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Remixing Berlin

on Sun, 12/19/2010 - 19:42

The reflections coming from many commoners, during and since the International Commons Conference in Berlin  demonstrate a depth of individual and collective thinking, sensing and reflecting, and inspire me remixing what I'm hearing. The account that follows is definitely not an objective summary of what is emerging. We have probably as many stories of the Berlin conference and its aftermath, as participants. What follows is what I see as essential through the lens that I hold to the commons. The headings reflect that sense.

If this remix inspires you to engage in your own discovery process to find the patterns that connect the various commons strategies and  aspirations, then it has reached its purpose. The future of the commons movement is too important to not open this conversation as wide as we can.


a beginning self awareness of the movement

The commons movement is beginning to become aware of its global and interrelated character. As a global movement it is still establishing its own self-confidence rather than being a coherent agent. (Meretz)

a potentially game-changing social movement becoming conscious of itself (Pór)

The process of becoming aware just has begun. But it has begun. (Meretz)


a new mode of production

The commons bring a new way of societally producing livelihoods into the world, thus a new mode of production. (Meretz)

The commons as a self-organized form of peer-to-peer production follows its own logic. Peer-to-peer production assumes equipotency of its participants, is based on free cooperation, aims to the creation of common goods and seeks to serve the greatest good for everyone. (ICC Steering Committee)

The emergence of new modes of production always starts with an exodus.  How can we move into new, non-monetary modes of production and sharing? (Bauwens)

People need to release themselves from dependency on corporate salaries. In order to to that, we need to find new ways of organizing. (anon)

We must stop to perpetuate that paradigm that we have to produce for the market, for selling. The question is rather: what do we actually need, and how can we produce it in such a way that everyone can participate? (Helfrich)

Production does not only produce things, but—at the same time—it produces knowledge and social relations. (Meretz)


the meaning of a commons-based society

The Commons transcend capitalism, by... elevating human needs to the norm of societal mediation and its satisfaction to the meaning of societal life. (Meretz)

Commoning is a highly ethical thing. It's not just about how to manage resources, it's about how one relates to others and to nature. (Moody)

Commons as co-liberation (heard at ICC's final plenary)


commons can claim sovereignty based on the presumption of inherent unity

Without exception, all human and institutional structures are based on presumptions about reality... In the present day the insights of quantum mechanics are slowly seeping into the Western worldview and accord with what mystics, East and West, have said for centuries: the universe is an inherent unity... (Burke)

The commons can make claims of sovereignty that are antecedent to the establishment of either the public or private sectors.  This is not merely antecedent in terms of time, but is, rather, congruent with our deepening understanding of reality. (Burke)


path forward - elements of strategy

Continue the discussion with constituent groups, and perhaps strengthen the links with political ecology and ecological economics, traditional social justice movements (labour, farmers, etc..); strive for even more diversity next time (Bauwens)

Strengthen the representation of those movements that bridge the immaterial and material commons, such as those engaged in the global construction through open design of a new distributed manufacturing infrastructure for appropriate technology (Bauwens)

Find ways to interconnect policy makers and political sympathizers within legislative and policy-making bodies, around thematic areas; through a observatory, online and offline dialogue, and the identification of commons-oriented stakeholders in all domains of social life (Bauwens)

Need for a meta-framework or meta-narrative that transcends the differences and included all commons—tangible and intangible (Burke and Bollier)


path forward - organizing (heard at ICC's final plenary)

Connect with commoners of world forum on science and democracy; and the world social forum in Dakkar, Feb 2011

Commons alliances  by country, building on the pattern that India created

A bigger conference with funding for attendees from global south, 

Let's be more of a commons in the next conference, more interaction at every level

Cooperate with the International Association for the Study of Commons

Bridge work across (UN) caucuses and sub-commons (ECOSOC may be an example)


path forward - action research  (heard at the final plenary in Berlin)

Action research on defending-transforming public services using new concept and languages that recognize their importance for the commons; and think of the commons as a way to revive the public

Observatory of commons initiatives

Mapping agents, resources, academics, in order to find each other more easily; regional clusters


knowledge as commons - the rapid diffusion of knowledge and innovation to all who need it requires:

- the sharing of information, code, skills and design through universally accessible or community based platforms 

- the skills for understanding and reflection 

- their appropriation for shaping our social habitats.

(ICC Steering Committee)