Anti-Capitalist Commons

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* Article: The Future of ‘The Commons’: Neoliberalism’s ‘Plan B’ or the Original Disaccumulation of Capital? George Caffentzis



George Caffentzis:

"There is another concept of the commons that is in opposition to capitalist accumulation. In fact, these anti-capitalist commons must be enclosed in order to separate the producers from the means of production and subsistence to sustain the accumulation process. These anti-capitalist areas have their basis in both pre-capitalist and post-capitalist time and their action congeals a process of dis-accumulation.


In fact, at every point in the history of capitalism new commons are formed (and are almost invariably criminalized in due course). Many of these commons arise from the appropriation of new technologies by workers and refer to a future form of production and reproduction. Three examples of such ‘post-capitalist’ commons are those created by the eighteenth-century Atlantic pirates, the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century hobos of US Hobohemia, and the late twentieth- and early twenty-first century programmers and hackers of the free software movement throughout the planet.34 After all, the pirates expropriated the most advanced machine of their period, the ocean-going ship, ran it on new communalist rules and used it to plunder the plunders of American wealth. The hoboes similarly expropriated the railroads and railroad land for their own purposes, and developed new codes for appropriating these machines and land. Finally, the programmers and hackers of the free software movement are expropriating the most sophisticated technology of the age, creating new rules for sharing it (such as the ‘creative commons license’), and using it to undermine the power of the large software monopolists like Microsoft, Inc. They all have a rather limited class composition, it is true; its activists being mostly male and white. But these are far from the only examples of the creation of new commons in the heart of capitalism and we have many examples of Africans, indigenous Americans and women establishing commons that presupposed the existence of capitalism.

There are a large number of examples of the creation of a commons out of capitalist terrain where time future becomes time present." (