Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds /Milk Tea Alliance

Caring for the Commons

This article, Caring for the Common/Caring in Common, is offered as material for discussing how to create non-hierarchal sanghas during the Buddhist Spring. Here’s a link to the article, which is barely 5 pages, followed by my synopsis.

Link: Caring for the Commons/Caring in Common

A brief synopsis of ‘Caring for the Common…’ (Shaun Bartone)

I like this article because it talks about creating ‘dissensus’ as a model of agency. Whereas Buddhist organizations tend to replicate or clone, based on lineage, teacher or tradition, this model builds in space for dissimilarity, which they see as part of creating agency.

Here are the main points:

(1) Commons: “we generally avoid the focus on commons as shared resources and rather perceive commons as the creation of new forms of sociality, as new collective practices of living, working, thinking, feeling and imagining that act against the contemporary capitalist forms of producing and consuming (variously enclosing) the common wealth”.

(2) “Secondly, we foreground caring in/for the common as an integral part of our methodology in the co-creation of everyday spaces of dissensus as infrastructures for agency.”

Spaces of dissensus, rooted in and framed by care, can act as catalysts for – and embryonic prefigurations of – heterogeneous, emancipatory, and egalitarian ways of being and doing in the city.

(3) Shared learning and responsibility:

“As different as these formats are, they all have one thing in common: the practice of sharing, both material and immaterial, on a mutual basis of care; both for human and non-human others, eschewing the market logics that prevail outside of the space. They have enabled people, including ourselves, to participate in meaningful activities that grow existing knowledges, subjectivities, and political agency within a “common symbolic space” that can facilitate confrontation (Mouffe, 2005) and dissensus (Rancière, 2010), showing that there are alternatives to the existing order.”

To intervene in the dominant order that structures our lives, we have to allow for ways that challenge systems of oppression that enable different knowledge, experiences, and agendas to enter our perceptions and our multiple world-makings. We have to cross because “no one comes to consciousness alone, in isolation, only for herself, or passively.” (Hille in Baldauf et al. 2017, 80)

[Shaun] Speaking of the word “oppression”–in this context, it reminds me of that annoyingly Buddhist notion that even things that ‘feel good’ can be suffering. ‘Convenience’ and ‘privilege’ can also be a kind of oppression, because it forecloses thinking and doing in other ways.  We have to liberate ourselves from status quo, convenient and privileged ways of life in order to develop a liberated consciousness and meaningful relationships.

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This entry was posted on 2019/06/11 by .


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