Consciousness for the Post-Capitalist Commons

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* Article: Consciousness for the Post-Capitalist Commons: A Developmental Psychological Perspective. Spanda Journal, Vol. VII, 1, 2017, pp. 123-130. ; Special Issue: Collective Enlightenment

URL =,1-2017.pdf

Summary of an upcoming book, written for a special issue of Spanda Journal.


"It is generally accepted that certain types of institutions function best when most of their members share a certain type of consciousness: a similar way of making sense of the world and of moral judgment. In short, capitalist consciousness works best for capitalist institutions, just as feudal consciousness works best for feudal institutions. If a commons-based society were to be the dominant institutional framework for a better future, then what kind of consciousness would be necessary for it to work?

Research in developmental psychology provides us with powerful evidence as to what a post-capitalist consciousness might look like and how it would fit with a commons-based society. For example, the work of developmental psychologists such as Robert Kegan, William Torbert, Susanne Cook- Greuter, and Jane Loevinger describe the furthest reaches of consciousness development as being one that is capable of making sense of highly complex systems, as being principle-based (instead of rule- based) and as being flexible, globally empathetic, post-materialist, and capable of finding unity in diversity and diversity in unity. It is precisely these types of characteristics that are necessary for developing a society based on post-capitalist commons. This type of consciousness also points to how future commons would be different from pre-capitalist commons, which is a distinction we will have to make if we hope to move forward towards a post-capitalist future and not regress to pre-capitalist social formations."

Author bio

Gregory Wilpert is a German-American sociologist and journalist who has written extensively on Latin American society and politics. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology from Brandeis University in 1994 and currently lives in Quito, Ecuador.

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