Alain Lipietz traces the notion of “the commons” not to Anglo-Saxon heritage but to the Norman word commun, and the Latin mumus, which includes the meanings of “gift” and “duty.” See Bollier, “Alain Lipietz's Wisdom.”


Chamber of the Commons

Possible definitions


  • “a commons is a resource + a community + a set of social protocols. The three are an integrated, interdependent whole.” - David Bollier, Think Like a Commoner
  • “[the commons is] the theory that vests all property in the community and organizes labor for the common benefit of all” - Peter Linebaugh, The Magna Carta Manifesto


  • What we learn to name and cherish and protect before the market learns its value
  • A form of life that cannot be captured in a rule
  • Why even the poor need not go hungry
  • A term with odd grammar because its referent goes unsaid
  • Where real democracy is practices, direct and participatory
  • What gives us the benefit of the doubt
  • Where work invisible to the state or market has honor
  • Where we learn to trust
  • A school of living
  • Where our fecundity comes through
  • What can be protected without being contained
  • What we cannot afford to lose