Monday, August 13, 2007


Adam Smith's Wealth of Nation was part and parcel of his work in moral philosophy. (Economics, was if you can believe it, a branch of moral thought). He assumed choice about a cultural commons--areas taken (consciously) out of the market. With the rise of the Chicago School (on the right--privatization) and socialism/state ownership on the left (state run industries), this middle ground of the commons--"propertizing"--has been lost. Free market vs. state planned is less important than both as economically dominated.

Another in the on-going series on smarts, resiliency, and de-centralized networks. Also connects with Habermas' work on the reconstruction of human civilization based on rational communication.
clipped from

Barnes’s big breakthrough is this: To improve
capitalism, you don’t need to constrain corporations’ profit-making
abilities (as many hard-core socialists would) or change people’s values (as
many radical decentralists would).

“All” you really need to do is add a new
sector (or “set of institutions”) to the corporate and governmental sectors.

He calls it the “commons sector.”

The commons, he explains, is ostensibly an
“unorganized melange of nature, community, and culture.” Much of it isn’t
traded, or marketable, or quantifiable.

But if you look closely, it is as real as
refrigerators. It includes “air and water, habitats and ecosystems, languages
and cultures, science and technologies, social and political systems,” and
even the “social trust that underlies financial markets.”

It is our “joint inheritance,” and it
arguably belongs to each of us equally.

We need to “propertize” (not
“privatize”) parts of the commons and, where necessary, attach “valves”
to it
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