What’s the deal? Why have a Common Understanding Project?
My objective is to get the cooperative movement and the commons movement talking to each other (hence the coffeehouse motif). There isn’t a predefined destination for this conversation, and it’s entirely possible it won’t have a destination at all. But the overlap in the values each movement holds means that we have a lot, well, in common.
Indeed, the cooperative movement should be understood as the successor to the original commons, at least in the English-speaking world. Common management of resources is called “ancient” in the Magna Carta, but it was steadily crowded out by the interests of the aristocracy (we would call them the 1%) in the 18th and 19th centuries in a process known as “enclosure” (we would call it privatization). The Rochdale Pioneers were–even if not consciously–the re-emergence of that communal spirit.
But the commons are making a resurgence, especially online. Holding and managing a resource in common is an idea that’s easy to grasp. (Garrett Hardin’s notion of a “Tragedy of the Commons” has been thoroughly debunked, and he himself backtracked from it.) The ability to make decisions is spread among those affected by the decisions. In other words, power is decentralized. In still other words, the common people (or “commoners”) are empowered.
This blog will look into how cooperatives and the commons can reinforce each other. Not every post will talk about this expressly, because only a small handful of people are researching this particular aspect, but we’ll go back and forth between the two movements in an attempt to cross-pollinate them.
Also, the articles on this blog will be translated from Spanish (and hopefully other languages, in the future). That way, we get a global view of the movements, and avoid simply reposting content that already exists somewhere else.