The below report is written by Pat Conaty and David Bollier. It resonates very much with the discussion we have been trying to catalyze at the Networked Labour e-list, therefore is much welcomed. It is the second part succeeding the Open-Cooperatives report recently circulated and published on Commons Transition website. Reading both reports through one gains very important insights about how new movements are evolving and what would one can do to link these movements around ‘hypothesis of the Commons’, as one big transition movement.
One systematic problem of the overall vision is that it is drawn from a higher level, then thr commons ground occupied by the grassroots movements. For instance, the links are thought to be built by the expert communities of interlockers, who are most of the time to be funded and act as professional cadre, who would most probably tend to play the self-reclaimed role of professional ‘fellowship of the ring’. This is an obvious risk being run in such approaches. Although the both reports highlight very creative organisational and tactical hacks that would work, what one misses, in my opinion, is the crucial attention being paid on how to do the real hack. The question about how to avoid the past mistakes, considering cooptation problem was not asked. The authors and participants of the event needs to be asking themselves how would we be more innovative in developing self-awareness of the cooptation risks, and in what way we could develop an healthy attitude and communication or build working mechanisms to ensure the independence and autonomy of such events them selves, from any capital or state agenda. Can putting forward clear perspectives on how to struggle against NGOisation of the Commons, as it happened to previous coops, movements, as well as labour, gender, environment, so on, be possible. How would be a class self-consciousness made visible in such events and agendas? What would be the role of such openness in building broader alliances genuinely bottom up?
Since these events, as the Networked Labour, being financed by specific NGOs or political agency, bearing own politics and agendas, while we are of course most appreciating them for redistributing public money towards emancipatory collective activities, what is needed is still a developed concrete vision about how to making sure that our productions would go beyond sectarian political perspectives and serve for the real thing? In relation to this, another question would be, how do you think that spaces like WSF, in Tunis, can be serving such more bottom up coming togethers for communities to build commons strategies. To avoid repeating similar mistakes we might have a better perspective on the labour division, between experts, funding, and practitioners? To be more specific, if some of us focusing on funds and expertise, public opinion or else, instead of practice of commoning or solidarity economy, experts must not self-charge themselves with the task of ‘creating grassroots awareness’ or consciousness in those communities like as ‘them actually being part of a bigger commons politics’ or ‘class wars’, let them talk this out themselves… Otherwise this is the reproduction of a class division. It is the hardest topic to tackle, both individually and collectively, both in and after the transition. Yet it is important to have a build-in approach. Especially while we all are suffering from the hardening crisis income wise, this easily turns into exploitation of comrades on be halve of the good cause. We must remember that hundreds of millions of people suffer much worse then our sufferings. No matter who we are, ours can not be more important then others. Plus we might not be the best people, or circles, to strategize politics for others, especially ‘movements’, and more especially those who are the most innovative, as we are promoting so. There are practical solutions to this. For instance, those experts who are close to the funding and media, who have the possibilities to attract broader support, could do so and encourage communities to innovate and organize their own collective spaces, to work out their own agendas for strategizing convergences ‘themselves’, while they provide insights, research, ideas, so not setting the agenda and vision for them and tell them what they are actually doing, and should be doing instead, or should perceive things in this or that way. not to saying this very important event or report is doing so but I sincerely miss clarity on how it is avoiding or not doing this. such mistakes, like funding some projects or communities to make it look like there is a grassroots movement, to shape the higher level or meta strategies was the most important weakness, of, say, transnational social and environmental justice movements, and earlier ones – most of them are coopted as trade unions, and social democratic and green parties.
Anyway, after reading about Syriza, not hoping too much from the 18 March ECB action, and wondering about what would Podemos be doing about the Europe and the Spain, meanwhile
seeing every day another sign of fascism being consolidated, war mongers are Winnie ground, while any genuine support lacks for the creation of independent and autonomous spaces weather in WSF Tunis or somewhere else where actual convergence by the autonomous communities and movements themselves can happen, so that real we could have really bottom up alliances and political innovations being forged like between Zapatista and Rojava, squatters and Occupiers, transition towns, new cooperatives and hackers, become possible, I get bit more pessimistic about the way power politics plays out itself around ‘the commons’..
It feels like not commons transition but transition to fascism is consolidating its bases in country after country, simultaneously.
There are however also really good developments like the emergence and spread of Kobani rebuilding solidarity networks, and University of Amsterdam occupation since last week gaining wider support. Who knows, may be an uprising is near in the Netherlands too.. Commons movements might be emerging out of the common struggles we have been giving all over. We need to trust those who are giving the struggles and making the innovations. they would be the ones who would know best how to link each other around actions like ECB swarm, in spaces like WSF, building new free universities, rebuilding towns and museums smashed by imperialist occupations, and so on..
A New Alignment of Movements? Part II: Strategies for a Convergence of Movements
by Pat Conaty and David Bollier
In September 2014, the Commons Strategies Group convened a three-day workshop in Meissen, Germany, of 25 policy advocates and activists from a variety of different economic and social movements. The topic of the “deep dive”: Can leading alt-economic and social movements find ways to work more closely together? Can there be a greater convergence and collaboration in fighting the pathologies of neoliberalism?”
This is the second of two parts. You can find the first part here.
Read the full paper in the Commons Transition Wiki
Download as a PDF