11 December 2009

Uncommon Meditations on the Commons

It's significant that books about the commons are starting to appear more frequently now. Here's one that came out six months ago:

Who Owns the World? The Rediscovery of the Commons, has now been published by oekom Verlag in Berlin. (The German title is Wem gehört die Welt – Zur Wiederentdeckung der Gemeingüter.) The book is an anthology of essays by a wide range of international authors, including Elinor Ostrom, Richard Stallman, Sunita Narain, Ulrich Steinvorth, Peter Barnes, Oliver Moldenhauer, Pat Mooney and David Bollier.

Unfortunately, its text no longer seems available in English (please correct me if I'm wrong), although there is a version in Spanish [.pdf]. For those of you a little rusty in that tongue, there's a handy review and summary of the book that actually turns into a meditation on some unusual aspects of the commons in its own right. The original, in French, is also available.

Here's the conclusion:

Those who love the commons and reciprocity rightly highlight the risks entailed by their necessary relationships with politics and the State, with money and the market. This caution should not lead them to isolate the commons from the rest of the world, however, or from the reign of the State and market. State and market are not cadavers which can be nailed into a coffin and thrown into the sea. For a very, very long time, they will continue to contaminate or threaten the reciprocal relationships that lie at the heart of the commons, with their cold logic. We can only try to reduce their importance. We must hope that reciprocal relationships will grow in importance with respect to relationships of exchange and of authority.

Worth reading.

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