Auf das neue Buch von Jay Walljasper “All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons“, New Press, 2010; wollte ich bereits hinweisen, als das Belegexemplar Ende 2010 in meinem Briefkasten landete. Das Buch bietet eine Einführung in die Commons als Potpourri aus Portraits und Kurzbeschreibungen von Praktiken des Commoning weltweit. Julie Ristau von Onthecommons hat eine kleine Einführung geschrieben. Wenn ich das lese denke ich immer: Es kann so einfach sein, dass es fast schon wehtut. Man muss “nur” ein bisschen umdenken und dann das Offensichtliche tun.
Ich kopiere einfach den leicht gekürzten englischen Text von Julie, die u.a. darauf aufmerksam macht, dass gerade viele junge Leute kreativ darin sind, mit weniger Markt und mit mehr Miteinander besser auszukommen. Auch wenn sie das nicht “commoning” nennen. Ich bin gerade vom Weltsozialforum in Dakar zurückgekommen. Dort habe ich viel über die Commons geredet und wie so oft die Reaktion bekommen: “Aber das ist doch genau das, was wir tun.”
Mir ist es recht egal, wie wir es nennen, ob Solidarische Ökonomie, Buen Vivir, Commons oder Gemeingüter solange klar ist, dass es sich um eine Vielfalt sozialer Praxen handelt, deren Grundüberzeugungen sich decken. Um welche Grundüberzeugungen und Logiken es dabei geht, hatte ich hier zusammengefasst.
Nun aber Julie Risteaus kurzer Text:
“At a recent meeting of a common security club in Boston—one of many groups around the U.S. where people come together to discuss ways to help each other get along in these insecure economic times—someone raised the idea of a tool exchange. Neighbors could take inventory of who owns a snow blower, jigsaw, wheelbarrow, extension ladder, hedge shearers, shop vacuum, various drills, shovels, rakes and other gear that folks could share.
One man in the group who had grown up in the Virgin Islands said that if he knew that a neighbor back home owned a ladder, he naturally assumed he could use it. No one would think of buying something new if someone they knew already owned one. …
The people of the Virgin Islands are poorer than those of Boston in economic terms, but because of traditions of sharing they enjoy a sense of abundance and security missing in even wealthy communities. Today, people across North America and Europe are beginning to look around their neighborhoods and say—“well, no one is using that vacant lot, we could plant a community garden there” or “I think we can solve this crime/environmental/social/economic problem if a bunch of people pitched in to help.”
This represents a swing in the direction of commoning, and it reflects a broader shift in thinking from the prevailing YO-YO ethic (“you’re on your own”) to WITT (“we’re in this together”). At the center of this trend is people joining together to “co-creator” the world they want to see. They aren’t waiting for someone else to take the initiatives that are needed. Commoning represents a “third way”—not locked into the profit-driven mechanics of the market nor dependent on distant government agencies—that enables everyday citizens to actively make decisions and take action that shape their future of their communities. (Although most of those who do it, don’t call it “commoning”)
Commoning is built upon on a network of social relationships (based on the implicit expectation that we will take care of each other) and a shared understanding that some things belong to all of us and must be used in a sustainable and equitable way—which is the essence of the commons itself.
The term “commoning” has been popularized by historian Peter Linebaugh, whose book The Magna Carta Manifesto shows that the founding document of Anglo-American democracy repeatedly affirms people’s right to use the commons for their basic needs. A majority of English people derived at least part of their livelihoods from the commons before the brutal onset
of the Industrial Revolution. They were known as “commoners.” Hence the word “commoning” describes people living in close connection to the commons.
“I use the word because I want a verb for the commons,” Linebaugh explains. “I want to portray it as an activity, not just an idea or material resource. This brings in the essential social element of the commons. “Commoning has always been with us,” he adds, “although we seem to notice it only when the commons are being taken away from us.”
The loss of the commons robs people of their autonomy to meet our basic needs for sustenance, economic security and social connections. Thus, commoning involves taking your life into your own hands rather depending on corporations and other outside forces to sell you what you need.
It’s a way to resist the dominant paradigm of modern life, which insists that what’s bought and sold in the market economy provides fundamental meaning to our lives. It’s a way to tap into hidden chamber within our imaginations, which harbor vivid images of different ways to live.
“Much of commoning depends on memory,” Linebaugh offers. “We are resurrecting some forgotten traditions and cultural practices.” But he is quick to note, “We are not just discovering the commons, we are inventing it is as well. We are learning how to interact and take responsibility in ways that are both old and new…discovering more elemental ways of interacting and organizing social and economic life.” (Herv. S.H.)