Co-ops – sharing – commons

It is the convergence between commons and co-ops that will create a new economy and a new society. — Michel Bauwens

As we have seen with the financial crash, austerity and global warming, the existing system is not working, not only is it not working, it is broke beyond repair.

Labour tries to sell to the highest bidder. But it is time limited. If not sold today, it cannot be sold tomorrow.

Capital on the other hand, if not sold today, ie usury, can be sold tomorrow. Capital does not vanish at midnight like Cinderella’s coach and horses.

Global capital roams around the planet, footloose and fancy free, looking for lack of regulation, lack of environmental standards, the cheapest, dirtiest location.

The economy is built on debt. Even if we are not in debt ourselves, we are servicing debt, as the products and services we buy are built on debt. Built on debt in China, then shipped at high environmental cost to market. The Chinese ironically, when the rest of the world cuts public services, has spent our money on infrastructure to ship to market their products in huge container ships.

Global capital is extractive, it extracts wealth, it externalises its costs, and cons us into buying junk we do not need or want.

If we put to one side the lies we are told, we can all see the economy has flat lined. Yes, austerity and the greed of the banks is to blame, but it pre-dates both. And the reasons are simple and fundamental, cannot have continuing growth within a finite word, at least not as measured by GDP.

But that is not to say we do not have growth. We do not have growth as measured by GDP, which is increasingly seen as a meaningless measure of anything, and certainly is not a measure of the health of an economy.

We have growth in two areas, both a reaction to austerity and Shock Doctrine

  • growth in food banks
  • growth in sharing economy, collaborative commons

Crisis stimulates innovation.

The internet exists because people are willing to collaborate, give their time and expertise free.

Gary Alexander sketches out possiblites in eGaia, as does Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics.

Networked co-ops, people work as they choose, not competition cooperation, innovation not for greed for need, innovation not to seek competitive advantage innovation share.

Innovation in Big Business is to seek a conpetitive advtabbage, to maximise greed.

Classic example is oil and gas industry. Innovation is leading to ever more hazardous extraction, tar sands, fracking, deepwater, Arctic. We know to restrict global temperature rise to 2C, we must limit the CO2 released into the environment, the limit means 80% of known carbon reserves have to stay in the ground. Why therefore innovate to extract more?

If I lend or give away a book, I can no longer read it. On the other hand, I can give away e-books, I still have a book to read.

I can share music.

Copyright stifles innovation.

An excellent example, Sita Sings the Blues. Annette Hanshaw, a well know jazz singer from the 1920s, and yet not known today, because Big Record Labels own the copyright and they see no money to be made on release. The film can be shown by anyone, pay the producer Nina Paley some money to say thanks.

When we innovate, we do not operate in a vacuum, we build on all what went before.

Marginal costs today is zero, or as close as. Artificial scarcity by means of copyright.

Sharing benefits everyone. Share music, more get to hear, more likely to buy, attend concerts.

Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Monsters sold for £25, £20 over the asking price.

Bandcamp encourages sharing. Artists are quite happy to see their music shared, they have lost nothing, a minimum price for download, the option to pay more, many do, often a lot more.

In Brighton, Infinity Food, a co-op, a pleasure to shop.

In Aldershot, TechStart, the only innovation. A community run refurbishment of old computers. Located in a dereclict shopping centre. Probabaly too ambitious, but one of the large empty units could be used to establish a FabLab.

In Ecuador, FLOK, reorganising society into Open Co-ops and Open Commons, where knowledge is freely shared in the commons.

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8 Responses to “Co-ops – sharing – commons”

  1. keithpp Says:

    Why I wrote an Open Letter to Pope Francis

  2. keithpp Says:

    View at

  3. keithpp Says:

    Bologna a pioneer, the city as a common.

    Bologna a Laboratory for Urban Commoning
    Bologna Celebrates One Year of a Bold Experiment in Urban Commoning

    Barcelona has created a network of coops.

    On the Lam with Bank Robber Enric Duran

    Frome in Somerset, Barcelona, Madrid, Santiago de Compostela, and cities across Spain, citizen groups and activists have seized political control.

    How Flatpack Democracy beat the old parties in the People’s Republic of Frome
    Spain’s ‘citizen candidates’ shake up politics
    Ada Colau Mayor of Barcelona

  4. keithpp Says:

    An Introduction to Basic P2P Ideas
    View at

  5. Kcirtap Says:

    It is true Copyright usually stifles innovation, but the GNU GPL is an astounding ‘hack’ that uses Copyright to create a commons that protects User Freedom within the immaterial realm.

    I wonder if we could map this concept into the material world, using private Property Rights to create a commons that protects User Freedom in the material world.

    We would need to understand how the concepts in the GNU GPL might apply to the physical, write something similar to a Tenancy in Common Agreement with the specific goal of User Freedom, and then gather together to buy some land and tools to which we would voluntarily apply those terms.

  6. keithpp Says:

    View at

  7. keithpp Says:

    View at

  8. Medium, un Commun en cours d'enclosure ? - Les Communs d'Abord Says:

    […] software to which all can contribute, crowdfund to raise the funds, make an appeal, organise as an open coop, enable payment if readers wish to pay, but always retain free […]

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