We humans are at a turning point, at a point where we may head either toward disaster or toward a renewal of civilization that will allow all humans and a multitude of life forms to flourish on this planet. The decisions we make now will determine in which direction we go.
We, the members of the Commons Abundance Network (CAN), recognize that we are on the verge of an urgently needed deep social and cultural transformation that is just waiting to be made visible as a viable future. It is changing mindsets, re-ordering our priorities, creating new institutions and transforming old ones.
Our old economic institutions have been built on the assumption that people are isolated individuals who enter into social relations only in order to maximize their self-interest, who cooperate only in order to be able to compete more effectively, and whose material wants are unlimited. Unfortunately, such ideas are to a certain extent self-fulfilling prophecies. As a result, we now face a situation of extreme social inequality (where nobody seems to have enough and it thus becomes impossible to share the wealth with those who truly do not have enough), and of unprecedented threats to environmental sustainability (driven by seemingly insatiable desires for more consumption), and where most limits of resilience have been reached.
In order to reverse this course, we need to build on the new types of commons-oriented institutions and relationships, which are now increasingly emerging. Wherever people are steering/managing/producing their own resources in an inclusive and open manner for the benefit of all stakeholders, we can speak of an all-win commons approach. Commons can involve ways of sharing social or natural resources like Wikipedia or the Internet or common land or water, or they can take the form of cooperatives—commons businesses which include a billion members worldwide, one seventh of the world’s population. All-win implies that the approach takes into account the well-being of all people and nature as a whole. Many current initiatives operate under the principles of all-win commons even when not expressed as such. When we adopt an all-win commons approach, we work together and share responsibilities as well as benefits flowing from the shared natural, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth that we inherit and nurture, with the intent of leaving as much or better for coming generations than we have inherited from our forebears. This will allow all of us to live better and be more secure, in short, to live in abundance.
The Commons Abundance Network is being designed to empower people and commons-oriented organizations by bringing them together in order to learn from one other, and to innovate together. This will channel our energies and help to transform or build the institutions that will enable all of us to meet our needs while using resources sustainably. It is designed to combine the power of modern information technology with the powerful desire for a better world in order to build a new, commons-based economy of abundance. CAN is being designed to be a motor for the accelerated social learning, collaboration and innovation that is needed to head us in the right direction.
Creating a better world is difficult – but it is necessary, and it is not beyond human ingenuity. So let's together build on existing intiatives, find the way forward, and get to work. We CAN do it!