Radical History Review
Issue 109 (Winter 2011)
I have lost count of the number of times I have seen Garrett Hardin’s classic article, “The Tragedy of the Commons,” cited as an irrefutable argument for the superior efficiency of private property rights with respect to land and resource uses and, therefore, as an irrefutable justification for privatization.
... thinking about the com- mons itself has been enclosed all too often in a far too narrow set of presumptions, largely driven by the example of the land enclosures that occurred in Britain from the sixteenth century onward. As a result, thinking has often polarized between private- property solutions or authoritarian state intervention. From a political per- spective, the whole issue has been clouded over by a gut reaction either for or against enclosure, typically laced with hefty doses of nostalgia for a once- upon- a- time, supposedly moral economy of common action.