Tragedy of the Commons | Oskar Eustis | George Monbiot | Invest in our CommonWealth

I’m from Pennsylvania, one of four States of the 52, which is a Commonwealth. I never really knew how that distinguished PA from any other state. I learned of the concept of the Commons through the writings of George Monbiot. He wrote this article published in the Guardian September 27th, 2017. Don’t let the rich get even richer on the assets we all share – It’s time for communities to seize back control of resources upon which their prosperity depends

Monbiot states that the commons has three main elements. “First a resource, such as land, water, minerals, scientific research, hardware or software. Second a community of people who have shared and equal rights to this resource, and organise themselves to manage it. Third the rules, systems and negotiations they develop to sustain it and allocate the benefits.” He goes on to state:

The commons have been attacked by both state power and capitalism for centuries. Resources that no one invented or created, or that a large number of people created together, are stolen by those who sniff an opportunity for profit…those who capture essential resources force everyone else to pay for access.”

What comes to my mind immediately is companies that for example take (extract/steal)  a region’s water, and then force the local people to pay for what they bottle. Or the fact that various individuals and companies throughout history who tried to buy, destroy or steal the plans of various individuals who designed medical or energy devices that could have provided a product to the public for almost no cost. Instead, they were hidden from public knowledge so that the perpetrators could make a profit through their own devices. By obscuring the competitor’s inventions, they were able to bank on their own goods or services.

Monbiot subsequently published essentially the same themed article in his blog Common Wealth on the 2nd of October, 2018. Entitled Common Wealth – Hope lies with a great, neglected sector of the economy, through which we can create a system that is neither capitalist nor state communist.”

The commons is water, land, air, natural resources, scientific knowledge, natural parks.

Commons is managed for wellbeing.

Tragedy of the Commons, Nicholas Amendolare

Tragedy of the Commons video by Nicholas Amendolare

The Tragedy of the Commons is eloquently described in this video. Basically if a community consumes a common resource too fast for regeneration to occur, people must choose between restricting their own consumption for the good of the community, for if they continue to consume at a rate that satisfies their immediate “self-interest”, there may be dire consequences later. That seems to be what is occurring on the earth presently. However, in terms of consuming and/or spoiling resources, the fact is that it isn’t really the individuals who make up communities who are necessarily at fault. In the last several generations, the resources and supply has for the most part been in the control of a very few. This has upset the balance and tweaked the demand curve.

We’ve gotten into a weird state of affairs in the USA, which is being replicated all over the globe. It used to be the land of effulgent possibilities. Labeled the Land of Opportunity, the American Dream. The land of entrepreneurship. The place where people could be assured that their ideas and efforts could be strengthened and developed. But the dream has been taken hostage by just a small percentage of individuals and groups, who have been able to use their money to buy their passage, gobble up competitors, purchase the media and think tanks to hurl out propaganda and crush anyone in their way.

In the last decades, as a friend says the last 70 years, the emphasis in the States has become top-heavy towards enriching the industrial interests, which has coincided with buttressing the military. A handful of people have been controlling these interests. The process has downright gutted many of the small businesses. Anyone who has been alive long enough in the United States of Amnesia, has seen their local hardware stores, five & dime stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, local boutiques etc, in which you knew the families of the people who owned and operated them, disappear. Now Big Box Stores like Walmart have replaced them. They can’t compete. I mention this in my other blog. https://digesthis.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/the-photo-ark-half-earth-project-plastic-ocean-dolphin-deaths-sonar-seismic-tests-patriotism-to-finance-the-military-industrial-gdp-ecocide/

Robert Reich explains in this video THE MONOPOLIZATION OF AMERICA: The Biggest Economic Problem You’re Hearing Almost Nothing About about how this phenomenon evolved. He says that a century ago there were anti-trust laws preventing any company from getting too large, but that these protections disappeared during the Reagan years. Reich points out that the less businesses there are in competition, the more the few who are in control can create their own prices as well as the wages. No competitor, no problem, for those making the rules.

Robert Reich Monopolization of America Health Care Monopolies 2016

Robert Reich Monopolization of America Health Care Monopolies 2016

Robert Reich Monopolization of America Walmart Drives Down Workers Wages

Robert Reich Monopolization of America Walmart Drives Down Workers Wages

 USA, business, Walmart Nation, Health Care, Boeing

The USA according to what businesses ‘control’ each state. Walmart Nation, Health Care Boeing

 

What we need to do is to step by step, reinvest in our own communities, and take the tools to work side by side. Forming relationships with people and seeing our own work and voices mirrored, empowering people to be intimately tied to their own land. I’m living in a town next to the birthplace of the industrial revolution. A number of people told me how toxic the river was that flowed through this town. The townspeople and any other life that had been here certainly suffered, while the industries reaped financial rewards. The trend in the USA has been for cities to clean up their waterfronts and create common spaces that people can enjoy. That is their heritage, to walk and commune freely with others in public spaces. That’s what I’m talking about here. Except not just riverfront property. I’m talking about fields and woods surrounding towns, forests on the periphery, about national parks, about creating once again and maintaining spaces that are naturally the habitat of other life forms. About taking picks to break up parking lots and creating community gardens instead. About people engaging in these public spaces, with love of the land, connectedness among the people and the desire to protect and allow the land and all the other life forms to flourish.

What I understand in the idea of ‘taking back’ the commons – is for community members, you and I, to have joint ownership of the land; for community members to be entitled to make decisions on how best to use this resource and to together create community works, community theatre, community stores, community gardens, community farms. Because when something is shared and invested in physically and monetarily, one will put effort, love and pride into maintaining it. We have had this tremendous land grab by companies, private sectors, who own vast stretches of land which, one would think, should rightfully be a heritage of the people who walk on the earth. So if the people collectively owned these swaths of land, fields, forests, grasslands, natural parks and so forth, then we the people would be engaged in participating in protecting it. It would be something that belonged to the people, and therefore, instead of being neglected or some other owner reaping vast rewards while the local populations received little, the people could benefit from either choosing to create fields, community gardens, parks with fruit and nut trees. In other words, this would deliver the ownership to the people and the wealth of the land would be valued by the people and recirculated among the people, not trickled off to enrich an owner far away.

Oskar Eustis, Why theater is essential to democracy, TED Talk

Oskar Eustis TED Talk
Why theater is essential to democracy

I had the pleasure of listening to Oskar Eustis, the director of Hamilton, speak at a salon coordinated by the Athenaeum in Providence, Rhode Island. His words echoed the same concepts, of the need to bring back community theatre and arts and take back the country from all who have been dispossessed and cheated. The idea of power coming from below, from the community. He launched the audience with his humor and great storytelling into the past, to the first theatre and the fist actors of ancient Greek history. He mentioned Thespis, the first person ever to appear on stage and Aeschylus, the father of tragedy. He mentioned that it was the Persians who brought to the stage for the first time – not just one actor donning various masks – but two actors to stand side by side on the stage. This new perspective, with dialogue revealing that there could be more than one isolated truth, but a dialectic in which a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view could establish a truth through reasoned arguments, happened to coincide with the beginnings of Democracy at about this same time period.

Eustis stated that the Truth is dialectical. Precedent to Hegel’s dialectic, dialogue asks the audience to listen to two points of view, recognizing that each lead to the truth. Thus theatre, storytelling in its beginnings, came with this perception of each person having a voice. And this recognition through theatre, precipitated Democracy.

Oskar spoke at length about how bringing the theatre to the public, to allow actors and non actors to participate, empowers people. Project Discovery, which Trinity created is theatre of, for and by the people. He mentioned that creativity is inherent in all people, and that it is human to have the desire to create. Some people have had more practice. Creativity simply needs to be nourished.

Oskar Eustis spoke of the fate of the marketplace. That the economy and technology of the last decades has turned its back on the people. Wall Street and corporations operating in this global economy have robbed people of jobs. As the jobs disappeared – outsourced to other countries for cheaper labor – it has pulled communities apart. He talked of revitalizing communities through investing in projects such as theatre. When people can see their own story and speak their own story, they are empowered to share their stories.

Oskar states that “It is our job to knit this country back together, not to be right.

Oskar Eustis’ TED Talk weaves together the idea of a public theatre, common voice and a democratic government.

The Work That Reconnects, Pat van Boeckel

The Work That Reconnects Pat van Boeckel

 

 

One of the practices within The Work that Reconnects is an exercise called the Riddle of the Commons Game. It brings to awareness the fact that people need to balance between their own self-interest and collective self-interest. Each is necessary for the common good.

Greta Thunberg, speech Swedish Parliament, Swedish Schoolstrike

Greta’s powerful speech to Swedish people before the Parliament

 

 

 

 

‘We Have Not Come Here to Beg World Leaders to Care,’ 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Tells COP24. “We Have Come to Let Them Know Change Is Coming. We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules,” says Greta Thunberg, “because the rules have to be changed.”

There’s nothing more important than recognizing that change can happen. Coming through education and arts and activities within your own communities. We can drive that change. If one young girl has already sparked and inspired students in Australia, in another continent, this can ripple. We need to look very, very hard, at what we are choosing, so that we don’t lose what is most precious. You may think your own immediate children are the most precious, but what if there are no trees, woods, grasses, available food, no clean oceans or rivers or lakes, or air, and no other life? It is an astoundingly clear choice to me. We’ve got to make some changes, and we’re going to do this together. And plenty of people are pointing the way, and your own ideas will be as valuable as anyones, collaboratively we will create this change.

My friend Loren Booda states, “Start with hope, funding of positive efforts to return nature and, with native education, make everyone responsible for and aware of their use of resources. The major problem? Almost all of us usually put other needs or wants before the environment.” Full-circle back to The Tragedy of the Commons.

Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

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blogger, Carol Keiter

December 10th, 2018 Carol Keiter

About carolkeiter
Aspiring writer, artist, musician and composer who was born and raised in the United States and has resided in several European countries. Communication is my forte; both through using various tools and in approaching people of divers backgrounds to gather information. Speak conversational - advanced intermediate - French, German and Spanish. Love interacting with people in cultural centers as much as going to remote places to learn more about the different creatures that share our planet. Love of the outdoors and of a variety of outdoor sports. Driven to learn and expand my own consciousness and understanding through curiosity and love of life. Creative skills merge with analytical ones, leading to an interest in a myriad of topics; ranging from politics, economics, science to environmental. Motivated to use my art, music and writing to support and educate people towards humane practices that support and respect all of life, including practices supporting a healthy planet.

One Response to Tragedy of the Commons | Oskar Eustis | George Monbiot | Invest in our CommonWealth

  1. Loren Booda says:

    Individuals are as complex as the systems they inhabit and their evolution.

    A relatively new look at populations is the logistic map, where interacting populations vary chaotically (the rule rather than the exception) according to their initial conditions and time. That is, four fishermen catching four of twelve fish per day seems sustainable, but in reality, even this simple situation can blow up. Fish feed on fish, fishermen grow vegetables, droughts or pollution may interfere etc. — all linked to a basic set of equations.

    Fundamentally, the nonlinear behavior of discrete quadratic equations may never repeat the paths they describe. This is directly related to the “butterfly effect.” Our hearts survive better with moderate arrhythmia, rather than wearing out the same course beat after beat, decade after decade. Robots run down where humans thrive in their own complexity. The planets have maintained their orbits for millions of years, despite the nonlinearity that describes their dynamics. Corporations are often the inhumans of our society, “individuals” with little responsibility to their environment who leave skeletons in their wake.

    The Commons is basically an experiment in cooperation over competition. Listen to your heart and act with nature’s variety, knowing your true place in it. Personality is much like a bodily internalized society. It occupies a place between DNA and humanity, between experience, ethics, and expectation. Give footprints and take the air at your local park.

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