This years World Social Forum in Montreal will host a dedicated Commons Space. The FSM Commons Committee have just published the first English language draft of the program for the space which you can download here in PDF format . The World Social Forum is a massive gathering of activists and social movements from around the world with an estimated 50,000 people attending and participating in over 5,000 activities. A key goal of the Commons Space is to engage with people from different social movements from all parts of the world on the role Commons can play in the transition to a sustainable post capitalist alternative. We have been working on this program for many months and we hope you can join us at the forum but if not we also welcome and invite you to contribute on the themes and sessions we feature here on the P2PF blog over the coming weeks. We also need all the support we can get to let people know what’s happening, so even if you are not attending please share these updates and help spread the word.

The first featured session is –


The Market/State is in crisis and representative democracy seems to be broken. Many argue that both problems need to be addressed for the sake of social coherence and security. We think, that adressing them properly implies rethinking the core ideas that state power and representative democracy are based upon.

The commons provides a framework that allows to protect traditional ways of living wherever people wish them to be protected, while at the same time enabling voluntary forms for creating new ones. It allows for thinking a fair, free and sustainable future. Hence, there is nothing in the current institutional arrangement or in the system of representation that truly recognizes and defends the commons. There are no emancipatory world-views nor special types of institutions — which helps explain why the commons are usually ignored.


It is often claimed that the Commons points to a way beyond both Market and State. We claim that the also provides a way to deepen democracy – if a multitude of people and political agents stand up for it. That is: if we want to strengthen the Commons and deepen democracy, we need to challenge how economic and political power are being shaped, channeled and reproduced – through market forces and through (the territorialization of) economic and political power via the State and the political apparatus. That is what commoners are doing! They take power and production into their own hands. Political parties and state institutions should support such efforts. Instead, their often-corrupt ways of „doing politics“ and their economic policies — neoliberal, developmentalist and/or extractivist — ignore or even criminalize the commons and commoning.


During the last decade, several new political movements have challenged the forces that solidify power relationships in society: Occupy, M15, social movements in several Latin American countries, DIEM25 in Europe, the climate justice movement, digital activists including Wikileaks, the people who supported the Bernie Sanders campaign in the US, and others.  Each  of these movements has shown that change comes from the edges and from below, from common people doing uncommon things, while using new technologies and ways of relating to each other.

How transformative and “commonistic” are these movements? How do they frame their work, strategies and slogans?  What role do they play in the fight for the commons and what role does the commons as a discourse and political paradigm play for them? This is a fairly unexplored topic!


In a moderated fishbowl discussion at Commons Space of the World Social Forum 2016 in Montreal/Canadá, we want to assess and openly discuss some of the achievements and aspirations of these political transformations from a commons perspective.


Some questions might trigger the conversation (the focus will finally be determined by participants):


On the notion of the commons:

  • (How) Does the commons provide a strong and positive narrative to empower progressive political movements?
  • Is the notion of the commons and is the practice of millions of commoners present in the discourse of these movements?
  • Is there an understanding of the commons as a political framework and paradigm shift in values, rather than (only) a policy for managing resources?

On commons principles and political movements:

  • What is the relationship of these movements to the commons (movement), if any?
  • Does commoning exist within social/political movements and if so, how does it transform them?
  • Are these movements acting according to commons principles?

On strategies:

  • Do new political movements rethink and reshape democracy toward a more radical democracy?
  • Are progressive political movements (and commoners) up to re-imagining state power as a strategy for shifting legality, resources and support for the commons?
  • Do these new political movements represent a window of opportunity to widen the space for commoning — or will their protests simply accelerate enclosures, hyper-nationalism and repression?




Silke Helfrich, Commons Strategies Group (concept, methodology, moderation) Elizabetta Cangelosi, Transform (coordinator, logistics)

contacts: [email protected] ; [email protected]



Everybody(!) is invited to participate in this fishbowl discussion especially if belonging to one of the new political movements or active for the commons (the methodology will be explained at the beginning), starting with 4-5 inputs, 5 minutes each.

There will be a sequence of thesis being discussed to structure the debate.


Invited guests:

  • Juliano Medeiros, Fundação Lauro Campos/ Member of RAIZ, tbc
  • Elizabeth Peredo, Trenzando Ilusiones (Bolivia), tbc
  • Lisa Fithian, (USA) (
  • John Restakis, Synergia, Cooperative Movement (Canadá, tbc)
  • sbd. from Occupy or the Bernie Sanders campaign, tbc
  • sbd from Climate Justice Movement

? please SUGGEST AND INVITE OTHERS as you see fit. Remember, it’s a FISHBOWL discussion! (drop me a note to [email protected]


August 11, 2016 (Thursday):    lunch and discussion

12:00 to 2:00pm:         lunch, mingling & 1 on 1 interviews

with Remix the Commons broadcast team

2:00 to 4:00pm:         fishbowl discussion



Radio Auditoire; Montréal, 5212 Boulevard St. Laurent


Related events at WSF (Commons Space)

Click to access Program_Commons_Space.pdf

Commons and Public Power: Wednesday,  August 10, 9 – 11 am , Radio Auditoire

Commons as a new Political Subject: (Transform! Global Social Justice), Thursday, August 11, 9 – 11 am, UQAM Pavillon A, Local A-2580, 400 rue Sainte-Catherine Est

You can also join the mailing list here –

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