Re: Scarcity, limitedness, deposits, needs (was: Re: [ox-en] [Upd-discuss] Paper:"Digital property" By Sabine Nuss - Response to Stallman)
- From: Michael Bouwens <michelsub2003 yahoo.com>
- Date: Sun, 6 Nov 2005 20:10:00 -0800 (PST)
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Stefan, thanks for this. I think I may have missed Sabine's contribution.
I will ponder over your definitions, in the meantime, after having read Daly, I think I have come to conclusion that: knowledge is nonrival and abundant, our productive capacity is now abundant, but the natural resource base is not, and it is important to keep 2 and 3 separate, for a clear view of what needs to be done.
You are completely against reciprocity even as a transitional regime, I think that is where we differ. Note that, since you refer to history, both the tribal and feudal eras had very strong elements of reciprocity: the tribal gift economy, through potlatch and other systems as described by Mauss and many others since, it was a competition of giving, without even formal property,but it was crucial that the receiving party reciprocated. In feudal regimes, the feudal classes competed in giving to the Church and Sangha, in return for reputation and salvation/merit. I'm pretty sure the villages had a mixture of communal resources and non-monetary exchange (i.e. reciprocity) as well. And of course the basic feudal alliance, i.e. surplus vs. protection, was a form of reciprocity.
There is simply no escaping the fact, for me, that even without capitalism, non-reciprocal giving will only work for nonrival goods, and those aspects of rival goods that can engineered to be distributed.
The reason for reciprocity is this. If I need a number of survival goods (objectively or subjectively-collectively determined symbolic goods necessary for 'social survival' included), and if I produce 'for nothing' something that for me is rival (i.e. my time), then I have no guarantee that the survival goods will return to me. This can be countered by having society engineer strategies for supplying such goods in a guaranteed fashion (such as the basic income).
I also think that it is overtly optimistic to conclude that we humans have only 'limited' needs, rather we are desiring machines with unlimited needs, and most of these needs are not 'objective' but socially mediated and symbolic. The key will be in our ability to substitute material symbolic needs (hyper-consumption as status marks) into immaterial symbolic needs (the 'wisdom game' as defined by Shumpei Kumon).
To conclude: we both conclude that non-reciprocal peer production, what you call double free software is the ultimate and best social arrangement, and we both agree that it can be extended, eventually to the whole society. But, in terms of transition, and beyond the germ theory I'm not sure what you're transitional theory is, I believe that the next stage of 'civilization' (or "post-civilization aka Keith Chandler) will be a mixture of 'natural capitalism (exchange), reciprocity-based gift economies, peer production (non-reciprocal), and peer governance-multistakeholdership reformed 'supra-regional/global' state forms.
I'm including the table of contents of the last issues of my newsletter, which deal extensively with these issues, see especially starting with issue 97:
These issues are not posted yet and are available by email request,
Reactions to the P2P essay: 4
P2P and Nature, theory (1): Ecofascism or ecodemocracy. 4
P2P and Nature, theory (2): Daly on Knowledge, Nature, and sustainability. 5
P2P and Nature, theory (3): Penslinger: ?Can P2P survive the coming collapse??. 7
P2P and Nature, technology (1): The microgrid revolution. 8
P2P and Nature, technology (2): The Google Map geospatial revolution. 8
P2P and Nature, technology (3): Non-regulatory Green chemistry. 10
New Books. 13
P2P Directory. 15
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P2P Economic Governance, theory (1): Abundance and Scarcity, Daly. 3
P2P Economic Governance, theory (2): Scarcity: the Neo-subsistence perspective. 5
P2P Economic Governance, theory (3): Towards an Economics of Abundance. 7
P2P Economic Governance, theory (4): Towards a Commons-based economics. 8
P2P Economic Governance, theory (5): Takis Fotopoulos? Inclusive Democracy model 10
P2P Economic Governance, theory (6): Learning from the tribal gift economy. 12
P2P Economic Governance, theory (7): Learning from traditional immaterial economics. 12
P2P Directory. 14
Reactions to the P2P essay: 2
P2P Economic Governance, technology (1): Managing the Commons through Trusts. 3
P2P Economic Governance, technology (2): Social Policy Bonds. 5
P2P Economic Governance, technology (3): Venture Commune?s. 5
P2P Economic Governance, technology (4): Participatory Urban Planning. 7
P2P and Capitalism (1): Reforming the market through natural capitalism?. 7
P2P and Capitalism (2): Judging markets from an equity point of view.. 8
P2P and Capitalism (3): Manuel De Landa on self-organisation and markets. 12
P2P and Capitalism (4): The economics of virtual worlds. 12
P2P and Capitalism (5): Negotiating corporate ownership in virtual worlds. 13
P2P Directory. 14
Reactions to the P2P essay: 2
P2P Monetary Issues (1): Reforming the system: abolishing seigneurage. 3
P2P Monetary Issues (2): Reforming the system, for a systems approach. 5
P2P Monetary Issues (3): Reforming the system: Lietaer?s green convertible currency. 5
P2P Monetary Issues (4): Social Money and the Distributive Economy. 6
P2P Monetary Issues (5): Basic Income Studies, new journal 9
P2P Monetary Issues (6): Traditional and new complementary currencies. 10
P2P Monetary Issues (7): Open Money, a system of multiple currencies. 11
P2P Monetary Issues (8): The Cosmic Accounting proposal, Malcolm Green. 12
Empire: What?s Behind the global financial crises. 13
P2P Directory. 15
Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de> wrote:
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Hi Michael and all!
I agree with Sabine's contribution.
Last month (29 days ago) Michael Bouwens wrote:
My conclusion is:
In the material world the scarcity is artificial
as well, it is the
result of the private property regime:
Absolutely. Indeed this was one of the early
insights you gave to
Oekonux :-) .
I do have problems with this. On the one hand, I
understand that property creates scarcity, artificial
scarcity. But does that necessarily mean that there is
no objective scarcity in the good itself. After all,is
that not the difference between non-rival and rival
Some time ago in Oekonux we found the terms scarcity, limitedness and
deposits (right term?) to describe what you mean.
Deposits mean the total amount of some raw material available on earth
/ solar system / universe. The deposits are present and fixed and may
not be known. This is the only thing which has to do with nature BTW.
With the term limitedness we describe the portion of the deposits
which is available to humans. This portion changes when new deposits
are prospected, technical developments or social decisions take place.
If you look at a fixed point in time the currently available things
are also limited. However, the limitedness is subject to human
activity aka society. You can produce more of something for instance.
Also the term product comes into play here. Indeed there is very
little which is really raw material because nearly every thing a human
uses is processed and thus a product.
Scarcity is what a society may create. It is what you describe:
For example, even when there is enough food for
everyone, the money system may create an unability to
buy that food.
Exactly. And you even don't need a money system for this. Each money
system is only a reflection of this societal scarcity.
Also scarcity may pertain to a certain form of society. For instance
the deposits of mineral oil are fixed, the limitedness has been
changed by prospecting mineral oil and by advancing technology and the
scarcity totally depends on the "mineral oil society".
But, the world's resources are finite
aren't they. Even before there was feudal land
property, tribes were fighting to access to better
land, because good land is scarce.
Of course these things are limited. But so are needs.
Indeed when we look at use value there is very little unlimited need -
if at all. I.e. there is no theoretical problem to imagine a society
which simply fulfills the needs of its members.
Things change if you abstract from the use value to (exchange) value
which in its generalized form is called money. There are no limits set
by some use value any more and the only "sufficient" amount of money
is positive infinity.
Why is this important. Because I think that peer
production can work for non-rival goods without
reciprocity; but when you dealing with scarce physical
goods, reciprocity will be required.
No. A society could decide to simply fulfill the needs of their
members and can try to accomplish this goal. Indeed most of human
societies worked this way.
Even without capitalism, without 'scarce' money, the
resources will still be limited.
or not?? I'd like to be convinced,
Of course there will always be limitedness. The question is how you
deal with it.
You say the best is reciprocity. Reciprocity logically includes
property because when I do not own something I can not give away
something in a reciprocal manner: It would be simply available to
This makes sense if the process necessary to acquire some property is
painful - i.e. by needing work. It makes no sense if for instance the
production process is painless or even a delight. The first makes
sense when you separate use value from exchange value like in
capitalism. The second makes sense in an economy like the one seen in
Property in Free Software just makes no sense because it is not pain
to write it (as long it is done fully self-determined). If you like it
a productive need. Also property makes no sense because it prevents
and hinders the free flow of products which is so essential in Free
Software. Property is a contradiction to the principles of the
production of Free Software. The Free flow of products is as much a
prerequisite of Free Software economy as it is a result of this type
of economy. This is what I call Free.
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