The argument put forward at the RIO summit in the summer of 2012 was that we have to sell off mother nature in order to protect her. This kind of market thinking that commodifies and privatises absolutely everything to help business interests is a catastrophe in the making. The financial crisis of 2008 is evidence that the idea of self-regulating markets has dramatically failed. When Alan Greenspan and Bill Clinton admit to the failure of free markets and publicly declare that you cant treat food and people like televisions sets, why is that public policy in the West is still build on out-of date ideas that reduce everything to commodities, money and the assumption that we are naturally greedy and selfish.
The remarkable Economist and Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom, has provided proof through her 30 years of research that in fact communities are really good at managing resources if given the freedom to do so. Her case studies are evidence that we are in fact not too stupid to govern ourselves. Communities around the world have taken care of resources sustainably and fairly knowing that plundering the earth will destroy the future of their children.
That privatisation and monetizing everything is not the answer and that we need to figure out other ways to create value together is part of the solutions that seventy-two projects from around the world present in an anthology edited by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich.
Taken as whole, they offer a glimpse into the breadth of the emerging commons story that is unparalleled.
The commons is a very different story - one that the mainstream economic narrative ignores. The commons is all about community empowerment, social equity and ecological security. It's the realisation that we belong to the earth and that the earth doesnt belong to us. If we plunder it, we destroy ourselves. It is about rolling back privatisation and enclosures and giving back to us what belongs to us. It's about being human. It is the story about trust, reciprocity and social relationships rather than a story of bigger, better and faster which is has become the religion of our time.
The School of Commoning works to sharpen that storyline with online courses, events, community site, working with Occupy London in the New Putney Debates, and seeding a Community Knowledge Garden with documents and essays for a commons-based society. Whatever resource you care about passionately, whether it be health, food, knowledge, economics, complementary currencies, faith, the internet or anything else that creates value for the community, we hope to hear from you and/or meet you at the book launch.
For further information about the Commons anthology, read an in-depth review of it here and come the book party.