Kester Brewin, a teacher of mathematics in South East London, was wondering why his son has been invited to countless pirate-themed birthday parties, but not any aggravated robbery themed parties.  What's the reason for our fascination with pirates?

 Brewin’s answer is an amazing 13-minute video talk  for TEDx Exeter (UK) based on his 2012 book, Mutiny! Why We Love Pirates and How they Can Save Us. The talk is a powerful account of 18th century piracy and a plea for all of us to become pirates as acts of radical emancipation.

For the full effect, I urge you to watch the full video....but here is a key excerpt transcribed from Brewin’s talk:


What I want to propose is that whenever we see pirates, we see a system in some kind of trouble, whether it involves politics, economics, spirituality, culture or the arts.  Pirates send us a signal that something that should be held in the hands of common people, has been taken away.

Now if we look back in history, the golden age of pirates, the early 1700s, we see England, Spain, France and Holland trying to enclose the new world of the Americas into their empires.  At this time we are right at the birth of emerging global capitalism.  The engine of this movement is the ship.  And the petrol in the engines are sailors. 

Here are two great video commentaries on our screwed-up consumerist society.  The first, by Charles Veitch of the Love Police, is a hilarious performance art piece filmed at London's Canary Wharf.  A man with a megaphone (Veitch) assures passersby that "Everything that you read in the media is true," and "If you don't have a job, you are a worthless human being!"  What might come off as a crank protester haranguing a crowd is in fact an amusing, entertaining commentary that "breaks the fourth wall" of everyday street life.






Another video worth watching is Annie Leonard's new release, "The Story of Broke:  Why There Is Still Plenty of Money to Build a Better Future."  Leonard is famous for her viral smash, "The Story of Stuff."  In the same spirit, "The Story of Broke" simplifies a problem that is deliberately made more complicated than it needs to be, masking the solutions that will help the 99%.  The video makes the basic point: 

"The United States isn’t broke; we’re the richest country on the planet and a country in which the richest among us are doing exceptionally well. But the truth is, our economy is broken, producing more pollution, greenhouse gases and garbage than any other country. In these and so many other ways, it just isn’t working. But rather than invest in something better, we continue to keep this ‘dinosaur economy’ on life support with hundreds of billions of dollars."  

Leonard urges "government spending toward investments in clean, green solutions—renewable energy, safer chemicals and materials, zero waste and more—that can deliver jobs AND a healthier environment. It’s time to rebuild the American Dream; but this time, let’s build it better."

An illuminating, inspirational video by a master of plain talk.

The Renegade Economist website has a clever and instructive video animation on how banks, corporations and governments use debt to prey upon needy countries and stay on top. As “Billion Dollar Bill,” the superhero banker, candidly explains, “The cheapest, most lethal weapon in the world [is].....spreadsheets!” 

The ingenious tool for consummating enclosures around the world is debt – loans made to impoverished countries with coveted natural resources that can be acquired via corrupt or gullible leaders. It works this way: Bankers and the U.S. Government persuade the countries to put the natural resources in hock in order to finance loans for infrastructure development (with lots skimmed off to the middlemen bankers and politicians, and kudos for "helping" poor countries "develop.").

The loans intensify pressures to monetize nature in order to come up with funds to pay the loans.  Government aid programs then collude with multinational corporations to enclose shared forests, pastures, water and other resources used by commoners.  Land values rise, along with rents, displacing poorer people from their apartments and homes, swelling the ranks of the homeless and "informal sector."  As the Renegade Economist folks put it, "It is not conspiracy -- it's structural economic behavior locked into Western Foreign Policy and therefore the global economy.  It's branded aid but really it's neo-colonialism." 

The International Commons Conference in Berlin continues to generate some interesting follow-up work.  One of the most engaging is a series of videos shot by Alain Ambrosi of Remix the Commons.  The day after the conference, Alain interviewed ten commoners, including me, asking each of us the same questions, such as "What struck you most about this conference?"and "Would you say there is a commons movement?"

The Remix the Commons project is still a work-in-progress and won’t be fully operational for a few months.  However, in the meantime, two different series of videos are available:  “Define the Commons / Définir le Bien Commun / Definir el Procomùn,” and  “Framing the Commons in Berlin.”  The latter consists of a series of  nine separate interviews with  Silke Helfrich (Germany), Michel Bauwens (Thailand), Julio Lambing (Germany), Beatriz Busaniche (Argentina), Frédéric Sultan (France), Valérie Peugeot (France), Rosa Maria Fernanda (Ecuador), Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Hervé Le Crosnier (France), and me.  Each interview is conducted in the interviewee’s native language.

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