Sat 29 Apr 2017 7:28AM

How to drive the commons into the mainstream.

SC Simon Carter Public Seen by 122

I was chatting to someone recently who described himself as a communist, but he sounded to me like an anarchist, Both words are of course politically loaded, but if you combine them do you get commonist? J Edgar Hoover apparently said this: "Senator, I think that commonism is as serious a menace to the United States as it ever was if not more so.". Do we have one word that would describe our advocacy?. Might that word me commonist?. It's not one I have seen widely used, but it occurs to me that more & more people describing themselves as such might be a good way to raise the conversation. I suspect many would say, 'don't you mean communist'?. A cogent explanation of the differences might create a movement free from the baggage associated with such terms as communist or anarchist. I also think it might blindside the Establishment at a time when their propaganda is increasingly seen for what it is..


Vasilis Kostakis Sat 29 Apr 2017 8:49AM



Simon Carter Sat 29 Apr 2017 11:13AM

I would say that the vast majority of peoples definition of that word is not what we would take it to mean.


Simon Grant Sat 29 Apr 2017 11:17AM

I think "Commoner" is OK for recognition between Commoners ;) but yes, sure, in the UK it won't give the majority of people a fair impression. I don't think any one word will.


Stacco Troncoso Sat 29 Apr 2017 9:54AM

I think that Commoner is more precise, it places agency on someone who performs the act of commoning, rather than a follower of a 'ism.. You'd need exquisite pronunciation for "Commonist". On the other hand Dmytri Kleiner argues that we may as well call ourselves communists, as that's what we'll get called anyway. His argument is well worth reading.


Simon Carter Sat 29 Apr 2017 11:21AM

I think this is entirely my point, We know that communist & commonist are absolutely not the same. Most peoples simplistic definition of communist is an advocate of state control, which is diametrically opposite to commonist, If someone called me a communist I would take serious issue. No one has ever called me a commonist. I wish they would.as that's a label I would wholeheartedly embrace,


Stacco Troncoso Sat 29 Apr 2017 10:08AM

As an answer to the question at the top of the thread: If we want to see the mainstrem to be driven toward the Commons -rather than the other way around- we have to create spaces for lived experience primordially; supported by memetics. As Simon explains, more cogent explanations without dumbing the complexity of the Commons are very much needed, but I think we're getting there.


Simon Carter Sat 29 Apr 2017 11:28AM

The more i think about it the more I am convinced that commoner is not a useful term for mainstream usage. It's timid, almost passive, Commonist meanwhile is challenging & provocative. It's pro-active, If we wish to accelerate awareness, we need more commonists promoting the term as a badge of honour,


miguel novik Sat 29 Apr 2017 8:22PM

1.- Stacco said:...¨If we want to see the mainstrem to be driven toward the Commons -rather than the other way around- we have to create spaces for lived experience primordially ¨

Until here I am totally agree....

..¨supported by memetics.¨ please explain it more...

I know that memetics are not metrics, but I give great importance to the ratios or measurements that will show us that ¨we are walking to achieve a ¨commoner way of relationship.¨¨. (we have to clarify what do we want to reach and be able to measure it ).

2.- Even it seams clear that we are not ¨communist¨, nobody have talked about Private Property.... And for me this is a clear and direct issue... we respect the private property, but because of we are aware of our interconnectedness and interdependence, we decide to relate in a non-extractive way (or cumulative way) and we seek to build dynamics that allow us to live "consistent" with this belief or feeling.

3.- Regarding the party proposal, Simon Carter, you introduced me to Michael Tellinger, he went into politics in South Africa and as far I understand, he concluded that the way is to create a ¨Small Town Plan of Action ¨ that enable people to ¨ behave and interact ¨with a commoner and No- scarcity dynamic ¨.

Even I do not agree 100% with Ubuntu Planet I think it has the right focus. (...enable the space, or create spaces as Stacco said).


Simon Grant Sat 29 Apr 2017 10:45AM

Public face and public image are interesting issues. Single words, along with "-isms", seem to me inherently problematic, while at the same time it would be really useful to have a label describing, maybe, what we are up to, or our shared values.

Simplicity, transparency, clarity are I believe pretty important values in the commons, (along with equality, cooperation, etc.) -- and that would, I suspect, argue against a label that is easily mistaken for something it isn't.

I agree with Vasilis and Stacco that "Commoner" is a nice term to describe our role, but that doesn't answer your request for a word or phrase that describes the belief and value system.

In terms of your title, how to drive the commons into the mainstream, I have little hope for "broadcast" media (see Gene Youngblood). What you are doing already, Simon, seems very worthwhile -- looking out for opportunities as they come up locally.

Or we could ally more closely with the "Transition" movement, picking out the really promising bits of commoner ideas and culture, and promoting those.

I really believe that "mainstream" will take time, and no quick acrobatics will get us there. But there is so much to do in any case, preparing us all for the day when collapse of the current socio-economic order suddenly pushes us, not quite into the "mainstream" or the "limelight", but into the localized, "homeworld" attention of many (see Youngblood using concepts from Husserl).


Simon Carter Sat 29 Apr 2017 11:38AM

So meantime we wait as some kind of fringe movement?. If an economic collapse is quick & cataclysmic as opposed to slow & tortuous, then surely we need to present as a viable alternative right now so that neither is necessary.. We need to differentiate ourselves as a distinct third way, not state controlled centralised hierarchies & not predatory markets. Not statists, communist or any other form, not capitalists, but commonists. I guess ultimately Commons Transition is political. Maybe we need a Commonist Party?


Simon Grant Sun 30 Apr 2017 4:45AM

The issues you raise, Simon, are important to me, but not simple.

I would say that we need to be building alternatives, much more than "presenting" them. To me, it is too slow to wait until other people catch on, until the ideas become "mainstream". As I said, I only believe they will become mainstream when really ugly things start to happen.

This is also why I (and many people I know) are not so concerned with what currently passes as politics. It's really hard to get a "party line" that measures up to the complexity of people, as well as the planet. To me, party politics belongs mostly to a moribund order. Not that I don't vote -- I still do. But I vote in the belief that voting is unlikely to be the major factor in the changes to come. Similarly with "-isms". Parties and -isms fit well together, but neither with me.

I'd be interested in your reaction to Gene Youngblood's ideas. There are links from the page on him on the P2P Foundation Wiki. https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Gene_Youngblood

You say

We need to differentiate ourselves as a distinct third way, not state controlled centralised hierarchies & not predatory markets.

Differentiation in action, not just in words, I would say. We need, primarily in my opinion, to do things differently, not just to talk differently. And when we talk, it needs to be radical talk. It needs to examine and question the roots.


Paul B. Hartzog Wed 3 May 2017 2:19PM

I agree that we need to bring awareness to p2p as a "third way" but I am still surprised daily by the number of people who insist that collective organization has to go through government or business. 1) We are conditioned to think that those are the only routes to success, and 2) we are still facing off against powerful systems that want it to stay that way.


Simon Carter Wed 3 May 2017 3:42PM

How will the 'third way' develop except through a re-evaluation & evolution of government &/or commerce?. Is it not a fact that the 'third way' is simply a realisation that both have become horribly predatory such that their negatives far out way their positives?. From a personal perspective, I can change how i do business, both as a businessman & a consumer. I have little expectation of any major re-evaluation of how we do government any time soon. As such, I put more faith in business as our way forward. The only other 'third way' I see as likely is revolution.


Danyl Strype Sun 28 May 2017 12:07PM

"We are conditioned to think that those [government and business] are the only routes to success"

I would go further, we are conditioned to think they are the only possible kinds of human organisation larger than the family and the village/ tribe. Graeber talks about how this myth serves the status quo in 'The Democracy Project'.

We are also conditioned to think that government and business are in opposition, as opposed to being the left hand and right hand of the very same corporatist system. This works very well for dividing resistance into blue team vs/ green team conflict which keeps both sides distracted from the real inter-relationships of the power structures and their consequences.


Nicolas Stampf Mon 29 May 2017 7:06AM

I am not convinced (anymore maybe) that businesses or the governments are the only solutions. In a system, the ones who pushes harder create a space to live in. Pushing too hard and you get ejected, too soft and nothing moves.
I'm a strong believer of creating one's own playfield and show (by changing oneself in that playfield) what works. Then let others get inspired by what they see and spread your ideas and if they were theirs.

We do have more room than we use to think. Just try and see what happens.


Lisa Thornton Fri 26 May 2017 8:09AM

I like calling our whole movement 'localisation'. It's the opposite of globalisation, which the majority of people don't support. Therefore, you've won the people over, already. It's important how the message and wording is framed. Localisation is strong and positive. Then you make commons a central component of localisation. Sold! :smiley:


Simon Grant Fri 26 May 2017 8:17AM

And if we add "re-" to make it re-localisation, it reminds people if the truth that things were local. It's not a new and scary place to be, obviously, but also it can remind us of the challenges that existed in the past, localised, world. Equally, let's hold on to the idea that what is light can well be global.


miguel novik Mon 29 May 2017 8:22PM

..¨This works very well for dividing resistance into blue team vs/ green team conflict which keeps both sides distracted from the real inter-relationships of the power structures and their consequences..¨
I couldn´t be more agree with this sentence.
Many times when giving opinions without understanding the proposals previously exposed, we generate a dynamic and feeling that ¨you are green and I am blue ¨...

Even I can not easily imagine a future without exchange (each one give a contribution to society or its community and obtains products / services from it), it does not really means that I want to defend this position ....

Please let me know the current project that would drive us more closer to ¨the future vision you want to live in¨. (This way I hope I will understand your future vision).

And also I would really appreciate if anyone could let me know what current projects would drive us to ¨think global and produce local¨ and ¨Commons-based peer production¨.

thanks a lot for the help.


miguel novik Mon 29 May 2017 9:40PM

Enspiral, Sensorica and Farm Hack, even I can see the value of these experiences in themselves, I can not see how I (or the cooperative I belong to) could connect with them, or be part of them and ¨ increase the ball¨....
maybe is there someone here that could explain why and how exactly these experiences will drive us to ¨think global and produce local¨ and ¨Commons-based peer production¨ as far as we develop thousands of these organizations all over the world ......


Danyl Strype Tue 30 May 2017 1:00AM

BTW unless they are anarcho-capitalists (note Graeber's comment that these only seem to exist online) or left-libertarians, all anarchists are communists, just not "authoritarian" or "state" communists.


miguel novik Tue 30 May 2017 8:06AM

BTW I couldn´t find it. Can you send me the link? thanks.
Left libertarians it seems to me that aims to spread some ideas, but there is no a concrete current proposal to make a change in the way I live.


Nicolas Stampf Tue 30 May 2017 8:44AM

If you're talking of the United Earth initiative, then I think this is the entry group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/479270368875302/?fref=ts


miguel novik Tue 30 May 2017 10:41AM

I joined the page. Thanks,
but again, I did not find mechanisms to live according to the values ¨we profess¨.
...maybe you see something I do not see...


Nicolas Stampf Tue 30 May 2017 6:05AM

@miguelnovik there is no one single project that can move us into that "light global, heavy local" paradigm as far as I know, although some strive for a global movement or coordination (eg united Earth on Facebook though it doesn't seems very active ; besides I'm guilty of having imagined one myself).

Indeed, because we are so much people on Earth and so scattered (despite internet) means that all initiatives start small.

I used to think that some systemic model like Stafford Bert's Viable System Model could support and interconnect all initiatives. I still convinced it can, but the way I see Commons being taken care of, and P2P structures emerging make it unlikely to come into reality.

Coordination will probably a lot more messy, but will indeed happen, like ecosystems have coordinated evolution of their parts, without hierarchy or Central control whatsoever.

We humans need to accept that.


miguel novik Tue 30 May 2017 9:37AM

you are right that It seems that I am looking for ¨a single global solution project¨.
and as you says it doesn´t seems to be realistic....

However we want to generate changes in the current system...
As you said:
...¨creating one's own playfield and show (by changing oneself in that playfield) what works.¨

In your words I understand that a playfield allows you (and all members) to change yourselves...

That is exactly what I am looking for.... the mechanism to enable my own change in the way I relate with others...
.....to enable ¨think global and produce local¨
.....to enable ¨Commons-based peer production¨.

Even I do believe that in our coop we could be walking to enable this reality, it is hard to start from 0....

If in ¨our playfields¨ (or projects) have the same targets, and want to enable a new concrete relationship between members, we should be able to replicate some mechanism and help to each other.

I keep the hope.


Danyl Strype Thu 1 Jun 2017 10:05AM

There's no way I know of to change the whole world overnight. Even the most revolutionary changes begin with small groups of people, trying out new ideas in sandboxes of their own creation, sometimes sacrificing convenience to do so (or even their health). Large-scale change occurs when these sandboxes increase in number, involve more people, and different kinds of sandboxes join up their inputs and outputs, forming new kinds of exchange systems. Here are two quite different examples from history.

The Spanish revolution between the two world wars began with years of building up unions, cooperatives, and other new kinds of organisations, and joining them up into networks of solidarity. By the time what most people think of as the "Spanish civil war" got started between the republicans (and their stalinist, troskist, and anarchist allies) and the fascists, huge numbers of people had been organising both economically and politically for about 40 years. The ability of Anti-capitalist milita to push fascist forces (and later republican/ stalinist forces) out of large areas of Spain and formally collectivize them in democratic federations, came out of these decades of networking up small-scale organising. It took massive military aid from Franco's fascist neighbours in Europe (and allies elsewhere), the Stalinist-controlled USSR, and the "democratic" capitalist countries, to put down the revolution in one relatively small country.

A more recent example is the software freedom movement. This started with one group, the GNU Project, proposing a radically different way of thinking about and using software. When I got involved around the end of the 1990s, it was still a relatively tiny movement, with only a handful of active groups (FSF, OSI, Apache Foundation, OpenOffice.org and other "open source" projects at Sun). Over the last 20 years there has been an explosion of interest, new advocacy groups (eg FSF Europe and Free Software Conservancy), new projects (eg Ubuntu, GNU Social/ Mastodon, Loomio!). There's still a lot of transition still do do, but GNU-Linux is being used in the vast majority of webservers and datacentres, a Linux (kernel) based OS in now dominant on mobile devices (Android-Linux), and although MacOS and iOS have proprietary layers wrapped around them, tying them into Apple products in as many areas as they can manage, free code (BSD, Webkit etc) has been used under the hood of both.


Draft Sat 17 Jun 2017 10:18PM

I didn't read all the comments so maybe it has been mentionned. But I guess the first thing to do is to make a proper documentation about :
- What's a common ?
- How to build a common ?
- How to transform a non-common into a common ?

And I think the best platform to make that is https://en.wikiversity.org

I'd like to know if there is documentation about it somewhere on the internet ?


Simon Carter Sun 18 Jun 2017 9:59AM

That link does not want to work for me, but I have to agree a quality documentary answering the questions you highlight is needed & is conscious by it's absence. If It exists, I would love to watch it. If it doesn't then we definitely need one. The first step would be someone to write it with pragmatism in mind.


Draft Sun 18 Jun 2017 11:48AM

The link works now ;)

I felt like doing it, so, if someone wants to help me on that, he can :D

I'm gonna open a thread in loomio for that

I guess the first would be : having a decent documenation about how we work. If there is one somewhere just tell me ;)


Simon Carter Sun 18 Jun 2017 11:58AM

I'll watch out for that thread. It would be great to have one with such a clear end goal,


Draft Sun 18 Jun 2017 12:00PM

It will ;)


John Rhoads Sun 18 Jun 2017 7:43PM

I'm all for this new term. However, the bottom line, regardless of term, is that people understand that we focus on worker/owners, coops, localization and self-sufficiency. I'm with Richard Wolff in that the wokplace should be "democratized" along with our economy which includes as always the citizenry. The idea of "ownership" needs to change to one that basically is synonymous with "needs met". If I own a home with a well stocked fridge and you don't, your needs are not being met. So, you bend over backwards trying to own this stuff so you can live. If everyone "owned" this stuff, the idea of "ownership" goes out the window. If we all own a TV, how can we even say we "own" it. Ownership implies "have" vs. "have not". Further along, we find that most laws are created expressly for the purpose of perpetuating the division between the "haves" and "have nots". So, by letting everyone have what they need, public health increases dramatically across the board - both personal health and security. It's no-brainer. What is needed is for "petri dish" communities to be developed with this in mind. Also, it can be seen that this model has already been in place for some time in Hutterite and Amish communities. Just remove the religious aspect, if necessary, and keep it moving.


Simon Grant Mon 19 Jun 2017 5:59AM

Hi @johnrhoads -- which is the new term you are all for? "Commons"? I too go along with Richard Wolff as well (as I believe Yanis Varoufakis does).

The issue with common-owned stuff, in my experience, is getting people to care for it. It's the psychology that seems to matter. If we can have "ownership" to mean taking care of and responsibility for things, then common ownership follows naturally for things that many people care about and are prepared to share the responsibility for. And that brings along the question of decisions about how to look after the common resource; which naturally turns to some kind of (rough) consensus.

I wonder if traditional communities are easier here, if they have traditional roles that set out who looks after what. The challenge for us is that we have not (re-)developed adequate traditions.

The ideal may be a no-brainer, but as someone living (even just) in a cohousing community, I can testify that governance is anything but a no-brainer.


John Rhoads Tue 20 Jun 2017 8:54PM

@asimong My take is the tools/stuff will have it's own maintenance
department that would theoretically be better at keeping stuff in
top working order than if owned individually. Moreover, tools that
require skill such as a back hoe would be loaned out based on a
person being trusted to run it which can be easily determined. If
I don't want to run the back hoe, referrals and exchanges would
exist. What is necessary is to have one person of each skill in
every community. One doctor, one diesel mechanic etc etc. Every
person has one skill/knowledge that all others do not but many
people will have many skills that overlap. It's just that certain
people are elected/volunteer to be the "head" of that dept. What
is important is to standardize the public policy consensus
methodology now so we can get to designing these new autonomous
communities right away. Governance practices need to be hammered
out quickly so we can get moving. Governance practices don't have
to be perfect at first and will evolve. Trust the process. Trust
your members.


John Rhoads Tue 20 Jun 2017 9:08PM

Another thing I think should be starting to take place is training people to become and learn those things that otherwise would take years of schooling in a University. I think many things that would otherwise be confined, for example, to a hospital or clinic could be taught to and performed by more people without having all the formal education. We need to democratize education. Along with this needs to be democratization and localization of law practice and dispute resolution. The people need to take back those things that are otherwise out of reach, too expensive and can really be performed by anyone with some training. For example, why couldn't a skilled doctor teach his son or neighbor how to do what he does short of a formal education? Why can't we make antibiotics right in our communities? Etc. Etc.


Liam Murphy Mon 12 Mar 2018 1:33PM

Hi All,

  • Just wondered if I could re-invigorate this thread with a fairly urgent question posed by would-be university hosts to a proposed event themed around Commons Transitions in Cultural Industries: The proposition I have put to them centres around developing an event loosely based on these areas ( but not confined to):

"Intellectual Property and a host of Brexit related trade and competition questions which might be related in terms of localism and commons based organisation with diverse contributors from Arts, Tech, Law, Economics etc..."

I got the reply beneath and need to answer these four questions - so thought this thread an appropriate place to ask for suggestions on content re: Commons Transitions. Ideas relating to questions 1 and 4 - most welcome! I want to give an answer by the end of next week and would be grateful for any thoughts - in specific relation to the questions ideally!

Hi Liam

I have names of academics (compiled by our relationship management team) that could be interested in this kind of activity. Would it be possible for you to put a short briefing together for me please with a bit more detail on:

1- What the aim / objective of the event would be
2- Who else is involved
3- When you hope to hold it
4- What could be in it for academics

Many thanks and best wishes



Graham Thu 15 Mar 2018 11:58AM

Tricky to respond to this constructively without knowing what your answer to the first question would be.


Liam Murphy Thu 15 Mar 2018 12:35PM

Hi Graham -

There were a lot of questions.!

Mine aren’t academic - they are an enquiry to us ‘commoners’ about how to organise a symposia on lots of these kind of questions.

I thought
* What's a common ?
* How to build a common ?
* How to transform a non-common into a common ?

.. seemed pretty to the point..

Quick response via mobile - not signed into ap...



Greg Cassel Thu 15 Mar 2018 1:47PM

  • What's a common ?
  • How to build a common ?
  • How to transform a non-common into a common ?

First place I'd recommend most people to look is Commons Transition Primer. Great resource IMO.


Liam Murphy Thu 15 Mar 2018 2:29PM

Yes, Very good..


Simon Carter Thu 15 Mar 2018 3:29PM

My favourite read on the subject, David Bollier, 'Think Like A Commoner'. Reference, how to transform a no-commons into a commons . . . . reverse engineer. . . . . in other words, buy it back. We need a cultural shift away from buy what we need for ourselves to buy what we need together. We need mechanisms to facilitate that.into all aspects of our lives, not just wind turbines.


Liam Murphy Mon 26 Mar 2018 6:28AM

One problem with buying what we need is the market has already appropriated this idea - one version is 'collaboration' or 'co-creation' ( a marketised version of Peer Production) with products like this: http://bulbshare.com/en/ . Approaching this from the POV of a market doing the providing (eg, artists for #culturebanking) - 'we' need to understand that ownership of our own work is the biggest issue in having an 'us'. For #culturebanking - ie, growing a cultural commons repository of value, it needs to convince a mass of people that intellectual property is of value to them ( and probably that they are being ripped off by brands - which they don't really believe). How do you 'buy back' your own intellectual property when it's created under someone else's brand? (off to read Bollier now - thanks)


Liam Murphy Thu 29 Mar 2018 7:57AM

Beg pardon if this is well known - but is there are substantive connections between Commons TRansition and this being made? https://transitionnetwork.org/about-the-movement/what-is-transition/principles-2/


Simon Grant Thu 29 Mar 2018 8:00AM

Liam @liammurphy this is exactly the kind of link that I think is well worth making. I've known about the Transition Network for years but not yet personally got involved. I suggest we make these links initially on a personal and local / regional basis, and coordinate it through CTUK.


Stacco Troncoso Thu 29 Mar 2018 1:28PM

Yes, we're in touch with them and have read their literature and proposals. Now they're more familiar with us. @michelbauwens1 will be attending this symposium, brining together people from the Transition movement, Next System project and Just Transitions, among others: Transition Together: An International Symposium on the need for societal transitions and systems level change


Liam Murphy Thu 29 Mar 2018 2:05PM

Thanks for that.. helpful!


Michel Bauwens Sun 1 Apr 2018 2:47PM

so we will be there together ?


Liam Murphy Sun 1 Apr 2018 4:04PM

Well, I’d like nothing more but I’m still working on a context to pay myself for these things - it’s nearly all pro bono thus far! Have it in diary, in pencil..


Michel Bauwens Sun 1 Apr 2018 4:40PM

I have used it on occasion, both in positive contexts (calling our new approach), and in negative ones (using for the horizontalist exagerrations, imho, or totalitarian versions of it), but avoid it precisely because it invites the confusion with the 19th cy ideologies of the industrial age, which either failed, or led to sometimes disastrous results, or have been watered down so much as to become forms of neoliberalism (social-democracy)

Perhaps we do emphatically not need an 'ism' to describe our pluralist approach ?



Danyl Strype Fri 20 Apr 2018 6:38AM

All isms are wasms ...