Monday, July 23, 2012

I had some really great discussions with people in my last week in Barcelona where monetary fragmentation and striving for a sustainable livelihood are present issues.

On Sunday 8 July I visited the Can Masdeu squat again and talked about Life Without Money in English, with a translator, with 40 to 50 people at the Degrowth Bike Tour Open Day. We gave the bike tour a fond farewell. So many people turned up there was barely enough food to go round, quite the fishes and loaves story. Both the photos, on the left and right, below, were taken at Can Masdeu, one during the talk and the other when I was looking after the cafe earlier in the day. This is in their social centre, at one end of the building they call home.

The next day Carolina Zerpa arranged a workshop about our book and acted as translator for Trade School Barcelona at AureoSocial in Carrer de Sardenya near the Sagrada Familia with about ten people. Trade School Barcelona is just starting and there were competing events so we were pleased with the turnout.

Again there was a great discussion about the possibilities and problems with extricating our livelihoods from monetary structures.
The photos below were taken by Carolina, who is a photographer as well as a driving force behind Trade School Barcelona. We met when she was in New York City, where Trade School started.

On the Wednesday, 11 July, I talked at the ICTA UAB 3rd Summer School and Workshop on Environmental Conflicts and Justice. I had participated on the first day and the 5–6 July workshop at Gaudi's La Pedrera. Do you like the students' sense of humour about our democracy in the photo below? — you can just read it: VOTE HERE.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ostrom and common property

Elinor Ostrom and common property
Posted by ajohnstone at 1:20 PM
On the 3rd July the Times of London carried an obituary for Elinor Ostrom who died on 12 June. She was the first (and so far only) woman to have been awarded a Nobel Prize for economics, not that this is necessarily an honour given the long line of capitalist apologists who have been awarded it in the past. Ostrom, however, was a little different in that she carried out research which refuted one capitalist argument as to why socialism would not work, the so-called "tragedy of the commons". Here's how the Times obituary-writer described her research:

"She put to rest a fallacy that suggested that, left to their own devices, people were incapable of properly managing commonly held property. The widely held belief in the 'tragedy of the commons' stemmed from the bitter experience of selfish herdsmen over-grazing shared common pasture-land, rendering it barren and useless.

By studying first the sharing of common drinking-water supplies in Southern California, then the management of forests in South America, irrigation in Nepal, and fishing off the Maine coast, Ostrom turned conventional wisdom on its head. The traditional response to the 'tragedy of the commons' was for such scarce resources, including common land, public forests, drinking-water stocks, oil fields, and fish in rivers and seas, to be either strictly regulated by government or leased to private interests.

Ostrom showed, using the first-hand tools of the anthropologist rather than the big-canvas theories of politics and economics, that smaller units invariably work better than larger ones and that community management is better than state regulation or private ownership in distributing goods fairly and sustaining scarce resources."

For this, she merits a favorable mention on the Socialism Or Your Money Back blog.