Re: [ox-en] Review of peerconomy book
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 20:05:21 +0200
Last week (11 days ago) Christian Siefkes wrote:
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.
Thanks for your ignorance. You really make me feel sorry for spending
so much effort in trying to debug your work. May be I should have done
like you and dismiss your whole stuff from the start. However, to me
that is not the way to move forward.
I think it would have been better if you had used the good old peer
production motto of "release early, release often". This is also a
very useful antidote against falling in love with wrong concepts and I
use it daily in my everyday work.
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
Well, I tried to point out the mechanisms in systems based on abstract
labor which lead to the opposite of peer production. In your book you
usually don't think about the mechanisms. You assume, suggest and
think it will be this or that way. I mean of course it is nice to
assume, suggest and think. But IMHO it's better to analyze how things
work and what are the results of these mechanisms.
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).
I miss the differences because I see the patterns behind all of your
assumptions, suggestions and thoughts. The structure you are
describing is not very different from other exchange based systems -
and therefore it will exhibit the same features.
I'll quote one randomly picked piece from my "Disguises" section and
step by step ask you where I missed the important difference. If I'm
so wrong then it is probably easy to point at it.
However, there is a sharp distinction between the contributions
which are done in the division of labor model of capitalism and in
peer production projects. In peer production projects the doubly
Free contributors contribute because it is Selbstentfaltung to them.
They don't need any compensation for this because they are not
loosing anything - in the contrary.
I guess you'll agree with me until here.
In capitalism on the other hand
contributors are structurally coerced to contribute because they are
payed for their contributions and money is what they need for a
I guess you'll agree with that, too.
This is exactly the point where concrete work differs from
abstract labor and abstract labor becomes subject of exchange. This
is an important source of alienation in capitalism and as such the
reason for a lot of problems.
I could imagine that you agree with that but I'm not sure. If not I'd
like to know where you disagree.
Now Christian deals with the problem that there might be tasks in a
peer production project which are for some reason not done out of
That's the basic idea of your book - right? If all tasks would be
handled by Selbstentfaltung then nobody would be required to
contribute to get a product. We would have ampleness instead and we do
not need ca. 70% of the things you are discussing in your book.
The simple answer he finds is: Coerce others so
they contribute by doing these tasks. Instead of paying them with
money Christian suggests exchanging products of the project for the
abstract labor done by a coerced contributor.
That is probably the point where you will say that I'm missing an
important difference. However, I can not see it. I'll try to pin down
the pattern I recognize.
If I want to acquire some product in your system I can not simply take
it - as in existing peer production projects. Instead I am required to
contribute something - right? This something is work I need to do
though I do not want to do that work because of my Selbstentfaltung -
right? I'd call this work abstract labor because of the lack of
If I want to acquire some product in capitalism I also can not simply
take it. Instead I am required to pay for it. The payment is usually
done by money, but money ultimately results from abstract labor. So
money is just an intermediary which does not change the basic
principle that I need to do abstract labor to acquire a certain
So I can really not see the difference. As a result if you say that in
capitalism there is structural coercion then it is the same in your
system. The coercion lies in the fact that I can not simply take what
I need but am required to do abstract labor for it.
I would really appreciate if you take the time to show where is really
the difference here.
Contact: projekt oekonux.de