Resisting Enclosure

Ethical action: Protecting the commons we already share

Groups are contesting attempts to limit access and use to established commons. These groups work to ensure that access is shared, that benefits flow to a wide range of people, and that use, care, and responsibility are negotiated by the community connected to the commons.

The World Communal Heritage is a European movement that draws attention to the benefits and potential of shared urban space and to where privatisation is threatening such spaces. They also consider the plight of housing for vulnerable individuals.

The Nandigram villagers in India who formed the BUPC Committee Against Land Grabbing and Eviction, fought an extreme and bloody battle against the takeover and privatisation of common and private agricultural village state government. The basis of their community was restored when the government scrapped their plans for the Special Economic Zone, however the group continued to seek a full inquiry into atrocities committed by the state.

Protecting commoning extends to human genes as patents on the breast and ovarian cancer genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 show.

Exclusive rights to conduct diagnostic tests on these genes, mean patients have to be diagnosed through Myriad Genetics, who hold the patents  This stops other researchers from studying these genes and developing other diagnostic tests.  Two US researchers developed a do-it yourself genetic test using publically available resources. They commoned the IP needed to explore cancer risk thereby contributing to sharing of knowledge with the worldwide community.

The ‘new frontiers’ of outer space were established as a commons by the United Nations in 1967 yet increasing pressure from corporations to have outer space declared terra nullius (no man’s land)threatens this commons. Star wars territory thus faces threats not only of colonization by nations but also privatization by corporations.

Energyshare is a UK initiative to source, use and generate their own renewable energy and example of sharing knowledge for wider community benefit.