Public discourse in Israel is taking a somewhat surprising turn in its vacillation between individualism and collectivism. While mainstream public opinion in the 1980s and 1990s pointed to the failures of common- and public-property regimes, elected officials, entrepreneurs, and consumers are nowadays singing the praises of commons and communities. The re-romanticizing of commons and community is driven by a number of explicit and implicit motives, which also underscore, however, the limits of a full-fledged return to common property regimes. This article highlights three instances of the reemergence of the commons- and community-discourse across the Israeli landscape.
First, while the old-style “cooperative kibbutz” suffered a substantial decline in past decades, the evolution of a new type of midlevel communitarianism in the “renewing kibbutz” has led to a growing demand to join the ranks of such kibbutzim.
Second is the development of urban shared office-space compounds such as WeWork, and the next phase of urban commons: co-living buildings.
Third, the emergence of “community villages” on state-owned lands, located mostly in Israel’s peripheral areas, has been praised by governmental agencies and residents alike as restoring a key role for community for middle-class families. But this advocacy may also be driven by exclusionary social and political motives, as applicants may be turned down based on open-ended criteria, such as “incompatibility with social life in the community” or incongruity with its “social-cultural texture.”
These case studies serve as a basis for offering new theoretical tools for thinking about the commons, fifty years after The Tragedy of the Commons presented their apparent failures. A fresh theory of commons and community could highlight how the revived discourse attests to the need to design a new set of balances between the perils of commons and anticommons, between values of anonymity and familiarity, and between governance by hierarchy and egalitarian rules.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Lehavi on Commons and Anti-Commons in Israel
Amnon Lehavi, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliyah , Radzyner School of Law, has posted Re-Romanticizing Commons and Community in Israeli Discourse: Social, Economic, and Political Motives, which is forthcoming in Theoretical Inquiries in Law: