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[ox-en] Re: Wolfgang Polatzek * Von der lokalen zur transformativen Íkonomie



Hi!

I'll give some criticism to this concept and will translate the
respective paragraphs.

3 days ago Stefan Merten wrote:
Definition der transformativen Ökonomie
=======================================
[...]
Konkret bedeutetet das: Die transformative Ökonomie soll aus kleinen,
selbstverwalteten, lokalen Wirtschaftsgemeinschaften bestehen. Diese
lokale Wirtschaft sollte nach dem Prinzip der Selbstverwaltung
organisiert sein. Die Zielsetzung ist dabei möglichst viele Produkte
und Dienstleistungen innerhalb der Gemeinschaft zu produzieren. Je
leistungsfähiger die lokale Ökonomie ist um so unabhängiger wird sie
von der "normalen" Ökonomie. Diese Wirtschaftsgemeinschaften sind
"Inseln" einer anderen Ökonomie inmitten in einer kapitalistischen
Wirtschaftsordnung.

[
Definition of the transformative economy

[...]

In practice this means: The transformative economy shall consist of
small, self-managed, local economic communities. This local community
shall be organized by the principle of self-managment. The goal is to
produce as much as possible products inside the community. The more
capable the local economy is the more autonomous it is from the
"normal" economy. These economic communities are "islands" of another
economy in the midst of a capitalist economic system.
]

Well, all the same, all the same. We hear this for more than a century
now and since state socialism ended this is the tune we hear all day.

However: In (Western) Germany for some 30 years now there is a
self-managet movement which on a political level has exactly zero
effect. (I know what I'm talking about because I have been part of /
close to this movement for many, many years.) After 30 years of
experiment and a marginalization one has to ask: Can such a model be
emancipative in any super-individual sense? The individuals on such
economic islands may have some individual freedom but unless they
leave the market system completely - which is impossible as long as
you have to pay taxes - they are still facing the market.

Also *local* communities currently can not be able to produce all the
goods necessary to pursue a live with a technological level at least
close to what we have. There might be a chance for such things if
machines get universal enough that all you need is raw / recycled
material, energy and information to produce virtually everything, but
this is still distant future.

Until then the restriction to use goods from a local community means a
standards of living only very few people - in fact: the ideological
ones - are ready to take. I.e. this concept is not acceptable to any
interesting part of the people.

Free Software shows the exact opposite. Free Software is perhaps the
most globalized product currently existing. Free Software is the exact
opposite of local communities. So if the mode of production of Free
Software tells us something then this: Local production as envisioned
in this concept is the opposite of emancipation.

Moreover Free Software lives on a very high degree of dependence on
others - i.e. the opposite of autonomy. In fact one of the best
features of Free Software for me is that you have a big pool of ready
to use software you are in no way involved with. You can just use it -
which is *very* different with proprietary software. I.e. it is
produced not in your project but you may depend on it freely. So
again, if the mode of production of Free Software tells us something
then this: Autonomy as envisioned in this concept is the opposite of
emancipation.

In a word this concept and zillions similar such concepts reduce the
people living in such communities to the scarcity of this community.
Selbstentfaltung is limited to the tiny realm of your local economic
community. Free Software instead gives you access to the wealth of the
whole world and your Selbstentfaltung in a sense is unlimited.

Die ethischen Grundlagen der transformativen Ökonomie
=====================================================

Die Forschung zur neuen sozialen Bewegung hat ergeben, dass die
demokratisch geleiteten Betriebe und Kollektive ein hohes Maß an
Idealismus und sozialem Zusammenhalt brauchen um auf Dauer überleben
zu können. Eins muss klar sein: Transformative Ökonomie ist kein
Allheilmittel. Sie kann nur eine Option anbieten für die Menschen, die
in einer anderen Ökonomie leben und arbeiten wollen. Es darf kein
Zwang sein unter diesen Bedingen zu arbeiten, sondern es kann nur die
freiwillige Entscheidung sein. Wer sich gut im Kapitalismus
eingerichtet hat, für den wird dies keine Alternative sein.

[
The ethical foundation of the transformative economy

Research about the new social movement shows, that firms and
collectives run democratically need a high degree of idealism and
social coherence to survive on a long-termed basis. One thing must be
clear: Transformative economy ist no magic cure. It only can offer an
option to those persons who want to live and work in another economy.
One must not be forced to work under such conditions but it must be
based on a free decision. For those who are successful in capitalism
this won't be an alternative.
]

Well, Wolfgang says it himself: This is a model for loosers. What to
add to this...

Free Software on the other hand is a model not pursued by loosers. All
studies I know of show this. Indeed most creators of Free Software
have rather good jobs. So if the mode of production of Free Software
tells us something then this: A model which is interesting for loosers
of the existing society has little chance to be relevant for an
emancipatory change.

Facing the neo-liberal backlash for quite some 25 years now all such
concepts are in danger to serve as a model for the administration of
poverty: "What no job? Just go ahead and set up your local
transformative economy and leave us / the state alone." However, IMHO
we are not yet at a point where we can allow the state to drop its
responsibility in such a way.

Zu dieser Ethik gehört es auch mit weniger Bedarf zu recht zu kommen.
Dies schließt die Bereitschaft ein, in der Qualität und in der Höhe
der Technologie Abstriche zu machen. Was es dann gibt ist die Existenz
eines nicht-kapitalistischen Binnenmarktes und eines kapitalistischen
Außenmarkt. Dieser nicht-kapitalistische Binnenmarkt wird nur
überleben, wenn Zufriedenheit besteht anders wirtschaften und leben zu
können und die Gelassenheit hinzunehmen, das es nicht das Neuste und
Schickste sein muss.

[
This ethic includes to be able to live with little needs. This
includes the readiness to reduce quality and height of technology.
Then there is a non-capitalist internal market and a capitalist
external market. The non-capitalist internal market will only survive
if people are content with working and living diffrently and to take
it that it is not the newest and the most pretty.
]

Indeed Wolfgang knows that this model means austerity. This is exactly
the type of rhetoric we hear for years from the capital side and from
state when they are telling us that more money for the people is
poison for the people. The only difference is that capital and state
drop the social romaticism - and rightly so because poverty is nothing
romantic but someting to abolish.

Open-Theory und transformative Ökonomie
=======================================

Das referierte Konzept ist sehr pragmatisch. Die mir bisher bekannten
Diskussionen in der OPT-Bewegung verlaufen auf einer sehr
theoretischen Ebene.

[
Open-Theory and transformative economy

The presented concept is very pragmatic. The discussions in the OPT
movement I know of are running on a very theoretical level.
]

While editing the text I contacted Wolfgang to find out what he means
by OPT movement. Unfortunately he didn't explain.

In the remaining text Wolfgang refers to this OPT movement in a
positive way. The funny thing is that he likes things which are the
exact opposite of his concept - for instance the non-locality:

7.   Die OPT-Bewegung hat auch den Erfolg einer virtuellen
     Organisation bei der Bewältigung komplexer Projekte bewiesen.
     Dies bedeutet für die transformative Ökonomie, dass dieses
     Prinzip der immer neuen Gruppenbildung (in einer
     Netzwerkstruktur) Verwendung finden sollte. Die OPT-Bewegung
     zeigt außerdem, dass das Team nicht an einem Ort arbeiten muss.
     Dies ist wichtig für eine transformative Ökonomie, weil
     Fachwissen und Erfahrung nicht immer an einem Ort gebündelt werde
     kann.

I have no idea how these contradictions can be resolved. In fact I
think they can not because the contradictions are structural.
Transformative economy and the zillions of similar concepts are in
many ways the exact opposite of the mode of production of Free
Software. I can't see how this can be matched.

To me this whole text looks like the 715th variant of the failed
concepts of local economy which mainly have been developed during the
1970s. Added but only very loosely related to this 715th variant are
some observations about the somewhat mysterious OPT movement.


						Mit Freien Grüßen

						Stefan

--
Please note this message is written on an offline laptop
and send out in the evening of the day it is written. It
does not take any information into account which may have
reached my mailbox since yesterday evening.

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