Fake Commons

The more the commons gets attraction, the more false riders will use the idea. Today I what to point to one of these examples, which did not yet name themselves a »commons«, but it only takes them a minute to realize, that what they doing can be successfully labled a »commons«. I am talking about the ColaLife project. Due to explicitely putting a copyright stamp and »All rights reserved« on their pages, I can’t display images of their idea to »safe children’s lives«. Check out yourself.

The basic idea is to use existing distribution channels of Cola to spread »social products« such as rehydration salts, vitamines, or other medicine. These »social products« are transported in a specially designed small lenghty containers called »AidPod«, which fit between the bottles in crates. Sounds nice.

However, did you ever think of these facts:

ColaLife is doing gratis advertisment for the big red Cola company instead of generally designing the project for »soft drinks transported in crates«. If not done so, ColaLife had be invented by the respective company itself.

ColaLife did not ask about the causes of child mortality, they are simply hotwiring facts in a positivist fashion: 1. Cola is virtually everywhere. 2. Children die from diarrhoea due missing medicine. Ergo: Problem can be solved by using Cola crates. — But why do children die from diarhoea? What does this has to do with dirty water? What does dirty water has to do with enclosure of the water commons? In which cases are softdrink companies—like the respective one—part of the enclosure processes? — No single word about that.

ColaLife, of course, is also not talking about the role of the respective company in killing union activists in columbia.

ColaLife although stated to be a non-profit organisation designs a for-profit business model, where »needs« should be turned into »demands« by »social marketing« and assessing the ability of the customers (»mothers«) to pay for the »AidPod« during the pilot phase. All along the supply chain ColaLife calculates a »margin«, and subsidies are given to the distributor.

ColaLife is talking about »social products«. But there is no such thing. Rehydration salt is not more »social« than the Cola itself. Social »products« are produced by a social group, and these are communality, solidarity, empathy, reciprocity, mutuality, etc. And these are products you can’t buy.

ColaLife creates a new market for drug companies. Downsides of bringing »western medicine« into rural areas have not been evaluated. There are lots of examples where such »technology imports« replace traditional methods and knowledge dealing with local circumstances, which leads to new dependencies.

ColaLife plans to use PET plastics for the small container (0,5 liter) which are not returned but thrown away creating new amounts of garbage. PET can not be used for a long time, because under solar radiation it rapidly degradates until it cracks down.

ColaLife wants »mothers« to buy these »AidPods«, empty them, fill them with more or less clean water (0,5 liter), store them for 6 hours on a roof in the sun, mix them with rehydration salts, and then give it to their children. What if the water is yet contaminated (rehydration does not prevent infection)? How many containers should be bought within which time scale? Where do the women get the money from? — No idea, no question.

ColaLife: »We expect Coca-Cola to support us in the leverage of support from the likes of The Clinton Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation«. I believe that immediately.


Why are you ranting and raving, you might say, this is only a guerrilla marketing project for a softdrink company combined with opening up new markets for pharmaceuticals in rural africa, but not a commons! — Right, as said, it does not label itself a commons, but it can do so. Be aware: There is an unused common pool resource, which is the space between the bottles in existing logistic chains; these chains are private property, but can be turned into possession for transporting »social products«; the project organizes itself defining own rules of interacting — here it is: a commons! A fake commons.

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