Somewhere Near Salinas


The editor of The Commoner, a website devoted to "the commons-based society," travels to South America to study the co-ops that dominate the economy of Salinas, Ecuador. He finds an intricate mix of voluntary cooperation and entrepreneurship—not the sort of combination that should befuddle a libertarian, but one that leaves the writer scratching his head. "There is something intriguing in Salinas, and that is that you do not know when capitalism ends and commonism begins…and viceversa," he reports. "You feel definitively the presence of both and this is unsettling and make[s] someone like me nervous." Later he adds: "But the overall basic question in the back of my mind is this: what is co-opting what? Is capital co-opting the commons or the commons co-opting capital?" Maybe, just maybe, the mystery will go away if you don't insist on reifying "capital" and "the commons" as though they're autonomous forces.

I don't want to carp too much about the writer's POV, though. There's some interesting reportage here about a fascinating economy, and it left me eager to read more about the place. Ideally from some other perspectives.

[Via Kevin Carson.]