Theft of the Commons - A Tradition

On July 23, 2016, we discontinued our forums. We ask our members to please join us in our new community site, The Hartmann Report. Please note that you will have to register a new account on The Hartmann Report.

16 posts / 0 new

QUOTE: "From the late fourteenth to the eighteenth century vast areas of land held in common by local communities and used by villagers on a shared basis were enclosed by landlords and turned into private property. Fences were erected and the courts were given the function of issuing title deeds. This was the first large-scale and systemic abolition of social security.

The tradition of the commons was as old as humanity itself, and was not done away with with an instant wave of the economic wand. All that is solid melts away over a very long period of time. The original forced enclosures were succeeded by "Parliamentary enclosure," when acts of Parliament formally reconstituted common resources as private property. Indeed, the history of enclosure in England from the late fourteenth to the late eighteenth century might be termed the "primitive privatization," the historical progenitor of the contemporary neoliberal project to privatize and deregulate everything.

Parliamentary enclosures transformed what had originated as a wave of coerced expulsions into a political process, the legally sanctioned removal of any obstacles to the ongoing and limitless accumulation of capitalist wealth.

This secular tendency of capital to universally privatize was temporarily offset toward the middle of the twentieth century by the emergence of the New Deal in the United States and Social Democracy in Europe. But even these meager provisions of non-market benefits proved to be too radical for capital. Born-again capitalism is now the order of the day, and social security is once again, as it was way back then, perceived as a principal obstacle to profitability. The struggle of large English landowners to privatize historically common land finds a contemporary counterpart in the campaign of big banks and Wall Street brokerage houses to put to private, profitable use resources currently earmarked for workers in need. Just as the social costs of the transition to capitalism were borne by the working population, so will the attempted transition back to pre-Keynesian capitalism be borne by the same class."

Alan Nasser is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

http://www.counterpunch.com/nasser04162010.html

At what point will there be no commons left at all?
Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

"At what point will there be no commons left at all?" poly

I suspect when the illusion of the benefits of the commons becomes outweighed by the profits of privatizing them.

One of the first things I did after obtaining my property was to take down the no trespassing signs and the barb wire and replace them with wood fences and several gates as a popular pastime in this area is to take pictures of the wild flowers and have a picnic. The only signs I have now are "Leave It As You Found It."

Besides my egalitarian nature, this was inspired by my favorite verse in (This Land Is Your Land) by Woody Guthrie

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
Interesting how often that verse is left out these days.
norske's picture
norske
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Don't fence me in. Again, is it the homesteaders who are threatening to steal the rancher's rangeland, or are the ranges being "fenced" to establish dominions? I love the Western movies.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I remember seeing a recent BBC story on this very issue in the U.K. It still pains me constantly that we declared our Independence from the oppression of the Crown, only to suffer the backstabbing of Robber barons, etching away our rights. Now, the government of the Kingdom is a great template for us to aspire to, once reforms have been drafted.

Proof? Ask a Londoner what a campaign contribution is. He will look at you, scratch his head, and reply: "Oh, that's one of those problems you Yankees have right?"

tedkelly's picture
tedkelly
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote tedkelly:

Now, the government of the Kingdom is a great template for us to aspire to, once reforms have been drafted.

Hopefully,

The November elections will erase that cancerous thought.

slabmaster
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 11:12 am

Yeah, hopefully with a complete trouncing of the right. The corrupt belief that the individual has no obligation to anything but to satisfy his or her desires is a cancer that must be destroyed. Of course that depends on how selfish the American electorate is, and from listening to those on the right, they are still too self-centered to be of any use and wholly incapable of governing or producing a good society. Any way you slice them up, they are horrible.

jeffbiss's picture
jeffbiss
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote jeffbiss:

Yeah, hopefully with a complete trouncing of the right. The corrupt belief that the individual has no obligation to anything but to satisfy his or her desires is a cancer that must be destroyed. Of course that depends on how selfish the American electorate is, and from listening to those on the right, they are still too self-centered to be of any use and wholly incapable of governing or producing a good society. Any way you slice them up, they are horrible.

Reading predictions, which are always kind of a crap shoot, the Dems may lose 20-50 seats in Congress.

We can hope anyways.

slabmaster
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 11:12 am

Just back the GOP up against Wall St. and see how Americans respond to the idea that those who serve the banksters are their friends. Where they might worry about someone from the government getting between them and their doctor, I don't think they have the same sense of confidence and trust in the banksters on Wall St.

As those who wish to raise suspicions about Obama "not being one of us" keep defining their idea of "us" more narrowly and exclusively, the rest of us will have to consider whether you all want to be part of "us?"

This coming election may go one way or the other depending upon factors that are too unstable to depend upon. Will the toxic media be able to sew enough seeds of suspicion and alienation to avoid having the public think about who to hold accountable? Will the pox on all people be able to take down the powerful or only the vulnerable, and how does tons of money count in the balance?

I would not count on "normal" trends to apply in this unusual time.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Reading predictions, which are always kind of a crap shoot, the Dems may lose 20-50 seats in Congress.

We can hope anyways.

Yeah, we can always hope that the Repubs lose even more seats, which will happen if the American people are objective and recognize that the Dems are better than the corporatist Republicans.

jeffbiss's picture
jeffbiss
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote DRC:

Just back the GOP up against Wall St. and see how Americans respond to the idea that those who serve the banksters are their friends. Where they might worry about someone from the government getting between them and their doctor, I don't think they have the same sense of confidence and trust in the banksters on Wall St.

Good thing Goldman Sachs installed Geitner into the top finacial position in the White House. Thank God Obama appointed Bernake to do a double play. I think the American people are seeing the "hope and change" promised by Obama...and are rejecting it as what was wrong....only worse.

slabmaster
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 11:12 am
Good thing Goldman Sachs installed Geitner into the top finacial position in the White House. Thank God Obama appointed Bernake to do a double play. I think the American people are seeing the "hope and change" promised by Obama...and are rejecting it as what was wrong....only worse.

Nope. Worse would be a Republican. Take a look at them, the party of "No!" Obama, for all his actions in bailing out financial companies, is acting to regulate Wall Street. The Republicans, to a man, are against regulating Wall Street. Obama isn't perfect but the Republicans, all Republicans currently in office, are far worse.

jeffbiss's picture
jeffbiss
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

"Nope. Worse would be a Republican. Take a look at them, the party of "No!" Obama, for all his actions in bailing out financial companies, is acting to regulate Wall Street. The Republicans, to a man, are against regulating Wall Street. Obama isn't perfect but the Republicans, all Republicans currently in office, are far worse."

Perhaps if a Republican were in office, more Democrats, liberals, and progressives would come together to bring attention to the crimes of empire and oligarchy than the splitting of factions as has been occurring.

norske's picture
norske
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote norske:

Perhaps if a Republican were in office, more Democrats, liberals, and progressives would come together to bring attention to the crimes of empire and oligarchy than the splitting of factions as has been occurring.

I have always believed that a split congressional house keeps the other side a bit more honest. What Republicans are doing currently is the same thing Dems did when Bush was in office. It does expose bad ju ju, which I think is good. Obama was elected on the anti Bush campaign. It had nothing to do with Obama's intentions which are now rearing their ugly head.

slabmaster
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 11:12 am
Perhaps if a Republican were in office, more Democrats, liberals, and progressives would come together to bring attention to the crimes of empire and oligarchy than the splitting of factions as has been occurring.

I hate to say it, but we tried that experiment and boy did it fail. The Bush administration acted overtly criminal and unconstitutional, to the consternation of liberals, conservatives, progressives, and to no avail. Democrats refused to stand against right-wing control and both Republicans and Democrats refused to do their constitutional duty and impeach Bush and Cheney and rebalance power, from the application of the theory of the Unitary Executive. Republicans refused because they were in power and were taken over by the right-wing and Democrats overestimated the power of the right-wing.

Progressives/liberals and non-right-wing conservatives have to grow spines and learn to ignore the right-wing, as they are relevant only in the fear they create, and retake power.

jeffbiss's picture
jeffbiss
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

"Progressives/liberals and non-right-wing conservatives have to grow spines and learn to ignore the right-wing, as they are relevant only in the fear they create, and retake power."

Well that is certainly true. Since the right wing has infiltrated the Democratic party during the past 30 yrs. and they have become 'Republican lite', I fear that this will be easier said than done.

norske's picture
norske
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

"I hate to say it, but we tried that experiment and boy did it fail." Jeff

I would submit that the difference between now and then is that more people are aware of the similarities between both parties than were aware even one year ago. The illusion that our two party system offers choice, when in fact they are a duopoly controlled by the economic elite, prevents many from calling a spade a spade.

norske's picture
norske
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy?

Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system