news from nowhere

news from nowhere by william morris [] (1890) – via anarchist library []


1 – discussion and bed

2 – a morning bath

I think I know what you mean. You think that I have done you a service; so you feel yourself bound to give me something which I am not to give to a neighbour, unless he has done something special for me. I have heard of this kind of thing; but pardon me for saying, that it seems to us a troublesome and roundabout custom; and we don’t know how to manage it. And you see this ferrying and giving people casts about the water is my business, which I would do for anybody; so to take gifts in connection with it would look very queer. Besides, if one person gave me something, then another might, and another, and so on; and I hope you won’t think me rude if I say that I shouldn’t know where to stow away so many mementos of friendship.”

gift\ness.. thank you ness.. obligation ness

testart storage law et al

3 – the guest house and breakfast therein

4 – a market by the way

5 – children on the road

“School?” he said; “yes, what do you mean by that word? I don’t see how it can have anything to do with children. We talk, indeed, of a school of herring, and a school of painting, and in the former sense we might talk of a school of children — but otherwise,” said he, laughing, “I must own myself beaten.”

“Well, education means a system of teaching young people.”

“Why not old people also?” said he with a twinkle in his eye. “But,” he went on, “I can assure you our children learn, whether they go through a ‘system of teaching’ or not. Why, you will not find one of these children about here, boy or girl, who cannot swim; and every one of them has been used to tumbling about the little forest ponies — there’s one of them now! They all of them know how to cook; the bigger lads can mow; many can thatch and do odd jobs at carpentering; or they know how to keep shop. I can tell you they know plenty of things.

“Yes, but their mental education, the teaching of their minds,” said I, kindly translating my phrase.

“Guest,” said he, “perhaps you have not learned to do these things I have been speaking about; and if that’s the case, don’t you run away with the idea that it doesn’t take some skill to do them, and doesn’t give plenty of work for one’s mind: you would change your opinion if you saw a Dorsetshire lad thatching, for instance. But, however, I understand you to be speaking of book-learning; and as to that, it is a simple affair. Most children, seeing books lying about, manage to read by the time they are four years old; though I am told it has not always been so. As to writing, we do not encourage them to scrawl too early (though scrawl a little they will), because it gets them into a habit of ugly writing; and what’s the use of a lot of ugly writing being done, when rough printing can be done so easily. You understand that handsome writing we like, and many people will write their books out when they make them, or get them written; I mean books of which only a few copies are needed — poems, and such like, you know. However, I am wandering from my lambs; but you must excuse me, for I am interested in this matter of writing, being myself a fair-writer.”

“And history?” said I; “how do you teach history?”

“Well,” said he, “when a person can read, of course he reads what he likes to; and he can easily get someone to tell him what are the best books to read on such or such a subject, or to explain what he doesn’t understand in the books when he is reading them.”

gray don’t-need-school law.. read ness

literacy and numeracy both elements of colonialism/control/enclosure.. we need to calculate differently and stop measuring things

“Well,” said I, “what else do they learn? I suppose they don’t all learn history?”

“No, no,” said he; “some don’t care about it; in fact, I don’t think many do. I have heard my great-grandfather say that it is mostly in periods of turmoil and strife and confusion that people care much about history; and you know,” said my friend, with an amiable smile, “we are not like that now. No; many people study facts about the make of things and the matters of cause and effect, so that knowledge increases on us, if that be good; and some, as you heard about friend Bob yonder, will spend time over mathematics. ’Tis no use forcing people’s tastes.”

socrates supposed to law et al

You see, children are mostly given to imitating their elders, and when they see most people about them engaged in genuinely amusing work, like house-building and street-paving, and gardening, and the like, that is what they want to be doing; so I don’t think we need fear having too many book-learned men.”

usefully preoccupied ness

6 – a little shopping

7 – trafalgar square

8 – an old friend

9 – concerning love

“Then you suppose nonsense,” said he. “I know that there used to be such lunatic affairs as divorce-courts: but just consider; all the cases that came into them were matters of property quarrels: and I think, dear guest,” said he, smiling, “that though you do come from another planet, you can see from the mere outside look of our world that quarrels about private property could not go on amongst us in our days.”

“Well, then, property quarrels being no longer possible, what remains in these matters that a court of law could deal with? Fancy a court for enforcing a contract of passion or sentiment! If such a thing were needed as a reductio ad absurdum of the enforcement of contract, such a folly would do that for us.”

He was silent again a little, and then said: “You must understand once for all that we have changed these matters; or rather, that our way of looking at them has changed, as we have changed within the last two hundred years. We do not deceive ourselves, indeed, or believe that we can get rid of all the trouble that besets the dealings between the sexes. We know that we must face the unhappiness that comes of man and woman confusing the relations between natural passion, and sentiment, and the friendship which, when things go well, softens the awakening from passing illusions: but we are not so mad as to pile up degradation on that unhappiness by engaging in sordid squabbles about livelihood and position, and the power of tyrannising over the children who have been the results of love or lust.”

he went on: “At least, if we suffer from the tyranny and fickleness of nature or our own want of experience, we neither grimace about it, nor lie. If there must be sundering betwixt those who meant never to sunder, so it must be: but there need be no pretext of unity when the reality of it is gone: nor do we drive those who well know that they are incapable of it to profess an undying sentiment which they cannot really feel: thus it is that as that monstrosity of venal lust is no longer possible, so also it is no longer needed. Don’t misunderstand me. You did not seemed shocked when I told you that there were no law-courts to enforce contracts of sentiment or passion; but so curiously are men made, that perhaps you will be shocked when I tell you that there is no code of public opinion which takes the place of such courts, and which might be as tyrannical and unreasonable as they were. I do not say that people don’t judge their neighbours’ conduct, sometimes, doubtless, unfairly. But I do say that there is no unvarying conventional set of rules by which people are judged; no bed of Procrustes to stretch or cramp their minds and lives; no hypocritical excommunication which people are forced to pronounce, either by unconsidered habit, or by the unexpressed threat of the lesser interdict if they are lax in their hypocrisy. Are you shocked now?”

they believe that a child born from the natural and healthy love between a man and a woman, even if that be transient, is likely to turn out better in all ways, and especially in bodily beauty, than the birth of the respectable commercial marriage bed, or of the dull despair of the drudge of that system.

10 – questions and answers

things soon righted themselves. People found out what they were fit for, and gave up attempting to push themselves into occupations in which they must needs fail. 

org around legit needs ness.. via non hierarchical listening

humanity needs a leap.. to get back/to simultaneous spontaneity .. simultaneous fittingness.. everyone in sync..

That we live amidst beauty without any fear of becoming effeminate; that we have plenty to do, and on the whole enjoy doing it. What more can we ask of life?”

Go and have a look at the sheep-walks high up the slopes between Ingleborough and Pen-y-gwent, and tell me if you think we waste the land there by not covering it with factories for making things that nobody wants, which was the chief business of the nineteenth century.”

“I will try to go there,” said I.

“It won’t take much trying,” said he.

11 – concerning government

And now that all this is changed, and the “rights of property,” which mean the clenching the fist on a piece of goods and crying out to the neighbours, You shan’t have this! — now that all this has disappeared so utterly that it is no longer possible even to jest upon its absurdity, is such a Government possible?.. for what other purpose than the protection of the rich from the poor, the strong from the weak, did this Government exist?

The government itself was but the necessary result of the careless, aimless tyranny of the times; it was but the machinery of tyranny. Now tyranny has come to an end, and we no longer need such machinery; we could not possibly use it since we are free. Therefore in your sense of the word we have no government.

12 – concerning the arrangement of life

aziz let go law et al

“but when the transgressions occur, everybody, transgressors and all, know them for what they are; the errors of friends, not the habitual actions of persons driven into enmity against society.”

“I see,” said I; “you mean that you have no ‘criminal’ classes.”

“How could we have them,” said he, “since there is no rich class to breed enemies against the state by means of the injustice of the state?”

That punishment of which men used to talk so wisely and act so foolishly, what was it but the expression of their fear? And they had need to fear, since they — i.e., the rulers of society — were dwelling like an armed band in a hostile country. But we who live amongst our friends need neither fear nor punish.

gershenfeld something else law et al

13 – concerning politics

we have none

14 – how matters are managed

Said I: “And you settle these differences, great and small, by the will of the majority, I suppose?”

“Certainly,” said he; “how else could we settle them? You see in matters which are merely personal which do not affect the welfare of the community — how a man shall dress, what he shall eat and drink, what he shall write and read, and so forth — there can be no difference of opinion, and everybody does as he pleases. But when the matter is of common interest to the whole community, and the doing or not doing something affects everybody, the majority must have their way; unless the minority were to take up arms and show by force that they were the effective or real majority; which, however, in a society of men who are free and equal is little likely to happen; because in such a community the apparent majority is the real majority, and the others, as I have hinted before, know that too well to obstruct from mere pigheadedness; especially as they have had plenty of opportunity of putting forward their side of the question.”

oi.. decision making is unmooring us law.. if legit free.. we’d be doing curiosity over decision making

In such a district, as you would call it, some neighbours think that something ought to be done or undone: a new town-hall built; a clearance of inconvenient houses; or say a stone bridge substituted for some ugly old iron one, — there you have undoing and doing in one. Well, at the next ordinary meeting of the neighbours, or Mote, as we call it, according to the ancient tongue of the times before bureaucracy, a neighbour proposes the change, and of course, if everybody agrees, there is an end of discussion, except about details.

yeah.. i think all that would be irrelevant s.. we’d be too busy doing the thing(s) we can’t not do to pay attention to anything involving meetings ness

Said he: “The only alternatives to our method that I can conceive of are these. First, that we should choose out, or breed, a class of superior persons capable of judging on all matters without consulting the neighbours; that, in short, we should get for ourselves what used to be called an aristocracy of intellect; or, secondly, that for the purpose of safe-guarding the freedom of the individual will, we should revert to a system of private property again, and have slaves and slave-holders once more. What do you think of those two expedients?”

“Well,” said I, “there is a third possibility — to wit, that every man should be quite independent of every other, and that thus the tyranny of society should be abolished.”

He looked hard at me for a second or two, and then burst out laughing very heartily; and I confess that I joined him. When he recovered himself he nodded at me, and said: “Yes, yes, I quite agree with you — and so we all do.”


15 – on the lack of incentive to labour in a communist community

worse than people ‘not wanting to labour’ is the idea that legit free people would need/pay-attention-to incentive ness

“This, that all work is now pleasurable; either because of the hope of gain in honour and wealth with which the work is done, which causes pleasurable excitement, even when the actual work is not pleasant; or else because it has grown into a pleasurable habit, as in the case with what you may call mechanical work; and lastly (and most of our work is of this kind) because there is conscious sensuous pleasure in the work itself; it is done, that is, by artists.”

yeah that.. no more kilpi work law et al

“I see,” said I. “Can you now tell me how you have come to this happy condition? For, to speak plainly, this change from the conditions of the older world seems to me far greater and more important than all the other changes you have told me about as to crime, politics, property, marriage.”

“You are right there,” said he. “Indeed, you may say rather that it is this change which makes all the others possible. What is the object of Revolution? Surely to make people happy. Revolution having brought its foredoomed change about, how can you prevent the counter-revolution from setting in except by making people happy? What! shall we expect peace and stability from unhappiness? The gathering of grapes from thorns and figs from thistles is a reasonable expectation compared with that! And happiness without happy daily work is impossible.”

“Most obviously true,” said I: for I thought the old boy was preaching a little. “But answer my question, as to how you gained this happiness.”

“Briefly,” said he, “by the absence of artificial coercion, and the freedom for every man to do what he can do best, joined to the knowledge of what productions of labour we really wanted. I must admit that this knowledge we reached slowly and painfully.”

1st part yes.. and huge.. 2nd part.. no.. and huge that we’re missing that no ness.. ie: takes a lot of work ness

today we have the means to detox all of us in sync.. at once.. for (blank)’s sake

16 – dinner in the hall of the bloomsbury market

17 – how the change came

“Tell me one thing, if you can,” said I. “Did the change, the ‘revolution’ it used to be called, come peacefully?”

“Peacefully?” said he; “what peace was there amongst those poor confused wretches of the nineteenth century? It was war from beginning to end: bitter war, till hope and pleasure put an end to it.”

“Do you mean actual fighting with weapons?” said I, “or the strikes and lock-outs and starvation of which we have heard?”

“Both, both,” he said. “As a matter of fact, the history of the terrible period of transition from commercial slavery to freedom may thus be summarised… riots.. threats.. everywhere


18 – the beginning of the new life

Thus at last and by slow degrees we got pleasure into our work; then we became conscious of that pleasure, and cultivated it, and took care that we had our fill of it; and then all was gained, and we were happy. So may it be for ages and ages!”

19 – the drive back to hammersmith

20 – the hammersmith guesthouse again

21 – going up the river

22 – hampton court and a praiser of past times

23 – an early morning by runnymede

24 – up the thames: the 2nd day

25 – the 3rd day on the thames

26 – the obstinate refusers

27 – the upper waters

28 – the little river

29 – a resting place on the upper thames

30 – the journey’s end

31 – an old house amongst new folk

32 – the feast’s beginning – the end

Yes, surely! and if others can see it as I have seen it, then it may be called a vision rather than a dream.