Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Commons Versus Common Ownership

There is within the environmental movement a growing element that adhere to the politics of developing the Commons.
SOYMB can only acknowledge that such proponents have gone beyond the prevailing ideas of conventional capitalist private property economics. They share our object for a 'fairer world’.and in one way or another they highlight major flaws in the capitalist system and offer deas on how many things could be improved to work better for more people.

There is an increasing call for the global food supply to be treated as a common good in the transition toward a more sustainable food system. food is according to the advocates is a:
basic human need and should be available to all and a fundamental human right that should be guaranteed to every citizen.

They argue:
 “Food, a limited yet renewable resource that comes in both wild and cultivated forms, is essential for human existence. Over time, it has evolved from a local resource held in common into a private, transnational commodity. This process of commodification has involved the development of certain traits within food to fit the mechanized processes and regulations put in practice by the industrial food system, and it is also the latest stage in the objectification of food—a social phenomenon that has deprived food of all its non-economic attributes.”

They explain that:
 “The industrial food system’s enclosure of food through the privatization of seeds and land, legislation, excessive pricing, and patents, has played a large role in limiting our access to food as a public good. The system now feeds the majority of people living on the planet and has created a market of mass consumption where eaters become mere consumers.”

It is pointed out that:
“”Within the mainstream “no money no food” worldview, hunger still prevails in a world of abundance. Globally speaking, the industrial food system is increasingly failing to fulfill its basic goals of producing food in a sustainable manner, feeding people adequately, and avoiding hunger.”

What is proposed as solutions is:
“ the “re-commonification” of food — or, in other words, a transition where we work toward considering food as a commons...Food would need to be dealt with outside of trade agreements made for pure private goods, and, as a result, we would need to establish a particular system of governance for the production, distribution, and access to food at a global level. That system might involve binding legal frameworks to fight hunger and guarantee everyone the right to food, cosmopolitan global policies, ethical and legal frameworks, universal Basic Food Entitlements or Food Security Floors guaranteed by the state, minimum salaries matched to food prices, bans on the financial speculation of food, or limits on alternative uses of food, such as biofuels.”

Food is to remain a “marketable product subject to fair trade” The supporters of this food democracy movement  inform us “Unregulated markets simply cannot provide the necessary quantity of food for everyone — even if low-income groups were given the means to procure it. An industrial food system that views food as a commodity to be distributed according to market rules will never achieve food security for all. There won’t be a market-driven panacea for our unsustainable and unjust food system” (SOYMB emphasis) Their “unconventional and radical perspectives” turns out to be a solution based upon “market-led, state-led, and collective action-led” approaches.(again SOYMB emphasis)

This failing to comprehend the basic nature of capitalism reveals the confusion that leads to such contradictory propositions. There is not  a call for a non-capitalist alternative, just adjustments even if some of them are quite major. but where the market can still be retained but a new system can be organised around it without the negative aspects that now abound. It is a forlorn hope.

In socialism the producers, the immediate users of the common resources, would not be trying to make an independent living for themselves but would be carrying out a particular function on behalf of the community in a social context where the aim of production would be to satisfy needs on a sustainable basis. Let’s apply this call for food to be produced and distributed for the common good to all the means of production: let them all be owned in common and used for the good of people by means of production for use. There will be no need for rules to guarantee this in a socialist society based on cooperation and democracy, where decisions are made at the most appropriate level. This is not the kind of ‘one size fits all’ solution since socialism need not be exactly the same everywhere and at all times, though plainly its basic principles will not vary. The solution is socialism,  a system of economic production and consumption where the commons is for all and wealth is shared by all but owned by none.

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