19 June 2009

Reclaim The Commons: A Manifesto

As long-suffering readers of this blog will have noticed, I rather like the concept of the commons. As well as being good in itself, it also provides a way of linking many disparate fields - software, content, data, knowledge, fisheries, forests, oceans, the atmosphere. That's not really surprising, since the thing these all have in, er, common is that we share them, and the commons offers a model for sharing without destroying.

It's a viewpoint that's becoming increasingly widely shared (sorry, these words just keep popping up), and now we have this splendid manifesto that is specifically about all the commons I mentioned above, and how we need to change our attitudes to them:

Humankind is suffering from an unprecedented campaign of privatization and commodification of the most basic elements of life: nature, culture, human work and knowledge itself. In countless arenas, businesses are claiming our shared inheritance - sciences, creative works, water, the atmosphere, health, education, genetic diversity, even living creatures - as private property. A compulsive quest for short-term financial gain is sacrificing the prosperity of all and the stability of the Earth itself.

The dismal consequences of market enclosures can be seen in our declining ecosystems: the erosion of soil and biodiversity, global climate change, reduction of food sovereingty. Agressive intellectual property politics harness those suffering from neglected deseases or who can't purchase patented medicines, reduce cultural diversity, limit access to knowledge and education, and promote a global consumerist culture.


a new vision of society is arising - one that honors human rights, democratic participation, inclusion and cooperation. People are discovering that alternatives and commons-based approaches offer practical solutions for protecting water and rivers, agricultural soils, seeds, knowledge, sciences, forest, oceans, wind, money, communication and online collaborations, culture, music and other arts, open technologies, free software, public services of education, health or sanitization, biodiversity and the wisdom of traditional knowledges.

The manifesto has a very concrete, practical aim alongside the more general one of raising awareness of the commons:

The signers of this Manifesto, launched at the World Social Forum of 2009, call upon all citizens and organizations to commit themselves to recovering the Earth and humanity's shared inheritance and future creations. Let us demonstrate how commons-based management - participatory, collaborative and transparent - offers the best hope for building a world that is sustainable, fair and life-giving.

This Manifesto calls upon all citizens of the world to deepen the notion of the commons and to share the diverse approaches and experiences that it honors. In our many different ways, let us mobilize to reclaim the commons, organize their de-privatization and get them off markets, and strengthen our individual initiatives by joining together in this urgent, shared mission.

I particularly liked the framing of commons-based management as "participatory, collaborative and transparent", since this applies perfectly to open source, open content, and all the other things this blog has been covering.

I've signed the manifesto, and I urge you to do so and spread - no, share - the news about this important initiative.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca.


Anonymous said...


We have just added your latest post "Reclaim The Commons: A Manifesto" to our Directory of Science . You can check the inclusion of the post here . We are delighted to invite you to submit all your future posts to the directory and get a huge base of visitors to your website.

Warm Regards

Scienz.info Team


Glyn Moody said...