Category Archives: 04. the great transformation

a. summary

Monty Python: An Apology

THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION:
THE HISTORY OF THE COMMONS.

The history of the commons is very much the history of enclosure, not only of our shared resources and valuables, but also the enclosure of our very political imagination. How can we think beyond the “eroded present” of a failed neo-liberalism that a corporate culture has given us? How can we imagine that something different is around the corner when we are only defined as ‘homo economicus’, merely drilled into the role of consumer? 

What happens when markets become so powerful that they disrupt natural ecosystems, reorder how people conduct their lives and claim ownership of life-forms? This process is often called enclosure of the commons. It’s a process by which corporations pouch valuable resources from their natural contexts, often with government support and sanction, and declare that they be valued by market prices. The point is to convert resources that are shared and used by may to ones that are privately owned and controlled, and treat them as tradeable commoditites.(David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 37)

The real aberration in human history is the idea of Homo economicus and our globally integrated market society. Never before in history have markets organized so many major and granular elements of human society. Never before has the world seen so many societies organized around the principles of market competition and capital accumulation, which systematically produce extremes of selfish individualism, inequalities of wealth and crippling assaults on natural ecosystems. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 81)

b. The Corporation

 

THE CORPORATION

Philadelphia, USA
2003, 2 min 37 sec (trailer)

The Corporation is a Canadian documentary film written by Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott. The documentary examines the modern-day corporation, considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behavior towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person. This is explored through specific examples. Bakan wrote the book, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, during the filming of the documentary.

Full film

d. The Great Transformation

JERRY MICHALSKI ON KARL POLANYI’S 1944 BOOK, THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION

California, USA
2013, 6 min 5 sec

The Great Transformation is a book by Karl Polanyi, a Hungarian-American political economist. First published in 1944 by Farrar & Rinehart, it deals with the social and political upheavals that took place in England during the rise of the market economy. Polanyi contends that the modern market economy and the modern nation-state should be understood not as discrete elements but as the single human invention he calls the “Market Society”.

 

i. Peter Linebaugh: Who Owns the Commons?

PETER LINEBAUGH: WHO OWNS THE COMMONS?
AN 800 YEAR FIGHT FOR PUBLIC GOODS

The Laura Flanders Show, USA
2015, 26 min 15 sec

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, and this weeks show marks that occasion with a discussion on the rights of the commons with author Peter Linebaugh. We also visit a community center in Caracas, and hear from youth voices about life and revolution in Venezuela.

j. Peter Linebaugh on the Magna Carta

PETER LINEBAUGH:
MAGNA CARTA AND THE COMMONS

Law of the Commons Conference, Seattle, USA
2009, 51 min 33 sec

Talk by Peter Linebaugh, Professor of History at the University of Toledo on “Magna Carta and the Commons” given March 13, 2009 at the Law of the Commons Conference at Seattle University and sponsored by the Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

 

j. Forrest Man

FORREST MAN:
THE STORY OF JADAV PAYENG

William Douglas McMaster
Polygon Window Productions & Title Media
2014, 1 min 14 sec

Since the 1970’s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland, into a lush oasis. Humble yet passionate and philosophical about his work. Payeng takes us on a journey into his incredible forest.

m. further research & reading

FURTHER READING & RESEARCH

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (1957)

Peter Linebaugh, The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for all  (2009)

Bruce Pascoe: Dark Emu (2014)

David Bollier: Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of our Common Wealth (2002)

Michel Bauwens, The History and Evolution of the Commons – Commons Transition

Peter Barnes, Capitalism 3.0:  A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons  (2006)

Tony Judt, Ill Fares The Land (2011)

 Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Are there no Alternatives? (2009)

Massimo De Angelis: Crises, Movements and the Commons (2012)

ON THE HISTORY OF PROPERTY

Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (1983)

Carol Rose, Property and Persuasion: Essays on the History, Theory and Rhetoric of Ownership. (1994)  

C.B. MacPherson ed., Property: Mainstream and Critical Positions (1999)