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(en) new commoner* (issue #9) http://www.thecommoner.org . . . a web journal for other values . . .

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 3 Jul 2004 13:02:37 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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Dear Friends, this to let you know that Number 9 of The Commoner is out on the theme:
life despite capitalism: the "virtual" and the "actual". Below you find
the table of content and the introduction. Please circulate in your network
best wishes - M. D. A.
The Commoner. Spring/summer 2004 N. 9 Articles include:
James W. Lindenshmidt From Virtual Commons To Virtual Enclosures:
Revolution and Counter-Revolution In The Information Age
Matthias Studer. Gift and Free Software .
Ariel Salleh. Sustainability and Meta-Industrial Labour: Building a
Synergistic Politics

Mercedes Moya. Some Common Goods: an Afro-colombian view

Franco Barchiesi. Citizenship as Movement. Migrations, Social Control
and the Subversion of State Sovereignty.

Amory Starr. Free trade in the Americas: the very best in extrajudicial


Groundzero war: George Caffentzis. Is Truth Enough?

Reviews and Letters

Massimo De Angelis. There is no Alternative versus There are Many
Alternatives. A review of Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar and Peter
Waterman (eds.) 2004. World Social Forum. Challenging Empires New Delhi:
The Viveka Foundation. 402 pp. (London distribution: Global Book


Life despite capitalism: The "virtual" and the "actual"

In this issue of The Commoner, we bring together diverse contributions
all highlighting what people and communities are up against in creating
and sustaining modes of life despite capitalism, whether these modes of
life are in the street of Miami, along the rivers of Colombia, emerging
from the flows of migrants, or flourishing within the post-scarcity
cyberspace. We bridge these with one paper by Ariel Salleh making the
case for the need to bring the invisible work of reproduction, what she
calls meta-industrial labour, at the center of a Synergistic politics.
This labour is characterised by the direct mediation of human and
natural cycles whereas productivist labour, is linear and pursues a
single goal regardless of consequence. We see this in agribusiness,
mining, manufacture, and science as usual, where human instrumental
rationality leaves disorder in nature, and human poverty as collateral
to it. Globally invisible, meta-industrial work instead maintains the
necessary biological infrastructure for all systems of reproduction of
livelihoods, but with capitalist expansion, this labour is carried out
at growing material cost to the life conditions of meta-industrials
themselves - mostly women.

The first contribution by James W. Lindenshmidt is a detailed analysis
of the dynamic of revolution and counter-revolution of cyberspace.
Borrowing from the theoretical frameworks of Midnight Notes and of this
journal, he explains the nitty-gritty of the creation of virtual commons
and the open and subtle strategies promoted by capital to enclose and
commodify this space. In this way, it is possible to identify how
capital creates scarcity in a post-scarcity virtual space. These
enclosures of the virtual commons are not enforced by shotguns or by
depleted-uranium missiles. The virtual enclosures are perfectly
enforceable, because the rules of enforcement are being architected into
the code of the Internet itself. Cyberspace is malleable, and it is
increasingly being cast into a space with an infrastructure of built-in,
centralized control.

This analysis is echoed by Matthias Studer, who analyzes the free
software movement in terms of the theory of gift exchange developed by
the M.A.U.S.S. (Mouvement Anti-Utilitariste en Sciences Sociales), a
network of researchers developing the insights of the founder of the
French school of anthropology, Marcel Mauss who is relatively unknown in
the Anglo-Saxon world (see Olivier de Marcellus' article in The Commoner
N. 6). The paper provides an insightful analysis of how hackers
communities creation of free software gravitate around practices of
liberty and cooperation. It discusses the horizontal organizing
principles that emerge in these productive communities, what happens to
issues such as leadership and hierarchy when freedom is an organizing
principle of production, and compares how the logic of gift exchanges
differ from the logic of commodity exchanges. And we discover that we do
not need to be programmers to be hackers, as one can very well be a
hacker in philosophy or astronomy, or even in the politics for another
world, for being a hacker is mainly a question of attitude.

Mercedes Moya's contribution, with a contextualising introduction by
Olivier de Marcellus, is a gift to us directly from those commons
created by rebel slaves setting up communities along Colombian rivers
and thus detaching themselves from the world market of the 18th century.
As Columbian afro-descendent, she tells us about a struggle for freedom
that ended in intimate association with commons, she give us an image of
river banks along which the afro-colombians constructed a social
identity marked by interdependance with the rivers, lagoons, woods,
flatlands, periodic floods, torrential rains, days of sun with rain and
days of sun with sun. And she tells us how these commons face up the
enclosing force of contemporary global markets and “economic
development”. And while the agents of these new enclosures are the
state, industry and national or international finance, or violent
traffickers and paramilitaries, the attitude of the left (reformist or
“revolutionary”) is often not much of help. They are often reluctant to
admit the right of this “world” to organise itself autonomously, by its
own standards, without sacrifice to the gods of national interest or
“development”. Often the left considers communities based on commons as
backward, since they measure them in terms of the devastation of natural
resources. For these communities instead, the real measure to judge
development is common goods and as a vital space of resistance. Our
Afro-colombian friend tell us (with a little twinkle in their eye) that
white Colombians of the highlands – long since stripped of its tree
cover – point to the fact that the black communities haven’t razed
their forests as proof of their inherent laziness...

With Franco Barchiesi's paper, we move from the virtual to the actual
space occupied by border police and hiding-out migrants in a context of
world-wide enclosures. The impact of international migrations on Western
capitalist societies questions their very capacity to define borders and
regulate access to citizenship rights, to decide who are citizens and
who are not, and what resources citizens can enjoy. Migration in other
words, is a social movement that challenges the existing concept of
rights. Instead it poses a new understanding of social rights that is
linked to de-commodification and the claim for new commons. By
cross-contamination and circulation of the struggles of the migrants and
of the movements in receiving countries, they can both themselves start
seize back what had been taken away from them in the decades of
neoliberal restructuring, through struggles that transcend the narrow
boundaries of nation-state institutionality.

Amory Starr's contribution is a reminder of what stand in between the
space of communities and commons and the strategies of commodification
and intensification of global market discipline. It is an account of the
events in November 2004, when US unions and activists planned a large
presence at the FTAA/ALCA/ZLEA negotiations in Miami, Florida. The city
of Miami bragged that the law enforcement for the events would be a
"model" for Homeland Security -- the draconian post-911 federal
legislation which created a new agency for anti-terrorism and justified
broadbased violation of rights during investigation and prosecution.
While activists of all stripes bravely prepared educational events,
marches, political art, and direct action to disrupt the legalization
and codification of hemispheric corporate plunder, no less than 40 law
enforcement agencies violated protesters' rights. Even elders and those
attending educational events were targeted. The police plan was to
"limit" protest in order to "prevent violence". In practice they created
a "deliberate and pervasive pattern of intimidation" including hunting
activists violently and indiscriminately for over 30 blocks from the
actual meeting site. This police operation seemed intended to terrorize
citizens (both participants and observers) from future acts of dissent.
Here we present Amory Starr report of the week "Hunted in Miami" as well
as the lawsuits filed against the agencies detailing the terrorizing
tactics of the police.
* [Ed. Note: The Commoner is of the libertarian communist
/ Autonomeous Marxist trend - I.S.]

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