CommonsFest 2015 Press Release

For the collective management of common resources

Counting two successful festivals in Heraklion, Crete, this year the 3rd CommonsFest moves to Athens and will take place 15-17th of May at the Greek Archaeologists Association, Ermou 134, Thisio.

For the past few years a particularly dynamic, global Commons movement has been emerging in various aspects of social life. It claims new definitions of value, in both economic and philosophical terms, restructuring the public sphere such that collective action may walk side by side with personal autonomy.

The Commons are systems of governance of all that we have inherited or co-produce. They constitute practical cases of collaboration and participation, for the management of various resources, with an aim to satisfy human needs, beyond the mechanisms of state and market. Not only with regard to natural resources, which we are morally obliged to deliver unaltered to future generations, but also with regard to collaborative creations that are common property: from arts, knowledge and science, to software and the Internet.

In crisis-hit Greece, the Commons constitute a new organizational and action paradigm, offering inspiration to various groups that are driven to act in a self-organized manner.

CommonsFest shows us how we can create the world we want, within the world we want to exceed!

The 3rd CommonsFest will host community practices, experiences and artifacts, as well as discussions on how to expand the Commons as a sustainable model for addressing human needs. Participating communities, social movements and emerging social economy stakeholders will explore synergies, enhance networks, and chart a common course towards empowering the Commons.

The Festival includes 40 speeches from scientists, activists and movement representatives active in free software, open and participative knowledge, natural building and common urban spaces, as well as from initiatives that adopt peer-to-peer production, self-management and self-organization practices, such as Peliti, VIOME, the 136 water initiative, the Elliniko and Thessaloniki social clinics and hackerspace.gr

CommonsFest 2015 will also host the founder of the free software movement Richard Stallman, and the economists Massimo de Angelis and Pat Conaty.

It will further host 12 workshops and discussions on specialized subjects, such as security and privacy on the Internet, currency reform, urban commons practices and the role of women in the Commons.

Last, but not least, the Festival will host an exhibition of community artifacts based on open design principles, free software and open knowledge.

The festival ends daily with live hip-hop, rock and folk music.

Entrance is free.

You can find the detailed festival program here:
http://commonsfest.info/en/festival-ton-kinon-2015/programma-commons-fests-2015/
 
Contact:
http://commonsfest.info/ Continue reading CommonsFest 2015 Press Release

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Interview with Massimo De Angelis

Massimo De Angelis (Italy) is Professor of Political Economy at the University of East London. He is author, most recently, of The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital, and editor of The Commoner web journal, at http://commoner.org.uk.

CF – Throughout its evolution capital has developed elaborate processes of circulating / accumulating its social power. What could be the ways for commons’ communities to circulate / accumulate social counter – powers and challenge the domination of capital in the 21st century?

Massimo – This is a key issue, obviously. Capital has three key interrelated means to expand or at least maintain its social power: enclosures, the violent or devious expropriation of community resources; accumulation (based on abstract labour and exploitation) and governance, that pertains to the hierarchical managerial function of capital, whether in the sites of production or social production (the state). Correspondingly, the commons have also three main interrelated moments constituting its social power. The communalisation of resources and their turning into common wealth; commoning, or the autonomous social cooperation that strive to horizontality and auto determination of goals; and the collective democratic process of their governance.

Continue reading Interview with Massimo De Angelis

Agriculture and common goods in challenge : Water, seeds and knowledge. How do we answer?

Kostas Koutis
AEGILOPS – Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture
www.aegilops.gr
The painful experience of the financial crisis, as experienced today millions of people around
the world, Europe and Greece also, revealed the fact of challenging of our common goods:
Challenging the access and free use (benefit) of common goods,- unchallenged until
recently – of paramount importance for our life such as food, water, health, education, work
etc.
What precedes this challenge is usually their methodical depreciation and what follows after
is the final manipulation, control and their privatization. To their depreciation contribute
often misleading scientific “evidence”, attractive novel substitutes and the shift in
consuming. On the other hand, to their privatization, assist legal and other financial
commitments which multinational companies and market economy key stakeholders impose
on states and citizens through globalization and dominance of the financial system.
Agriculture recently invited to play an essential role in the survival of people in the middle
of crisis and contribute with primitive values and its functionality to the production of
sufficient, safe and quality food, accessible to all. Water, plant genetic resources (seeds and
varieties), soil fertility, traditional and scientific knowledge/ management experience are
part of the universal common goods of strategic importance for agriculture. Citizens’
movements after the Green Revolution (and the devastating consequences on biodiversity,
ecosystem health, diet quality and natural resources), demonstrated the global awareness
on protecting and defending common goods of agriculture. The promotion of organic
farming, the blocking of genetically modified organisms, the protection of traditional
varieties and quality of water is only part of the demands imposed by the citizens of Europe
to their parliaments in recent decades.
Efforts of manipulation and control of common goods are apparent today and citizens’
movements are facing new challenges. The proposed revision of the European regulation on
seeds, although been rejected due to reaction of citizens, showed the industry’s appetites
towards seed market and will definitely come back. The legalization of GMO cultivation in
Europe, the forthcoming transatlantic agreement dragging states to court by multinationals,
unscrupulous gold mining industry swallowing virgin forests and the water privatization
efforts is today’s reality. A rain of propaganda and slandering of movements, arrests andthreats are what have been experienced by those who defended vigorously common goods
and the future of their children.
For the most of farmers of our country, unfortunately, the commons of agriculture is of
lower priority. In farmers’ blocks every February are missing demands for the freedom of
seed, and self management in spite of the rich tradition of the peasant movement in our
country. Adherence to subsidies and monocultures, the emphasis on agriculture under
contracts and persistence in Pharaonic project of the diversion of Acheloos river to plains
indicate the priorities of today’s agricultural world. Despite the strong seed movement in
Greece, the vast majority of farmers still winks at hybrids, intensive crops, subsidies and
contracts with industry. The agrobiotechnology lobby produces knowledge to appease public
opinion and attractive incentives for farmers. Water contractors roam the country and covet
local authorities and political power. How do we respond to this reality?
It is time to recover and cooperate. It is not enough only to denounce and protest. At the
same time, we must strengthen our management capacity, improve our ability and become
more effective. We must create a new reality. Not enough to gather seeds, we must learn to
utilize them to address climate change and produce seeds of freedom. Not enough to stop
laws. We must know how to propose new ones. Let’s stop the propaganda and knowledge of
perjurer scientists. Let’s create our experience, utilizing the traditional knowledge
management and encouraging young scientists to serve the common goods. Let’s try to
introduce organic farming in the valleys now, not only in the mountains. Let’s make
intermediaries useless and safeguard water. Let’s make agriculture again the mother of all
arts. Mother of our common goods.

Wind Empowerment

The Nea Guinea NPO is a member of the international network Wind Empowerment which promotes locally manufactured open source hardware small wind turbines for rural electrification. In November 2014, Nea Guinea in collaboration with the Rural Electrification Research Group (RurERG) of the National Technical university of Athens (NTUA), co-organized the 2nd biannual meeting of the Wind Empowerment network in Athens. The Wind Empowerment network consists of more than 40 organizations from more than 20 different countries, spanning on most of the continents. These organizations are active in different sectors of small wind turbine technological applications, like education and technology transfer, manufacturing of products and provision of renewable energy services, technology research and development, and are always cooperating in a peer to peer network of users/designers of locally manufactured small wind turbines. The first international project of Wind Empowerment will be presented, where a small wind turbine was constructed locally in Ethiopia with the students of a rural technical college with the assistance of three Wind Empowerment organizations, namely Nea Guinea, V3 Power and RurERG. The wind turbine was installed in a small community to cover the basic electricity needs of the village, such as lighting and refrigeration. The goal of this presentation is to highlight the activity and structure of the Wind Empowerment network as a contemporary example of a peer to peer process which develops the energy and knowledge commons.

What is a Basic Income?

A basic income is an income unconditionally granted to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement. It is a form of minimum income guarantee that differs from those that now exist in various European countries in three important ways:

● it is being paid to individuals rather than households;

● it is paid irrespective of any income from other sources;

● it is paid without requiring the performance of any work or the illingness to accept a job if offered.

Liberty and equality, efficiency and community, common ownership of the Earth and equal sharing in the benefits of technical progress, the flexibility of the labour market and the dignity of the poor, the fight against inhumane working conditions, against the desertification of the countryside and against interregional inequalities, the viability of cooperatives and the promotion of adult education, autonomy from bosses, husbands and bureaucrats, have all been invoked in its favour.

But it is the inability to tackle unemployment with conventional means that has led in the last decade or so to the idea being taken seriously throughout Europe by a growing number of scholars and organizations. Social policy and economic policy can no longer be conceived separately, and basic income is increasingly viewed as the only viable way of reconciling two of their respective central objectives: poverty relief and full employment.

There is a wide variety of proposals around. They differ according to the amounts involved, the source of funding, the nature and size of the reductions in other transfers, and along many other dimensions. As far as short-term proposals are concerned, however, the current discussion is focusing increasingly on so-called partial basic income schemes which would not be full substitutes for present guaranteed income schemes but would provide a low – and slowly increasing – basis to which other incomes, including the remainingsocial security benefits and means-tested guaranteed income supplements,could be added.

Many prominent European social scientists have now come out in favour of basic income – among them two Nobel laureates in economics. In a few countries some major politicians, including from parties in government, are lso beginning to stick their necks out in support of it. At the same time, the relevant literature – on the economic, ethical, political and legal aspects – is gradually expanding and those promoting the idea, or just interested in it, in various European countries and across the world have started organizing into an active network.

Presentation points

● Money should be a Tool, not a purpose.

● What do we believe a Basic Income will do?

○ Make extreme poverty a thing of the past

○ Emancipate workers, artists, volunteers.

● 2 example proposals for financing a Basic Income

○ VAT 19% for an income of 200Euro per European Citizen

○ Quantitive easing for the people, not the banks

● Reactions to proposal from Politicians

○ Some believe people will not work if there is a basic income.

○ Some progressive parties have incorporated in their proposals

● What does practice tell us?

○ People do not stop working but they might change profession or

hours of work if they have a family

○ Anxiety related illness become fewer

If you have any question, do not hesitate to ask. The speaker speaks fluent