Re-Imagining The Commons

Humanity’s conception of “the commons” has varied greatly over time depending on culture and context. For many indigenous peoples with a world view that does not separate humans from Nature, the concept of a commons is either not articulated into language due to the lack of a need to differentiate it - or is understood as the unified indivisible and sacred whole to be revered and stewarded for all - often expressed as a spiritual or religious truth.
For modern civilization the mainstream conception of The Commons has generally devolved over time under the weight of Capitalism. After the publication of “The Tragedy of the Commons'' by Garrett Harding in 1968, that phrase was co-opted to become the meme that proponents of Capitalism used to support the notion that only markets can be trusted to manage common resources. In this conception, since no one “owns” it - no one cares for it - save for some government “regulation” - regulation often focused on maximizing eventual extraction or commodification.
In this context “the Commons” is not seen as an organizing principle of common human effort - but rather simply a set of resources not extractable for private gain. This conception does somewhat uphold the purity of non-ownership of what should not be owned. But it fails miserably in enabling the creative synergistic potentials of purposeful and organized stewardship. We need a modern conception of the Commons that inspires and incentivizes the vast human potentials to collaborate for self-directed evolution and collective care of all Life.
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