Alternative Avenues: The Pluralist Commonwealth

Here’s a video and website that explains another alternative economic model that looks to explain an alternative to corporate capitalism and authoritarian state socialism, focusing on sustainability, democratic and community engagement and equality and liberty. The commonwealth denotes that the economic foundations of society are broadly spread and democratized, and the pluralist emphasises its concerns with the resilience provided from a variety of types and sizes of institutions rather than overbearing monopolies provided in the two other mentioned alternatives:


Peer Production License

Here’s an idea that aims to protect public communal knowledge from the profiteering of private private parties, in part to encourage a reciprocal economy. It looks to shift the structural logic of capitalism that rather than driving toward accumulations of capital in less hands, attempts to redirect capital to support and reinforce the commons. The process would generate a way of providing income for those peer producers who commit their efforts to open source knowledge, and so give them the economic support to increase their engagement with a part of the economy that is currently limited by financial restraints. This could be a great model for universities and other state funded research, and makes me wonder how much of those Apple profits would have been communally shared if all the technology they have benefited from were under this model:

Participatory Democracy: How Democracy Might Be Done Differently.

Whilst the mainstream media and established powers might intimate that the functioning of democracy would not be possible when placed in the hands of the people, this article suggests a number of ways that they could be involved, and have already in some places:

Windows on a New World

“If you’ve been told your whole life that things are the way other people tell you they are, to be able to think ‘No, well I can make it different’ is quite a big deal.”

Here’s yet another example of the difference people can make when they choose to come together and organise. What starts off as a sit down strike in Chicago, demanding that workers are paid their wages, eventually culminates in a new cooperative run through democratic processes:

You’ve Gotta Take The Power Back

Setting up your own renewable energy source can be financially beneficial, as these two variations demonstrate.  Political support for the process means you can either dial your meter backwards, or even get paid more than you would spend in buying a similar amount back:

Marinaleda: An Alternative Economics

Here’s a town that has, since 1979, engaged as a community in direct action and created its own niches within the local economy to sustain its own social support network.  This has included land reclaiming, a cooperative olive farm and co-op homes amongst other initiatives:

Raising Capital for Community Projects

Direct Public Offerings offer the opportunity to raise money that will support community projects without having the domineering requirements of quick profits or loss of control that might come with the usual funding opportunities. Read here for more:

Comunalidad: Positioning not for your self

Here are two articles that act as an introduction to the notion of Comunalidad, a concept emphasised in Oaxaca, Mexico.  It is introduced/summarised as:

“Comunalidad is a way of understanding life as being permeated with spirituality, symbolism, and a greater integration with nature. It is one way of understanding that human beings are not the center, but simply a part of this great natural world. It is here that we can distinguish the enormous difference between Western and indigenous thought.”

“the vitality of comunalidad as it presents itself witnesses to the integration of four basic elements: territory, governance, labor, and enjoyment (fiesta). The principles and values that articulate these elements are respect and reciprocity.”

“What needs to be taught is nothing more than sharing the sharing of anger, enchantment, routine, misfortune, pain, tenderness, joy…All of which leads us to understand that no one can teach anyone else, or all of us must teach each other, and with that we reproduce intentions and resolve needs. This is what we learn from comunalidad.”


In this then…

“Communal beings, as Benjamín Maldonado affirms, make sense of themselves in terms of their relationship with the land… a relationship with the land that is not mercantile, a relationship of sharing and caring. That is, humans are linked to the land not only for organic sustenance, but also for spiritual and symbolic sustenance…We must find in the experience of our peoples the lessons necessary to create new conceptual frameworks. And we must not be afraid to construct new epistemological notions that will lead us to transcend even ourselves.”

The second article before relating an experience of comunalidad, first relates an encounter with choba-choba in Peru:

“The term choba choba is a Quechua word that means ‘hair with hair’ (choba means ‘hair’ in Quechua Lamas).  The significance of the meaning of choba-choba comes from the interweaving of hair braids that occurs during marriages.  This notion is extended to the interweaving of people, communities and the land.”

Before moving on to tell us how comunalidad focuses around four aspects:

“1. Territory:  Territory involves knowing the land where one is, the place that sustains the community, its history and stories, its plants and animals, not unlike what the Blackfoot where also teaching at Red Crow around place-based learning and traditional foods.

2. Work: Work involves the different kinds of jobs and skills that people from the community take part in and which is not necessarily only about an individuals’ work and skills. This can also be about collective or cooperative forms of work such as the choba chobain Peru, or the mutirão in Brazil.

3. The organisation of the community: The organisation of community life in indigenous communities and around Oaxaca happens through the various assemblies and individual roles of responsibility, cargo, which take charge of different aspects of the community.

4. The fiesta: Lastly, the fiesta is the celebration of work, of the community and the land, also having as Jaime points out, a spiritual dimension. It is the culmination of community life and comunalidad.”

Anyway read more yourself to give you a fuller picture:

Community Wealth Building

Here’s a website of an organisation that has a focus on creating an alternative economic system rooted in shared ownership and control, as well as ecological sustainability, emphasising the values of:

  • Broadening ownership and stewardship over capital
  • Democracy at the workplace
  • Stabilizing community and emphasizing locality
  • Equitable and inclusive growth
  • Environmental, social, and institutional sustainability:

The Natural Commons As A Community To Which We Belong, Rather Than A Resource To Be Exploited

These two articles explain the basics of Community Land Trusts.  The thought behind these is that communal ownership of the natural resources, particularly in relation to the land, enables them to be used in a more responsible manner as many of those who are affected have a say in how they are used.  The alternative, that private interests are allowed to own the land and use its resources how they see fit, often leads to a pillaging of the resources with minimal concern for the impact this has on the rest of the community.  Whilst predominantly used in relation to community housing projects there are developments that see the retaining of ownership of the land by the community also being used responsibly to encourage other opportunities that benefit the community as a whole such as agricultural and commercial projects.  The crucial aspect is that if the community as a whole owns the land, the community as a whole can set the terms by which it is used, and also revoke the right to use it: