Debate: Ten Guidelines for the Commons

Via Silke Helfrich’s Commons blog:

James Quilligan presented the following guidelines in his seminar on The Great Transition and the Commons presented at the New Economics Foundation in London, 14 May 2012.

1. We are Co-creators with Nature

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

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

4. Cooperation between Users and Producers is the Practice of Stewardship

5. The Social and Political Expression of Stewardship is Trusteeship

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

8. Commons Value is the basis of a Debt-Free/ interest-free Monetary System

9. A Commons-Based Society results from Collective Intentions for Sustainability

10. The Economics of the Commons is Replenishment (Commons Trusts cap the stock, rent the flow — ensuring that commons are not diminished — prices are set through true costs to the commons. Non-debt money based on sustainability rates that measure health and well-being of human and natural communities, bioregionally. This will align government, business and community decision-making with the best interests of society and natural systems.

Response from Stefan Meretz

“Some more comments:

(1) We are not co-creators with nature, we are nature.

(2) We don’t participate in our own culture, we are our culture.

(3) Through cooperation we do not only produce resources, we produce everything we need.

(4)(5) I don’t understand difference and function of stewardship and trusteeship. If the first means commoning and the latter means state-handling it sounds odd.

(6) Where is number 6?

(7) What new sources? What value?

(8) This sounds like an instrumentalization: there is not logical link between commons and any monetary system.

(9) A commons-based society results from collective and individual needs, which are much broader than only sustainability.

(10) I see no evidence, that Commons Trusts can help. True costs do not exist, if not market costs they are political costs, thus completely power-driven, finally subverting the commons.”

Response from Jakob B.

“Stefan, I have mixed feelings concerning your points 1 – 3, although I understand and appreciate your objective:

1. In my understanding, nature is neither a physical fact or thing, nor has it some kind of personality that you can be or not be. Rather, “nature” is a word, generated by the human brain, to distinguish between antropogenic (resulting from human activity) and non-antropogenic (natural). Therefore, by definition, humans cannot be natural. Fortunately, because otherwise everything would be natural, including aircraft carriers and nuclear power plants.

2. We are part of our culture and thus we participate. But like Scott Berkun says (yes it is possible to learn reasonable things from former Microsoft Project Managers, because some of them are really smart people: ): innovators must go in to different directions than the rest of the world. And that is particularly true in creating culture! Large parts of art, music, literature e.g. are totally unaccessable by most people. I believe that if it wouldn’t be like this, we would have a real problem.

3. How do you know? Maybe my needs are not supported by other commoners and so I have to do it myself without cooperation.”

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