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=== <center>[[George Monbiot]]: [http://www.monbiot.com/2016/0612/15/moneysthe-reachfortifying-commons/ Money’s ReachThe Fortifying Commons]</center> ===<center><span style="color:grey">The European Union looks thoroughly rotten – until you compare it to In the first of a series of columns about possible solutions, I explore how commons could transform society and the alternativesdistribution of wealth</span></center>
15th June December 2016
What it’s about is not what it’s about. The referendum is With one breath, the friends of power told us that global capitalism was a proxy questiondynamic, disruptive force, the source of constant innovation and change. Underlying it is With the fundamental political questionnext, one that [http://www.thomaslfriedman.com/the-world-is seldom asked precisely because -flat-3-0/ they told us] it cuts to the hearthad brought about [https: how do we best keep money out //www.theguardian.com/books/2014/mar/21/bring-back-ideology-fukuyama-end-history-25-years-on the end of politics?history]: permanent stability and peace. There was no attempt to resolve this contradiction. Or any other.
Without sufficient public scrutiny, We were promised unending growth on a finite planet. We were told that a vastly unequal system would remove all political systems degenerate into the service of wealthdifferences. All end up controlled Social peace would be delivered by the few with the cash, not the many with the votesa system based on competition and envy. The primary democratic task is to break Democracy would be secured by the nexus power of money and power. So the question we face next week is this: “In which political unit can money best be resisted?”The contradictions were crashingly obvious. We are not embarrassed by choice. This is a contest of plutocraciesThe whole package relied on magic.
Because none of it works, there is no normal to which to return. The European Union is Keynesian measures espoused by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders – in a festering cesspool of undue influence world crashing into environmental limits and opaque lobbying. Prompted at first [https://www.theguardian.com/businesscommentisfree/20152016/octnov/1123/tobaccodonald-eutrump-delay by the tobacco industry], [http://corporateeurope.org/powerclimate-lobbies/2016/06/betterchange-regulation-corporate-friendly-deregulation-disguise war the European Commission is slowly dismantlingmass destruction of jobs], through what it calls its [http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/index_en.htm “better regulation agenda”], many of the hard-won laws that protect our health, working conditions and wildlife. Once they are torn down, corporate power will be locked as irrelevant in place through the 21st Century as [httphttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfreebooks/20132016/novapr/0415/usneoliberalism-tradeideology-dealproblem-fullgeorge-frontal-assault-on-democracy transatlantic trade and investment partnershipmonbiot the neoliberal prescriptions that caused the financial crisis] it is negotiating with the United States.
TTIP has two main strands. One is In his brilliant, incendiary new book [httphttps://www.globaljusticepenguin.orgco.uk/resourcesbooks/regulatory297618/age-cooperationof-ttip-blueprint-corporate-domination regulatory cooperationanger/ Age of Anger], which means standardising Pankaj Mishra explains the laws on either side current crises as new manifestations of the Atlantic: almost certainly downwardsone long disruption, that has been ripping up society for 200 years or more. The other is Our sanitised histories of Europe and America allow us to forget that bedlam and carnage, civil and international war, [https://www.theguardian.com/businesscommentisfree/20152009/jun/1008/obscurebritish-legalempire-systemcolonies-letsbanks-corportations-sue-states-ttip-icsid investor-state dispute settlementreform colonialism and overseas slaughter]: allowing companies to sue governments through an offshore tribunal if a law threatens their profits. Democracy means being able to change those aspects , racism and genocide were norms of governance we do not like. TTIPthis period, if it goes ahead, will ensure that this is not an optionexceptions.
And if TTIP fails? WellNow the rest of the world is confronting the same disruptive forces, there are other meansas industrial capitalism is globalised. [http://wwwIt destroys old forms of authority while promising universal freedom, autonomy and prosperity.theguardianThose promises collide with massive disparities of power, status and property ownership.com/commentisfree/2016/may/30/ttip-trade-deal-agreements-ceta-eu-canada The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] between Europe and Canada, imposing much result is the global spread of the same package19th-century European diseases of humiliation, quietly transacted, now remains only to be ratifiedenvy and a sense of impotence. A turbocharged versionFrustrated expectations, involving 51 countriesrage and self-disgust have driven support for movements as diverse as Isis, the proposed [https://newrepublic.com/article/121967/whats-really-going-trade-services-agreement Trade resurgent Hindu nationalism and stomping demagoguery in Services Agreement] between North AmericaBritain, the EU US, France and 19 other nations, has been negotiated behind closed doors for the past three yearsHungary.
The How do we respond to these crises? [httphttps://ecwww.europaversobooks.eucom/growthbooks/industry/intellectual642-property/traderesources-secrets/index_en.htm trade secrets directiveof-hope Raymond Williams said]“to be truly radical is to make hope possible, approved by the European Council last month, rather than despair convincing”. I know I have made [httphttps://corporateeuropewww.orgtheguardian.com/power-lobbiescommentisfree/2016/03nov/trade25/13-secretscrises-protection threatens to treat as commercial propertywe-face-trump-soil-loss-global-collapse despair pretty convincing] any information that a corporation hopes to keep out of over [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/30/donald-trump-george-monbiot-misinformation the public domainpast few weeks]. Whistleblowers and campaigners trying to expose corporate malfeasance – tax evasion, falsifying emissions tests, polluting rivers – could be subject, depending on how it So this column is interpreted by the courts, first in an occasional series whose purpose is to massive fines champion new approaches to politics, economics and compensation claimssocial change. If the European Union sometimes looks like a matchmaker for wealth and power, that’s because it There isno going back, no comfort in old certainties. We must rethink the world from first principles.
By comparison There are many points at which I could begin, but it seems to the British system, however, me that an obvious one is this noxious sewer is a crystal spring. Every stream of corporate effluent with which The market alone cannot meet our needs, nor can the EU poisons political life has a more malodorous counterpart in the United Kingdomstate. The new [http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/contents/enacted Deregulation Act]Both, by rooting out attachment, a [http://www.lowimpact.org/how-ttip-fits-perfectly-with-help fuel the-deregulation-act-which-can-overrule-all-other-laws-if-they-affect-growth-or-corporate-interests/ meta-law of astonishing scope]alienation, scarcely known rage and scarcely debated, insists anomie that [http://wwwbreeds extremism.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/section/108/enacted all regulators must now] “have regard to Over the desirability of promoting economic growth”. Rare wildlifepast 200 years, wheelchair rampsone element has been conspicuously absent from the dominant ideologies, speed limits, children’s lungssomething that is neither market nor state: all must establish their contribution to GDPthe commons. What else, after all, are they for?
Britain A commons is an asset over which a community has become a powerbase for [http://wwwshared and equal rights.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/08/britain-civilised-mafia-state a legalised financial mafia]This could, which strips the assets of healthy companiesin principle, turns the nation’s housing into a roulette tableinclude land, [https://wwwwater, minerals, knowledge, scientific research and software.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/media/hsbc-exposed-us-finacial-system-to-money-laundering-drug-terrorist-financing-risks launders money for drug cartels and terrorists], then stashes its gains But at the moment most of these assets [http://www.theguardianmonbiot.com/news1994/201601/apr01/03/whatthe-youtragedy-needof-to-know-about-the-panama-papers beyond the reachenclosure/ have been enclosed] of police and tax inspectors. Through privatisation, outsourcing and : seized by either the state or private finance initiative, the public sector has been repurposed interests and treated as a get-rich-quick scheme for friends in the City, licensed to erect tollbooths in front any other form of essential servicescapital. The mediaThrough this enclosure, largely owned by members we have been deprived of the same class, directs our attention elsewhere: blaming immigrants for the ills it has inflictedcommon wealth.
It was British lobbying that sank Europe’s Some commons still exist. They range from community-owned forests in Nepal and Romania to lobster fisheries in Maine, pastures in East Africa and Switzerland, the Internet, Wikipedia, Linux, journals published by the [https://www.theguardianplos.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2014/jun/05/the-farming-lobby-has-wrecked-efforts-to-defend-our-soil soil framework directiveorg Public Library of Science] and the financial transactions tax. Without a mandate from either Parliament or people, the British trade minister [https://wwwstadinaikapankki.opendemocracywordpress.netcom/ournhs/jurgenin-maierenglish/tradehelsinki-ministerstimebanks-beg-brussels-to-remove-more-national-sovereignty wrote secretlyabc/ timebank in Helsinki] to the European Commission, insisting that investorlocal currencies and open-state dispute settlement should remain in the TTIPsource microscopy. Wherever barriers But these are exceptions to the power general rule of money are being kicked over, there you will find Mr Cameron’s bootprintprivate and exclusive ownership.
Since the first states were established, they have sought power by making alliances. The splendid autonomy we are told a Britain out of Europe would enjoy is an illusionIn [https: we would swap one transnational system for another//www. The demand unitism.com his book Land], the community organiser Martin Adams urges us to leave Europe in see the name of independence land as something that once belonged to everyone and no one, yet has long been accompanied acquired by a desire to surrender our sovereignty to the United States. If judged by their own standardsminority, the Brexit campaigners that excludes other people from its enjoyment. He proposes that those who foresee a stronger alliance with use the US are traitorsland exclusively should pay a “community land contribution” as compensation. This could partly replace income and sales tax, ceding the national interest prevent land hoarding and bring down land prices. The revenue could help to fund a foreign hegemonuniversal basic income. Eventually we might move to a system in which land is owned by the local community and leased to those who use it.
Sixteen years ago, the Conservative party published a draft manifesto Similar principles could apply to energy. The right to produce carbon by burning fossil fuels [httphttps://www.monbiottheguardian.com/2000commentisfree/092008/07jul/vote-conservative-for-a-federal-superstate01/ in which it proposedclimatechange.carbonemissions could be auctioned] that we should join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTAa smaller pool would be available every year). This remains The proceeds could fund public services and a plausible outcome of leaving the EU: it is hard transition to imagine the business class permitting clean energy. Those who wish to use the UK wind or sunlight to stand outside generate power should be asked to pay a formal trading bloccommunity contribution. What this means is swapping a treaty over which we have had some influence for one in which we have had noneOr the generators could be owned by communities – there are [http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/reports/Community%20and%20locally%20owned%202015%20report_final%20version%20171115.pdf already plenty of examples].
How do Rather than allowing corporations to use intellectual property rights to create an artificial scarcity of knowledge, or (like Google and Facebook) to capture the value generated by other people, we know that TTIP would tear down public protections? Because could move towards a “social knowledge economy” of the same clauses in NAFTA kind [http://thinkprogresscommonstransition.org/climatewp-content/2016uploads/012014/0611/3736750/transcanadaCommons-Transition_-suesPolicy-usingProposals-nafta/ have already started doing sofor-a-P2P-Foundation.pdf promoted by the government of Ecuador], across Canada, the US and Mexico. A closer alliance with the United States means surrendering to a system which has been signed, sealed and delivered to the power share of money. The US campaign finance system, a Congress bound and gagged profits could (with dollars, a police and military machine pressed into the service help of plutocracy; a media that scarcely bothers blockchain technology) be exchanged for helping to disguise its own corruption: build online platforms and providing the political power of money there is naked, unashamed, even proudcontent they host.
I suspect that Trump, or at least Trumpery The restoration of some kind, represents the future of US politics, especially if the Democrats fail commons has great potential not only to connect with those who are catastrophically alienated from politicsdistribute wealth but also to change society. Exciting as it will be to have a woman in As the White House, Hillary Clinton is writer [http://wwwthenextsystem.thenation.comorg/articlewp-content/uploads/2016/04/DavidBollier.pdf David Bollier points out], a commons is not just a resource (land or trees or software) but also the-problem-community of people managing and protecting it. The members of the commons develop much deeper connections with-hillary-clinton-isnt-just-her-corporate-cash-its-her-corporate-worldview/ embedded in corporate power each other and their assets than we do as passive consumers of corporate dollars], strategically unable to connectproducts.
We do not release Managing common resources means developing rules, values and traditions. It means, in some cases, re-embedding ourselves from in the power places in which we live. It means reshaping government to meet the needs of money by leaving communities, not corporations. In other words, reviving the EUcommons can act as a counterweight to the atomising, alienating forces now generating a thousand forms of toxic reaction. We just exchange one version for another This is not the whole answer. My hope is that, after exploring a wide range of potential solutions, with the help of your comments and suggestions I can start to develop a synthesis: another a new political, economic and social story, that is even worsemight be matched to the demands of the 21st Century. This Realising it is not an inspiring position from a further challenge, on which we also need to vote Remainwork. But first we must decide what we want. Then we decide how to get it is a coherent one.
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