The 4th and final seminar in our contemporary capitalism series will take place this Thursday (November 22) at 7pm in Dubzland Audio and Visual Gallery. This week will feature Rachel O’Dwyer speaking on ‘The new commons or the new enclosures?’. Full details below. This is a BYOB event.
The new commons or the new enclosures?
In recent years, notions of ‘the commons’ and associated practices such as sharing, grassroots collectives, gift economies and peer production have really come to the fore. This is partly the result of a reinvigoration of social cooperation in online spaces and partly the product of attempts by social movements and critical thinking to formulate alternative courses of action for the management of resources, for cooperative decision making and for collective production.
Today, more so than ever, ‘the commons’ has become a difficult issue. We’re frequently led to believe that concepts such as ‘open’ and ‘free’ are by nature non-market and that the commons, because it stands opposed to property and operates outside of traditional labour/wage relations, is in some way diametrically opposed to capitalism. But is this really the case? Today we’re seeing a growing centrality of different forms of the commons to contemporary capitalism. Examples include the role of cultural-artistic activities in gentrification, the primacy of open source platforms and user-generated content to the information economy and the enclosure of forms of shared and local knowledge by corporations and institutions.
It seems like the traditional distinctions of socialism vs. capitalism or private property vs. the commons are no longer adequate to apprehend this system. In contemporary capitalism we need to rethink ‘the commons’, not as some abstract equality, but as a conflictive terrain. This talk explores how forms of the commons are enclosed today and how value continues to be extracted outside of traditional wage and property relations.