[P2P-F] [Commoning] new capitalism and commoning

Massimo De Angelis commoning at gmail.com
Tue Feb 8 15:59:14 CET 2011


see below

On 8 Feb 2011, at 12:14, Michel Bauwens wrote:

> Thanks Massimo,
> your example of the small vendors in Tahir square is pertinent, but  
> then, look at the strategy of the protest, which is predicated on  
> the broadest possible unity, including even with the army, while  
> they are actually fighting not a family dictatorship but a military  
> dictatorship ... (the tahir class alliances are well explained here  
> at http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/516/why-mubarak-is-out)

so? what has this got to do with my point? Alliances are always  
situated in given contexts, not on abstract principles

> i'd like to make a difference between subjective and objective  
> factors, you point out the subjective fact of the analysis of  
> 'collaboration is the new competition', but so does IBM and at the  
> same time, it is also strengthening the free software commons. In  
> Tahir square, I have no information about the subjectivity of the  
> vendors, but they might as well be petty profit maximisers than  
> acting in solidarity with the movement. Their motivation would not  
> stand in the way of their objective cooperation with the Tahir  
> commons.
no, simply because their motivations are several,

> To go back to the example of the Common, I don't know enough about  
> them, but, following your argument in your last phrase, I conclude  
> that if they would not force everybody else to act according to a  
> market logic, that such would be compatible with a commons approach?  
> What makes you conclude that Common argues that there is a market  
> solution for everything and that it is obligatory and that this is  
> indeed 'what seems to be happening' in the example I have circulated?
the argument in their slides made me conclude that . .they propose a  
method that starts from "problem" and end with a business solution  
passing through tapping on social networks and commoning of  
knowledge . . .but maybe it was a fast read, maybe they do offer  
solutions to any of our social problems, which could be such a great  
thing, so I can play more my fiddle rather than writing posts on a  
list. . .

> I do agree with this conclusion of yours, but again, the subjective  
> intent of a particular player, may not be the most important factor  
> for a particular commons.
> You probably know my own proposed approach, that of creating  
> vehicles for the commons that have the social reproduction of the  
> commons of its contributors as the main reason of being (and thus  
> keeps the circulation of surplus value within the commons), and  
> failing that, for commoners to choose partners according to the  
> criteria of preferential attachment, i.e. to choose to collaborate  
> with those entities that are maximally aligned with the values of  
> the common project. However, in the current circumstances neither  
> choice is always available, and therefore the most realistic  
> criteria is to go for an ecology which allows for the commons to  
> continue to co-exist, provides a living for its contributors, in the  
> context of maximum (by force relative) autonomy of that commons and  
> its commoners.

> Without conflating HBR with the commons, I do think the creation and  
> emergence of the free software commons, the creation and emergence  
> of multiple knowledge commons, and the creation and emergence of  
> open design commons, is part of an emancipatory process; repressents  
> a social advance, despite all the difficulties associated with such  
> developments in the current context.

you can claim that something like the above represent a "social  
advance" only when you have computed the costs, and agreed on a method  
for doing so. We do not agree on this, as for you it seems destruction  
of communities to make space for fibre optical cables and computers is  
a cost worth paying "in the long run". To me all the free software  
common above is just stuff that happens, that is, and whether it is a  
social advance or not will depend on the power relations on the  
ground. I much welcome p2p in cyberspace as much as I do not welcome  
the destruction of communities necessary for the production of p2p  
infrastructure given current capitalist regimes. Free software  
commons  open up new opportuninities and make us think and act  
organisationally in different ways, many of which are empowering and  
eye-opening: I am hooked in cyberspace and try to get as many people  
hooked as possible in the rural community where I live. But you do  
not  care for children with free software commons, you do not eat with  
it, you do not make love or bury the dead. And if we'll ever get to a  
point in which free software commons and life come to clash (as it is  
the case for the above mentioned community whose resources are  
enclosed to make space for the infrastructure of cyberspace), well  
then I know what side I am on, and if you will be on the other side  
because it will be "good in the long run", then I am afraid you will  
be my class enemy. . . .but now, for sure, we are still certainly  
friends, aren't we?



> I also think that the existence of a large movement towards fair  
> trade, social financing, ethical markets, social enterpreneurships,  
> the growth of cooperatives, the  players in social and solidarity  
> economies, are generally positive steps within the current context.
> Michel
> On Tue, Feb 8, 2011 at 4:07 PM, Massimo De Angelis <commoning at gmail.com 
> > wrote:
> you can work out the answer by reflecting on the motto of the web  
> page http://fearlessrevolution.com: "collaboration is the new  
> competition" . . .well actually, competition has always been based  
> on degrees of collaboration, pitting different forms of social  
> cooperation  one against the other . . .the ideas of this web page  
> would be great, assuming 90% of our livelihoods was reproduced  
> outside capitalist markets, so as if we really needed something  
> outside the commons, well, this could be how to go for it . . .But  
> as they stand, they are just another way to make business, one  
> business strategy among many, maybe preferable and kinder than  
> others, maybe its novelty may help some in time of crisis and in  
> presence of lack of imagination and effective powers to work out a  
> non-profit business alternative,  . . .hence, if contingent  
> necessity requires it, let us collaborate . . . but please, do not  
> conflate this type of stuff being debated on the Harward Business  
> Review with the emancipatory practices that are core for the  
> production of a socially and environmentally just world . . .please,  
> just look at Egypt, they have businesses along many commons in  
> Tahiri square (http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2011/02/201127162644461244.html 
> ), small vendors, but they operate within the contexts of the  
> commons, hence they are not the enemy, but they reinforce the  
> commons. They would become opponents in the very moment they were to  
> declare that all in the square had to organise as a market, or if  
> they were to define procedures that for every problem one had to  
> find a market solution and this is precisely what seems to be  
> happening  in the example you are circulating.
> m
> On 8 Feb 2011, at 07:51, Michel Bauwens wrote:
>> I got this from Pat Kane, an initiative that resonates with Umair  
>> Haque's Capitalist Manifesto
>> See: http://fearlessrevolution.com/blog/introducing-common.html
>> "Benefiting people, communities, society, the environment and  
>> future generations is the new advantage in business. Our new  
>> capitalist brand is about transitioning from competitive advantage  
>> to collaborative advantage. COMMON is a brand that is community  
>> designed, community owned, and community directed. It is a single  
>> open source brand — a living network — for rapidly prototyping many  
>> progressive businesses that unleash creativity to solve social  
>> problems."
>> Michel's comments:
>> why is this interesting, well, in the context of the stress that  
>> our friends like Massimo and Silvia Federico place on opposing  
>> 'capitalist commons'
>> my question is the following, generally, as I don't know much about  
>> this particular initiative:
>> - are these people 'enemies' simply because they are 'pro-capitalist'
>> - or are they friends because their heart is in the right place,  
>> and they want to create and share value, and have generally  
>> progressive social goals
>> This is not just a matter of analysis, but also of language, and it  
>> poses a key question: should a new 'hegemony' (not the right word,  
>> I know, but even in a distributed world, something like that does  
>> exist) for a progressive commons approach, not necessarily include  
>> progressive social and other enterpreneurs ?
>> My answer would tend to be yes, as many young people in the West,  
>> but even outside the West, especially here in East Asia, think that  
>> way; they want to see progress, don't believe in old-style  
>> socialism, believe in cooperation and sharing, but believe only  
>> free enterpreneurship offers progress and dynamism for their  
>> society and their own projects.
>> Such an approach would require an analysis that distinguished  
>> exploitative commons approaches, from genuine commons; but also in  
>> a language that doesn't construct such people as enemies, and a  
>> pragmatic openness.
>> To come back to the notion of capitalist/anticapitalist commons,  
>> through an example.
>> Take the free software movement, a movement of a particular labour  
>> aristocracy, that has resulted in the creation of a strong commons,  
>> strong relatively autonomous communities, but also with a strong  
>> ecology of supportive corporate entities, that both profit from  
>> those commons, but also, pay wages to free software developers,  
>> practice various forms of benefit sharing, and support the  
>> communities and commons in various ways. (this of course needs to  
>> be problematized, but nevertheless, this is an important side of  
>> the equation)
>> So here we have a commons that is both instrumental to corporate  
>> entities and 'capitalism', but also beneficial in substantial ways  
>> to a particular type of knowledge workers. In this scenario, both  
>> sides have both concurring and antagonistic interests.
>> The model of the free software movement is not unique, as it is now  
>> largely replicated in many other open knowledge, open design and  
>> open manufacturing projects, for whom it served as a successfull  
>> template
>> I'm  not advocating either uncritical support of the model, nor a  
>> pure antagonistic approach, but rather an approach that starts with  
>> the interests of the peer producing communities and their commons,  
>> and looks at how they can optimally reproduce within current  
>> economic and power structures, and advance their goals, step by  
>> step, until they are stronger to achieve more fundamental  
>> transformations,
>> In many cases, the creation of a successful ecology of corporate  
>> entities, and the attraction of progressive young enterpreneurs who  
>> may be willing to create non profit maximisation market-operating  
>> entitities, will be a sine qua non for the social reproduction and  
>> growth of the concrete commons and their contributors/users
>> Michel
>> -- 
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>> Commons Strategies Group, http://www.commonsstrategies.org/
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> -- 
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