BOOK REVIEW: Analysis of the Magna Carta Manifesto by Linebaugh (2008)
In chapter one of this book, the author explains the need for people to set up a constitution and policies that will cater for their lives and environmental concerns. Citing cases in such countries as Nigeria, New York, Maxico, Bolivia and Venezuela, Linebaugh shows how poor constitution has let to not only environmental depletion but also entrenchment of human rights. The author also posts that what instigated the writing of this book was the events surrounding the Mexico revolt as well as the autocratic Bush regime (1). Linebaugh observes that both the rulers and commoners try to influence the formation of the Magma Carter (the constitution) for their own benefits. Most rulers exploit the commoners and the national resources for their own selfish ends. This is as the author explains is in spite of the environmental consequences, destruction, poverty, agricultural plunder, alcoholism, and huperinflation that it may pose (2). To some extent, the commoners (wind from below) also contribute to environmental degradation to achieve what they want.
Giving the history of the magma carter in the second chapter, Linebaugh also portrays how rulers since time immemorial have influenced the magma carta for their selfish ends. The adverse effects to these endeavours are realized later, and this is the reason why many nations come to review their constitutions as they find it not concerned on the welfare of the commoners or the environment. Examples of these reviews are the Virginia bill of rights (1776), Massachusetts body of liberties (1641), the fifth and 14th amendment to U.S constitution among others (21). The author laments that although the Magma carter is expected to serve all commoners, selfish rulers have misused this purpose. In fact, it has come to be referred by others as“sarcasm of law and phrase” (44).
Linebaugh, Peter, “Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for all” University of
California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2008.