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Privatization and what is at stake with the commons in view of a further Greek bail-out

Friday, 3 Jul 2015
(statement issued prior to referendum of 5 Jul 2015)

Τhe gambit of the referendum has erroneously shifted to a question of choosing between wanting to be part of the euro or not, and wishing to remain part of the EU or abandon it. Yet, the real issue we have to take a stand on, which will determine the future of our lives and those of future generations, is whether we agree with the austerity measures that creditors want to impose on us. As a community which fights for the protection of common resources, we stand in clear opposition to such policies – wherever they may be coming from – as they will lead to the irrevocable enclosure (see ‘privatization’) of public wealth and our common resources and to further concentration of wealth in the hands of local and foreign economic elites, at the expense of society at large.

The policies of enclosure of public wealth and the commons through privatization will eventually lead to the impoverishment of the population, environmental destruction and mortgaging the future. They end up not in the repayment of public debt, but in soaring unemployment, the destruction of SMEs, the impoverishment of the middle class, and the dissolution of social-public infrastructure such as health care, thus contributing to the marginalization of vulnerable social groups and sell out – not only of public property but also of other vital common resources, such as water and the environment, which belong to everyone, and no one has the right to sell.

According to the promoted measures creditors ask for irrevocable privatization acts of strategic sectors of the economy and of public goods related to the energy, telecommunications and transport sectors (regional airports and the former Elliniko airport, the public share in OTE, DEDDHE, the ports of Piraeus Port and Thessaloniki, railways, etc) and the gradual sellout – through HRADF – of public property and land.

These measures, propelled through fast-track procedures, would deprive the country of the possibility to develop a sovereign national policy in such key areas. This leads with mathematical precision – whatever the claims of private companies who covet such policies – to further exclusion of lower economic classes from access to goods, such as water and electricity, which should be accessible to everyone. Moreover, we observe with indignation that the government appears to be giving in to such terms by the creditors.

As a community that is actively involved in social movements for the protection of common-collective resources we claim that alternative models towards sustainability exist, based on the collective management of common resources and the social economy, for the benefit of society as a whole, which have sprung up and have been strengthened in the prolonged crisis period we have been experiencing. In the recent CommonsFest we highlighted several such examples related to energy, agriculture, and health care, the production of knowledge, telecommunications and alternative currencies.

In the upcoming referendum, apart from all other socially harmful measures proposed, we think that the stakes are enormous in relation to common resources that belong to all of us. For these reasons, we believe that such cession and enclosure measures should be immediately revoked.

Exact quote of the section on privatisation from the lender proposal entitled
“Reforms for the completion of the current program and beyond”:

“The Greek authorities are committed to adopt and proceed with an ambitious privatization program. The authorities are committed to advance an ambitious privatization program, whose implementation aims at creating annual revenues (excluding bank shares) of 1.4 billion euros in 2015, 3.7 billion euros for 2016 and 1.2 billion euros for 2017. The authorities are committed to the privatization of all assets held by the HRADF and for completing of all government actions pending. Among other actions, the authorities will implement immediately, irreversibly, the necessary steps for the sale of regional airports and the Elliniko former airport, the transfer of shares held by the State of OTE to HRADF privatization body, the completion of the terms of sale of the Piraeus and Thessaloniki ports and the railway operator, and to promote competition for the extension of the concession agreement of the Athens International Airport and the sale of shares. For real estate issues, the HRADF will set annual revenue targets to be harmonized with the overall revenue target expected from privatization”.

Regardless of the referendum result, we urge all citizens of Greece and Europe, to raise awareness of the transnational movement for the Commons, and implement their common future.

CommonsFest 2015 Press Release

For the collective management of common resources

Counting two successful festivals in Heraklion, Crete, this year the 3rd CommonsFest moves to Athens and will take place 15-17th of May at the Greek Archaeologists Association, Ermou 134, Thisio.

For the past few years a particularly dynamic, global Commons movement has been emerging in various aspects of social life. It claims new definitions of value, in both economic and philosophical terms, restructuring the public sphere such that collective action may walk side by side with personal autonomy.

The Commons are systems of governance of all that we have inherited or co-produce. They constitute practical cases of collaboration and participation, for the management of various resources, with an aim to satisfy human needs, beyond the mechanisms of state and market. Not only with regard to natural resources, which we are morally obliged to deliver unaltered to future generations, but also with regard to collaborative creations that are common property: from arts, knowledge and science, to software and the Internet.

In crisis-hit Greece, the Commons constitute a new organizational and action paradigm, offering inspiration to various groups that are driven to act in a self-organized manner.

CommonsFest shows us how we can create the world we want, within the world we want to exceed!

The 3rd CommonsFest will host community practices, experiences and artifacts, as well as discussions on how to expand the Commons as a sustainable model for addressing human needs. Participating communities, social movements and emerging social economy stakeholders will explore synergies, enhance networks, and chart a common course towards empowering the Commons.

The Festival includes 40 speeches from scientists, activists and movement representatives active in free software, open and participative knowledge, natural building and common urban spaces, as well as from initiatives that adopt peer-to-peer production, self-management and self-organization practices, such as Peliti, VIOME, the 136 water initiative, the Elliniko and Thessaloniki social clinics and

CommonsFest 2015 will also host the founder of the free software movement Richard Stallman, and the economists Massimo de Angelis and Pat Conaty.

It will further host 12 workshops and discussions on specialized subjects, such as security and privacy on the Internet, currency reform, urban commons practices and the role of women in the Commons.

Last, but not least, the Festival will host an exhibition of community artifacts based on open design principles, free software and open knowledge.

The festival ends daily with live hip-hop, rock and folk music.

Entrance is free.

You can find the detailed festival program here:
Contact: Continue reading CommonsFest 2015 Press Release

Interview with Massimo De Angelis

Massimo De Angelis (Italy) is Professor of Political Economy at the University of East London. He is author, most recently, of The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital, and editor of The Commoner web journal, at

CF – Throughout its evolution capital has developed elaborate processes of circulating / accumulating its social power. What could be the ways for commons’ communities to circulate / accumulate social counter – powers and challenge the domination of capital in the 21st century?

Massimo – This is a key issue, obviously. Capital has three key interrelated means to expand or at least maintain its social power: enclosures, the violent or devious expropriation of community resources; accumulation (based on abstract labour and exploitation) and governance, that pertains to the hierarchical managerial function of capital, whether in the sites of production or social production (the state). Correspondingly, the commons have also three main interrelated moments constituting its social power. The communalisation of resources and their turning into common wealth; commoning, or the autonomous social cooperation that strive to horizontality and auto determination of goals; and the collective democratic process of their governance.

Continue reading Interview with Massimo De Angelis

Agriculture and common goods in challenge : Water, seeds and knowledge. How do we answer?

Kostas Koutis
AEGILOPS – Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture
The painful experience of the financial crisis, as experienced today millions of people around
the world, Europe and Greece also, revealed the fact of challenging of our common goods:
Challenging the access and free use (benefit) of common goods,- unchallenged until
recently – of paramount importance for our life such as food, water, health, education, work
What precedes this challenge is usually their methodical depreciation and what follows after
is the final manipulation, control and their privatization. To their depreciation contribute
often misleading scientific “evidence”, attractive novel substitutes and the shift in
consuming. On the other hand, to their privatization, assist legal and other financial
commitments which multinational companies and market economy key stakeholders impose
on states and citizens through globalization and dominance of the financial system.
Agriculture recently invited to play an essential role in the survival of people in the middle
of crisis and contribute with primitive values and its functionality to the production of
sufficient, safe and quality food, accessible to all. Water, plant genetic resources (seeds and
varieties), soil fertility, traditional and scientific knowledge/ management experience are
part of the universal common goods of strategic importance for agriculture. Citizens’
movements after the Green Revolution (and the devastating consequences on biodiversity,
ecosystem health, diet quality and natural resources), demonstrated the global awareness
on protecting and defending common goods of agriculture. The promotion of organic
farming, the blocking of genetically modified organisms, the protection of traditional
varieties and quality of water is only part of the demands imposed by the citizens of Europe
to their parliaments in recent decades.
Efforts of manipulation and control of common goods are apparent today and citizens’
movements are facing new challenges. The proposed revision of the European regulation on
seeds, although been rejected due to reaction of citizens, showed the industry’s appetites
towards seed market and will definitely come back. The legalization of GMO cultivation in
Europe, the forthcoming transatlantic agreement dragging states to court by multinationals,
unscrupulous gold mining industry swallowing virgin forests and the water privatization
efforts is today’s reality. A rain of propaganda and slandering of movements, arrests andthreats are what have been experienced by those who defended vigorously common goods
and the future of their children.
For the most of farmers of our country, unfortunately, the commons of agriculture is of
lower priority. In farmers’ blocks every February are missing demands for the freedom of
seed, and self management in spite of the rich tradition of the peasant movement in our
country. Adherence to subsidies and monocultures, the emphasis on agriculture under
contracts and persistence in Pharaonic project of the diversion of Acheloos river to plains
indicate the priorities of today’s agricultural world. Despite the strong seed movement in
Greece, the vast majority of farmers still winks at hybrids, intensive crops, subsidies and
contracts with industry. The agrobiotechnology lobby produces knowledge to appease public
opinion and attractive incentives for farmers. Water contractors roam the country and covet
local authorities and political power. How do we respond to this reality?
It is time to recover and cooperate. It is not enough only to denounce and protest. At the
same time, we must strengthen our management capacity, improve our ability and become
more effective. We must create a new reality. Not enough to gather seeds, we must learn to
utilize them to address climate change and produce seeds of freedom. Not enough to stop
laws. We must know how to propose new ones. Let’s stop the propaganda and knowledge of
perjurer scientists. Let’s create our experience, utilizing the traditional knowledge
management and encouraging young scientists to serve the common goods. Let’s try to
introduce organic farming in the valleys now, not only in the mountains. Let’s make
intermediaries useless and safeguard water. Let’s make agriculture again the mother of all
arts. Mother of our common goods.