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