Wed 19 Jun 2019 7:44PM

Funding the Commons Transition

EL Eyal Levin Public Seen by 153

Hi all :)

The recent thread about funding [1] got me thinking about an idea to fund the Commons Transition, or how to achieve global sustainable wellbeing.

The idea is a platform that allows users to send a monthly donation. Could be $1, $5, or more.

It will have some donation "bundles" that allow users to easily contribute in the area they care about. Could be 'environment', 'inequality', 'transparency', etc. Or a mix of 'areas'.

It can have a forum where users discuss what are the best ways to achieve progress in different areas. Other users could possibly also allocate their funds to such communities that will decide (e.g: on a monthly basis) how the money is allocated.

I think a basic version of this platform could start just from using a forum software (e.g Discourse, Loomio).

What do you say?

[1] https://www.loomio.org/d/Yx8h0TZS/e-money-1-funding-the-web-commons-or-how-do-you-fund-crowdfunding


Jeff Regino Wed 19 Jun 2019 8:40PM

It's a great idea. I dream of a time when there is such a/an (unlimited) fund or platform that's available to most/all people in need regardless of location.

I'm quite sure there are several initiatives out there doing exactly or partly what you envision (either as donation and/or investments).

in my case, that is exactly part of the roadmap of a cooperative social enterprise-powered online jobs platform I'm creating (details here: http://bit.ly/2KJWbxN If you'd like to support this initiative, please let me know by filling out the form in that link/my website).

I'd like to fund social security for online workers, plus allocate to a fund that

  • A. will be used to run charitable initiatives and B. we can invest and grow the fund even more so we can fund more initiatives like A
  • create more job and impact-generating initiatives (social enterprise, cooperative, credit union, affordable housing/housing coop, etc.)
  • and fund a universal basic income experiment.

It might be good to start with a particular cause or niche you're passionate about, and you can expand to other causes from there. This is what I'll be doing as my initiative's "commonwealth fund" grows.


Oli SB Wed 19 Jun 2019 9:51PM

Sounds great to me!We already do this via SolidFund in a Uk loomio group. Donating £5/ month and deciding collectively has allowed us to fund loads of cool cooperative stuff...


Liam Murphy Thu 20 Jun 2019 6:34AM

I’m afraid I will have to say ‘not for me thankyou’. The challenge is not in getting people to donate wealth to social causes but making their sources of wealth ‘social’. We can’t fund commons on ‘other people’s money’! If you want me to produce wealth which increases environmental sustainability, or equality etc., ask me to DO SOMETHING about those things. There is already far too much money in the world and asking people to give it away just re-enforces that profligacy.

Platforms which enable us to share work and production and to take what we need back whilst enabling the rest to accumulate for our commons are great. I’m sorry, but I can’t support platforms which only encourage redistribution of surplus profits.

If I’ve misunderstood the project - apologies.

Thanks for the invitation.



dilgreen Thu 18 Jul 2019 11:48AM

Liam, while I am of the opinion that 'only everything will really do' - that all positive intentions are to be welcomed - it doesn't mean that we can't work hard to design better approaches.
My own thinking comes from considering how capitalism got feudalists to use their assets to build capitalism - even in the clear understanding that this was against their long-term hegemonic interests.
Simply, feudalist assets were land, held by force-majeure, and semi-ownership of the persons who depended on the land for subsistence.
Early capitalists offered gold in return for land to grow sheep -> wool on. Feudalists kicked out their serfs and took the gold, sold off their land. It took a few centuries for enforcement of property rights, enclosures etc to take hold, but here it all was in microcosm.
It seems entirely possible to design systems which have the same topology under today's conditions. To take capitalist assets (fiat money), giving them something they need in return (short term gains), but in a way that build commons hegemony at the expense of capitalist hegemony.

The mechanism that makes sense for us is to offer returns to capital on the basis of 'use credits' - rather than cash.

If the systems that are being built are commons, and the use-credits are for produce of those commons, then we get them twice - both coming and going.

With two things in place (mutual ownership and governance with strong asset locks for one, and sale of 'use credits' at discount to investors the other) , the following mechanism works:

  1. Investors stump up fiat currency which will be spent investing in commons capacity building - renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, commons infrastructure ownership/operation, digital toolchains, yada yada.

  2. This builds a 'commons' of assets outside capitalism which produce use value.

  3. Capitalist investors get good returns in fiat - but can't use fiat to buy anything produced in the growing 'commons sector' directly - instead they have to buy use credits. This expands the 'commons sector' economy - the use credits have currency-like properties, but give no strong power (no interest, no dividend, no preponderance of governance rights), and are neither artificially scarce nor politically overabundant - being issued on the basis of actual provision capacity (albeit on a forward view).

  4. This increases the trust in the long-term value holding capabilities of the use-credits, driving further investment into the green commons sector.

  5. Over time, this hollows out the capitalist sector.

Of course, some things that are baldly stated here are non-trivial - effective commons governance, ability to make investment prospectuses that generate sufficient confidence that they attract capitalist investment, the specifics of those, the choice of projects - all of these, and others, need work.

None of them, though, sound intractable, or really any different from what we are trying in any case.

This is the process we envisage using to build the Credit Commons.


Liam Murphy Thu 18 Jul 2019 2:13PM

Thanks for this detailed elaboration. I am all for the process of 'transvestment' -?- which you describe (I think?) , with as you say yourself, the allowances for 'necessary work' (which I think we are talking about financing and/or resourcing). I find myself in agreement with both the points I made initially and with your elaboraton re; your project! Can I offer one, maybe seemingly pedantic question (first): Strictly speaking and in accounting terminology, cash at the bank (fiat) is listed as an asset but has no intrinsic value as with other assets - as a P2P trade. My point - as with your point about gold, land, etc was about starting with an 'object of trade' which has use value. What you describe is very close to my own rationale for #culturebanking (owing much to threshold funding, 'street performer' initiative, eady levy, copyright taxes and copyleft/copyfair movement generally, etc historically speaking ). The point, for #culturebanking is a fundamental one: By starting with Intellectual Property rights, we begin with a natural right, easily and widely enforceable and intrinsically 'ours' and therefore - common-able. Is this a ‘who funds the crowd founders?’ Question? I don't think we're far off being eye to eye here and this is an initial and brief response. I will give more thought but thanks for coming back to me. Liam


Danyl Strype Fri 2 Aug 2019 9:51AM

There is no (set of) natural rights called "intellectual property". It's a propaganda phrase that piles together an unrelated set of state-granted monopolies, including copyrights, patents, and trademarks:



Liam Murphy Fri 2 Aug 2019 4:12PM

It's a human invention and we could call all human invention propaganda - but some invention gains a practical application and some doesn't. Not disagreeing with you in theory, but, in practice... https://www.alec.org/article/intellectual-property-rights-are-natural-rights/. IP need not grant monopolies, can be open, shareable, can be partially, commonly and publicly owned and can be used for or against private property... I think it's an unexplored area... and yes, it's been hoodwinked and used as propaganda - mainly due to lack of imagination - ironically.


Danyl Strype Sun 4 Aug 2019 5:22AM

As Stallman explains in the article I linked, copyrights, patents,trademarks etc all existed for decades before the term "intellectualproperty" was coined. You can tell they are government grantedmonopolies because they are temporary. "Natural property rights" (also apropaganda phrase, there's nothing natural about them) do not expireafter a standard time period. Anyone who is trying to convince youotherwise is leading you down the garden path, in pursuit of extended powers toenclose the digital commons for their own financial gain.https://www.alec.org/article/intellectual-property-rights-are-natural-rights/The fact that you're promoting links to an infamously anti-socialcorporate propaganda front might explain your confusion:https://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=ALEC


Liam Murphy Mon 5 Aug 2019 7:44AM

Dear Strypey, No-one is trying to convince me of anything, I am not promoting anything and Stallman is of course correct in all he says... My interest is in Copyright as it affects artists, designers, authors etc. The link I sent is simply to point out that yours is not the only 'reality' and other realities will not disappear because you dis-engage, ignore them or advocate others do the same. IP needs to be massively reformed, but I really think calling it 'propaganda' (I understand it is a construct which can be altered) will not earn you a seat at any table where those decisions will be made. You probably don't want to be there and neither do I. I prefer to work productively on what I can change... I appreciate all the help I can get whenever I get it. Please try on hats of other colours!? All best, Liam

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