This is a short introduction into our understanding of provisioning through commons. The default pattern of 'provisioning through commoning' is to decommodify, mutualize and share.
What do we mean by 'Provisioning through commons'?
Commons provide a sense of togetherness and meaning but they also produce needed things and services. These are not incidental results, but the outcome of a larger understanding of an economy - or "oikonomy" - based on shared values. A key point of a commons based and commons producing oikonomy is that production and creation are not primarily for market gain, but for meeting people's needs: shelter, food, healthcare, knowledge, energy, software code, machinery and...well, potentially everything. Improbable as this may sound, it is hard to find a commodity that cannot in principle be produced THROUGH AND AS a commons. We have seen how Wikipedia has largely replaced printed, proprietary, expensive and always-outdated encyclopedias. We see community supported agriculture - CSAs - growing rapidly, replacing the impersonal consumer/seller relationship and the production of food as a commodity. In a CSA, food is seen and produced as a shared resource through a self-organized community. Commons - in it's generative dimension - go beyond the conventional categories of economics. They can be claimed to be a whole different mode of production (provisioning), distribution (sharing) and equity control (collective governance; predistribution). Without state favoritism for markets, which contributes to make the commons largely invisible, this way of doing, sharing and governing tends to be more attractive precisely because commons are based on what we really need (use-value, because they enlarge relationships and because they create meaning/nurture a meaningful life, beyond the impersonal, often-extractive nature of market exchange.
Patterns of Provisioning through Commons
# Pool & Share The usefulness of information, ideas, knowledge, code and design grows the more that we share, use and adapt them to our purposes. They inhere a logic of abundance and are not depletable. Instead sharing allows more people to contribute to and benefit from them. Such resources can therefore be pooled & shared without really causing harm to anybody except those who insist upon fortifying a system of proprietarian resource control and privatized gain. This is understandable within a context of a capitalist economy, but it is not a law of nature.
# Cap & Share or Mutualize But Don't Trade Since material resources tend to be finite and hard to replenish over time, effective mechanisms for ensuring fair access without over-use are paramount. One way to do this is through a Cap & Share approach as opposed to the widely used Cap & Trade. It goes without saying, that the 'cap' has to be determined by those affected All Affected Principle and/or according to the real carrying capacity of the ecological and social systems.
# Produce Cosmo-Locally Share design and knowledge globally, it's light and easy, but produce whatever is heavy locally. This is a general principle for maximizing use and access while minimizing the ecological footprint of provisioning and services.
# Decouple Giving & Taking Whenever giving and taking are tightly linked, as in markets (you only get something if you give an "equivalent" for it), specific circumstances, needs, and solutions that could benefit everyone are marginalized. Yet wherever truly living systems exist, evolutionary patterns suggest that giving is not linked to receiving; such exchanges tend to occur *indirectly.* Instead of the calculative rationality and efficiencies encouraged by capitalist markets, relationships can emerge that are more sociable, expressive, grateful and authentic.
# Be Inclusive But Draw Semi-Permeable Boundaries Unconditional access to everybody for everything and whatever purpose is not typical for a commons. Radically and unconditionally open systems can hardly deal with inherently finite resources nor with conflicting or antagonistic purposes. The bottom lin, is, however, to provide discrimination-free access, meaning no access and use prohibitions based on race, gender, nationality (!) and so on. This way you include potentially everybody while still being able to set SEMI-PERMEABLE BOUNDARIES in a self determined way. Remember: The boundaries around commons are not simply "open" or "closed."
# Create Discrimination-Free Infrastructures Infrastructures and platforms - for transportation, communication or services - need to be accessible to everyone on a same basis. Those with greater money, status or power must not be able to "crowd out" the ability of others to use a given transport system, energy- or communications network. It's a matter of fairness and equipotentiality. There is no reason why we should not apply the core principle of common carriage rules, the logic foundation & precursor for net neutrality, to all infrastructures.
# Favor Upfront Entitlements Over State Redistribution While capitalism accepts the premise of inequality, delegating to the state to deal with unfair distributions of market benefits, a commons builds fairness into its generative structures by assuring that all commoners have upfront entitlements to benefits that are produced. This avoids the moral stigma and political struggles associated with state redistribution schemes. Commoners "own" their resources and collective systems from the start, and so they reap the benefits of "predistribution" -- a term coined by Yale professor Jacob Hacker -- over redistribution.
# Rely on Distributed Structures add the idea, that "distributed systems" are different from decentralized one, as the latter are still framed by a top-down relation/ structure, whereas the former are more like networks where each dot can be connected do each other dot, which leads us to the idea of cirlces and Federations of Commons
# Possession Over Property Having access and use rights (possession) is more important than full property rights, because access and making real use is was truly matters. It breeds a deeper understanding of how to steward a resource and make sure it is conserved and used responsibly. Customary social practices and affective labor engender a type of respect and knowledge for resources that ownership for market purposes generally does not (because owners are likely to care more about marketable features and exchange value than intrinsic characteristics and use value). ).
Is provisioning through commons non-capitalist?