What is “value” and how shall we protect it? It’s a simple question for which we don’t have a satisfactory answer. For conventional economists and politicians, the answer is simple: value is essentially the same as price. Value results when private property and “free markets” condense countless individual preferences and purchases into a single, neutral representation of value: price. That[Read More…]
Articles by: David Bollier
As a developed set of social practices, techniques and ethical norms, permaculture has a lot to say to the world of the commons. This is immediately clear from reading the twelve design principles of permaculture that David Holmgren enumerated in his 2002 book Permaculture: Principles and Practices Beyond Sustainability. It mentions such principles as “catch and store energy,” “apply self-regulation[Read More…]
On a visit to Barcelona last week, I learned a great deal about the City’s pioneering role in developing “the city as a commons.” I also learned that crystallizing a new commons paradigm – even in a city committed to cooperatives and open digital networks – comes with many gnarly complexities. The Barcelona city government is led by former housing[Read More…]
At least we have some clarity. The mystifications and rationalizations are evaporating. If nothing else, the election of Donald Trump illuminates many of the deep structural problems that we need to face squarely. While most post-election commentary is focused on Trump and the political realignment in Washington, I think the bigger stories are the tectonic shifts in the neoliberal political[Read More…]
If the human species is going to overcome the many interconnected ecological catastrophes now confronting us, this moment in history requires that we entertain some bold modifications of our legal structures and political culture. We must find the means to introduce new ideas for effective and just environmental protection – locally, nationally, regionally, globally, and points in between
The commons is no magic talisman, nor a panacea. Nor are network platforms. But they do enable us to rediscover that sovereignty does not ultimately reside in the state or market (especially in these times), but within ourselves, together.
The text below is a second installment from my essay, “Transnational Republics of Commoning: Reinventing Governance through Emergent Networking,” published by Friends of the Earth UK. The third and final part of the essay will appear next. Read Part I Digital Commons as a New Species of Production and Governance To return to our original question: How can we develop[Read More…]
I am often asked what the commons has to contribute to solving our climate change problems. Since most commons are rather small scale and local, there is a presumption that such commons cannot possibly deal with a problem as massive and literally global as climate change. I think this view is mistaken. The nation-state as now constituted, in its close[Read More…]
In September 2010, a group of NATO brass, security analysts and other policy elites held a conference called “Protecting the Global Commons.” Attendees were described as “senior representatives from the EU institutions and NATO, with national government officials, industry, the international and specialised media, think-tanks, academia and NGOs” – surely one of the oddest group of “commoners” ever assembled. The[Read More…]
Drive an hour northeast from Cusco, Peru, and you will encounter some beautiful high mountain lakes, historic Inca ruins, and the richest diversity of potatoes on the planet. Approximately 2,300 of the 4,000 known potato varieties in the world are grown here, making it one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The 7,000 Quechua people who live on[Read More…]
One of the most important languages for expressing the values of the commons, I have come to realize, is art. It can often express visceral knowledge more effectively than words and give those insights a more powerful cultural reality. Those were my thoughts when I saw “Seeing Wetiko,” an “online gallery” of artworks, music and videos just released by the global arts[Read More…]
What changes in state power must occur for commoning to flourish as a legal form of self-provisioning and governance? What does the success of the commons imply for the future of the state as a form of governance? My colleagues and I at the Commons Strategies Group puzzled over such questions last year and decided we needed to convene some[Read More…]
A proverb of the indigenous people of southwestern Colombia warns: “The word without action is empty, action without the word is blind, and action and the word outside the spirit of the community is death.” Of course, many of us are on the quest to figure out precisely the opposite — how to integrate word, action and community, and thereby create flourishing commons that can unleash cascades of creativity, aliveness and innovation. That is precisely what we need right now.