Fresh Thinking for The Tragedy of the Commons

The long Systems Thinking World discussion, started by Helene Finidori, to respond to UN Chairman Ban ki-moon’s Call for revolutionary thinking and action to ensure an economic model for survival… How to make this happen? . produced a great many complex and well reasoned views, 7800 of them! From that extensive collection she has evolved her sense of the group’s thinking in her Systems Thinking and ‘Commons-Sense’ and other interesting products in the works and from others too.

Recently Horst G Ludwig said in effect, it’s all just impossible.  He said it in a way, from really understanding the self-conflicts within most solutions, that prompted this rather clear statement of one of the exceptions we’ve been discussing, that others commented on liking a lot.


Horst – I think you’re missing some of the options, to say “As long as UN seeks to save the monetarian-economic system nothing can be done.”   What I’d agree with you on is that “The problem is that we are living in idiocratic worlds…”.   Living by ideologies not connected to reality is clearly a failure of ideas, but it does not mean that no fresh thinking is possible.

no commons
Over-investing in the commons till it’s barren

At least one alternate way to end the destructive use of money that exploits people and the earth seems to take only fresh thinking.   For example, the tragedy of the commons is that the commons can’t remain bountiful if you over-invest in exploiting it, like using your cattle to multiply the cattle grazing on the village green, in the example Harding gave.

So, for our earth as a commons to remain profitable for investment, something needs to limit the growth of the investments for exploiting it.  It would protect both the value of the investments and the value work, by forestalling an otherwise inevitable tragedy of our ever growing ‘husbandry’ of investments grazing on “the commons” till it’s barren.

A little fresh thinking also seems to offer reasonable and practical ways to do it.   One is to use policy to require investment funds to change business models when the total level of investment in the commons is putting strains on the commons.   A practical way to do that financially is to regulate investment funds as endowments.  That would require them to increasingly use their proceeds for relieving the strains on the commons till they are reversed.  The “thermostat” feature of that approach provides a self-regulation mechanism, for establishing a new financial commons.  It’s done *not* by changing the nature of money but by a change in our idea of what money is for, that would be profitable for all.

It would interrupt the boundless “investment husbandry” by calling on investors to devote their earnings to caring for the commons, from which they are earning.  That would be instead using their earnings to keep multiply their investments and  burdens on the commons, till the commons is so over-stressed that the earth and our lives become barren and generate no profit.



Try searching the web or searching on Synapse9
for other mentions of “the commons” or”commons sense”

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