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Power of the Commons/2020 Highlights

Ralph welcomes back former Nader’s Raider, David Bollier to update us on his latest work protecting and appreciating what we possess together as a community, the Commons. Then, we take a look back at highlights from some of our best 2020 interviews, featuring Dr. Bandy Lee, Dr, Michael Olsterholm, Professor Adolph Reed, broadcaster Glen Ford, socialist Nathan Robinson, environmentalist, David Freeman, journalist, David Dayen, and activist Katey Fahey.

David Bollier is an author, activist, blogger and consultant who spends a lot of time exploring the commons as a new paradigm of economics, politics and culture. He co-founded the Commons Strategies Group, a consulting project that works to promote the commons internationally. More recently, Mr. Bollier has become a fellow podcaster with his new program “Frontiers of Commoning.” Among many other works, Mr. Bollier wrote the quintessential book on the subject, “Think Like a Commoner:  A Short Introduction to the Commons.”

“I’d be curious for example on the availability of the new Covid vaccines. Are they going to be privatized? Probably. Versus Jonas Salk with the polio vaccine where his response famously was ‘Could you own the sun?’ He considered it a moral outrage to try to privatize the polio vaccine.”

David Bollier, author and host of the podcast Frontiers of Commoning.”

“On the internet, social sharing in a non-market way was the norm until Silicon Valley got wind of it and said, ‘Oh, let’s create the sharing economy,’ which is no more than a capital-driven micro-rental economy. And they call it ‘sharing.” Well, it’s not ‘sharing,’ it’s a market. And this is again where people come together to create value and the corporate sector comes in to try to capture and monetize it.

David Bollier, author and host of the podcast Frontiers of Commoning.”


  1. Afdal Shahanshah says:

    Privatizing the commons is not only a tradition among vulture capitalists now, it actually was a critical change historically to creating the conditions for capitalism to arise. The transition from feudalism to capitalism in Britain and other parts of Europe was preceded by so-called “enclosure” laws that consolidated communal grazing and farming land into large fenced off holdings and then restricted their usage to private owners. This transformed farming from subsistence to commodity production and created a landless working class available to perform wage labor.

    • Cesar A Providenti says:

      And it’s still happening; for example: consider how the Inuits’ way of co-operative and self-reliant subsistence is being destroyed in my country (Canada) in order to permit/encourage mining and fracking. Sigh.

  2. Donald Klepack says:

    I never miss a show, not only because of how Ralph, Steve, and David present the topics in clear, concise and entertaining way but because of the great guest you have on, that Main Stream Media seems to avoid. That’s why I appreciated the highlight interviews of 2020. My favorites are Katey Fahey, Glen Ford, and Nathan Robinson. We live in very interesting time and I look forward to your 2021 shows and more great guests that do not get the coverage from the rest of the media.

  3. Tom Clark says:

    Greatest program it needs to broadcast on regular TV

  4. Cynthia Dean says:

    Ralph, wasn’t it your father who posited the need for a save haven for despots and dictators? A sanctuary where they could go w/o fear, thus enabling them to depart w/o waiting to be deposed? Thought of this re Trump & family.
    (This in lieu of his flying Heir Adelson & seek asylum in Israel or Saudi Arabia or UAE.)

    One of Trump’s significant aptitudes is high foresight — (what george bush sr called “that vision thing”). Someone who wants/needs to have a big, hairy goal (he also had high auditories & low graphoria-why he prefers to hear vs read)….anyway, Trump could develop this island or resort of last resort for –what we would call dictators, what he could call the politically maligned. Some part of Russia or eastern Europe or an island–actually, an island would be great esp if it would be subject to climate change…

    sorry so long and off topic, but i’m sure even autocrats and dictators want to retire & right now there are no options for them. France was onto this when they sent Napolean to Elba… but a place where dictators would want to go… cheers & best

  5. Ben Leet says:

    Democratizing the economy is a lofty and gigantic goal. How to solve this problem: the 2,200 largest corporations devote over 90% of their profits to dividends and buybacks (see and talk to Wm. Lazonick, see his recent essay at INETonline) while the nonsupervisory workers had higher average weekly (yearly) earning in 1965 (see BLS data, https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000031) — Our economy is designed mostly to reward absentee owners of stock shares. Household net worth doubled since Jan. 2009, it’s now over $116 trillion. How to reverse that? The RAND Corporation report Income Trends between 1973 and 2018 says “average worker” annual income (including supervisory workers) in 2018 was $50,000/year, but it could be $92,000 had wage growth matched productivity growth, as it did 1946 to 1973. The United Way charity reports, ALICE report, that 40% of Americans live with “hardship”, can’t afford all seven basics: food, housing, utilities, healthcare, childcare, phone, trans. Democratizing the economy is a topic on this week’s broadcast and other weeks’. The problem is now front and center. —— Yes, I could have just said “How do we raise wages?” But the details help. Over a decade ago a magazine called Tikkum called for a trial by jury for every large corporation to determine whether they could renew their charter. A jury of about 100 citizens for every one of the 2,200 corporations who on average employ about 25,000 workers, would be an eye opener. Maybe that would encourage wage increases. OK, I’ll dream on. I’ve read a good book about the commons, Our Common Wealth, by Thomas Hanna. In the middle he suggests nationalizing the weapons-armament-defense-offense industry. He quotes a John Kenneth Galbraith 1969 essay, that we should “recognize the reality of things, which is that the large specialized defense contractors are really public firms” and that “by no known definition of private enterprise can these specialized firms or subsidiaries be classified as private corporations. . . The process of converting the defense firms from de facto to de jure public enterprises would not be especially complicated.” Another thing to dream about. How do we both organize and mobilize. Great program again. The yearly review was well done.