Some Principles of the Commons

Commoning is primary to human life.  Scholars used to write of ‘primitive communism’.  ‘The primary commons’ renders the experience more clearly.  Scarcely a society has existed on the face of the earth which has not had at its heart the commons; the commodity with its individualism and privatization was strictly confined to the margins of the community where severe regulations punished violators.  

Commoning begins in the family. The kitchen where production and reproduction meet, and the energies of the day between genders and between generations are negotiated.  The momentous decisions in the sharing of tasks, in the distribution of product, in the creation of desire, and in sustaining health are first made here.

Commoning is historic.  The ‘village commons’ of English heritage or the ‘French commune’ of the revolutionary past are remnants from this history, reminding us that despite stages of destruction parts have survived, though often in distorted fashion as in welfare systems, or even as their opposite as in the realtor’s gated community or the retailer’s mall.

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