If we will attentively consider new born children, we shall have little reason to think that they bring many ideas into the world with them and that "by degrees afterward, ideas come into their minds. Locke allowed that some ideas are in the mind from an early age, but argued that such ideas are furnished by the senses starting in the womb: If we have a universal understanding of a concept like sweetness, it is not because this is an innate idea, but because we are all exposed to sweet tastes at an early age.
Support Aeon Donate now William Morris is best-known today as a Victorian designer who has never gone out of fashion.
You can buy Morris merchandise — from coasters to picture frames to ties to mugs — in the gift shops of every big design museum. And if you Google his name, your screen will erupt in cascades of dense, Personal vision essays ornaments.
In News from Nowhere, Morris imagined a world in which human happiness and economic activity coincided. He reminds us that there needs to be a point to labour beyond making ends meet — and there is.
Unalienated labour creates happiness for all — consumer and creator; whereas modern capitalism, in contrast, has created a treadmill in which this aspect of work has been lost.
Capitalism, he explains, locks the capitalist into a horrible life, which leads nowhere but the grave. The means of production are democratically controlled, and people find pleasure in sharing their interests, goals and resources.
She disappeared again, and came back with a big-bowled pipe in her hand, carved out of some hard wood very elaborately, and mounted in gold sprinkled with little gems. It was, in short, as pretty and gay a toy as I had ever seen; something like the best Personal vision essays of Japanese work, but better.
Besides, I shall lose it: I always lose my pipes. What will it matter if you do? Somebody is sure to find it, and he will use it, and you can get another. But today we have different technological potential: It is an old idea that was not lost with the European land enclosures of the 16th century.
Today, commons are produced, enclosed and reclaimed, arguably more than ever in the past century. In a sense, the world has caught up with Morris.
At the beginning of the 21st century, a new world is emerging. Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a deeper transformation of the fundamentals of our socioeconomic life.
A new commons-based mode of production, enabled by information and communication technology ICTwhat we now call digitisation, redefines how we can produce, consume and distribute.
This pathway is exemplified by interconnected collaborative initiatives that produce a wide range of artifacts, from encyclopaedias and software to agricultural machines, wind turbines, satellites and prosthetics.
As recently as two decades ago, most people would have thought it absurd to countenance a free and open encyclopaedia, produced by a community of dispersed enthusiasts primarily driven by other motives than profit-maximisation, and the idea that this might displace the corporate-organised Encyclopaedia Britannica and Microsoft Encarta would have seemed preposterous.
Similarly, very few people would have thought it possible that the top supercomputers and the majority of websites would run on software produced in the same way, or that non-coercive cooperation using globally shared resources could produce artifacts as effectively as those produced by industrial capitalism, but more sustainably.
It would have been unimaginable that such things should have been created through processes that were far more pleasant than the work conditions that typically result in such products.
Commons-based production goes against many of the assumptions of mainstream, standard-textbook economists. Individuals primarily motivated by their interest to maximise profit, competition and private property are the Holy Grail of innovation and progress — more than that: These are the two premises of the free-market economics that have dominated the discourse until today.
The legal scholar Yochai Benkler at Harvard University was one of the first to observe that such commons-based projects are by now too common to be considered anomalies. Already a decade ago when smartphones were a noveltyBenkler argued in The Wealth of Networks that a new mode of production was emerging that would shape how we produce and consume information.
Digitisation does not change the human person in this respectit just allows her to develop in ways that had previously been blocked, whether by chance or design. No matter where they are based, people today can use the internet to cooperate and globally share the products of their cooperation as a commons.
Commons-based peer production usually abbreviated as CBPP is fundamentally different from the dominant modes of production under industrial capitalism.
In the latter, owners of means of production hire workers, direct the work process, and sell products for profit-maximisation.
Think how typical multinational corporations are working. Such production is organised by allocating resources through the market pricing and through hierarchical command. In contrast, CBPP is in principle open to anyone with the relevant skills to contribute to a common project:Master American photographer Adger Cowan's predominantly black-and-white photography is collected in Personal Vision: Photographs, his monograph of original images taken over the past forty iridis-photo-restoration.com is one of the great unrecognized photographic luminaries of our time, and this magnificent book is a fitting and long-awaited tribute to his immense talent.
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