“The People Who Build High, Strong Fences are the Ones Who Survive the Best”

For many years now I’ve been a champion of the Creative Commons ideal. That’s the creative space where we develop our ideas, collaborate and share the metaphorical commons to graze in a way that helps us to spread our endeavours without recourse to a centralised, managerial authority. The Creative Commons ideal is argued to be boundless and controlled by no individual. My feelings of late, however, are beginning to turn away from this idea, and as a consequence I’m investigating the cost and process of building fences.

Haruki Murakami offers particular insight into the conflict between idealism and the managed development of ideas in his book ‘Kafka on the Shore’. I thought I’d share this passage because they are wise words for us all:

“Jean-Jacques Rousseau defined civilisation as when people build fences. A very perceptive observation. And it’s true—all civilisation is the product of a fenced-in lack of freedom. The Australian Aborigines are the exception, though. They managed to maintain a fenceless civilisation until the seventeenth century. They’re dyed-in-the-wool free. They go where they want, when they want, doing what they want. Their lives are a literal journey. Walkabout is a perfect metaphor for their lives. When the English came and built fences to pen in their cattle, the Aborigines couldn’t fathom it. And, ignorant to the end of the principle at work, they were classified as dangerous and antisocial and were driven away, to the outback. So I want you to be careful. The people who build high, strong fences are the ones who survive the best. You deny that reality only at the risk of being driven into the wilderness yourself.”

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