They hang the man and flog the woman That steal the goose from off the common, But let the greater villain loose That steals the common from the goose. —English folk poem, ca. 1750
Before we consider how to upgrade our economic operating system, it’s worth contemplating how it came to be. Two parallel threads emerge: the decline of the commons and the ascent of private corporations.
In the beginning, the commons was everywhere. Humans and other animals roamed around it, hunting and gathering. Like other species, we had territories, but these were tribal, not individual.
About ten thousand years ago, human agriculture and permanent settlements arose, and with them came private ...