Monday, September 1, 2014

The global commons

Continuing from this post, Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy notes in Part 3 that the enclosure and privatization of land inherent to capitalism caused worker alienation, since their work was no longer connected to their identity and integrity. This was also extended to the land itself, which like labor was just a cog in the machine of capital to be exploited. Whereas the Commons integrates the individual laborer with himself as well as with his culture and the land by distributing resources instead of hoarding them. One would think that any paradigm calling itself 'integral' would favor a socio-economic system that actually integrates self, culture and nature instead of just using it as a catch phrase.

The section on resilient local communities discusses the de-growth movement and permaculture. One problem for them is that "resilient communities and other similar projects inevitably become parts of the broader capitalist economy, because they do not confront capitalism, but rather avoid it. [...] The issue is not to produce and consume less per se, but to develop new models of production which work on a higher level than capitalist models. We consider it difficult to challenge the dominant system if we lack a working plan to transcend it. A post-capitalist world is bound to entail more than a mere reversal to pre-industrial times."

That's why they argue for the Global Commons in the next section:

"Several global-oriented Commons-based projects [...] highlight the emergence of technological capabilities shaped by human factors, which in turn shape the environment under which humans live and work. They create what Benkler (2006, p. 31) calls new 'technological-economic feasibility spaces' for social practice. These feasibility spaces include different social and economic arrangements, where profit, power, and control do not seem as predominant as they have in the history of modern capitalism. From this new communicational, interconnected, virtual environment, a new social productive model is emerging, different from the industrial one. We are witnessing the emergence of a new proto-mode of production, that is, Commons-based peer production, based on distributed, collaborative forms of organization. It is developing within capitalism, rather as Marx (1979) argued that the early forms of merchant and factory capitalism developed within the feudal order. In other words, system change is back on the agenda, but in an unexpected form, not as a socialist alternative, but as a Commons-based alternative. [...] The question is whether the new proto-mode can generate the institutional capacity and alliances needed to break the political power of the old order."

They are not putting down resilient communities but expanding their horizons by interaction with the global commons:

"Τhe 'Global Commons' approach (upper-right) focuses on a larger scale in relation to the resilient communities quadrant, that is, on the Commons with a global orientation (Figure 7.1). Advocates and builders of this scenario argue that the Commons should be created and fought for on a transnational global scale. Though production is distributed and therefore facilitated at the local level, the conjunction of CBPP with desktop manufacturing technologies could create sustainable business ecologies. There, the resulting micro-factories, essentially networked on a global scale, would profit from mutualized global cooperation, both on the design of the product and on the improvement of common machinery."

CBPP = commons based peer production.

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