Although every proprietor knows his own, … all things, so long as they will last, are used in common amongst them: Thomas Morton regarding the Five Nations in North America Once referring to natural resources and collectively managed land, the notion of the ‘commons’ has expanded across cultural, scientific and digital realms. Can commonality dodge the threat of capitalist exploitation and develop into an organizational principle for complex societies?
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the concept of the ‘commons’ has steadily ascended in significance in activist circles, scientific literature and in fields ranging from political philosophy and economics to jurisprudence and cultural theory. Traditionally, the commons were the natural resources that belonged to no one, which everyone could use: the forests where wood was gathered, the fields where cattle grazed or the wells where clean water could be drawn. According to current economic and political theory, over the course of capitalism’s emergence and ascent during the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, these commons were gradually expropriated and turned into private property – the so-called ‘enclosure of the commons’.
Theorists now seem to agree that this was not a one-time transition but an ongoing movement. Indeed, new commons are being created that are also in danger of being expropriated or destroyed today. In 2001 Naomi Klein wrote Reclaiming the commons, a short essay in which she mentions the anti or alter-globalization movement in the same breath as environmental movements, urban activists and labour movements, all of which she says were part of a growing resistance to increasing expropriation, privatization, ‘public’ resources and services…
Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist?
Noam Chomsky: Internationalism or Extinction (Universalizing Resistance)
A Final Warning by George Orwell
Society of the Spectacle / ‘इमेज‘ – ‘Image’: A Poem on Deaths in the Age of Covid
Ravi Bhoothalingam: Coronavirus and the Mandate of Heaven
Gastón Gordillo: Nazi Architecture As Affective Weapon
Walter Benjamin: Capitalism as Religion (1921)
George Lakey on Capitalism, public health and the Nordic model
Lynn Parramore: The perverted dreams of western modernity and capitalism may be exhausting themselves
Dilip Simeon: What is corruption?
Tanya Gold – How materialism makes us sad
Marina Hyde: The question every politician should be asking is, what does Mark Zuckerberg want with us?
Umberto Eco on Eternal Fascism, or Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt (1995)
Bitcoin Could Cost Us Our Clean-Energy Future. By Eric Holthaus
Lauren Aratani: Electricity needed to mine bitcoin is more than used by ‘entire countries
Mass starvation is humanity’s fate if we keep flogging the land to death. By George Monbiot
The Bleak Left – On Endnotes. By TIM BARKER
Sam Kriss: ‘Neoliberalism’ isn’t a left-wing insult but a monstrous system of inequality
Defying capitalism and socialism, Kumarappa and Gandhi had imagined a decentralised Indian economy – Venu Madhav Govindu & Deepak Malghan