24 October 2002

As I suggested in an early post to the Ecosocialism group, the "tragedy of the commons" mentioned in a famous article (of that name) by Garrett Hardin is an effect of capitalism and its creation of "capitalist actors" as dominant economic entities. Only a capitalist actor would destroy the commons in the name of "self-interest."

Of course this insight is nothing new, as the Anarchist FAQ demonstrates. Ecosocialism gains its distinction in being able to organize the people of the world for the sake of replacing property-mongering with an overall concern for the survival of planetary civilization. Anarchist philosophy doesn't seem to address the "what is to be done" of this, though, the necessity of cleaning up the mess left behind by capitalism, though there is certainly nothing preventing anarchists from doing so.

We can read in Common Dreams, now, that the tragedy of the commons has become the reality of fished-out oceans. What isn't mentioned in this article, which could underscore the seriousness of the situation, is the effect of fished-out oceans on the rest of the food chain -- no cod means no cod-eating animals, no predator fish, no cod-eating whales, etc. No cod means a drastic reduction in the genetic life of the oceans, something which "government" is unlikely to impede all by itself (since desperate communities are likely to resort to poaching). And if government can't halt it, then the fisheries (and the people they support) will collapse on their own. What's necessary is the empowerment of the human being as a result of the disruption of the role of the capitalist actors -- more planetary capitalism will only bring about the collapse, the tragedy of the commons realized.


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