The Commons

Explore our archive of articles on The Commons.

Economics for the Anthropocene

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A talk given at the Schumacher Center for New Economics, Great Barrington, MA, USA, July 27, 2014 I’m so happy […]

Human Watershed: The Emerging Politics of Bioregional Democracy

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The Crisis Downstream: Waiting For A Rainy Day First, the bad news. Our global community no longer has the luxury […]

Toward a Common Theory of Value | Part Five: Common Development

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The previous articles in this series considered how objective and subjective principles have been applied in economic thinking. We noted that the left hemisphere of the human brain is categorical and sequential in its objective construction of reality, building the edifice of knowledge up from fragments, piece by piece, to the larger system. By contrast, the right brain experiences the world as timeless Being, a great flowing network of subjective interconnection and unity, processing reality from the Whole to the Part.

Yellowstone Park: The Power of Common Ownership

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Yellowstone is a powerful reminder and example of the need we have as human beings to do things together, to share the bounty and beauty of nature together, and to both appreciate the beauty and the wonder of the natural world, and to therefore bind ourselves to rules and regulations that safeguard such beauty and splendor.

Interview | Sharing the Commons: Humanity’s Collective Heritage

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Jason Francis for Share International (SI): You’ve spent most of your career in international development, but in recent years you’ve […]

The Commons as a New | Old Paradigm for Governance, Economics and Policy – Part One

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The commons has been my passion for the past fifteen years. This shift in my energies came about as I […]

The Commons as a New | Old Paradigm for Governance, Economics and Policy – Part Two

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The Value Proposition of the Commons If the Market/State is an engine of enclosure, what then can be done? I […]

Toward a Common Theory of Value | Part Four: Common Need

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This series of articles looks at the meaning of value in economics. We are pondering the idea of a thing, a common object. Our guidepost is Aristotle’s division of basic kinds of things into C (commodities as a means to household satisfaction) and M (things as a means to making money). In terms of the human actions involving things, we have identified C-M-C’ (interconnection, cooperation, use value) with the right hemisphere and subjective side of the brain, and M-C-M’ (separation, competition, exchange value) with the left hemisphere and human objectivity.

Book Review: The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market & State

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If I were to be marooned on a desert island and could take along only two commons-related books, they would be Elinor Ostrom’s 1990 classic, Governing the Commons, and David Bollier and Silke Helfrich’s The Wealth of the Commons. This remarkable anthology of seventy-two essays by authors from six continents represents a milestone in the commons literature.

Toward A Common Theory of Value | Part Three: Common Knowing

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The articles in this series examine the meaning of value in economics. Parts One and Two considered Aristotle’s distinction between C-M-C’ (the possession of household Commodities, which aims at getting useful things to sustain life) and M-C-M’ (the ownership of wealth, which aims at getting Money by converting commodities into profit). These studies found that C-M-C’ and M-C-M’ do not express a material unity of self and whole. For one thing, the commodity form is not a natural or stable unit since there are many areas where commodities do not exist, such as gift economies (like Wikipedia) or the exchange of aboriginal modes of property (like sharing with friends). For another, the money form—which requires an individual’s integration into the marketplace through the general equivalence of currency value—is by no means an absolute form of shared experience or Being.