State Functions for Commoning

Notes to David Elinor Ostrom's Eight Design principles for Commons Institutions capture the essence of how successful commons work. The seventh principle is key in understanding the relationship between commoners and state powers. It claims the need for minimal state recognition of commoners' rights to self-organize and govern themselves. The right of the users (or "appropriators," in Ostrom's language) of common resources to devise and control their own institutions must not be challenged by external governmental authorities. This is our starting point. We could call it the "Do not harm the commons" principle. But this is not enough. The state must also ensure basic conditions for creating and maintaining commons. This has four primary dimensions: authorizing commons under law; nourishing their development in non-intrusive ways; catalyzing and propagating commons; and overseeing macro-concerns beyond the capacities of individual commons, such as mediating and resolving conflict within and among commons. It is evident that these kinds of support for commons governance transcend representative democracy and bureaucracy because they entail distributed, polycentric governance based on the principle of subsidiarity.

dimensions of state functions for the commons

- RESPECT & DO NOT HARM THE COMMONS is the "NO-FUNCTION" and the starting point, i.e. another layer than the next dimensions. - LEGALLY AUTHORIZE COMMONS was: PROTECT & GUARANTEE - NOURISH commons organisationally, technically and administratively // was: NOURISH & STEWARD (or: underpin/substantiate) - CATALYZE & PROPAGATE the development of commons - MEDIATE & RESOLVE conflicts among overlapping or large-scale commons and other relevant interests // was - MEDIATE & CONCILIATE

to be discussed