Wildcat 88,winter 2010

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Commons, Common Wealth, Commonism…

Everybody is talking about the commons or the common – we are trying to talk about communism (see Can Anyone say Communism, wildcat 86), but mainly we are trying to find it in real movements. That is why we are turning to the commons-debate with the question if it goes along with new practices and developments.

The debate on the commons was a frequent topic on the conferences and in the magazines of the radical left during the last year; the title of Negri/Hardt‘s most recent book is Commonwealth; the Oekonux scene increasingly refers to the commons; and Eleonore Ostrom received the Nobel prize for her research on common property. Last but not least, given the (financial) crisis of municipal government, a lot of other bourgeois groupings hope for (less expensive) solutions from common spheres beyond the welfare state.
But we also witness attempts ’from below‘ to relate the following aspects to a global context of the commons: on the one hand the lack of natural resources, the food crisis, ’climate catastrophe‘ and social polarisation; and on the other hand struggles against privatisation, referenda concerning common goods like water and local transport, urban gardening, free shops and communal living projects.

During recent years social struggles remained focused on the (welfare) state and its institutions: industrial disputes against company closures did not go beyond institutionalised collective bargaining and trade union representation; mobilisations against the harsh reform of unemployment benefits in Germany remained within the framework of demands for a state-guaranteed minimum income; the movement against globalisation limited itself to the criticism of ’neo-liberalism‘. The search for forms of organisation and socialisation beyond the realm of the state and its institutions is therefore very much on the agenda. How can we find out whether this is already happening in the current movements? How can we help to initiate such processes?

Biedermeier Idyll or Eve of Revolution!?

What was »common property«?

From Empire to Commonwealth?

Value struggle or class struggle?

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