Reclaiming the Commons

Old Blog Import

This article starts off the latest New Democracy Forum on the Boston Review. It addresses the issue of whether there should be limits on how far we let markets encroach upon commonly held resources. The above link will take you to a selection of eight commentaries on this article, as well as a reply by the author.

One of the great questions of contemporary American political economy is, who shall control the commons?”The commons” refers to that vast range of resources that the American people collectively own, but which are rapidly being enclosed: privatized, traded in the market, and abused. The process of converting the American commons into market resources can accurately be described as enclosure because, like the movement to enclose common lands in eighteenth-century England, it involves the private appropriation of collectively owned resources.

Such enclosures are troubling because they disproportionately benefit the corporate class and effectively deprive ordinary citizens of access to resources that they legally or morally own. The result is a hypertrophic market that colonizes untouched natural resources and public life while eroding our democratic commonwealth.”

Reclaiming the Commons