Monday, May 19, 2014

Rifkin's new book continued

Continuing from this post.

Chapter 10 starts with a historical overview of commons governance structures. They have been criticized by conservatives due to the free rider syndrome. If property is held in common for grazing, for instance, the free riders will abuse the system and bring ruin to the land because of self-interest and overgrazing. Interesting argument for a capitalist. But a history of the commons shows that self-interest was indeed the exception rather than the rule, and obeying self-governing rules for the public good was the rule.

While such historical examples are generally from the feudal era, such commons governance still exists in some communities today. These are democratically run in local communities where public resources are managed with definitive protocols including punishments. Since the members live in the communities they are keenly aware of the natural limitations to grazing, forestation, soil degradation and the like so manage their resources sustainably. From a wide survey of such commons governance, 7 key principles were held in common (see 162 for the list).

Following are other examples of application to contemporary society. The public square was considered a shared resource for meeting, celebrating, sharing and the like. This now manifests in social media sites. The commons is also now expressing through the free genetics movement, which is trying to preserve our genetic heritage from being enclosed and privatized by big biotech. And which is just another addition to the emerging P2P meme in RE, 3-D printing, education, music and so on.

Also of note is that both Clinton in the US and Blair in the UK were part of a trend started by Reagan/Thatcher to sell off the commons to the highest private bidders via deregulation (163-64). Both of the former were held to be 'integral' leaders by Kennilingam.

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