Will Work For The Commons

for like minded people around the world who find themselves in a similar predicament

We are educated people in our thirties, some of us have families. We feel the responsibility to comply with the system for the safety of our loved ones. Every day, we reluctantly choose to work for companies that don’t (and can’t) pay for their externalities, we choose to work on patented systems, we choose to work for the profit of investors – in exchange for money. We need that money for our mandatory health insurance, to make our partners are eligible for a residency permit, and in most cases (but not all) simply for food and shelter.

Our fingers are itching. We want to work for the Commons. We want to be rewarded for our thinking and doing, for our activism, organizing, building, caring, writing, speaking. Yet our efforts are not worth money, because they all help to remove profitability. We want to restore the Commons, so how can we be rewarded in the currency of the Private, the currency of separation?

We feel the need to make money out of responsibility for our family. We also understand that this money doesn’t come from foundations and NGOs (except for some lucky cases). This is a well-known systemic observation about capitalism (its intrinsic need to grow about 3% each year, its need to overexploit resources). We feel this conflict in our chest. We are sometimes called hypocrites, because we too use resources, but that doesn’t distract us from doing the work that is needed. We keep writing, analysing, experimenting with social and technical solutions. Our sense of urgency is breaking our psychological threshold. Can we make it?

We want to leave our “jobs” and start the work that is now more necessary than ever: The healing work, the nature restoration, the caring work, the repairing of social structures, of village communities, the protection of our coast lines, the clean-up of our oceans, the relocation of the millions climate refugees already on the move, the protection against the next inevitable typhoons and floods in places like Pakistan or the Philippines.

“I would love to – it’s just – I have a family to take care of.”

We live where we experience the least resistance from the incumbent system, in places like Iceland, Portugal, Senegal, Uruguay, Costa Rica or Thailand. We are incredibly versatile. Yet most of us still need that little dirty cash injection every month.

That is why we need our “networks” when we ask for an affordable place to live, and we need to be more networked when we want to thrive as the global messengers and practitioners of a culture of cooperation. We are “on the grid” – actually, we are a chaotic “grid” of individuals with a broad imagination that demands us to mind much more than “our own business”. We need to find each other and develop ways of fair resource exchange that don’t get in the way of the work that needs to be done.

The world we experience is run by the system that catapulted her beyond the industrial age, and now we are fending off its last spasms as we realize we need something radically different. We live simultaneously in an obsolete economic system of infinite growth and in an exciting network that puts cooperation before competition and measures its success by our collective advancement towards a more liveable world for future generations.

We admire people who are working tirelessly for the commons transition. We want to help. But when we make my skills, writings, photographs, designs, and so forth available to the Commons we take the monetary value out of the equation. We like it that way, but the cashier in our local grocery begs to differ.

We will put up with our predicament and make money as long as we need to. Even when we live ourselves in sustainable closed-loop systems will we continue making money, because we need it to promote these systems in the rest of the world. By the time we are ready to completely give up money, that will be just an empty gesture.

So, let’s make these networks as strong as we can. Let’s create this fair resource exchange that doesn’t get in the way of the work that needs to be done. Let’s find each other.

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5 thoughts on “Will Work For The Commons

  1. Well said Kamiel. Money is simply permission to access resources. Other non-currency forms of permission are needed to solve this fundamental problem.

  2. “Dilemma” well highlighted. Collectively and individually, we have to bear in mind that the “commons” is (and should be) also our platform for “earning sustenance” (fair profit), using the very same platform for “value creation” while minimizing costs….. it is a case of economy of “scope” (communal / collaborative) rather than economy of “scale” (capitalistic). In other words, we as communards create our own respective “businesses” in the communal / collaborative setting / environment. This is our biggest hope / advantage / opportunity in the coming new world. Let us uphold and encourage one another.

  3. Good post.
    Clearly describes the problems that arise when theory meets reality. Often one has to make concessions, whether you like it or not….
    But I do believe that there are more and more people starting to think (and live) in an other way than the capitalistic. So, with time, the commons will grow larger and larger, and change will be inevitable!

    Esther

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