The Commons and a New Global Governance
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The Commons and a New Global Governance

Edited by Samuel Cogolati and Jan Wouters

Given the new-found importance of the commons in current political discourse, it has become increasingly necessary to explore the democratic, institutional, and legal implications of the commons for global governance today. This book analyses and explores the ground-breaking model of the commons and its relation to these debates.
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Chapter 3: Federal commons

Nicolás Brando and Helder De Schutter


This chapter analyses Pierre Dardot’s institutionalization of the commons as a federal political project. Through the use of the literature on the political theory of federalism, we assess the credentials of his federalist programme, arguing that his refusal to grant salient competences and authority to central institutions makes his proposal more of a confederal or treaty-based argument, rather than a federal system. Based on this assessment, we present three connected concerns with his proposed system of governance of the commons, arguing that it is not fully able to deal with the global problems that it intends to tackle. We consider that solidarity at higher levels is currently not stable enough to protect global commons; that the absence of shared rule (through state-like authorities) in Dardot’s federal proposal cannot fully protect common concerns more broadly than at the local level; and that the exclusive focus on the practices of commoning, disregarding seeing commons as goods, may enable unsustainable, inefficient, and potentially oppressive practices. We close by recommending a series of amendments to his proposal, in order for it to, first, be a truly federal political system; and, second, to ensure the protection of and access to the commons as both local and global goods.

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