Commons Against and Beyond Capitalism

George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici

In our view, we cannot simply say “no commons without community.” We must also say “No commons without economy,” in the sense of oikonomia, i.e., the reproduction of human beings within the social and natural household. Hence, reinventing the commons is linked to the reinvention of the communal and a commons-based economy.  
-Maria Mies and Veronika Bennholt-Thomsen

The concept of the “commons” has become ubiquitous in the political, economic, and even real estate language of our time. Left and Right, neoliberals and neo-Keynesians, conservatives and anarchists use it in their political interventions. Some, like Marxist autonomists, prefer to speak of “the common” to avoid the assumption that what is at stake is only a material reality, and to stress the principle of cooperative production. In Italy, activists generally speak of “common goods” (beni comuni) to denote goods and services that should never be on the market, like water or healthcare and education. The World Bank has embraced the concept; in April 2012 it announced that all research conducted in-house or supported by its grants must be “open access under copyright licensing from Creative Commons – a non-profit organization whose copyright licenses are designed to accommodate the expanded access to information afforded by the Internet.”

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