Currently there is no automatic mechanism within the market to protect and build the commons, nor any institution that exists to do so. The commons can be understood as the foundational human, social and natural value that supports life and determines the degree to which communities and individuals can be free to flourish- free to live.
Our collective challenge is to create an economic system that supports life in a way similar to the self-replenishing systems of our planet – hence the central importance of the commons.
Capitalism is a systemic design. Any intervention that genuinely can be classed as systemic must, in some way, address its core mechanisms – ownership, capital, and profit – which too often combine together to extract value and consolidate wealth and power on behalf of fewer and fewer people (with all the adverse social and environmental effects that accompany such a systemic extractive design). In contrast,
A Commons Equity Society structure uses each of these mechanisms in a different way – one that reverses their direction in a generative way and institutionalises virtuous values, cycles, sinks and flows, in an overarching legal structure to create value and commons wealth for more and more people, beyond the state but within the market.
It offers a whole system redesign as a single discrete entity within the existing economic system, which then continues to grow, expanding gradually to eventually create a commons zone within the market. In doing so it contrasts not only stewardship with (private) ownership, but state (public) ownership with the commons as fertile versus infertile ‘ground’.
Taking the analogy further we distinguish between organisations as living and dead spaces. Just as a tuning fork contains the potentiality for a particular sound to emerge, a Commons Equiy Society is a three dimensional socio- economic organisational structure that is a ‘living space’ – that allows life to self-create, self-replenish and self-programme – that enables beingness to emerge and be well.
To our knowledge, the new narrative does not as yet have words to describe this design property beyond ‘facilitative relationality that allows potentiality to emerge’. This property probably applies to people as well as organisations and to time as well as space. When we meet someone with those relational characteristics or skills or when we experience something over time with those properties we feel seen, nourished and inspired to be.
Our individual challenge then – our responsibility – is to use our freedom to be our best – ‘best for the world rather than best in the world’ (i) – in other words in a way that is consistent with the relational arrangements that allow for the flourishing of the whole that enabled us to flourish in the first place.
(i) Richard Barrett