Commons are highly money efficient, as Wolfgang Sachs once pointed out. They enable us to become less reliant on money, and therefore more free from the structural coercion of markets.
Moreover, the guifi experience shows that it is entirely possible to build “large-scale, locally owned, broadband infrastructure in more locations than telco [telephone company] incumbents,” as open technology advocate Sascha Meinrath put it.16 The mutualizing of costs and benefits in a commons regime has a lot to do with this success.
- Everyone is familiar with the “free market” even though its variations — stock markets, grocery stores, filmmaking, mining, personal services, labor — are at least as eclectic as the commons. But culturally, we regard the diversity of markets as normal whereas commons are nearly invisible.
- This task becomes easier once we realize that there is no single, universal template for assessing a commons. Each bears the distinctive marks of its own special origins, culture, people, and context.
- Why do so many discussions about commons rely on economic categories of analysis (“types of goods,” “resource allocation,” “productivity,” “transaction costs”) when commons are primarily social systems for meeting shared needs? This question propelled us on a process to reconceptualize in its fullest sense what it means to engage in commoning.