Agrarian and forest commons are the original form of property and labor, having appeared long before state property and private property. All languages have words to designate their institutions, from the Polynesian mumi to the Xhosa ubuntu, to the North American potlatch.
some Castillian words, like “procomún” [commons], have existed since Antonio Nebrija’s first dictionary (1494) and the first written reference dates from 1477
Then it centers on the names of the institutions of the commons of the peoples and civilizations of the Americas, from our often-referenced potlatch to the mutirão. It’s a nice stroll that reminds us that the institutions of the commons are universal and much older than Modernity, which is why there are words for them in nearly all languages. As María wrote recently:
In Spanish, taking after Asturian, we call it andecha; in Portuguese, mutirão; in Euskera [Basque], auzolan; in Russian toloka, in Finnish, talkoot; in Norwegian, dugnad… almost all languages have a word for community work. And also for common goods: the traditional communal peasant land and fishermen’s associations, el procomún in Spanish, the iriai in Japanese, and the “commons” in English are the basic form of a non-state public good
Why is this a universal feature, from the Polynesian mumi to the South African ubuntu and the North American potlatch? Because agrarian and hunting commons are the original form of property and labor, before state property and private property. These institutions remained vigorous throughout the world, right through the Middle Ages, and held out against Modernity relatively well until the “amortizations” of the first liberalism in power made them evolve into… modern cooperativism.
Today, it’s become clear that to get back to basics and value the ancient agrarian commons, it’s crucial we not repeat cooperativism’s mistakes in the emergening P2P mode of production.