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The Climate Crisis And Economic Policy Choices

The Climate Crisis And Economic Policy Choices

A major issue in climate economics is whether it is possible to halt the growth in carbon emissions and to achieve, instead, a rapid reduction. It concludes that carbon emissions will never fall at a sufficient rate in a growth economy. Unfortunately, the EU operates a climate policy framework, the EU Emissions Trading System, that was designed by BP and[Read More…]

"While there may be a tendency to be complacent about the recurring record temperatures, with each month come more climate-related consequences that cannot be ignored, and they make for big news stories," writes Astrid Caldas of the Union of Concerned Scientists. (Photo: Francesco Bonito Oliva/flickr/cc)

 This Is The Most Dangerous Time For Our Planet

As a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centered around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community which I became part of in my twenties is even more rarefied. And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists[Read More…]

The Great Deceleration

The Great Deceleration

In 2015, a major study of 24 indicators of human activity and environmental decline titled ‘The Great Acceleration’ concluded that, “The last 60 years have without doubt seen the most profound transformation of the human relationship with the natural world in the history of humankind”.[1] We have all seen aspects of these trends, but to look at the study’s 24[Read More…]

Barcelona’s Brave Struggle To Advance The Commons

Barcelona’s Brave Struggle To Advance The Commons

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…]

After Brexit And Trump: Don’t Demonise; Localise!

After Brexit And Trump: Don’t Demonise; Localise!

Co-Written by Helena Norberg-Hodge and Rupert Read The election of Donald Trump was a rude awakening from which many people in the US have still not recovered. Their shock is similar to that felt by UK progressives, Greens, and those on the Left following the Brexit referendum. In both cases, the visceral reaction was heightened by the barely-disguised racist and[Read More…]

Prejudice, Ignorance And Granfalloons – Society In The Trump Era

Prejudice, Ignorance And Granfalloons – Society In The Trump Era

“It is a gross prejudice to think that the future will always know more than the past. Every generation is born totally ignorant, and just as we are only one failed harvest away from starvation, we are also only one failed generational transfer of knowledge away from darkest ignorance. Although it is true that today many people know many things[Read More…]

Rebuilding Karachi, One Issue At A Time

Rebuilding Karachi, One Issue At A Time

A nascent group in Karachi rises to take control of their city; raising their voice through protest, community projects and action. “It was Good Friday and I had some spare time that evening. I was toying with the idea of creating a Facebook group to tackle community issues. I strongly felt that unless we the citizens applied pressure on the[Read More…]

Anything But Disruptive: Blockchain, Capital And A Case Of Fourth Industrial Age Enclosure

Anything But Disruptive: Blockchain, Capital And A Case Of Fourth Industrial Age Enclosure

A critical turn is needed in discussions of blockchain — the tech that underpins the virtual currency bitcoin – especially with respect to it as a phenomenon of the so-called fourth industrial age.1 Many have been swept-up in (if not duped by) the swell of excitement around a technological architecture which appeared, at first sight, to puncture the power and[Read More…]

Jay Forrester: The Man Who Saw The Future

Jay Forrester: The Man Who Saw The Future

Jay Wright Forrester (1918-2016) may have been the source of inspiration for Hari Seldon, a fictional character in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. In Asimov’s novels, Seldon develops “pyschohistoric equations” that allow him to predict the impending collapse of the Galactic Empire. In the real world, Forrester developed “system dynamics equations” that allowed him to predict the impending collapse of the[Read More…]

A Moment That Illuminates Our Structural Challenges

A Moment That Illuminates Our Structural Challenges

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…]

Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future

Lean Logic: A Dictionary For The Future

What follows are some excerpts from the late David Fleming’s ‘Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It’ (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2016). The excerpts have been chosen by the book’s editor, Shaun Chamberlin. Extensive references are given in the dictionary itself, but are omitted here. LOCALISATION. Localisation stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility,[Read More…]

Not Markets Alone But Creativity And Innovation For Development

Not Markets Alone But Creativity And Innovation For Development

  As human beings, we are naturally social and creative. The inherent curiosity that drives us to innovate is ultimately a testament to the creative impetus that resides within all of us. And the richness and flexibility of human behavior, including our capacity for cooperation and adaptation, further allow us to envisage and create a world that far outstrips the[Read More…]

 The Search For Radical Alternatives: Key Elements And Principles

 The Search For Radical Alternatives: Key Elements And Principles

  Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and worldviews and cultures, and on past or new grassroots practice? How can they be fundamentally different from today’s dominant economic and political system, which has brought[Read More…]

Global Biosphere Collapse, The End Of Being, Upon Us

Global Biosphere Collapse, The End Of Being, Upon Us

Miraculous nature is being murdered. Everywhere we look inequitable over-consumption is devastating the natural ecosystems that sustain a living Earth. Together we yield to ecological truth – personally embracing a global ecology ethic, and demanding others do so as well – or we all needlessly die at each others’ throats as the global ecological system collapses and being ends. The[Read More…]

"Web of Life" By Max D. Standley http://www.maxdstandley.com/paintings/web_of_life.html

Microbes Of The World, Unite!

Note: This article is based on a lecture delivered at a conference of the People’s Health Movement in Cochabamba, Bolivia on 24 September 2016. Dear Friends, I am privileged to be here to talk to all of you from the health and environmental movements from all over Latin America. First of all, as someone coming from India I would like[Read More…]

Photo by Sharada Prasad

We Need An Agroecological Revolution—So Why Are Governments Investing In Agribusiness?

Agriculture is under pressure to perform on this World Food Day. As governments pay lip service to combatting climate change in the Paris Agreement, few of them are taking the real action necessary to reduce emissions. While just this month Hurricane Matthew, almost certainly made worse by climate change, battered Haiti and El Nino related drought is wreaking farming across[Read More…]

Crowdsourcing The Food Commons Transition: De-Commodifying Food One Movement At A Time

Crowdsourcing The Food Commons Transition: De-Commodifying Food One Movement At A Time

In the 2011 dystopian film In Time, Justin Timberlake works literally to earn his living, as the monthly currency is additional time for living. Billionaires can live for thousands of years, practically becoming immortals, while poor people struggle to survive every day, many of them failing in that endeavour. This science fiction film resembles painstakingly our real world, although instead[Read More…]

The System Of Rice Intensification And Its International Community Of Practice

The System Of Rice Intensification And Its International Community Of Practice

When the rainy season came early to the highlands of Madagascar in 1983, the rice seedlings in the nursery were still too young for transplanting, and French Jesuit priest Henri de Laulanié had to make a decision: either to wait another two to four weeks to transplant (which would obviously result in a lower yield due to delayed planting) or[Read More…]

The Elephant In The Room Is Capitalism. Maybe.

The Elephant In The Room Is Capitalism. Maybe.

I’d been hoping to pay another visit to the Peasant’s Republic of Wessex, but red tape has been holding me up at the border so it’ll have to wait probably for another couple of weeks. Instead, I thought I’d offer a few top-of-the-head thoughts on Felicity Lawrence’s recent article about agricultural pesticide use in The Guardian – or, more specifically,[Read More…]

Women Protect Common Forest Rights in Rajasthan

Women Protect Common Forest Rights in Rajasthan

Nichlagarh, an adivasi village in the forest region of Southern Rajasthan, is caught between the bureaucratic regime of the Forestry Department (FD) of India and progressive legislation that claims to restore the traditional rights of commoners. While the state has its own ideas about how villagers should manage their forest commons and their lives, the women of this adivasi community have stepped forward as the knowledge keepers, managers of the forests and champions of democratic representation to protect the right to common.

The Resilience Of An Indigenous Ethiopian Commons

The Resilience Of An Indigenous Ethiopian Commons

Ethiopia is home to one of the oldest, most effective conservation management systems in sub-Saharan Africa, the Menz-Guassa Community Conservation Area, an 11,100-hectare region that is home to a rich endowment of grasslands, plants and rare animals such as the Ethiopian wolf, gelada and Abyssinian hare. The history of the indigenous land tenure system known as Atsme Irist 1 reveals a[Read More…]

Saving The Planet, American Style — A Critical Review, And Some Thoughts And Ideas

Saving The Planet, American Style — A Critical Review, And Some Thoughts And Ideas

Planet Earth, our habitat, is in dire straits And our world is suffering from various crises, conflicts and problems. There is hardly any sign that something is seriously being done to solve these problems. Some Americans – not government officials, not corporate big-wigs, but civil society activists – have now come forward to save the earth and, along with it,[Read More…]

The Role Of Memory And Identity In The Obştea Forest Commons Of Romania

The Role Of Memory And Identity In The Obştea Forest Commons Of Romania

In the Vrancea Mountains of Romania, the Eastern Carpathians, people in dozens of villages have used community-based institutions known as obştea to manage forest commons since the sixteenth century.1 The original sense of the word, coming from Slavonic, is “togetherness,” and it underlines the participatory essence of the institution. The traditions of obştea are so deeply rooted among Vrâncean villagers[Read More…]

The Fallacy Of Economic Growth

The Fallacy Of Economic Growth

We are being told that we need still more economic growth in order to overcome the present multi-layer crises. Actually we have been hearing this for quite some time now. Both right and left, capitalist and socialist governments, offer their theories about how we need more production and consumption, in order for our societies to progress and overcome the present[Read More…]

The Failure Of Land Privitization: On The Need For New Development Policies

The Failure Of Land Privitization: On The Need For New Development Policies

As soon as we start speaking about “globalization,” we inevitably associate it with the excessive financial markets that are disconnected from the real economy. There is less public awareness of another type of globalization that also involves the forced unification of institutions all over the world: the institution of private property and privatization strategies. The driving forces behind this development[Read More…]

Transforming Global Resources Into Commons

Transforming Global Resources Into Commons

The greatest problem of our time is that for centuries we have been steadily weaned away from treating our common resources responsibly and carefully so that they can either regenerate or be repaired or replaced after use. Until the Middle Ages local resources such as pastures, woods and fishing waters were really handled that way. But since the 16th century,[Read More…]

The Atmosphere As A Global Commons

The Atmosphere As A Global Commons

We are only gradually beginning to realize that global common-pool resources are assets to humankind that should be managed as commons. Wasting them would be disastrous. We are trustees of these assets and thus, trustees for future generations. We have the duty to invest so as to increase or at least maintain these assets

Ideas For Change: Making Meaning Out Of Economic And Institutional Diversity

Ideas For Change: Making Meaning Out Of Economic And Institutional Diversity

The ideas and theories of Elinor Ostrom, one of the world’s leading economic scholars studying the way people in communities cooperate (or don’t), have inspired their own collective action hub. It includes students and scholars of many disciplines as well as people actively involved in managing community water use, organizing fishing industries, delivering urban services, and operating coop­eratives. This “hub”[Read More…]

The Common Heritage Of Mankind: A Bold Doctrine Kept Within Strict Boundaries

The Common Heritage Of Mankind: A Bold Doctrine Kept Within Strict Boundaries

The “common heritage of mankind” is an ethical concept and a general concept of international law. It establishes that some localities belong to all humanity and that their resources are available for everyone’s use and benefit, taking into account future generations and the needs of developing countries. It is intended to achieve aspects of the sustainable development of common spaces[Read More…]

Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights And The Commons

Green Governance: Ecological Survival, Human Rights And The Commons

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

Agroecology As A Tool For Liberation: Transforming Industrial Agribusiness In El Salvador

Agroecology As A Tool For Liberation: Transforming Industrial Agribusiness In El Salvador

An interview with Miguel Ramirez, National Coordinator of the Organic Agriculture Movement of El Salvador We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model[Read More…]

Peer-To-Peer Economy And New Civilization Centered Around The Sustenance Of The Commons

Peer-To-Peer Economy And New Civilization Centered Around The Sustenance Of The Commons

The “peer to peer” and commons-oriented vision for a new type of civilization and economic system starts from an analysis of what is fundamentally wrong with the current economic system. Rather than put forward a utopian ideal, the P2P vision is based on generalizing the already emerging forms of peer production, peer governance, and peer property

El Buen Vivir And The Commons

El Buen Vivir And The Commons

Buen Vivir is a proposal aimed at making visible and expressible aspects of reality that are ignored by the dominant paradigm. It is a proposal from a radical and spiritual perspective of ecology, and is logically incompatible with development and industrialization. It speaks of the possibility of living in common, for which the very concept “development” is not only insufficient but mistaken.

Bruce Charles ‘Bill’ Mollison 1928-2016, Co-Founder Of Permaculture

Bruce Charles ‘Bill’ Mollison 1928-2016, Co-Founder Of Permaculture

Bruce Charles ‘Bill’ Mollison (born 1928 in Stanley, Tasmania, Australia and died today, 24 September 2016 in Sisters Beach, Tasmania). A few people are born who are world class heroes to those who know them and unkown to the great majority, until one day their inescapable influence floats to the surface and is generally recognised for the cream it is.[Read More…]

Dear Humans, How Long Will You Live?

Dear Humans, How Long Will You Live?

The truth is we don’t know. We pretend that we can continue to dodge the mass terrors like the one a generation ago, where we eluded a nuclear annihilation. It is now more often that we find asking ourselves, that for how long the Earth will last, when we have poisoned the water and soils and trampled thousands of creatures[Read More…]

Salt And Trade At The Pink Lake: Community Subsistence In Senegal

Salt And Trade At The Pink Lake: Community Subsistence In Senegal

In this essay, we look at the case of the “salt collectors” of the PinkLake, also called Lake Retba or Lac Rose, in the rural area of Dakar, Senegal, and the develop­ment of communities’ sustenance

Community Based Forest And Livelihood Management In Nepal

Community Based Forest And Livelihood Management In Nepal

The reintroduction of a multiparty system in Nepal in 1990 after the peaceful revolution against the autocratic Monarchial Panchayat regime1 provided political space for communities to get organized and manage common pool resources, including water and forest. The state established new policies and funding mechanisms to support the evolution of new types of grassroots-based, self-governing institutions. The energies released from this[Read More…]

Photo by George M. Groutas

Why The Food Movement Is Unstoppable

In 1381, for the first and only time, the dreaded Tower of London was captured from the King of England. The forces that seized it did not belong to a foreign power; nor were they rebellious workers – they were peasants who went on to behead the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of Canterbury who were, after the king, the[Read More…]

Photo by John Vetterli

Re-Imagining The Polity For A Networked Humanity

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.

 Share or Die: A Challenge For Our Times

 Share or Die: A Challenge For Our Times

About a year ago, a weather-beaten, middle-aged man asked me for money on the platform of the Mountain View Caltrain station. I gave him three dollars. He thanked me, and asked what I did for work. I introduced myself, learned his name, Jeff, and we shook hands. I pulled out a card from my computer bag, and handed it to[Read More…]

licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Transnational Republics of Commoning 2: New Forms Of Network-Based Governance

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…]

Transnational Republics Of Commoning

Transnational Republics Of Commoning

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…]

10 Ways To Accelerate The Peer-To-Peer And Commons Economy

10 Ways To Accelerate The Peer-To-Peer And Commons Economy

Let’s engage in a way to produce goods and create value that is free, fair, and sustainable! What is peer production and commons economics? More importantly, how can they help bring about a thriving economy that work for people and planet? The following 10 ideas for action are the result of 10 years of research at the P2P Foundation on the[Read More…]

24 Countries Must Share Their  Surplus Farmland With 2 Billion Others

24 Countries Must Share Their  Surplus Farmland With 2 Billion Others

Even the most ardent capitalists/imperialists know that they and their predecessors have destroyed earth. For this reason alone the material conditions are right for those forces to self-destruct. After this happy event, – to which we are all of course joyously contributing by every means possible, – the world’s forests and coasts and other natural landscapes will be handed over[Read More…]

Right-To-Repair Activists Are Heroes

Right-To-Repair Activists Are Heroes

The only function of “intellectual property” is to snatch scarcity from the jaws of abundance — to take goods that, thanks to the advance of human knowledge, should naturally be getting cheaper, and make them artificially expensive. This is nowhere more evident than in the war corporations are fighting against their own customers’ right to repair the items they purchase.[Read More…]

By Michael Würfel - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33591387

Degrowth And The Global Ecovillage Network

One of the most controversially discussed key tracks during the 5th International Degrowth Conference 2016 in Budapest was “Degrowth and other social movements”. Can degrowth be considered a movement? Does degrowth embrace all kinds of movements struggling for a sustainable future? On one hand, the notion of “degrowth movement(s)” was rigorously criticized for fragmenting the political struggle. It was also[Read More…]

Transition Towns: Initiatives Of Transformation

Transition Towns: Initiatives Of Transformation

In 2006, when Rob Hopkins moved from Ireland to the small English town of Totnes with his family and co-founded the first Transition Town Initiative in the world with some friends, he surely never imagined what he was starting. Six years on, there are more than 500 “official” Transition Town initiatives in more than 38 countries, and several thousand more[Read More…]

A Space Shared Is A Space Doubled

A Space Shared Is A Space Doubled

 Streets and plazas are the spaces of the public, the spaces where people encounter each other. Such encounters can be fleeting or intense, but they always imply the possibility of lingering. Yet lingering is difficult if not impossible if our roads are designed to serve the needs of traffic practically to the exclusion of everything else. The concept of Shared[Read More…]

Photo by Sharada Prasad

Creating Sustainability? Join The Re-Generation!

In the face of multiple converging crises, mere sustainability is no longer enough. Too much damage has already been done. We need to restore ecosystem and community health, and create regenerative systems that allow us to face uncertainty creatively. After the post-war Baby Boomers came Generation X, followed by Generation Y – the millennials – and Generation Z – the[Read More…]

Living In “The Garden Of Life”

Living In “The Garden Of Life”

  Co-Written By Margrit Kennedy & Declan Kennedy Since 1985, an intentional community of about 100 adults and 40 children in the middle of Lower Saxony, Germany, has created the “Lebensgarten Steyerberg” out of a munitions factory housing project built in the late 1930s for World War II.1 The anchor of the community, which is spread out over 65 buildings, is a large community[Read More…]

Practicing Commons In Community Gardens: Urban Gardening As A Corrective For Homo Economicus

Practicing Commons In Community Gardens: Urban Gardening As A Corrective For Homo Economicus

“In these times of ever more blatant marketing of public space, the aspiration to plant potatoes precisely there – and without restricting entry – is nothing less than revolutionary,” writes Sabine Rohlf in her book review of Urban Gardening.1 Indeed, we can observe the return of gardens to the city everywhere and see it as an expression of a changing relationship[Read More…]

School Of Commoning

School Of Commoning

“How would we know when we are commoning?” a young woman asked me at Contact Summit 2011, a major unconference running concurrently with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, October 2011. (An “unconference” is a gathering based on participant-generated content.) When I announced the invitation to my session on commoning, I introduced it by quoting the motto of[Read More…]

Reclaiming The Credit Commons: Towards A Butterfly Society

Reclaiming The Credit Commons: Towards A Butterfly Society

By now, local currencies and alternative exchange systems have become familiar themes in the media, even in mainstream newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, as well as on both local and network TV. These reports focus mainly on attempts to keep money circulating locally instead of “leaking out,” as a way of enhancing the vitality[Read More…]

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Inner Transition : An Introduction

Inner Transition : An Introduction

I recently took up the challenge to talk about inner transition in the garden of an eco-village project in Värmland County, Sweden. A lot of sun, beautiful place,  no flip-chart or power points. Here is a short account of what I talked about. To me, getting to the heart of inner transition is about understanding our own dual nature: if[Read More…]

Food Sovereignty In Rebellion: Decolonization, Autonomy, Gender Equity, And The Zapatista Solution

Food Sovereignty In Rebellion: Decolonization, Autonomy, Gender Equity, And The Zapatista Solution

When viewed in its geopolitical context, the Zapatista insurgency has opened up space for a wide range of alternative ways of re-organizing societies, economies, and food systems. Consequently, what the Zapatistas prove through their resistance (i.e., efforts in autonomous education, decolonization, and gender equity) is that a recognition of Indigenous people’s right to self-determination, in conjunction with anti-capitalist collective work and movements toward food sovereignty, can indeed provide viable alternatives to the world’s neoliberal food regime as well as revolutionize the struggle for food security.

The Oxaca Commune And The Zapitastas: Hope From The Margins

The Oxaca Commune And The Zapitastas: Hope From The Margins

These notes offer a quick glance to ways, in the south of Mexico, in which people are regenerating the society from the bottom up. It is a new kind of revolution without leaders or vanguards, which goes beyond development and globalization. It is about displacing the economy from the center of social life, reclaiming a communal way of being, encouraging[Read More…]

Photo by grungepunk2010

Crises, Capital And Co-Optation: Does Capital Need A Commons Fix?

Today economic crisis is a capitalist crisis of social stability, not a simple recession—that is, a crisis that requires a realignment of class/power relations and new systems of governance in order to re-establish growth and accumulation.1 The last two times in which a real change in capital’s governance occurred (in the post-World War II period with the embrace of “Keynesianism” and[Read More…]

Photo by lilyrothrock

Subtle But Effective: Modern Forms Of Enclosures

The history of the commons can be read as the expansion of the market sphere and of private decision-making over goods that hitherto were subject to common rules. From this point of view, the late 20th century technologies are double-edged: They have made it possible to expand the commons by offering new modes of regulation, favoring the non-market sphere and[Read More…]

Self-Sustainability Of Community Radio: Stories From India

Self-Sustainability Of Community Radio: Stories From India

The legalization of setting up a Community Radio Station came after a long and voiced revolution from various grass-root organizations, individuals and communities. Community Radio is not just something which is feeding the people’s mind with few people’s choices, interests and beliefs, its inception goes back to the logic of providing Voice to the Voiceless, Being A Tool of Development[Read More…]

The War On Cash

The War On Cash

Banks, governments, credit card companies and fintech evangelists all want us to believe a cashless future is inevitable and good. But this isn’t a frictionless utopia says Brett Scott, and it’s time to fight back Several months ago I stayed in an offbeat Amsterdam hotel that brewed its own beer but refused to accept cash for it. Instead, they forced[Read More…]

Wild Democracy: A Biodiversity Of Resistance And Renewal

Wild Democracy: A Biodiversity Of Resistance And Renewal

Introduction With characteristic insight, the great American philosopher, John Dewey, once wrote: ‘Every generation has to accomplish democracy over again for itself.’[1] His point was that, at each moment in history, citizens and nations inevitably face unique challenges and problems, so we should not assume the democratic institutions and practices inherited from the past will be adequate for the conditions of[Read More…]

Helsinki Timebank: Currency As A Commons

Helsinki Timebank: Currency As A Commons

It is fair to say that this essential principle of timebanking stands in stark contrast to the premises of the current money system and capitalist markets, which value everyone’s time and effort in highly unequal ways. Timebanking provides an alternative by helping people meet important personal and household needs in more socially satisfying, equal ways.

The Global Land Grab: The New Enclosures

The Global Land Grab: The New Enclosures

Consider this. It is 1607. The English have been taking lands in Ireland for several centuries. First written down in the 7th century, Irish customary law is sophisticated and still administered by trained traditional magistrates (Brehons). Now rulings in the English courts on Gavelkind (1605) and Tanistry (1607) finally deny that customary law delivers property rights. Family holdings are made[Read More…]

Photo by Daquella manera

Let’s Build A Regenerative World

The current state of American politics must make us question whether any of our leaders in the Beltway can be described as “grown-ups”, i.e., fully mature and sane individuals. Between the endless war crimes, corporate corruption, lobbyists who bribe congressmen and write legislation, and the ineptitude of federal entities who are supposed to protect our health such as the FDA,[Read More…]

The Commons: A Historical Concept Of Property Rights

The Commons: A Historical Concept Of Property Rights

The commons, a historical concept, has become an object of interest for the modern social sciences and the general public like few before it. It is well known that it became famous due to Garrett Hardin and his influential article, “The Tragedy of the Commons” (Hardin 1968). Hardin had extrapolated from the historical phenomenon of the commons to identify principles[Read More…]

Photo by runneralan2004

Four Important Lessons From Cuba’s Urban Food Survival Strategy

Cuba has come a long way since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the loss of imports crucial for the island nation’s industrial agriculture system—such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers—left Cuba with a severe food crisis in the 1990s. Today, Cuba has become a regional leader in sustainable agricultural research. Within its practices and institutions lies a model for[Read More…]

Photo by USDAgov

The Commoning Of Patterns And The Patterns Of Commoning: A Short Sketch

   What would you have to think of if you want to build a liveable house? Maybe you would start looking at the environmental factors, an identifiable neighborhood, green areas nearby. You would look at the building site and choose to improve what’s there. You would create open space towards the south, and give it a distinct positive form. The[Read More…]

Photo by opensourceway

Technology And The Commons

“Jens had to cultivate a strong, unified mind to counteract the disparate landscapes, societies, conditions. He jumped from a monthlong spring hunt to a helicopter that would take him to Nuuk to testify in front of Parliament. On behalf of the Hunters’ Council, he was working hard to ban the use of snowmobiles and prohibit fishing boats in Inglefield Sound,[Read More…]

The Potato Park Of Peru

The Potato Park Of Peru

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…]

Grassroots Movements, Degrowth And ‘New Economies’

Grassroots Movements, Degrowth And ‘New Economies’

There are numerous grassroots movements and initiatives worldwide with the ambition to contribute to transformative change towards more sustainable, resilient and just societies. Many of them have a specific vision on the economy and relate to alternative visions of a ‘New Economy’. The research project TRANSIT highlights four prominent strands of new economy thinking in state-of-the-art discussions: degrowth, collaborative economy, solidarity[Read More…]

Photo by Rod Waddington

Subsistence: Perspective For A Society Based On Commons

Subsistence is the sum total of everything that humans need to survive: food and drink, protection from cold and heat, caring and company. If subsistence needs are met, life can continue (Mies/Bennholdt-Thomsen 1999). Many aspects of subsistence – goods and activities – have been transformed into commodities, but by far not all of them. After all, not only children, but[Read More…]

Photo by christophercjensen

Why Distinguish Common Goods From Public Goods?

The devastating recession of 2008–09 and its volatile aftermath have focused everyone’s attention on the global economy. There is growing agreement that better policies, laws and institutions are needed, but will the next economy be fair and equal for all inhabitants of Earth? No one really knows. Yet one thing is certain: the political will to create a democratically restructured[Read More…]

The Tragedy Of The Anticommons

The Tragedy Of The Anticommons

This essay introduces the tragedy of the anticommons. What’s that? Let’s start with something familiar: a commons. When too many people share a single resource, we tend to overuse it – we may overfish the oceans and pollute the air. This wasteful overuse is a tragedy of the unmanaged commons. How do we solve such a tragedy? Often, by creating[Read More…]

The Open Source School Redefines Education in Italy

The Open Source School Redefines Education in Italy

Threading elements of the great educational experiments of Bauhaus and Roycroft Community models together with Pierre Levy’s modern definition of “collective intelligence,” La Scuola Open Source (The Open Source School) embodies the principles of the sharing movement. Its success hinges on cooperative work, co-design, shared skills, and an open source culture. The school’s 13 co-founders believe in the power of people’s[Read More…]

The Discrete Charm Of Economic Growth

The Discrete Charm Of Economic Growth

At the outset Balthazar briefly summarizes his own intellectual journey as an economist, looking back on his earlier assumption that the economy as a whole was the spontaneous result of innumerable interacting trends interacting in a complex manner, and could be ultimately traced to individual preferences. This is the common perspective of most mainstream economists, who view the economic system[Read More…]

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How To Break The Power Of Money

Our current political chaos has a simple explanation. The economic system is driving environmental collapse, economic desperation, political corruption, and financial instability. And it isn’t working for the vast majority of people. It serves mainly the interests of a financial oligarchy that in the United States dominates the establishment wings of both the Republican and Democratic parties. So voters are[Read More…]

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Common Goods Don’t Simply Exist – They Are Created

We can turn our attention to the question of what we want to do with our common resources. That is what really matters, for common goods exist only if we produce them – and they will remain only if we take care of them.

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Language Patterns, The Media, And Cultural Re-Storying

It’s fashionable these days to summon the concept of narrative for effecting change, whether it’s to evoke brand loyalty, to create demand for some product or, on a rather more substantive scale, to persuade humans to live more peaceably on the planet. I’d personally prefer to see its mysterious power deployed in pursuit of a lot more of the latter[Read More…]

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Rethinking The Social Welfare State In Light Of The Commons

When we talk about commons in Europe, the question usually arises whether public services are also to be considered commons. In order to answer this question, we must examine our understanding of the (social welfare) state on the one hand and the concept of the “public” on the other. FROM THE SOCIAL WELFARE STATE TO THE NEOLIBERAL COMPETITION STATE1 The[Read More…]

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The ‘Rooted’ People

With the climate emergency now breaking upon the world, some may wonder whether human society is going to be capable of an effective response. It seems that our current toolkit is threefold. First there is the political dimension. The Green party is making substantial progress and other parties are lining up their own positions in regard to climate change. Second are the organisations, like the[Read More…]

Planetary Boundaries—Governing Emerging Risks And Opportunities

Planetary Boundaries—Governing Emerging Risks And Opportunities

The notion of planetary boundaries can be seen as a way to frame governance reform. This discussion introduces key elements of governance in a world with boundaries: deep reform of international governance, such as the United Nations system and trade treaties; emerging ecological concepts and principles in international law; the role of economics for the biosphere; and, the need to integrate different kinds of knowledge—from the local to the global.

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Feminism And The Politics Of The Commons

Reproduction precedes social production. Touch the women, touch the rock. 1 – Peter Linebaugh At least since the Zapatistas took over the zócalo in San Cristobal de las Casas on December 31, 1993, to protest legislation dissolving the ejidal lands of Mexico, the concept of “the commons” has been gaining popularity.2 There are important reasons why this apparently archaic idea has[Read More…]

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 First Thoughts For A Phenomenology Of The Commons

The commons are not concessions. They are resources that belong to the people as a matter of life necessity. Everybody has a right of an equal share of the commons and must be empowered by law to claim equal and direct access to it. Everybody has equal responsibility to the commons and shares a direct responsibility to transfer its wealth[Read More…]

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The Structural Communality Of The Commons

The commons are as varied as life itself, and yet everyone involved with them shares common convictions. If we wish to understand these convictions, we must realize what commons mean in a practical sense, what their function is and always has been. That in turn includes that we concern ourselves with people. After all, commons or common goods are precisely[Read More…]

Institutions And Trust In Commons: Dealing With Social Dilemmas

Institutions And Trust In Commons: Dealing With Social Dilemmas

From a game-theoretic point of view, commons represent both a chance and a problem. Game-theory is a mathematical tool that allows us to analyze decision-making in situations with social interdependencies such as sports, where a team has to decide either to play defensively or offensively in a match against another team, or economic situations, where companies have to decide whether[Read More…]

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Resilience Thinking

Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, so as to retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan, published by the UK government in 2010, was a bold and powerful statement of intent for a low-carbon economy in the UK (HMG 2009). It stated that by[Read More…]

Farm Hack: A Commons For Agricultural Innovation

Farm Hack: A Commons For Agricultural Innovation

In 2011, a community of farmers, designers, developers, engineers, architects, roboticists and open source thinkers came together in Boston, Massachusetts, to explore a simple yet radical idea – that great improvements in agriculture could be achieved by reducing barriers to knowledge exchange. They were convinced that transforming agricultural technology into a commons would result in a more adaptive, open and[Read More…]

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We Are Not Born As Egoists

A woman is writing a letter, and her pen drops to the floor. She leans across the desk and tries to pick it up, but she can’t reach it. A small boy realizes that he can help her. He walks over to the pen, picks it up and hands it to the woman. This is an experiment with twenty-month-old children.[Read More…]

CIC’s Autonomous Projects Of Collective Initiative #5: Calafou

CIC’s Autonomous Projects Of Collective Initiative #5: Calafou

One of the most interesting autonomous projects associated with the Catalan Integral Cooperative (CIC) is Calafou, the self-proclaimed “post-capitalist colony” which settled in 2011 in the ruins of an abandoned industrial village in the Catalan county of l’Anoia, about 65km away from Barcelona. The colony was set up with the participation of several CIC members with the aim of becoming[Read More…]

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Efficiency And The Commons

Efficiency is the spiritual practice of the religion of scientific management. Under its spell, we have not only privatized once abundant shared natural resources, but we have also privatized our intellectual and cultural commons Chris Corrigan questions the mantra of market efficiency, offsetting it against commoning: This morning, I’m reading this article. It’s a review of two books charting the[Read More…]

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The Economy Of Wastefulness: The Biology Of The Commons

There is an all-enclosing commons-economy which has been successful for billions of years: the biosphere. Its ecology is the terrestrial household of energy, matter, beings, relationships and meanings which contains any manmade economy and only allows for it to exist. Sunlight, oxygen, drinking water, climate, soil and energy – the products and processes of this household – also nourish the[Read More…]

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My Rocky Road To The Commons

“The Pyrenees, they are not all that high up – their outlines are gently curved, sharp ridges few and far between, and all the peaks are rounded. It seems like music frozen in place in this high country” (Kurt Tucholsky, celebrated German journalist and author, 1927). We are standing on the Col de Peyreget, where a small sign says we[Read More…]

Degrowth Meets Convivialism: Pathways To A Convivial Society

Degrowth Meets Convivialism: Pathways To A Convivial Society

The concept of convivialism has attracted some attention in recent years. When giving it a closer look – even superficially – it soon reveals its proximity to the degrowth concept and movement. But what exactly constitutes this proximity and where are the differences? Below I will give a short summary of what we can understand by degrowth in practical and theoretical terms. Then I will[Read More…]

John D. Liu On Regenerative Ecology And Naturalized Economies

John D. Liu On Regenerative Ecology And Naturalized Economies

 “If we say that money comes from ecological function instead from extraction, manufacturing buying and selling, then we have a system in which all human efforts go toward restoring, protecting and preserving ecological function. That is what we need to mitigate and adapt to climate change, to ensure food security, to ensure that human civilizations survive. Our monetary system must[Read More…]

State Power And Commoning: Transcending A Problematic Relationship

State Power And Commoning: Transcending A Problematic Relationship

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…]

Why “Bad Cops” Are Not The Real Issue

Why “Bad Cops” Are Not The Real Issue

I’m hoping these comments will bring some analysis to 5 seemingly innocuous but misguided words: “Not all cops are bad” and “good cops versus bad cops”. If you’re in the company of someone who says this or posts this on social media, and if you have seen and heard this as much as I have lately, then perhaps it’s time[Read More…]

Keep It Local! The Complementary Currency Alternative

Keep It Local! The Complementary Currency Alternative

New alternative and complementary currencies are a growing worldwide trend, and many states in the US have created their own local curriencies. Our local alternative currency, the Hudson Valley Current, has members in several counties straddling the Hudson River, just above New York City. It began with just a few of us; each coming to the idea from very different places

The Commons As The Response To The Structural Crises Of The Global System

The Commons As The Response To The Structural Crises Of The Global System

The Connecting the Dots series has convincingly shown a number of interconnected reasons why the global system is in crisis, and why there is no way out without a structural transformation of the dominant neoliberal system. In our contribution, we want to stress the key importance of what we call a “value regime,” or simply put, the rules that determine[Read More…]

From Ecology To Education

From Ecology To Education

Politics in many ways has become a bully boy gimmick. One has to read beyond headlines and think of deeper processes and consequences. One such event was the recent cabinet reshuffle by the Modi led NDA government. What fascinates me in these events is the amount of strategies that are tactfully played out to portray a sense of sustainability within[Read More…]

Bologna, Emilia Romagna. Photo by Tomas Kohl.

The Italian Region Where Co-ops Produce A Third Of Its GDP

Emilia Romagna, a region with nearly 4.5 million people whose capital is the medieval university city of Bologna, has one of the densest cooperative economies in the world. About two out of every three inhabitants are co-op members, together producing around 30 percent of the region’s GDP…

What We As A People Can Do

What We As A People Can Do

  Co-Written by Richard Heinberg, David Fridley Ed. note: This is Chapter 10 of Richard Heinberg’s and David Fridley’s new book, Our Renewable Future, now available from Island Press. Post Carbon Institute’s companion website,ourrenewablefuture.org has also just been launched and contains additional content not in the book. Sound national and international climate policies are crucial: without them, it will be impossible to[Read More…]

Another Exit Strategy?

Another Exit Strategy?

The Brexit earthquake, possibly the biggest since the 2008 financial collapse, provides another opportunity to question the economic and political structures that cause such quakes. I’ve heard only a handful of voices amidst the high-pitched cacophony of the Brexit debate that have gone beyond the the narrow and racist nationalism of the dominant ‘leave’ voices, and the free-trade nationalism of[Read More…]

Undoing The Ideology Of Growth

Undoing The Ideology Of Growth

With climate change, resource limits, and secular stagnation, this make-believe “resolution of real contradictions” reveals itself as clearly “imaginary.” Consequently, in order to dismantle the hegemony of growth, degrowth has to develop a profound and critical understanding of the real societal contradictions, hierarchies and power dynamics shaping capitalism and transform them in new ways

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30 Ways Cities Can Prepare For Global Warming

30 Ways Cities Can Prepare For Global Warming

There’s a good reason (actually, 30 good reasons covered here, plus at least 90 others to be discussed in later issues) why no-one has been able to come up with a better term for what’s called “urban agriculture.”

Feminist Socialism And The Commons

Feminist Socialism And The Commons

Hilary Wainwright, of the Transnational Institute and co-editor of Red Pepper magazine, made a lasting impression on the Commons Transition/P2P Foundation team with her panel presentation at the recent Commons Collaborative Economies event in Barcelona. During her presentation, Wainwright shared her insights on the hidden commons of care. “Women have been creating a Commons for a long time: the domestic[Read More…]

Community members working in the La Columna community garden, Merida, Venezuela. by Tamara Pearson

In Venezuela’s Difficult Times The Grassroots Are Stronger

It’s been three years now of food shortages, inflation, and queues in Venezuela, and the millions of people involved in community and movement organizing have been the most affected. But they’ve also defied right-wing and general expectations, and even perhaps the expectations of the Maduro government, and have become stronger and better organized as a result of the hardships. ‘We can[Read More…]

Another Side To Food Waste

Another Side To Food Waste

The food waste debate has gone mainstream. People at every level from individual consumers to national governments are beginning to pay attention to the issues which lead to a third of food produced for human consumption being wasted every year. However, there is one side to the story that is often overlooked: the impact of food waste in the Global[Read More…]

Equality And Sustainability: Can We Have Both?

Equality And Sustainability: Can We Have Both?

An equal level of consumption for everyone around the world at the level of today’s Cuba offers the possibility of substantially lowering human impact on the biosphere while at the same time maintaining a rather decent standard of living for all.

From Livelihoods To Deadlihoods

From Livelihoods To Deadlihoods

  In India, economic development and modernity have transformed livelihoods into deadlihoods. They are wiping out millennia-old livelihoods that were ways of life with no sharp division between work and leisure, and replacing them with dreary assembly line jobs where we wait desperately for weekends and holidays. Economic progress, we are told, is about moving from primary sector jobs to[Read More…]

Mozambique: Looking For Food In All The Wrong Places

Mozambique: Looking For Food In All The Wrong Places

Like many of the grand schemes hatched in the wake of the 2007-2008 food price spikes, this one was a bust, by any measure. Still, ProSAVANA remains the Mozambican government’s agricultural development strategy for the region. While farmers defend their hard-won land rights, it seems they will have to look elsewhere for agricultural development.

Beyond Development: The Commons As A New/Old Paradigm Of Human Flourishing

Beyond Development: The Commons As A New/Old Paradigm Of Human Flourishing

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.

Energy And Justice

Energy And Justice

The equity and justice questions won’t go away. From the perspective of global elites, something must be done to level the playing field and take everyone’s interests into account (whether through an overarching global framework or through piecemeal national and regional efforts), or those who feel excluded will disrupt efforts toward an orderly energy transition. From the perspective of those with far lower levels of power and wealth, there is no reason to support efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption if those efforts only preserve or exacerbate economic inequality.

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The Case For The Green State

The Case For The Green State

Critiques of the modern nation-state have been growing in recent decades, due to the abysmal failures of the capitalist, neoliberal order. In particular, conservative-libertarian arguments are tinged with isolationist and protectionist trade rhetoric, low taxes and regulations, and supply-side economics. On the other side, the mild leftism of social-democratic reforms promote endless government spending, increases in social programs and minimum[Read More…]

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This Is Where The Jobs Are!

This Is Where The Jobs Are!

Diminshing Employment opportunities There is a popular story about a journalist being taken around a modern process industry that is fully automated. The factory owner proudly announces that whole process is ‘untouched by human hands’. In the control center, the journalist finds an operator and a dog. The journo enquires, “I understand why the man is there? But what is[Read More…]

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After A Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise

After A Century In Decline, Black Farmers Are Back And On the Rise

These Black farmers don’t stop at healthy food. They’re healing trauma, instilling collective values, and changing the way their communities think about the land.

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Viva la Producción! Urban Farming In Cuba

Viva la Producción! Urban Farming In Cuba

Urban farming has gained momentum in recent years as a result of increased awareness of environmental issues and the desire to feed people living in cities sustainably. For Cuba in the 1990s, however,the shift to an urban agricultural economy was a matter of life or death. The Plaza de la Revolución is supposed to embody the spirit of revolutionary Cuba.[Read More…]

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The Radical Work Of Healing: Fania And Angela Davis On A New Kind Of Civil Rights Activism

The Radical Work Of Healing: Fania And Angela Davis On A New Kind Of Civil Rights Activism

Angela and Fania Davis. YES! Photo by Kristin Little. Angela Davis and her sister Fania Davis were working for social justice before many of today’s activists were born. From their childhood in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, where their friends were victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, to their association with the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party, to[Read More…]

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Renewable Energy

Our Renewable Future

Ed. note: This is the introduction to Richard Heinberg’s and David Fridley’s new book, Our Renewable Future, now available from Island Press. Post Carbon Institute’s companion website, ourrenewablefuture.org has also just been launched.The book is available to order and also to read on the website as a complete set of online chapters. By Richard Heinberg & David Fridley The next[Read More…]

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Pathways Of Transition To Agroecological Food Systems

Pathways Of Transition To Agroecological Food Systems

A new report by leading sustainability experts has reaffirmed the case for a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems – fundamental to which is a call for redistributing power back into the hands of those who feed the world. By Adam Parsons An alternative vision of farming and food systems has long been upheld by civil society[Read More…]

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