Voices Of The Commons
Voices Of The Commons

Episode 3 · 2 years ago

Nathan Schneider - Cooperatives, the Commons and Ownership Ep 3


This week on the Voices of the Commons, Stacco Troncoso talks to Nathan Schneider. Nathan Schneider is journalist and professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, where he is the director of Media Enterprise Design Lab. Nathan has authored books on cooperative enterprises, the Occupy movement, and religion. He is one of the initiators of the Platform Cooperativism movement, co-editing Ours to Hack and to Own (a Platform Coop "mix-tape") and maintaining the Internet of Ownership Directory.

In this podcast, Nathan talks about:

  • How coops address accountability crisis of the mainstream economy
  • The relationship between cooperatives and the commons
  • The vulnerabilities of the Commons when it marginalizes ownership
  • How coops radicalize workers across the political spectrum
  • The breadth and width of the cooperative economy
  • Latest trends in digital and crypto-cooperativism

The podcast was recorded on the same day Nathan Schneider taped an interview with Stacco for Boulder University's Media Enterprise Lab. Both dialogues complement each other well as sides A and B of a record on cooperativism and the commons. You can check out Nathan's interview with Stacco in this link: If I Only Had a Heart: Accounting for Care Work in Organizations.

Welcome to the voices of the comments. We're here to help you learn about the copper transition. Don't know whatthat is? Stick with our Commons fransition team to find out how this simplething is already all around you. Stay June for more episodes. Hello,you're listening to the voices of the Commons podcast and today, with you,I'm stuckled trunks and have the pleasure to be interviewing Nathan Schneider. They can. Schneider's a journalist and professor of media studies at the University of Colorado Balder. He has written for publications including Harper's, the nation, the New Republic,The New York Times and the Catholic worker. His latest book is everythingfor everyone. There radical tradition that is shaping the next economy, and he'salso one of the Co originators of platform capparativism. Hello, Nathan low stack. Yeah, it's very nice to be here with you. So now you'reprefers at the university where we've been today, we found a really nice experience.Tell me how you ended up here and why you ended up writing everythingfor everyone. Well, I ended up here kind of by accident. Igot a I was working as a journalist for years and in New York andgot a surprise invitation to come and teacher for a year and so far,when you're has led to more than four and it just keeps on developing andand during that time I've really had the pleasure to be part of this growingeffort to bring cooperative economics back just in time to maybe rescue the best partsof the online economy, to build co ownership and Co governance into how wedeal with networks and how we how we create value online. And this thisis, I think, really important moment for doing this. It's a it'sa response to the kind of growing accountability crisis that we're facing in the onlineeconomy and also, I think, a an alternative accounter to even a critiqueof some of the ways in which the Commons has been leveraged in the onlineeconomy so far. By not considering ownership enough, I think the Commons hasallowed itself, if it, you know, has a will and can be spokenof in that way, to to kind of be marginalized in a waythat and used and and exploited, and I think cooperative structures can be reallyessential to reversing that it's funny because we've often talked about how coops kind offormalize the Commons, and specifically in the top context of England and then closureof the English Commons, the Paul Laws. Then we have the roads tale pioneers, in a sense, I feel, codifying the spirit of common in inwhat it's essentially a market interface. Do you think that maybe coops havelost side of the Commons? How do you see the comparative movement evolving?You know, with some of them, Marquis Corps like Mondragon, etc.They still related? I think it's a it's a hard question. I mean, on the one hand, these you know, this cooperative tradition is isimmense. I mean has helped shape our world and tremendous ways. One ofthe things that was most powerful for me while ready in the book and simultaneouslycoming to Colorado to live, was was rediscovering my family history here and andfinding, you know, this is where my mother's family ended up when theyfirst came to the United States over a century ago, and not until Imoved here and was kind of looking at the world with cooperative colored glasses allthe time I started to realize that our family history was really powerfully shaped bythese models. It was not until Cooperative Electric Utility showed up that my grandfather's, the farm my grandfather grew up on, got electricity. It was through cooperativesthat my family, you know, was able to access the inputs andmarketing that they needed to run their farms and and that grandfather ended up becomingdirector of a national hardware cooperative, you know, which was kind of hisyou know, as somebody who, you know, didn't have a college education. You know, it was a way for him to to to build a, you know, really powerfully scaled business.

And and so this is a thistradition represents a tremendous opportunity. Yet in so many cases co operatives have, you know, allowed themselves to forget that cooperative culture and and the originalpurpose. And but that doesn't mean they can't reclaim it. One Organization thatI've joined the board of very proudly is called we own it, and whatwe do is help train members of cooperatives to support them in being active membersand advocating for their cooperatives within their cooperatives. And you know, often that meanschallenging the status quo and you know, in cases like coops that aren't takingadvantage of renewable energy, that aren't that aren't really recognizing their altern theiropportunity, their responsibility to be stewards of the Planetary Commons, of the Commonsin their communities. So, you know, these old coops can be reclaimed andyou know, that's something that we've been seeing happen. But but Ithink it is important to also bring new energy into this movement and that's,you know, maybe more than anything, what I think platform cooperativism has contributed, you know, more than you know being a specific new form or orwhatever it may or may not be, it's created a container in which newa new generation of of cooperators has been able to enter the movement and kindof define their own space, and I hope that that is not just goingto be a, you know, a particular segment, but is going toinfuse the cooperative movement as a whole and and and restore that early and necessarycommitment to to a to a culture of the Commons. Nottstick, not assumingthat everyone listening to this will be that familiar with the common even though it'ssupposed consorting to to the Commons. We also want it to be more accessible. So let's imagine that some of the people listening, I'm not familiar.I mean certainly most people will have heard about comparatives. Can you give meyour definition of what a cooperative is and what it means? Maybe the samething for the Commons. Could do tie those together? A cooperative is abusiness that's owned and governed by the people who participate in it or by somesegment of them. So that can be the workers, that can be thecustomers, it can be member businesses that use the the cooperative to to runtheir businesses. It can be a combination of those or others, but insome way the core stakeholders who are creating value are our members and are incontrol of what they're doing. Now I don't think of this as the sameas the Commons. You know, I think the Commons is a is moreof a cultural and and and and and philosophical outlook. Right and cooperatives are, you know, they're, on the one hand, a business structure,on the other hand they are a movement, a global movement of businesses around theworld that aligned together and share values. But the Commons, I think,points to something, something a little further along the the Commons points toa way of living in which in which we are less dependent on private propertyand more of our lives are able to subsist on what we share and whatwe what we collectively manage and what, in a sense, doesn't need tobe owned. You know, I mean are only needs to be, youknow, managed as property as soon as someone starts abusing it and it stopsbeing it stops being a an abundant resource. And I think commoning is around isthe practice of cultivating and and and managing and and caring for, youknow, abundant resources, keeping them abundant. Cooperatives, I think, are animportant step there because they they operate in the world of private pop propertybut treat that property as as commonly held...

...and and so they can be atool for for for practicing the art of commoning. But I don't think thatthey are if our goal is to is to build a society and economy thatis is of the Commons. I don't think cooperatives can get you all theway there. Maybe they can be a prophylactic. So we have bounded areasto to build Commons. So everything for everyone is a book of stories,and I especially like the noveltieve approach. What are some of the stunned outstories for people who may not have read the book that can give an exampleof the white scope of corporativism? Well, that they range from the the oldand the new and the big and the small. You know, onethat that I've you know, that's kind of local in this area is thatof green taxi cooperative, which is a co op that emerge in response toUber and lift and and the right rise of ride share around here. Itwas, you know, led by largely Subsaharan African immigrants who were just gettingsqueezed from both sides and built this, built this cooperative to manage their ownwork. Another case, you know, something very, you know, radicallydifferent, was the cuttle on and to girl cooperative and and this network ofalternative currencies and and cooperative businesses in Barcelona in the surrounding region. And thisis one that, rather than just being one business, was an attempt,is an attempt to carve out space in the economy for really living outside ofcapitalism. So in these kinds of examples you see how, how why thespectrum can run, you know, it can run from being a particular businessthat is, you know, trying to solve an immediate problem, to somethingthat is very visionary, very radical, that that seeks to transform the societyaround it and in one way or another. One thing that is really critical inthose stories too, and others, is the role of the the stateand other structures that that set the rules of the economy. One thing thatcooperatives really reveal is how much are the rules of our system are slanted towardcapital, because the challenges that cooperative space are always the result of, youknow, the way in which are often the result of ways in which thethat the system is not built for them. It's built for a small number ofpeople to govern large amounts of capital. In this levers of control over theeconomy and the difficulties co OPS face and financing and in and in havingkind of basic regulatory frameworks that enable them to function, our expressions of this. And and in the moments, for instance, in US history when cooperativeshave been transformative, for instance the development of the farm credit system and ruralcooperatives. In the very early twenty century there were electric system that, youknow, brought within a decade or so, you know, rural areas in theUS from ten percent electrified to ninety percent electrified, and then the riseof the credit union system for for, you know, local cooperative banks.Each of these dependent on building political power that was able to change the rulesand create very sensible financial structures that made, you know, essentially democracy financiable,made it possible to leverage significant resources in the service of democratic ownership.Unfortunately, those have been fairly isolated cases and to me, one of thebig lessons and questions that this legacy presents us with is, you know,how, how would we set the rules if we were serious about building democracyin the economy? It's funny because, I mean, we can think ofmore examples of legislations in the present that I'm more favorable to co OPS.But when what happens when the people who...

...are in power for that legislative periodgo away? I mean, how can we set that this conditions that arefavorable for coparativism are not solely dependent on, you know, whatever parties is inpower? Well, the interesting thing is is that, at least inin the US context, cooperatives really have not been dependent on anyone political party. Today, for instance, the the were electric cooperatives, which were initiallykind of instantiated developed through the Democratic Administration of Federal Franklin Roosevelt, are nowdirecting three quarters of their of their political contributions to Republicans. So it's largelyactually Republicans who are the bulwork of the cooperative rural electric cooperative system. Ifyou look at the two thousand and sixteen political platforms of the major parties,both the Democrats and Republicans support expanded employee ownership. They have different reasons throughdoing so, but you know, this is an interesting tradition that crosses politicallines and some really, really important ways. And you know, for instance,last year in two thousand and eighteen, we had the most significant employee ownershipbuild passed and in about twenty years, the Main Street employee ownership act ledby Kirsen jail brand, who's a Democrat, but it was supported prettymuch down the middle by Republicans as well in some ways. You know,I I feel that the movement is, you know, as best served bybeing kind of politically quiet. I mean it's it, you know, inthis country right now, as soon as anything becomes a big an issue,it gets claimed by one side or the other and the other side has tohate it. This stuff has not yet become a point of polarization and,as a result, it's been possible to develop some really interesting coalitions in supportof cooperatives. That said, there's a really, you know, tantalizing opportunitygrowing right now where the left wing of the Democratic Party is is really jumpingin and support of we're her ownership and worker co ops and and you know, that could be, you know, once in a generation opportunity to youknow, to to create some really ambitious frameworks. But you know, we'llsee. I mean, when the Electric Co operats were first formed, youknow a lot of the Republicans saw it as creeping communism. And you know, now Republicans who are highly dependent and rural districts, you know, haveto love them. So it's an interesting story. You know, one ofthe greatest leaps forward, controversial but I think, very significant and in inUS history, was the development of the employee stock ownership plan, not acooperative, but a structure that allows for employee, you know, business ownership, and this was advanced by, you know, a lawyer, Lewis Kelso, who was, you know, not a very partisan person. He initiallyworked for decades trying to get Republicans to embrace his plan and finally a centristDemocrat made it possible and then Ronald Reagan added to it. So you know, this is a you know, it's one of these rare traditions in inour history here at least that you know that really cuts across the the politicallines. This is a fascinating topic of this coust and and I'm struck byhow weird your country is in a sense, if you go to the UK,you know some of the propositions of you know, by Corbin, JohnMcDonald, etc. Was To expand threefold. I think was like the comparative economy, and to me comparatives are inherently political and they lead to what Ifeel our politicize outcomes. And so mark's kind of like varied between like beingvery praiseful of cooperatives and then calling them like a dwarfish form, but atthe same time, to me, like comparatives kind of like undermine capitalism becausethose three technologies, you know, private ownership of means of production becomes Walkerownership, which labor becomes the workers are the owners. And you know,there's disorientation which is not solely towards profit. The situation that you speak which crossessupport across partisan lines. How long can we, quote unquote, getaway with it until it becomes more explicitly...

...political? Or do you think thatthis can be like a good training ground for people, not just to putthe question of ownership on the table, but also the the question of democracyat work or decision making? Do you think that these people would be moreamenable to the Commons? And I come back to the Commons because where Ilive there's farmers, some people who would not be on the progressive end ofthe political spectrum, but they know about common in much better than a lotof us. So do you think that this is kind of, I'm thesomething here to be that go up without doing like a reveal, like,Oh, you've been like really Rody, call along on aldly. Now you'llfinding out the thing that there's there's something that, yeah, you know,I'm I think there's a sense in which this tradition reminds us that our currentformations are, you know, our kind of transitory, our current political formations. You know, the list of things that one party or another party mightsupported a given moment are are, you know, fleeting and and you know, of whatever the moment is. I don't think there's, you know,one eternally correct side or whatever. I certainly have my orientation and you knowmy you know, I know where I stand and stand there. But butin this tradition I also, you know, I'm cognizant that it's bigger than meand you know, one of the training grounds for me and that isis, you know, I'm a Roman Catholic and you know this is is, this is, you know, a religious traditions contribute significantly to the cooperativemovement over the last century and a half and from, you know, thedevelopment of credit unions and significant ways to Mandragon itself and many other examples,the Italian system in part and this is a, you know, religious traditionthat is full of contradictions, you know, from some of these same people developingthese cooperatives had deep fascist tendencies. And you know, it is ayou know, I so. So I'm very used to the idea that,first of all, our momentary politics are, you know, might not be,you know, the the you know, the the blessed community. It's youknow, these are momentary formations and that there is value in creating movementsand communities that cross some of these lines and that challenge them. I mean, you're absolutely right. And in rural America, you know, you findpeople who have a lot more practical knowledge of cooperation, especially powerful cooperation.You know, in Urban Areas Co opsive, if the few exceptions, tended tobe fairly small, marginal and radical in ways that kind of paradoxically preventthem from challenging the system, whereas in rural areas the cooperative tradition has tendedto be kind of all consuming and to be the bulwork of economic life.And and so people have a kind of innate knowledge of this of these practicesthat are are you know, that's that's really important to learn from. So, you know, it's a you know, to me it's it's that challenge.At the same time, today I think there's clearly a among the youngpeople coming into this movement, there's a real commitment to a lot of valuesstrongly associated with the Left, particularly intersectional views of social justice, deep commitmentto seeing oppression as as operating along multiple vectors, you know, one youknow, one way. I kind of pose this to one of the internationalleaders of the, you know, in the International Cooperative Association. Once,as you know, I told them that first cooperative principle of open membership,you know, for a lot of my peers as understood, as you know, anti oppression as as a radical position of of resisting historical, you know, marginalization. And he said, well, that's some what it means, youknow. But you know, my my counter was, well, tothem, it does and you know, I happen to think they're right.And that might not be what the what the Roachedale pioneers were thinking at themoment, even though they were, you know, very intentional about, youknow, being ecumenical, which was one...

...of the major dividing lines of thattime. And and I think it's exciting to see this new kind of wisdomcoming into the movement. One of my, you know, great challenge is,particularly since writing the book, has been out of has been an attemptat bridge building. That comes from the kind of Love I've come to havefor both the legacy of the cooperative movement and the new generation coming into it. And I came to appreciate so much what each of those brings and howlittle they know each other. You know, the young people don't recognize how powerfulthis movement can be. They don't, you know, the coop organizers thembuilding new little stuff and my area don't know that an hour down theroad there's a hundred thirty billion dollar cooperative bank and the people in that cooperativebank, you know, aren't in touch so much with a lot of thelot of the new formations. And you know, it's not it's not eithertheir fault. It's not that, you know, they wish anybody else.It's just that they you know, they're speaking different languages, they're talking todifferent people, they're hanging out in different places and and to me it's aand it's turn proved to be an immense challenge to cross that that divide.This is Fassi nineteen on again. The conversation. To me, I'm interpretingit in two levels, talking about corps and talking about the Commons. Andrecently my colleagues Silken Health, which said that common in is about finding commonground, it's about, like, funding this process. Both the Commons andcorps suffer this malady of being made invisible when the incredibly powerful movements where manypeople are involved. So one thing that we say in the Commons is whatare this? Aboriginal people taking care of the resources have to do with this? Hackers in no way, and they're both taking part in common in canwe like to go back to those difficulties of like finding common ground between thesetwo polarities that you've expressed? Part of it, I suspect this generational,but do you? But you agree with us. Yeah, of course.Yeah. So how can we, how can co OPS be this common groundto say, okay, this, I don't know, people that we seeat the Platform Corps conference or people who are working more on distributed systems,free software, how can they relate to this comparative tradition, which is morerural, agrarian, etc. Or do we have to go through this silverjubilee process in which, like, newer generations can like take over with theirown optics and imaginary I have a few hudges, you know. One isjust exposing them to each other, which is hard. They there's a lotof actual mutual distrust I've encountered. And and a question, I think,a very honest question, of you know, from one to the other, ofwhat do you have to offer me? From the young there's a lot offrustration. Why don't these big coops, you know, swoop in and solvemy problems? Right and from the big coops? It's you know,look, my job is to is to support my members. Is Not myjob to, you know, make your risky startup work. And and whatcan you do to help my members? Right, very good question actually.And and and so to me one of the challenges is to figure out howto find spaces of mutual benefit, how to find windows of opportunity for forwhere some of the new developments and the for instance in the platform go upworld can serve existing once, you know, can some of the new strategies andgovernance and and community building be useful and Reinvigorating Credit Union member? Kindof participation can can new developments around renewable energy and kind of Energy Commons changehow electric coops operate? These kinds of questions are, you know, arethey're hard to work through because it requires understanding the specifics of those markets andthose dynamics. And a lot of these coops, to the the bigger andolder ones. You know, I've lived through a few generations of a culturein which their coopness was not really encouraged. You know. For instance, youknow, I I when I hear like a recording of my grandfather talkingabout the business he ran. He never described it as a coop. Nowit says that in the byloss that's what... was, but he he wasa Cold War, you know, conservative guy and you know saying that you'rea coop, you know, was kind of dangerous at that time. andHe, you know, they just made it look like good old American business. And so these these businesses have been in a defensive posture for so longthat they they're only just, I think, starting to rediscover that the fact thatthere are coop is actually pretty cool and is something that can attract anew generation. And and you know that these kinds of challenges are, youknow, are you know, the the inertia that we're up against is prettyimmense. And yet I think there's so much to build on. You know, a cooperative is not a democracy, but it is a opportunity for democracyand and these, you know, bigger, older ones are still opportunities for democracy, even if, to varying degrees, they may or may not, youknow, practice it in a convivial way anymore. So if we goto worlds, the platform Co op side of the spectrum. What do youfeel out the challenge is that platform co ops face when competing, when lookingto compete, maybe on a certain scale, against you know like the economy giant, so silicon volley? What can we do that's viable on how canwe attract people towards this world? So, for instance, you know, verytypical conversation I had on the phone today with start up few, youknow, really capable, skilled, you know effective founders who who are enteringa market that they've, you know, know very well and have been veryinvolved in, have really strong ties and probably the best ties in the market, and they want to and they're facing competition from fifty, you know,well funded, venture backed startups with millions of dollars in the bank. Theywould love to form a cooperative use and and leverage those those trust relationships they'vespent years building. The trouble is, as as the ecosystem is right nowat least, they're not going to have any chance running up against that kindof competition in any direct fashion. And so I think there are two optionsthat we that we face right now. One is to very intentionally build acapital ecosystem for these models, you know, using levers of both policy and kindof investor education and, you know, leverage the impact, you know,the kind of fabled impact investor, which I still think is, youknow, sort of a little more fable than is often thought. And andthe and and, you know, create a means by which, you know, coops can can compete in that capital market. Another option is to actuallynot try to compete in those markets and to recognize what cooperatives can do.That's very unique. Some things like raise capital from non you know, fromordinary people, from both of these subtons be concurrent and complementary, perhaps,though I think they are, there are some respects in which they're at oddswith each other, because the mindset that it requires to attract capital is verydifferent from the mindset that it requires to actually evade capital. So give youan example. One of the you know, there are two coops that are linkedin here in Boulder, Colorado. One is a worker coop called NAMASday that installs solar panels, you know, its own by its workers. It'svery visible, very, you know, wellknown. Obama held it up onceas an example. You know, it's great. I mean the workershave six weeks of vacation. It's you know, that's a lot in theUS and and and they do, you know, good work and they havebeen able to raise capital. So they've raised millions and outside capital to growand that's that's awesome. And they're able to pay that back because they're accumulatingcapital and so forth. They're a member and a founding member of a purchasingcooperative called amicus solar, which is a coop that does purchasing of solar panelsfor small utility installers around the country.

Amicus is actually in some respects biggerthan NAMAS day in terms of how much money flows through it. Yet it'sjust a few people. It's very invisible, nobody talks about it. It's notit doesn't have trucks going by. So the nomin stay truck going byearlier today. There's no amicus trucks because it is actually feeding its profits backto its members across the country. So, you know, the the most someof the most scaled cooperatives I know are invisible and don't return, youknow, returns to investors because they're returning their profits to their members and they'recreating their value is in the fact that they are empowering, you know,a network of businesses around the country. So it's a it's a kind ofit's a kind of growth. You know, some of the most scaled cooperatives areare the ones that work that that way. They're actually very thin layersthat lurk in the background of an entire sector. They transform that sector,they'd enable it to be much more than it would otherwise be, but theyfeed their power back out into their membership and so, you know, maybethose flows could be investable. You know, I'd love to see that happen,but at the same time, this kind of model requires a form ofthinking that is less about what can I what new value can I create andthen also share with the investors, and more about what latent power, youknow, in the member community, can we use to transform our sector forthe better and make its members more resilient and more innovative? And that is, you know, it's it requires a different mindset and even among a lotof the new platform cops, I see, you know, kind of some somepatterns in which people sometimes seem to be slapping a coop label on aunadventure startup. Yeah, right, rather than recognizing. You know, whatis it? The cooperative structures are actually, you know, really, really uniquelysuited for some nating. Earlier you said that maybe we were have thissweet spot for we discovering comparatives. When you know at this time that platformsincreasingly like may mediate our daily interactions, how laden do you think the sweetsport spot can last with this kind of like monoculture digital economy, where weseeing like increasing levels of lock in and, you know, just we're just downto like five companies? Well, it's the the sense of crisis hasbecome more cute in the last few years. You know, when we started withthe platform cop stuff and two thousand and fourteen, two thousand and fifteen, it was a moment where it kind of felt like the challenge was toconvince people there was something wrong. That challenge has passed. There's widespread awarenessthat there's something very wrong and and now there's a, you know, growinginterest in alternatives. And that's coming not only from the Elizabeth warrens and theyou know, the the Crusaders against the Big Tech Titans, it's actually comingfrom some of the companies themselves. I mean, one of the shocking thingsto me is, you know, Uber and lift and and air BNB haveasked the the Securities and Exchange Commission the United States to allow them to shareownership with their workers. Now, you know, this is far short ofwhat we might hope for, but it's kind of strange coming, you know, it's kind of a setting. It's telling that they're recognized that there's somethingreally wrong with the way of things, even from their perspective, and that, you know, I talked to venture capitalist quite frequently who are like,how can we make it possible to share ownership with communities? They actually seethis as a strategy for solving some problems they face. They see it asa kin to, you know, why you might have stock options for earlyemployees in a start up. You know, it's a way of getting people's butincentives aligned, and so so, even though you know the the thedanger, I think, has increased. I think also the the hunger foror for models like you know, for models that use economic democracy, hasalso intensified. You know, one other piece that I think is really relevantto the Commons to is the way in which cloud computing, you know,the rise of of you know, Amazon...

...web services and just the ubiquity ofyou know, the the turn from running software in your computer to essentially,you know, running everything off of a website somewhere or APP has changed theopen source landscape. So you know a lot of the licenses, the techniquesthat have been used to share code and Build Software Commons. You know thingslike Linux and you know practice as fine. Wikipedia and a lot of the softwarethat runs a lot of the Internet are running into trouble now because,you know, the people who are building this software are seeing very clearly thatthe cloud companies are exploiting their labor and so we're seeing some new licenses emergethat actually resist that. And and this is a real shift from a timewhere, you know, coders have been mostly permissive in allowing their Commons tobe, you know, essentially exploited by profit seeking companies, toward a momentwhere where there's some interest in in licenses and structures that actually care who whoand how the Commons are being monetized. So going to co OPS, let'srewind to two thousand and eleven as we wrap up, because I think thatboth you and I, whoever much calvinized you by occupy in New York onmyself by the fifteen and movement. How Did occupy influence you in your professionaltrajectory as our rights on academic and related to what you're doing now? Howdo you think that the platform coopball, do you think that this traces ofoccupy threatened in the even if they're not as visible as all the things?Yeah, social movements have had such an interesting and central relationship with with cooperativeeconomies. And and at the time of occupy, I was I was mywork was really focused on resistance movements. I co founded a website called wagingon violence that covers resistance movements around the world. Just celebrator ten year anniversary, and and and and it was in that work that I started to realizethat I really under appreciated piece of these movements was, you know, whatGandhi called the the constructive program you know, which is all the alternative building,the culture building. You know, this is why the spinning wheels onthe flag of India right, because for him ninety percent of his work wasbuilding those communities in that culture. And you know, the resistance was thewas the tip of the iceberg. And you know, occupy, you know, for me and for a lot of people of my kind of generation andwere was really formative just as a moment of of education, of mutual connections, of network formation and and and it. It was what drew me into thisto this movement. You know, I my method as a reporter atthe time was to just like hang around, you know, longer than anybody elseand, you know, wait until somebody said something interesting and and andso I was one of the first reporters to go start going to the planningmeetings that let to occupy with a lot of fifteen m people from Spain thereand then, and then I stuck around and saw a number of people Irespected most getting involved in in co operative economies and and I just would beconvascinated by that that work. I was also seeing some of the development andEurope, and especially around the we share network, of a kind of sharing, you know, there were some currents of a sharing economy that would actuallyshare ownership, and it seemed to me while there's something actually forming here,there's there's a movement that isn't as splashy and and, you know, mediaticand and viral as as occupied, but one that actually might be that ninetypercent that that thing that that that that makes the difference between something that isjust a spectacle and something that really changes the nature of the economy. Youknow, one last thing too, is, you know that two thousand and elevenmoment of occupy was. It was... interesting kind of it was aninteresting moment of transition. It was a year I think around the world.You know, I when I think of what captured all those movements around,from the Arab Spring to fifteen en to occupy, I think of the thefifteen m slogan railed up democracy. Yeah, you know, like real democracy.That, yeah, you know, I'm the the the demand was real. Was Democracy everywhere, right, and and that was certainly the case inoccupy. I mean it was more than anything else, the texture of thatexperience was was a group of people who were trying to figure out how toget participation and and, you know, accountability in every aspect of lives toextremes absolutely, and so I came away with that feeling wow, there isthis enormous appetite for democracy in this generation. Yet this same generation, you know, is one in which now, you know, statistics suggest, isless inclined to believe in democracy than those that preceded it. Were in amoment where, you know, classical democratic, you know liberal Republican regimes are recedingto, you know, kind of strong men figures around the world.Yeah, and and I, you know, I I think it's really hard toknow where we're going. Are We, you know, it is the spiritof the you know, this kind of spirit of the world, headingtoward that craving for deeper accountability and and dignity of human beings, or isare we giving up on ourselves? Mm and to me, you know,at the root, you know, what connects the Commons and cooperatives and allof these, all of these struggles, is the hope that we can actuallyreclaim that dignity. The dignity that that says that we believe we are capableof self governing, rather than the the the the disavowal that says we needsomeone else to tell us what to do, just like, you know, I'mblieve the other and blame everybody else we possibly can, you know,and I just can't believe that that's true. I think, you know, thefrustration is with democracy as it has been practiced, as it has failedus, but actually latent beneath that there is a tremendous craving for that realdemocracy and the more we can create opportunities for people to practice that, themore we can we can resist the tied of authoritarianism. I absolutely agreeing.So, just to finish up, last more open ended question, kind oflike Tupot question. What does a Commons transisim mean to you on? Howdo we get that? Well, there's one kind of story of Commons transitionthat has been offered in the kind of sharing economy logic, and then theplatform economy, which is, you know, you don't worry about owning stuff anymore, and you know, and you will have access, you know,for a price, to all the luxuries that the you know, owning classonce enjoyed, like like someone to drive you around everywhere you go, personalassistance and and, you know, delivery of whatever quisine you'd like at anymoment at your door. You know, what a wonderful world, but ofcourse it comes at the cost of, you know, impoverishing, you know, the economic dignity of so many people where there's no living wages anymore,there's no free time anymore. And you know, to me, a Commonstransition needs the cooperative movement because of that emphasis on ownership. You know,my kind of Mantram. This is is, you know, will give up onownership when they do. You know, will give up on owning when theyou know when the when the capitalists give up on owning. But we'renot giving it up until then, and until then we need to, youknow, resist on the on the basis...

...of ownership. And you know it'sa risk because, you know, ownership creates a ownership is a dangerous thing, I think. You know, as much as I love the cooperate tradition, ownership is a you know, it's a claim that cannot really be true. You know, as a Catholic, for instance, as you know,we have this old doctrine called the universal destination of goods, which says justbasically, like you know, you know, after all, that everything is actuallyGod's right and you also have to sort of act that way. Andyes, okay, there's property in the world because we're fallen and you know, and and it's kind of but it is a transitory condition and we haveto act that way. And and so I think if we if we approachownership as a means of power building, as a means of resisting concentrated capitalism. We can, you know, create we can move toward a Commons inwhich ownership matters less. I think that's a it's a risk, but Istill think it's better than the graver risk of of handing ownership over to veryfew. And if we learn how to manage ownership collectively, you know,maybe we can manage to give up on the need for ownership collectively. Thatthat's my hunch anyway, and it makes me very nervous about things, youknow, proposals like universal basic income and which to me is kind of likethe Gmail of the economics, right it says, you know, you geta cool thing, but you give up any control over it. You know, for Gmail, you give up control of your data in order to havea sweet email app in with universal basic income, you give up, youknow, having levers in the economy, like being a worker, being inexchange for, you know, a slice of the you know, probably adiminishing slice of the of the Pie. You know, I think I supportthe idea, I think it's I think it's very interesting, but, youknow, I think we need to build that those kinds of common resources andabundances on the basis of ownership, you know, a universal basic income basedon what we own together and what we are extracting from the concentrated capitalists,what we are taking back for the Commons and treating as a Commons as wetake it back. And and I think if we if we carry out thestruggle on that ground and we also build kind of more sustainable livelihoods in theprocess, you know, we'll have a better chance of, you know,creating the kind of Commons that we want. I mean the Medieval Commons, forinstance, you know, was one of was one at the margins ofthe future, of the of the feudal ownership system, and that's the kindof Commons where in danger of returning to. There were certain wonderful features of that, but you know, those were those were, you know, practicesof the disenfranchised. I think we want to to aim toward a Commons ofthe enfranchised and and and, as best I can understand, you know,struggling on the terrain of common ownership is is critical for achieving that. Thankyou so much, Nathan. Thank you, Stocko. It's always such a pleasureto share ideas. So I was Nathan Schneider, all off everything foreveryone, for the voices of the Commons podcast. Thank you. Thanks forlistening today. You can stay in the loot box describing to US email use. That's at the corner. Go to billy for slash the COMMONA. That'sthe IT DOT ly Voda the corner. Have a right day.

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