Characteristics of Solidarity within the Commons

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Sarah SCHMITZ, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Practices and theoretical approaches of Commons can be described as strong related to „Communities of Solidarity“. I define Commons as an approach in which goods are used and administered in community ownership. Although the economic character is highlighted often, I argue that Commons base on solidary practices, which differ fundamentally from capitalist modes of socialization and can be seen in three aspects:

  1. Transformation of private property to community property. Through this “Commoning- Process” resources and goods become Commons, which have no longer the character of market goods. Commons offers access to the goods for every member of the community, apart socio-economic status, race or gender.
  2. User rights are not based on the monetary resources, but on the needs of the community. These rights are defined in basic-democratic decision making processes.
  3. Dissolution of capitalist individualization by constructing Commons as spaces for solidary interaction and social responsibility. This differs fundamentally from anonymous market exchanges in which people are only united by modes of indifference and completion.

Although Commons can be defined as an approach to solidary practice, I would like to name two critical points:

First, the purview of this solidarity practice must be illuminated. At present, the focus of Commons is on Commoning of goods and resources, but less on Commoning of different forms of labor (wage and reproductive labor). How, for example, could the labor power – which is central for capitalist structures – be communicated and labor processes created in solidarity?

In addition, I consider it important to take these aspects into account in order to make the practice of solidarity permanent and not to become a neo-liberal form of the adoption of state services by communities. Solidarity is not just a side-effect of Commons, but of great importance to experience alternative form of socialization beyond modern-capitalist structures.