I’m pleased to report that the English edition of a new anthology of essays, The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State, is now available! I’ve been working on editing the book with my German colleague Silke Helfrich for nearly a year and a half, so it’s wonderfully satisfying to see the book in its final, printed form.
Let me immodestly state: Never before have so many different international voices about the commons been brought together in one volume. The Wealth of the Commons consists of 73 essays by a diverse roster of international activists, academics and project leaders. It consists of descriptions of specific commons innovations, essays on the theory and economics of commons, accounts of different types of enclosures around the world, and much else.
There are accounts of fishing commons off the coast of Chile; fruit sharing from abandoned orchards in Germany; and an overview of subsistence forestry in Nepal. There are many accounts of market enclosures, from dam-building in India to mining in South America to the international land grab now underway in Africa and Asia. The book also features a series of essays on knowledge commons and more than a dozen essays focused on commons-friendly policy innovations.
The soft-bound, 442-page book is published by Levellers Press, a small, innovative publisher here in Massachusetts that is also a worker coop and itself ardently committed to the commons. I love the fact that a book on the commons is being published by a publisher that truly honors the Levellers, one of the great movements of commoners in the seventeenth century. The book can be bought from the Levellers website for US$22.50 plus shipping and handling. More about the book can be found on its website, www.wealthofthecommons.org.
One of the purposes of The Wealth of the Commons is to show the depth, breadth and rigor of commons-based activism these days. Silke and I wanted to showcase the diverse international voices now speaking about the commons and show the enormous breadth of commons themes being addressed, much of it beyond the gaze of the mainstream media. Commons activism is especially active in Germany, Italy and India, but it can also be seen among peoples of the global South and among certain affinity groups of commoners such as free/open source software hackers, Wikipedians, defenders of water, locavores, urban activists, among many others.
A German version of The Wealth of the Commons was published in April as Commons: Für eine neue Politik jenseits von Markt und Staat, edited by Silke Helfrich and the Heinrich Böll Foundation and published by transcript verlag. The German edition is slightly different from the English edition, which dropped a few of the German-specific chapters and added a few new ones. It’s been especially encouraging to see how the German edition has attracted considerable mainstream interest and acclaim there. For a sampling (all in German), you can check out here and here.
Indispensable support for the book came from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, especially its President, Barbara Unmüssig, and the head of its department of international politics, Heike Löschmann. I’d also like to thank the dozens of contributors to the volume and their patience during the editing and production process.
We’re hoping that the book will help open up some broader, more robust discussions in political, policy and activist circles that (as the subtitle suggests) move beyond market and state as the only feasible solutions.
You can help us expand the public conversation. If you know of any receptive websites, blogs or media outlets (from talk radio to syndicated columnists), let us know. Suggest that your local library or university library acquire a copy. Take advantage of a bulk discount to buy copies for your book group, Occupy network or church group. Or simply read the book and ponder its implications with your friends and colleagues. We'd love to hear of your reactions to the book and any news of its use.