The commons movement consists of many people who are fighting the privatization and commodification of their shared wealth by the “free market.” The “enclosure of the commons” is arguably one of the core dynamics of neoliberal capitalism – to collude with the state to appropriate and marketize the people’s shared resources, whether they be elements of nature, culture and information.
In the US, we have seen timber companies seize great swaths of forests and wilderness that belong to the American people….federal drug research for which we taxpayers have paid billions of dollars, only to see Big Pharma claim monopoly patents….and the corporate privatization of public universities through “partnerships” that essentially annex publicly funded scientific research. Most recently, we have seen the fierce attempts by telecom and cable companies to seize control over access to the Internet in order to convert that great commons into a closed marketplace. Enclosures amount to a massive theft and dispossession of common wealth for private gain.
Market enclosures have provoked the rise of a large movement of commoners seeking to reclaim what is theirs. They include indigenous peoples trying to preserve their ethnobotanical knowledge from the biopiracy of big pharmaceutical and ag-biotech companies. Subsistence farmers and fishers whose livelihoods are being destroyed by industrial harvesting. Latin Americans fighting the neo-extractivist agenda of multinational companies plundering oil, minerals and genetic knowledge.