My commons colleague in Germany, Silke Helfrich, has pulled together a succinct, persuasive account of how the commons helps us get beyond the relentless growth imperatives of the contemporary economy. She presented her ideas two weeks ago at the Attac Congress, “Beyond Growth,” in Berlin. (A German version of her talk, “Commons Beyond Growth,” is available here.)
Below is Silke’s penetrating analysis about how the commons can help cultivate practical new models of provisioning without the pathologies of compulsive, unsustainable growth:
- Commons reduce money-induced growth because they make us more independent of money. The more we produce commons, the less we or the state has to pay for goods.
- Commons reduce population-induced growth because they are associated with a multiplicity of sufficiency strategies which create prosperity by sharing.
- Commons escape the growth compulsion, because all those things that are produced as commons, do not have to be made artificially scarce. And there is no incentive for artificial scarcity because commons are not produced as goods to be exchanged but they foster and maintain social relationships, satisfy needs and solve problems. Directly.
Thus far the vision of the future – but we have not got there yet. In the here and now a lot more must be thought through, discussed and fought for. Therefore, in what follows I will briefly give my reasoning.