centres. Alberta's share of the funding would be approximately $500 million over five years.

"What the minister is saying is that unless the government does what she wants, Alberta parents get left out in the cold," said Lanovaz. "Turning your back on that kind of support doesn't make sense - it's a crime against working parents."

"The provincial government likes to talk about 'choice' for parents, but what kind of choice do parents have when the government turns its back on funding for more and better daycare spaces," said Lanovaz. "All Forsyth is doing is taking choices away."

Lanovaz said that the federal government promised a national childcare program, and that CUPE supports a system geared towards non-profit care.

"Study after study, including a recent study by the University of Toronto, shows that non-profit day care centres provide the highest quality care on almost any factor you measure," said Lanovaz.

"Why is the provincial government against quality child care?"


Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Wild West Buyout

Crony Capitalism Alberta Style

Controversy swirls around the Alberta Legislature this week while our Fuehrer, Herr Klein is off vacationing. Isn't that always the way it is in Alberta, shit happens and the Premier is off not available for a media scrum almost like it’s planned.

This week the shit hit the fan when it was revealed that the Dark Prince of Privatization, the Premiers old drinking buddy[1], Steve West[2] was given a golden handshake of $180,000. A buyout for having been dismissed as Klein’s Chief of Staff two days after the Election debacle which saw Alberta’s One Party State reduced to an overwhelming majority of only 61 Tories from 74.

The question that has to be asked is what the hell are the taxpayers of Alberta paying Steve West for, when he was essentially running the Tory campaign. Shouldn’t the Alberta Progressive Conservative Association INC. pay their own bills? Concerned Alberta taxpayers want to know.

Only in his post for six months he spent most of that time doing electioneering for the Party of Alberta. Dismissed unceremoniously by a haggard querulous Klein he has been replaced by another Klein drinking buddy[3] and former waiter; Rod Love[4], the man who made Klein Mayor of Calgary and Premier of Alberta. If Love is Klein’s Richealu, West was his Dr. Gobblels.

“West had earned the nickname Dr. No after pulling colour televisions out of provincial jails, chopping government jobs, launching electrical deregulation and privatizing liquor stores, vehicle registries and parks. Klein said he needed a "tough taskmaster" like West in his office. But two days after the Nov. 22 election, a news release announced that West was leaving because his work was done and he wanted to return to the private sector. Although it was painted as a voluntary move, political observers have suggested West was dumped because the Tories lost seats in the election.” Macleans

West like Love had been retried from Politics when he took the job as Chief of Staff for Klein in the spring of 2004. He replaced Peter Elzinga who had stepped down to become a paid lobbyist for Suncour which was suing the provincial government, his former employer! The cronyism of the Klein government knows no bounds. And they lie about it, with perfect aplomb.

Even this week in a story about West’s golden hand shake CBC news reported that ”West was hired as Klein's chief of staff last spring when Peter Elzinga left to donate a kidney to a friend.” How humanitarian of him.

As political observer Rich Vivone says: “how the story is spun is more important than the story being told. Nobody spins as well as these guys.” Spin is polite terminology for political lies. Like the debt and deficit lie, the lies about electrical deregulation they lie well to cover their obvious cronyism.

West had been formerly the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Minister of Resources, Minister of Transportation and Public Works and had a stint as Provincial Treasurer.

As Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs, Steve West, known as the dark lord of privatization, made sure everything in his prevue was for sale. He oversaw the privatization of; the provincial Liquor Board the ALCB, our provincially funded public radio and TV stations; CKUA and ACCESS TV, as well as the Public Works department which was responsible for Highway Construction and Maintenance in Alberta.

He slashed government workers jobs replacing them with contract workers; he froze wages and benefits for those lucky enough to remain. He was Klein’s unfailing hatchet man.

"It is important to contrast this to Steve West's treatment of other people," Liberal Leader Kevin Taft said. "When he was a cabinet minister, Steve West turfed 900 ALCB (the former Alberta Liquor Control Board) employees without any severance whatsoever and it did not matter how long they worked. They were gone without sympathy, without respect, without dignity."

As one writer said of West at the time:

“In the real world, privatization isn't about money, it's about principles. Alberta's own Steve West set a tough benchmark when he cost Albertans billions of dollars by selling off government-owned land during a recession simply because it was there. Today, Steve West may not be admired for his intelligence, his concern for the public purse, or God forbid, even his business sense, but he is admired for his unwavering belief in privatization.”

West and Klein used the debt and deficit hysteria of the 1990’s to create what is now known as the Klein Revolution; the privatization and outsourcing of government services, and cuts to services to the average Albertan.

In reality the provincial fiscal shortfall which caused the temporary deficit of 1993-1994 was the result of Alberta’s already low tax base for business and its royalty holiday to the oil industry. And though it did have a debt problem, as did many governments and corporations during this period, that debt will now be paid off next year due to surpluses produced by the rising cost of oil.

The push to privatize was Steve West’s ideological conviction, not because there was any fiscal need to or benefit from doing so. Even their right wing supporters have acknowledged this.

“The province has run budget surpluses every year since 1994-95 and is rapidly paying down its net debt; this year, buoyed by surging oil and gas revenues, it is expected to post a surplus of at least $5 billion. This string of budget surpluses and the related drop in its stock of outstanding public debt have given Alberta a great deal of fiscal manoeuvring room.” Fraser Institute, 2001

As provincial Treasurer in 2000, West oversaw the shifting of the tax burden from Alberta business to the average Albertan. He declared the creation of a provincial ‘flat tax’ of 10.5 % for Albertans, another ideological solution to buoy up capitalism in the province, in order to sell the huge corporate tax cuts the government was making.

That year there was a tax shortfall, which forced the government to make it an 11% flat tax, and to again cut services for Albertans while business laughed all the way to the bank.

As the right wing think tank the Fraser Institute, cheerfully reported at the time;

“by 2004 the general corporate tax rate in Alberta will be less than half of the rates levied in the other three Western provinces;

• its corporate tax rate on manufacturing and processing income will also be less than half of the comparable BC and Manitoba rates, and considerably lower than the (variable) rates charged in Saskatchewan;

• Alberta’s small business tax rate will be the lowest in the country; and,

• Alberta will continue to enjoy other important business tax advantages over BC, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, notably in the sales tax on business inputs (Alberta does not have a sales tax), the capital tax (Alberta doesn’t impose one on non-financial enterprises, and intends to remove its capital tax on financial institutions next year), and fuel taxes.

Taxes on business in the other provinces were noticeably higher even before the unveiling of Alberta’s tax cut plan. With Alberta’s proposed reforms, the disparities in overall business tax burdens will widen dramatically— unless the other provinces respond.”

West’s most successful privatization effort benefited privately owned Trans Alta Utilities, a company where the Alberta Government has historically put to pasture its retired cabinet ministers[5]. On their behalf he convinced Klein to deregulate electricity in the province.

Privatization in Alberta was all but dormant until Klein realized he was in danger of being exposed as the neo-liberal he really is. Everything that could be usefully privatized – liquor stores and registry offices – had been, but the ideologue Steve West was able to convince Klein that Alberta’s stable electricity industry needed to be deregulated,” wrote columnist, Hamish MacAulay at the time.

The deregulation of electricity was controversial at the time, being opposed by both public utilities like the City of Edmonton’s EPCOR and private utilities like Tory Bag Man Ron Southern’s ATCO. Even business opposed the idea of deregulation, as much as the socialist NDP did.

So far deregulation has cost Alberta consumers millions in increased costs, has not produced infrastructure expansion(5) but has allowed Trans Alta to market electricity across Canada and into the U.S. which was its purpose all along.

A Calgary CIPS forum in the fall of 2001 on how the electrical industry in Alberta has experienced significant changes in the form of deregulation "Alberta is leading Canada and many other countries in this area. Dawn Farrell, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development at TransAlta Utilities, will discuss this question, based on her extensive experiences in the industry. Dawn will discuss how TransAlta re-invented itself within the Alberta context, what strategic decisions were made and why, and how, in hindsight, all of these decisions were the right ones.[6]

Deregulation may have been right for TransAlta but for the rest of the us, “Deregulating the electricity market cost Albertans $3 billion. Alberta started selling off its energy interests in 1998. In the aftermath of that move, prices tripled.

So who benefited from this Wild West scheme, besides TransAlta? Ironically it wasn’t the private sector as he had hoped, but the public utilities.

“Jaccard, former chair of the B.C. Utilities Commission and an adviser to governments in Asia, Europe and South America with respect to electricity deregulation, says in his commentary on the Alberta electricity scene that from the very beginning Alberta's plans to introduce a competitive power market had problems. After all, nothing is perfect and maybe it's progress, not perfection that counts in the long run.

That observation will, unfortunately, be of little solace to the hundreds of industrial, commercial and business power consumers who warned then-energy minister Mike Cardinal and his predecessor, Steve West, the energy minister/godfather of deregulation, that the government's plan to move to a competitive market on Jan. 1, 2001 was problematic. Electricity consumers, after all, are the ones footing the electricity bill and in those areas of Canada where low electricity rates have historically been used to attract and stimulate large industry, their fears are real.

As Jaccard points out, there were signs of impending problems with Alberta's deregulation as early as August 2000, when the government's much-touted power auction raised a mere $1 billion instead of the $3 billion to $4 billion that had been projected by industry observers.

In addition, the auction attracted only a handful of bidders, with the result that two Alberta-based, municipally owned utilities, Epcor and Enmax, were able to capture the bulk of the generation available after a number of higher-profile American energy traders dropped out of the process.

Almost one-third of the available generation did not attract bids (although a good portion sold at a second auction, adding a further $1 billion to the pool of funds available to Albertans) and an important chunk of the province's power remains inexplicably under government control to this day.

Of greater interest -- for both taxpayers and ratepayers -- is Jaccard's pricing analysis that shows most purchasers of generation (Epcor and Enmax among them) paid so little at the auction that they will most likely pay off their initial investment in just one year.

That will leave those companies free to "earn substantial profits for the remaining life of the power purchase agreements, some of which last for close to 20 years", he claims.

That suggests the government -- in its eagerness to proceed with deregulation -- sold off generation too cheaply.

Enmax, for instance, is expected to report net profits of some $250 million for the last year -- compared to $44 million in 2000.

"When distribution and other costs are added to the wholesale prices and the rebate, Alberta's net residential rates for 2001 were about 12 cents per kilowatt hour, giving the province the dubious distinction of jumping from one of the lowest to the highest electricity rates in the country," Jaccard says.” The Electricity Forum

So why are we paying Mr. West, Dr No, Dr. Death, anything since his privatization schemes have cost Alberta public sector workers their jobs and Alberta consumers millions in extra electrical costs?

A spokesperson in Klein's office said West had been working in the lucrative private sector when he came to work for the premier.”

While Klein was away he left his cabinet Ministers to fend off the press. An obviously embarrassed Iris Evans said; "This was a contractual obligation and as such they paid it out. Do I think that settlement is significant? Yes, it is significant. But I'm not necessarily saying it is out of line with what you would get in the private sector."

Once he was out of government he became a paid insider lobbyist for business interests in the province including the Hotel Owners Association, of Alberta. Again the cronyism of this government and its ex cabinet ministers knows no limits. How does being a lobbyist/consultant to the Government qualify as a private sector job, though it is obviously lucrative.

And after his return to his recent position in the government he negotiated his own contract and pay out! Nice work if you can get it. Remember this is the guy that broke union contracts and fired staff with NO severance packages.

And when we are talking about the private sector, what exactly are we referring to here, a job a MacDonalds, probably not. Even in the private sector the payouts to top executives are limited to what they would be earning. Since Dr. West didn’t earn Albertans anything, the question is why are WE paying him instead of the Tory Party which hired him?

Cronyism Abounds in the Klein Reichstadt

Prior to the provincial election last fall you could practically hear the crash and fall of the office chairs as Tory cabinet ministers rushed out of their offices to collect huge severance packages.

As the NDP pointed out during the election on their Platinum Handshake web site:

“Energy Minister Murray Smith is not just responsible for your power bills doubling – he was indeed the architect of the energy deregulation disaster.

But now, Smith is grazing the greener pastures of plum patronage on your dime. Smith is in line for a sweet gig at Alberta’s spankin’-new Washington trade office. He’s retiring from politics, so will receive about $350,000 in severance just for quitting his job. In addition, he’ll be appointed the head Washington trade office with a cool $450,000 salary, living allowance, and benefits package.

The irony is that Murray Smith shut down a bunch of trade offices in 1995, when he was Economic Development Minister. The reason? The offices had become places where Tory cronies died and went to patronage heaven, and had become a symbol of the wastefulness of Premier Don Getty’s Tory government.”

Mr. Smith was not alone, as an Edmonton Journal Editorial pointed out, he was joined by:

“Cabinet ministers Stan Woloshyn, Halvar Jonson and Pat Nelson are all in line for a "transition allowance" of about $500,000 after announcing they won't be running in the next provincial election. Lorne Taylor will receive about $375,000.”

And Premier Klein will get a big fat pay out of half a million dollars when he leaves.

“While a premier's-office spokeswoman says the severance payments are intended to compensate MLAs in lieu of a pension, the government already contributes to an MLA's retirement savings by paying him or her half the maximum allowable RRSP contribution ($7,750 this year) to put into a retirement fund -- money that does not have to be matched by the member. An MLA like Jonson, elected before 1989, also receives pension benefits under the old plan eliminated by Klein in 1993.

The premier made the changes just before the 1993 election, in response to widespread voter concerns about generous pensions and practices such as double dipping, in which former Alberta cabinet ministers drew pension benefits while still sitting as MLAs. The bill effectively ended the formal pension plan for MLAs elected after 1989.

During the subsequent election, Klein told disgruntled voters that 35 MLAs, including himself, would receive "no pension whatsoever." Yet all these MLAs receive an RRSP allowance each year and a severance payout upon retirement. Klein will be eligible for a severance package of more than $500,000 if he retires before the next election.”

Total cost for taxpayers for rats jumping ship $5 million. Let’s remember this is the same government that fired workers and gave them no severance. Something Herr Klein should remember when he gives his pal $180,000 after firing him.

But in Alberta it’s the workers who get the goose, while those giving the goose get the golden egg.


Lorraine Turchansky

Canadian Press

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

EDMONTON (CP) - The man who once presided over the firing of hundreds of Alberta civil servants was condemned Wednesday as a hypocrite for taking a $180,000 severance package after six months of work in the premier's office.

Steve West, who was a cabinet minister in the days of massive cost-cutting by the Conservatives in the 1990s, returned as Premier Ralph Klein's chief of staff in February 2004.

West had earned the nickname Dr. No after pulling colour televisions out of provincial jails, chopping government jobs, launching electrical deregulation and privatizing liquor stores, vehicle registries and parks. Klein said he needed a "tough taskmaster" like West in his office.

But two days after the Nov. 22 election, a news release announced that West was leaving because his work was done and he wanted to return to the private sector.

Although it was painted as a voluntary move, political observers have suggested West was dumped because the Tories lost seats in the election.

"Steve West boasted of terminating hundreds and in some cases thousands of employees, many of whom never got any severance," fumed Liberal Opposition Leader Kevin Taft. "It's just outrageous. It's completely morally bankrupt."

Taft called on West to refuse to take the money on ethical grounds.

West was not available for comment.

NDP Leader Brian Mason called the payout "hypocritical in the extreme."

He suggested that if West is so fond of working in the private sector, he should take a severance package in line with that sector. Most corporate managers, he noted, get a month's pay for each year worked, so that would put West's buyout at two weeks.

Instead, his severance totalled more than his annual salary, which is believed to be in the range of $113,000-$152,000.

Klein is on vacation and was not available for comment. Deputy premier Shirley McClellan said she wasn't prepared to talk about the West contract because it was none of her business.

Taft recently fired his own chief of staff, which is also a taxpayer-funded position. That severance was still being negotiated, "but it's well within what you would expect normally," he said, possibly a month or two's pay.

Dan MacLennan, who heads the union that represents Alberta government employees, said he didn't blame West personally for seeking the best possible deal for himself. In fact, he said he wished his negotiators could get those kinds of deals.

"We're bargaining with the government today and there's not a lot of money for change right now, so when the members see $180,000 for someone, they'd like to know how that bargaining worked compared to ours," said MacLennan.

© The Canadian Press 200


Broadcast News

Thursday, February 17, 2005

EDMONTON -- A former chief of staff for Alberta Premier Ralph Klein is defending his large severance package.

The premier's office confirmed earlier this week that Steve West was paid $180,000 more than his annual salary -- after working only six months.

West says the money was equivalent to one year's salary, plus a payout of his benefits.

He says what he received was less than half of what he was making in the private sector over the past four years.

West received $119,000 four years ago when he retired as a member of the Alberta legislature.

He's also entitled to a member's pension of more than $27,000 a year, which he's not yet collecting.

The NDP has said the province should take its cue from the private sector when it comes to paying severance to managers.

The going rate for corporations is one month's pay for a year worked.

Watchdog says former minister's image as a 'tax warrior' is tarnished


The lucrative severance package given Steve West for six months of work tarnishes a reputation he built as a "tax warrior," said a spokesman for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation yesterday. West, a former provincial government minister, was given $180,000 in severance after serving -- for only six months -- as Premier Ralph Klein's chief of staff.

Federation spokesman David MacLean called it ironic that a politician who did so much to hold the public service accountable and to cut government spending, ended up as a bureaucrat who took home "an obscene" amount of cash for very little work.

"He was so tough on spending and expected so much from government and bureaucrats and now he himself is on the receiving end of a huge lump of taxpayer money," said MacLean.

"He led the charge and gained a reputation as a friend of taxpayers ... this tarnishes that reputation."

West's approach was considered the epitome of conservatism during Klein's early years as premier and is responsible for the privatization of liquor stores and registries in the province.

West's severance package shows just how far the Klein government has strayed from its promise to be a fiscally-conservative administration, said MacLean.

"This government has drifted far from what got them there in the first place -- fiscal conservatism and respect for taxpayers' dollars," said MacLean.

Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft demanded West give the money back.

Taft said that under West's watch, transportation and utilities workers, as well as Alberta Liquor Control Board employees, were let go in the 1990s without one dollar in severance.

Earlier in the week, the government justified their actions by saying the severance package was likely part of a contract signed to lure West from the private sector to public office.

But with the number of bright people in Alberta willing and qualified to do the job, and considering the typically short career spans of chiefs of staff, a severance package of that magnitude is never prudent, said MacLean.

West did not return calls.

Alberta's Klein appoints new 24-member cabinet

Wed. Nov. 24 2004 Canadian Press

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Ralph Klein went back to the future Wednesday, snaring former adviser and friend Rod Love to be his chief of staff for his final term.

The premier announced the move as he rolled out a new 24-member cabinet that brings together a mix of old and new faces.

Love, who was Klein's closest adviser for nearly two decades and ran his campaigns for mayor, Tory leader and premier, replaces Steve West, who is heading back to the private sector.

Love left Klein's office in 1998 to begin a private consulting business. He also did a short stint as chief of staff for former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day.

Before Monday's Alberta election, he mused that his years with Klein had been special.

"I had a great run with him -- 19 years,'' he said. "Everything I have got in this world I owe to him.''

The Tories won the Monday vote, capturing 61 seats in the 83-seat legislature. But the victory party was subdued as opposition members reclaimed a number of Tory seats in Edmonton and even won in Klein's hometown of Calgary.

Klein said West served him well in a transition period after Love's successor, Peter Elzinga, stepped down last April.

"I am very pleased to welcome Rod back to my staff,'' he said. "With a new mandate for our government and a very important social agenda ahead for Alberta, having Rod as my chief of staff will bring proven experience to my office team.''

Alberta shifts entire $1.5 billion cost of new power lines onto consumers

EDMONTON (CP) -- Alberta consumers are on the hook to pay the entire $1.5-billion cost of building new power lines, the province's energy minister confirmed Friday.
Greg Melchin said the province rejected a 2002 Energy and Utilities Board ruling that consumers and generators should each pay half the cost of new transmission lines.
The move has outraged consumer groups and the opposition, who say electricity customers are getting a raw deal.
But Melchin defended the decision by his predecessor, Murray Smith, to overrule the EUB.
"It wouldn't be in Albertans' interests to see the generators lose money year after year, or else we'll have no generation, we'll have no electricity at all," said the minister.
The gravity of this policy decision only became clear last month, when a report by the Alberta Electric System Operator pegged the total cost of upgrading the province's power lines at $1.5 billion.
The Consumers Association of Canada said this will mean added charges on power bills for Alberta consumers once construction of the new power lines begins.
"In many respects the generators want all of the juice and none of the pulp," said Jim Wachowich, who speaks on Alberta electricity issues for the Consumers Association.
Premier Ralph Klein had said previously that he did not support the idea of consumers paying the entire cost of new power lines.
But premier's office spokesman Jerry Bellikka said the policy shift was done for transparency.
If generators had to pay for half the cost of new power lines, they would simply pass the cost on to consumers' on the power bills anyway, said Bellikka.
But Wachowich said there's no guarantee that power generators would have had the opportunity to pass on the costs.
"If a generator went out of business or was forced to sell power cheaper than it had forecast, then consumers would not see these costs on their bill," he said.
Opposition Liberal energy critic Hugh MacDonald says Albertans are already paying some of the highest power bills in Canada and this will drive costs even higher.
"Electricity consumers in this province have been sold down the river by their government and they're going to have another add-on to their bill," said MacDonald. "This is flawed ideology."
Energy Department spokeswoman Donna McColl said when consumers start paying the cost of the new power lines in five years, the average power bill will increase by about $2 per month.
But MacDonald said department estimates have been inaccurate in the past. He pointed out Albertans were promised lower power rates under industry deregulation, but instead saw their electricity bills soar.
"How can you rely on the government's word? We have seen bills go higher and the credibility of this government on electricity deregulation go lower. They should tell us what the true costs are."

[1]Alberta, however, has a precedent. In 1992, when Gettywas Premier, Solicitor General Steve West embarrassedthe Conservative government by being involved in an altercationin a bar. It was personal, in public, and involvedliquor. When the Legislature opened some weeks later, West swore that he would not touch liquor again as long as he held public office. “ Rich Vivone

[2] “Ashley Geddes, a colleague at The Edmonton Journal, had to wait a year to get a story in print in the early '90s about cabinet minister Steve West's shenanigans in local bars. References to West's sometime drinking buddy of the day, Klein, were removed.” Mark Lisac

[3] Klein’s drinking habits have a long public history.

The stories of Klein and alcohol are endless. He drank openly as Mayor of Calgary in the 1980s. He made the St. Louis Hotel in Calgary a national institution. He drinks with reporters. When he decided to contest the Conservative Party leadership in 1992, he was asked about the drinking. His response: a guy can change. He didn’t.

[4] Love’s batting average on creating right wing party leaders is high. He also worked to get Stockwell Day elected leader of the Federal Alliance Party, ok Day was a screw up but hey that’s not Love’s fault. He went on to organize Stephen Harpers coronation as both Alliance Leader and then Leader of the newly merged Alliance/PC party.


Director since 1986 and resident of Edmonton, AB. He is a senior partner of the law firm Field LLP. Mr. Hyndman is a director of Canadian Urban Ltd., Clarke Inc., EllisDon Inc., Enbridge Inc., Melcor Developments Ltd. and Meloche Monnex Inc. He held several ministerial appointments before serving as Provincial Treasurer of Alberta from 1979 to 1986. Mr. Hyndman is a member of the Order of Canada and a trustee of the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research.

[6] DAWN FARRELL began her career at TransAlta in 1985 as a Forecast Analyst. Over the last 15 years, she has held a number of positions including Supervisor of Forecasting and Market Research, Vice President ofBusiness Development, and Executive Vice President, Independent Power Projects. Currently Executive VicePresident Corporate Development, Dawn is responsible for identifying and developing opportunities in newtechnologies, eCommerce, and Mergers and Acquisition activities. Outside of TransAlta, Dawn is a Director forMount Royal College Board of Governance, Vice Chair of the Mount Royal College Foundation, and a Member of the Calgary Foundation Investment Committee.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Many Headed Hydra


I had just finished my article on Goth Capitalism when my special book order for The Many Headed Hydra arrived. I have been devouring it ever since. Written in 2001 it inspires and completes many of the trajectories I have tried to touch on in my essay on gothic capitalism, the horror of accumulation and the commodification of humanity. Below are some reviews and background on the Many Headed Hydra and other works of its activist authors ;
Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. I would be remiss in not thanking Sam Wagar for having told me about this excellent book, which one writer compared to E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class.

Atlantic History as it is now called is the history of the under class the lumpen (german for 'rags') or ragged proletariat, those without a trade, and of course slaves. It is a history of those who built the British and American empires by the sweat of their brow, the hewers of wood and drawers of water, the perennial dispossed. This "motely crew" that became pirates, antinominal rebels, and revolutionaries against industrial capitalism.

This paradigm is contested by establishment historians, and thus falls under the rubric of 'revisionist' history, which unfortunately has been besmirched by those who use the term to justify their anti-semitic conspiracy theories. Authentic revisionst history, or historical deconstruction began with Marx, and we call it historical materialism. E.P. Thompson expanded that to include the study of the culture of the working class and proletariat, and there is a difference between these two. For the working class are former craftsmen or artisans who become part of the factory system that evolves out of artisanal production and manufacturing. The proletariat are the landless propertyless class of workers and peasants forced by enclosures into the city to find work and shelter.

That 'proletarianization' is continuing today, as it did in 16th and 17th Century Britain and North America, in the newly industrializing countries of the Third World, China, India etc. It is the crisis of the metropolis versus the privatized countryside, and in fact as I write in Global Labour in the Age of Empire, it is privatization that is currently the project of global capitalism which is mistakenly called; 'globalization'.
Rediker and Linebaugh agree with this permise, as they discuss in the British move to enclose the Fens, swampland, that was held in common, those 'drawers of water' in the 17th century were replaced with privately owned water works.

Linebaugh has written other works on the dispossed in London, and Rediker has written on Pirate culture.

Both also focus on the economic importance of enclosure, the stealing of the common lands for use as private property, and slavery; the indentured servitude of the poor as well as Africans, in the birthpangs of capitalism. I have some refernces and links to these works as well below.

Marcus Rediker has an excellent web site which includes excerpts from Hydra and several of his other books, it includes the synopsis below, as well as a sample Chapter. It also includes further articles on revisionist proletarian history and his univeristy course work on Atlantic History.

The Many Headed Hydra Synopsis

Long before the American Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a motley crew of sailors, slaves, pirates, laborers, market women, and indentured servants had ideas about freedom and equality that would forever change history. The Many Headed-Hydra recounts their stories in a sweeping history of the role of the dispossessed in the making of the modern world.
When an unprecedented expansion of trade and colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born.
These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and from the Americas back to Europe.
Marshaling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a "hydra" and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fueled the age of revolution. Others, hidden from history and recovered here, have much to teach us about our common humanit

Harry Cleaver author of Reading Capital Politcally, itself an excellent text on the politics of the revolt from below, and other "Autonomous Marxist" works has the introduction and samples of chapters on the American proletarian revolts, of Many Headed Hydra in PDF. Harry Cleaver Excerpts including Intr0duction in PDF


Reviewed by Michael Guasco, Department of History, Davidson College.
Published by H-Atlantic (June, 2003)

The Many-Headed Hydra : The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
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Review: The Many-Headed Hydra
An article from Do or Die Issue 10. In the paper edition, this article appears on page(s) 322-329.

Bookshelf Review: The Many Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic

DEMOCRATIC PIRATES The History of Decapitating Commoners by Nicolas Veroli

Canadian Journal of History, Dec 2001
History from below decks [The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic]

Northeastern Naturalist, 2001 by St Hilaire, L
The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic

Lumpen-Proletarians of the Atlantic World, Unite!
Review by Graham Russell Hodges

New York Review of Books 'The Many-Headed Hydra': An Exchange By Marcus Rediker, Peter Linebaugh, Reply by David Brion Davis

A ship of fools - Review New Statesman, Sept 3, 2001 by Stephen Howe

by Robin Blackburn

This book can be read as both an homage to, and correction of, E. P. Thompson's famous study The Making of the English Working Class (1964). Like that book, The Many-Headed Hydra is eloquent, unconventional in its sources and angle of vision, and "history from below"—it emphasizes the large historical significance of the sensibilities and conduct of ordinary people. But where Thompson described the world of British workers during the Industrial Revolution, and explored the formation of the English working class as a self-conscious political actor, this history is oceanic rather than national in scope—it is the story of the making of an Atlantic proletariat. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker are so steeped in their subject matter that they spot patterns and links that others would not notice. They evoke the bygone mentalities of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic, in ways that transport us to a world that is quite strange—yet with startling premonitions of current globalization. In his last work, Customs in Common, Thompson suggested that pre-industrial capitalism could illuminate aspects of the post-industrial era. The Many-Headed Hydra, without lapsing into anachronism, bears out this claim.

As it happens, Linebaugh and Thompson both contributed to Albion's Fatal Tree, a collection devoted to the still topical issue of capital punishment, and its meanings for the wider society, while Thompson wrote a glowing review of Rediker's Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a study of eighteenth-century mariners. Yet The Many-Headed Hydra also challenges some of Thompson's Anglocentric assumptions. While Thompson was attuned to French influences and had respect for the "old Jakes" (English Jacobins), his work paid little attention to the leavening effect of Irish and transatlantic influences and connections. Thus the remarkable figures of Olaudah Equiano, the African (or African American) anti-slavery campaigner, or Robert Wedderburn, son of a Jamaican slave and a leader of the Spencean socialists in early nineteenth-century London, made only fleeting appearances in Thompson's work, but are allotted chapters here. Thompson did give space to the activities of the Irish Revolutionary Colonel Edward Despard, but he did not mention his conflicts with English proprietors in the Caribbean nor weigh the significance of his marriage to Catherine, his Afro-Caribbean wife. In Thompson, the anti-slavery movement was represented by William Wilberforce, a persecutor of Jacobins; its more radical proponents, such as Thomas Clarkson, were not discussed.

The "hidden history" that Linebaugh and Rediker refer to in their subtitle links the radical sects of England's seventeenth-century Civil War to the later emergence of the nineteenth-century labor and anti-slavery movements, a theme which builds on the suggestion of another British Marxist historian. (The Many-Headed Hydra is dedicated to Christopher and Bridget Hill, and it is from the former that the idea is taken.) In about four hundred pages, The Many-Headed Hydra covers two hundred years of history on both sides of the Atlantic. The account combines provocative and sweeping generalization with intimate individual examples of the resistance and solidarity that grew in the wake of the growth of oceanic commerce and the rise of the maritime state.

The book opens with the real-life story of an expedition that wrecked on Bermuda and prompted Shakespeare's Tempest, though Linebaugh and Rediker use the story to highlight the rebelliousness of the crew and colonists. Then they describe the evictions and hangings that were visited on the common people by the new breed of English capitalist landlord and merchant as they sought to enclose land, establish plantations, and secure "hewers of wood and drawers of water." The third chapter supplies a close reading of the tantalizing scraps of evidence available concerning the life and beliefs of "a Blackymore Maide Named Francis" who died a Baptist in Bristol in the Civil War period, and of what was meant by those, like Francis, who declared that "God was no respecter of faces." The fourth chapter is devoted to the implications of the Putney debates—the remarkable 1647 political arguments in the General Council of Cromwell's New Model Army—and explores the maritime background of Colonel Thomas Rainborough, who enunciated democratic principles at that assembly. The fifth chapter argues that the ocean-going sailing vessels of the epoch were cradle of a picaresque proletariat—mariners, rovers, and dock-workers who evolved their own distinctive traditions of struggle and solidarity, ranging from the rough-and-ready egalitarianism and democracy of the pirate crew to the practice of striking (that is, lowering the sails of the ship). The sixth chapter establishes links between a slave conspiracy in Antigua and a 1741 plot to seize power in New York hatched by John Gwin, "a fellow of suspicious character"; Negro Peg, "a notorious prostitute"; and a "motley crew" of disreputable Irish, blacks, Dutch, and other "outcasts of the nations of the earth."

The succeeding chapter on "the motley crew in the American Revolution" argues that the revolutionary radicalism of the mariners and dockworkers made a vital contribution to the ideology of the struggle for independence. For example, they prompted the young Samuel Adams to move from the rhetoric of the "rights of Englishmen" to the more universal idiom of the "rights of man." More generally, it was within the mixed, waterfront milieu that anti-slavery ideas first gained support and then influenced at least some of the Patriots. The book concludes with chapters that trace the return across the Atlantic of revolutionary aspirations as exemplified in the lives of Edward and Catherine Despard, Robert Wedderburn, and William Blake. Vignettes full of surprising detail are interspersed with bold claims for the transcontinental spirit of revolution and virtuoso exercises in parsing the sometimes-obscure rhetoric of millennial enthusiasts.

The Many-Headed Hydra repeatedly puts familiar landmarks in a new light by showing how they reflect mercantile and Atlantic constellations of class, ideology, and power. It is interesting to be reminded that among the 39 Articles that provided the Church of England's founding principles, one permitted the state to punish Christians by death (Article 37), and another insisted "the riches and goods of Christians are not in common as touching the right, title and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast" (Article 38). And the sketch of the plan of the book I have offered above fails to do justice to many learned and fascinating digressions—for example, on the adventures of Prince Rupert of the Rhine, or on the Masaniello revolt in Naples, and the ways that each illuminates the making of the maritime state and the emergence of its "hydra-headed" proletarian antagonist.

Some will say that Linebaugh and Rediker have taken hold of some venerable bones of Marxist analysis and made them sing by means of a postmodern voodoo philosophy. The authors skillfully deploy scripture, song, and poetry to give the reader a salty taste of the distinctive cultures of their "many-headed" and motley crew. But do they not romanticize? We are told that Colonel Rainborough's father, William, rescued 339 European prisoners from enslavement in North Africa and that Rainborough himself wore on his finger a signet ring bearing a Moor's head. This emboldens the authors to hail Rainborough as a champion of anti-slavery. Maybe he was. But opposition to European enslavement in Morocco and the sporting of Moor's Heads were not at all unusual in seventeenth-century England, and did not, unfortunately, betoken general opposition to slavery or an entirely favorable view of the Moor. The authors are not wrong to see in piracy opposition to the pretensions of the maritime state. But they overdo it when they flatly announce: "Pirates were class-conscious and justice-seeking, taking revenge against merchant captains who tyrannized the common seaman and against royal authorities who upheld their prerogatives to do so." Unfortunately pirates were also quite capable of trading slaves and slaughtering innocents. In fairness, I should add that there are limits to the authors' idealization of pirates: they do not endorse an improbable recent claim that buccaneers were champions of sexual enlightenment.

Nevertheless Linebaugh and Rediker are always on the lookout for rainbow coalitions of the oppressed. This does not usually lead them to gloss over inconsistencies, such as Tom Paine's fear of a union of insurgent slaves and Indians. But it does allow them to insist that Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 was "really two quite separate uprisings," one aimed at mounting an Indian-fighting expedition and the other a challenge to the royal power that led to the freeing of servants and slaves. (Nevertheless these "quite separate" movements were both initiated by Nathaniel Bacon, and the one flowed into the other.) The authors register the scope given to the rulers to foster racial perceptions, but they are too inclined to see a spontaneous union of the oppressed and excluded waiting to emerge. They do not balance their vivid accounts of life on board ship or on the wharves with attention to the very different worlds of the slave plantation or Native American village.

I find welcome, and often persuasive, the authors' insistence that ethnic identities were often labile in this period and that the experience of a common fate aboard ship could create powerful bonds of solidarity. But I have the impression that the authors do not fully take the measure of popular complicity in the new Atlantic order, with its flood of affordable luxuries like tobacco, sugar, indigo, cacao, and so forth. Their account of the shipwreck in Bermuda does not explain how the leader of the expedition managed to restore control when the island offered land for the taking and ready means of subsistence. Shakespeare's sympathies may well have been regrettable, but his account in the Tempest of the way that plebian rebels could be sidetracked by dangling finery in front of them may not have been simply hostile caricature. Caliban is shown as possessed of better judgement when he urges his co-conspirators to shun the proffered apparel.

Here is a passage from Linebaugh and Rediker's conclusion:

… 1680-1760 witnessed the consolidation and stabilization of Atlantic capitalism through the maritime state, a financial and nautical system designed to acquire and operate Atlantic markets. The sailing ship—the characteristic machine of this period of globalization—combined features of the factory and the prison. In opposition, pirates built an autonomous, democratic, multiracial social order at sea, but this alternative way of life endangered the slave trade and was exterminated. A wave of rebellion ripped through the slave societies of the Americas in the 1730s, culminating in a multiethnic insurrectionary plot by workers in New York in 1741.

The observation concerning the sailing ship is arresting and novel, that concerning the maritime state more conventional, and the concluding flourish rhetorical. The plot of 1741 is revealed by the book to have been of broad and heartening scope. Yet it was a failure. Defeats have an undeniable pathos, yet they should not on that ground command more attention than victories.

The quoted passage continues: "In 1760-1835, the motley crew launched the age of revolution in the Atlantic, beginning with Tacky's Revolt in Jamaica and continuing in a series of uprisings throughout the hemisphere." Yet Tacky's Revolt, if scrutinized, was limited by the fact that its leaders gave it a pronouncedly Akan character, something unappealing to those from other backgrounds. During the revolt the English overseer Thomas Thistlewood took the calculated risk of arming the slaves on his plantation, and it paid off. While "history from below" has had a hugely positive impact on the writing of history, it misleads if it fails to see that power—including the power of the high and mighty—invariably rests on substructures, and distributions of load, down below on terra firma. The "continuing series of uprisings" were to have different characteristics as they mingled with such various clusters of ideas as Patriotism, Jacobinism, Free Masonry, and abolitionism, often championed by middle-class or even aristocratic revolutionaries. Indeed, it was often the campaigns and quarrels of the middling or "better sort" that gave the "motley crew" its chance. In any full account, they should receive more attention than Linebaugh and Rediker are willing to bestow upon them.

The publishers compare this book with Paul Gilroy's deservedly influential The Black Atlantic, and they are right. But the hidden Atlantic history recounted here is overwhelmingly English-speaking. The great slave uprising in Saint Domingue in 1791, the difficult alliance between black and white Jacobins in 1793, the ending of slavery in the French colonies in 1794, and the defense of this liberation against its attempted reversal by Napoleon take place off-stage. The story of the Haitian revolution has often been told, so the omission is understandable. But the role of sailors in Saint Domingue still needs to be illuminated. Moreover, following the establishment of Haiti, the wider Caribbean of the 1810s was to witness a new wave of piracy and privateering that fed into a revolt that, with the help of President Pétion, would destroy the power of Spain on the mainland. The wider Caribbean witnessed the true culmination of the heroic and fateful struggles of the picaresque proletariat so powerfully delineated by Linebaugh and Rediker.

The Many-Headed Hydra is a major work and a turning point in the new Atlantic history. It gives back to mariners their central role in the unmaking of colonialism and slavery in the Age of Revolution. And it powerfully reminds us that we owe many of the most important political ideas, such as a world without slavery, not to philosophers, still less statesmen, but to the everyday struggles of working people. •

Robin Blackburn teaches social history at the University of Essex. His books include The Making of a New World Slavery and The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery.

Originally published in the February/March 2001 issue of Boston Review

Revolution at the docks
Sukhdev Sandhu on the slaves and radicals at the heart of Empire in The Many-Headed Hydra by Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh

Sukhdev Sandhu

Saturday January 27, 2001

The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh
352pp, Verso, £20.31
Buy it at a discount at BOL

Who now remembers labour? Both its dignity and its many indignities rarely feature in public discourse. In a matter of decades the nation has been virtually deindustrialised. Leisure is sovereign. Docks, where for centuries so many people toiled and lived, are in most British cities merely places to go to for a drink and to eyeball the luxury riverside apartments opposite.

The older world of docks and quays is the territory of Marcus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh's magnificent study, The Many-Headed Hydra . The authors chart the process by which powerless and dispossessed peoples - commoners, felons, religious radicals, pirates, urban labourers, soldiers, sailors, and African slaves - were, from the early 15th to the 17th centuries, marshalled into serving the cause of colonial expansion. A common metaphor, used by philosophers such as Francis Bacon, was the need for Hercules (regal authority, imperial rule, mercantile self-interest) to "strangle the Hydra of misrule". Hydra, in this context, refers to anyone - lippy prole and conscientious objector alike - who stood in the way of profit.

A central chapter of the book is concerned with what came to be known as the New York Conspiracy. In March 1741, radicals set fire to New York. Fort George, the prime military fortification in British America, was reduced to ashes. Soon, other metropolitan landmarks were torched. These were no random conflagrations. Lying on the west side of Manhattan, Fort George was a site of huge strategic importance for the Atlantic trade and a nodal point of the Britain-Africa-Americas triangle. Slaves and slave products were imported there. It was also populated by a swarm of people whose labours underwrote the city's wealth, but who themselves were wholly despised.

These "outcasts of the nations of the earth", as the authorities called them, feasted and caroused in wharf taverns. Practising a form of proto-communism, they allowed the poor to eat for free. Some, such as John Gwin, a black American slave who had a child by a young Irish prostitute, gleefully hopped the colour line. What bound them together was their desire to overthrow the system that made these pleasures so hard-won.

They hailed from all corners of the globe: Africans from the Gold Coast of West Africa who, before being shipped across to America, had served as local soldiers; Irish men and women who had taken to the oceans after the famine of 1728, and who were eager to take revenge on the Protestant English; Spanish-American sailors, skilled in both seamanship and fighting, who had been captured and enslaved by the British Navy.

Social and political instability was not confined to the east coast. Throughout the 1730s and 1740s revolts had been springing up all across the Americas. Men who had either witnessed or helped to foment rebellion across the world were to play a large part in the New York Conspiracy. Men such as "Will", who in 1733 was involved in a slave revolt on Danish St John, in which black rebels seized control of the island's military installation. He was captured and sold first to a planter in Antigua and then to a trader in New York, where he passed on to dock-workers the seditious lesson he had picked up over the years.

The sea monster that spawned liberty
The Many-Headed Hydra: the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker (Verso, £20)
By Frank McLynn
Published : 24 January 2001

In all eras, political élites have appropriated symbols from classical myth to legitimise their own oligarchy. In the 250 years from Elizabeth I to the accession of Victoria, the preferred symbol for the British ruling class was Hercules, symbol of order and progress. Conversely, the urban proletariat - labourers, indentured servants, soldiers, sailors, African slaves, the criminal classes and groups such as religious radicals and pirates - were regarded as the heads of the hydra slain by Hercules. Yet for the authors of this fine "history from below", they are the true heroes of a centuries-long class war.

America is the key. The New World was a garbage tip to which the "dangerous classes" could be consigned. Yet an élite that used the axe and the noose to maintain social control on land had to use even more bloody expedients on board ship. Peter Linebaugh and Markus Rediker do not shrink from a recital of the gruesome forms of punishment practiced at sea. On the other hand, the maritime world of the Americas and beyond gave the dispossessed the chance to sample unheard-of liberties. Living among the savages as a way out of the nightmare of "civilisation" had a long history, culminating in the Bounty mutiny.

The authors' main thesis is simple. The discovery of sea routes to the Americas and East Indies marked a new stage in history, making it more important for the élite to keep the dispossessed classes and expropriated nations - factory workers, plantation slaves, sailors on the one hand; the Irish, Africans and West Indians on the other - under tighter control. Beginning with the fears expressed by that arch-reactionary Francis Bacon, progressing through the 1647 Putney debates and Cromwell's suppression of the Levellers and the Diggers (at the same time as his atrocities in Ireland), the authors arrive at the 18th century, where they are acknowledged experts.

We are shown the many heads of the hydra, and the acts of revolt, resistance and rebellion to which class tensions led. There are fascinating sections on the proletarian rebellion in Naples in 1647, the similar rising in New York in 1741, Tacky's slave revolt in 1760, and the Irish rebel Edward Despard's 1802 conspiracy to assassinate George III and seize both the Tower of London and the Bank of England.

Battle raged over the enclosure of commons, working methods in plantations and factories, discipline on ships and, in general, the attempt to convert large portions of mankind into hewers of wood and drawers of water. The most significant phase of the struggle came from 1680 to 1760, when Atlantic capitalism stabilised "the maritime state" - a financial and nautical system designed to operate Atlantic markets. The sailing ship - the engine of globalisation - was therefore half-ship and half-factory. To those below deck it was jail with the added risk of being drowned, as Dr Johnson defined shipboard life.

The chief resistance to the maritime state came from pirates. Their short-lived seaborne supremacy for a while (1670-1730) blocked the notorious "middle passage" of the slave trade between Africa and America. This prevented capital accumulation, was a "fetter" on capitalism and - obviously - had to be destroyed.

The sections on piracy are perhaps the best parts in a generally splendid book. But even more seminal for historical research are the many vistas Linebaugh and Rediker open up in the history of blacks, women, the United Irishmen, the "Left" in the American War of Independence, and religious millenarianism. Strikingly, the authors write from the heart as well as the brain. Having established that the years after 1780 were a kind of general Thermidorean reaction in the Anglo-American world, they point to 1802 as an annus horribilis - when the revolts of Despard, Robert Emmet and Toussaint l'Ouverture all came to grief. In elegiac mood, they conclude: "These men were peaks of the Atlantic mountains, whose principles of freedom, of humanity and of justice belonged to a single range."

The reviewer's book 'Villa and Zapata' is published by Cape
© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.

Capital & Class, Spring 2003 by Roberts, John Michael

The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic

Verso, London and New York, 2000, pp. 433

ISBN 1-85984-798-6 (hbk) 19:00

Reviewed by John Michael Roberts

In 1991 Penguin published a book called The London Hanged. Documenting the changing nature of public executions in eighteenth century London, a central theme of the book was to explain why more and more people were being hanged during this period for crimes against private property: many of these 'crimes' had earlier been deemed customary rights. Drawing upon a wealth of primary documentary evidence the book rediscovered the lost voices of those about to be 'launched into eternity' in London and, at the same time, rediscovered a particular manifestation of proletarian struggle against early capitalist forms of exploitation. The author of this tremendous historical exploration was an ex-student of E. P. Thompson's named Peter Linebaugh. With Marcus Rediker, an established historian in his own right with an equally impressive number of books to his credit, Linebaugh has extended this tradition of Marxist history writing to focus upon the (extra)ordinary struggles of those who found themselves labouring for the first global economy across the Atlantic in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Linebaugh and Rediker begin their marvellous book by first explaining the meaning of the term 'many-headed hydra'. Derived originally from one of numerous Ancient Greek myths, the many-headed hydra was symbolic of disorder and resistance to the centralising force of Hercules. For the Greeks and Romans Hercules' quest to rid the world of the hydra was symptomatic of their respective ambitions of 'the clearing of land, the draining of swamps, and of the development of agriculture, as well as the domestication of livestock, and establishment of commerce, and the introduction of technology' (p. 2). To slay the hydra meant for the ruling classes to slay all of that which stood in the way of their imperial ambitions. Given this, it is perhaps unsurprising that the hydra myth was to become a potent ideology for generations of elite thinkers and practitioners. Nowhere is this clearer than with bourgeois ideologues during the period covered by the book. Linebaugh and Rediker note how a whole spectrum of social thinkers appropriated the hydra myth and gave it a new form to justify 'the violence of the ruling classes, helping them to build a new order of conquest and expropriation, of gallows and executions, of plantations, ships, and factories' (p. 6). In short, insist Linebaugh and Rediker, the hydra myth gave these thinkers 'a hypothesis' about the vast social changes wrought by the multiple connections of global commodity capitalism.

Linebaugh and Rediker begin their story proper by focusing upon the 1609 voyage of the Sea-Venture, a ninety-eightfoot, three hundred ton vessel sailing from Plymouth to England's first new world colony in Virginia. With the original intention of lending assistance to the new plantation owned by the Virginia Company of London, the Sea-Venture never reached her destination and instead ended up wrecked in Bermuda due to a hurricane. While on Bermuda a division emerged between the sailors who wanted to enjoy a communal life on the island and those who wanted to continue the commercial journey to Virginia. Several rebellions were mounted by sailors against the dominance of the Virginia Company and by recounting these rebellions Linebaugh and Rediker set up a narrative for the rest of the book: 'a story about uprooting and movement of peoples, the making and deployment of "hands". It is a story about exploitation and resistance to exploitation... It is a story about cooperation among different kinds of people for contrasting purposes of profit and survival' (p. 14).

From this starting point Linebaugh and Rediker take us, the reader, through a list of lost histories. We learn, for instance, that the 'hewers and the drawers of water' (those whose labour cleared woodland and drained fens for enclosures) also built vast ports for global trade. In addition this labouring class supported land and sea communities through their efforts at chopping and gathering materials and pumping water. In an era when wood and water were the basics for survival on long sea journeys such labour was integral for a nascent global capitalist economy. We learn how the ideas of the Ranters, Levellers and the Diggers filtered into the common-sense of this labouring class. And far from being a white and male preoccupation, Linebaugh and Rediker demonstrate through the example of a black seventeenth-century female servant named Francis that revolutionary ideas seized those from different genders and from different races. By focusing upon Francis, Linebaugh and Rediker show how notions of freedom were mixed with a religious discourse intermingled with a discourse heralding the destruction of the global condition of commodity capitalism (Babylon) and the creation a new order by global (slave) labour (a New Jerusalem). We learn how the maritime state was an integral moment in the development of the first wave of global capitalism and how its efforts were hampered through the democratic practices of pirate ships. We learn about the role of militant crews in keeping alive the spirit of a radical liberty during the American Revolution. We learn about those dispossessed Irish in England who were executed for their 'conspiracies' for justice. And, finally, we learn about uprisings by slaves against their brutal existence.

In short, Linebaugh and Rediker have given us a breathtaking account of the historical foundations of globalisation and, as such, go beyond many of the superficial narratives by contemporary commentators of capital's worldwide dominance. By working within the best traditions of Marxist history writing, the authors have presented a truly phenomenal expos& of capitalism whilst demonstrating the humanity that capital must face in its global plunder of value. One not to be missed.

Copyright Conference of Socialist Economists Spring 2003
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.


The New York Review of Books
Volume 48, Number 11 · July 5, 2001
Slavery—White, Black, Muslim, Christian
By David Brion Davis
The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic
by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker

Beacon, 433 pp., $30.00
Abolitionists Abroad: American Blacks and the Making of Modern West Africa
by Lamin Sanneh

Harvard University Press, 291 pp., $29.95

The origins of African slavery in the New World cannot be understood without some knowledge of the millennium of warfare between Christians and Muslims that took place in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and the piracy and kidnapping that went along with it. In 1627 pirates from the Barbary Coast of North Africa raided distant Iceland and enslaved nearly four hundred astonished residents. In 1617 Muslim pirates, having long enslaved Christians along the coasts of Spain, France, Italy, and even Ireland, captured 1,200 men and women in Portuguese Madeira. Down to the 1640s, there were many more English slaves in Muslim North Africa than African slaves under English control in the Caribbean. Indeed, a 1624 parliamentary proclamation estimated that the Barbary states held at least 1,500 English slaves, mostly sailors captured in the Mediterranean or Atlantic.

By Steven Flanders, Reply by David Brion Davis

In response to A Big Business* (June 11, 1998)

To the Editors:

David Brion Davis, in his wide-ranging account of the "Big Business" of slavery [NYR, June 11, 1998], is led by one of the authors under review to address the claims-rather tired in the 1990s-that the industrial revolution rested upon slavery and the slave trade. We are offered the perspectives that slavery's horrific "discipline" contributed to the industrial revolution not only by providing profits for investment but by establishing "the evolution of industrial discipline and principles of capitalist rationalization."

This seems a stretch. Professor Davis would have done well to include a more plausible and very old account of the economic impact of slavery in nineteenth-century America: that its impact was negative, corrupting of the spirit of enterprise, and demonstrably destructive of the masters as well as of the slaves. Making the best of the meager research materials available to him in addition to his own observations, Alexis de Tocqueville achieved before 1830 a remarkably compelling demonstration that slavery made everybody worse off.

In the Democracy in America chapter on "The Present and Probable Future Condition of the Three Races that Inhabit the Territory of the United States," de Tocqueville made the valley of the Ohio into a sort of controlled experiment on the economic impact of slavery. "Upon the left bank of the Ohio labor is confounded with the idea of slavery, while on the right bank it is identified with that of prosperity and improvement...." "Upon the left bank of the stream the population is sparse; from time to time one descries a troop of slaves loitering in half-desert fields; the primeval forest reappears at every turn; society seems to be asleep...." "From the right bank, on the contrary, a confused hum is heard, which proclaims afar the presence of industry; the fields are covered with abundant harvest; the elegance of the dwellings announces the taste and activity of the laborers, and man appears to be in the enjoyment of that wealth and enjoyment which is the reward of labor."

Remarkably, our most prescient foreign booster was able also to bring to bear useful population and economic data to demonstrate that Ohio was more attractive to immigrants and more economically successful than Kentucky, notwithstanding a bit of a head start for the latter. And he adds that "the activity of Ohio is not confined to individuals, but the undertakings of the state are surprisingly great: a canal has been established between Lake Erie and the Ohio...."

Professor Davis's otherwise scholarly contribution needed this perspective.

Steven Flanders
Pelham, New York

David Brion Davis replies:
In Slavery and Human Progress (Oxford University Press, 1984), I not only discuss Tocqueville's comparison of the northern and southern banks of the Ohio River but show that he had been thoroughly prepared to make such observations by Joel Poinsett, Josiah Quincy, John Quincy Adams, and especially Joseph Story. I also point out that Lord Durham, who traveled along the Canadian-American border in 1838, used almost identical imagery to contrast the "activity and bustle" of the American side with the "waste and desolate" of the "unenterprising" Canadians. Clearly slavery could not account for Canada's seeming backwardness, nor can northern Kentucky give us insight into the extraordinary economic growth of the antebellum South.

Before generalizing about the economics of American slavery, I respectfully suggest that Mr. Flanders consult more recent sources than Tocqueville (whose work on America was published in 1835 and 1840, not "before 1830"), such as Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (Norton, 1989), by Robert William Fogel, who in 1993 won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. While there is still some controversy over relatively minor issues, there can be no doubt that Fogel, Stanley L. Engerman, and their many students have demolished the myths about slavery that Steven Flanders describes.


The New York Review of Books
By Peter Linebaugh, Reply by Keith Thomas

In response to How Britain Made It* (November 19, 1992)

To the Editors:

Sir Keith objects to my argument in The London Hanged [NYR, November 19] that the gallows were central to the labor discipline of capitalism, because more people were hanged in pre-industrial than industrial England. But are industrialization and capitalism the same thing? There was plenty of capitalism before the factory and the steam engine. This was axiomatic to an earlier generation of historians such as Paul Mantoux and R.H. Tawney, and behind them to Karl Marx. First, they explained that capitalism existed in the domestic mode of production and in the manufacture stage, called now proto-industrialization. Second, we must add, in the factories of west Africa and in the machinery of the Caribbean sugar mills it becomes clear that the power of English capital to command labor long preceded industrialization.

To read his characterizations of The London Hanged as "careless in detail," "frequently careless with names and references," "worryingly unreliable" causes me grief. Four times Sir Keith generalizes, and three times he provides no evidence at all. Coming as it does from an historian known for his voluminous citation of examples, I note that he finds only a single instance, and he gets that one wrong. It is the case of the unhappy John Masland.

"There are many omissions which have the effect of putting the accused in a more favorable light and their prosecutors in a harsher one," he charges. He criticizes me for informing the reader that Masland was an unemployed sailor while omitting that he "was hanged for rape and had been guilty of child abuse, infecting his own daughter with a venereal disease." It is true I do not bring this up. Sir Keith finds Masland guilty on reading the Ordinary's Account of the Malefactors Executed at Tyburn. Had Sir Keith read Masland's trial perhaps he would not have been so quick to judgment. At the trial, on three different occasions Masland said, "I am as innocent as an Angel." Was he? Opinions varied then, and they may vary now. In any event, it was not my business to try him again. Why does Sir Keith?

But I cannot leave the matter there. Sir Keith does some omitting of his own. In fact I do not write about Masland merely that he was unemployed. I write of his employment: "John Masland was a man who had spent most of his working life in the Guinea trade, and he looked it. A hatchet scar across his face was the result of a mutiny and shipboard slave rebellion." I should not have thought that this was to slant the evidence in favor of the accused. Does Sir Keith? If so, what exactly is it about the slave trade that is favorable? It seems that Masland had a relation, a merchant in the City, involved in this trade. He was apprehended at the hanging of another sailor of the slave trade.

Does Sir Keith assume that it is more favorable to be a sailor in the slave trade than to abuse his homeless daughter? Does he think it more favorable to suppress violently a slave rebellion than to befoul his family with venereal disease? Why compare them? Surely, it is not a question of what is favorable or harsh in the case. This is simple-minded moralism. The question is understanding a violent syndrome, fueled by alcoholism, of huge profit to City merchants, of lasting consequence to three continents, and producing sick and diseased men whose cruelty has been a violent scourge to those weaker. Owing to its methodology The London Hanged can avoid such moralizing which it leaves to magistrates, jurors, the Ordinaries, and Oxford dons. Moralizing, whether it is pity or condemnation, has a way of putting an end to investigation.

Sir Keith admits that his knowledge of the Ordinary's Accounts is casual, but he is wrong to imply that mine is. I have collected them for modern scholarship, and I have evaluated them as a source of historical knowledge in "The Ordinary of. Newgate and His Account" in J.S. Cockbur (ed.), Crime in England 1550–1800 (Princeton 1977). Sir Keith accepts the Ordinary's language, a discourse based upon the triumph of private property. It is not that I challenge this, but that, as an historian, I bring forth evidence that the propertyless challenged it, and they were criminalized for doing so.

Sir Keith is an eminent historian of the 16th and 17th centuries, but his touch is unsure in the 18th century. Jack Sheppard was not a highwayman, as he writes, but a burglar. He writes of "Tyburn prison" and there was no such place. In confusing Tyburn, the site of hangings until 1783, with Newgate prison, three miles away, he omits the municipal salience of the procession of the condemned across the town. What on earth does he mean by "unofficial perquisites"? There is a complex argument here that Sir Keith is only partly familiar with. It is notorious how weak Marx is on the subject, at least in his chapter on wages in Capital. And why does Sir Keith speak of "the poor" so? It is a gentry-made locution.

Finally, may I say that in comparing my book with Linda Colley's, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837, Sir Keith misses an opportunity to explore the relationship between the Nation and the gallows? Whose Britain was it and to whom was it Great? These are the unanswered questions of this review.

Peter Linebaugh
Brookline, Massachusetts
Keith Thomas replies:
I am sorry that Mr. Linebaugh has been upset by my review of The London Hanged. I tried to give a fair and honest impression of a book which seemed to me stimulating and often original, but sometimes perverse in argument and careless in detail. I must, though, plead guilty at once to two of his charges. Jack Sheppard was, of course, a burglar; it was Dick Turpin, mentioned in the same sentence, who was the highwayman. I am afraid that the description got transposed in the typing. "Tyburn prison" was not my term, but an editorial insertion into my text. I am sure that my knowledge of the eighteenth century leaves a lot to be desired, but I am not as ignorant as that.

Otherwise, I think that Mr. Linebaugh protests too much. I see nothing wrong with the expression "unofficial perquisites" to indicate appropriations which the workers made as if of right, but which employers refused to recognize, or with "the poor" as an objective description of a large segment of the eighteenth-century population. As for John Masland, I would not presume to judge his guilt or innocence. I merely noted that he was convicted of a sexual crime which Mr. Linebaugh chose not to mention, but which surely helped to determine Masland's fate.

Mr. Linebaugh asks, rather masochistically, for more evidence of his carelessness with details. Let me confine myself to cases in which his text omits or misrenders passages in the Ordinary of Newgate's Account in such a way as to put the accused in a more favourable light. My copy of The London Hanged is heavily annotated with examples which I excluded from my review out of consideration for your readers. For instance, I did not think that they would want to know that James Appleton was hanged for stealing not just three wigs, but also two suits, six guineas, and other goods (p. 130); that Mary Cut-and-Come-Again was hanged not merely for stealing an apron worth 6d, but also for assaulting a woman on the highway and putting her in fear, and for stealing an apron worth 3/-, a shift worth 12d, and a mob cap (p. 145); that Sarah Allen did not suffocate her infant in the workhouse, but threw the baby out of a window in Holborn and was sent to the workhouse when arrested, and that she was not forced to leave her job when she became pregnant (p. 148); that William Brown was not "cast off" his lands in Wiltshire, but spent beyond his income and had to give up his lease (p. 185); that the dowry brought by the wife of George Robins was £300 not £30 (p. 185); that the reason for John Tarlton's unemployment was that he had idled his time and taken up with "loose women" (p. 254); that John Lancaster did not make the remark attributed to him (p. 258); that James Buquois was not out of work, but had a job as a bricklayer's assistant and fell into bad company (p. 258); that John Ross was a house-breaker not a highway robber, and did not have a wife and three children (pp. 258–259); that Patrick Bourn (not Brown) was hanged for stealing a watch worth £3 and money, not just his employer's spurs (p. 295); that Patrick Hayes was hanged not merely for stealing keys and spectacles, but for letting in thieves to rob his mistress's house and assault her and her maid (p. 295); that William Bruce stole money as well as a wig and a silk handkerchief (p. 295); and that only one of these people appears in Mr. Linebaugh's index.

I could prolong this tedious list, though I have checked only a tiny portion of Mr. Linebaugh's book. If he really wants more examples of this sort of thing he can easily compile them for himself by comparing his text against the sources on which it is based.

I should stress that none of this detracts from the larger intellectual interest of Mr. Linebaugh's book, which is considerable. Historians will continue to discuss the many important general issues which he raises and they will look with fresh eyes at the material he has unearthed. But authors who put forward controversial arguments are well advised to follow the ancient advice (given by another Oxford don, I am afraid) that they should always verify their references.