Over at social.coop, we’ve recently started a reading group, and the first book we’ll be reading is “Elinor Ostrom’s Rules for Radicals: Cooperative Alternatives beyond Markets and States” by Derek Wall.

These are my initial thoughts on my expectations of the book.

I’m keen to learn about Ostrom’s work on the commons and its governance, in particular debunking the notion of the tragedy of the commons.

I’m hoping that the book will be quite practical in outlining alternatives to markets and states. Given its nod to the original Rules for Radicals (subtitle: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals), and my understanding that Elinor Ostrom was herself very practically-minded, this will hopefully be the case.  I’m also assuming that the alternatives presented will be commons-based, given Ostrom’s work.

I also think it will be interesting to find challenges in the ideas, opinions outside of my usual bubble, as I understand that Ostrom did not identify with the ‘traditional’ left (whatever that is).  Although Derek Wall is quite definitely left-wing, I have seen some description of Ostrom as having no easily defineable politics in the usual terms, being neither anarchist, free marketeer, or central planner.  I do hope it will focus mostly on the ideas and not too much on the individual, but nonetheless Ostrom does seem an interesting character.


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