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commons

Becoming a commoner: The commons as sites for affective socio-nature encounters and co-becomings

Introduction

Let us begin with the story of a pasture ‘open to all’ and the herdsman and his herd of sheep that Garrett Hardin uses to illustrate his prediction of the ‘tragedy of the commons’. Hardin’s herdsman, as a ‘rational being’, strives to maximize his gains by adding sheep to his herd until his actions inevitably lead to the degradation of the common grazing pasture (Hardin, 1968). In this ‘mini-maxi’ model of humans, where humans are seen to minimize efforts or inputs and maximize returns (Graeber, 2001: 6), the affective life of the shepherd is muted.

Spectre of the commons: Spectrum regulation in the communism of capital

Introduction

If we speak of ‘the commons’ today as a general phenomenon, this has a lot to do with the modes of production, consumption and distribution that have emerged over the past decade around information and communication technologies. Though ‘the commons’ exists in both material and immaterial spheres, and has a legacy beyond the network, recent technological transformations are identified as a core actor in the hegemony of commons-based peer-production.

The commons and their im/possibilities

In recent years a familiar mantra has been recited through media channels, government reports and related sources, namely that of austerity. By now, the images of protest movements of various stripes have been well-documented, which has given the Left a renewed notion of opposition and resistance to a seemingly unperturbed neoliberal encroachment on almost all areas of life (e.g. Bonefeld, 2012, this issue; also Hamann, 2009; Read, 2009).

The commons and their im/possibilities

This open issue addresses the question of the (im)possibilities of the commons within contemporary capitalism. It considers the commons within a variety of manifestations, including the Open Software movement, Open Education movement, housing, academia, the arts and art education. The contributions of this issue discuss specific concerns and tensions around capitalist exploitation and commodification of practices of political and creative organizing that go beyond commodification and logics of strategic exchange.

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