« Time to Activate Agency & Action | Main | Rio+20 – Tragedy of the Commons 2.0? »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Helene -
Nice summary and links to options. I will move forward to better illustrate that "Symbiotic Demand" is the positive opposite of the "tragedy of the commons". https://prezi.com/tpfaewgz1jie/apportioning-ecological-values-and-costs-through-symbiotic-demand/

Jessie Henshaw

It's interesting to see how much, and how little, progress has been made in the three decades that the world of modern science and environmental thinking has been intensively networking "solutions". As a global society we're still clearly caught in a trap of using the cooperation of the world's expert systems for creating wealth to destroy the basis of wealth...

I find beautiful ideals here, from some of the "best of the best" leading thinkers on the subject. What I don't yet see is thinking on how our economy could become like an ecology, to end our war with nature by becoming like nature, self-regulating and self-healing. I think I still see a management scheme instead.

I believe the reason we don't design our strategies using the natural principles of self-organization is that we still don't study them. Science still studies how to control things, better and better, not how the uncontrolled systems we most admire in nature manage beautifully working by themselves..


Thanks Tim yes, please do! Your Symbiotic demand seems very much to follow commons-based principles of management. It would be nice to see the principles under which this works up front, and also how it can be applied in other fields.


Jessie thanks. You are right the whole point if we want to see a real paradigm shift is to create an ecology that provides the conditions for all the generative processes that will concur to create a thrivable world to be unleashed and enabled. This requires among others to adopt a focal point that can relate a variety of processes and desired outcomes together and to decline the relevant narratives. The point of this article is to show how the concept of growth/variation in the commons could be made broad enough to constitute a focal point that would encompass a totality, simple enough to generate diverse narratives, and 'practical' enough to relate to notions that many can understand, so as to be a starting point of a discovery journey.

The idea of an integral process ontology is very well explained by Bonnitta Roy in her comment to a comprehensive post on the synthetic brain and I am looking forward to pursue my work with her in this direction: http://beamsandstruts.com/articles/item/859-the-rise-of-the-synthesizing-mind-in-the-planetary-age#comment3587. This encompasses the study of natural principles of self organization.

And this paper from the Heinrich Böll foundation: A New Narrative for Our Times further illustrates how the Commons as a subject for political and economic discourse could enable a main shift in perspective. http://www.boell.org/downloads/commonsbook_helfrich_-_haas-neu.pdf

Larry Victor

The challenge is making the commons narrative a topic of active dialog among "people of the commons"; when most people are not only not aware of commons ideas but are probably resistive to such consideration.

Just a query - are there potential problems making any concept a key concept? Are we reading too much into "commons"? Is the emergent view of commons but one perspective of humankind/Gaia? What isn't the commons? Yet, might this be an OK tactic? On the other hand, maybe the concept of commons should be further expanded?

When we focus on our critical commons under threat we usually think about preservation, sustainability, and stewardship. What about creating new commons and developing commons? Consider the common space for human interaction and relationships - beyond economic exchange. Is The Internet a commons? While it may take time to have an impact on our critical commons, we might be able to propagate commons thinking within new commons we create or commons we develop. There can be both natural and human created commons. Developing our human commons is prerequisite to our gaining "power" over the fate of the natural commons.

IMHO this will require decoupling the financial domain from the productive domain of economic processes. THIS GREAT DAY is a fantasy of how this might be achieved: http://home.comcast.net/~larryvictor/NUCOM/THIS%20GREAT%20DAY.htm

I wish you optimal success with your 18 day seminars/conference. Although conferences have been highlights of my life, once the euphoria subsides I realize how they usually lack the agency to motivate action. Could a conference be viewed as a commons?


Thanks Larry. Very nice fantasy. Thanks for sharing it! I will certainly keep you posted on the conference! And as far as your last question is concerned, yes probably as the outcome is to start building a kind of commons of the Commons...


I came across or was reminded today of two interesting and relevant publications.

One is Tom Atlee's latest blog post Wholesome capitalism?http://tom-atlee.posterous.com/wholesome-capitalism where Tom describes the special gift of capitalism is its ability to create MORE through a positive or reinforcing feedback dynamic that should be channeled to create more of all the forms of capital that are critically needed or depleted.

The other is Peter Barnes' Capitalism 3.0 http://capitalism3.com/ which argues, similarly to Quilligan for commons trusts in addition to market and state.

Larry Victor

Another thought, not new but needs renewal. The term "growth" must be shifted to mean improvement in the wholesome aspects of life and shown not to be positive for the growth of consumption (so long as the means of production are so destructive). The current cry/demand for economic recovery, as necessary it is to provide essentials for everyone, in the long term recovery to business-as-usual will be a disaster for both humankind and the planet. What would it take to bring this distinction into mainstream media discourse?


Yes Larry, it kind of is my point in this article to apply growth to what needs to grow. That's basically where my post and Tom Atlee's meet.


RE: "systemic answers capable of effectively turning the vicious circle into a virtuous one" Here are 'answers' framed from the perspective of the commons, http://p2pfoundation.net/Seven_Policy_Switches

This suggests that the commons can indeed inform systemic change, including change that reverses the historical destruction/enclosure of commons.

There are a couple of 'howevers', however. Success of a commons-based view of systemic change can be self-defeating in at least 3 circumstances that come to mind:
1. If we assume the language of the commons will make sense outside a self-selected community of commons advocates. Other communities will need systemic change reinterpreted in terms that make sense to them.
2. If we neglect to acknowledge the power and momentum of the perennial worldwide trashing of the commons. What would it take to really turn this around? (See #policyswitch 5).
3. If we remain stuck in green herdthinking traps like opposing economic growth without knowing its current systemic purpose or future systemic potential. (See all #policyswitches, esp #1,3)


Thanks for chiming in James. I can't agree more. On one we need to develop a discourse and narratives that unfold from the perspectives that each change seeking community may have. On two we need indeed to apply the proper leverage to inverse the negative feedback loop (that's the object of the pull platform that I described in my previous posts I agree to the feedback you gave me to clarify. It's on the agenda :). On three absolutely and that's what is currently being discussed at the Quilligan seminar series in London...


Tuesday was the opening of the Quilligan seminar series at the House of Commons, and James Quilligan framed the reason why for the Commons based economy in this very powerful way:

"Business has adopted the idea that it is meeting human needs by selling private goods to individual consumers.

Government has adopted the idea that it is meeting human needs by regulating and provisioning public goods to individual citizens.

But who is responsible for preserving our common goods?

Who is responsible for replenishing what is consumed?

Who is creating the collective will for sustainability?"

Indeed new institutions are needed for this task...

Kartik Agaram

What about the tragedy of the commons? We have no better way than ownership and capitalism to ensure that people have an incentive to produce and to maintain goods and services. This is the key problem, to my mind.

Tim Gieseke

Jessie - the process of ecologizing the economy is underway with the development of information and interconnectedness systems. Ecosystems function elegantly due to each organism pursuing their self-interests. The human market system is not the only or the first system to embrace the invisible hand - it was discovered by life's pursuit of individual life. Since the information of the ecology is ubiquitous we often do not see it, but ecological participants are steeped in data at a far greater depth than even our networked-obsessed generation. Granted, the ecological participants identify and use data in a more precise manner than YouTubers because their self-interests are highly dependent on it.

Tim Gieseke

Kartik - I agree that ownership and self-interests are the key as well. While cultures may deal with the legal aspects of ownership differently, all individuals deal with self-interests at some level. As with the commons, such as clean water, soil productivity, carbon sequestration - ownership and value can reside in the management of natural capital. Since natural capital spontaneously produces ecosystem services (unlike a car factory) one does not have to value the outcome (unlike a car) but just value the management of the natural capital. That can be readily measured, unitize, valued, monetized, traded, etc so that the wonderful invention of the economic system can mature to include these essential goods and services as well.


Wayne Elsey (Brand), I would love to hear how this can be helpful to you. Looking actually to empower intrapreneurs so that they can drive change from within, from wherever they are located!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 03/2005
My Photo