Re: [ox-en] Re: transition from slavery to feudalism, mirror for transition from capitalism to peer society
- From: Michael Bauwens <michelsub2003 yahoo.com>
- Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2007 08:06:46 -0700 (PDT)
You are right: markets have not always existed, though
they have existed for a very long time before the
adven t of capitalism, so that formulation is a little
careless. Also of course, they are other mechanisms
than the market to allocate scarce resources, and in
my other writings I often state that next to
peer-informed market mechanisms, there will probably
be revived mechanisms of reciprocity. The key is to
have a pluralist economy, with freedom of choice for
individuals and communities to choose their modus
I'm not sure what you mean by utopian world, which by
definition, cannot exists, though utopias are very
important for the imagination and guide desire.
Here is a related thought capsule:
We live in a political economy that has it exactly
We believe that our natural world is infinite, and
therefore that we can have an economic system based on
infinite growth. But since the material world is
finite, it is based on pseudo-abundance.
And then we believe that we should introduce
artificial scarcities in the world of immaterial
production, impeding the free flow of culture and
social innovation, which is based on free cooperation,
by creating the obstacle of permissions and
intellectual property rents protected by the state.
What we need instead is a political economy based on a
true notion of scarcity in the material realm, and a
realization of abundance in the immaterial realm.
Complex innovation needs creative and autonomous
workers that are not impeded in their ability to share
and learn from each other.
In the world of immaterial production, of software,
text and design, the costs of reproduction are
marginal and therefore we see emerging in it
non-reciprocal peer production, where people voluntary
engage in the direct creation of use value, profiting
from the resulting commons in a general way, but
without specific reciprocity.
In the world of material production, where we have
scarcity, and costs have to be recouped, such
non-reciprocity is not possible, and therefore we need
modes of neutral exchange such as the markets, or
other modes of reciprocity.
In the sphere of immaterial production, humanity is
learning the laws of abundance, because non-rival
goods win in value through sharing. In this world, we
are evolving towards non-proprietary licences,
participatory modes of production, and
commons-oriented property forms. Positive forms of
affinity based retribalization are emerging.
But in the world of scarce material goods, a series of
scarcity crises are brewing, global warming being just
one of them, that is creating the emergence of
negative forms of competitive tribalizaition.
The logic of abundance has the potential of leading us
to a reorganization of our world to a level of higher
complexity, moved principally by the peer to peer
The logic of scarcity has the potential of leading us
to generalized wars for resources, to a descent to a
lower form of complexity, a new dark age as was the
case after the disintegration of the Roman Empire.
So the challenge is to use the emergent logic of
abundance, and inject it into the world of scarcity.
Is that a realistic possibility?
In the immaterial world of abundance, sharing is
non-problematic, and the further emergence and
expansion of non-reciprocal modes of production will
be very likely. ?Together we know everything?, is a
rather achievable ideal.
In the material world of scarcity, abundance is
translated into three key concepts that can change
human consciousness and therefore economic practices.
The notion of ?together we have everything? seems not
quite achievable, we therefore need transitional
The first concept is the distribution of everything.
This means that instead of abundance, we have a
slicing up of physical resources and the physical
means of production, so that individuals can freely
engage and act. This means an economy that moves
towards a vision of peer-informed market modes such as
fair trade (a market mechanism subjected to peer
arbitrage of producers and consumers seen as
partners), social entrepreneurship (using profit for
conscious social progress). Objective tendencies
towards miniaturization of the physical means of
production makes this a distinct possibility: desktop
manufacturing enables individual designers; rapid
manufacturing and tooling are diminishing the
advantages of scale of industrial production, and so
do personal fabricators. Social lending creates a
distribution of financial capital; and the direct
social production of money through software is not far
away from being realized in various parts of the world
(see the work of Bernard Lietaer); If indeed scarcity
will create more expensive energy and raw material, a
re-localisation of production is likely, and
peer-informed modes of production will be enabled to a
much greater extent.
The second concept is sustainability. Since an
infinite growth system cannot last indefinitely, we
need to move to new market concepts as described by
the throught schools of natural capitalism (David
Korten, Paul Hawken, Hazel Henderson), capitalism 3.0
(Peter Barnes? proposal to use trust as property forms
because they impose the preservation of capital),
cradle to cradle design and production processes so
that no waste is generated. We need to move to a
steady-state economy (Herman Daly), which is not
necessarily static, but where greater output from
nature, is dependent on our ability to regenerate the
The third concept is that of sufficiency. Abundance
has not just an objective side, it has a subjective
side as well. In the material economy, infinite growth
needs to be replaced by sufficiency, a realization
that status and human happiness can no longer be
dependent on infinite material accumulation and
overconsumption, but will become dependent on
immaterial accumulation and growth. Having enough so
that we can pursue meaning and status through our
identity as creative and collaborative individuals,
recognized in our various peer communities.
And this is where the experience economy comes in! It
is the agent of that shift, from a need to have,
towards the higher needs to be and to experience. Only
a rich experience economy can avoid a culture of
frustration and sacrifice, and the repressions and
unhappiness that such could entail. This experience
economy however, will not just be created by
commercial franchises, but there will also be the
direct social production of cultural value. Businesses
and peer communities, enabled and empowered by a
partner state, will have to create a rich tapestry of
immaterial value, and the thicker the surrounding
immaterial value, the lighter our attachment to mere
having will be.
What makes you think that markets have always
They haven't, and the mechanism of exchange is far
the only way to organize division of labour.
I thus refuse to restrict my looking for solutions
the bounds of markets.
The example of business(es) interacting with new
production is an interesting demonstration of how
mode is a germ form, i.e. exists within the bounds
capitalism, yet (hopefully) reaches beyond it.
It doesn't tell much about the sustainability in a
world outside the current realm of exchange and
...ich hab' noch einen Koffer in Berlin...
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