Understanding what is commons, & how it is related to fabric of society : from individual to whole humanity is every essential from philosophical as well as practice point of view. This understanding demands critical thinking which with time becomes common sense for the members of the community which need to be educated to the newcomers influxing the community. In addition to think holistically about a social/economic/political issue with different view points, demands empathy and patience. This process of understanding the society from the point of view of the downtrodden, alienated, marginalized, oppressed needs practice and work. Only with that practice we can understand the politics of commons.
A commons in general can be anything which is already available in nature regardless of human civilization or something that is generated based on human labour, learning & knowledge which in turn is generated from historical labour again. This helps us see that all the scientific and technological developments, including the social injustices, oppression, etc… we have done has a deep and broad historical interpretation and connections that intertwine with each other events in history itself. Thus both Labour & Knowledge must be viewed in Temporal (think history) perspective. In addition everything we have done so far have been made possible because of our understanding of Material Nature. This material nature can now be interpreted as Ecological view. This necessitates a Space & Thematic view of the nature.
Thus the following views are not only necessary but essential conditions for understanding Commons :
In all the above views, humans organized as civilized societies with different forms of culture, have several things in common. However, one primary thing that influences change and influences itself that is a common denominator is the Labour. The Labour Power expended by humans creates new processes, materials, artifacts, instruments, machines, etc… that collectively represented as Technological innovations, and preserved in the form of Information, Knowledge constitutes of Information of Process & Historical Labour.
Thus Technology cannot be viewed as a independent or separate entity but only as a part of the wholesome that enables change. The process how this is imagined, conceived, observed, made, implemented, collaborated for creation based on historical information available and on the present necessity or desire can be interpreted as Technological Innovation. This has always been possible because of so much knowledge that is available in “Commons”. The pool of commons, can be imagined as a common resource like a forest or ocean, which can be taken to produce something that is non-existent before and contribute back to the commons itself. However we know that it is always from this pool - plundering and exploitation is made possible. Thus Commons become a place in Time which has all and which provides for all.
It is upto us humans who organizes the way the pool is made available, accessible to meet current necessities. The pool can always be kept filled only by contributing back. If every individual who has undenied or unregulated access can take anything, but not contribute back will make it dry and scarce. Thus always meeting and comforting to the ultimate individual desires and greeds will erode the commons and denies sustenance of life broadly and spilling the scarcity to all remaining species.
No scientific understanding comes without categorizing and classification. But that is only for easily analyzing the issue in hand and serve as a guidance to de-cloud and stay clear of noise. Thus for the purpose of convenience lets try to classify commons based on different information.
Broadly one can see :
- Labour Commons
- Knowledge Commons
- Material Commons
Commons in general does not speak of collective ownership but about collective management and organization to effectively create from the commons and use it for commons and contribute back to the commons.
Nature is the greatest commons.
We learn from it, we take from it, we create with it, we are part of it. It stays. But the space and resource that enables our sustenance on the planet is countable and limited. Thus the boundary of unlimited commons shrinks and a threshold for scarcity is reachable. Thus any change induced by human activity in a irreversible way makes a step towards that scarcity.
Everything we humans created has been through the observation we made from Nature. It can be either attributed to the desires of not being able to do somethings that are in nature, or necessities that arise from basic current human relationships. This creation is not absolute, it is always relative to nature. Since everything has its roots in material world and the current creation can only be sum of inspiration from continuous observation with time and continuous input of labour power from humans. Thus to create something we have always dependent upon the commons in the nature, and the human labour which is itself part of the nature in first place. Labour itself is the source of knowledge. Without working towards that we desire or for the necessity, we cannot differentiate between what we observed & imagined and what we created currently. This difference between the created and our imagination/interpretation creates a continuous flow of information that accumulates questions from diverse point of views. This observation, interpretation, difference between the experiment (a version of implementation), is governed by how we collectively organize and for whose necessity the labour power is exercised for.
Thus commons of nature cannot be observed, interpreted, imagined, implemented to create new objects for human use, without labour power. And thus in the process, as civilization we collaborate to open up the doors of discovery which are just waiting for to be opened up. The more the labour power is used for common necessity the more the number of doors is opened up, to see further and understand how nature works. With more view into nature, we unlearn the things we assumed in the past, and thus laws and principles in the past become either a special case or just to be discarded as they no longer hold for the reality and truth.
One can easily imagine a sphere, where each of its cells are closed by several doors. And each of these doors can only be opened to observe the nature further from that particular view point. How much labour we contribute towards commoning the knowledge determines how much number of doors we can open and how far we can see. Ideally the sphere must be covered by another sphere of similar characteristics. The moment we open up almost all of the doors is the moment we better understand the nature, and marks the threshold of leap, to just further encounter the next sphere. We liberate ourselves from ignorance through collaborative labour contribution. And the outcome of the collaborative labour must always contributed back to the material commons and knowledge commons, that acts as the key for progression. Else we are doomed as a civilization.
DOORS OF SPHERE ⇒ IGNORANCE
KEYS OF THE DOORS ⇒ KNOWLEDGE COMMONS
WORK NECESSARY TO REACH AND OPEN THE DOORS ⇒ LABOUR COMMONS
OBJECTS DERIVED THROUGH WORKING ⇒ MATERIAL COMMONS
This spherical view of nature, first humbles the individual as well as the whole society to accept and agree to the shadows of ignorance which we always live in. On the other hand, this ignorance, our necessities inspires us to open its doors as much as possible to imagine our future, what opportunities are possible, in order to understand ourself or the nature itself.
However this form of imagination is only for convenience, and just to create a understanding about the constant action we do for progression. Even though this kind of interpretation kicks a monotonic way of human life, it allows further exploration in innumerable ways that has its own view of nature and helps create more exciting things, and thus marks no end in path for innovation.