Re: [ox-en] Commons in a taxonomy of goods
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 11:47:36 +0200
Hi StefanMz and all!
Thanks for your very interesting reply. It clarified a couple of
things in my mind. Some minor comments and questions below.
Last week (11 days ago) Stefan Meretz wrote:
On 2010-06-21 11:33, Stefan Merten wrote:
Contrary to you I'd say the relationship of a user of a commons good
is the same as the relationship to a commodity - minus the exchange
relationship of course. In both cases the use and the flow of the
goods are subject to societal regulation and though the regulation is
different the relationship is the same.
You are right, because free software is an open access good. However,
the fact of being available by open access (under a free license) is the
outcome of "concrete communities agreeing on rules of usage and
maintenance of the commons". Here we are at the tipping point, where
"concrete" in the sense of "special" turns into "general" in the sense
of "like me". This "concrete general" is not the same like "abstract".
You may remember the discussions about the difference between "abstract
general" (abstrakt Allgemeines) and "concrete general" (konkret
More practically: For M$ the individual is only relevant as a buyer
(license payer), which is completly an abstract relationship. For free
software each individual is a relevant concrete user of the software, in
a general sense. This is part of the selbstentfaltung, because I need
the others to reach my goal (as they need me).
Thanks for the example! I saw the relationship only from in the
direction from the user to the producer - and never in the direction
From the producer to the user. And indeed the perspective of the
producers is *really* different in the two modes!
Clearly this is somewhat broken due to the fact, that isolated
individuals can treat proprietary and free software in the same way,
because they only know it that way. They will only get an impression
that there is something different, if they get in touch with the
community (e.g. if they seek for help). The Ubuntu community is a very
To explore this further: What is the difference between the M$
knowledge base and the Ubuntu bug tracking facilities, forums, etc.?
Well, there is certainly a difference in the presentation and the
inclusiveness - the M$ knowledge base being very exclusive to M$. But
is this it? Are there any other indicators of the different
I'd not make this distinction. To me legal forms are only a
crystallized form of concrete socially agreed rules.
Well, the crystallation process usually took a long time and needs the
state. Commons rules are beyond state.
If you mean state in the sense of a stable institution which also
holds the power to enforce laws then I agree that such an institution
is needed for laws. May be an institution like this is needed for a
peer production based society as well, but I think this is really
difficult to say. If at all it certainly will look differently.
That in (modern) commons we see mostly the non-legal form of rules to
me is a result of the germ form state they are in. I can imagine very
well, that if peer production took over the now non-legal forms are
transformed to legal code.
Ok, we will see. I expect a less importance of legal code if commons-
based production extends, because many aspects can be regulated below
the level of an abstract law. This is the strengh of the commons.
I can agree with this very well. Indeed I think because in a peer
production based society the antagonist forces will be greatly reduced
because of less abstract / alienated facilities an institution like
the state will be much less necessary.
The „freedom“ of plundering and exploitation, which commonly occurs
under the regime of separated private production of goods as
commodities, does find its limitation at the freedom of others to
use the resource.
I'd like to emphasize that plundering and exploitation make sense
mainly when the results of plundering and exploitation can be used in
an alienated way. If you can't sell tropical wood on a world market
there is simply no reason for plundering tropical jungle for it. In
other words: The separate private production - as is the case in peer
production as well - is not the main reason why plundering occurs.
Peer production is not separate private production of goods as
commodities (including the necessity to sell them), but societal
production of goods. The fact that the peer projects today are more or
less separated from each other is due to their germ form status, it is
not a genuine feature like with commodity production. For commodity
production the societal mediation is done using markets (buying and
selling), for peer production the societal mediation is done via
communication. If you look at free software which has left the germ form
and reached the expansion step (following the five step model), then you
can observe what societal mediation by communication can mean.
Another point I got now. Thanks for the explanation!
I'd also like to emphasize that it is a political decision to use
resources in this way or another. Although the environmentalist
fraction doesn't like it: You can politically decide to use up
mineral oil before switching to another form of energy. There is
nothing wrong with such decisions if they are made decently - which
nowadays is certainly not the case for mineral oil. May be this
thought gives hints for my question above?
I am not sure what do you mean by "political". If this is something
which does not comes up from the concrete practices, but from an
autonomous "political process" like any alien representation, then this
is not useful.
Probably what I mean by "political" is what you mean by
"communication". So I think we are really on the same page :-) .
In fact I'm still fascinated of the idea of Greenpeace being the
ozone hole maintainer brought forward by StefanMz many, many years
ago. How does this idea fit into the equation?
That fits perfectly in the equation. The idea behind is that a highly
skilled groups of people can produce far better solutions than any
"political decision" or "voting". A precondition is -- like for the
whole peer production society -- selbstentfaltung of the participants
and openess for participation excluding all alien goals.
Fully agreed. I'd call this a political process under the conditions
of peer production.