"It’s strange, isn’t it? The ideology of capitalism is that it is a system that generates immense abundance (so much stuff!). But in reality it is a system that relies on the constant production of scarcity.

This conundrum was first noticed back in 1804, and became known as the Lauderdale Paradox. Lauderdale pointed out that the only way to increase “private riches” (basically, GDP) was to reduce what he called “public wealth”, or the commons. To enclose things that were once free so that people have to pay in order to access them. To illustrate, he noted that colonialists would often even burn down trees that produced nuts and fruits so that local inhabitants wouldn’t be able to live off of the natural abundance of the earth, but would be forced to work for wages in order to feed themselves. "

Degrowth: A Call for Radical Abundance

@cocoron The Romans used the Census to force their conquests to participate in their economy. It worked. That's why their conquests fucking hated it so much. Many hundreds of years later, the British used the Hut Tax for the same reasons, with the same effects.
@bamfic @cocoron Yeah. British surveyors were armed. And when they had leased Hong Kong's New Territories in 1898 and went out to take measurements of their added land, villagers over and over made the equipment disappear.

Though this was at least as much for direct land taxations reasons as for anything subtler.
@bamfic @cocoron Oh, but now I read you better. Paying taxes requires you to acquire currency.

The Chinese villagers were already part of a currency system, so the situation is slightly different.
@bamfic @cocoron They just weren't very interested in giving it to some foreigner who would show up and claim they owed him money now. 😀
@cocoron In the US I think there was massive and deliberate slaughter of buffalo herds for similar reasons, so that the indigenous population couldn't live independently.

@cocoron I agree with the conclusions of the article, that we should expand the commons, but I disagree with most of its basic premise. There is no chance that people's claims over the fruits of the land were not going to eventually come into conflict as the population grew and people moved around. While there was certainly excessive enclosure and deliberate acceleration of this effect in some places, these certainly weren't the root cause.

@cocoron And while there were certainly situations where people worked out peaceful sharing of common resources, each of them would have eventually collapsed or had to be renegotiated as populations grew, and there were plenty of bloody conflicts among indigenous peoples over common resources when they became scarce either due to population pressure, changes in climate, movement of populations, or whatever.

@cocoron I see privatization as merely the most simplistic solution to the problem of conflict over shared resources. What would be far better IMO is to apply all we've learned in the meantime about governance to coming up with sharing arrangements that are resilient and scale better. Open Spectrum is one example of a movement to take a resource that was privatized and make it common again.

@freakazoid I think you're missing the point. How Capitalism works from enclosure is by securing enough resources for everyone, but then *enforcing* scarcity. If there weren't enough resources for everyone in the first place, there would be no incentive to come with. The point is to produce *artificial* scarcity. People negotiating or fighting over scant resources is a separate development.

@cocoron Ok, I think I understand a little better now. Thanks for the explanation.

Adam Smith pointed out this or at least an analogous problem, that of private property creating haves and have-nots. His suggestion was redistribution. I read "expansion of the commons" as going beyond redistribution, though, since instead of "we're going to take from you to give to this other person" it's "we have plenty of this to go around, let's figure out how to share it equitably."

@cocoron That argument only makes sense if there is no scarcity in non-capitalist regions, and that's not true. All resources are finite; there is nothing that we have a limitless supply of. Capitalism was birthed as a result of scarcity, not the other way around.

We can see the author's argument tested in cultures where the expansion of the commons has been attempted, such as Russia and China.

@cocoron this is why billionaires exist. Also why poverty exists. Neither is acceptable in a civilized society, IMO. Capitalism is evil. Billionaires should not exist. Art and music and all of culture should be Copyleft and non commercial!!!

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