Will Work For The Commons, but how to survive ?

“I would love to – it’s just – I have a family to take care of.”

Describes very well the predicament of commoning, very nicely written en exceptionally republished from Kamiel Choi:

“We are educated people in our thirties, some of us have families. We feel the responsibility to comply with the system for the safety of our loved ones. Every day, we reluctantly choose to work for companies that don’t (and can’t) pay for their externalities, we choose to work on patented systems, we choose to work for the profit of investors – in exchange for money. We need that money for our mandatory health insurance, to make our partners are eligible for a residency permit, and in most cases (but not all) simply for food and shelter.

Our fingers are itching. We want to work for the Commons. We want to be rewarded for our thinking and doing, for our activism, organizing, building, caring, writing, speaking. Yet our efforts are not worth money, because they all help to remove profitability. We want to restore the Commons, so how can we be rewarded in the currency of the Private, the currency of separation?

We feel the need to make money out of responsibility for our family. We also understand that this money doesn’t come from foundations and NGOs (except for some lucky cases). This is a well-known systemic observation about capitalism (its intrinsic need to grow about 3% each year, its need to overexploit resources). We feel this conflict in our chest. We are sometimes called hypocrites. But we can never give up. We keep writing, analysing, experimenting with social and technical solutions. Our sense of urgency is breaking our psychological threshold. But can we make it?

We want to leave our “jobs” and start the work that is now more necessary than ever: The healing work, the nature restoration, the caring work, the repairing of social structures, of village communities, the protection of our coast lines, the clean-up of our oceans, the relocation of the millions climate refugees already on the move, the protection against the next inevitable typhoons and floods in places like Pakistan or the Philippines.

We live where we experience the least resistance from the incumbent system, in places like Iceland, Portugal, Senegal, Uruguay, Costa Rica or Thailand. We are incredibly versatile. Yet most of us still need that little dirty cash injection every month.

That is why we need our “networks” when we ask for an affordable place to live, and we need to be more networked when we want to thrive as the global messengers and practitioners of a culture of cooperation. We are “on the grid” – actually, we are a chaotic “grid” of individuals with a broad imagination that demands us to mind much more than “our own business”. We need to find each other and develop ways of fair resource exchange that don’t get in the way of the work that needs to be done.

The world we experience is run by the system that catapulted her beyond the industrial age, and now we are fending off its last spasms as we realize we need something radically different. We live simultaneously in an obsolete economic system of infinite growth and in an exciting network that puts cooperation before competition and measures its success by our collective advancement towards a more liveable world for future generations.

We admire people who are working tirelessly for the commons transition. We want to help. But when we make my skills, writings, photographs, designs, and so forth available to the Commons we take the monetary value out of the equation. We like it that way, but the cashier in our local grocery begs to differ.

We will put up with our predicament and make money as long as we need to. Even when we live ourselves in sustainable closed-loop systems will we continue making money, because we need it to promote these systems in the rest of the world. By the time we are ready to completely give up money, that will be just an empty gesture.

So, let’s make these networks as strong as we can. Let’s create this fair resource exchange that doesn’t get in the way of the work that needs to be done. Let’s find each other.”

3 Comments Will Work For The Commons, but how to survive ?

  1. Matthew Slater

    We can only be rewarded for work that is valued by other people. When I say valued, I mean they give you something you need, like food and shelter, or even money, for doing it.
    So the other half of the equation is persuading people that our work is worth valuing.
    It is also critical to take money out of the equation, because money introduces the notion of scarcity into exchange. Financially speaking money is worth more than anything you are likely to buy with it, because money yields interest while real things usually decline in value over time! So we need to get better at giving and receiving ‘in kind’.

  2. Heath

    I feel just this, I have this view of my life now at 45, I refuse to work in any situation that can be compromised by my wisdom in knowing what is right. I understand and take full responsibilty for my participation in the state of this planet and it’s inhabitants. But methodically and subtley I am making changes. How can we convince the land & resource holders to give freely what they have ? I don’t know, I know I was pulled in this direction away from it all at a young age, I refused to drive or own a car (Env. Impact reasons) and I never felt comfortable in buying property (tribes hold no title yet aware they belong)

    these choices and observations were made in my teens NOW it 2015, we’re well into our final hour here on this amazing planet.

    I have hope, I experience joy when I imagine the possibilities yet I am met with judgement my the many.

    It’s inevitable that by nature or by man himself we will all be forced to change very soon,
    but while these frequencies are running hot, I am one that completely understands and is very thankfull for the way you have communicated a very core awareness of a real issue….

    lets keep puching hey 🙂
    chin Up much love to you
    Hebre

  3. Sybille Saint Girons

    indeed!
    let’s concrettelly record our contributions in our core community, transform in universel P2P value using a global currency as Fair-Coin.
    In my opinion it’s more about our courage to make the step and agree than technical solutions.
    I am ready for any experimentations…

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