Statements by and a discussion with Massimo De Angelis (University of East London, thecommoner.org/ UK), Stefan Meretz (keimform.de, opentheory.org/ DE) and Christian Felber (author and publicist/ AT)

moderator: Leo Kühberger (A_partment politi_X, Radio Helsinki/ AT)

The history of capitalism can be regarded as a history of an ongoing, often violent, “enclosure” of the commons - from the land evictions in Britain during the 18th century, to the present wave of neoliberal privatization.

Constantly more and more resources are being withdrawn from the public domain in order to make a profit. What was unimaginable just a few decades ago is today reality: Even the building blocks of life are becoming private property.

Capitalist ideology wants us to believe that an economy can only be effective and rational if it is organized in terms of private property, markets and profits. But the truth is that people have always been able to deal with productive resources in a vast variety of ways - ensuring that those resources stay intact and that people maintain their relationships to them. In short: so that commons remain commons.

There are many ways in which commons can be used to generate life, knowledge, arts, culture and economic wealth. The proposed methods are based on different types of ownership structure - often on public property - but primarily on cooperative, clearly managed, sustainable and/or innovative principles of production. This is as valid for forests in Mexico as for the free encyclopedia Wikipedia, for the use of scarce water in India as for the production of free software.

Everybody involved in the commons-movement is aware of the commons' essential economic importance. Some argue for the establishment of a strong commons sector (including appropriate institutions) within the existing system. Others hope that the dynamic of the commons could overcome capitalism and replace it with a commons-based economic system. What most of them share is the wish for a paradigm shift from competition to cooperation and from profit making to common welfare.

Based on this common ground Massimo De Angelis, Stefan Meretz and Christian Felber are going to share and discuss different points of view, visions and predictions. They will cover such questions as: What are the most decisive economic struggles today? Which commons-based alternative modes of production are already being practiced and what society-changing potential do they have? Are commons, as some believe, the seed of a new economic system?

panel discussion - language: german/english; duration: 2h