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  • Posted January 29th, 2016

    Nationalising assets does not mean that ‘we’ then own them. Let’s hold things ‘in common’ instead

    Nationalising assets does not mean that ‘we’ then own them. Let’s hold things ‘in common’ instead

    Nationalising something doesn’t then mean that it’s owned by ‘the people’ – i.e. by us. That would only be true if states weren’t controlled by the corporate sector.

    We’re discovering that now with the NHS. Successive puppet governments are contorting themselves trying to give it away to the corporate sector, but public opinion is making it very difficult for them. They’ve managed to get Coca-cola machines and Costa Coffee into hospitals, and they’ve managed to allow the corporate sector to build hospitals – hospitals that are crawling with corporate pharmaceutical sales reps.

    The BBC and the British Medical Journal tell us of the creeping privatisation of the NHS, and how one third of new NHS contracts are now awarded to the private sector. TTIP, if adopted, will make it much worse. It must be frustratingly slow for them, but I can’t see what’s going to stop them in the long-term. Nationalisation doesn’t make the NHS safe.

    Land is our most precious and basic asset. Right now, there’s a land grab going on all over Africa, by corporations, especially financial institutions – recipients of our money, given to them by the ‘quantitative easing’ (printing of money) initiated by their puppet governments to stimulate the economy after the 2008 crash. Goldman Sachs is a big player in corporate land grabs.

    Let’s look at Ethiopia. Penny Cole at ‘A World to Win‘ tells us that the Ethiopian government:

    has awarded millions of hectares of land to foreign, investors. Its investment guide states that Ethiopia has “nearly 11.55 million hectares of land readily available for farming. The rental price of rural land is generally low. There is strong commitment from the government to avail the country’s fertile land for investment.

    How did the Ethiopian government have this land to sell to the Chinese, the Saudis and to Goldman Sachs? Because it was nationalised by the socialist government of 1974-1987. Nationalising land (or anything else) doesn’t keep it out of corporate hands in perpetuity. Holding it in common does.

    In Ethiopia, and other African countries, smallholders and traditional pastoralists are being driven from their ancestors’ lands at gunpoint, so that corporations can buy formerly nationalised land, with our money, so that they can continue to build their empire. It would sound like a particularly unbelievable novel if it weren’t true.

    More on this nightmare scenario here.

    So, to summarise, let’s stop talking about nationalising things – the state doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the corporate empire.

    Instead, let’s start talking (well, more than talking, obviously) about holding things ‘in common’ – about co-operativising things, about putting things into community ownership, about making things open source. Let’s do it for all of the essentials of life, like:

    I work with someone who is even co-operativising a railway. I love it, and will blog about it soon.

    The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's

    1 Comment

    • 1Steve Gwynne February 2nd, 2016

      ‘The commons is not just a battlefield between corporate predators and those who resist them – it is also a source of hope for those willing to imagine a world beyond capitalism. It represents a space between the private market and the political state in which humanity can control and democratically root our common wealth. Both the market and the state have proved inadequate for this purpose. In different ways, they have both led to a centralization of power and decision-making. Both private monopolies and state bureaucracies have proved incapable of maintaining the ecological health of the commons or managing the fair and equitable distribution of its benefits.’ http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/hope-for-imagining-a-world-beyond-corporate-control

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