Last October, a group of seventeen commons activists from throughout Asia – India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Zealand and other countries – met in Bangkok to have a wide-ranging discussion about the future of the commons, especially in fighting neoliberal economics and policy. The primary goal was to discuss economics and the commons from an on-the-ground perspective, and to help identify promising avenues for future research, writing and political action.
This was the second of three “Deep Dive” workshops that the Commons Strategies Group co-hosted with the Heinrich Böll Foundation in the fall of 2012. (The others were in Mexico City and Pointoise, France, near Paris. Here is the report from the European Deep Dive, and here is my previous blog post on it.) A big thanks to Jost Pachaly and his staff at the Böll Foundation in Bangkok for hosting this event!
Because there were so many interesting insights that flowed from those discussions, I have decided to excerpt below some of the more interesting portions of the report that I prepared following the workshop. If you wish to read the full report – a 15-page pdf document – you can download it here.
Nature as a system of abundance. Roberto Verzola, an economist and agricultural activist in the Philippines, opened with a presentation about the inherent abundance of nature – an abundance that market capitalism systematically attempts to negate and control. He compares natural abundance to the “miracle of the loaves” parable in the New Testament of the Bible, in which living things seem to miraculously multiply. Verzola calls this ecological sector of production the “living sector,” which must be seen as qualitatively different from the industrial sector, which by contrast “creates things from dead matter.”