The Commons

The Commons of Mind, Life and Matter: Toward a Non-Polar Framework for Global Negotiations

The Market State and the Liquidation of Biophysical Capital

The term commons was first used during the
enclosure period in Britain when people were removed from their communal
lands. Since then, commons have come to represent areas of
co-governance and co-production that lie outside of the market and state
sectors (or Market State), including food, water, clean air,
energy, information, internet, culture, indigenous peoples’ rights and
other concerns. The recent failures of the Doha Round of world trade
talks, the UN Conference on the global economic crisis and the
Copenhagen Summit on climate change have brought the commons into
sharper focus. Since these community-managed resources are a primary
source of economic, social and creative value, could they provide a
meta-level context for global negotiations? Commons have different
meanings, of course, because we associate them with different levels of
scale. At community and regional levels, the commons are largely a
territorial concept involving the local appropriation, use and benefit
of a particular property; at the global level, it’s more of a functional
concept involving sovereign resource management rather than questions
of use and benefit. But the increasing openness of political systems and
interconnectivity of economies and information networks has created new
possibilities for multi-level management of the commons, requiring
principles and linkages that reach from the local levels of social and
political organization to higher levels of multilateral governance.

This article focuses on why the international community
has been unable to bring the full range of commons issues and their
representatives into strategic discussions. It calls for a new framework
of global interaction and dialogue based on natural law. To create this
metalogue on the global commons, world society must
engage in a kind of non-dualism—a recognition that the various
beliefs, qualities, or practices which appear separate are actually part
of the same phenomena. As on the individual level of consciousness and
being where the ‘mind-body split’ is healed through introspection, global non-polarity
will also require collective self-inquiry, dialogue and reconciliation
on the ontological nature of world community. Ontology means being
present. If global citizens, their representatives and institutions are
sourcing the vast potentials of their mental, natural and physical
commons, this would be a significant step toward global non-polarity.

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The Commons of Mind, Life and Matter: Toward a Non-Polar Framework for Global Negotiations