Current thinking about the problem of how to manage common resources still dwells on arguments either in favor of or against enclosure, coming primarily from contemporary political and scholarly debate about the enclosure of the early modern agrarian English commons. Many considerations of the enclosure of the commons, however, have so far failed to account for a number of variables. For instance, the sensible management of common resources on a local scale may not function at all on a global one. Protecting forest biodiversity in areas populated by at-risk indigenous populations may call for trading off the protection of one commons for another. And commons also can be exclusionary, or can involve resources that are not scarce, such as intellectual property. In this essay, David Harvey argues that the real problem demanding our attention is private property, not the commons itself. The capitalist commons is being continuously enclosed, but it is also being continuously produced. To fulfill our common interests, we need to look to the powers of collective labor to address capitalism's destruction of land and labor resources.

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