Against the spectacle of environmental, economic, social, and institutional crises spawned by capitalism, the authors advocate the urgency of a radically new social science: the nascent field of communology. As Marxism did in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, communology challenges orthodoxy. This article presents communology’s evolving terminology, historical perspective, and intersections with law, politics, technology, and social sciences. The commons are subversive to the status quo; they do not assume—as given—sovereignty, statehood, boundaries, or territorial or property structures. That is precisely why their study within the positivist approach dominant today is inadequate, often misleading, and even dangerous to projects of emancipation. Commoners constantly struggle for a different world, for a radically inclusive alternative to all patterns of capitalist exclusion, both private and public. Neither capitalism nor socialism, in any of their forms, constitutes “the end of history.”
Communology: The Emergence of a Social Theory of the Commons
Ugo Mattei is the Alfred and Hanna Fromm Distinguished Professor of International and Comparative Law at UC Hastings, and a professor of civil law at the University of Turin. He is a longtime commons activist and scholar. Mattei was awarded the Elinor Ostrom Award in 2018 and an honorary doctorate at the Catholic University of Leuven in 2019 for his contribution to the theory and practice of the commons.
Mark Mancall is Professor of History, emeritus, at Stanford University. Trained as a historian of China, he has spent the last three decades working both theoretically and in practice in the field of non-Western political and social theory and policy.
Ugo Mattei, Mark Mancall; Communology: The Emergence of a Social Theory of the Commons. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 October 2019; 118 (4): 725–746. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-7825576
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