The Commons

Explore our archive of articles on The Commons.

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.

Reclaiming Our Great Lakes Commons: A New Approach for Protecting Our Water

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There are 70 of us assembled here at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana for the opening of the first ever Great Lakes Commons Gathering. In the opening circle we introduce ourselves and pour water brought from our homes around the Lakes into a large clear bowl. This confluence of the waters reflects the real and symbolic center of our meeting.

The Commons as a New Sector of Value-Creation

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Let me start with a bit of wisdom I once picked up from Thomas Berry, a historian of cultures who has said, “The universe is the communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” This epigraph encapsulates the monumental shift that I believe we are undergoing as we move into a new kind of cultural if not economic reality.

Commons for Peace (Serbian Translation)

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Mada izraz 'bezbednost čovečanstva' može imati različita tumačenja, dva značenja preovladjuju. Neposredno po završetku Hladnog rata, autori nekoliko značajnih studija – uključujući Izveštaj Generalnog sekretara Ujedinjenih nacija za 1992.godinu pod nazivom «Dnevni red za mir» (Agenda for Peace); Izveštaj o procesima razvoja u svetu koji je 1994. godine izdao Program Ujedinjenih nacija za razvoj (World Development Report, 1994, UNDP), i Izveštaj «Bezbednost u svetu sada» iz 2003.godine, koji je objavila Komisija Ujedinjenih nacija za bezbednost (Human Security Now, 2003, UN Commission on Human Security) – su se založili za uspostavljanje stabilnog mira kao alternativu konceptu bezbednosti zasnovanom na vojnoj moći.

Greenkeeping Governance: Toward a Law of the Ecological Commons

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At least since Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, we have known about humankind’s squandering of nonrenewable resources, its careless disregard of precious life species, and its overall contamination and degradation of delicate ecosystems. In recent decades, these defilements have assumed a systemic dimension. Lately we have come to realize the shocking extent to which our atmospheric emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases threatens Planet Earth.

Toward A Common Theory of Value | Part Two: Common Trust

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This series of articles examines the meaning of value in economics. Through the lens of the commons, we hope to stimulate a rethinking of the goals, methods and conceptual structures of economic theory and its modes of action.

A Journey to Sharing

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The latest chapter of my life began in the parking lot of a warehouse near Brussels Airport in Belgium one sunny Saturday afternoon in 2004. At the time, I was working for one of the largest global transportation companies in the world on a multi-billion dollar merger integration project. In a strange twist of fate, I was actually working indirectly for the German government who had bought the American company where I worked. I was commuting between San Francisco and Brussels spending an alternating three weeks in each.

Building a Commons Across the Gulf

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The recent BP oil spill was a huge disaster, yet the Gulf of Mexico has long been an abused ecosystem. For decades, the Mississippi River has drained pollutants into the Gulf from nitrogen rich cornfields, chemically-treated golf courses, oil-polluted parking lots and sewage runoff. The Gulf is home to a huge and aging oil/chemicals infrastructure, including nearly 4,000 drilling and production platforms. Critical habitat for shrimp and fish is jammed together with heavy industry. Believing they need both industry and habitat, the loyalties of the local people are often conflicted: their voices often silenced. To re-energize them, new ideas are needed.