Occupy, the World Social Forum and the Commons

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The text below was produced by one of the 17 working groups at the Thematic Social Forum, Commoners from Brazil, Germany, France, India, Argentina and Bolivia took part in producing this “open document,” which will evolve in coming weeks and months. The entirety of this first draft can be read here, and further input will be gathered for a more general and comprehensive document that will be prepared for Rio+20 by the Thematic Social Forum.


Summzrized [1]:

Highlights from this first text include the following:

"Challenges of the current context: the dangerous conspiracy between state and market

…Both state and market share the same ideological commitment to progress and competition. Both are committed to a model of development and economic growth that destroys the planet and the richness of the commons. Both dismantle our culture and livelihoods in order to convert us into consumers of goods.

These threats to what is common to us are achieved through diverse mechanisms:

  • Legal: through agreements on free trade and investment protections and intellectual property, and international bodies like the WTO and the WIPO;
  • Economic: through private appropriation of territories (land-grabbing);
  • Technological: through genetically modified organisms (GMOs), restrictive systems of access to culture (DRM), geoengineering, etc…

The concept of the commons and the convergence of the social movements

… It requires everyone to listen to what each social movement understands to be a commons. It is necessary to know more about the specific practices of commoning, whether they be embodied in indigenous and peasant communities, local seed banks, non-market-based initiatives of urban housing, or communities of developers of digital culture and software….

Resistance and construction: commons, commoning

…On each continent movements like Occupy, the Indignados and others are arising that do not simply resist, but actively search for alternatives. All over the world people are cooperating via the Internet to create shared works and tools –Wikipedia and free software are the most visible examples– and new forms of social mobilization. Each can be thought of and connected to each other by a larger vision of the commons…

Contradictions, concerns and challenges

During this process of building a Commons Sector (…or we might say here—building a global social movement), the challenges are manifold. On one side, there is no clear consensus for many things. On the other side, many nuances of the commons paradigm have not yet been explored – and further exploration is necessarily going to be part of the ongoing social construction of the commons framework.

…One of the most recurrent is the tension between the local, the regional and the global. It is impossible to think of commoning without thinking about a social subject, a “community.” It is therefore easiest to think about the commons paradigm at a local level. But thinking about the commons at a global level is a great challenge, and even impossible to escape because there is only one earth, and we have not only the right but the responsibility to share it… " (http://thefutureofoccupy.org/2012/04/occupy-the-world-social-forum-and-the-commons-social-movements-learning-from-each-other/)