previous previous: Workshop: Moments of Excess

Life Despite Capitalism - End Plenary

Notes from the Life Despite Capitalism End Plenary - 17/10/04 9:30-12:20am


All workshop had the task to come up with questions for further discussion at this plenary. Feedbacks from workshops were very short, focused on question only, to leave space for open structure, discussion of it.

Commons as workshop

What do we expect from commons?

Can we think of commons aprt from capitalist social relations?

Is the concept of commons useful?

workshop questions

commons at work

How can the question of commons at work be meaningfulll to all?

How, what for and why do we organize on work under contemporary coditions?

Les: who maintaines, what communites those existing questions?

public services as commons

How do we spread the creation of commons practices into more spheres of live?

How do we go beyond demanding simple reconstruction of welfare state?

Les: Is welfare state at all possible in neo-liberalism?


What models of democracy would allow the best participation in discussion and voluntary implementation of decision?

excess and commons

How do you produce, mobilise sustain excess?

Transcendental moments, when you feel you're making histoy and there is a feeling of collectivity. Collectivity through Free Software production, through networks.

Commons outside capital

Will (Can they?) non-indigenous communitites support indigenous communities for their self-determination?

Will non-indigenous communities support indigenous in their reconstruction of their nations?

Will the non-indigenous dialogue be on equal footing with indigenous peoples of the world?

Today, many left wing movement do not respect the specifics of indigineous people.

Time and space are different and structures are hierarchical, with no discussions, when societies are at war. The problem is that the West is at war at all time.

How can we organize our communities at the time of peace when we are at war.

virtual commons

Can the "Free Software way to produce" be extended to product other than software?

Free Software ways to produce means a way to produce in collaboration, in public. All discussions are open, totaly transparent.

Would this be ethically cool? Microsoft is now totally into transparency, aparentll (bill gates wrote a book)..

network workshops

Can you have a one node network?

food as commons

How do you connect city and conutryside with food.

Propaganda says that it is inevitable that most population will live in cities within 20 years. How do we expose self-fulfilling prophecies of increasing urbanisation?

Maria: There is a separation between food and all other themes discussed. I would like to explain how i, as feminist activist from 60's and 70's, ended up with food. I came to believe that it is impossible to think alternative societies by going about money, wages. We must go beyond those. The basis of entire process remains the expropriation of land, and it is true both in noth and south. Not only that people have no access to the land, but people are denied opportunity to have relationship with the land. If we are to change society, we must change this. There is, for example, a regulation which prevents people to exchange natural seeds, to protect natural seeds. They want humanity completely dependent on GM food. Also, they are depriving us from thousands of years of history of this relationship with food and land. This is basic common question for both man and woman, and that's why i got enganged with it. To try to save communities based on economies close to land/sea should be our goal. Our goal must be to save the knowledge, and by respecting social and economic aspects of sustainability. They are trying to destroy our selfsuficiency with food. There are networks that are working on opposite to this. When they say 80% of population will be in cities in future, they use that to argue for food production they are aiming for.

The question of re-apropriation of these basic means of production is the important question.

Les: we agree on the above. However, who is the collective subject to do this?

powers as commons

Is our first power to say NO? Can people can say NO when they are dominatinated. They might be unable to say NO because of being dominated.

Do all our NOs go in the same direction? Probably zapatistas woman and man go in different direction. HOW do we integrate those still with respecting their differences?

What does it change to say all this about power?

Talking about commons spaces, is it defeating?

Most important, last question, how do we increase our power-to-do while reducing power-over (domination) both inside and outside our organizations and communities?

free movement

How do we create the commons and the space for new transnational mobile subject?

How do we keep London to be a place for migrants, as it has always been?

What is the relationship between cross-border people and cross people borders?


man: Notion of commons is problematic. The question of unions of social movements cames back again and again, and maybe it should be discussed, problematized further on the mail lists and internet.

man: Money is a common too. Our goal is to discuss other possible forms.

woman: When we were mentioning food as commons, maybe what we thought __LAND_. Someone said that London should be preserved for migrants, amount of people who leave in london, to be feed, need land size of Britain! We should reapropriate that amount of land somewhere in the world. There are people working on this, on permaculture, which touches on deep ecology: do we have the right to use land only for our spieces? should we give it back to other spieces too? Land is as important as anything else!

man: open mike can be a problematic form. i'm looking forward to other forms of participatory discussion. Telegraph says: "down with capitalism they chant, and charge ten pounds for wristband". There is a book "challenging empires" that few authors compiled that you can buy from some of us here. (someone shouts: this is a good example how open mike can be misused, this was not relevant)!.

woman: to problematize question fo more power-to-do, less power-over: why there was no child-care organized? How come we didn't speak more about role of woman in commons, unpaid labour issue?

woman: No one came forward to mums to ask them to take care of kids while they participate in workshops.

woman: quick response to land-food, it is important to speak about specific concrete experiences, organizations (fisherman, for example), form, that these take.

man: we should not forget that entire planet is a common. Let's look at question of open space? Is it a place of commons? It is not, nor historiclay, not today, they question is how to do it. Knowledge as commons is crucial question, skill for livelyhood. Listening to jon holloway yesterday i came up with idea to have power as commons, to democratize power.

man: two direct reponses - to democraticize power, networked power is possible. cultural capital, when looked at as power-to-do, is cheap to replicate, and if we spread it across networlks, we make whole network more powerful-to-do. some of us spent last two/three years working on these issues, and this was one of our starting points. land and free software mode of production are closely related, however strange i might sound - they are, inseparable. we should do more of slow thorough work.

man: i was dissapointed not to here issue of nation discussed: what is it? how it work, where it goes. what is inclusive, exclusive. those that have been oprresed and exclused, can do the same. it comes from both sides. do we include, do we exluce and for whom?

woman: how do we balance constructing with resisting. power is the ability to create, sustain and nurture all forms of life - is another way of looking at power that we should take on board. i heard that someone said that "we'll rip cities when the revolution comes" - wow!!! We are in danger to fetishize. As if we can't rethinkg cities. I'd like to make plug for cities.

man: part of my problem is commons as positive and static. it come out yesterday in workshop of power that instead of talking about horizontality, we should maybe talk about anti-verticality. same with commons, we can talk about movement against enclosures, which is a dynamic way to look at what we do. direct reponse: don't we need some YESes too? reponse back: we do, but we start from NOs.

man: indigeneous people response: they have been existing for thousands of years. no one represents anyone here, i'd like to say. we may represent a group working on a project. i represent a group called "indigeneous people of south america". we do represent some thread of thought by those people, but we do not represent them. representation is a big issue, there's a big discussion going on in geneva right now about representation of indigenous people. We're been trying to negotiate for ten years rights of indigenous people which USA has been trying to sabotage all the way. We need support of non-indigenous people. With the question of inclusion/exclusion, i know some indigenous people form america, for instance, indigineous people of north america welcomed white people, who then exterminated them. in our community all people are treated equal. strangers who establishes himself is treated like everyone else. Yesterday i said that Imara people want to establish their own nation. The ambition is that it would be a nicer place to live then current Bolivia. It's not a mater of coercing anyone in this, but we will wait centuries, if it takes. Because we want to do this. I would like to make few personal remarks, because i consider myself a bridge, since i went in western schools and lived here for some time. I have some problem with some things here in west, language. Every social movement always invent their own words, which corespond with plan of that social movement. For instance, word "work" in french has root in suffering. Using word "work" we put ourselves in suffering. Capitalist use word work, but we should use "human activity" instead, which has nothing to do with suffering, in other words democracy. Word democracy comes from the west, now when we are part of globalized resistance, maybe we should another word. Democracy comes from greek civililzation, whith was slave civilization - it's a historic fact. Maybe there are other words that should be found. Everyone from right to left uses that word, and it is highly ambiguous. Maybe we need to find another word.

man: question for john holloway is how he sees link between life despite, and life after, capitalism. it was said that it is us who produce capitalism, which is true. capitalism doesn't exist if we stop reproducing it. would like to say more about self-determination, how it works on local, national and international level (no time for it). people from different cultural spheres can collaborate in fruitfull ways, and what man above said is proof of it.

man: i come from greece, i'm translator. if i repeate what you discussed, please stop me and i'll step down. i would like to mention "language" as common. in greek common could be said in many ways, here comes the ethics: should translator translate in one of those, and which, or should translator invent new word.

woman with a small kid: these kids will leave with consequences of our work. there's enough land and food for everyone. what are man fighting about? i used to work in the city in 80's, i opted out in 90's, when i moved to portugal (mum left me some land), found a piece of land, which is what is most important to me: land, clean water and food. I came back to london to rise money for land, because it is so hard to earn money in portugal, since economy has done so bad lately. With my plan, land can not be sold once part of the it. We're sitting here talking, we could put these things in practice.

woman: it seems to me that there is a missing dimension in discussion with commons, that is money. what capitalism leaves us with is money. surprising fact is that about third of all shares in british companies is owned by pention funds. what about mutual aid. or to learn from muslim countries where services for poor and needy are provided by money given according to Kuran. There's huge shortage of housing in britain: instead of rushing to buy second property to save for our old age, or to invest in pension funds, maybe we should invest in housing cooperatives. What distinguishes what we have to say from green movement. How can we answer our critics that say that notion of commons is reactionary. I think it's moments of excess that we can answer with, ruptures that we need to look for. Developing alliances with some people who are keen on green economy, and with unions, use our theory to develop flexibility - that is power of theory.

technical point: we have 7 minutes to go, 7 people on talking list, one minute each.

man: advert said "we are to share", by large corporation. commons are used widely. someone even mentioned bill gates. what we need is radical take on commons. we create the world, not people who own property. idea of common in relation with proporty. All our moments are being re-contexualized, by world bank for example. Even we create commons, global capitalism will always try to enclose them.

man: is there a rough consensus to create the mailing list? woman: it's more complicated than this. man: it is a simple question - do we want to stay in touch or not? people: yes (not a single voice shouted no). man: ok, so we'll start from email and web and take it from there.

woman: access to commons is an issues. visibility is important too. we have to ensure that everyone feels that they have the voice.

massimo: i hope people get involved further in this. whole organizations of this was up to few people. from now, everything is open. i hope you get involved.

woman: (missed it)

man: on discussion of commons, it's important to start thinking from feudal relations. we have to look at commons as form that is opressive and exploitative in its form too, from pre capitalist times.

man: times contraint is our limit, that prevents us to talk more. one way we get around this is that we prepare those things. we have a wepage now. mathias's idea to extend form of production of software to other commons, i encourage you to try to work on documents together, using wiki. we could have done things more democraticaly.

Created by: toni last modification: Sunday 17 of October, 2004 [07:01:12 UTC] by toni

esf london | wsf | (archives) |

valid xhtml 1.0