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Was passiert, wenn öffentliche Güter privatisiert werden?

Elmar Altvater

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The privatisation of public goods is a dominant strategy all across the world, pushed by international institutions, backed by neo-liberal political concepts and propagated by economic actors, such as transnational corporations or institutional investors. Privatisation is the other side of the globalisation and liberalisation of markets, facilitated by the regulation of property rights (TRIPS and GATS) and new technologies. The question, however, is whether the privatisation of public goods is economically efficient, socially just and politically fostering the participation of peoples and the democratisation of societies, and above all how the human security of peoples is affected. Primarily, questions the concept of human (versus commercial) security has to be discussed, i.e. the norm defining whether a public good really is „good“. In many cases it is not good for all, but only for a few peoples. Thus public goods, especially the commons, do not only involve dilemmas (such as the „tragedy of the commons“), but also social contradictions. A good for some people can be „a bad“ for others. The distinction between local, regional, and global public goods only makes sense on the „demand“ or consumptionside of public goods, i.e. for users. With respect to their provision even local public goods, such as communal infrastructures, are the target of globally operating investors, e.g. via cross border leasing of local infrastructures. There is not only one form of privatisation, but there are many (from the privatisation of public firms to the „feminisation“ of social services and the commercialisation of public security), and for that reason it is difficult to get a comprehensive overview on the privatisation of public goods in different parts of the world.