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=== <center>[[George Monbiot]]: [http://www.monbiot.com/20162017/1205/1526/thelighten-fortifyingthe-commonsdarkness/ The Fortifying CommonsLighten the Darkness]</center> ===<center><span style="color:grey">In the first of a series of columns about possible solutions, I explore how commons could transform society and How dark money is subverting democracy in the distribution of wealthUK</span></center>
15th December 201626th May 2017
With one breath, the friends of power told us that global capitalism was a dynamic, disruptive force, the source of constant innovation and change. With the next, How is this acceptable? A multimillionaire City asset manager [httphttps://www.thomaslfriedmantheguardian.com/thepolitics/2017/may/13/millionaire-worldbrexit-isdonor-flattargets-3remain-0/ they told usmps has pledged to spend up to £700,000 on ousting Labour MPs] it had brought about who campaigned against Brexit. [https://www.theguardian.com/bookspolitics/20142017/marmay/2113/bringbrexit-backreferendum-ideologygeneral-fukuyamaelection-endjeremy-historyhosking-25conservative-yearsparty-on the end of historymp-europe-eu Jeremy Hosking]: permanent stability and peace. There was no attempt will use his money to resolve this contradiction. Or any otherensure that there is as little parliamentary opposition to a hard Brexit as possible.Why should multimillionaires be allowed to try to buy political results?
We were promised unending growth on Allowed? That’s too soft a finite planetword. We were told that a vastly unequal system would remove all differences. Social peace would be delivered It is enabled by a system based our pathetic, antiquated and anti-democratic rules on competition and envypolitical spending. Democracy would be secured by Hosking claims he wants to secure “the sovereign future of this independent-minded democracy”. But there is no greater threat to sovereignty, independence or democracy than the power of money. The contradictions were crashingly obvious. The whole package relied on magicwields over our politics.
Because none There are three categories of it worksconcern here. The first is transparent political funding, such as Hosking’s. Then there is no normal opaque funding, that the Electoral Commission has so far failed to which to return. The Keynesian measures espoused by Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders – in prevent: a world crashing into environmental limits and shocking example has been [https://www.theguardianopendemocracy.comnet/commentisfreeuk/2016/nov/23/donaldpeter-trumpgeoghegan-climateadam-change-war the mass destruction of jobs] – are as irrelevant in the 21st Century as [https:ramsay//www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalismmysterious-dup-ideologybrexit-problemdonation-georgeplot-monbiot the neoliberal prescriptions that caused the financial crisis]thickens uncovered by Peter Geoghegan and Adam Ramsay of openDemocracy.]
In his brilliant, incendiary new book We already know that a vast payment was made by Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party (DUP) for a [https://www.penguin.coopendemocracy.net/uk/bookspeter-geoghegan-adam-ramsay/297618/ageyou-aren-oft-allowed-anger/ Age of Anger], Pankaj Mishra explains the current crises as new manifestations of one long disruption, that has been ripping up society for 200 years or more. Our sanitised histories of Europe and America allow us to forget that bedlam and carnage, civil and international war, [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/jun/08/british-empireknow-colonieswho-bankspaid-reform colonialism and overseas slaughterfor-key-leave-campaign-adverts newspaper advertisement urging people to vote for Brexit.]Remarkably, racism and genocide were norms of this period, ad was not exceptionscirculated in Northern Ireland, but only in England and Scotland.
Now the rest This might suggest that someone was making use of the world is confronting the same disruptive forces, Northern Ireland’s secrecy regime. Political donations there remain hidden from view. Funders wishing to disguise their identities can use Northern Ireland as industrial capitalism is globaliseda back channel into UK politics. It destroys old forms of authority while promising universal freedomAfter sustained pressure, autonomy and prosperity[https://www. Those promises collide with massive disparities of power, status and property ownershipopendemocracy. The result is net/uk/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/electoral-commission-contradict-dup-on-brexit-donor-transparency the global spread of DUP revealed] that the 19th-century European diseases of humiliation, envy and money came from a sense donation of impotence. Frustrated expectations£425, rage and self-disgust have driven support for movements as diverse as Isis, resurgent Hindu nationalism and stomping demagoguery in Britain622, passed through an organisation called the US, France and HungaryConstitutional Research Council.
How do we respond to these crises? [https://wwwBut the original source remains a mystery.versobooks.com/books/642-resources-Though electoral law in Great Britain states that “a donation of-hope Raymond Williams said] “to more than £500 cannot be truly radical accepted … if the donation is to make hope possiblefrom a source that cannot be identified”, rather than despair convincing”. I know I have made [https://www.theguardianopendemocracy.comnet/commentisfreeuk/2016/nov/25/13peter-crisesgeoghegan-weadam-faceramsay/mysterious-trumpdup-soilbrexit-lossdonation-globalplot-collapse despair pretty convincingthickens the DUP claims that] over it doesn’t need to know who provided this money. All we know about the Constitutional Research Council is that it’s run by a man called [https://www.theguardianopendemocracy.comnet/commentisfreeuk/2016adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/nov/30/donaldsecretive-trumpdup-georgebrexit-donor-links-to-monbiotsaudi-misinformation the past few weeksintelligence-service Richard Cook]. So this column is the first in an occasional series whose purpose is to champion new approaches to politics, economics and social change. There is no going back, no comfort who lives in old certaintiesa small house outside Glasgow. We must rethink He seems unlikely to have been the world from first principlesoriginal source.
There are many points at which I could begin, but it seems What else do we know about him? [https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/secretive-dup-brexit-donor-links-to me -saudi-intelligence-service OpenDemocracy discovered] that an obvious one is this. The market alone cannot meet our needs, nor can the state. Bothin 2013 he helped found a company called Five Star Investments, 75% of which was owned by rooting out attachmentPrince Nawwaf al-Saud, help fuel the alienation, rage and anomie that breeds extremismformer head of Saudi Arabian intelligence. Over Nawwaf’s son is currently the past 200 years, one element has been conspicuously absent from the dominant ideologies, something that is neither market nor state: Saudi ambassador to the commonsUK.
A commons There is an asset over which a community has shared and equal rights. This couldcurrently no known connection between these facts, in principle, include land, water, minerals, knowledge, scientific research and softwareCook has denied any foreign funding for the CRC. But at he has not yet answered calls from openDemocracy or the moment most of these assets Guardian. Though the Electoral Commission [httphttps://www.monbiotopendemocracy.comnet/1994uk/01adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/01/theelectoral-tragedycommission-ofcontradict-enclosure/ have been encloseddup-on-brexit-donor-transparency was asked 11 months ago]: seized by either the state or private interests and treated as any other form of capital. Through this enclosureto investigate, we have been deprived of our common wealthit has done nothing.
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 This story resonates with the [https://www.plostheguardian.org Public Library of Sciencecom/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy deeply troubling revelations by Carole Cadwalladr in the Observer], which suggest that the US billionaire Robert Mercer may have played a questionable role in our EU referendum. Thanks to the Observer, the Electoral Commission is investigating. But if it discovers any breaches of the rules, the penalties are feeble. The monumental decision this country has taken, which may have been unduly influenced by [https://stadinaikapankkiwww.wordpresstheguardian.com/in-englishtechnology/2017/may/14/helsinkirobert-timebanksmercer-abc/ timebank in Helsinki], local currencies and opencambridge-source microscopy. But these are exceptions to analytica-leave-eu-referendum-brexit-campaigns the general rule of private and exclusive ownershipforces Cadwalladr describes], will not be reversed.
In The third issue is political funding that operates in a different sphere. It’s not illegal, it’s worse than that: there are no effective rules of any kind. This is the use of [https://www.unitismtheguardian.com his book Land], the community organiser Martin Adams urges us to see the land as something /commentisfree/2017/feb/02/corporate-dark-money-power-atlantic-lobbyists-brexit dark money that once belonged seeks not to everyone and no oneinfluence elections directly, yet has been acquired by a minority, that excludes other people from its enjoyment. He proposes that those who use but to change the land exclusively should pay a “community land contribution” as compensationbroader political landscape]. This could partly replace income and sales taxDark money is funding used, without public knowledge, prevent land hoarding and bring down land prices. The revenue could help to fund a universal basic income. Eventually we might move to a system in which land is owned by the local community and leased to those who use itfront groups.
Similar principles could apply to energyThere are various ways in which it is spent. The right to produce carbon One of them is “astroturfing”: the creation of fake grassroots movements. Pioneered by burning fossil fuels the tobacco companies, this later became a [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfreeenvironment/20082006/julsep/0119/climatechangeethicalliving.carbonemissions could be auctionedg2 crucial strategy for fossil fuel companies] (a smaller pool would be available every year). The proceeds could fund public services and a transition trying to clean energyprevent action on climate change, and [http://www. Those who wish to use the wind or sunlight to generate power should be asked to pay a community contributionmonbiot. Or com/2002/05/14/the generators could be owned by communities – there are -fake-persuaders/ biotech firms] trying to get their [http://www.energysavingtrustmonbiot.org.ukcom/sites2002/default05/files29/reportscorporate-phantoms/Community%20and%20locally%20owned%202015%20report_final%20version%20171115products on the market].pdf already plenty It was a major component of examplesthe [https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/oct/25/tea-party-koch-brothers Tea Party movement]in the United States, whose real members were coordinated by a group called Americans for Prosperity, founded by the Koch brothers.
Rather than allowing corporations Another outlet for dark money is the organisations that call themselves thinktanks, but look to use intellectual property rights to create an artificial scarcity of knowledge, or (me like Google and Facebook) to capture the value generated by other peoplecovertly funded lobbyists. The less transparent they are, we could move towards a “social knowledge economy” of the kind [http://commonstransition.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Commons-Transition_-Policy-Proposals-for-a-P2P-Foundation.pdf promoted by greater their presence in the government of Ecuador]. A share of profits could (with the help of blockchain technology) be exchanged for helping to build online platforms and providing the content they hostmedia.
The restoration of the commons has great potential not only to distribute wealth but also to change society. As the writer research group [http://thenextsystemwww.transparify.org/wppublications-contentmain/uploads/2016/04/DavidBollierTransparify ranks these “thinktanks” by their openness about their funding].pdf David Bollier points out], a commons is not just a resource The Institute of Economic Affairs (land or trees or softwareIEA) but also , the community of people managing Adam Smith Institute and protecting itPolicy Exchange, for example, are rated as “highly opaque”: they refuse to reveal any information about who sponsors them. The members of But they are all over the commons develop much deeper connections with each BBC – the Today programme , Question Time and the rest – and other and their assets than we do as passive consumers of corporate productsmedia.
Managing common resources means developing rulesThe industry whose funding we know most about, values and traditionsthanks to a legal settlement that forced open [https://www. It meansindustrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/tobacco/ its archives], is tobacco. We now know, in some casesfor example, re-embedding ourselves in that the places in which we liveIEA has been [http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index.php/IEA:_History_of_Close_Ties_with_the_Tobacco_Industry sponsored by tobacco companies since 1963]. It means reshaping government to meet the needs of communities, not corporationshas [http://www.tobaccotactics.org/index. In other wordsphp/Institute_of_Economic_Affairs received regular payments] from British American Tobacco, reviving Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International, which has described the commons can act institute as a counterweight to the atomising, alienating forces now generating a thousand forms one of toxic reactionthe groups that would “establish an echo chamber for [Philip Morris] messages”.
This is not Last week the whole answer[https://iea.org. My hope uk/media/uk-is that, after exploring -second-worst-country-in-the-eu-for-nanny-state-interference/ IEA published a wide range of potential solutions, with report] inveighing against the help of your comments UK’s smoking ban and suggestions I can start to develop tobacco packaging law. This was picked up across the media, but with never a synthesisword about the institute’s funding. Apart from the BBC’s editorial guidelines, which are [https: a new political//www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/12/bbc-declare-interests-contributors-tobacco routinely flouted], economic and social story, that might be matched there are no rules of any kind to the demands prevent or reveal such conflicts of the 21st Centuryinterest. Realising it is a further challenge Is this democracy? Is this sovereignty? No. It’s the replacement of informed political choice with an onslaught of corporate propaganda and fake facts, on which , as we also need don’t have 100 years between elections to work. But first check and refute, we must decide what we wanthave little chance of resisting. Then  Why has there been no effective action on climate change? Why are we decide how choking on air pollution? Why is the junk food industry able to get exploit our children? Because governments and their agencies have rolled over and let such people make a mockery of informed consent. Now the whole democratic system is sliding, and the Electoral Commission is neither equipped nor willing to stop it. There’s an urgent, unmet need for new laws to defend democracy.
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