Capitalism and the Commons

A must-read for those interested in delving more deeply into the relationship between Capitalism and Commons-based peer production is Adam Arvidsson’s new paper, titled ‘Capitalism and the Commons‘, which has just been published in Theory, Culture & Society. The crux of its argument is nicely summed up in the concluding remarks:

The medieval commons emerged out of the process of social acceleration put in motion by feudalism. In turn, they supported new relations of production that pointed beyond feudalism. Capitalism developed through the privatization and enclosure of the medieval commons. At the same time, the process of social acceleration put in motion by capitalist real subsumption has generated new commons in the form of a planetary ‘general intellect’. Today we begin to see how these new commons are supporting new forms of petty production. It is possible that such commons-based petty production will affirm itself as an alternative to a capitalist economy in decline, first for the masses, and later also for the elites. This process is likely to be accelerated by a combination of economic decline and ecological crisis, similar to that of the 14th century.

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