This thesis paper (4 pages) was developed in collective authorship in the context of the Interdisciplinary political salons of the Heinrich Böll Foundation‘s, „Time for commons,“ 2008/2009.
Strengthen the Commons. Now!
”Commons are institutional spaces in which we are free.” – Yochai Benkler
„Over the last two hundred years, the explosion of knowledge, technology, and productivity has enabled an unprecedented increase of private wealth. This has improved our quality of life in numerous ways. At the same time, however, we have permitted the depletion of resources and the dwindling of societal wealth. This is brought to our attention by current, interrelated crises in finance, the economy, nutrition, energy, and in the fundamental ecological systems of life.
These crises are sharpening our awareness of the existence and importance of the commons. Natural commons are necessary for our survival, social commons ensure social cohesion, and cultural commons enable us to evolve as individuals. It is imperative that we focus our personal creativity, talents and enthusiasm to protect and increase our social wealth and natural commons. This will required an eye on the goal to change some basic structures of politics, economics, and society.
More social prosperity instead of more gross domestic product!
When the economic growth curve drops and the GDP sinks, it seems threatening to us. Yet appearances deceive. The GDP merely maps production figures and monetary flows without regard for their ecological or social value; such numbers do not measure the things we truly need to live, they may simply count their destruction. Social prosperity cannot be measured through such means. A reduction in the GDP does not necessarily signal a reduction in the real wealth of a society. To recognize this fact widens our perspective and opens the door for new types of solutions.
The commons can help us overcome the crisis, but it requires systematic advocacy. This is our contribution to give the commons a voice.
What are the commons and why are they are significant? … to the complete „Manifesto“. (pdf)
Thanks to my colleagues Michelle Thorne and David Bollier for their help to translate this text thoughtfully into English.
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Silke, Thanks a lot for sharing. I was wondering if there is a way to sign this manifesto and make it our own?
If this does not exist yet, I’d be happy to help set something up.
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there are plenty of ways to make the manifesto „your own“ (actually you’ve already done), except the signatures 😦 , there is basically no technical infrstructure to do so and I cannot do it on my blog precisely because it’s a collective authorship. I hope we’ll have it in more than three languages, and 2010 – which will be a good year for the commons- will help to spread it widely.
So link it, forward it, recomend it, discuss it, pick the html version up to change it and so on and so forth.
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The Manifesto is now also linked from these conversations:
Hurray! I’ve just discovered the Manifesto in the 5th language, in Polish: http://zielonawarszawa.blogspot.com/2010/01/wzmocnic-to-co-wspolne-manifest.html
Sorry, that’s only the 4th language… A bit of wishful thinking that the 5th is comming soon… 🙂
Let’s help realizing Silke’s hope that “we’ll have it in more than three languages, and 2010 – which will be a good year for the commons- will help to spread it widely.”
Do you know that there are at least two Commons Manifestos?
The one that comes from the German commoners and other from the World Social Forum, here. http://bienscommuns.org/signature/appel/index.php?a=du&c=nfg1de The second one is a 6-paragraph political statement without the depth of analysis provided by the “German” Manifesto. Another difference is that the one we are talking about here is open source, published under Creative Commons license, and its creative development is explicitly encouraged.
To make that creative development real, we need a Commons wiki but none of the key Commons sites have one. Wikifying the Manifesto would be essential to let it become a focal point of movement conversations and realize its potential as catalyst of the Commons movement collective consciousness and intelligence.
@ George, I saw the polish version a few month ago, great, isn’t it? But I have no idea who did the translation nor about the quality, hope there will be soon a french version.
And, yes, I know the other Manifesto, actually I am part of the facilitating group, we just launched a new initiative:
Again, please help to spread the word.
I like very much your idea of wikifying the manifesto. Once we tried to work on a german definition of the commons, but it was not really dynamic, so there is a wiki set up, we could use it to wikify the Manifesto.
Working with the Commons Manifesto
Regarding the Manifesto, my main interest is in how we can turn it into one of the strange attractors for the self-organizing collective intelligence and collective consciousness of the global commons movement. Is that something that its co-authors envisioned and would support?
We would know that it is such an attractor when it becomes the focus for critical dialogues and, eventually, updates that can be done in a wiki easier than in other kind of social software.
Silke, do you have a sense of the trade-offs (from a movement building perspective) between wikifying the Manifesto at gemeingut.wikidot vs at Michel’s p2pfoundation wiki ?
Maybe not either or but both. For example, we could use gemeingut.wikidot for growing a web of conversation and updates in German, and the p2pfoundation wiki second in English. How does that sound to you?
To harmonize the evolving variants in different languages, over time, there may be a need for a small „hosting team“ of the process. From where we are at today, in terms of resources and capabilities, what I suggest may feel like too much work. Well, let’s just start with what is easy, which is posting the wiki versions in German and English, get the word out about that it can be edited, and let see what will happen.
If that approach resonates with you, I will talk with Michel, you could arrange for the wikidot version in German, and we can share our reflections about what is happening, from tie to time, right here, in your blog. Does that make any sense?
„how we can turn it into one of the strange attractors for the self-organizing collective intelligence and collective consciousness of the global commons movement. Is that something that its co-authors envisioned and would support?“
„do you have a sense of the trade-offs (from a movement building perspective) between wikifying the Manifesto at gemeingut.wikidot vs at Michel’s p2pfoundation wiki ? Maybe not either or but both…“
Those who set up the gemeingut.wikidot are working closely with Michel and the P2P Foundation. We also started a news portal in german and we have our own blogs… so we can try to use our german networks/instruments in order to incentive or redirect a discussion to a P2P wiki.
The only thing is, just what you said, I love to have all these discussion in several languages, it is very important that people speak about the commons in their mother tongue… But does it really make sense to do it in different wikis, instead of choosing a language at the very moment you enter a page?
I think it’s either or but in at least two languages.
My ‚concern‘ about the p2p network is, that I think we reach more people, but they are also „a special kind of commoners“ (more focused on the cultural and digital commons)
„there may be a need for a small “hosting team” of the process…. what I suggest may feel like too much work“
but let us set up the wiki, make a call (several calls!), see what happens and then make a decision about how to accompany the process…
Well, let’s just start with what is easy, which is posting the wiki versions in German and English, get the word out about that it can be edited, and let see what will happen.
Exactly, we are in syntony 🙂
„If that approach resonates with you, I will talk with Michel, you could arrange for the wikidot version in German, and we can share our reflections about what is happening, from tie to time, right here, in your blog. Does that make any sense?“
as I said, I would prefer the same wiki and try to open pages for both languages
> I love to have all these discussion in several languages, it is very important that people speak about the commons in their mother tongue…
Definitely. Ning has 28 language options but it is not open source and its networks cannot be federated. Drupai is the leading open source collaboration platform, has dozens of languages, and a sophisticated, multi-language support module, http://drupal.org/handbook/modules/locale . To set it up would require geek help but that may not be that difficult to find since it has a large developers base, many of which commons-minded.
Where should go from here? There’s a trade-off between starting with two languages, building on the collaboration between gemeingut.wikidot and the P2P Foundation, on one hand, and installing and configuring a Drupal site, on the other hand. It’s basically the trade-off between short-term and long-term perspectives.
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