• The Greek Water Referendum and the Distinction Between Public and Common Goods

  • Por Theodora Kotsaka | 09 Mar 16 | Posted under: Comunes
  • The last decade in Western Europe has seen a dynamic of remunicipalisation in the water and energy sectors that is part of a global trend.1 Especially in the water sector, one municipality after another is reapropriating water and sanitation management as contracts with private companies expire. In some cases, for example in Berlin, municipalities have decided that it is in their interest to pay a very large penalty to break these contracts in response to the hollow promises of private operators and their failure to put the needs of communities before profit. On the whole, business for giant corporations in the water privatisation sector is not going well. Even in France, where the two biggest water corporations in Europe are found, the city of Paris has severed its relationship with the company that had been managing its water, and several municipalities around the country have been continually terminating their contracts with these companies.2

    Experience has shown that privatisation does not square with high-quality water and related services, environmental protection, and reasonable prices. For example, the more polluted the water the higher is the technology it requires, and the higher the technology, the higher the price. In short, more pollution means more profit for the private company. Water companies specialise in this kind of technology, which uses chemicals that often pose health hazards, and not in environmental preservation that makes this technology unnecessary. In addition, layoffs and the curtailment of labour rights often accompany water privatisation. In general, when water and sanitation services are under private control prices tend to be much higher. In France, for instance, it was seen that privately managed water cost the consumer 16% more.3 In Bucharest water was privatised in 2000, and since then the price has risen twelvefold.

    Despite more than three decades of relentless promotion of privatisation and public-private partnerships (PPPs) by international financial institutions and national governments, data demonstrates that water privatisation does not work. One official report after the other – even when considering public-private partnership – supports this conclusion.4 It is not a matter of ideology but of data. Consequently, several independent scientific institutes and NGOs are asking in whose interest the European Commission (EC) is working. How can municipalities go in one direction and the EC in another? The Commission’s policies are based on neoliberal dogma, which leads them to ignore scientific data.

    The Greek case

    In the context of the constant terminating of contracts with water companies all over Europe, Greece under the Memorandum was an opportunity for profitable business. It is a typical strategy of the water companies to knock at the door of municipalities in countries that are in serious economic difficulties with a view to acquire the public water monopoly at extremely profitable prices. This is why every country under the Memorandum or in serious crisis is an ‘opportunity’ for privatisation companies, as is every crisis for someone.

    In Greece, water companies are public and in general they provide adequate and cheap services. Nevertheless, in 2012, and under the second Memorandum, they – along with certain other public companies and property – came under the authority of TAIPED (Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund). TAIPED is a Memorandum institution with the task of privatising anything possible in order to meet the Troika’s demands and return money to the creditors.

    Here we should bear in mind that in those days there was a dominant discourse of dissatisfaction with the public sector within Greek public opinion, fervently promoted by the mainstream media, arising from government misuse in recent decades. Clientelism, corruption, and inefficiency were the main accusations against the public sector that struck a chord in the population. In that framework, it was easier for neoliberal propaganda to convince part of the population that public companies should be sold off. Moreover, in the midst of the humanitarian crisis, with huge unemployment, precarious work conditions, and salaries of 280 euros, feelings of envy towards public servants were also manipulated in the promotion of privatisation. Their permanent jobs and better salaries were used as an argument in order to create a common front with the other social categories. 

    However, as the neoliberal policies were aggressively expanding under the Memorandum-caused state of emergency, people began to have doubts about privatisation as a general solution for the country’s economic woes. Especially in the case of water, a critical mood became visible within the population. Polls showed that more than 64 per cent disapproved of water privatisation, and their number was continually increasing. As time went on, a similar anti-privatisation sentiment emerged in terms of public goods and services in general. More and more people are now seeing that private control tends to lead to higher prices and lower quality.

    Water has an emblematic character and is generally recognised as a common good compared to other sectors (such as telecommunications). Consequently, a dynamic grassroots movement arose around water, and it was able to mobilise citizens and institutions and disseminate information on the consequences of water privatisation, drawing also on experience from abroad. The movement emerged from the 2011 indignados movement and the general radicalisation and self-government tendency that was consolidated in Greece after the riots of 2008. That is where most components of the water movement first got to know each other. They produced a grassroots working basis at that time and in going forward they took up a single-issue struggle. Several initiatives and umbrella movements were created, and not only in Athens and Thessaloniki.5

    In 2012 the government announced it would give over the management, and almost all of the two biggest cities' water companies’ stock capital, to private control.6 The selling price that TAIPED established was 80 million euros. To understand the dimensions of this giveaway one needs to know that from 2007 to 2011 the revenue from the two water companies, EYDAP (Athens Water Supply and Sewerage Company) and EYATH (Thessaloniki Water and Sewerage Company), amounted to 134,000,000 million euros. The chosen investor would amortise its investment in four or five years with no obligation to reinvest in infrastructure or network. Additionally, absolute control over prices and workplaces and similar authority over the cities’ business planning was guaranteed.7 This choice was made at a time in which households had reduced water consumption and water cut-offs were becoming ever more frequent occurrences.

    It was soon obvious that EYATH would be the first to be sold, and Thessaloniki was thrust into the forefront of the Greek and international water movement. When TAIPED made the offer in 2012, in order to choose the highest bidder, some ‘usual suspects’ appeared like Suez with its Greek partner AKTOR8 and Mekorot (the Israel National Water Company).9 A notable development was the participation in the tender of the Citizens’ Union for Water Initiative (known as Kinisi136, that is, ‘Initiative 136’ or

    K136). Kinisi136 proposed a model of social management and ownership.10 The idea is that if EYATH’s estimated capital value is divided by the number of households it serves, each household would have to contribute 136 euros in order to buy the company and get it under social control. For this purpose, non-profit cooperatives have been created in each municipality. K136 collaborated closely with EYATH, and its bid in 2013 was supported by the water workers.

    The proposal followed the line of thinking that distinguishes between public and common goods by proposing social – instead of state or municipal – control. The model was based on direct democracy: decisions would be taken at open assemblies, based on principles of self-management with one vote per person. A deepening of democracy was proposed through social participation in public goods management divided among smaller local water companies, whose smaller scale could facilitate the participation of, and control by, consumers. This proposal has been able to overcome much of the aversion to public companies and mobilise more people to fight water privatisation.

    However, there was dissent regarding the project, which mainly had to do with efficiency. The argument was that water is too important and needs too high a level of expertise and too much money for investment in infrastructure and maintenance, and these are the things that the state is in a position to provide; and that it is not the place for risky experiments. Moreover, many were asking: ‘Why should we pay again for an infrastructure that we have already paid for as tax payers?’

    In any case, as expected, TAIPED rejected K136’s proposal; still, it attracted considerable international interest and got much publicity. In March 2013 the EYATH Workers Union issued an open call for the creation of a broad alliance against privatisation. Municipalities, K136, the Citizen’s Union for Water, twelve non-profit water cooperatives, several grassroots movements, and individual citizens together co-founded the coordinating body ‘SOSte to Nero’ (Save Water). It is significant that SOSte to Nero took the position that water should be under public control. At the same time, Water Warriors – another initiative working on the mobilisation of people who were against privatisation but who did not have a clear idea of an alternative proposal – strongly believed that democratic management revolves around citizens’ participation and worked closely with K136.11

    It is obvious that the term ‘public’ is ambiguous, as it can connote ownership by the state, the municipality, and the people. Although all factions emphasised citizen participation in one way or the other, some were in favour of state ownership, others advocated a cooperative form, while the mayors wanted municipalisation. As often happens, disagreements did not emerge in the initial stages when forces united to defend water from privatisation. They typically emerge when victory appears possible and people have the time and space to think about the best management practices for this common resource.

    The water referendum

    In Thessaloniki, the need for unity prevailed. Having seen that official political channels allowed them no leverage in the decision-making process, SOSte to Nero decided to organise a local popular referendum on water privatisation. On 14 March 2014 the Regional Association of Municipalities of Central Macedonia unanimously decided to hold a referendum of grassroots character.12 The idea was inspired by official and unofficial referendums in other countries, for example Italy in 2011, and cities like Berlin in 2011 and Vienna in 2013.13 To this end, three-person steering committees have been established in each municipality of Thessaloniki, involving one representative from each municipality, one from K136, and one for the EYATH Workers. SOSte to Nero circulated a call for support at the European level. EPSU (European Federation of Public Service Unions) took the lead in coordinating financial donations as well as volunteer international observers for the referendum.14 The referendum took place on 18 May 2014, the day of local and European elections, despite last minute obstruction and threats by the Greek government. A total of 218,002 citizens participated in the referendum and 98 per cent of them said ‘No’ to privatisation.

    The privatisation process was thus blocked and a sense of dignity and social empowerment created. Once more it has been obvious that the use of direct democracy tools – such as referendums, participatory budget, popular legislative initiatives, etc. – is able to reinforce the legitimacy and efficiency of democracy during a period in which it is desperately needed. Political results were also produced at the institutional level. In 2014, Greece’s highest administrative court, the Council of State, ruled that the state should reappropriate EYDAP from TAIPED. In so doing, the government’s decision to grant the majority share of equity to TAIPED was ruled unconstitutional and nullified. However, EYATH’s equity capital has not been reappropriated from TAIPED.15 (In May 2015, one year after the referendum, 31 Syriza MPs were still asking the responsible Syriza ministers to fulfil the process.16) In the same period, grassroots water-rights groups organised several initiatives, conferences, and events posing the same demand. In any case, it became clear once more that the water privatisation companies are carefully planning their investments, and one of the variables they take under consideration is the social context. When we organise resistance, the company’s appetite decreases.

    Why ‘public’ is not enough?

    The European water movement got results not only in preventing privatisation and returning water to public ownership, but also in introducing into the discussion new policies for managing water as a common good.17 It is at this point that confusion very often arises between the terms ‘common good’ and ‘public good’, which is not surprising due to the relative novelty of the terms ‘commons’ and ‘commons economy’ with its Peer-to-Peer (P2P) aspects.

    A public good is managed by the state, the government, the municipality. However, since the 1980s the state has concerned itself principally with increasing the rights of private property, free markets, and free trade. With the advent of neoliberalism, the public sector came no longer to refer to citizens with shared meanings and norms for the use of their mutual resources, but to the government that promises to improve their individual well-being through privatised goods disguised as public goods: ‘In a mystifying sleight of hand, the resources we use in common are identified as public goods and then deregulated and turned over to the private sphere for production and distribution through the change of their legal status. Examples of this commons/public/private rebranding include water, food, forests, energy, health services, schools, culture, indigenous artefacts, parks, community zoning, knowledge, means of communication, currency, and ecological and genetic resources. Not only do “commons” vanish through this legal and linguistic shuffle, even the word “public” is stolen from the people.’18

    Recent decades have seen frequent cases of political elites/high-ranking personnel accused of serving as employees of big corporate interests. In many instances, political and economic elites, instead of a private corporations, plunder a common resource or service by treating the resource like their own property. They erect barriers to the relevant knowledge, data, and capacities and close the door to people’s participation. In so doing, they establish their role within a peculiar kind of ‘democracy of experts and bureaucrats’.19 However, the problem is still more serious when elites use their managerial power over common resources in order to construct clientelist networks and distribute power positions. There is, in fact, nothing ‘common’, and not even public, in this way of managing common resources and public services.

    Struggles around common resources (from seeds and fishery, to internet and DNA) are intensifying all over the world. What people are trying to prevent is new enclosures. Capitalism is constantly seeking new enclosures.

    In certain historical periods natural resources were its main focus to which digital goods have been added as new territories for capitalism. In recent years, the new conceptual framework of common goods, one with a long prehistory, has begun to unify diverse struggles around the world.

    However, this does not mean that all common resources should be managed as a commons and not as public goods. There are certain variables that can be determinants in that choice, which are relevant not only to the nature of the good itself but also to historical, political, and even geophysical particularities. As in the case of water, the area location may make necessary the environmental preservation of a resource in several contiguous territories, something that can be better managed on a national scale. In addition, the infrastructure and expertise requirements may be so expensive that the only way to finance operations is with state or municipal funds. In those cases, management by a local community may not be the appropriate scale. Be that as it may, several principles for managing water as a common good can be practiced even if it is under state or municipal control.

    There is also another category – embracing health and education – that cannot simply be treated as common goods. For example, during the crisis in Greece we have had several solidarity health centres offering extremely important services to help people deal with health problems. It would, however, be a mistake to hold that the state does not have the exclusive responsibility for the health of the population. Health supplies should cover the whole nation, and in many cases for this to occur high-level expertise in terms of medical knowledge and experience is needed alongside expensive medical equipment and facilities. Also, in education it would be problematic to have schools providing different kind of services according to random variables such as the existence or not of efficient teachers in the community or the class position of the area. People pay their taxes in order to be able to demand that the state fully satisfy needs of this kind. However, in common goods management, relationships and knowledge produced through these kinds of solidarity networks are far from being a secondary matter – especially during the crisis – but can also contribute to social emancipation and enrich the traditional and mainstream framework in which these kinds of services work, and this is an enrichment that is now generally recognised as an urgent need.

    There are concrete alternative examples, for instance of public water companies that are practicing an alternative water management that includes policies of ‘water as a common good’. They focus on water and sanitation as a human right, on social participation and environmental protection, on treating relevant projects and knowledge as a common good, etc. Cases like those of Naples (ABC), Amsterdam (Waternet), Paris (Eau de Paris), or of Dikili in Turkey amongst several others, provide a tool kit of practices that can be applied according to the particularities of each single case.20 The workers and the technical knowledge they possess, their unions and the citizens (also with their attribute as consumers) in all cases in which they managed to unify their powers in a common front not only defeated privatisation but also improved the operational framework of public services.21 In any case, the institutional framework of public services – in each country, but also at a European level – is of great importance. It can be decisive, operating as a deadlock or as an empowering force for the alternative management of a resource as a common good.

    Several different types of economies are practiced by humanity: solidarity economy, reciprocity economy, household economy, P2P economy, and several other types in which the capitalist economy is dominant.22 A significant difference between these types of economies is that the latter is the type that has at its disposal a tremendous institutional framework of economic institutions with overweening power, such as the IMF, the World Bank, or European Central Bank for obvious reasons related to class antagonism. Instead of waiting for capitalism to reach the end of its life, it would be useful to try and create the conditions and institutions that will provide the backbone for parallel types of economies in order to occupy space in people’s economic practices. The space they acquire is removed from the capitalist economy. In our age, in which the capitalist financial framework is unable any longer to cover people’s basic economic needs (in Greece we even had the banks and the stock market shut down for weeks), and digital technology creates opportunities for new kinds of organisation of collective life and economy, it is important to have as a political goal the creation of those institutions which will allow alternative types of economy to operate.

    Towards a definition of common goods

    In defining a common good, many theorists use categories like ‘rivalrous’ (one person’s use precludes another’s use) and ‘non-excludable’ (when it is difficult or impossible to exclude others from using the resource). Neoclassical economics tends to classify goods in four groups: private and public goods, club goods, and common goods. Attempting to apply this classification in organising real-world objects easily leads to confusion and frustration. It becomes even trickier when we try to include the different attributes of material and non-material common goods. The problem with this kind of definition is that it uses ponderous claims, difficult to grasp and also conceptually weak: ‘Could such non-intuitive definitions be a reason why the commons seem so abstract to many people? How can their ontological reality be recognized when common goods require so much analysis to distinguish them from public goods?’23

    However, the distinction becomes clear if we consider that a common good is not something that exists in itself, as a given. It presupposes a community with a strong will to manage the resource as a common, a community that assumes responsibility for resource production and/or preservation. From the point of view of the commons, the ‘just-a-consumer’ identity, that is, which demands from some authority or private agent that it manage a resource as a common good, is a contradiction: a commoner is someone who is contributing to the management of a resource as a common, not someone who is demanding that someone else do it for him or her. A common good is managed – or produced – by a community of commoners, which presumes dedication, participation, and responsibility.

    Many alternative communities have developed their own sets of norms and rules to oversee their collective resources in a sustainable manner. Whether these commons are traditional (rivers, forests, indigenous cultures …) or emerging (solar energy, social innovation, internet …), self-organised communities act collectively in order to preserve their local resources, both for themselves and for future generations. When the users of resources are directly involved in the process of production, their local ideas, learning, imagination, deliberation, and self-corrective action are embodied directly in their collaborative activities.

    To make a commons operational, resource users and producers develop a legal entity called a commons trust.24 Trusts are generally created to preserve depletable (natural, material) resources, but many replenishable commons (social, cultural, intellectual, digital, solar) can also benefit from trusts that ensure their regeneration. Trustees set a cap on the extraction or the use of a resource according to non-monetised, intergenerational measurements such as sustainability, quality of life, and well-being. Having protected a commons for future generations, the trust may rent a proportion of the resource beyond the cap to the private sector or to state businesses and utilities for extraction and production. A percentage of this rent is taxed by the state and redistributed to citizens as dividends or subsistence income, with emphasis on the poor and marginalised.

    At the same time, a series of legal tools aimed at keeping the results of collective creation under the control of the collectivity that produced them have been invented and developed by commoners themselves, for example, by altering the legal tools originally designed to protect private property, redirecting them towards the protection of commons, as in the case ofGPL and CC licenses. Both were redefinitions and transformations of thelogic governing copyright.25 Governments could also provide seed funding,incentives, and grants for commons and commoning, just as they currentlyprovide research and development support and assistance to businessesand corporations.26 What is more, in contrast to privileged public-privatepartnerships, public-common partnerships (where the institutions enableand empower the collective/social peer-creation of common value) can alsobe a part of the picture.27 Several forms of public-commons partnership canbe developed, in which the role of the state is realigned, from its currentsupport to private for-profit companies to supporting commoning and thecreation of common value.28 This can be achieved through tax exemptions,subsidies, and the empowerment of sharing and commoning activities, butalso by assigning public and state-owned goods to common and shared usagethrough projects that coordinate public institutions and commoners. This isa road which could be the beginning of a general transformation of the roleof the state and local authorities in the direction of a partner-state model.29



    1. Worldwide since 2000, there have been 235 cases of remunicipalisation in 37 countries. See ‘Here to stay: Water remunicipalisation as a global trend’, Public Services International Research Unit (PSIRU) and Multinational Observatory and Transnational Institute (TNI), 2014, https://www.tni.org/en/publication/here-to-stay-water-remunicipalisation-as-a-global-trend.

    2. Martin Pigeon, ‘Une eau publique pour Paris: Symbolism and Success in the Heartland of Private Water’, in Martin Pigeon, David A. McDonald, Olivier Hoedeman, and Satoko Kishimoto (eds), Remunicipalisation: Putting Water Back into Public Hands, Amsterdam: TNI, 2012, pp. 24-39. However, de-privatisation does not only take place on a municipal scale. Regional and national authorities have considerable influence over services funding and policy, and in some cases act directly as water operators; thus the process is occurring within this broader context.

    3. Eshien Chong Freddy Huet, Stéphane Saussier, and Faye Steiner, ‘Public-Private Partnerships and Prices: Evidence from Water Distribution in France’, Review of Industrial Organization, 29,1 (2006).

    4. Satoko Kishimoto, Emanuele Lobina, and Olivier Petitjean (eds), Our Public Water Future: The Global Experience with Remunicipalisation, TNI: Amsterdam 2015, https://www.tni.org/en/publication/our-public-water-future; see also www.remunicipalisation.org.

    5. For a detailed account of Greece’s water movements see Vicky Quinlan (ed.), Thessaloniki, Greece: Struggling against water privatization in times of crisis, Amsterdam: TNI 2014, http://www.tni.org/article/thessaloniki-greece-struggling-against-waterprivatisation-times-crisis.

    6. http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/c0d5184d-7550-4265-8e0b-078e1bc7375a/9226693.pdf(in Greek).

    7. So that operations can be launched, with a guarantee of proper drainage connection, several types of businesses need permission from the water company, which in essence gives it control of the city’s business development planning.

    8. The French multinational giant, Suez, is a shareholder and owns 5 per cent of EYATH shares. AKTOR is Greece’s largest construction company and a member of the ELLAKTOR Group.

    9. The process began on 5 June 2014 with an official presentation from the managers of EYATH to the economic analysts and representatives of the private companies at the financial centre of Thessaloniki. Citizens participating in ‘SOSte to nero’ (the umbrella initiative) entered the building and demanded an opportunity to question the investors, which they needless to say were not granted, and so they disrupted the procedure. The same period saw several demonstrations, information campaigns, and several similar actions.

    10. http://www.redpepper.org.uk/resisting-water-privatisation-under-austerity.

    11. Quinlan, ‘Thessaloniki’.

    12. In Greece the right of citizens to a referendum, at the local or national level, is only recognised in principle by the Constitution. A law has never been passed that stipulates the steps that need to be followed in order to make the results binding. For a detailed account of the Greek water referendum see Kostas Nikolaou, The referendum on the water of Thessaloniki (2014), http://europeanwater.org/actions/country-city-focus/456­the-referendum-on-the-water-of-thessaloniki.

    13. Yiannis Efstathopoulos, ‘The right to water and its claim: European Referendums on Water’, Theodora Kotsaka (ed.), Nero – KoinoAgatho [Water – Common Good: Good practices and European referendums asserting it as a public good], Athens: Nissos, 2013 (in Greek), pp. 68-75.

    14. http://www.epsucongress2014.eu/epsu-welcomes-resounding-no-water­privatisation-thessaloniki.

    15. http://sostetonero.blogspot.gr/2014/11/blog-post_27.html (in Greek).

    16. http://www.hellenicparliament.gr/UserFiles/c0d5184d-7550-4265-8e0b-078e1bc7375a/9226693.pdf  (in Greek), http://www.right2water.eu/news/greece­become-first-european-country-recognize-human-right-water.

    17. For example, the December 2014 ruling of the court in Soissons, France, that access to water cannot be denied to users who are not able to pay the private companies, http://www.waternewseurope.com/france-cutting-water-off-is-illegal/.

    18. James Quilligan, ‘Public Goods vs Common Goods’, http://p2pfoundation.net/Public_%20Goods_vs_Common_Goods.

    19. Interesting on this point is the following article on the Italian water movement and referendum: Tommaso Fattori, ‘Fluid Democracy: The Italian Water Revolution’, transform!, vol. 9 (2011), pp. 99-109, http://www.transform-network.net/yearbook/journal-092011/news/detail/Journal/fluid-democracy-the-italian-water-revolution.html.

    20. David Hachfeld, Philipp Terhorst, and Olivier Hoedeman, Progressive Public Water Management in Europe: In Search of Exemplary Cases, Transnational Institute (TNI) & Corporate Europe Observatory, 2009, https://www.tni.org/files/download/progressivewaterineurope.pdf.

    21. ‘It is the context of employment that makes it possible (than if it was an enterprise in the capitalist market) for workers to express themselves through their work, in the delivery of services to fellow citizens, as knowing, feeling people, rather than simply as workers selling their creativity like a commodity. Of course, many workers in private, profitmaximising enterprises try to do the same, but the partially decommodified sphere of public services enables this to take place and be struggled for within the proclaimed rationale of the organisation. [...] Few, if any, public sector institutions were designed to realise the creativity of labour in serving their fellow citizens. But when workers have struggled alongside communities against privatisation, this is exactly the possibility that comes to the fore. It is the workers’ commitment to the purpose – the potential use value of their labour – that underpins the move from a struggle simply to defend workers’ livelihoods to a struggle over a service for the benefit of all.’ Hilary Wainwright, ‘Notes for political economy of creativity and solidarity’, V. Vishwas Satgar (ed.), The Solidarity Economy Alternative: Emerging Theory and Practice, Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2014, p.16.

    22. On the concept of ‘ecology of productivities’ see Bonaventura de Sousa Santos, Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide, Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm Publishers 2014, pp.180-1.

    23. James B. Quillingan, ‘Why distinguish common goods from public goods?’, David Bollier, Silke Helfrich (eds), The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State, The Commons Strategy Group, 2012, http://wealthofthecommons.org/essay/why-distinguish-common-goods-public-goods; Silke Helfrich, ‘Common goods don’t simply exist – they are created’, David Bollier, Silke Helfrich (eds), The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State, The Commons Strategy Group 2012, http://wealthofthecommons.org/essay/common-goods-don%E2%80%99t-simply-exist-%E2%80%93-they-are-created.

    24. J. Quilligan, ‘Public Goods vs Common Goods’, P2P Foundation, http://p2pfoundation.net/Public_Goods_vs_Common_Goods.

    25. Tommaso Fattori via Michel Bauwens, ‘Towards a Legal Framework for the Commons’, Social Network Unionism, 2012, https://snuproject.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/towards-a-legal-framework-for-the-commons-by-tommaso-fattori-via-michel-bauwens/.

    26. According to David Bollier, ‘Government should actively support the commons, just as it supports the market. Government does all sorts of things to help markets function well. It builds infrastructure, pays for courts, provides legal protections, promotes trade, and gives out subsidies, among other benefits. Why shouldn’t government provide similar support to help the commons work well? I say it’s time to explore how government can play a more active role in nurturing the commons sector and the type of value that it creates.’ David Bollier, The Digital Republic, November 2009, http://bollier.org/digital-republic.

    27. On the ‘partner state’ concept see Michel Bauwens, Vasilis Kostakis, ‘Towards a new reconfiguration among the State, Civil Society and the Market’, Journal of Peer Production 7 (2015), http://peerproduction.net/issues/issue-7-policies-for-the-commons/peer-reviewed-papers/towards-a-new-reconfiguration-among-the-state-civil-society-and-the-market/; see also http://p2pfoundation.net/Public-Commons_Partnership and http://p2pfoundation.net/Commonification_of_Public_Services.

    28. Tommaso Fatorri via Michel Bauwens, ‘Towards a Legal Framework for the Commons’.

    29. Michel Bauwens describes the partner state as:‘[…] public authorities which create the right environment and support infrastructure so that citizens can peer produce value from which the whole of society benefits.’ He also points out that the concept of partner state should not be confused with plans to dismantle the welfare state along the ‘Big Society’ model: ‘The peer production of common value requires civic wealth and strong civic institutions. In other words, the partner state concept transcends and includes the best of the welfare state, such as the social solidarity mechanisms, strong educational systems and a vibrant and publicly supported cultural life. What the British Tories did was to use the Big Society rhetoric to attempt to further weaken the remnants of social solidarity, and throw people to fend for themselves. This was not enabling and empowering; it was its opposite.’ Michel Bauwens, The Partner State & Ethical Economy, July 2012.

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