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Re: [ox-en] The refutation of illusional refutations

On Tue, 5 Feb 2008 11:49:25 [PHONE NUMBER REMOVED], "Michel Bauwens"
<michelsub2004> wrote:

You subscribe to the "immaterial, non-reciprocal" definition of peer
This is fact, well described by Benkler, Webber, and various people in
this list, like Stefan, who also rejects the gift economy hypothesis.
This fact
of functioning, voluntary contributions, universal availability, emerges
out of the material conditions that make it possible, it is not
independent of
it, but nevertheless exists, and is widely described by people within and
without that mode. To prove that it does not exist, it is not sufficient
to  point out that there is a material basis, pretty much everybody knows
that, but that the contributions are not voluntary, that free software is
bought and sold on the market (rather than its derivative added values),
and that it is not universally available.

There does exist voluntary productive contributions towards
non-market distributed universally available wealth, I have
explained how it is and why this exists, because of the 
emergence of "independant producers empoying a common
productive stock."

If it can not account for it's material inputs it is not a mode
of production, and if it is not a mode of production then it is
an insufficient basis from which to elaborate any political 

A mode of production accounts for the inputs to and the circulation
of the outputs of a productive cycle, it is therefore sufficient
to point of that an "immaterial, non-reciprocal" mode can not.

All you are describing is the fact that Volunteerism exists, as 
it always has, within any mode of production, and that some of those
volunteers make software, while others make soup. Both the volume 
of soap and the volume of software made by volunteers is quite limited
in it's general significance. Volunteerism is not a mode of production,
as it presupposes an already existing surplus to draw from, which must 
itself have been produced.

In many places, such as the UK, for instance, anybody can walk into a 
hospital and receive treatment free of charge, there are also many 
volunteers and students in a hospital who do not get paid for what 
they do, does this make UK hospitals, in your opinion, a 
"new mode of production?" Is there "free health-care" and "doubly-free"
health care?

Is a "volksküche," a volunteer run public kitchen common in Berlin 
squats, a "new mode of production?"

Is a food bank a "new mode of production?"

You are stubbornly refusing to know what a mode of production is. 
And the fact that you continue to be unable to account for the 
material input of "immaterial, non-reciprocal" production does
nothing other that prove my point, that no such mode exists.

The fact that your so-called "mode of production" is described by
many people, does not make it any more of a fact than the 
economic analysis of the Utopian socialists, which where the 
majority of socialists up until the second phase of the industrial 
revolution, when it had all but died out and the Ricardians began 
to bring a credible economic analysis to socialism, further 
elaborated by the likes of Marx. The "oekonux" crowd is in many 
ways like the pre-ricardian socialists, a mixture of crackpot 
technological determinism, paternalism, volunteerism, begged 
questions, special pleading and messianic delusions, and most 
notably, a tendency to reject as "obsolete" class struggle.

They are the Neo-utopians.

It is no surprise, really, that the first phase of Internet 
development produced it's own breed of Utopians such as these, 
I certainly would have counted among them in the
Nineties. The early Internet's ISP cottage industry, cyberspace
homesteading  along with the coming of age of free software was
truly a disruptive social and economic emergence, which seemed
at the time was on a unstopable course to turn society on it's

However, those days ended, the first shoe to drop was the dotCom
bust, the second 9-11. We are now over half a decade into the 
economic and political backlash we should have know at the time 
was inevitable.

9 Years after the founding fo Indymedia, "Citizen Journalism" 
(mostly "blogs" now) are merging into the mainstream, and 
more-or-less propagating the same information as the mainstream 
sources, and has become a sort of longtail of wannabe
journalists rather than the critical, popular medium envisioned.

14 Years after the founding of Yahoo, it is possibly being acquired
by Microsoft, the big bad enemy of free software.

15 Years after AOL brought the "endless September" to Usenet, and the
"Online Service" began to disappear, Usenet is virtualy unknown (and
no-loger available on AOL), while "Web 2.0" is the new "Online Service"
replacing peer-to-peer systems like email and usenet with centralized
"walled gardens" like facebook and myspace.

We are now in the second phase of the Digital age, characterized by
take-overs, mergers and further centralization and enclosure of online 
property and the elimination of peer-to-peer technologies, and 
along with arrival of this second phase, the Neo-Utopian triumphalism 
of the first-wavers will inevitably give way to more critical 
and prescriptive wave of social analysis, one you are already 
a part of, as evidenced by your disputes with the Stefans 
over the meanings of capitalism and class. 

Your contributions will only become more valuable once you 
stop feeling the need to pander to the Neo-Utopians as they
inevitably fade from sight.

To the degree that free software producers are paid for conditional work
on it, and that this work is sold on the market, it would be a capitalist
mode of production; if they are paid, but the license are free, it is
"Simply-Free", not true peer production yet, to the degree that the
contributions are voluntary, the process is participative, and the output
is a commons, that is the definition of non-reciprocal.

You are laying out make-believe categories that do not help us understand
the phenomenon of free software whatever, let alone the potential role of 
peer production in social change.

To the degree that free software producers must sell their labour to 
Capital in order to provide for their material subsitance, they are 
in a capitalist mode of production, regardless of how, why and where
they make free software, free soup or anything else they may not
be directly remunerated for.

Important is the nature between the material basis, and the emergent
working conditions. If programmers are paid, by government and the state,
conditions, then clearly it is not a voluntary contribution.

Yet if they are not, they are homeless and starving, and likely unable
to make any software, free or otherwise. You are wasting your time
with this line of thinking. Leave it to Stefan and co.

To the degree that contributions are voluntary, because the volunteers
have access to various forms of unconditional income, or even conditional
income but that lets them do derivative and freely contributed work on a
project, we have peer production.

There is no such thing as unconditional income, you just may have to 
look upstream to understand the conditions.

We have peer production when a common productive stock is shared 
by independent producers, no mode of production can pay contributers
less than their substance costs, they must be therefor paid.

As any mode of production must account for it's material

it does, and this has been fairly well studies by flosspols and such

Please explain here then, how "immaterial, non-reciprocal" production
accounts for it's material inputs, using any information you have 
from flosspols or anywhere else.

and any spcialization of labour implies reciprocation, this
mode of production can not exist,

you confuse neutral exchange, or gift economy dynamics, with generalized

The quoted statement makes no such distinction, so any confusion can only
be imagined on your part. However exchange is organized, it is a fact of 
objective reality that specialization of labour implies reciprocation.

and as such, any production you
are witnessing that seems such is simply a super-structural
phenomenon which has another mode of production as it's base.

It is a new mode of production, arising within the old; similarly,

Yes, it is, however you mistake "immaterial, non-reciprocal" as being
it's basis, which is false, instead of acknologing that independent 
producers sharing a common stock on an unprecedented scale is the basis
of the new mode.

capitalist and mercantile modes could not have existed without the
being generated by the slave or feudal modes of production, BUT, once it
became dominant itself, it translated everything else to its own logic;

All of the modes where possible because they could account for their 
material inputs. Some say Capitalism is about free-choice, they are just as

wrong as those that say Peer-production is based on non-reciprocation.

similarly, the peer mode of production, emerges within the capitalist
of production, but once it achieves dominance, it will translate the
modes into itself

Yes, we agree on this, however because we are talking abot an emmerging
there is confusion as to what it it is.

Exactly. I can not understand them. And accepting arguments I do
not actually understand would be a disservice to both of us.
If these arguments are valid, demonstrate them logically so
that I can understand them.

I have done so above and many times now, so we can consider the case

It is really disappointing that you mistake the grab bag of allusions and 
insistence you have provided as a demonstration.

No such empirical evidence exists. Free software exists. That
in no way indicates that its production comes form some magical
non-reciprocal mode, all empirical evidence shows it's
producion is financed by corporate and state-based finance.

It is financed in many different ways, but doubly-free software needs
indirect financing, no conditionality; what you are saying is a partial
truth, it does not reflect that free software existed before its
commercialization, and cannot be reduced to its commercialization; it is
both immanent and transcendent, there is no either/or, just as feudal
markets where both immanent in the system, but pointing out to its future
transcendence as well

Production has three factors; Land, Labour, and Capital. None of which,
as a factor, can be provided unconditionaly, each has reproduction costs 
which must be accounted for. Your basing your understand seemingly on 
the "conditional" relations of individuals is why you are having trouble 
grasping what a mode of production is. Whatever the conditions of any 
individual labourer, Labour, as a factor, can never be unconditional in 
any non-imaginary production mode, because Labour, as a factor, requires

You also miss my point, even when free software is not ever commercialized,

it's inputs must still be accounted for, and in our current society these 
inputs are financed by corporate and state-based funds.

My usage of peer production describes another mode of production
where independent producers employ a common productive stock.

I accept that you use a generally used concept and give it another
of a mode of production which does not exist yet, that is your privilege

Are you saying that independent producers using a common-stock
doesn't exist?

I would seriously be surprised to see the Benkler formulation as being in 
"in general use" it is pretty new and obscure, and not even either of us
agree with it, so where exactly is it in "general use?" Among Benkler's 
own students?

You are making yet another fallacious appeal, "independent producers
employing a common productive stock" is far more logically and 
empirically useful than "immaterial, non-reciprocal", and in actual fact, 
explains free software production far better.

Unlike the "immaterial, non-reciprocal" definition this formulation
can account for it's material inputs, it's labour specialization,
it's means of capital formation, etc, and also better describes
the productive basis of free software as well as more closely
relates to the topology of peer networks from which the term

not at all, you cannot account for the key feature of non-reciprocal peer
production, so it is a very weak explanation;

Which features can I not account for?

Further, this formulation also is better rooted in history, as it
describes historical examples of commons-based production such as
cottage agriculture and cottage industry as well.

No, my own explanation also is rooted in previous expressions of
non-reciprocal logics (the medieval commons of the peasants),

Huh? The mediaval commons was in no way characterized by "immaterial, 
non-reciprocal production" but instead by "independent producers
employing a common productive-stock."

Please elaborate here.

but also recognizes the differences resulting from digital

Digital technology has allowed independent producers to employ a 
common productive stock on an unprecedented scale, and perhaps even
more importantly have relationships that are not mediated by 
the State.

This material basis, simple as it is, has a very important
implication: All surplus wealth resulting from immaterial assets
will be captured by owners of material assets.

At this stage, the situation is a little more complicated

- peer producers and users are  capturing the use value directly


- the netarchical platform owners are capturing the derivative exchange

Well, not sure why the neologism "netarchical" is needed here, but we
agree that owners of material assets will capture all derived 
exchange value.

That we agree on these two points shows how close our views are, and 
that should give us reason to try to find more common ground, as
there are only a few of us currently.

Please note that most of the people who share your "immaterial, 
non-reciprocal" formulation of peer-production would agree with 
neither of these claims.

Benkler has reject these claim in a personal conversation I had with him
at WOS 4, as have the Stefans in discussions with both of us here 
on this list.

I really wish you would give the "independent producers employing a 
common productive stock" forumulation a serious mental test drive, I 
am quite optimistic that you will find it more logical and explanatory, 
as well as more prescriptive than the Neo-utopian one.

- it is not a good idea to make peer production directly profitable, but
rather to devise benefit-sharing, as shown by the preferences of existing
peer producing communities, who are conscious of the fact that
profit-sharing crowds out the non-reciprocal dynamic of peer production
(effectively destroying it and replacing it with a less productive market
mode, see firefox)

This is confused, the details of how a particular productive enterprise
distributes its wealth is not the basis of our dispute, as I've said
before I share your tendency towards universal sharing where possible.

The basis of our dispute concerns the mode of production, which doesn't
describe individual workers or enterprises, but rather how the 
reproduction costs of productive factors are accounted by the mode.

This simple fact, basic and self-evident as it is, obliterates
any possibility of a change in the distribution of productive
assets (the rent-capturing kind), emerging from the collective
ownership of free, immaterial assets.

I AGREE, This means that we must ultimately tackle the interface between
collaborative open design and the logic of physical production.

Right, which starts with an understanding that we must account
for input costs of productive factors, including capital formation 
which implies abstention from consumption, which further implies 
limited and therefore measured consumption, and understand that 
specialization of labour implies reciprocation and exchange, wether
organized individually or collectively, and that wealth created by 
immaterial assets will always be captured by owners of material assets.

And without a change in the distribution of productive assets,
there can be no change in distribution of wealth, or any reduction
in class stratification.

This is correct, but the issue is getting from here to there, and
on the emancipatory potential of peer production is one of the best, if
not the only way, to get from A to B

Indeed, it is exactly the issue of getting from here to there that
is the point of venture communism, copyfarleft, etc.

"Immaterial, Non-reciprocal" production has no emancipatory potential,
as it can not exist, production of "independent producers employing
a common productive stock" is the revolutionary mode you are looking
for, as private control over productive assets is the mechanism
of exploitation.

Only mutual property can defeat private property.


Dmytri Kleiner
editing text files since 1981

Contact: projekt

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