New issues of two of my favorite journals have come out. Time to check out some fascinating articles on commons-related themes. First, an introduction to the two publications, Common Voices and Stir to Action.
Stir to Action – with the tagline, “Anger. Analysis. Action” – is a scrappy, fiercely smart quarterly that prowls the cultural and political frontier that few other publications cover. Stir is published and edited by Jonathan Gordon-Farleigh in the UK. Stir understands, citing Nathan Schneider, that “politics is not a matter of choosing among what we’re offered but of fighting for what we and others actually need, not to mention what we hope for.” While established political journals handicap the horserace with smarty-pants/cynical commentary, Gordon-Farleigh has shown just how much fresh, uncovered political innovation there really is out there. It's not just that "another world is possible," he writes, but that "another world is happening."
Stir deliberately avoids “the disproportionate fixation on Washington and London [that] produces mere spectators who can only rely on financial and political elites to save them and who can only be disappointed and failed by them. This read-only political culture dominates our experience of our options and choices, and the German comedian Klaus Hansen expresses this reversible point in terms of commercial sport — “Football is like democracy: twenty-two people playing and millions watching.” As Stephen Duncombe says in his interview, “It’s not enough to change people’s minds. You have to change the social, political and economic structures in which they live.”
So Stir gets out of London, avoids the venerable pundits and pols, and gets out on the street, and even ventures abroad. In the latest issue, cultural anthropologist Marianne Maeckelbergh has a thoughtful piece about the horizontal decision-making process in the Occupy movement. Maeckelbergh, who has participated in such processes in Barcelona, New York and Oakland, describes the history of participatory decisionmaking models and the rationale for them at Occupy gatherings. She writes: “In order to create new political structures we actually have to let go of certain economic relations which we take as given. For example, horizontal decision-making does not work when we assume a) that resources are scarce, b) that we therefore need to compete with each other and c) ownership is an exclusionary relation – a proprietary relation.”