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[ox-en] Re: Scarcity, limitedness, deposits, needs

Hi Michel!

Last month (51 days ago) Michael Bouwens wrote:
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.

May be talking of rival and non-rival is more useful than I thought.
In this mail I'll think about this a bit and the connection to

I mean abundance is a relative term. It always relates to a certain
(societal) condition. Mineral oil for instance was abundant before it
has been used for automobiles.

So rival more or less means a (societal) condition where there is no
abundance of the good in question. This way rival and abundance /
non-rival are closely connected.

If we look at nature with its limited capacities then it is of course
a question of the (societal) condition whether a certain condition is
rival or in abundance.

So for rival and abundance instead of talking in absolute terms IMHO
it makes more sense to give the (societal) condition to which rival /
abundance applies.

As far as nature is concerned the question now is if there could be
(societal) conditions where the limited capacities of nature do not
lead to a rival situation but to abundance. This is possible in
principle - for instance the air that we breathe is not (yet) a rival
natural resource.

If I understand Franz and others right then it could be possible that
there is technology which could at least help here.

You are completely against reciprocity even as a transitional
regime, I think that is where we differ.

Probably true.

I'm also sceptical of an explicit transitional regime. The burgeoise
revolution were successful without such a transitional regime. The
so-called socialist revolution, however, never left the state of a
transitional regime. Thus I'm not sure whether any kind of
transitional regime can be really helpful at all.

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.

Well, I have not much of a problem to weaken my position to
"Reciprocity is ok as long as it is no longer the central organizing
principle of the society." This would be indeed similar to how the
relevance of religion changed from feudal to burgeoise societies. It
still exists but is no longer the central organizing principle of
capitalism. May be we can agree on that?

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

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 think you made a good point which needs further consideration. This
personal production of survival goods today is more or less phantasy.
I mean who has *really* the choice to grow his/her own food instead of
working for money. So the problem actually is: Where comes the
(skilled) labor time from to produce rival goods. Ah - I'm rambling.
Anyway, may be someone can help to make a thought out of this ;-) .

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).

Absolutely. But you already gave the answer: Needs to a large degree
are societal constructions. If for instance social standing can be
expressed differently *and this expression of social standing is
recognized as such* then things can change. Sub-cultures of any kind
for instance have social standing systems which are not based on
consumption (though industry always tries to turn it that way). Also
in Free Software social standing is gained by contributing to
(important) Free Software projects - and not by driving some gas

Why should a GPL society which is based on Selbstentfaltung should not
use maximum Selbstentfaltung as a social standing system?

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.

Well, right now I see no convincing transitional theory - which of
course may change. I think more that we will see a pretty chaotic
phase full of contradictions. Well, at least it is not going to become
boring ;-) .

						Mit Freien Grüßen


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.

Contact: projekt

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