[ox-en] Re: Fundamental text by StefanMn and StefanMz - Part 3
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Fri, 04 Apr 2008 18:28:42 +0200
Hi Michel and all!
3 days ago Michel Bauwens wrote:
some comments in between
Great! Thank you!
BTW: Most of my free mind / time went into that text during the past
few weeks so I'm somewhat behind here :-/ .
At present we witness a tremendous transformation of global
capitalism. We can observe a change from a Fordist to a neo-liberal
accumulation regime, in order to integrate more and more previously
state-driven sectors into a private valorization process.
this is not wrong, but it seems strange to highlight the 30 year old
neoliberal process, at the moment when it seems disintegrating or at
least seriously in crisis.
True. I changed it to "Since 30 years" instead of "at present". The
motivation of that paragraph is probably that the readers of that text
are those of the British magazine "Capital & Class" and therefore it
makes sense to hand them a link they know about.
The change you mention could be observed 30 years ago, now we are
witnessing another kind of change, to another type of accumulation
Which raises the question what an accumulation process is. AFAICS it
is a notion which is specific to capitalism. But I think the
beginnings of the new era will have a shape which can not be described
by accumulation process. But may be you thought of something else?
Though there are a lot of peer phenomenons, peer production is
primarily about production and not distribution. This separates peer
production from barter exchange and other distribution related
Generally I think we have not yet come up with a commonly agreed upon
set of criteria for peer phenomenons. I consider this one of the major
research topics and would welcome if we had such a list. Insofar the
list given there is only one snapshot of an ongoing discussion.
I define peer phenomenon in general, as the 'relational dynamic at
work in distributed systems', i.e. permissionlessness.
Could that be explained by openness?
I also include
the distribution mechanism, i.e. universal distribution through a
commons, as part of the definition.
IMHO that would be also explained by openness - or not?
This also excludes barter, but has
the advantage of distinguishing it from cooperative production for a
I see, but everything which is brought to a market isn't open in
distribution. Because then it turns into a commodity which needs to be
scarce to be sellable at all. The property concept of capitalism is
probably the opposite of open.
Free Software which is created because of an order is an interesting
example here. It can be created by non-volunteers - such as workers in
a company -, is sold to the customer who ordered it in the first
place, but afterwards is made available for general distribution.
The product is open in this case but the production process is not -
what I called Single Free at some point. Would you consider this a
Also there might be Free Software which is never published - so lacks
a distribution. The product is still Free but not distributed. Would
you consider this a peer phenomenon?
BTW: I'm using Free Software examples because I know those best (and
they are probably most developed). That doesn't mean that in other
realms there could not be similar questions. In the contrary: Peer or
not peer does not depend on the kind of product.
When power is
distibuted, it becomes the invisible infrastructure which can enable
or disable certain types of relationships; the power of selection
moves from the a priori condition to participation, to a posteriori
mechanisms for quality control, through collective choice systems or
other means, such as the maintainer functions in free software
I'm not sure I understand this. Could you elaborate?
Contributing to a peer production project has strong elements of
Selbstentfaltung (see below). In a peer production project
Selbstentfaltung is indeed the motivation for the contributors to
spent effort. The people do what they do because of their inner
motivation here called Selbstentfaltung, and not of alienated goals.
There is no external incentive like earning money so people can do
what suits their needs best.
Nice that you quote it so I have the chance to emphasize the following
In fact this orientation of
Selbstentfaltung in peer production is what make this whole peer
production thing interesting for people who are generally interested
In case you didn't note: The germ form theory does *not* describe how
"positive" development happens. Instead it is a general framework to
understand development processes. For instances a few weeks ago I saw
a TV feature on how Hitler gained power and became German chancellor.
In fact I'm pretty sure that the rise of the Nazis could be explained
by germ form theory - which would be really an interesting exercise.
So the hope for mankind some here see in those peer phenomenons
exclusively comes from those Selbstentfaltung aspects. I think it is
important to emphasize this.
Selbstentfaltung really is the term for the maximum
possible freedom. One decisive point is that Selbstentfaltung and
alienation are antagonists.
Some would say that it is driven by intrinsic positive motivation,
excluding both positive and negative extrinsic motivation as the main
drivers; you could also say that coercive (precapitalist) and neutral
(idealized interpretation of capitalism) cooperation are replaced by
synergestic cooperation. Benkler says: peer production are designed so
that any motivation becomes productive.
I don't think that *any* motivation becomes productive. That would
mean that it is impossible that someone with bad motives can disturb a
project. In fact I think this is wishful thinking.
However, peer projects have interesting ways to cope with such
disturbances. In fact if I remember those times in the left I saw
countless occasions / groups which had no way to cope with such
disturbances :-( .
I think one of the main differences here is that peer projects have a
common goal which is not rooted only in the project as such: There is
a product which is useful for someone else.
what last chapter are you referring too?
The one which we are still working on. You may peek at it at
but we will publish it here when it is sounder.
Whether or not the
principles of peer production can be transferred to the material
sphere or what that even means is an open research question.
It is not just a research question, there are some general things that
can be said, apart from already observing existing open design
I'm really not sure about this. But this will be another thread. From
the subjects I see this has been discussed here lately so I'll have
the chance to think on this more thoroughly later.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de