That which is defined as collective and common is what is usually meant as being material common goods and refers to the material world, to wealth – that which is defined as the inheritance of humanity. Collectives and communes however are also all immaterial goods produced by society, necessary for social interaction and for the production of knowledge, languages, codes, information, affections, etc.
Project meeting IV, 27.4.2011
Private property has made us stupid, as Marx says, so stupid that we are blind to the common! It seems that economists and politicians can only see the world as divided between private and public, either owned by capitalists or controlled by the state, as if the common did not exist. (Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri)
The term "commons" is a pre-capitalist concept that refers to natural resources like land, water, air that belong to everyone and to which there is unrestricted access. Many of these
commons have been lost through processes of enclosure initiated in the 17th century, which saw them transformed into private or public property. With the enclosures, amongst others, the rights to fish, to graze your animals, to collect fruits and to collect firewood have been lost. In the alpine area the "Allmenden" (collectively used pastures) are a reminder of what the commons used to be.
Today, under the pressure of neoliberalism to privatize every aspect of life, the enclosures of the commons are being extended to water, genetic patrimony as well as ancient and recently created knowledge.
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri refer to the commons constituted by language, communication and cooperation as ‘the common’ in order to differentiate them from the physical commons that have already been enclosed. The peculiarity about ‘the common’ is that social life is not only produced on the basis of it, but also produces the common in a process of continual enrichment of each other. In this sense, whenever we share ideas and images with others, our capacity to use them is not diminished but enriched.
Brave New Alps, note, 25.04.2011