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Freedom, Equality and Commoning in the Age of the Precariat: an interview with Dirk Holemans

Dirk Holemans is the co-founder and co-director of OIKOS, a green Belgian think tank which has published two dutch-language books by Michel Bauwens. He has written a book which deals with the tension between freedom (individual) and security (social protection etc…). The book is of great interest, because it places the current dilemma’s in the context of the earlier wave of change in the sixties and seventies. With Oikos, Dirk also studies the multiplication of urban commons in Belgium and closely follows the commons-based urban transitions in Ghent. Unlike those that see freedom and security as opposites, Dirk shows how they are co-dependent on each other, and explores what form a new social contract could take, in the age of precarity. The long book exists in a short english essay (recently also available in French and German) . For the benefit of our English-speaking audience, Michel Bauwens interviews Dirk Holemans to share his insights.

Before we start talking about your book, can you tell us a bit about the context that prompted you to write it, and how it fits in your personal quest for understanding social change? I mean, can you say a few words about yourself, your engagement in green politics, and your work with OIKOS?

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The politics of sufficiency: a new approach to ecological production

The ecological production project of the Green European Foundation (ECOPRO) centralises its focus on the development of sustainable green technologies in a post-growth society. The core idea integral to the project is that the deployment of such green technologies would produce and maintain a green and just societal equilibrium; one that is needed in contrast to the current model we employ of damaging capitalist growth that breeds only austerity, inequality and environmental degradation.
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Piketty’s ecological missing link

While providing valuable insights about the development of our economic system over time, Thomas Piketty’s work on capital suffers from a critical flaw: like so many economic frameworks, it ignores the limits of the finite resources of our planet – the fact that our ecological capital is rapidly running out. A new unit of measurement which takes this into account is urgently needed.
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Sharing is not always sharing

At first glance, sharing initiatives would appear to be important elements for building an economy based on solidarity and sustainability. Yet, these different models of sharing do not generate the same societal and financial return. Some of them, such as Uber, are forms of ‘sharewashing’. In fact, Uber’s business model, financed by Goldman Sachs, is at the polar opposite of sharing.
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