Re: [ox-en] Balancing need and Selbstentaltung by governance?
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 11:35:13 +0100
Hi Raoul and all!
6 days ago Stefan Merten wrote:
I think the fundamental problem is that *societal needs may differ
from volunteer needs*.
If I analyze it that way then the fundamental answer is simple: If you
want to satisfy societal needs then you need coercion.
The next question then is: How can a coercion system look like which
does not damage Selbstentfaltung.
The standard answer of capitalism or Christian's model is to use
abstract coercion by rewarding people with benefits they are only
allowed to enjoy if they somehow contribute to the societal needs. I
agree that this is one sort of coercion and we are all sooo used to
it. However, obviously this sort of abstraction introduces all kinds
of alienation and the problems accompanied by this alienation. In
particular it is an automatic system which is beyond the control of
The alternative IMHO is to create an explicit governance scheme where
people are coerced to execute societal necessary tasks as part of
their normal lifes. The big advantage of such an explicit governance
scheme is that it is subject to political decisions. Contrary to blind
automatisms as just outlined political decisions are able to take into
account different situations of people. I think this is something
useful to strive for.
In the 'There is no such thing like "peer money"' thread_ Raoul
seemingly talked about something similar. I'll re-mix his thoughts
into this thread and comment them - though I'll probably ramble a bit.
.. _thread: http://www.oekonux.org/list-en/archive/msg05036.html
13 months (396 days) ago Raoul wrote:
But what about the second function of markets: regulating the quantity
of goods that each human can take? As far as there is still not a
sufficient ampleness of goods and capacities of production in order to
allow free and unlimited distribution, how to restrict the consumption
to the prevailing possibilities of production?
I think this is basically the same as I said above "*societal needs
may differ from volunteer needs*".
If we abandon the wage
principle: "to each according to the value of his labor force"; if we
refuse the principle: "to each according to his work", what principle to
I think we are on the same track here: we need to overcome the "to
each according to his work" principle. In fact the question is how to
operate without this principle. I'd like to emphasize that each
society has to deal with this problem. To cope with it by "to each
according to his work" is only one solution.
I only see one possibility: to each according to the social possibilities.
It is a sort of "to each according to his needs/desires" limited,
restricted by what is really possible, as in the household/domestic
economy, or as in a fishers village where after drawing collectively the
net, fishes are shared between the population... But, this time, on a
I agree that this must be the spirit of the whole endeavor.
In fact we are dealing with the question of justice here. Justice is a
concept which is needed when pain needs to be distributed somehow -
and that is what we are talking about here.
The basic question seems to be how such a system of coercion can be
constructed in a way it is acceptable to people.
This is a conscious, direct way of dealing with scarcity.
I substitute "scarcity" with "limitedness" because I think this is
what you are talking about.
It is not
anymore through fetish filters and mechanisms (financial, for example)
which escape to human control.
Yes. I think that no automatic system is able to produce justice in a
human sense. You need human control (aka politics).
It is the logic consequence of the fact
that the means of production are collectively possessed (in the
Commons). If we participate to production as collective possessors,
production can be distributed collectively, taking into account
permanently and dynamically what is possible and what is needed.
Well, the problem here is of course that in your example there is
little to no division of labor - all fishers are fishing or working on
tasks closely related to fishing. This makes things easy because you
don't need to compare different sorts of work. In cases like this it
is probably also easy to accept that some members are more productive
In addition your example describes a local community with relatively
few members. There are psychological theories that the mind of humans
is build in a way that small communities are different from
multi-million communities (probably because of the
hunter-gatherer-societies which shaped the human mind).
But in a full society you have a high degree of division of labor. And
you have a lot of separation between people in the sense that they are
not a local community.
The `drawing board`_ poses this as the question: "Where do the bananas
come from?". To have bananas in Europe - which is obviously a
pre-condition for a peer production based society ;-) - people in
other parts of the planet need to do useful things - like planting
bananas. Until this can be automated to a degree where it can be
easily perceived as Selbstentfaltung there is a societal need in one
place of the planet which needs to be satisfied in a completely
different place. To have a mediation between these two places is
probably one of the biggest challenges...
.. _drawing board: http://en.wiki.oekonux.org/Oekonux/DrawingBoard#where-do-the-bananas-come-from
As already said, P2P networks make possible instantaneous and ubiquitous
availability of the necessary information for such a system.
The question is then: will consumers respect voluntarily the
restrictions when they exist? Is not such a system going to collapse
because of multiple abuses?
This is another aspect in the drawing board:
Alienated uses of peer products
Generally for peer production products there may be a way to use
them in an alienated way. For instance they can be sold in a domain
different from peer production. Such an alienated use of peer
products can be seen as an abuse. What are forms of abuse? Under
which conditions such abuse is possible? What impact on a peer
production project such abuse has? How can abuse be prevented?
How do you think such abuse can come about at all?
I think if the needs of people are the driving force then there is
little room for abuse actually. Contrary to money / exchange value you
*can* have enough bananas.
Such a system means a great degree of collective consciousness, of self
responsibility. That may seem wishful thinking when envisaged from the
point of view of the capitalist social jungle. But we should not
underestimate the change in mentalities which would be induced by a
society where production is oriented directly and exclusively towards
human needs, where orientation of production is permanently collectively
Well, we have a different approach on consciousness. But in this case
may be I can agree with you easier.
In societies you have usually a distinction between rights and duties.
What we envision here could be expressed as a duty of everyone - at
least on the general level. Duties are often seen as part of a culture
and thus not only as a burden.
I wonder how people from the former GDR think about this. AFAICS the
GDR - and may be other so-called real-socialist countries - used the
concept of duties and of "working for a higher goal" like the
construction of socialism quite a lot. I know this appealed at least
to *some* people. But I'd really like to know how this felt and in
particular if people can imagine that beside such a culture
Selbstentfaltung for peer production could flourish.
One of the most important contributions of Free Software and
peer-production has been to prove with facts that humans can cooperate,
share and produce the most complex things without money profit incentive
and without State coercion. Some people thought that Wikipedia would
never develop because it would be permanently destroyed by "vandals".
The intelligence of Wikipedia has been to have confidence in the
collective spirit of contributors, to base its rules on the needs of
that confidence and not on the danger represented by vandals. Vandals
exist since the beginning of Wikipedia, but they remain a small minority
and the care of the majority has allowed to neutralize their negative
Collective consciousness will be a key element in managing the
transition into a post-capitalist society.
Well, may be we need to sort out what consciousness really means here.
I think a key element here is some sort of governance. This governance
cares about the project - that is it's only legitimation and the
reason why it is accepted. And this governance contains also duty-like
tasks for some members.
You may describe this as consciousness but more down-to-earth I'd
describe this as accepting a mode of cooperation because it works and
helps the common goal. I'd also say that satisfying duties for a
project is part of Selbstentfaltung.
Important, however, is the common goal. The question, however, is
whether all of society can be a common goal in this sense. Well, if
you break it down - like "Let's find ways to automate the production
of bananas the best we can" - then it probably works very well.
Sorry for rambling. May be my thoughts ring a bell or two,
Contact: projekt oekonux.de