Commons & Public Goods

Monday, December 14, 2020 - 1:00pm
Dario Azzellini & Nancy Holmstrom

The failures in the US response to the pandemic have made it painfully clear that we need a robust health care system universally available to all regardless of employment or income. That is, we need Medicare for All as a public good. Similarly the efforts to undermine the post office have made us aware of the importance of this long-standing public good. While similar to public goods in some ways, the commons can be understood as resources or institutions that, beyond the market and the state, are controlled and managed with active participation by the people involved--such as by communities, workers or users--thus pointing the way to social and ecological transformation.

Nancy Holmstrom and Dario Azzellini explore the ideas of the commons, and public goods and their present day relevance. Holmstrom is a philosopher who will unpack the idea of public goods as the core of a democratic society. Sociologist Azzellini will look at current movements around commons in the context of class struggles and a just transition.

Many public goods have been threatened with privatization by special interests that aim at profits for themselves. We have to struggle to preserve institutions that benefit everyone rather than a few. The resources that we all share are often vital to our lives. At least they contribute to a fuller, enhanced life. Today we are becoming increasingly aware of their value to us.