[ox-en] There is no such thing like "peer money"
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 10:57:02 +0200
Sorry for being so quiet but - as usual - the conference preparation
eats up a lot of my free time / energy.
The following is something I promised Michel to do. It has been
triggered by the use of the term "peer money" which I think is a
contradiction in terms. This is an attempt to give reasons why I think
that money and peer production are generally in contradiction.
Having said that I should also say that they can walk together for
some time but according to germ form theory that is no contradiction
to the contradiction thesis. But one should keep in mind that to use
money for peer production projects is always a twisted approach
because of that contradiction.
The approach below is based on comparing features of money and peer
production. In that it is also a contribution to further define peer
* Structural force vs. volunteering
Money is a structural force used to force your will onto others.
This is exactly what we call buying - though it doesn't sound so
nice. If you would not need to force others to do something (for
you) you don't need to pay them.
Compared to direct force like violence money is a structural force
because it is indirect. As such it needs a societal framework to be
effective at all: Payment makes no sense unless the payee can buy
Peer production on the other hand is largely based on volunteering.
Volunteering, however, is the exact opposite of being forced to do
something. Someone volunteers for a task because it is own wish to
do something. In fact the volunteering is a central feature of
* Scarcity vs. ampleness
Money is based on scarcity. In fact in a way it encodes scarcity as
a societal concept to a so-called real abstraction. In fact money
which is not scarce in some way simply makes no sense. If I am
allowed to create arbitrary amounts of money at every time why
should I require the money of others at all?
Peer production on the other hand is based on ampleness of the
product. All examples we found so far for peer production are based
on ampleness (which is simpler to have in the digital world). In
fact ampleness of the product is the typical goal of peer production
* Force needed to keep vs. built-in sustainability
I said that money encodes scarcity as a general principle of
society. However, money being an abstraction is not scarce by itself
- everybody can print more dollars. Thus scarcity must be enforced
by some external means. Typically this is done by the state. In
effect each money system needs a forceful super-structure to keep it
Peer production on the other hand is based on a built-in
sustainability. A peer production project is not based on some
abstract principle but on the need for / want of a perfect solution
for a problem. It needs no external means to keep a peer production
project up. All the power comes from within.
* Abstract vs. concrete
One of the central features of money is that it is abstract. Money
is not related to any concrete thing - which you easily understand
when you look at the global flow of money compared to the global
flow of goods.
Peer production projects on the other hand are always concrete. The
goals are concrete and the effort spent is for concrete reasons.
* Reduction vs. multi-facet perspective
Money is always a reduction - which is in fact the central feature
of an abstraction. The result is that huge bunches of concrete
aspects are projected into a number.
In peer production projects on the other hand a multi-facet
perspective is the rule. Though at some times decisions need to be
made which prefer one possible way over an other possible way these
decisions are made by a complex consideration of many relevant
* Exchange value orientation vs. use value orientation
Money based production is based on a orientation on exchange value:
You produce because you want to exchange your product for money. The
product itself does not matter to you and it is totally sufficient
to produce relative quality and relative use.
In peer production projects on the other hand the very reason of a
project is producing use value. Why should a peer production exist
at all otherwise?
* Alienation vs. Selbstentfaltung
While money is based on alienation from things and humans peer
production is based on Selbstentfaltung of humans - which is the
opposite of alienation.
* Immorality included vs. no immorality
Money as an alienated principle can be used to to immoral things -
like waging wars. This is something we all know and bemoan more
often than not.
Peer production on the other hand is based on volunteering and
nobody volunteers for goals which s/he finds immoral.
I'll stop here looking forward to responses and further insights.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de