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Re: [ox-en] Review of peerconomy book

Hi Stefan,

Stefan Merten wrote:
I finally wrote my review of Christian's book. See below and at

I won't respond to where your analysis goes wrong, since I have other
things to do and this has all been discussed before. Your way of "showing"
that "X is Y in disguise" based on apparent similarities between X and Y is
like "showing" that "11 is an even number", because it is near to 10 and 10
is even. You miss all the important differences and sometimes you construct
similarities which aren't even there (e.g. when you claim that projects by
themselves decide on which "price" to "pay" for tasks or to "charge" for
projects--that's not how it works).

But I want to correct two places where you misquote me.

Throughout the book Christian emphasizes that it is important that the
coerced contributions are payed for with the "just" amount of

Leaving aside the fact that there are no "coerced contributions" in my
model (but of course, if you don't want to contribute to a project, it's up
to the project whether they still want to--and are able to--produce
something specifically for you--you aren't forced to do anything, but
neither are they), I have to point out that I never talk about "just" or
"justice" in my book.

These are abstract concepts which don't make much sense to me--for example,
if somebody suffers, it would be "just" if everybody else suffered too. The
purpose of effort sharing and similar agreements is not to be "just", but
rather to try to make sure that everyone involved can live with the outcome
and is, as far as possible, happy with the outcome. I also talk about
"fairness", but, while that concept is doubtlessly related to "justice", I
don't think it's the same.

In a conversation Christian said that he explicitly ignores the
problem of means of production. This can be accepted as a general
premise but then most of what Christian talks about is rather useless.
In particular producing physical things doesn't work without at least
a minimum set of physical means of production.

That's not true, I said that I ignored (in my book) the question of how to
start physical peer production within the context of capitalism, where money
is needed to buy means of productions that are still only produced
externally, in the capitalistic way. In my book (but not in my Hiddinghausen
talks) I ignored such problems of transformation, including this question of
how to get the money that's still necessary. In the model I describe,
natural resources are commons and everything else is the result of human
effort, which can be distributed among the users of the produced goods
according to the ways I describe in my book.

Of course, if the upfront efforts necessary for starting a project are very
large (a big specialized factory or something), the project organizers may
have to find sufficiently many interested users who confirm in advance that
they're interested in the results of the project and will use them
(contributing back the required effort) if the project manages to produce
them--that's one of the ways in which the separation between (supposedly
active) producers and (supposedly passive) consumers blurs in peer
production. Other ways of dealing with such huge efforts (which, I think,
will become rarer and less huge over time, due to the trends of
decentralization and more and more powerful small-scale production
facilities which we are already experiencing) are addressed in Section 8.2.1
of the book.

Best regards

|-------- Dr. Christian Siefkes --------- christian ---------
|   Homepage:   |   Blog:
|      Peer Production in the Physical World:
|------------------------------------------ OpenPGP Key ID: 0x346452D8 --
How does one hate a country, or love one? ... I lack the trick of it. I
know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how
the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the
hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving
it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love
of one's country; is it hate of one's uncountry? Then it's not a good
        -- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

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