Julie Ristau, Ana Micka, Alexa Bradley, Faye Brown, Jessica Conrad and Jay Walljasper.
2010 U.S. Social Forum
| by On the Commons Team
We believe that nature, culture, human work, and knowledge itself are currently being privatized and commodified on an unprecedented scale. In countless arenas, private interests are claiming our shared inheritance—including the sciences, creative works, water, the atmosphere, public education, genetic diversity, living creatures, and so much more—as private property. Their compulsive quest for short-term financial gain discounts prosperity and stability for human and ecological communities.
We recognize that avoiding and lessening the impacts of extreme marketization—including privatization, ecological depletion, radical inequities, and more—is important, but insufficient. We also need to imagine a life-sustaining future and create new ways to achieve that vision.
The commons is rising now as a viable way of thinking about the future because it connects our contemporary needs to a history of communal resource sharing, stewardship, and direct democracy. At its core, the commons asserts that communities have an equitable claim to many forms of natural and social resources, and play a critical role in the management of those resources.
Before we can claim and protect a commons, we must first see and name it. In order to do so, we need to learn to free our minds from the dominant market culture that cuts us off from our relationship with the commons (and often keeps us from remembering that the commons belong to us all). We must make it widely known that many natural, social, and cultural resources are ours to share—and that we have an obligation to the earth, other living beings, and future generations to take care of them.
It is not enough, however, to simply believe that the commons belong to us all. To truly claim our commons, we need strategies and governance structures that maximize a community’s power with regard to resource management, equitable benefit, and stewardship.
Claiming (or reclaiming) a commons also requires:
We therefore urge USSF participants, and the social movements they represent, to support the work to see, name, and claim our commons as vital to the future of our communities and our goals of equity, stewardship and survival.