The Universal Commons Project’s vision is of “Mutualistic Capitalism” that genuinely benefits all people while preserving the planet that sustains us.
It is an economic system where private profit and public benefit are closely aligned, so that the best way to do well is by doing good.
We believe this vision fulfills the original promise of capitalism dating back to Adam Smith. It is a promise that our society has yet to realise but one that we believe is readily achievable.
Our vision is contrasted with the “Parasitic Capitalism” of today, where private profit is often out of alignment with public benefit. This is an economy that enables individuals to derive a profit at the expense of the public, such as by eroding the environment or degrading social wellbeing.
By giving proper value to the natural and social resources, such as clean air and healthy communities, that underpin the economy and our quality of life - what we call the “Universal Commons” - we can bring private profit and public benefit into alignment, and bring about a truly Mutualistic Capitalism that will benefit all people.
We believe in the fundamental values of liberty and equality of all people that underpin modern liberal democratic society. We believe in the power of human ingenuity and cooperation, which have enabled capitalism to generate unprecedented wealth and raise the standard of living for billions of people over the last three centuries.
We also believe that society ought to work for the benefit of all, and that the rules that govern how the economy works should not favour some over others but should create opportunities for all people to thrive.
We also believe in the fundamental importance of preserving the natural and social resources that underpin our economy and sustain human life on our planet. We believe that all people have a stake in the condition of these resources and how they are used.
We believe in Mutualistic Capitalism that enables individuals to profit from the work they do while producing products and services that others want and need, while also preserving and enhancing the social and natural resources that sustain us.
The Universal Commons
There are many things people value that go unmeasured or are ignored by our current formulation of capitalism, such as clean air, a stable climate, and healthy communities. We call these things Social and Natural Assets. They not only underpin all economic activity, but are also fundamental to supporting our quality of life.
We call the sum total of the world’s Social and Natural Assets the “Universal Commons.” Each of us has a stake in the condition of the Universal Commons: if it is degraded, we all suffer; if it is improved, we all benefit. This means we all have a common interest in preserving and maintaining the Universal Commons for ourselves and for future generations.
We acknowledge that not all forms of social and natural resources ought to be brought into the economy. There are many that will be better regulated or provided by governments. But there are many that can be brought into the economy and benefit from improved information flows and efficient allocation of resources.