The Commoner

Issue 09: Spring/Summer 2004

‘Life despite capitalism: The “virtual” and the “actual”‘

In this issue of The Commoner, we bring together diverse contributions all highlighting what people and communities are up against in creating and sustaining modes of life despite capitalism, whether these modes of life are in the street of Miami, along the rivers of Colombia, emerging from the flows of migrants, or flourishing within the post-scarcity cyberspace.

  • Introduction by the editors: Life despite capitalism: The “virtual” and the “actual” [PDF]
  • James W. Lindenschmidt: From Virtual Commons To Virtual Enclosures: Revolution and Counter-Revolution In The Information Age [PDF]
  • Matthias Studer: Gift and Free Software [PDF]
  • Ariel Salleh: Sustainability and Meta-Industrial Labour: Building a Synergistic Politics [PDF]
  • Mercedes Moya: Some Common Goods: an Afro-colombian view [PDF]
  • Franco Barchiesi: Citizenship as Movement. Migrations, Social Control and the Subversion of State Sovereignty [PDF]
  • Amory Starr: Hunting democracy down in Miami for free trade [PDF]

From the World Social Forum to the internet, we see how campesinos, indigenous peoples, and housewives, increasingly reject the individualistic consumerism imposed on them by a capitalist patriarchal North. From Ireland to Australia, people are setting up frugal bioregional economies, communal farms, permaculture, LETS schemes, eco-villages and local organic markets. Landless people’s movements in Latin America and France, are reclaiming what we once shared as Commons. People want autonomy, security, clean food, clean water, and shelter. The ecofeminist analysis of Maria Mies and Veronika Bennholdt-Thomsen (1999) develops a rationale for this subsistence alternative. And it is based on the meta-industrial practice of reciprocity in diversity. Corporate science, incompetent high technologies, and clumsy state bureaucracies are ineffectual. They operate in false idealisations, and they cost the earth. By contrast, self-managed land based economies generate empirically tested understandings that are not only environmentally benign, but creatively social. As well as meeting material needs, their synergistic logic fosters learning, participation, innovation, ritual, identity and belonging’
[Ariel Salleh]