@umairh Here's some more stuff we can pimp--oh, sorry, I mean "privatize"--while we're at it. The atmosphere, the oceans, our grandkids. Oh, wait...
In response, I pointed to @owenbarder 's blog Enclosure of the Commons – 21st Century Edition.
@umairh Exactly. That's why fighting back with "open-source"/commons principles is so disruptive--and important.
But the history of enclosure doesn't suggest that it can be defeated by "principles". Wikipedia: Enclosure. Fighting back may be important and disruptive, but surely disruption needs more than principles? After all, people have often defended enclosure with another set of equally plausible principles - protecting the environment, increasing agricultural productivity, or whatever.
Here's a more general question - to what extent have "principles" ever contributed significantly to social or political change. Many key historical changes - examples might include the abolition of slavery in the USA, the enfranchisement of women, and the independence of India - were heralded by strong and principled campaigns. But why were these campaigns more successful than those against enclosure?
We might note that in each case of successful progressive change, there is an alternative explanation for the event, based on socioeconomic and geopolitical forces. For example, with the availability of cheap quinine (reducing the economic dependence on labour of West African origin), slavery ceased to be the cheapest form of labour in malaria-ridden plantations. Such socioeconomic explanations should caution us against regarding the forceful articulation of principles as the sole driver of social change.
In business and engineering, as well as politics, it is customary to appeal to "principles" to justify some business model, some technical solution, or some policy. But these principles are usually so vague that they provide very little concrete guidance. Profitability, productivity, efficiency, which can mean almost anything you want them to mean. And when principles interfere with what we really want to do, we simply come up with a new interpretation of the principle, or another overriding principle, which allows us to do exactly what we want while dressing up the justification in terms of "principles".
The BBC Moral Maze programme this week discussed a recent case of a Christian couple in the UK who refused bed-and-breakfast to a gay couple, thereby offending against recent anti-discrimination legislation. This case appears to involve two conflicting applications of the same principle - tolerance and human rights. Listening to the programme, I thought how easy it might have been for the Christian couple to turn away guests they regarded as undesirable by appealing instead to the principle of security, and how often "security" and "risk" is used as a reason for being unpleasant or unhelpful to other people. I also remembered FakeSteveJobs' recent rant against Christian intolerance, in which he offered the following interpretation of the Good Samaritan story. "Jesus, your big hero, was saying that if you have some rule or conventional wisdom that causes you to do harm to people, violate the goddamn rule." [FSJ December 2010]
So much for principles then.
I have previously written about the over-emphasis on principles within the discourse of enterprise architecture: What's Wrong With Principles, What's Wrong With Principles 2.