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The Great Transition and the Commons - 14 May

on Thu, 05/24/2012 - 22:39


We must replenish what we consume. The commons is the new economics of replenishment. But first, some background.

Neo-liberal market policies -- based on the enclosure of commons, the division of labor and the stripping of the planet of its resources -- are undergoing a major crisis.

The great folly of the market-state complex has been to leave nature and society out of the equation, framing the answers to all global problems in terms of business or government solutions.

Most of us are still stuck in this false dichotomy — of public-private sectors, liberal-conservative politics — believing that only governments and markets are capable of providing funding and creating solutions for major global activities.

Neither market pricing or public policy are reflecting social and environmental value, including costs and benefits.

But this cannot be done simply by trying to get prices to reflect true social and environmental costs and benefits.

Measuring this value in terms of the present system of prices simply predetermines the outcome. This is circular reasoning.

It’s not simply a matter of taxing environmental and social ‘bads’ such as pollution, consumption and short-term speculation. But we must go beyond the single-bullet kinds of ideas for creating value. For example, land taxes are a step in the right direction. Before the 19th century, land was the dominant form of property. Land was immobile and material and value could be created through scarcity and exclusive rights. But today, many other forms of natural and socially created wealth (labor, governance, ideas, languages, the internet and social networks) are challenging the concept of property based on scarcity and exclusivity. These new mobile, immaterial forms of property are an enormous source of value and creativity that could be taxed just like immobile forms of property like land.

Another commons that is being singled out is the atmosphere. Focusing on a carbon cap by itself is a narrow vision. It isolates the atmosphere as the major policy variable in the development of an international social budget. Cap and trade and carbon tax policies could never reflect the world’s relative scarcities as a standard of universal value because CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, the atmosphere is not the only natural commons, and the natural commons is not the only type of commons (social, cultural, intellectual, digital, genetic and solar and commons also have preservation value).

We need a spiral model which reflects the evolutionary impulses behind emerging social, natural and technological value.

We do not take time to reflect about alternatives to the Market State because we’re all in such a hurry.

We make no time to replenish what we consume.

We have no time to allow the natural transformation processes to occur.

In the rush or modern life, we have all forgotten the meaning of replenishment.

Consumption is not a metaphor for replenishment.

Consumption is about replenishing ourselves at a human level.

Creation is about replenishing ourselves at the level of the Higher Self.

This is why we are stuck in an endless cycle of consumption, not creation.

Economics is the source of the imbalance between humans and society and nature.

The source of this imbalance in economics is the human mind.

The Great Transition must focus on why the human mind is losing its capacity to solve problems regarding living in balance with our created environment.

This world renaissance must start with a new epistemology.

History is a dialectic between two philosophies

the individual competing with the whole

the whole suppressing the individual

Left brain - deductive - rational - individualism individual competing with the whole

Right brain - inductive - intuitive - collectivity - the whole suppressing the individual

Both deduction and induction are necessary.

These two types of thinking complement one another and are both key to our existence as human beings.

But the crises in our political and economic systems today are the result of the imbalance of these two aspects of our being.

Rampant individualism does not create a sustainable society.

Rampant collectivization does not create a sustainable society.

The individual and the collective must be united.

Individual and collective come together through the realization that everything in nature belongs to all of humanity because it is a part of us.

We can begin to see this third way clearly when we distinguish between the role of natural resources as a commercial commodity (private sector) and as a source of life and sustenance (common sector).

The second crucial distinction is between the role of resource management as a social mandate (public sector) and as an expression of mutuality and collaboration (commons sector).

This emerging framework represents a new epistemology of resource sovereignty, shared responsibility and legal accountability, which recognizes the moral and political legitimacy of people’s rights to preserve, access, produce, manage and use their own resources.

A people’s contract for political legitimacy over their own commons will empower resource communities and civil society organizations to create trusteeships, which include but transcend parliamentary forms of governance, giving them a democratic means for protecting their common resources.

People in society invest in the commons and the commons generate dividends for the people.

The long-term security of these commons can also provide the complete backing for an interest-free system of mutual credit, through which the credits and debits of each currency user are instantly adjusted and cleared.

But a new metric is needed that is insulated from the monetary system.

It has two purposes. To gauge sustainability on an independent basis and to provide a new reserve system upon which this new currency can be based.

Commons Banks would link the ability of banks to create credit with the ability of borrowers to create social and environmental value.

As society differentiates private (corporate), public (government) and common (trusts), it grounds this new global economic system and its social contract, not in corporate claims or state sovereignty, but in the sovereign rights and self-determination of citizens for their common goods.

The dichotomy between self and whole is as ancient as humankind.

This is our greatest challenge - integrating self with whole and in turn allowing the self to be served by the whole.

We are still learning how to integrate these aspects of our being.

The commons does not just exist and is there to be exploited or cared for.

Both approaches are incorrect.

We create the commons and then have to learn to take care of what we create.

We co-create the planet.

This is a matter of deciding how best to share the resources that are available to the whole.

The dialectic of the commons is about relationships -- engaged and invested relationships -- which teach all humanity how to meet its needs creatively.

A new movement of consciousness must develop to have a lasting impact on society.

Here are some guidelines for this movement.

Ten Guidelines for the Commons

We are Co-creators of Nature

By Creating our Shared Environment, we Participate in our own Culture

Through Creative Cooperation, Resource Users become the Producers of their own Resources

Cooperation between Users and Producers is the Practice of Stewardship

The Social and Political Expression of Stewardship is Trusteeship

Trusteeship of the Commons Transforms Traditional Ownership Structures

Co-produced and Co-governed Commons Generate New Sources of Value

Commons Value is the basis of a Debt-Free Monetary System

A Commons-Based Society results from Collective Intentions for Sustainability

The Economics of the Commons is Replenishment

The future of our planet depends on a very different approach to economics than what we have historically taken.

The Great Transition is leading to a new political and social order, with an entirely different kind of economy that is focused on promoting humankind’s creative abilities as opposed to its consumptive abilities.

The Great Transition is actually about civilization building,

creating intentions that will lead to solutions, not more dialogue and distress.

Co-production is more than the state facilitating cooperation with citizens in areas like health and education.

The liberal rhetoric about allowing citizens to come together to pursue their shared goals and shape their own outcomes is meaningless if citizens are not allowed to challenge the ownership and enclosure models that are sanctioned by the government.

The local production of goods and services through decentralized decision-making, new skills and action involves more than subsidiarity.It also involves pluralism, polycentricity, checks and balances, and horizontalist decision-making.

It is about creating mutual agreements on how to live together, on how to simplify our existence to a point of unity between the individual mind and the collective mind, individual freedom and collective freedom.

It is about our group intentions based on sustainability, not the homogenization of society through the Market State

It is about balancing individualism and wholism, balancing the human construct of the Self and the Whole by fostering the skills of cooperation and construction.

It is about group decisions leading the next generation into a peaceful, creative and sustainable society

The Great Transition is leading to a World Renaissance and a global culture of unity

This unity is what the commons brings to us, self-governance based on unity, a confederation of world citizens based on our collective intentions to create a sustainable community on this planet.

By educating our children about the commons, it will become their life’s goal to support the the creation and sustainment of the commons.

The commons must be created and sustained for the benefit of everyone in society.

Let us ensure plenty in our world.

Let us create the processes that will ensure that our planet is used wisely and sustainably, so that everyone will get their needs met today, tomorrow and hundreds of years into the future.

Let us create the commons as the economics of replenishment.