Settling the Common


What can we take with us and what must we leave behind in the enclosures?

How much of the common remains? – I shall suggest that it is very much more than most people imagine.


Hard as it is, these are things we must leave behind – aviation, the family car, all cultural activity related to fire, ideas of suburbia, ideas of dependency…

We will take with us much that does not appear in GDP figures – money-less activities, strong family morals and we shall alight in many still existing, though much shrunken commons – hard infrastructures of towns, villages, market squares, church, mosque, synagogue, temple, meeting house, pubs, cafes… and soft infrastructures of skill, ingenuity, moral probity – that which makes the ethics of the trades. All of these things will also lead to happiness.


Even today, inside the enclosures, we behave more by inherited and bequeathed family values, than by laws of the land and corporate demands. I think the potency of that money-less economy is massive. Without it, all economies would collapse.

Also consider that those inherited family values extend into both friendship groups and to common interest clubs and societies. It is taboo to charge interest to a friend in financial difficulty, just as it is so between family members. We would also not do the same to our walking, archaeological, music society, local football club and so on.

Consider the household –

There, a true economy survives in rationing of both chores and pleasures and of fair shares of what we can have and what we can do. Any true economy is made essentially, by commonly-agreed rationing and in fair shares of what we can do. Of course, all economies are made in the present moment and by what people do. All else – targets, dispensations and so on, provide an illusion that something has been done, while forgetting that it is in the present moment, that all must be done.

Only in the household do children learn the ethics of what will will drive them – and on reaching parenthood, bequeath them in turn.

In short, in evacuating the enclosures, we leave behind a world of limp, unhappy dependency, to enter a world of happy trade relationships, convivial population centres and liberating personal responsibility. The common is a place of ingenuity, dexterity and intelligence of the natural world, into which we must find our place. We can find that response nowhere else – as I say, where a hand, or tool touches its materials, comes a spark of truth – for better and for worse.

Follow the spark. It is a delight.


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