11 October 2006

The Parallel Politics of Copyright and the Environment

One of the ideas that I've been banging on about on this blog is the commonality of the commons - how entirely disparate areas like open content and the atmosphere have much in common. Of course, I didn't invent this meme, and there are plenty of others out there helping to push it. The latest I came across was Michael Geist, with a piece on this idea from a Canadian viewpoint.

4 comments:

David M. Berry said...

This is an interesting analogy but raises questions for me about the anti-humanist side to the environmental movement and what that could mean for the commons movement?

Would a prior claim to a 'pure' commons trump claims to democratic rights to effect change on a common - in whatever direction a polity wished to go?.

Important questions to be asked *before* the commons movement embarks upon the environmental road...

David

glyn moody said...

I suppose the difference is that one concerns the real world, the other, the virtual. So you could argue that environmental concerns ultimately trump others - if that particular commons is destroyed, then we're not even going to have the debate about the rights and wrongs of doing so.

In the virtual sphere, there's no such urgency. Sure, I don't want the public domain to disappear, but if it did it wouldn't quite be on a par with all the oxygen in the atmosphere disappearing....

David M. Berry said...

This is true. But what I was getting at was that the so-called 'post-human' theory (i.e. environmentalism, actor-network theory etc) that argues that Human needs and values do not come first. Rather it is the non-human that needs to be considered -whether that be trees, fish, cows or indeed the 'commons'.

This can lead to disturbing ideas like that in the current issue of New Scientist that finds it 'perversely comforting' that humans might be wiped out and the Earth would 'recover' back to a 'natural' state.

See http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19225731.100-imagine-earth-without-people.html

We (the 'we' being humans) need to decide what the commons is *for* before committing to it. Rather than the way of putting the cart before the horse by claiming a prior pure commons that humans are ravaging.

It seems to me that this encourages us to think firstly in democratic terms (e.g. 'we', 'our commons' etc) and secondly to recognise that the commons must be supported by us if it is to survive and thrive.

To blindly point at the environmental movement as a strategy, seems to me to be worrying if the 'post-human' dimension is not carefully thought about.

glyn moody said...

Certainly, we need to think more about this commons, but I think we can still agree it might be worth trying to keep it viable without necessarily adopting the "perversely comforting" viewpoint.

After all, time is not exactly on our side on this one....