This is the working version of first chapter of an essay “Obstacles and opportunities for ‘sustainable’ commons using Internet”. Please do not quote. The next chapter will be published when it is finished.
Fuzziness about the commons paradigm
A first step in the process towards interdisciplinary research on the commons is cleaning up the terminological fuzziness about them. For historians like Susan Jane Buck Cox and Tine De Moor, and for political economists like Elinor Oström, the commons are well defined as a historical phenomenon or as “Common Pool Resources” and “Institutions of Collective Action”. In many other disciplines the term is used for the air, the seas etc. that are in principle collective property to all creatures living on earth.
Large-scale open access resources such as oceans, the air we are breathing, are, also referred to as “global commons”. This is confusing of course, because what is lacking to the “global commons” is institutionalisation and self-governance, qualities the initial historical commons clearly had and that were analysed in the common pool resources by Elinor Oström. Read More
A battle is raging for the soul of activism. It is a struggle between digital activists, who have adopted the logic of the marketplace, and those organisers who vehemently oppose the marketisation of social change. At stake is the possibility of an emancipatory revolution in our lifetimes.
Occupy is back in London, UK, with a renewed focus on politics and an ambitious vision: to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy and establish a huge People’s Assembly to debate a list of specific demands for radical political reform.
This week, stalwarts of the Occupy Democracy campaign in Britain are continuing to stand their ground in Parliament Square. The heavy-handed police crackdown and evictions may have scuppered much of the plans for peaceful and creative demonstrations, but the re-emergence of the Occupy movement is a welcome sight in an increasingly unequal, stressed and disaffected city of London.
The goal of the new Occupy campaign is laudable and significant: to direct energy from current single issue struggles into “a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt unrepresentative [political] system”. Initially staged in solidarity with Hong Kong’s ongoing civil disobedience campaign, the aptly-named #TarpaulinRevolution aimed to galvanise a mass movement for real democracy by transforming the Square into a civic space where activists can re-envision and rethink the fundamentals of our society, not only through protest activity but also with a programme of talks, workshops, community assemblies, music and theatre.
The original call to action makes a compelling case as to why the British political system is unable to deal with the consequences of a social crisis it helped to create. Citing the entrenched problems of the UK’s growing ranks of homeless, hungry and unemployed, it calls on all movements that have opposed the government’s anti-democratic policies to come and join the occupation. “The problem is bigger than the Tories and their austerity program”, it states. “The problem is with our whole democratic system.”
Virtual interview with Edward Snowden on 11/10/2014
“When you say, ‘I have nothing to hide,’ you’re saying, ‘I don’t care about this right.’ You’re saying, ‘I don’t have this right, because I’ve got to the point where I have to justify it.’ The way rights work is, the government has to justify its intrusion into your rights.”
According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google.
“We’re talking about encryption. We’re talking about dropping programs that are hostile to privacy. For example, SpiderOak? Get rid of Dropbox, it doesn’t support encryption, it doesn’t protect your private files. And use competitors like SpiderOak, that do the same exact service but they protect the content of what you’re sharing.”
About the government:
“We can have secret programs. You know, the American people don’t have to know the name of every individual that’s under investigation. We don’t need to know the technical details of absolutely every program in the intelligence community. But we do have to know the bare and broad outlines of the powers our government is claiming … and how they affect us and how they affect our relationships overseas. Because if we don’t, we are no longer citizens, we no longer have leaders. We’re subjects, and we have rulers.”
The works of Laura Poitras
Trailer of Citizenfour: Edward Snowden Documentary
You will find the other documantaries of Laura Poitras here
The Kurdish town of Kobanê has recently become the centre of a geopolitical conflagration that may well change the course of Middle Eastern politics. After months of silence over the threat faced by Kurds from ISIS, the world is now finally watching, even if the ‘international community’ remains conspicuously quiet. However, many Western responses, be it from scholars, journos or activists, have somewhat predictably retracted into recycled critiques of US and UK imperialism, often at the expense of missing what is truly exceptional and noteworthy in recent developments. So, in the style of contemporary leftist listicles, here are four things we can and should learn from events in and around Kobanê.
1. It’s Time to Question the West’s Fixation on ISIS
If Barack Obama, David Cameron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are to be believed, the ‘savagery’ of ‘fundamentalism’ is the primary focus of NATO involvement in Syria. Notably, many left…
Author: Miguel, translated by Oscar Ten Houten. Check out the original in Spanish here
“It’s 10 a.m. in Hong Kong, 6 hours later than Madrid. When I woke up this morning, the occupation was still there. I can almost see it clearly from my window. It’s the one in the district of Mong Kok (on the mainland, Kowloon), because there are two more occupations active on the “island”, which is Hong Kong proper. One is in Admiralty, near the government offices. Another is in Cause Way Bay, one of the congested commercial districts. The barricades cutting traffic there are still standing. They are simple barricades, made of fences and some street furniture. Some of them have been erected by police themselves about 500 meters from the zones where people use to gather. I also see the dozens of buses that have been stranded in the area since Sunday. By now they have become walls of democracy, on which people have attached all kinds of messages. The banners and signs on Nathan Road Avenue and the people sitting on the driveway for the last five days are a unique scene in the city. This is one of the busiest arteries. They are unbearable unless the masses of people and the urban ant nest generate an addictive curiosity in you, as is my case. The pollution there is usually around level 8 on a scale of 1 to 10, these days it’s down to 4 or 5. I can finally walk or cycle without having to fight with heavy traffic. The streets are ours, for now, and me, I also feel part of local issues, no matter that I’m an immigrant.
For the first time since its establishment in 2006 the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) of ICANN is paralleled with a protest forum, the Internet Ungovernance Forum.
Internet protests all over the world until now were addressed against national states and international organizations wanting to limit internet freedom and net neutrality or against those state and non-state services breaching privacy on the net, but this time a critique is formulated against the Internet governance itself by the Internet Ungovernance Forum. The announcement stated:
“We see that at IGF the most urgent problems of the Internet do not get the right attention. Due to the “multi-stakeholderism” format, the main perpetrators of many of the Internet’s problems, governments and corporations, are getting representation in IGF they don’t deserve. Given these circumstances, we decided to take initiative to defend the Internet as we know it and to create a space to raise the voices of civil society initiatives, activists and common people.”
The question bounces back and forth, “Where is the 15-M [15th of May] movement?” Has it died as the media tells us? The same media that only grants existence to what is spectacular and massive, newsworthy. Has it retreated to its winter quarters, waiting for better times (and warmer temperatures) to reoccupy its natural place: the streets and plazas? Has it retreated to the neighborhoods, out of sight of the media spotlight and volatile “public opinion,” yet working like ants to build a durable base for social change?
The International Outreach Committee of the Puerta del Sol, which played an important role in the preparation of October 15, is not satisfied with any of the answers, so it has declared itself on strike(!): an invitation to stop production (activists also produce: activism) and to think through what they see is a crisis of the organizational structure of the 15-M. Their statement calls attention to three particular problems: the very low level of participation in meetings and committees at present, dispersion and internal division, and bureaucratization of actions (automatisms, lack of imagination). Read More