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Re: [ox-en] There is no such thing like "peer money"

Hi Michel and all!

Last month (55 days ago) Michel Bauwens wrote:
I'll participate under the caveat that I'm no expert in economics.

No problem.

On Mon, Jun 30, 2008 at 3:57 PM, Stefan Merten <smerten> wrote:
Sorry for being so quiet but - as usual - the conference preparation
eats up a lot of my free time / energy.

* 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
 something himself.

I would argue that there are a wide variety of degrees of coercion and that
some forms of coercion may be arrived at through legimate consensus.

I'm not saying that use of force / coercion is always illegitimate. In
the contrary: peer govenance will of course involve these things. But
to me there is a major difference whether these things come into being
through governance / political institutions or of some blind economic

What I mean is the following: if I first expropriate farmers so they can't
make a living, then of course they are forced to work for me, because,
otherwise they starve.

Well, today a lot of people on this planet would be glad if they would
be forced by someone to work for them...

But if we both have a guaranteed income, and we are
fairly equal, then money can be the basis of a voluntary exchange.

Why should we exchange then at all? I see no reason unless the
guaranteed income is too low.

I can
exchange, but don't have to. So what I'm saying here is that we need to
distinguish 'money as such', from its particular instantiation in a specific
capitalist economy.

Indeed. If I have enough money to buy everything I need then I don't
need to do abstract labor. Then I can Selbstentfalt. But why the hell
should I want to trade the results of Selbstentfaltung then?

Even more so: If I don't need to labor at all then I probably won't.
Then abstract labor ceases to exist and with it the money which my
basic income consists of. This is also the reason why in capitalism a
guaranteed income will never exist.

* 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?

There is a difference between scarce and sufficient money as a concept,  as
I agree that 'abundant' money may be a contradiction in terms.

I think there can not be something like sufficient money. As above: If
I have sufficient money I don't need to participate in the generation
of money - I don't need to abstract labor. If this applies to a whole
society the basis for the "sufficient" is vanished together with the

Also since money is abstract and *not* related to some concrete human
need there is no such thing like sufficient. What is sufficient in
EUR? 1,000EUR? 1,000,000EUR? 1,000,000,000EUR? Nothing of it. And if
you start to ask "sufficient for what?" then you are going into the
concrete world and we can forget about money. That is indeed what I
would suggest.

Today, if I have no money, I cannot do anything, so we have regions in the
worlds with armies of unemployed but able-bodied people. Thus, we  can
imagine, as traditional societies did, that money is created by labour

This is still true. Money is nothing else than dead labor.

The very act of  work, if accepted by somebody else, creates the

It's a bit more complicated but basically right.

In such a system, you would not have to wait to have money, before
being able to mobilize resources and energy.

As in capitalism. Just use a credit.

I.e. "Sufficient: because based on mutual credit, i.e. there's never a lack
of money since it is created upon the needs/wants streaming."

I never understood things like that. Mutual credit in no way creates
any sufficiency. How should it? If your labor needs to be accepted by
others then it is just as possible that you have exactly 0 credit as
in capitalism.

Therefore, peer money can be used in that context, as long as we know what
we mean. Money can be produced by private players, can be regulated by
public players (both are true now), can be produced by the state itself (as
used to be the case), but there is clearly a third alternative: the direct
production of monetary value by civil society itself.

This is what is happening now, marginally, but could be extented in the
future, in case of a global crisis of the capitalist system. Money would be
produced by self-regulated (self-coercing) communities, which may have a
system of exchange amongst each other.

I'm not arguing that such local/virtual currencies are sufficient by
themselves, but they could be an element of a global monetary reform away
from capitalist money.

Why not: Let the money system as it is whither away. Establishing just
another exchange based system makes simply no sense for the
intermediate period we are going through. Better engage in peer

Here's the vision of Bernard Lietaer, which consists of four tiers:

I can not really see where it differs from what we have. Or rather: We
had until the USA unlinked from gold.

* 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?

I agree, but the new forms of money are designed for material production and
to reward work.

And the current money is not used for this? So I wonder what I'm paid
for then...

Now peer production is sustained by capitalist money and
economic practices, but that is clearly unsustainable. As long as we do not
have a fully abundant society which does not require a solution for
scarce/rival goods, we need an alternative sustainable structure for peer
production to operate in.

I agree. However, I'd favor ways which don't copy capitalism. The way
capitalism handles the problem is just one way of handling it. Human
societies had others, have others and they will have others. The
problem here is that the economy becomes political.

This is what such a monetary reform is intended to

But we don't need a money reform for that. A money reform of that
dimension for sure means lots of social unrest and probably civil
wars. Too high a price for something which is really no change.

* 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.

What I find immoral may not coincide with someone else, but the peer
production of terrorism is clearly incompatible with my survival. Therefore,
it is incorrect to put money as totally alienated, and peer production as
purely unalienated, as there are many hybrid possibilities.

I agree that there is a little trick in my point ;-) . But with a
structural force you can force others to do things they find immoral.
That is even worse than terrorism based on Selbstentfaltung.



Contact: projekt

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