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