Commons in the House of Commons

The Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House is on the other side of the road from Big Ben [it's above the Westminster tube station]. The entrance is on the river side just 10 yards down Victoria Embankment. The meeting is sponsored by Michael Meacher MP. Be there by 10:40 to allow 20 minutes to be sifted through security. We will start promptly at 11:00 and go on till 13:00.

"Political Economy and the Inclusive Commons" is the title of a seminar by James Quilligan leading commons economist/activist, which will be hosted in the House of Commons by Michael Meacher, Member of the Parliament, on May 8. It will be the launch event of a 12-seminar series, called "Towards the Emergence of a Commons-based Economy," organised jointly by Christian Council for Monetary Justice and the School of Commoning.

Each event in the series will be convened by different organisations, the list of which include Civil Society Forum, Finance Innovation Lab, Institute for Public Policy Research, New Economics Foundation, SIMPOL, St. James’s Piccadilly, and Westminster Hub. Each seminar is organised around a distinctive focusing question, such as:

• How would a commons approach shape the future of finance?
• What power does the concept of the “commons” have for creating a world that sees well-being, social justice and environmental limits as central to its modus operandi?
• Can science of complex systems help us manage the local and global commons better?

Introduction to the "Political Economy and the Inclusive Commons"

For generations, our resources have been under assault from global market forces, regional and national policy development, and inadequate legal recognition of common property rights. We are now recognizing that the benefits of perpetual economic growth are not compensating for the vast damages and risks they create — from insecurity, global warming, ecological degradation and species loss to hunger, poverty, debt and financial meltdown. We’re also realizing that neither the private sphere nor government provision and distribution — which created these problems to begin with — are capable of solving them.

The “Political Economy and the Inclusive Commons” seminar focuses on the commons movement as a consciously organised third sector that can create a more beneficial balance in economics and society. The commons -- involving social, cultural, intellectual, digital, solar, natural, genetic and material resources -- are already becoming a potent counterforce to the Market State.

This is because the commons are not just resources but the set of relationships they create, including the communities that use them, and the cultural and social practices and property regimes that manage them. Through the co-production and co-governance of a commons, resource users become the producers of their own resources, allowing the traditional model of property ownership (utility, self-interest, profit) to be eclipsed by a new framework of trusteeship (sustainability, quality of life and well-being).

The self-organisation and rule-based production of a commons is thus a grassroots application of the principles of freedom and equality that are idealized but imperfectly expressed through modern free markets and state-enforced justice. Unlike the Market State, the commons cannot be coordinated by some ultimate authority exercising control through a unified command structure. Rather, they express the massive, heterogeneous forces of society and the common responsibility of people to protect and sustain their valuable common goods. This new social dynamic — arising from the shared values and meanings of people’s life-experiences in the organisation and production of their commons —includes but transcends the market and state, thus bringing people a new form of political power.


The seminar presenter, James Quilligan has been an analyst and administrator in the field of international development since 1975. He has served as policy advisor and writer for many international politicians and leaders, including Pierre Trudeau, François Mitterand, Edward Heath, Julius Nyerere, Olof Palme, Willy Brandt, Jimmy Carter and HRH Prince El Hassan of Jordan. He has also been an economic consultant for agencies in more than 30 countries. Quilligan is a co-founder of Global Commons Trust, where he is working with colleagues to develop a Secretariat to provide research, support and publicity for a new international commission on the global commons. He has also launched a lobbying effort, Commons Action for the United Nations (CAUN), which has been successful in introducing the concepts of the commons into UN discussions and documents.

Suggested minimum donation is £5.

To reserve your seat, you need to take 2 steps:

1. Join this Meet-up group (if you are not yet a member) and indicate your intent to attend this event, by clicking on the RSVP button in the upper right corner.

2. Visit the webpage of The Emergence of a Commons-based Economy and make your donation, by clicking on the green "Donate Now" button on the right margin.

An infographic and the description of the series’ accompanying film, e-book and interactive knowledge map project can be found on the programme’s crowdfunding site.

If you want to support the rising of the commons economy and move the commons into the forefront of national discussion in the UK, help our crowdfunding campaign, by donating funds and tweeting, facebooking and emailing your friends about it.

If you have any questions, please contact Anna Betz: anna(at)schoolofcommoning(dot)com .

Join or login to comment.

  • Sharon K R.

    My first Meetup. It was an exciting, informative event. I was impressed not only with the speakers, but also with those in attendance who spoke up with comments or questions.

    May 10, 2012

  • Andy P.

    I enjoyed the Wednesday evening - Restoring the Commons seminar. Whilst I don't have a very in depth knowledge of economics, the talk helped me to get a better grasp on the commons in general. The "both and" concept of individual freedom and collective stewardship resonated strongly. Looking forward to attending again on Saturday!

    1 · May 10, 2012

  • Stephanie B.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this session. James Quilligan's material was like no other I have ever heard and I am very pleased to see this kind of material being made available for people to hear as I think it could potentially change the world.

    May 10, 2012

  • Mary Beth S.

    I really like what i'm hearing about commons economics...

    What if trusts with a mandate to protect the value of the commons were as well supported as the corporations exploiting the commons?... would stakeholder trusteeship do a better job at making sure business used the commons without abusing them? Sounds like a great check and balance to business... and a needed partnership for governments. THE COMMONS, n., gifts of nature and society; the wealth we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished or enhanced, to our children; a sector of the economy that complements and counterweights the corporate sector. Civic-based commons governance provides a check and balance to the corporate drive for profit and undue influence on government.

    May 9, 2012

  • Technoshaman

    It was a great blasting off the seminar series on the commons! Everything from the opening and very supportive closing remarks by Michael Meacher, MP, James Quilligan's presentation, all the great contributions about the Occupy movement's Working Groups, a biodynamic farming commons, the Escuela de los Commons in Barcelona, all contributed to a high-energy, unforgettable event, which was also the celebration of the 1st anniversary of the School of Commoning. And this is just the beginning!

    May 9, 2012

  • Mark.J

    Excellent discussion and launch in this series of seminars. The interrelationships of kindred projects began here. An event rich with knowledge and wisdom of those that attended. I got a sense of James' work on the commons going to the root of our economic crises in a direct, systemic and practical way. James began sharing some of his ideas that can both help us navigate the complexity we face in the 21st century and encourage life to flourish over the long term.

    May 9, 2012

  • Julian P.

    Served its purpose as an essentially ceremonial meeting providing a platform for Occupy London and opportunity for others to set out their positions.

    May 9, 2012

  • Technoshaman

    There's an interesting conversation happening about "Youth for the Commons <===> the Commons for the Youth" here: http://www.meetup.com/School-of...­

    By the way, if any of us want to open a commons-related online conversation, you can do it here:
    http://www.meetup.com/School-of...­

    May 7, 2012

  • Technoshaman

    Thank you Mary Beth for calling our attention to it. With $4,040 donated so far and another $1,000 pledged, we reached 30% of our target and there's still 38 days left to raise the funds we need to develop a series of professionally produced educational films, an e-book and an interactive knowledge map, all open sourced and available worldwide to support education for a commons-based economy. Of course, we can't do that without the active involvement of all commoners inspired by this work!

    May 6, 2012

  • Mary Beth S.

    The crowd funding is starting to gain steam... if you resonate with any of the commons economics ideas, including - moving away from a debt-based economy of unsustainable material growth, towards an economy of sustainable growth of cultural and creativite wealth that honors the limits and health of natural systems ... please contribute what you can

    1 · May 6, 2012

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