From:   shaista husain <>
Sent time:   Thursday, November 10, 2011 10:37:12 PM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] An OWS Seminar on the Commons?

There are also ways in which the language itself mystifies or finds itself in a hermeneutical place of high theory --more valued, than say someone on the ground not trained in academia.. some things to consider yes? One has to try to avoid being monolingual --Hardt and Negri are wonderful no doubt, but the authors i listed offer a critique to some of their premises even. This might help us to to even think outside of the box, that we are trying to think outside of. Just a suggestion......

On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 12:25 AM, shaista husain <> wrote:
Forgive me for always throwing a wrench into everything and i do not do it in order to be provocative or polemical. In the study of the geopolitics of knowledge--i am very careful about the ways and direction in which discourse travels. In academia there is a tendency to impose universalizing of linearity upon the South. Hardt and Negri have been criticized by Latin American Economists for eliding issues of postcoloniality. Obviously, they borrow all their ideas from Three Worlds Theory but if you have not read it, you would not be able to point it out. In western academia, we must be careful that we do not impose a eurocentric universalism, i will spare the biblio here. When you say theory cuts like a knife--i truly believe that it does, more than any arms in the world. So i am careful about the "framing" of discourses and how we limit our analysis while assuming it is the most "strategic"--for our purposes we can make invisible very important analyses that would sharpen our theory. I would make suggestions that include postcolonial transnational authors here.. towards a free and open analysis...sometimes due to the dominant narratives that rule academia and the production of knowledge not everyone is well acquainted with marginal voices. Theoretically speaking, from where do you speak? Paradigm shifts are not easy --so forgive me if I err on the side of those less represented, this atleast gives me confidence that we can here voices from the other side.

On Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 12:19 AM, Vicente Rubio <> wrote:
Great ideas Snafu. I think a wiki or such kind of tools would be great for this. And I also agree on the need to focus on our needs as a movement. How every WG relates to the question of the Commons would be a fantastic starting point.

What I can do is just to present this idea to the Empowerment and Education wg. Again, just as an initiative that is going on externally to the group (in the very same way as a person in, say, Food, or Alternative Economics, or any other group, would do) not to assign this project to any particular group. That would help to recruit participants and collaborators. Besides that, I just wanted to point out that there are many subcommittees within E&E that surely will love to participate in this: Movement Strategy, Think Tank, Nomadic University, etc., as there are tons of other subcommittees in other WG that will like to participate as well.

All the collaborators coming from different wg, could then initiate a discussion (in the wiki?) and maybe set up a document to be send to possible speakers. Following what Snafu said, it would be great to have a very concrete, defined discussion, a real dialogue between participants. That would make the event really productive in political terms.

BTW: The Hardt/Negri video was intended only in terms of format suggestions. Actually, I'm not really concerned about speakers. All of those included in Shaista's list are amazing, and will give us an amazing input. I'm more concerned on what specific type of discussion/communication could we establish with them. Precisely in order to channel and use this input in the most productive way possible.


2011/11/10 Snafu <>
Hey thank you for sending all the names and suggestions. I would try and invite speakers depending on the questions we want to pose. If we want to be strategic we have to use this knowledge as a knife, to cut through the specific problems we face.

So for instance, how is Empowerment & Education dealing with the question of the Commons? And Urban Planning? And Food or OSS? I would try to decentralize these questions as much as possible. And invite the speakers on the basis of our needs and with the clear goal in mind of drafting a document-- perhaps something along the lines the Charter for Innovation, Creativity, and Access to Knowledge drafted by the Free Culture Forum in Barcelona (

I also think that a Wiki would be much more appropriate than this list for this prep work. Before launching the Wiki, I would make sure that enough people are involved. Ideas on how to ask for input to the various groups?

I am beginning to test Jan 13-15 as possible date so that we have a couple of months to prepare it. It's a good weekend because most schools haven't started yet and people are back from winter breaks.

On 11/10/11 11:09 PM, shaista husain wrote:
Thanks for this video ---Hardt and Negri are in the marxist camp, but also have a few economist, just as famous--we should have a wide spectrum of dialogue--a dialogical relational and dialectical approach to questions of the Commons and Critique of Imperialism.
Some economists that exchange and share ideas --i would like to see present here
David Harvey from CUNY
Paul Mattick Jr
Alex Callinicos

Also perhaps RJ, should suggest some economists since he has been posting quite a bit from three worlds theory
Aijaz Ahmed
Vijay Prashad

On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 9:24 PM, Vicente Rubio <> wrote:
The video I just sent is in Spanish, no subtitles, sorry. Well, and a bit of Italian, when Negri speaks :)

2011/11/10 Vicente Rubio <>
While reading the messages I remembered a recent event on the 15M movement with Hardt and Negri that took place in Spain a few weeks ago. I specially liked the format. Instead of them giving a talk, they formulated some questions. The the audience discussed and answered those question, and only at the end of the meeting Hardt and Negri shared their conclussions.

This is the first part out of 5.

Just as suggestion for the discussion on possible formats.

Next meeting of the Empowerment and Education WG is tomorrow. Should I present some kind of initiative concerning this? Not that this is going to belong to that specific WG, but just maybe present the idea and asked for people interested on this project. Would this be a good idea? Let me know what you think.

2011/11/10 <>

Maybe we need a 'Commons Committee' to work the idea out in greater detail?
On 11/10/11, shaista husain<> wrote:
I very much love the way Snafu has suggested this to be forum towards action and concrete proposals. I would further add that what comes out of such a forum be further passed along for endorsments by other occupations, perhaps allowing these collective proposals to be examined by environmental, lawmakers, policymakers, community activists, civil groups, labor groups, undocumented workers, immigrant groups, coalitions representing progressive change. THis is coalition building that can come together through mutual sharing of information in a way that we encourage the movement to grow rather than impose our "demands" upon the world perhaps a better word is "charter" and we act within our principles of solidarity, allowing these proposals to a "living document" as we have attempted of all our declarations--atleast in theory.

On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 4:18 PM, Snafu <> wrote:
Thank you all for the amazing feedback. And Vicente, of course we should heavily involve Empowerment and Education in this.

I think we should take our time to organize it. Actually, it would be interesting to structure it not as a seminar, but as a forum in which we invite our experts to answer specific political questions we have discussed in advance. We should also establish a specific outcome--such as producing a document containing a series of concrete proposals.

Here are some preliminary questions we could ask:

--What are existing models of commons that work and offer themselves as models and which ones don't. (For instance, we could invite speakers from Cochabamba, Bolivia to ask them how they manage the water in common)

--What are the major political obstacles to reclaiming some resources as commons?

--Is it possible to think of a national and international campaign to reclaim the ground waters as commons? If so, how can we organize it? What other campaigns could be immediately related to it?

--Should we treat the natural commons in the same way as we treat the information commons? Does it make sense to think of information as over-abundant and natural resources as scarce? And what are the political consequences of thinking and acting along these lines?

Please add your questions and ideas!

On 11/10/11 2:22 PM, rob hollander wrote:
I hope on a Saturday afternoon when I'm free to attend!
And tape it, of course --

On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 12:40 PM, shaista husain <> wrote:
If the seminar can't be held at the Atrium, i would ask to please try to make it happen at Cooper Union--or CUNY, since free education has long been held as an important part of the Commons--the production of knowledge.

On Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 12:33 PM, Vicente Rubio <> wrote:
This would be amazing! I'm sure people from the Empowerment and Education WG and the Nomadic University (an idea strongly based on ideas on the Commons) would be glad to help in this.


2011/11/10 aaron gemmill <>
Yes please!

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 10, 2011, at 10:20 AM, Snafu <> wrote:

> dear all,
> given the super-interesting discussion we are developing right now I was wondering whether this list would be interested in putting together a seminar on the Commons.
> We could invite theorists such as Michael Hardt, Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis and Elinor Ostrom, plus anyone interested from the OWS Working Groups to see whether we could set this debate in motion--i.e. use it for developing both a strategic vision and multiple lines of action.
> If there is a shared interest I can contact a few of them and see whether we can find an adequate space to hold the seminar.
> Snafu

Rob Hollander
Lower East Side Residents for Responsible Development
622 E 11, #10
NYC, 10009