Monthly Archives: July 2013

Jack Reardon: Workshop Suggestions

Alfred Marshall wrote in his best-selling principles of economics text that “economic conditions are constantly changing, and each generation looks at its own problems in its own way” (Marshall 1920, p. v.]). Our generation is confronted with many problems including climate change, environmental damage, a global financial crisis, a palpable disparity in income and wealth, escalating debt, and a health care crisis. These problems are mutually reinforcing and will only worsen. More

Bob Jessop: Introduction to Elinor Ostrom

The article chosen for translation in this issue is by the recently deceased ‘Nobel Economics Laureate’, Elinor Ostrom. It presents a typical example of her heterodox and provocative critique of the abstract and formalistic case for the ‘tragedy of the commons’, i.e., the argument that rational economic humans have significant incentives to over-exploit ‘common pool resources’ at the margin and will eventually render then unsustainable to the lasting harm of future generations (cf. Hardin 1968). Ostrom’s analysis is based on her own fieldwork, critical comparison of many empirical studies, game-theoretic analyses, and experiments in institutional design. More

Patrick Bond: Commoning, Rights and Praxis: The Case of South Africa

Two critical commoning debates – between Elinor Ostrom and David Harvey over scale, and between between socialists oriented to state power and autonomists oriented to horizontal politics – have reflections in contemporary South African commons struggles. These struggles have three dimensions: 1) the natural commons especially relating to water, air and land; 2) the produced commons associated with ideas (the intellectual property rights to AIDS medicines) and state services (especially water); and 3) the peopled commons in which crossing of our local (ethnically-demarcated) and regional borders has confronted both official and popular xenophobia. Continue reading