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Rebuilding the Solidarity Economy During Covid-19

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/12/12/rebuilding-solidarity-economy-during-covid-19



LEE CAMP: The Pandemic Dirty Dozen
These 12 people get rich while doing the most harm.

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Superb, thanks for re-publishing this from The Progressive. i hope the framing and the report are accurate with regard to growth and solidifying of communities around mutual aid, as well as a clarification of ideology among practitioners. We need to welcome large numbers of people into functioning communities of mutual aid, to face the emerging breakdown of function and legitimacy of the modern industrial economy facing resource constraints and ecological destabilization, and to face the established power of capital in the process. We need to be able to take care of each other.


The task is not to build individual cooperatives to compete with conventional capitalist enterprises where they will either sink or begin swimming with the sharks (see the reality of Mondragon) but the goal is to create an actual world cooperative commonwealth, a demand that incidentally predates Kropotkin by centuries with the Diggers.

we must neither buy nor sell. Money must not any longer . . .be the great god that hedges in some and hedges out others . . .”

As everyone works to advance the Common Stock so everyone shall have a free use of any commodity in the Storehouse for his pleasure and comfortable livelihood, without buying and selling or restraint from any”

The earth with all her fruits of Corn, Cattle and such like was made to be a common Store-House of Livelihood, to all mankinde, friend and foe, without exception”


My experience in my 75yrs or at least in the decades since I struck out on my own has demonstrated that people do not respect property unless the own it. A premise similar to having “skin in the game” as Naomi Kleins phrase. I’m aware of Mondragon co-operative teachings on the commons and that they run the fourth largest bank in Spain. Yet I do agree that we need to care for community and the concept of commons is worthwhile. I just need to see more evidence of its effectiveness of commonly owed property.
Under the title of Homeless Mothers’ in Oakland Occupy Abandoned Houses. So far these women remain in those houses as per the latest ruling by the courts. This approach should be copied nationwide.

Mary, there are numerous articles rebutting Hardin’s flawed tragedy of the commons hypothesis.
eg here

Elinor Ostrom wrote of how cultural traditions preserve the commons and serve to protect it.

Not having individual ownership does not automatically lead to neglect and abuse and we have centuries of experience in various non-capitalist societies to confirm that.

How often have you read that the indigenous peoples are the guardians and stewards of nature yet they stake no formal legal title to the land or the waters. The sedentary farmer and nomadic herder reach a consensus even with rival claims to the land and it is only under events of extreme outside pressure that conflict arises.

We should always be cautious in projecting the ethos of capitalism into a future alternative society. We all know that people and their relationships change with differing conditions.

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Did I assume that common ownership always results in neglect and abuse. No I am referencing my experiences.

As a student I lived in a dormitory and as an adult I have rented my properties. In both cases I saw evidence of the opposite of cooperation and caring for other peoples spaces.

I live directly adjacent to the Navajo Nation and have visited sites and friends in their homes. Indigenous people are the guardians of the land, but not all of them are good at that job as I have seen some results of that on the Navajo Nation (and while visiting the desert in Morocco.) As a general rule the Navajo are not farmers and few grow gardens. There is a movement toward regenerative farming on the Nation and we associate with them through our community garden. Both are only a few years in existence.

Here I am stating what I have seen and I think it is you who is making generalizations.I believe there are few examples of perfect social groups from what I seen and read in history. Plus I read the WSWP reports and find that they are selective in their information and do not always offer enough available sources and are frequently not up to date. In other words there is no such thing as objective reporting. Samuel Clemens told us to question what we see, hear and read. Furthermore building a perfect society is a dream worth working toward but criticism is important. Take off the blinders brother.

Anecdotal evidence is not always the best proof, Mary. But it is experience that cannot be easily dismissed. i fully agree with you that we should not look at the world through rose-tinted glasses. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good-intentions and we have had many dead-ends and side-tracks,

Certainly science and especially the social sciences are prone to influence and bias. But tell me, does that mean you do not trust the consensus of climate scientists on global warming because a few out-liers offer a different analysis? Science is about offering a hypothesis that stands valid until it is challenged and corrected and improved, isn’t that so? Darwin knew nothing of DNA but his basic evolution proposition was an answer to many questions and over the years was only added to become more clearly defined.

It is agreed among most experts who have made a study of the past that there was a phase in human evolution, that lasted far longer than the private property phase where peoples collectively controlled and commonly owned the resources available to that society.

A short useful essay for you on the 7000BC agrarian revolution

Remnants of earlier times have endured throughout the world in the Commons but we did suffer centuries where that has been undermined and distorted. In all of Europe we had the Enclosures of the land first by the aristocrats and then by the capitalists. I’m not sure if you are aware that Marx’s first introduction to political economy was as a young law student when he saw how local people were being deprived of their centuries-old custom of being able to freely take fallen and dead woods from the forests. Later in life it was the Iroquois Federation that Marx saw the bare-bones of the way a future society could run itself through a participatory democracy

Born in Scotland, our history was of the clans where again the lands and the means of livelihood was not based on individual private ownership, but what could be described as Celtic Communism. But it ended up with The Clearances, and Scotland still suffers from the effects of that de-population and its government is advancing policies to encourage immigration, not to stop it.

Perhaps i am deluded and delusional, overly-optimistic of my fellow-workers’ capacity to change their conditions and control their destiny. But i’d rather still hold hope than to fatalistically accept that the what exists now is going to be the way it continues, Mary.

Even in my life-time i have experienced a sea-change in cultural attitudes, in technological developments. As they say, if not now — when? We’ve been told to wait for far too long.

I appreciate your response. My heritage is of the northern european vikings who in fact did live communally out of necessity. Of course there are many examples of living in the commons throughout history and in the present so in fact i need to renounce my claim above. However in general most of our societies have passed through that phase but it might be wise to return to protect what is left our planet. Certainly the movement to regenerative land use demonstrates the awareness of the need for the change from petrochemicalagriculture and the ghastly CAFOs. So I laud your positive attitude. Maybe I am just tired of fighting and would still like to caution you from generalizing groups of people. Not all members within groups are similar enough to do so.

No-body ever said it would be easy, Mary :frowning:

With a Shetland mother, i supposedly share some Viking heritage too.

Even the Queen of England had to recognise the supremacy of Udal law based on this Viking connection in that she owns the seashore and seabed around the Britain but the local community in Shetland owns theirs…much to the annoyance of the oil pipeline who had to compensate the islanders.

But we have to be cautious about claims

Take care and be safe