History

  • c. 500-300 BCE: Leviticus
  • c. First century CE: Acts 2 and 4
    • Both mentions are immediately preceded by references to “signs and wonders”
    • 4, Vulgate: “omnes etiam qui credebant erant pariter et habebant omnia communia
  • 535: the Institutes of Justinian recognized res communes: “the following things are by natural law common to all—the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the sea shore. No one therefore is forbidden access to the sea­shore, provided he abstains from injury to houses, monuments, and buildings generally; for these are not, like the sea itself, subject to the law of nations.”
  • 700s: Establishment of the waqf system in Islamic world
  • c. 1150: Gratian’s Decretum said, “for natural law all things are everyone’s” (“jure naturali omnia sunt communia omnibus”), while there are certainly provisions for property in church and secular law
  • Magna Carta / Charter of the Forest
  • Thomas Aquinas on property: “In cases of need, all things are common property”
  • 1525: The heretical confession of Anabaptist Thomas Müntzer while he was being tortured to death: omnia sunt communia — all things are in common
  • The enclosure movement
  • 1754: Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men: “The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said 'This is mine,' and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”
  • Common-school movement
  • Commoning a major subject of the work of the Midnight Notes Collective
  • 1994: “Todo para todos” of the Zapatistas
  • 2009: Participants in the World Social Forum circulated a Reclaim the Commons Manifesto
  • 2001: Creative Commons
  • 2011-2012: Occupy
  • May 2014: FLOK project and Buen Conocer summit in Ecaudor, the first national-scale commons-based transition plan
  • October 2014: “Building the Collaborative Commons” conference at Omega Institute, largest conference on the commons in the United States (according to David Bollier) with 525 registered participants.