The “Tragedy of the Commons” was invented by a white supremacist based on a false history, and it’s toxic bullshit / Boing Boing
Hardin’s paper starts with a history of the English Commons — publicly held lands that were collectively owned and managed — and the claim that commons routinely fell prey to the selfish human impulse to overgraze your livestock on public land (and that even non-selfish people would overgraze their animals because they knew that their more-selfish neighbors would do so even if they didn’t). But this isn’t what actually happened to the Commons: they were stable and well-managed until other factors (e.g. rich people trying to acquire even more land) destabilized them. Hardin wasn’t just inventing false histories out of a vacuum. He was, personally, a nasty piece of work: a white supremacist and eugenicist, and the Tragedy of the Commons paper is shot through with this vile ideology, arguing that poor people should not be given charity lest they breed beyond their means (Hardin also campaigned against food aid). Hardin was a director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the white nationalist Social Contract Press, and co-founded anti-immigrant groups like Californians for Population Stabilization and The Environmental Fund.
(tags: commons capitalism racism garrett-hardin tragedy-of-the-commons politics privatization public-ownership)