• Introduction and Conference Report
  • The Concept of 'Common' – Towards an Economic and Social Democracy

  • Roberto Morea | 21 Oct 19 | Posted under: Commons
  • It appears increasingly obvious that the concept of the Common can provide a framework for a left alternative project embracing the questions of social and economic democracy and ecology. Read an introduction on the concept of the Common and conference report by Roberto Morea.

    For more than five years transform! europe has been organising seminars on the theme of the Common, combining many practical experiences with academic research on the concept whose first result was an e-paper. Many seminars are taking place throughout the world on common goods, the Common, etc. We believe that the role of transform! europe is to project this concept as a central political issue and avoid it being misused, including in the sense of its recovery by capitalism in preparing us for a society in which the owners are still masters of the world but hidden from view in an 'uberised' society.

    This concept of the Common is becoming increasingly meaningful to those who hope for a social transformation that coincides with ecological transition. It would seem to be a process more relevant, more dynamic and effective than simply attempting a revival of socialism and communism, which are so compromised by experiences that have led to dead ends.

    The concept of the Common is based on two fundamental principles

    • a social and democratic construction, which is the process of the Common;
    • the right of use replacing capitalist property rights, which govern all contemporary Western societies To fight for the Common today is to fight against this inalienable right of property which suffocates all other rights.

    Some Common rights existed in the past, but they have all been eradicated by capitalism, leading to an increasingly thorough commodification of society.

    It is against this that the concept of Common struggles in an attempt to build another society. Many experiences exist: micro-farming experiences, a new municipalism, claiming new more participatory rights, experiences around the issue of water, energy, cooperatives, and self-managed entreprises, struggles against land grabbing, and unneeded mega-projects‘ ...

    The Zagreb conference

    All these experiences bring up the question of institutions and the kind of state necessary for sustaining the Common and generalising it. For all these reasons and on the strength of our past seminars, in June 2019 we organised a seminar in three parts:

    • participation in the festival ‘Towards a New Economy’, which takes place every  June in Zagreb;
    • one day for exchanging different experiences along different axes: economic democracy, the municipal and territorial question, and the social commons;
    • one day devoted to the question of the state and the institutions necessary for a Common society, based on practical experience but also on research in the fields of law, sociology, and philosophy.

    We are trying to move forward on these issues both in terms of the alternative project and the necessary transitional measures.

    What demands in today’s society can convey the concept of the Common in the institutional field?

    This seminar has also been an opportunity, given Zagreb’s geographical location, to expand and strengthen our network in the CEE countries. Many innovative experiences exist in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and in general in the CEE countries.

    This seminar was promoted by the Working Group on Productive Reconstruction, the Global Social Justice Network, the Self-management Association, and the Workers’ Control Network.


    To this end we are also opening a space on our website to collect other contributions from our network and people involved in this issue.

    All who are willing to contribute should send his/her text to morea@transform-network.net.


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