The Myth of the Tragedy of the Commons

"The Tragedy of the Commons" is a trope in Western culture, and it's a widely misunderstood concept. The concept comes from an essay named "The Tragedy of the Commons" that decided that the commons, which were resources held in common by villages in Britain, were a bad idea because people couldn't be trusted to not overexploit resources for their own ends, against the common interest of the community. The essay concluded that the only way to protect common resources was to privatize them. This was a very convenient argument for proponents of capitalism, who wanted to privatize resources to profit from them, and so the concept has been well publicized in Western circles for the last 50+ years.

This video explains why the original essay was wrong. (and who doesn't love a good "they're wrong!" video! haha)


Do What You Love, Love What You Do?

In today's discussion material there are excerpts from an article published in the January 2014 issue of Jacobin magazine, about the common aphorism "Do what you love, love what you do", which has inspired some and inspired guilt in others. It discusses how being asked to love your job obscures the coercive nature of work.


“Do what you love. Love what you do.”
There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem is that it leads not to salvation, but to the devaluation of actual work, including the very work it pretends to elevate — and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? Who is the audience for this dictum? Who is not?

The Space of Boredom

What is the value of boredom? Is it a negative value? Positive?
What is the value of work? Is it a negative value? Positive?
What is 'worth doing'? What is meaningful work?
There's a relationship between work, boredom and leisure, let's talk about how our society values these, and the proportion in which we practice them. Also, maybe we can talk about their value to us, personally.



The Space of Boredom
Within a global marketplace that continuously operates at a manic pace, such empty time can be profoundly alienating — a condition inflicted on marginalized persons who can’t keep up, as Bruce O’Neill describes in his book, The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order. O’Neill’s book studies homeless communities in Bucharest, where, two decades after the fall of communism, prosperity has eluded most Romanians, excluding many from the capitalist sociality of consumption and production.

In The Space of Boredom Bruce O'Neill explores how people cast aside by globalism deal with an intractable symptom of downward mobility: an unshakeable and immense boredom. Focusing on Bucharest, Romania, where the 2008 financial crisis compounded the failures of the postsocialist state to deliver on the promises of liberalism, O'Neill shows how the city's homeless are unable to fully participate in a society that is increasingly organized around practices of consumption. Without a job to work, a home to make, or money to spend, the homeless—who include pensioners abandoned by their families and the state—struggle daily with the slow deterioration of their lives. O'Neill moves between homeless shelters and squatter camps, black labor markets and transit stations, detailing the lives of men and women who manage boredom by seeking stimulation, from conversation and coffee to sex in public restrooms or going to the mall or IKEA. Showing how boredom correlates with the downward mobility of Bucharest's homeless, O'Neill theorizes boredom as an enduring affect of globalization in order to provide a foundation from which to rethink the politics of alienation and displacement