Proposition de textes par Kevin

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Groupe Communs IntercollProposition de textes par Kevin


Sujet : Re: New Year Catch Up
Date : Mon, 15 Jan 2018 23:47:51 +0000
De : Kevin Flanagan <>
Pour : Frédéric Sultan <>
Copie à : Gustave Massiah <>

Here are some of my recommendations.

There are some aspects of discourse on the commons that require both broader attention and reflection.

On the one hand the commons represents new democratic expressions however questions remain to what extent the commons as a political subject represent viable alternatives for the left that can effectively challenge neoliberal hegemony and rising nationalism.

Discourse on the commons place great importance on self-organisation, autonomy and the local. Tese are also conditions favored by neoliberalism. The difference being that where the market is the organising principle for neoliberals, democracy is the organising principle of the commons. Both question the authority of the hierarchical state. However the neoliberals replace the hierarchical power of the state with the hierarchical power of capital. In response to the erosion and failure of the welfare state people search for alternatives. On the one hand there is a resurgence in the expression of new democratic movements, the commons, the right to the city, municipalism. On the other there is reactionary nationalism. The far right are clear in their ambitions for state power. By contrast many on the left and among movements for the commons retain a deep distrust of the state. I am far from a statist but to defend the commons from market and state actors it is necessary to engage with the state and to use it to defend and where possible extend the commons. The urban commons are a key political subject for the right to the city and the municipalist movements. These movements have made the state a site of contestation, not only for the defense of the commons but as site from which democratic power can be extended through the commons. The distinction between the commons understood as a political subject and as an economic subject is important. As an economic subject the emphasis is placed on the meeting of material needs through the sharing of 'resources'. The economic lens sees all things as forms of capital or 'resources' including the social. Through this view the social and the common become instruments toward economic ends. By contrast the commons as a political subject represents a moral claim against instrumental economic logics.

Here are some of the text I propose.

First I propose Caffentzis because this text highlights some of the differences in approaches to the commons of the Ostrom school and Social Movements. Second I propose Chapter 3 on Urban Commons from David Harvey's 'Rebel Cities'. Harvey also discusses some of the limitations of Ostroms approach and he is also critical of horizontal politics that refuse to challenge capitalism through the state. He emphasizes the politics of the commons as above the economics. From an economic perspective the commons are primarily about resource management, a politics of the commons empasises the importance of commons as sites for the transformation of social relations. This text also connects struggles for the commons with the Right to the City. Third I propose the Convivialist Manifesto. Again this moves away from the economic to the relational 'convivial' importance of commoning as a practice. This is important as it draws on the work of important French thinkers on the commons including Andre Gorz and Allain Caille. As I understand it Gorz was also a follower of Ivan Illich. Finally Gustavo Esteva on Commoning in the New Society.

Caffentzis, George 2004 A Tale of Two Conferences: Globalization, the Crisis of Neoliberalism and Question of the Commons. Centre for Global Justice.

Chapter 3 The Creation of Urban Commons from - Harvey, David 2012 Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. New York: Verso.

Manifeste convivialiste: déclaration d’interdépendance 2013. Lormont: le Bord de l’eau.

Gustavo Esteva - Commoning in the New Society

No review of writing on the commons would be adequate without the inclusion of the important contributions that feminists have made.


Finally what I found most inspiring from my experience in Barcelona is the way in which Right to the City, Municipalism, Commons were all brought together in a comprehensive political project which is explicitly feminist.

Left-wing populism and the feminization of politics