Posted by: Tony Shannon | December 22, 2017

Not the State/Not the Market: Look forward to a Commons Network near you..

As we close out 2017 its fair to say its been a difficult year in Dublin. Between Brexit on the one side and Trumpit on the other, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air.
After the highs of the Celtic Tiger days, then the Financial Crisis of 2008, the lows of a bailout and recessionary times since then, it is increasingly clear that the political and economic systems around us are not fit for purpose.

We look at societies and political systems under strain in many directions (UK, US, EU) and note that some of the basics of the society around us that are creaking.
In particular in Ireland there is a housing crisis that highlights the growing gap between wealth and wages, which reflects the growing inequality in society i.e. the 1%/99% divide.

Looking at the root causes we see the growing power imbalance between the State and the Market and the real challenge of the 21st Century, the relationship between the Nation and the Corporation. While we are going away from (rather than towards) supra national states or anything like a global state , we are seeing the rise of the international and global corporation with the wealth to wield an almighty power in our lives, the rise of the frightful five being a case in point.

How can such a power imbalance be countered? How will this power play between State and Market end?

Thankfully there are 2 other forces at play that are often ignored but are starting to raise their game and likely provide the keys to the way forward. Kate Raworth highlighted them in her brilliant book of the year Doughnut Economics , the Household and the Commons.

We need to remember that how we live our daily lives, in our Households , has an impact, however small, as the choices we make all add up and they matter.
We also need to be aware that there is fantastic potential in the Commons , a concept that has been treated as a “tragedy”, then an area that has been increasingly enclosed and locked up, to now being better understood as a real potential force for good in the world.

As all this politics and economics is complex stuff, thankfully the stuff of complex systems and complex systems are slowly becoming better understood.
In another very helpful book I was introduced to this year was “Aid on the Edge of Chaos: Rethinking International Cooperation in a Complex World” , framed about international aid, but highlighting the issues with regards to top down change v bottom up innovation. He made one clear point that struck out about the way forward, amidst the complexity, “The Network is the Development”.. meaning the power to change lies in connecting people first to then work out the process and technology involved.

So much change depends on the networks that surround us. Some networks have more wealth, monies and influence than others, but each one of us is part of one network/more networks and it is by fostering, coordinating and harnessing the power of our networks that change happens.

So those of us that believe in the need for political change, the need for economic reformation, the need for a better world, the need for better tools , simply need to network better.
You and your network may be small in number at this point, but if the message and network effect is a positive one it will gain ground and take off .. around the planet.

So don’t wait for the State or depend on the Market to improve the world, 2018 looks set to be the year that “a commons network” near you starts to change the game..







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