River of Fire: Commons, Crisis and the Imagination

Artists and activists and scholars, poets, teachers and artisans–all opponents of capital and empire–reflect on art and history, on education, health and work and welfare, on the city, on nature and the country–in the context of what we call the commons.

Book cover: River of Fire: Commons, Crisis and the Imagination

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The term commons here is greatly expanded so as to include not just natural resources such as land, forests, water, and air, but also other forms of common property, including intellectual, cultural, genetic, now all subject to enclosure. The commons, of course, is much contested terrain, the scene of great damage done, (and being done) by the present order of things, to ourselves and our planet, but also of inevitable resistance to the barbarities of modern life as well as to alternatives. Imagine? Can we imagine a better world? There is no roadmap offered here, certainly no line; rather commitments to commons in the here and now, as well as to a future where enclosure and privatization give way to sharing and art and work and life become inseparable, much in the spirit of the artist socialist, William Morris from whom we take our title, River of Fire.

Table of Contents

Cal Winslow, Preface and Acknowledgements
Summer Brenner, 1401: Through the Window

John Gillis, Necessity of Margins
Mike Davis, The Earth as a Dying Planet: Kropotkin, Lowell, and Huntington
Ann Banfield, Two Politics of Modern Design: from William Morris to Walter Gropius or from Designer/Artisan to Designer/Manager
Raj Patel, Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle: Notes on Feminist Technology

James Brook, Voices in Your Head
Howard Slater, Out History Out
Anne Wagner, Seeds
Vijay Prashad, Who Do We Bomb?

Richard Walker, Capital versus the Commons
Robin Kelley, Beyond Black Lives Matter
Stephen Ducat, Tribe versus Class in an Age of Post-Reality Politics:
How Community Can Eclipse the Commons
Cal Winslow, Remembering E. P. Thompson

David Riker, In Search of the Border

Michael Watts, The Precarious Lives of the Commons: Voices and Lessons from the Oilfields of the Niger Delta
Patrick Bond, Limits to “Rights Talk” and the Move to Rights for the Commons: South Africa Grapples with Narratives Through and Beyond Protest Politics
Charles Briggs, Reclaiming the Communicative Commons in Health
Faith Simon, An African Diary

T. J. Clark, A Snake, A Flame, William Blake: Apprentice and Master
Peter Linebaugh, London’s London: Working-Class Composition in William Blake’s Poem
Marcus Rediker, The Poetics of History from Below
Anne-Lise François, Taking Turns on the Commons (or Lessons in Unenclosed Time)

Jesse Drew, Commons Sense: An Education for the Rest of Us
Dean and Juliet Flower MacCannell, University, Inc.
Peter Taylor, Bringing All to the Table: From the Pumping Station to Project-Based Learning
Laura Fantone, Precarious Struggles: Knowledge Sharing in Southern Europe and the United States

Lisa Gaye Thompson, There is a Kind of Swimming

Amy Trachtenberg, Finding Fortuny in War: A Stripes/Sutras Collage

Cal Winslow, The Redwood Forest, Requiem
Will Russell, A Tale of Two Species: Marginalization of Nature in the Redwood Forest
Chris Carlsson, Backing Into a History Commons: Shaping San Francisco
Rebecca Solnit, edited by Susan Schwartzenberg, A Real Estate History of the Avant-Garde