This essay introduces the Italian commons social movement—a diverse coalition of scholars, jurists, politicians, and activists—central to the success of the 2011 water referendum. This essay attempts to provide the context for the struggles to protect commons goods in Italy, as well as the three-part strategy of social movements in deploying traditional political forums and mechanisms, illegal occupation, and contestation in courts of law. Access to common goods such as water, culture, and nature is fundamental to human life, and yet such access continues to be threatened by privatization policies. This essay provides a first-hand account from a scholar, lawyer, and activist central to the recent struggles for the common good and against such neoliberal policies taking place in Italy.

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