Monday, July 19, 2010

Finalish Thoughts on Patel's "The Value of Nothing"

"Taking what we can from the sociology of the commons, a genuine democracy appears to involve changing the way we relate to the world around us, and moving beyond ownership to stewardship to commoning. This isn't a call to abandon all property--personal property is important, and no one should be denied it within reason. Nor is this a call to abandon markets--markets are good ways to decentralize decision making, and it's hard to imagine a functioning democracy where people are free without also having markets. British economist Diane Elson points out that even utopian community groups create some sort of market and tools of exchange--pure systems of barter are harder to manage, and democratically controlled markets make exchange easier, while leaving open the space to craft and adjust prices within those markets. What needs to be plucked out of markets is the perpetual and overriding hunger for expansion and profit that has brought us to the brink of ecological catastrophe; what needs to be plucked out of us is the belief that markets are the only way to value our world" (Patel 188).

I also love a huge section on pages 176-177 about how to make this new democracy work. It's motivating and delicious. It's not as specific as I'd like it to be, but then again, it wouldn't be democratic if it were.

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