[P2P-F] an important synthetic manifesto from the P2P Foundation: the ten commandments of peer production and commons economics

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Fri Oct 23 19:14:47 CEST 2015

The ten commandments of peer production and commons economics

*For a mode of production and value creation that is free, fair and

Michel Bauwens, Berlin, October 23, 2015, for the Uncommons conference

As we have tried to show elsewhere, the emergence of commons-oriented peer
production has generated the emergence of a new logic of collaboration
between open productive communities who created shared resources (commons)
through contributions, and those market-oriented entities that created
added value on top or along these shared commons.

This article addresses the emerging practices that should inspire these
entities of the 'ethical' economy. The main aim it to create new forms that
go beyond the traditional corporate form and its extractive
profit-maximizing practices of value extraction. Instead of extractive
forms of capital, we need generative forms, that co-create value with and
for the commoners.

I am using the form of commandments to explain the new practices. All of
them have already emerged in various forms, but need to be generalized and

What the world and humanity, and all those beings that are affected by our
activities require is a mode of production, and relations of production,
that are “free, fair and sustainable' at the same time.


1. Thou shall practice open business models based on shared knowledge

Closed business models are based on artificial scarcity. Though knowledge
is a non- or anti-rival good that gains in use value the more it is shared,
and though it can be shared easily and at very low marginal cost when it is
in digital form, many extractive firms still use artificial scarcity to
extract rents from the creation or use of digitized knowledge. Through
legal repression or technological sabotage, naturally shareable goods are
made artificially scarce, so that extra profits can be generated. This is
particularly galling in the context of life-saving or planet-regenerating
technological knowledge. The first commandment is therefore the ethical
commandment of sharing what can be shared, and of only creating market
value from resources that are scarce and create added value on top or along
these commons. Open business models are market strategies that are based on
the recognition of natural abundance and the refusal to generate income and
profits by making them artificially scarce.

Thou shall find more information on this here at


2. Thou shall practice open cooperativism

Many new more ethical and generative forms are being created, that have a
higher level of harmony with the contributory commons. The key here is to
choose post-corporate forms that are able to generate livelihoods for the
contributing commoners.

Open cooperatives in particular would be cooperatives that share the
following characteristics:


   they are mission-oriented and have a social goal that is related to the
   creation of shared resources

   they are multi-stakeholder governed, and include all those that are
   affected by or contributing to the particular activity

   they constitutionally, in their own rules, commit to co-create commons
   with the productive communities

I often add the fourth condition that they should be global in
organisational scope in order to create counter-power to extractive
multinational corporations.

Cooperatives are one of the potential forms that commons-friendly market
entitities could take. We see the emergence of more open forms such as
neo-tribes (think of the workings of the Ouishare community), or more
tightly organized neo-builds, such as Enspiral.org, Las Indias or the Ethos
Foundation. Yet more open is the network form chose by the Sensorica open
scientific hardware community, which wants to more tightly couple
contributions with generated income, by allowing all microtasked
contributions in the reward system, through open value or contributory
accounting (more below).

Thou shall find more information on this at

3. Though shall practice open value or contributory accounting

Peer production is based on distributed tasks, freely contributed by a open
community-driven collaborative infrastructure. The tradition of salaries
based on fixed job description may not be the most appropriate way to
reward those that contribute to such processes. Hence the emergence of open
value accounting or contributory accounting. As practiced already by
Sensorica, this means that any contributor may add contributions, log them
according to project number, and after peer evaluation is assigned 'karma
points'. When income is generated, it flows into these weighted
contributions, so that every contributor is fairly rewarded. Contributory
accounting, or other similar solutions, are important to avoid that only a
few contributors more closely related to the market, capture the value that
has been co-created by a much larger community. Open book accounting insure
that the (re)distribution of value is transparent for all contributors.

Thou shall find more information on this at

4. Thou shall insure fair distribution and benefit-sharing through Copyfair

The copyleft licenses allow anyone to re-use the necessary knowledge
commons on the condition that changes and improvements are added to that
same commons. This is a great advance, but should not be abstracted from
the need for fairness. When moving to physical production which involves
findng resources for buildings, raw materials and payments to contributors,
the unfettered commercial exploitation of such commons favours extractive
models. Thus the need to maintain the knowledge sharing, but to ask
reciprocity for the commercial exploitation of the commons, so that there
is a level playing field for the ethical economic entities that do
internalize social and environmental costs. This is achieved through
copyfair licenses which while allow full sharing of the knowledge, ask for
reciprocity in exchange for the right of commercialization.

Thou shall find more information on this at

5. Thou shall practice solidarity and mitigate the risks through Commonfare

As one of the strong results of financial and neoliberal globalization, the
power of nation-states has gradually weakened, and there is now a strong
and integrated effort to unwind the solidarity mechanisms that were
embedded in the welfare state models. As long as we do not have the power
to reverse this slide, it is imperative that we reconstruct solidarity
mechanisms of distributed scope, a practicde which we could call
'commonfare'. Examples such as the Broodfonds (NL), Friendsurance (Germany)
and the health sharing ministriesj (U.S.), or cooperative entities such
Coopaname in France, show us the new forms of distributed solidarity that
can be developed to deal with the risks of life and work.

Thou shall find more information on this at


6. Thou shall use open and sustainable designs for an open source circular

Open productive communities insure maximum particiation through modularity
and granularity. Because they operate in a context of shared and abundant
resources, the practice of planned obsolesence, which is not a bug but a
feature for profit-maximizing corporations, is alien to them. Ethical
enterpreneurial entities will therefore use these open and sustainable
designs and produce sustainable good and services.

Thou shall find more information on this at

7. Thou shall move beyond an exclusive reliance on imperfect market price
signals towards mutual coordination of production through open supply
chains and open book accounting

What decision-making is for planning, and pricing is for the market, mutual
coordination is for the commons!

We will never achieve a sustainable 'circular economy', in which the output
of one production processes is used as an input for another, with closed
value chains and which every cooperation has to be painfully negotiated in
the conditions of lack of transparency. But enterpreneurial coalitions who
are already co-dependent on a collaborative commons can create eco-systems
of collaboration through open supply chains, in which the production
processes become transparent, in through which every participant can adapt
his behaviour based on the knowledge available in the network. There is no
need for over-production when the production realities of the network
become common knowledge.

Thou shall find more information on this at

8. Thou shall practice cosmo-localization1 <#sdfootnote1sym>

“What is light is global, and what is heavy is local”: this is the new
principle animating commons-based peer production in which knowledge is
globally shared, but production can take place on demand and based on real
needs , through a network of distributed coworking and microfactories.
Certain studies have shown that up to two-thirds of matter and energy goes
not to production, but to transport, which is clearly unsustainable. A
return to relocalized production is a since qua non for the transition
towards sustainable production.

Thou shall find more information on this at

9. You shall mutualize physical infrastructures

Platform cooperatives, data cooperatives and fairshares forms of
distributed ownership can be used to co-own our infrastructures of

The misnamed sharing economy from AirBnB and Uber shows the potential of
matching idle resources. Co-working, skillsharing, ridesharing are examples
of the many ways in which we can re-use and share resources to dramatically
augment the thermo-dynamic efficiencies of our consumption.

In the right context of co-ownership and co-governance, a real sharing
economy can achieve dramatic advances in reduced resource use. Our means of
production, inclusive machines, can be mutualized and self-owned by all
those that create value.

Thou shall find more information on this at

10. You shall mutualize generative capital

Generative forms of capital cannot rely on a extractive money supply that
is based on compound interest that is due to extractive banks. We have to
abolish the 38% financial tax that is owed on all goods and services and
transform our monetary system, and substantively augment the use of mutual
credit systems.

Thou shall find more information on this at

1 <#sdfootnote1anc>The concept is from Jose Ramos,

Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at: http://commonstransition.org

P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens

#82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
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