Renaissance of the Commons
Cyndy of MouseMusings points us to Renaissance of the Commons, by Harvard Law’s John Clippinger and David Bollier a very long paper that describes the ‘ghost dance’ of our intellectually and morally bankrupt culture, the desperate clinging to antiquated and dysfunctional beliefs and denials of the grim reality the culture has wrought. The authors explain that ‘free market dogma’ is a form of fanatical belief that construes government and regulation as inherently evil and inefficient, that has solidified into a quasi-religious catechism and inviolate creed.
Drawing on a variety of work from the sciences, economics, anthropology and social sciences, they argue that ‘human nature’ is ill-served by the free-market dogma, and that the Internet, and particularly social networking, are manifestations of true human nature: inherently and instinctively collaborative, altruistic, built on trust and mutuality, empathetic, collegial, non-hierarchical, sensory, psychologically rooted in the natural interdependent ecosystem, and constructivist. They argue as well that most competent economists realize that free-market dogma is hopelessly simplistic and logically flawed — that a balanced economy is inherently better suited to optimize human well-being than one based on untrammeled and unregulated ‘free’ markets.
What is emerging, due to thought- and action-leadership in all fields of human endeavor, and evident especially in Internet-enabled discourse and activity is a ‘Renaissance of the Commons’. “Not only do these new self-organizing, ìbottom-upî networks of individuals arise spontaneously without the customary ìtop-downî organizing apparatus of a corporation, government agency or nonprofit, they tend to be much more innovative and efficient than market mechanisms…Because free-market dogma systematically fails to recognize the powerful influence of social context, it fails to appreciate that its own structure of property rights, contracts, enforcement, profit incentives, etc., are sustained by a vast social apparatus and cultural norms which entail huge agency and transaction costs. It is very expensive for a company to offer high salaries to top management, hire attorneys to draft contracts, go to court to enforce violators, and so forth. But when leadership, coordination and motivation can be achieved easily through self-synchronizing, self-enforcing means, gracefully leveraging our natural social tendencies, why should anyone be surprised that such a system of exchange will be more efficient, effective and equitable than a market system? Communities of trust and transparency can be fantastically efficient. The rise of the Internet and various software systems are so powerful precisely because they leverage peopleís natural desire for meaning, trust and social belonging ñ traits that free-market dogma cannot understand, but which are deeply embedded in our evolutionary history.”
They conclude: “The rudiments of a new citizen-based global culture are sprouting up. But we must remember that the old rarely yields to the new without a struggle. The new must be actively and imaginatively built. That will require forging new networks of visionary thinkers and bringing disparate disciplines together into new
Very engaging reading and worth some serious study.
This is an exhaustive, well-reasoned and practical guide to building consensus, and running an organization or body politic based on respect, trust, egalitarianism and collective action. It is a valuable companion to other materials needed to run or be part of a Natural Enterprise or Intentional Community.
Internet on the Road
Larger, Cheaper, Sharper Flat Screens
On a Lighter Note
Egret photo by Ashly Schilling from the astonishing little-oak.net photoblog