An interesting complication to the commons idea is that commons might actually have some conflict with each other. Energy could conflict with water and air. Fresh water fisheries could conflict with water for drinking, education could compete for resources with healthcare. This is true in any system and it is not insurmountable it is just another dimension that should be explored.
Dearest Shaista, thank you for clarifying that the real enemy in Brazil
is the corporations, not the indigenous population. When I said "how can
we provide alternative resources to local populations" (in the Amazon as
well as upstate NY) I meant to say that unfortunately corporations offer
these populations very immediate rewards for leasing or selling their
property rights. If the community or the state is unable or unwilling to
provide alternative sources of livelihood, corporations can easily
divide and conquer. This is what is happening right now upstate NY where
the gas companies are offering a lot of money to farmers who are in
desperate need. This has created deep rifts in the community and puts
environmental activists in a difficult spot, as you cannot simply say
"don't sell" to someone who is unemployed and has to pay a mortgage.
This of course leads to the larger question of why are these farmers so
desperate, which is in turn related to the globalization of
agri-business and the general crisis of small farms.
Thus when we approach a potential politics of the commons we are first
fascinated by the fact that the commons seems a very sensible solution.
Commons are finite resources that can be managed locally by a community
of prod-users. But then we quickly find out that recreating commons in
regions where the land has been privatized is extremely difficult
because so many conflicting interests are at play. Hence you cannot
tackle this issue by only thinking and acting at a local level. I
believe *we need a federal legislative framework that takes some
resources off the market by declaring them common goods.* This could be
a unifying objective-campaign for the Occupy movement... once we get rid
of this obsession that demands are pointless or divisive.
On 11/9/11 12:27 PM, shaista husain wrote:
> Dearest Snafu, thank you for your clarification, (phew!)
> Our Commons: the Planet Earth is nothing but a common dump and
> wasteland of the most toxic substances ever conceived.
> The fear is not that individuals will take what they can from the
> Commons, as you point out (eg how many trees a tribesman can cut down,
> how many fish an individual can fish in a given day) but the
> corporations who not only TAKE what they want, but DUMP their putrid
> wastes into our air and water.
> One can not have "COMMONS" in one nation only, like 'socialism in one
> nation'--we have learned our bitter lessons--not all who died and
> fought valiantly for revolution thought any different from us when
> they began. Today, we have a whole century of failures and the ability
> to revisit our historical tragedies with lucidity and sobriety, this
> our historical blessing and never return to those models. Some folks
> fall into cyclical temporalities believe everything is doomed to
> repetition, and the other temporal fallacies is that there a certain
> future, some model that we will eventually arrive at if only
> x..y..z.., this inductive reasoning is both hegelian and kantian or
> religious thinking. Both are incorrect, we have to look at the past in
> order to produce solutions for the future that will not repeat
> themselves. This kind of clarity of thinking today is only found in
> the marxist philosophers, in that it offers liberation from the
> conundrum of history in the attempt to construct a future that is
> neither promised but created and forged out of proper archeology of
> knowledge. (derrida, bergson, deleuze guaatari--obsessed with
> postmodern repititions--i will save this argument for another
> day...and old school kantians hegelians and heiddegarians about the
> categorical future imperatives...)
> So, folks, let us not confuse marxism with the Thermidor of
> centralized gov't, kangaroo trials and top down bureaucracy. We are
> also allowed to consider the idea that revolution is possible
> "without" armed struggle ie. Leninism, Maoism etc. This is another
> fallacy that people impose of marxism, assuming all marxists are
> proponents of armed struggle. I do not discount Lenin or Trotsky or
> Mao's writings, they lived within their historical limitations and
> necessities..no, but allow me to plug in here, one of the earliest
> proponents of decentralized and non-violent revolution was Rosa
> Luxembourg, less known in her day, but her understanding of Marx and
> her poetical writings, exemplify a most profound elaboration on the
> expansion of capitalism into new unequal markets, ie. imperialism
> which is our fact of life today, a century later.
> As this article attempts to formulate, but also fails as Andy pointed
> out, by red baiting the WWP (who by the way were not stalinist as this
> author gossips, but trotskyist and later maoist) so YES, there is a a
> great need to recuperate and subject an unbiased analysis, to begin
> again without prejudice and never ever to assume a question as
> exhausted no matter how simple or complex. We must and can do better
> with the best theories at our disposal.
> The main problem today, i believe, are conspiracy theories type
> thinking, characterized most forcefully by the right wing. folks who
> blame individual "errant capitalists" for our global problems and
> propose as a solution some messianic figure like Ron Paul who has all
> the answers. But why stop there, that is too easy, it is not just the
> Ron Pauls or right wing (fascists like to blame certain people, ie,
> Jews or Muslims) Unfortunately, some of our most profound theorists
> too, in our ossified economic depts at our top universities fall into
> this paradigm, albeit not as perniciously, into the notion that we can
> save capitalism or "eqilibriate" capitalism, or just bring forth
> "capitalism with a human face." Sorry to be so trite, but it always
> returns to the same question: REFORM or REVOLUTION? let us look
> carefully at this question, and be careful, just because you are so
> GUNG HO, and scream revolution!!, doesn't necessarily mean you know
> what you are talking about--and i speak to myself too--i have noticed
> that the right wing screams out much much louder than we can. We
> should rather carefully examine this question and whisper our
> solutions with careful sobriety ask fellow comrades to re-visit this
> age old question again and again as we set forth...
> Please folks, when someone disagrees, let us not call them "leeches"
> or "infiltrators" or "irrational" this kind of suspicious
> fearmongering is what is wrong with all of us on the left and similar
> to the tactics of the right wing, they really believe that replacing a
> few individuals with "good" individuals (themselves or messianic
> leader) is the solution to the worlds problems and only they know it,
> because as elitists, they don't believe the public has a clue about
> its own oppression and is powerless. That is why the obsession with
> leaking and hidden knowledge that only certain people have, the rest
> of us are stupid. Let us stop red-baiting, as Andrew pointed out
> earlier--establishing such a a historical precedence--a methodology-an
> ethics---will enable us to never make the same mistakes that are the
> central features of the counter-revolution and deepest failures of the
> Sorry to go off on a tangent folks
> Peace and Love,
> On Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 9:35 AM, rob hollander<firstname.lastname@example.org
>> Snafu -- the answer to corporate control over a "democracy" is ... a social
>> protest movement like OWS!
>> It's sort of like "90% of success is just showing up."
>> But the consequences of a movement can go in any direction, favorable or
>> I agree about resources. If some forms of exploitation are taken off the
>> table by enforced law, the need will find its way for other forms of
>> exploitation which may be less dangerous -- or more. That's the long history
>> of legislation. Good legislation should recognize a need and facilitate
>> satisfying it while protect adverse consequences.
>> But a shift from an expansion economic model requires a global shift. Look
>> at what happened with the Occupy Wall Street trademark. OWS didn't pursue
>> the capitalist model, and some entrepreneur tried to trademark it,
>> recognizing that someone or other would do it eventually.
>> On Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 9:07 AM, Snafu<email@example.com
>>> 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 most).
>>> 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<firstname.lastname@example.org
>>>>> I like Andy's tiger. You remove the tiger's teeth -- and be very careful
>>>>> to forget to declaw him too -- but let him keep his legs under your
>>>>> 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
>>>>> than it was when it first appeared. I would not underestimate the
>>>>> 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 --
>>>>> your gov't work for everyone.
>>>>> The answer to rapacious capitalism has got to be democracy. That's what
>>>>> 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
>>>>> I do agree with snafu that capitalism is the ultimate Ponzi scheme. But
>>>>> 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,
>>>>> it wouldn't hurt.
>>>>> On Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 11:00 PM, Lauren<email@example.com
>>>>>> 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
>>>>> Rob Hollander
>>>>> Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
>>>>> 622 E 11, #10
>>>>> NYC, 10009
>> Rob Hollander
>> Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
>> 622 E 11, #10
>> NYC, 10009