The Power of the Commons

Marleen Stikker of Waag will engage in talks on this night at Pakhuis de Zwijger about the power of the commons.

Marleen Stikker of Waag will engage in talks on this night at Pakhuis de Zwijger about the power of the commons.

Commons scholars and activists David Bollier and Silke Helfrich will describe how the paradigm of the commons can guide us through a post-capitalist transition. From community land trusts and platform cooperatives to open source design and beyond, commons function as trusted, self-organized systems for managing shared wealth. They can overcome many entrenched pathologies of neoliberal capitalism through social practices that honour care, collaboration, and eco-stewardship. Such strategies are increasingly vital as current systems spiral into deeper dysfunction – political gridlock, climate breakdown, precarious livelihoods, and much else.

This presentation draws upon Bollier & Helfrich’s new book, ‘Free Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons‘.

This event is in English

Bollier and Helfrich’s new book explores these themes in great depth. It discusses commons as living social systems with their own peer governance, new types of ‘relationalized property’ to move beyond conventional ownership, and commons/public partnerships that leverage the social logic and ethic of commoning.

Following talks by Bollier and Helfrich, experts in technology, art, sustainable agriculture, and politics will reflect on how the idea of the commons has inspired their work and thinking. Invited participants include Marleen Stikker of Waag, the Amsterdam-based organization working on the intersection of technology, science and art, and Sjoerd Wartena of Terre de Liens, the French civic organization that creates access to farmland for organic and peasant farmers.

David Bollier is Director of the Reinventing the Commons Program at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics in the US, and Cofounder of the international Commons Strategies Group.

Silke Helfrich is an independent activist, author, scholar, and speaker. She cofounded the Commons Strategies Group and Commons-Institute, was former head of the regional office of Heinrich Böll Foundation for Central America, Cuba, and Mexico, and holds degrees in Romance languages/pedagogy and in social sciences. Helfrich is the editor and co-author of several books on the Commons and lives in Neudenau, Germany.