The more I learn about studying the commons, the more it blows my mind that Garret Hardin’s original “Tragedy of the Commons” is so highly referenced and cited. THE DUDE WAS CRAZY. His original essay is your quintessential non-sensical entitled rambling of a pompous old white academic. In his argument about why people should not be allowed freedom to breed (the central-yet-always-ignored thesis of his essay), he states:
“In a welfare state, how shall we deal with the family, the religion, the race, or the class (or indeed any distinguishable and cohesive group) that adopts overbreeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandizement (13)?”
The REALLY interesting part is that reference (isn’t it always?). Shockingly, it’s another published paper he wrote, called “Second Sermon on the Mount” which starts with this:
“In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:
Canfare for an Entrance to the Metropolis
A City is coming, I know it well:
Beat on pots and bang on pans!
The eye can see, the nose can smell,
for this is country piled with cans.
Refrain: A country piled with cans, behold,
a country piled with cans.
A million people foul their nest
and when the wind is from the west
a noseless man will sleep the best
in country piled with cans.
Ringed with the noble dead it lies,
their hollow coffins catch the light,
dead fish, dead meat, decillions of flies,
an archaeologist’s delight.
O city fathers, vain of luck
and arrogant with dynamism:
The traveler sees, for all your plans,
a stinking country piled with cans.”
And his oft-cited essay is part of the foundation of many right-winged ideologies arguing for private property rights over government or community management. I am totally serious. I do not have the creativity to make up crap this insane. Every time someone quotes “the tragedy of the commons”, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. If you ever need evidence that academics don’t read stuff they reference, here it is.