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  • Cultural commoning

    Exercise and cultivate the common capacities of people to know, to do and to organise, which have been enclosed by regimes of wage-work and professionalised authority.

    Extend ‘superstructure’ of all kinds: public-domain cultural resources like the findings of science, works of literature, news feeds. Even language itself can be engaged as a commons (but frequently isn’t, and is abused).

    Knowledge

    “Knowledge is the common property of mankind” [Thomas Jefferson]

    … but intellectual property rights ensure that that’s not the case. Intellectual property rights assume that no-one would discover or invent anything if others had free access to them – but people discovered and invented things long before there were intellectual property rights.

    Today, inventions and discoveries are at least as much due to the input of other people, communities, culture and state, especially the education system, as they are down to individual genius; and surely a head start is fairer than state-mandated privilege for life? There are strong arguments that patent laws prevent the diffusion of useful ideas through society, and are really all about shoring up corporate profits.

    A massive open online course (MOOC) is a cultural service provided by a small group of people to a large group of people, to develop cultural resources, rather than a commons.

    Open access journals bring commoning to academia, – although usually hierarchical and elitist, like a gated commons, because entry is severely restricted – as a contributor, or even as a user (and the research is heavily influenced by the state and corporate sector, to serve their needs).

    There’s a crash coming – a slap from Mother Nature. This isn’t pessimistic; it’s realistic.

    The human impact on nature and on each other is accelerating and needs systemic change to reverse.

    We’re not advocating poverty, or a hair-shirt existence. We advocate changes that will mean better lives for almost everyone.

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