[P2P-F] New article from Michel Bauwens

Eric Hunting erichunting at gmail.com
Fri Jun 17 16:34:42 CEST 2016

When I was a child I was particularly fascinated with books like Stuart 
Little, The Borrowers, classic fairy tales, The Secret of NIMH, The 
Rescuers, and the like. Stories of little creatures that had created 
secret, hidden, civilizations within the overlooked and forgotten 
interstitial spaces of our built habitat, repurposing the detritus of 
our own civilization. In cartoons mice are always repurposing our 
misplaced stuff into some model of casual suburban living on their 
scale. Thimbles become sinks and ottomans. Thread spools become various 
kinds of furniture. Xmas lights become track lighting. Vast communities 
carrying on their daily routine unseen in the spaces behind walls, under 
floors, in the forgotten sealed-up space created as we built up our own 
infrastructures. Often they would have their own independent 
infrastructures. They would create miniature railways from toys, use 
pigeons as an airline, scavenge wiring and electronics parts from our 
cast-off consumer junk and create their own telegraph, telephone, and 
radio networks, all operating independently and in parallel to our own.

Then, as I got older, I moved on to SciFi but found similar themes. 
There was Arthur C. Clarke's Rama; a vast, ancient, alien spacecraft 
housing a rotating space colony. Its creators, purpose, and destination 
unknown, its complex enigmatic systems and robots running on their own, 
Rama became the host of multiple species who simply boarded and setup 
shop within its vast space when it passed through their solar systems. 
They could live well by simply not drawing the attention of the Raman 
systems, exploiting the spaces the robots seemed to ignore, learning and 
exploiting their routine patterns of activity and behavior. Then there 
was Larry Niven's Ringworld. Another vast alien construction whose 
creator's original civilization collapsed, leaving it running on its own 
automated systems as they reverted to more primitive, fractured, 
societies and came to think of the ring as some natural or divine 

As I began to study Post-Industrial futurism I encountered Ken Isaacs' 
and the Urban Nomads of the late '60s and '70s. This brief movement was 
based on the expectation of a new youth movement emerging amidst the 
slow collapse of the Industrial Age to repurpose the urban and 
industrial detritus to facilitate a mobile lifestyle. It's from this we 
got the 'upcycling' craze, Lofting, Cargotecture, and the High-Tech 
design movement based on the repurposing of industrial goods, hardware, 
and cast-offs in a domestic context. Back in that middle third of the 
century futurists seemed quite convinced of an imminent and dramatic 
collapse of corporate capitalism, its economics, and institutions as 
suggested by the civil unrest erupting at the time, though this 
prediction would prove premature. The dinosaurs had a few last tricks up 
their sleeves and the oft-predicted era of Total Automation was still a 
ways off. Later, I encountered Alex Steffan's and Cory Doctorow's notion 
of Outquisition. They imagined a near future where the growth of 
intentional communities in the late 20th century had come to shelter, 
like cloisters, a counter-cultural civilization in the midst of the 
mainstream culture and that this had become quite self-sufficient in its 
cultivation of sustainable technologies ignored or suppressed by the 
dominant culture. And as that dominant culture began to incrementally 
fail from its inherent unsustainability, abandoning one community after 
another to states of crisis, evangelistic missionaries, of a sort, would 
emerge from these cloistered communities to intervene, introducing the 
locals to the suppressed technologies that could rescue them.

And so I've come to regard the emergent Post-Industrial culture as a 
kind of insurgent civilization emerging amidst the declining Industrial 
Age, filling the gaps in its progressively crumbling edifice with new 
systems and structures of its own, recycling and repurposing its 
detritus. New life emerging in the decaying hulk of a fallen tree. The 
objective of the Industrial Age was the creation of a kind of Santa 
Claus machine intended to provide all our needs in its particular 
fashion. The market. But it has become akin to some AI master computer 
that has succumbed to dementia as its circuitry has corroded and been 
repeatedly hacked. It has become pathological in behavior. A jealous god 
that seeks our total dependence upon it, eliminating alternatives to 
itself by the systematic division and enclosure of the commons, 
oblivious to its failing, unsustainable, self-destructive, logic. But 
there is, in fact a lot that it has overlooked or discarded because it 
didn't suit its limited paradigms and models. A lot of blind spots. A 
lot of interstitial spaces. A lot of 'sodai gomi'. And as it fails in 
expanding ways in its progressing decrepitude it produces even more to 
exploit. And it's in that where we might find the initial resources for 
the creation of a new commons and infrastructures deriving from it.

So I see the task of contemporary Commons development as the cultivation 
and engineering of an alternative, parallel, infrastructure building on 
these overlooked resources. Adaptive reuse as a way of life. We are like 
settlers in the ruins of a prior, alien, civilization whose sometimes 
still dangerous machinery carries on blindly, stupidly, pursuing 
programmed imperatives that no longer make sense or matter to us. We 
lack the power at present to tear it all down and rebuild. Historically, 
that approach is a bit rare anyway. But we can still exploit it. Settle 
in its forgotten spaces. Exploit its behaviors. Repurpose its 
structures. Scavenge its failing hardware. Defuse its hazards. Build on 
its decay and thus transform it into something new. Now that the 
frontiers are all gone here on Earth, now that the old machine has 
encircled everything, adaptive reuse is all we can do.

> Subject:
> [P2P-F] New article from Michel Bauwens
> From:
> Orsan <orsan1234 at gmail.com>
> Date:
> 6/13/16, 10:01 AM

Eric Hunting
erichunting at gmail.com

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.ourproject.org/pipermail/p2p-foundation/attachments/20160617/6618b673/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the P2P-Foundation mailing list