After all we have been seeing, reading and hearing in this webdocu, we can conclude that we don’t need to wait any longer for the liberating revolution. She has already begun! We only need to recognize her, support, copy and spread her. It is clear that our current system of limitless growth and pursuit of particular ownership is bankrupt. Things have to be different and rather today than tomorrow.

Collective ownership is not only a construction to neutralize ownership, but more so to get us out of a perspective crisis. A story of hope. The examples in this webdocu are the offspring of a new narrative. It is the start of a hopeful, collective story, based on both the knowledge and experience of previous generations and the energy of today’s movements.
Ivo Schmetz
Sylvie van Wijk
Karsten Brunt
About 7 minutes

This webdocu is not just meant to bring everybody up to date about what’s going on in the field of collective ownership. It is as well an archive and manual, but first and foremost a document of inspiration and a call for action, or an activation, as the marketing folks phrase it.
All loud ringing alarm bells, demonstrations, petitions, crisis situations and nature disasters still cause awfully few reaction within the political arena. Both on local, national and international level, the necessary measures fail to materialize. The path towards destruction is still guiding. We see collective ownership as a way to take matters in our own hands, to make sure that it is all being dealt with good and well. This webdocu is our way to cry out loud: join in!

The end of endless growth
In our society and economy everything is turning around profit maximalisation, financial growth and the increase of spending capacity. Little growth, remaining constant or shrinking is bad news. Panic in town! It has, however, long been clear that infinite growth leads to our downfall instead of our march of progress. Only a small group of rich people benefits from the focus on endless growth, otherwise it comes to the expense of nature and well-being of the rest of the people. Fair, healthy growth can only be realized up to a certain point. If one wishes to grow beyond that point, it means that savings must be made on for example production costs, which translates into lower salaries, cheaper materials, poor quality, less safety and many other things at the price of both society and the Earth. I assume for convenience that everybody understands that infinite growth is unnatural, unsafe, unhealthy and irresponsible.

We can not go on like this and we will have to do everything within our powers to stop companies and organisation in their strive for endless growth. The most logical thing would be the intervention of the government but if that -as is often the case- doesn’t happen we will have to do it ourselves. That could, for example, be done by boycotting companies that continue to maximalize at the costs of others and by supporting the ones that don’t. Besides that, and that’s what this webdocu is about, it is necessary to scrutinize our ownership structures. We don’t need to do away with particular and state ownership completely, but we need to move towards a society in which collective ownership, steward ownership, non-ownership and the commons are self-evident. Housing, health care, education, public transport, communication and healthy food are basic needs that should be dealt with in a fair, affordable and healthy manner. We must uncouple these needs from the market, which turns around making as much profit as possible. We must move towards a system that works in favour of the big scheme instead of enriching the individual. It is high time to stop the frenzy of endless growth.

Within this webdocu there has been a lot of attention for collective ownership, but also for nature, steward ownership, the commons, regeneration, collectivity, civil councils, social capital, activism and degrowth. These are all movements and ideas pro change. All of them a bit odd, but with the common denominator that not infinite growth is being pursued, but rather a better, more just future for both human and non-human life. It is not necessary to make a choice between one of the ideas or movements, it is possible to connect them. They are all chapters of the new, collective story. A new narrative of recovery, hope, healthy growth and life.

Paradise is here and our duty is to keep it that way for a very long time. For ourselves, but also for future generations and all the non-human life.

Change is not only a wish, pursuit or intention, it is a duty as well. The Earth is perhaps the most beautiful, most special place that can be found within the immensely big universe. Please, be aware of this and spread the word. Life on Earth can not be taken for granted. It is an improbable confluence of circumstance, condition and evolution. A sure miracle, impossible to recreate on the moon, Mars or any other close-to-lifeless planet. Paradise is here and our duty is to keep it that way for a very long time. For ourselves, but also for future generations and all the non-human life.

Long term thinking
It has been discussed in this webdocu before, but I would like to stress once more how important it is to learn and think for the long term. Short term thinking -directed towards fast money- is fatal for our society and mutual relationships, and mostly for the health of the Earth. We must think ahead. Think about the impact and the consequences of the ways we produce, generate energy, grow food and consume. Instead of extraction, destruction and pollution, we need to change to regenerative methods, ways that foster life. It is our duty to start today, to pass that knowledge and motivation on to our children and grandchildren. 

In this webdocu we have seen that collective ownership as a construction is the ideal way to fix something for the long term. We saw it at free spaces such as OT301, OCCII and the Domijn. These inspiring places exist for over twenty years now, because they managed to turn their squatting status towards collective ownership. Housing cooperations like De Warren and De Nieuwe Meent use the collective ownership construction to realize a proper, affordable living space for themselves and future generations, too. Organisations like BuyWorld bring forests and nature areas under a collective ownership construction in order to protect them. Places such as Ecodorp Boekel and Bajesdorp, affiliated with Vrijcoop, are by means of their juridical construction unsellable and contribute to the upscaling of the cooperative movement through the embedded Vrijcoop solidarity fund.

Let’s be the generation that is going to be cherished for showing the power to intervene!

Long term means to say that you don’t just think about yourself, but about future generations and non-human life too. That is our collective legacy. Surely, we don’t want to be the abhorred generation, too faint-hearted and egocentric to turn around the disastrous consequences of its own behaviour, do we? Let’s be the generation that is going to be cherished for showing the power to intervene! Let’s be the generation that rose above itself by collectively making the right decisions. The generation that embraced the Glenn Albrecht idea and transformed the Anthropocene into the Symbiocene.

Returning to legacies, I just wrote that what we leave behind for future generations is our collective legacy. I assume that everyone understands this and wishes, from the bottom of his/her/their hearts, to leave something beautiful behind. The transformation of our society towards a system that leaves something healthy behind is the main exercise of these times. A complex task, which causes headaches and depressions to many, because they have no clue how to break free from the stronghold of the big capital. Impotence.

In this webdocu we have shown that collective ownership is a way to change, a way to take matters in your own hands. Of course, not everybody has the time or inclination to do so and you can not turn everything into collective possession just like that. Fortunately, there are other ways to do something on an individual level. You can start small, by inspiring others, sharing this webdocu and supporting existing movements. Another way of support is your legacy. For by means of your personal legacy you can contribute to the collective legacy. It is common use for people to pass on their possessions to their children. That is natural and understandable, because you wish the best for your own children, but if you give them too much, you deprive them of a piece of self-responsibility and dignity. Thus, bestow only a part of your fortune and land upon the posterity and leave the rest to organisations that convert your wealth into collective possession. That way, society benefits and you contribute to the bigger whole, even after your death.


Collective power
Change is complicated and it is impossible to do everything right all at once. There will be people calling you a hypocrite when you jump on the barricades tomorrow to fight for change after doing things in the past that are now considered wrong. Don’t let that stop you. Whatever you did in the past is of secondary importance to what you can still do for the future. I am convinced that we can change and that everybody living now and in the future will eventually be happy with that. Let us therefore, all together, as soon as possible, decide to put over the helm. No hollow words, no interminable jibber-jabber, but together in action! The new story has already begun. Let’s write new chapters together to make our children and grandchildren proud and give all non-human life on Earth a chance to recover and flourish.