Forty one people packed in to the meeting room at Wakefield’s Red Shed on Saturday 13 February to hear three speakers talk about two 17th century radical movements, THE LEVELLERS AND THE DIGGERS.
Ian Brooke, author of “England’s Lost Revolution”, argued that the Levellers were the “first political party of the English people.” They believed in religious tolerance including for Catholics. They opposed armies being sent to Ireland and argued that the Irish should be treated as equals.
Shaun Cohen from the Ford Maguire Society emphasised that the Levellers and Diggers were two quite separate groups. We should be careful not to conflate the two. He argued also however that “we need to remember their ideas.” They are “part of our history” and “part of our tradition.”
The third speaker, Steve Freeman from the Republican Socialist Alliance, went on to relate the ideas of the Levellers and Diggers to events today. There is a “democratic crisis in this country.” Power is concentrated in the institutions of the Crown. We need a republican party and a democratic revolution.
An hour of lively discussion followed after the speeches. Points were raised about the class nature of the Levellers, press freedom, reclaiming public spaces and resisting current government policies.
The Group’s next event is a meeting on Saturday 27 February, 1pm at the Red Shed when we will be debating WILLIAM MORRIS: REVOLUTIONARY SOCIALIST OR UTOPIAN DREAMER?
Convenor, Wakefield Socialist History Group