Capitalism is about enclosure of the commons

The deepest foundation of capitalism is enclosure of the commons.

Capitalism is the agenda of corralling all of the world’s resources into private ownership. This is known as closing the commons. Once achieved no man could be self-sufficient. Gone would be the days when a man could hunt wild game, graze cattle on an open range or clear the land to farm and grow crops. Fast forward 200 years and this same man can no longer collect rain water in his own ponds on his own property because the water is owned by a corporation that purchased that year’s rainfall. If he is a farmer he can no longer grow food because a corporation owns the patent on the genetic structure of the plants and animals that he is raising. In the not too distant future people with solar power will have to pay some corporation for using their sunlight or their wind if you happen to have a windmill. In effect the closing of the commons turns everything and everybody into a commodity.

Capitalism seeks to turn as much of life as possible into private property. This is its essence and its necessity.

Under capitalism, the common basis of all life—our Earth and its wealth—is divided into units of property. These units of property can be accumulated. Consequently, some people end up owning most of the property while others are excluded. Today, under planetary capitalism, 1% of the world’s population owns half the world’s wealth, while half the world’s population owns only 1%. Less than a hundred billionaires own more wealth than that bottom half of humanity.

The enclosure of the world’s commons means those who are  left without property become dependent on those who own property. They must sell their labor to survive and they must take whatever payment they can get. When the earthly commons is enclosed, the rich rule the poor.

Human society itself becomes structured around commodities. Human relations become the exchange of goods and services on the market. In the market, each buyer and seller seeks their own gain. Human existence becomes saturated with self-interest.  The social commons becomes privatized.

The commons must be used and managed in common; human societies have done this successfully for ages. This engenders solidarity. The fracturing of the commons into private property engenders egoism and competition.

Capitalism seeks aggressively to consume all commons. This is because capitalism has to expand. Capitalism is based on investment of capital to extract profit and accumulate more capital. The accumulation of capital is both its the logic and its necessity. The logic of the competitive market is grow or die. Capitalists who don’t grow will be pushed out of the market by those who do. Growth is a necessity; it is not optional. It is like breathing: without constant expansion capitalism will suffocate.

Capitalism by its inner logic and necessity will expand to consume as much as possible of both the natural and the social commons. These are replaced by private property and egoism.

This is the world that we live in: the world of capitalism.


Categories: Capitalism