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Re: [ox-en] Re: The new and the old

Hi Graham,

this debate seems to become very special...

On 2007-11-23 13:34, graham wrote:
The essential question is: Has this something to do with a germ
form? Technology by itself can not determine a new. The new must be
a new social form of production.

Where does this 'must' come from?

From me. It's my hypothesis.

And why is the social form of 
production separated from technology?

Did I said so?

I think, both come from the choice of Hegelian dialectics to describe
the change process. That fits most naturally to a process involving
two opposing facets, both of which will be subsumed in the 'new'.

... and transformed

So in this case, the social aspect of peer production versus the
antisocial aspect of capitalism within the system of capitalism ('the
old'). Peer production 'points outside' the old, and can lead to a
'new' which subsumes both.

I would not describe it this way. "Social aspect" is far too general. 
Both, peer production and capitalism are social or better societal 
systems on how humans produce their lives. Thus, "social" 
und "antisocial" are not the moving opposites.

In the older view, the struggles of workers opposed to the oppression
of capitalists 'pointed outside' the system to a 'new' remarkably
similar to the peer production one.

Similar? I don't think so. Socialism was in no respect similar. It was 
simply a modified capitalism.

In both cases the structure lends itself to describing a single
contradiction around which other lesser contradictions can be
organized. In know it's a cliche' to say Hegelianism works with
pairs/triads, but in practical uses it really does.

Ok, I understand your point and I agree: in practical uses it really 
does. This is the reduction to some schemes I mentioned before. This is 
using a fluid theoreme as a static uniform theory-monster.

The alternative is not to throw away dialectic thinking, but to 
re-approriate it. What has to be thrown away is the dogma of a single 
main contradiction working as an archimedic point. I think there is a 
main contradiction, but this has a completely different form as we know 
it from former days: There is not a single position in society where 
this contradiction operates and other parts have different 
contradictions (leading to crazy relationships between contradictions: 
one is more important than the other, or triple oppression or stuff 
like that). A main contradiction has to be that one, which appears in 
every single contradiction, which is identical with them (I say "has 
to", this strictly a logical argument). See below.

In the 1910s, 1920s and 30s supporting workers' struggles was just
about viable as a way of structuring an overall vision. Even so, to
work at all it needed to be complemented by a secondary contradiction
between imperialism/colonialism. And it failed completely with
stopping fascism, which turned out to involve a mass of
contradictions which
interpenetrated the supposedly principal one. But it was still a
'good enough' approximation to reality to let people build movements,
organizations, alliances, which had a chance of overcoming the
system: there was a bridge from the theory to a practice which was
coherent with the theory.

Yes, and this has to do with the development degree of capitalism. In 
the golden ages is was absolutely functional to have a workers movement 
organizing the participation in wealth.

But now? A single opposition between peer production and capitalist
production as the contradiction around which all else is structured?

No, I don't think so. To me peer production is a transition model as 
mentioned elsewhere. And the opposition is not a single "outcome", a 
single "modell", a single "expression", but a more general one, which 
draws through all contradictions we face.

Clearly it is a contradiction, and an important one. As is the
contradiction between the new 'immaterial' technology and the old
'material' one. As is the contradiction between the Chinese workforce
as world producers and capital. As is the contradiction between
production for all and the world ecology. These four contradictions
seem to me completely inseparable, but as far as I know the Hegelian
approach just can't deal with that.

My (new) feeling is: even a dialectic or Hegelian approach can do it by 
taking the world as a whole (or as a totality). Other approaches 
confronted with the same problems you describe tend to form separated 
domains while are not or only weakly coupled. This might be a good 
programming paradigm, but does not bring us forward in real world.

Or you just take it pragmatically like Michel does. This is fine too but 
somewhat unsatisfying for me being interested in theory.

That leads to quite concrete problems. If you take the Hegelian
approach, you end up with an emphasis on the one contradiction, and
concentrate on peer production. At most you talk about how peer
production can be reconciled with material production (but in a way
which assumes peer production as given and so skips most of the real
problems; hence the emphasis on fabbers regardless of materials
usage, ecological impact,minimization of resources etc).

I agree, but this has not much to with an Hegelian approach.

But it seems quite obvious to me that peer production cannot be the
germ of the new unless it is as a part of a subsumption of all the
other contradictions.

Yes! Ok, now here is my contradiction which I see is in all other 
contradictions: It is the human selbstentfaltung. The opposite can be a 
lot, roughly said alienation or self-valualisation. This is the moving 
opposition, and you find it everywhere. In a general sense it is not 
new, in the sense of becoming true, the contradictions around 
selbstentfaltung never in history have developed so clearly (Marx only 
guessed in the Grundrisse).

If only because peer producers are a tiny 
fraction of the population (minute proportion of women involved, for
a start). I guess this is actually obvious to everyone, which is why
there is a permanent temptation to fall back on technological
determinism; peer production has to win because of the way technology
has become. But it really doesn't, which is why I keep emphasizing
there are very unpleasant outcomes possible based on exactly the same
technology. And peer producers cannot stop those unpleasant outcomes
unless somehow in alliance with people trying to overcome the other

We fall back to technological determinism when we keep staying at a too 
rough level like "peer production ist the germ form". You get into all 
concrete problems when become more concrete. In my view Christians 
Peerconomy concept is the best example.

Which is exactly what we have no theory of at all. The word
'alliance' makes it sound as though there are already people who have
movements based on overcoming their particular contradiction of
interest; a lot of independent mini-Hegelian triads emerging which
just need to be combined. But there aren't, because the hard problem
is how the contradictions relate to one another, not as independent
pairs. Which is a theoretical question as much as a practical one.

That's right. However, the only way to find it out is to do it -- in 
theory as in practice. And we already know a lot, we don't start from 
the beginning.

Why? When those old contradictions, which is a form of a movement,
find a new movement form, where the old functions are fulfilled and
the old poles both vanished? Exactly this must be the goal in my
view. The picture is not replacement of the oppression of workers
by capitalists by vice versa, but making it useless to be a worker
or a capitalist. Yes, both.

This is not very new. "Not 'a fair days pay for a fair days work' but
'abolition of the wages system' must be the watchword" (Marx, more or

Yes, not new. But never so near and current like today. Marx only 

Then as now the question is still 'how'. 

Start here, it is a transition concept:


Start here:
Contact: projekt

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