Intro to ‘The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State’, Part II – Why the Language of the Commons Matters
Alternatives to Political Systems, DVDs/Books, People Systems, Village Development — by David Bollier October 3, 2012
The text below is the second half of the Introduction to the recently published anthology of essays, The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State (Levellers Press). The first half was posted yesterday. More about the book can be found at www.wealthofthecommons.org.
As the corruption of the market/state duopoly has deepened, our very language for identifying problems and imagining solutions has been compromised. The snares and deceptions embedded in our prevailing political language go very deep. Such dualisms as “public” and “private,” and “state” and “market,” and “nature and culture,” for example, are taken as self-evident. As heirs of Descartes, we are accustomed to differentiating “subjective” from “objective,” and “individual” from “collective” as polar opposites. But such polarities are lexical inheritances that are increasingly inapt as the two poles in reality blur into each other. And yet they continue to profoundly structure how we think about contemporary problems and what spectrum of solutions we regard as plausible.Comments (1)
Intro to ‘The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State’, Part I – The Commons as a Transformative State
Alternatives to Political Systems, DVDs/Books, People Systems, Village Development — by David Bollier
Below is the first half of the Introduction to our new anthology of essays, The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State, just published by Levellers Press. The Introduction is by me and Silke Helfrich, my co-editor and colleague on the Commons Strategies Group. Part II of the essay will be published in my next blog post. You can learn more about the book at its website, www.wealthofthecommons.org.
It has become increasingly clear that we are poised between an old world that no longer works and a new one struggling to be born. Surrounded by an archaic order of centralized hierarchies on the one hand and predatory markets on the other, presided over by a state committed to planet-destroying economic growth, people around the world are searching for alternatives. That is the message of various social conflicts all over the world — of the Spanish Indignados and the Occupy movement, and of countless social innovators on the Internet. People want to emancipate themselves not just from poverty and shrinking opportunities, but from governance systems that do not allow them meaningful voice and responsibility. This book is about how we can find the new paths to navigate this transition. It is about our future.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by David Bollier July 17, 2012
MST: The Landless Workers Movement
Raj Patel has been tracking the pathologies of the global food system for many years. An activist and academic who teaches at the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies, Patel has just published a second, updated edition of his 2008 book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
The problem with the food system is not that we don’t produce enough calories to eradicate hunger, Patel notes. It’s that the food system has its own priorities of institutional consolidation and profit, which means that more than one billion people in the world are malnourished and two billion are overweight – which is worse than when the first edition of Patel’s book came out.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Bio-regional Organisations, Community Projects, Eco-Villages, Economics, People Systems, Society, Village Development — by David Bollier March 10, 2012
The following is an adaptation of my notes for my talk at the Occupy Wall Street “Making Worlds” conference on February 16-18, 2012.
I am so pleased that the Occupy and Commons movements are finding each other and starting a new conversation. Occupy is an incredible force for change. It has a bracing vision, a deeply principled philosophy, and an independent, risk-taking spirit that is unusual in American political life. There are many challenges for Occupy, however, as it tries to imagine new ways to move forward and grow. I’d like to suggest how the commons framing and language may be strategically important by surveying the international scene of commons activism, which is remarkably robust. There is a lot is going on — but I won’t presume to be comprehensive; my apologies for any significant omissions.
Let me start by giving a brief speculation about why people from so many backgrounds are embracing the commons. First of all, it is a way for people to assert the integrity of their existing communities, or to try to reclaim that integrity. The commons also provides a way to assert a moral relationship to certain resources and people that are endangered by market forces. It’s a way of saying, “That _________ (water, air, software code, cultural tradition) belongs to me. It is part of my life and identity.”
Many people are embracing the commons, too, because it provides a powerful critique of neoliberal capitalism. But it is much more than that. It is a pro-active set of alternatives that work. And therefore it provides a positive, constructive scaffolding for practical alternatives to the prevailing market economy and corrupt political process. But the commons is still more than this. It is not just a policy critique or political philosophy, but equally a distinctive worldview, language and social ethic.Comments (19)
Building, Community Projects, Consumerism, Economics, Land, Society, Village Development — by David Bollier March 7, 2012
I have been asked to address what the commons might have to say about urban spaces and urban life. The short answer is, a lot!
First, the language of the commons helps us assert a moral entitlement to public spaces again. It lets us challenge the unholy alliance of politicians, developers and professional architects and planners, and insist that city spaces serve our needs as ordinary people. This means, first of all, that commercial considerations cannot crowd out vital common purposes – as we see when the market or authoritarians take over.Comments (0)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Bio-regional Organisations, Community Projects, Consumerism, Development & Property Trusts, Economics, Land, People Systems, Plant Systems, Society, Village Development — by David Bollier January 16, 2012
Rarely have I read an essay that knits together some very different commons with such wisdom and depth. Joline Blais’ 2006 essay, “Indigenous Domain: Pilgrims, Permaculture and Perl,” is a wonderfully insightful analysis that reveals the underlying unity and logic of commons principles. Her piece appeared in Intelligent Agent (vol. 6, no. 2), published by the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts.
Blais’ essay is valuable because it speaks to the rift that is said to separate commons based on natural resources and those of cyberspace. The segregation of those two classes of commons has always bothered me. There are of course significant differences between managing depletable natural resources and managing cheap and limitless stores of digital information. Yet it has always struck me that the two great tribes of commoners have much more in common than not, and should be in closer consultation with each other.Comments (1)