Public Goods and the Commons for a Sustainable and Transformative SSE
Public Goods and the Commons for a Sustainable and Transformative SSE
According to their condition of ownership, three (3) types of goods are distinguished: Private goods, which are privately owned, are restricted in their use and are aimed at generating private benefits; and all those goods to which all members of the community or the nation can have unrestricted access for the satisfaction of their individual needs and the common good. These goods are Public when they are managed or owned by the State and are Common when they are managed or owned by the community or in an associative manner.
From the point of view of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), these last two (2) categories of goods are, to a great extent, the fundamental material basis on which the possibilities of sustainability of the common welfare of people and nature are based. Thus, the production, conservation, reproduction and accumulation of public and common goods should be a key objective of the SSE, thus reducing the current accumulation and concentration of wealth in private hands, which has led to the fact that today the richest 1% of the world’s population concentrates more than 60% of the world’s wealth and forces the remaining 99% to live with barely 40% of the world’s GDP.
With the publication of the book “The Government of the Commons: Evolution of Collective Action Institutions” in 1990, for which its author, Elinor Ostrom, was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics, shared with Oliver E. Williams, for her work on corporate governance and the so-called transaction cost economics, the topic of the Commons became part of the public debate among economists and academics. It takes more relevance due to the fact that this event took place in the midst of the world economic crisis of 2008 and 2009; forcing intellectuals, academics, think tanks and makers of economic policies of capitalism, to seek and discuss proposals to try to get out of it and save the system. They had no choice but to leave behind the myth that deregulated markets are the best way to organize the economy and turn to governments to rescue their economy, through the refinancing of large financial, insurance and other bankrupt private companies, with public funds and public goods. Workers pay for the crisis created by the owners of the world.
Since the 1990s, the issue of the commons has been of interest to many researchers and academics, but it is since 2009 that it has become more relevant, with the emergence of social movements of the commons, associated with the defense, conservation and reproduction of the goods and services of nature.
Thus, we begin to talk about the differentiation between public goods owned by the State, private goods owned by individuals and common goods owned by associations or communities. The characteristics of common goods, among others, are: collective ownership and use, universal access, and their ultimate purpose is to satisfy equitable needs for the common good of the community and nature.
For more than 40 years capital in its dominant financial expression today, in the face of productive capital in crisis since the end of the 60s, imposes the neoliberal economic philosophy and policies and with it the financial globalization, going on the offensive of rapid accumulation of capital, through the expropriation and plundering of public goods accumulated by the States during the era of preeminence of productive capital (agrarian, industrial, etc.), with the Welfare and Developmental States.
Through structural adjustment programs and privatization of public goods, they have guaranteed the compulsive payment of the countries’ foreign debt obligations, and have used the narrative that the States are inefficient, wasteful and should be reduced to their minimum expression to avoid their intervention in the economy, with the supposed purpose that the market, with the “invisible hand” of private capital, is the engine of economic growth without limits. With this as absolute truth, they have stripped the people of much of the public goods, composed of companies and assets of the State and commodifying human rights to health, education, care, safe and healthy habitat, drinking water, energy, communication, knowledge, justice and transport infrastructure, irrigation, hydroelectric generation, prisons, among others.
Not content with dispossessing the wealth of the peoples in the hands of the States, they go after the common goods through expropriation, composed of: jungles and forests, watersheds, biodiversity, beaches, seas, fresh waters, ecosystems, landscapes, minerals, soils, knowledge, information, territories, science, technologies, seeds and germplasms, ancestral and aboriginal culture and all that can be converted into merchandise, including human bodies, especially those of children and women. As well as those that are managed by cooperatives, ancestral communities and native peoples, economic solidarity organizations, self-help groups and management of fishing banks, pastures, ejidos, etc.
These processes of privatization and dispossession have been and are being carried out with the support and financing of transnational corporations and complicit governments, not without the resistance, struggles and victories of the peoples: workers, peasants and natives, as well as, women’s movements, environmentalists, sexual diversity, SSE, oppressed ethnic groups, along with progressive and popular governments that oppose neoliberalism and implement alternative proposals for economies and policies based on popular sovereignty over these assets and their territories to ensure the common good of its population.
As an example we can take the region of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), whose fundamental contradiction of the current historical moment is centered on the dispute for the appropriation and control of public and common goods, between the forces of economic neoliberalism and its right-wing conservatism with a tendency towards fascism and the popular and progressive forces and governments, with proposals for developmentalist economic policies and social welfare, supported by the struggles of social movements, leftists, progressives and democrats in this region, aspiring to democratize not only politics, but also the economy and access to culture, overcoming the deprivations suffered by the population, which limit the exercise of their rights and full freedoms.
In this unfavorable environment is that the SSE is generated, built and developed as an alternative organization of the economy focused on the care of life on the planet and as such, must take sides by participating in this dispute, in alliances with those who, worldwide, have the same economic, social, cultural and environmental objectives; transforming society with the implementation of enterprises, networks and solidarity economic circuits, which generate and sustain social relations of production, exchange, financing and consumption, based on cooperation among humans and between humans and nature.
The SSE movement, in this sense, needs to define and promote its own alternative proposals for the organization and management of common and public goods, so that they become the foundation of a sustainable society and planet, which includes, among other actions:
1.The development and articulation of all enterprises, networks and movements in their own Solidarity Economic Circuit, so that values, information, knowledge and power, are produced and reproduced, exchanged and accumulated within the SSE and not let them be extracted, expropriated and plundered by the capitalist economic circuit as it happens now. 2.To design and promote public policies coherent with the processes of growth of the flows of values, knowledge, information and power of the SSE and its circuits, at local, national, regional and global levels. 3.To ally and fight together with other movements that struggle against mega-mining, extractivism, foreign debt, the colonization of women’s and children’s bodies, patriarchy, racial and sexual discrimination, the depredation of ecosystems, slave labor and labor flexibilization, Administrators of Pension Funds and Health Risks (APF and AHR), Trusts, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and other modalities of plundering of public and common goods promoted by governments, as new models of dispossession. 4.Denounce the complacency and complicity of State authorities in the dismantling and undermining of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, turning a blind eye and promoting intensive and chemical agriculture, extensive cattle ranching and predatory business conduct of rivers, through the extraction of sand and gravel and the dumping of solid and liquid waste.
➢ To advance in the debate and increase the visibility of public and common goods as a basis for overcoming personal and collective limitations in order to achieve social and environmental justice and individual and collective freedoms. ➢ To reflect on the current state of disputes over the control and appropriation of public and common goods between neoliberal capitalism and SSE and progressive governments. ➢ To contribute to determine the importance that Public and Common goods represent for the sustainability of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). ➢ To propose ways and strategies so that the SSE can conserve, produce, reproduce, liberate and accumulate common goods in its circuits of solidarity exchanges, during the processes of production, distribution, commercialization, financing and consumption.
Production, conservation, reproduction and accumulation of public and common goods as foundations for the definition of public policies to support the SSE for its development as an alternative of sustainable transforming power.
The methodology of the session would be hybrid.
Taking advantage of the virtual environment before the event for presentations of participants registered in the sub-theme, sharing of documents, videos and other formats of inspiring experiences, and the possibility of having a virtual forum space (written) to launch some generative questions.
In the on-site event, make 10-minute presentations with each speaker, reaching about 40 or 50 minutes, and then leave space for questions, but above all proposals and agreements. Each speaker will be asked to suggest proposals for action in his or her presentation.