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[ox-en] peer to peer society

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Dear friends,

I believe I have failed to transmit this to this list so far. I have just finished an essay which tracks the transformation of peer to peer from a technological paradigm, to a socio-cultural form that points out to a new form of civilisation. Stefan's GPL society is cited, and reference is made to the ideas by Negri, Benasayag, and others..

All comments would be very welcome, including references to books and online papers/sites.
One section that needs to be developed still is the last one on the notion of digital commons.

Michel Bauwens

-----Original Message-----
From: Stefan Meretz [stefan.meretz]
Sent: 24 July 2002 21:59
To: list-en
Subject: Re: [ox-en] Re: Value of software

Hi Graham, Stefan, and all,

some small comments;-)

On Monday 08 July 2002 00:43, Graham Seaman wrote:
Of course every commodity has some development costs, i.e. the
immaterial labor needed to develop it. The labor needed for that is
fixed / constant for a given product because it is all done when the
development process has come to an end. (Is this similar to the fixed
capital of Marx? I don't know.)

I am saying that it is NOT similar.

I am not so sure. First, I spontaneously agreed with you. But following 
arguments make me hesitating:

Fixed capital is "objectified dead work" ("vergegenstaendlichte tote 
Arbeit"), meaning: work, which was done and which had objectified in 
machines *etc.*. What can *etc.* be? Can it be software, knowledge, 
experience? And "objectification" ("Vergegenstaendlichung") does not 
neccessarily mean materialization, it can have an immaterial form. This 
implies, that you can sell these "knowledge products" -- like machines. 
Than the same is true for these immaterial products: They transmit its 
value in portions to the end-user products -- like machines.

The reason I think it is not similar, is that fixed capital has value,
and part of this value is transmitted to the product (financially, as
depreciation; physically, as wear-and-tear). Produce more of the same
product, and the fixed capital wears out more quickly.

Disagree, only the portions of transmitted value become smaller. Same hint 
I gave before: These categories are societal ones, they are only valid 
"in the societal mean" ("im gesellschaftlichen Durchschnitt"). Than, 
following your arguments, you can conclude similarity.

Design (whether
of software or anything else) does not wear out physically. Whether you
produce 500 or 5 million copies of a design is irrelevant. So, if the
design had value (like fixed capital) this value would never be
transmitted to the product itself, and value without realization on a
market does not exist.

Above you said the contrary ("...NOT similar")? It is not irrelevant how 
many copies you can produce (and sell: of course, only realized "value" 
is value). If you produce a higher amount of products the relative 
portion of transmitted value becomes smaller and your profit increases.

And in addition every commodity has a production cost being the labor
needed to actually produce it. If you're looking from the information
side of the product it would be the reproduction cost BTW.

The fundamental - not to say: historical - shift here is that the
reproduction cost drops relative to the development cost. And
software is the most exteme example.

Is this what you're saying, basically?

Yes. But there are two ways of looking at this fact. I believe that the
most important thing here (as you said) is that reproduction costs have
dropped hugely, while development costs have stayed static or fallen
less than reproduction costs (because they are more labour intensive).

The pharmaceutical companies/Hollywood/Microsoft would have us believe
that the basis of the change is that development costs have INCREASED
hugely. This is the whole basis for their justification of more
restrictive IP laws. But there are many pressures (tax in particular)
that make them inflate their development costs so that the figures that
are available cannot be trusted.

In general, I think they _are_ right. This in other terms show, that the 
immaterial part of production increases -- and this is the part which can 
be freed first!


    Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft ver.di
    Potsdamer Platz 10, 10785 Berlin
    private stuff:


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[2 pEERNewP2P.doc <application/msword>]

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