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Why are contemporary insurrectionists in the USA so obsessed with "the commons"

+3 votes
I have seen many manifestos and communiques recently from supposed "insurrectionists" like those in Seattle and St. Louis among other places where the goal is to just expand or retake "the commons" ... it is just such a typical liberal demand.

Is it just cause most insurrectionists are former college radi-liberals? I mean at least TCI said "communes" it used to be "autonomous zones" it just seems like anarchy activism land rehashed with helvetica.

What do you think?

edited re: tags
asked Jul 23, 2012 by anonymous
edited Jul 15, 2014 by dot
They like parks.

1 Answer

+2 votes
I think it is due to a lack of critical dialogue.  I personally would like to have more of a critical exchange that challenges my ideas.

But I suppose a deeper answer could be that the United States doesn't have a concept of permanent "commons".  Commons in the U.S. would have to be privately owned, but offered to all.  Public areas are only common as long as politics doesn't desire to see a shift in such things.  We see public parks, often considered common, reduced much later.  While the idea of imminent domain could even destroy a privately owned "common", this isn't a very typical thing to happen.

I don't want to speak too ignorantly, but IIRC, Europe's commons has to deal with residual monarchic trappings where the monarch would grant territory to the common people for its open use.  

The idea of sharing and shared ownership and/or responsibility is part of the collective experience many anarchists desire to have with others.  Because the insurrectionary method is about combining individual desire within a collective experience, it stands to reason that insurrectionary anarchists may be attracted to such concepts.  However, they might compare such concepts, which are part of the sphere of civil society with that of war between countries, where states annex territories from each other.  So if land is put to common use, many may feel they won something political against a state, when in fact there is plenty of room for states to give in to the interests of civil society rather than to business interests.  Both are forces within the social order and by gaining common land, there is no real loss of power by the social order.

In some place, it was argued that we are constantly empowering the social order in most things we do anymore.  It may be argued that by doing these things we might create some level of collective autonomy among people that can shift towards attack and conflict.  It is perhaps in this avenue that insurrectionary anarchists think the commons may offer the ability for empowerment that Tiqqun's argument of creating communes does.  

This is speculative, of course, but it seems that if one is willing to accept most any positive project as further enforcing the power of that which dominates us and if people feel that negative projects don't carry the rallying power to generate a collective experience, then things like the commons is that middle ground where their might exist hope that positive and negative can combine, commons can become communes, autonomous zones can become insurrections.  Probably not true, but I suppose there is always hope.
answered Jul 23, 2012 by hpwombat (3,910 points)
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