From:   Snafu <>
Sent time:   Thursday, November 10, 2011 8:14:35 AM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] Re: OWS: Yes, we are anti-capitalist!

John, what Elinor Ostrom calls common-pool resources (e.g. the Maine fisheries) are already managed in common by a population without direct government involvement. Ostrom makes the case that the usage of the resources in a functioning commons is monitored by the users themselves.

From the Wikipedia entry on Ostrom (

Ostrom identifies eight "design principles" of stable local common pool resource management:

  1. Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties;
  2. Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions;
  3. Collective-choice arrangements that allow most resource appropriators to participate in the decision-making process;
  4. Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;
  5. A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;
  6. Mechanisms of conflict resolution that are cheap and of easy access;
  7. Self-determination of the community recognized by higher-level authorities;
  8. In the case of larger common-pool resources,organization in the form of multiple layers of nested enterprises, with small local CPRs at the base level.

The example of Cochabamba is another case in point.

On 11/9/11 5:14 PM, wrote:
The commons would have to be defined and protected by some entity, and that entity would have to be governments.  That is where democracy comes in (and the responsibility of every citizen of the world to get involved).  There has to be centralized protection and funding of the commons because otherwise people would cheat.  Without a government forced by democracy to protect the Amazon, it is too easy to exploit in large chunks.  You can't have thousands of individuals showing up to protect the Amazon every time some crew shows up to chop down old growth forest or do some other damage. 
Until a completely democratic system is developed to run an economy their has to be a tension between one-dollar-one-vote and one-person-one-vote.  Historically a lot of people with few dollars have had more faith in markets than democracy.  Our job is to get people involved in running their world so that there humanity is more important than their bank accounts.
As far as Malthus, it may be that if he hadn't scared a lot of people, he would have ended up being right.  It is also possible that he will be proven to be right yet.  I also believe that people have the ingenuity to stretch resources farther, but I am pretty sure (having studied chaotic systems in mathematics) that human caused global warming is already upon us and is a greater threat than most people imagine.  We need to invent not only new technologies, but more importantly, new ways of looking at economics that don't put growth above all else.  I just don't believe that we can wait for the death of capitalism to do this.
On 11/09/11, Snafu<> wrote:
Shaista I am not making a Malthusian argument here. On the contrary, I
just stated that capitalism relies on a constant expansion of the world
population to increase production-consumption and, yes, the workforce

Rob, John a system can never be truly democratic if predicated upon
massive inequality in the distribution of wealth. Those who own the most
will always a louder voice than those who own less. The Supreme Court
has candidly ratified this fact by defining corporate donations to
political candidates as free speech (i.e. who owns the most speaks the

So the struggle for democracy has to go hand-in-hand with the struggle
for social and economic justice. And if you want to attack the problem
at the root you have to take *some* resources off the market and manage
them in common. The main difference with state socialism being that this
system would be highly decentralized. Yet in a world that is highly
interdependent and globalized some resources cannot be simply managed
locally. Take the Amazon, the lungs of the earth. Given the global
importance of this resource should its management left to local
companies and populations? If not, what kind of alternative resources
can be provided to Brazilians so that they may not cut the forest for
their livelihood? The same goes for the Delaware River Basin and the
property rights of upstate landowners to lease their land to fracking
companies. What kind of alternative resources can be provided to
impoverished farmers so that they may use the waters wisely?

When you begin thinking at this level of scale, the question of the
commons gets complicated because many resources--including energy
production--are not locally bound. Yet these issues can be tackled much
better when the interested parties are not driven by the profit motive
but try and solve their conflicts (which won't end in a post-capitalist
society) on the basis of their reproductive needs. A system driven by
profit such as capitalism rewards the most primitive instincts in human
nature. A communal system of management would be predicated upon the
preservation and reproduction of the common good.

On 11/9/11 12:06 AM, shaista husain wrote:
> Rob, despite all my disagreements with you--i must say here you are
> correct--- Snafu i like your ideas but to underlie your ideas with a
> natural law of scarcity --this is the easiest and first polemic marx
> destroyed-- of the conservative malthusian economists... the reserve
> army of labor is popular control that is peculiar to the capitalist
> mode of production.
> "The error of Malthus and the classical economists was to focus their
> analysis of capital accumulation and its effects upon specific sectors
> of production instead of looking at the relationship between total
> social capital and the total labor force. This perspective leads them
> to confuse the laws that regulate that general ratio with the laws
> which regulate the allocation of specific sectors of the labor force
> to specific sectors of production (Marx, 1970:638-639).
> On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 11:41 PM, rob hollander<> wrote:
>> I like Andy's tiger. You remove the tiger's teeth -- and be very careful not
>> to forget to declaw him too -- but let him keep his legs under your harness
>> and his hunger.
>> Which leads to the anti-hunger Malthusianism that the green movement has
>> managed to legitimize. I don't see that Malthusianism is any more true now
>> than it was when it first appeared. I would not underestimate the ingenuity
>> of human invention, if only it were cultivated with quality education
>> accessible to all, instead of for just the few, and turned to human
>> problems, rather than to corporate interests. There is the place for big
>> government where capital falls short, and that's a notion older than
>> socialism, it's the social contract. It's also called democracy -- making
>> your gov't work for everyone.
>> The answer to rapacious capitalism has got to be democracy. That's what OWS
>> seems to be at bottom all about. We've got a plutocracy of thieves, it
>> doesn't work for us, we've had enough of it; we want our government back.
>> I do agree with snafu that capitalism is the ultimate Ponzi scheme. But what
>> happens when you call out a Ponzi scheme? Everyone is left destitute.
>> I like the commons notion. There's something Georgist in it -- pool the
>> social resources including all land. Georgism doesn't cure capitalism, but
>> it wouldn't hurt.
>> On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 11:00 PM, Lauren<> wrote:
>>> What alternative has even been allowed to run unimpeded?
>>> Socialism? Social-capitalism is merely a stopgap to make the european
>>> and latin american working class shut up.
>>> Communism? Communism in Russia died in 1921. Maoism is confucianism
>>> with a coat of red paint.
>>> Anarchism? Yes, I guess being beaten by the combined might of Hitler,
>>> Stalin, Mussolini and Franco, despite there being a war between each
>>> other, could count as an objective measurement of failure, assuming
>>> that your ethical standards are those of a jackbooted thug.
>>> Where is the success of capitalism in Africa? Why do we keep being
>>> reminded about the kulaks, but never about the millions who died
>>> during the rubber boom, never about the millions who died during the
>>> dust bowl, never about the millions who died because of Britain's
>>> laissez-mourir approach to famines in India, Ireland, Africa?
>>> Capitalist wealth is the wealth of empire. It's the illusion brought
>>> about by concentration, by homogenization of societies that used to be
>>> heterogenous even there; wealthy countries with wealthy regions with
>>> wealthy cities with wealthy neighborhoods. Hey, some of the country
>>> doesn't have electricity and running water? It's okay, we have
>>> billionaires in the capital who are really enjoying the success of
>>> capitalism.
>>> </rant>
>> --
>> Rob Hollander
>> Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
>> 622 E 11, #10
>> NYC, 10009
>> 212-228-6152