Whose commons? An exploration of ownership, against humanunkind

Author: Maria Martelli

The commons is one thing, or another, but what can be grasped of it is that it is something collective, something „common” to someone. Different theorists say different things,  from Hardin (1968) who puts it forward as a problem (a tragedy, even!) of managing collective goods, to Ostrom (2010) who solves this false theorizing of „commons” by urging us to look at specific examples (of common pool resources collectively managed, such as Swiss pastures). The first looks at grazing lands and fisheries and says something along the lines of: if we no one owns them, man (man, not some other instance of human) will make the maximum use of them for himself, and thus destroy them, slowly, and everyone will be worse off.

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