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[ox-en] answer on digital utopianism

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My reply to Dmytri's farewell to oekonux, posted on iDC,


Hi Dmytri,

I have a few questions about Utopianism.

As far as I understand Oekonux is based on a close observation and analysis
of free software, and the extension of that model in the economy, according
to a 'dialectical' germ form theory of change, that is based on the
transformation of slavery to feudalism and feudalism to capitalism. This in
contrast with Marx's analysis and prescription for the change to socialism,
which never came about. The changes that Oekonux is looking at, are 'really'
happening, there is absolutely nothing utopian about it. On the other hand,
Marx's prescriptions, and his critique of the utopian socialist, seem pretty
moot after 200 years of experience, with no revolutionary labour movement in
sight. Your approach, which seems related to mutualism, seems based on the
creation of small commons-oriented enterprises, and it seems to me,
precisely what he criticized in the utopians.

So from my point of view, whatever point of view we may have about the
limitations of Oekonux, it would rather clearly seem that the utopian
elements are much more present in your view.

Note that I do not have anything about utopians as such, I think they are
useful thought exercises that reflect and shape human desires and can be
helpful to energize emancipatory movements, but it seems strange that a in
my view hyper-utopian approach would critizise a less utopian approach for
its utopianism.

I understand that you have a very radical rhetoric about class struggle, but
that doesn't make anything happen per se.

My own approach, which I propose to those monitoring our work at the P2P
Foundation, is to closely observe actual social movements and practices, to
idenfity those projects with the highest emancipatory potential, including
your venture proposals and experiences, and to internetwork them so that
they can learn from their successes and failures. Again, this is to
explicitely distance myself from an utopian point of view. At the same time,
I encourage in our resources, debates about possible alternatives, such as
those offered by Christian Siefkes (peerconomy), Stan Rhodes
(utilicontributism), Patrick Anderson (user ownership, this is the approach
I have most problems with), Timoty Wilken (giftegrity), as serious attempts
to think through the possibilities of the current situation, while
acknowledging that they are indeed 'utopian', but that they may also
influence practices. We also support actively open design movements for
physical production, and
concrete initiatives, such as Marcin Jakubowski's open farm project.

We do not deny 'class struggle' (that is for me simply a reality), but a
harsh rhetoric of resistance is not necessarily the best way of obtaining
results, and the constructive internetworking of social alternatives may be
a very powerful strategy, in the period where there is no power for direct
change at the system level. But as the sealevel of counter-initiatives
rises, it may give rise to a powerful global and social movement.

Thanks for explaining why your approach should not be considered utopian?


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