Commons People



From Eurozine:

The most important lesson urban commons can take from its digital counterpart is at the same time the most difficult one: how to make a structural hack in the moment of the creation of an urban commons that will enable it to become structurally self-perpetuating, thus creating fertile ground not only for a singular spatialization of urban commons to appear, but to multiply and create a whole new eco-system. Digital commons was the first field in which what Negri and Hardt (2009: 3-21) called the “republic of property” was challenged. Urban commons, in order to really emerge as a spatialization of a new type of relationship, need to start undoing property as well in order to socially re-appropriate the city. Or in the words of Stavros Stavrides “the most urgent and promising task, which can oppose the dominant governance model, is the reinvention of common space. The realm of the common emerges in a constant confrontation with state-controlled ‘authorized’ public space. This is an emergence full of contradictions, perhaps, quite difficult to predict, but nevertheless necessary. Behind a multifarious demand for justice and dignity, new roads to collective emancipation are tested and invented. And, as the Zapatistas say, we can create these roads only while walking. But we have to listen, to observe, and to feel the walking movement. Together” (Stavrides 2012: 594).

The big task for both digital and urban commons is “[b]uilding a core common infrastructure [which] is a necessary precondition to allow us to transition away from a society of passive consumers buying what a small number of commercial producers are selling. It will allow us to develop into a society in which all can speak to all, and in which anyone can become an active participant in political, social and cultural discourse” (Benkler 2003: 9). This core common infrastructure has to be porous enough to include people that are not similar, to provide “a ground to build a public realm and give opportunities for discussing and negotiating what is good for all, rather than the idea of strengthening communities in their struggle to define their own commons. Relating commons to groups of “similar” people bears the danger of eventually creating closed communities. People may thus define themselves as commoners by excluding others from their milieu, from their own privileged commons.” (Stavrides 2010).

“Legal hacking and space”, Dubravka Sekulic, Eurozine