The Promise of the Commons
Regular readers may remember an article I posted back in 2010 — Kings, Conquerors, Capitalism and Resilience Lost — where I covered a little historical ground for one particular former ‘East Bloc’ country; a history shared by several countries in central Europe. The article outlined how previously resilient land-based communities — which had lived and even thrived for centuries in close relation to each other and the land that sustained them — had struggled to cope with an onslaught, a rapid succession, of ideologies that were thrust upon them (Fascism, then Communism, and the final nail in the coffin, Capitalism). The article ended with a glimpse into the lives of some of the land-based people still remaining — stalwart and practical souls who do so little to harm the earth, but whose historical lives are being tragically impacted by political and economic forces outside of their control.
In the video above, John D. Liu covers similar territory — but over a wider geographic. Take a watch.
For thousands of years, different ideologies have come and gone, but one that has always endured, even if it is now being steadily eroded, is that of The Commons — cooperatively managed lands and lifestyles that worked for the common good. The Commons encouraged decentralisation and relationship — healthy relations between people and between people and place. Natural systems and human needs together created symbioses which employed, sustained and nurtured both.
I think it needs to be understood that nature doesn’t understand or change its immutable laws to fit modern economic or political ideologies and ‘invisible structures’. Genetic Engineering and Geo-engineering are a case in point — being extreme and unnecessary efforts to try to get nature to fit an unnatural paradigm of our own creation (what we call in Permaculture, ‘forcing functions’).
Well over half of the world’s population lives on traditional lands to which they have no formal title. They live as most people throughout history have always done. But, in a rapidly privatising, wealth appropriating world, their rights to critical resources are being steadily eroded by corporate interests. This translates to their sustainable and even restorative use of those lands being supplanted by short-terminism and extraction. Helping to solve their problems may well solve our problems — whilst also giving us something to pattern our own communities on.
- Letters from Sri Lanka – Does Sarvodaya Hold the Secrets to Systemic Change? (Ten-part series)
- Building the New Commons
- How a Commons Way of Life Helps Curb Climate Change
- Letters from Ladakh – Culture Demolition in Fast Forward
- Food Miles, or ‘Fair Miles’
- Orchestrating Famine – a Must-Read Backgrounder on the Food Crisis
- A World Without Water
- Blue Gold: World Water Wars