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Chapter 8 From Capital to Commons

Capra, Fritjof Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Because of the tremendous might of the mechanistic trap, an irresistible evolution toward disorder and destruction, as predicted by the second law of thermodynamics, seems unavoidable in human affairs. This grim picture of the world as a machine running down because of immutable mechanical human laws can produce disempowerment and despair unless we realize that, like the laws of nature, human laws are not necessarily cast in the mechanistic vision that currently dominates the common understanding. Moving beyond the current common understanding thus requires a long-term strategy to make the systemic paradigm shift politically relevant. In this chapter, we discuss three strategic objectives to pursue: disconnecting law from power and violence; making community sovereign; and making ownership generative.

The most important structural solution to the rush toward final disorder is to restore some harmony between human laws and the laws of nature by giving law back to networks of communities. If the people were to understand the nature of law as an evolving common, reflecting local conditions and fundamental needs, they would care about it. People would understand that the law is too important to remain in the hands of organized corporate interests.1 We are the makers and users of the law. If we are alone in front of the law, we are inevitably afraid. However, together we are the law! We must understand that the only real power we have as individuals and communities is to choose how to look at the law in the community. Do we recognize it as fair and legitimate in the broader goal to save civilization? Do we decide to abide by it or not? How much are we willing to put ourselves at stake to avoid what Hannah Arendt called the banality of evil?2 We do not need to be heroes—we only need to develop an ecological perception of society. We need a vision that defeats economic-induced individualism by locating the law at the level of social networks and ecological communities. We need, as a society, to pierce the ideological veil of a legal system that is abstract and mechanical, “owned” by the state, and kept distant from individual people by the professionalized culture of corporate lawyers.

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CHAPTER 9 The Commons as a Legal Institution

Capra, Fritjof Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

A systemic revolution in the social domain requires legal institutions producing incentives for the ecologically sustainable behavior of individuals. In order to regenerate relationships, this new institutional framework must avoid concentrating power, but rather diffuse it through ecological community. It must reject selfish accumulation and any exploitation of resources belonging to all. The commons is emerging as such an institution.1

There is no recognized legal definition of the commons. However, scholars broadly agree that the commons are neither private nor public. Nor are they understood as a commodity, as an object, or as a portion of the material or immaterial space that an owner, private or public, can put on the market to obtain their so-called exchange value. The commons are recognized as such by a community that engages in their management and care not only in its own interest but also in that of future generations.

In fact, as well-known property-law scholar Stefano Rodotà put it, the commons are the opposite of property.2 Moreover, in the legal philosophy that is now emerging, which is reflected in contemporary co-housing experiences as well as in old village arrangements, so-called private property is actually only an exception to the commons, granted according to variable needs. For example, when children are grown and move out, a household needs one fewer bedroom. Should elderly parents move in, the household then needs an additional room for them. In such cases, if property taken from the commons (for example, a revamped monastery or the buildings of a co-housing project) is temporarily privatized and placed in the care and control of one person, this does not result in accumulation. When these spaces are no longer needed for private use, they must return to the common holding for communal care and use. Thus, the commons are the foe not of individual property but only of the excesses of its accumulation. Similarly, they are not the foe of government. They aim to limit only the excessive concentrations of power by direct decisions made by the community, through correcting feedback loops.3 Feedback is important, but elected political institutions are typically too remote from where their decisions have impact and individual politicians are too busy to properly decide everything.

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10 Mail

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter ten

mail

I

nmates in TDCJ are allowed to receive mail from anyone in the world, without any restrictions on amounts of First Class personal mail. The key word here is “personal.” As long as there are no enclosures in mail to an inmate—no stamps, cash, pressed flowers, gold chains, etc.—the inmate will be given that letter. The actual, written content of the letter may be cause for denial, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The liberty allowed Texas inmates with their personal mail is not extended to packages. It is easier to say what inmates can receive than to list what they cannot.

Inmates can receive two types of packages:

1) Books or magazines, which must come from the publisher or bookstore. This means that you must order them from the publisher and have the publisher mail them directly to the inmate; or you must buy them at the bookstore yourself, give the bookstore the inmate’s name, number, and address, and have the bookstore mail the books and magazines directly to the inmate. Do not try to mail books directly to the inmates. TDCJ mailrooms have a list of approved bookstores—if a package of books has a

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18 Lockdowns

Jorge Antonio Renaud University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter eighteen

lockdowns

R

arely does TDCJ label anything so accurately. A lockdown is just that—every inmate in the locked-down wing, block, dorm, or unit is confined to his cell or cubicle, with no movement, no work, no recreation, no school, no visit, and with sometimes only cold sack lunches to eat for weeks on end. Lockdowns may last from hours to months and are imposed by wardens for different reasons. Although the ranking officer on duty has the authority to order a lockdown, anything lasting more than a few hours and affecting more than a few inmates will be ordered by a warden, and it must be justified to the regional and system directors.

Some wardens order lockdowns every six months or so to search the unit for tobacco, drugs, or weapons. These lockdowns are usually in the middle of the week, last only twenty-four to seventy-two hours, and do not disrupt visiting schedules. Many inmates welcome these lockdowns, as they offer three-day vacations from work. However, if a unit is plagued by continual violence, or if a riot is believed imminent, officials will order a lockdown that may last from a seventy-two-hour cooling off period to months. These longer lockdowns usually are on close-custody wings, where more violent inmates are concentrated.

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Medium 9781574411676

15 Ad Seg

Gary M. Lavergne University of North Texas Press PDF

chapter fifteen1

Ad Seg

“It is a place that robs a person of humanity. The depression of the place hits you in the face. It is the most miserable place that you can imagine. If you want to punish someone, put them in there and forget about them.”

—Dr. Keith Price

Warden, William Clements Unit,

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

I

T

he final “victim” of Abdelkrim Belachheb’s murders was Ianni’s

Restaurant and Club. In some ways the establishment once typified the American Dream. Joe Ianni came to the United States from Italy as a toddler, was processed through Ellis Island, and by the age of eight was in Dallas. He and his wife Totsy worked hard all their lives to build a business, earn an honest living, and leave the results of that hard work to their daughter. In less than three or four minutes, Belachheb took two generations of hard work away from a family of good and decent people.

Like many other infamous crime scenes, Ianni’s Restaurant and

Club attracted a wide range of gawkers, from the merely curious to the disturbingly weird. The task of asking some of the stranger patrons to leave fell to the bartenders, like Richard Jones, or even

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