[P2P-F] labour power as a common pool resource

Tom Walker lumpoflabor at gmail.com
Sun Jun 19 22:15:34 CEST 2016

Hi Tiberius,

I can see how you would get the impression that "the underlying assumption
is the struggle between labor and capital" because that is the underlying
assumption in a great deal of the discourse about labour in a society with
predominantly "capitalist" institutions.

That is not *my* underlying assumption, though. I view labour as a
signifier with an object whose boundaries are contingent and to some extent
arbitrary. I am concerned primarily with who gets to make the distinctions
between work and play (and ceremony, etc.) and between waged and unwaged
work and/or play and/or ceremony, etc. and how those distinctions are made,
enforced, accepted or resisted.

To do this analytical work and communicate it, I must engage with that
discourse whose underlying assumption is the struggle between labour and
capital. Otherwise, most readers of my critique would put it down before
they got past the preamble. The story of the struggle between labour and
capital is one of the recurrent stories we tell ourselves about ourselves
that make us who we are.

Another story is the work ethic (or "Protestant" work ethic) myth. In that
myth there is no struggle between labour and capital because property is
the *embodiment* of hard work. The struggle is between good and evil in the
forms, respectively, of diligence and sloth. Poverty, in the work ethic
myth, is the Lord's punishment for idleness, drunkenness and improvidence.

The struggle myth is a polemical response to the work ethic myth. There is,
of course, an element of truth in both myths. Otherwise no one would
believe either of them. But there is also a sense in which each myth's
persuasiveness is grounded in repudiation of the opposing myth. "X is true,
BECAUSE Y is false." And vice versa. There is also a good deal of cognitive
dissonance in which people embrace both myths simultaneously -- "they are
poor because they're lazy; I am not as rich as I should be because I've
been robbed by elites."

The polemic also subtly reinforces what counts as labour. Or what *accounts*
as labour. In conventional accounting, nature is valueless until it is
appropriated as natural resources. Similarly labour power is without value
until exchanged as labour for a wage (or other payment). Treating labour
power as a common pool resource requires moving beyond such a selective and
distorting accounting method.

On Sat, Jun 18, 2016 at 11:17 AM, Tiberius Brastaviceanu <
tiberius.brastaviceanu at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks Tom for sharing this article. I am going to read it with great
> interest. I copied Alexandre from Ouishare MTL, who has a passion for the
> future of labor.
> Here's my first gut reaction to this.
> The underlying assumption is the struggle between labor and capital. But
> if our economic system is reconfiguring this relationship is no longer the
> same.
> Peer production networks like www.sensorica.co can be seen as new ways of
> organizing labor, co-managing resources, redistribution of benefits, ...
> All the means of production belong to individuals, are co-owned or are
> under nondominium or commons property regimes, and they are shared
> according to some rules. I don't like to think of the network as an
> accumulation of labor, labor potential that serves capital, unless you are
> thinking about centralized crowdsourcing platforms that play the role of
> intermediary between the crowd and corporations. In the case of SENSORICA I
> see it as an aggregation of labor, skills, resources, for projects that are
> driven by the crowd, for the crowd.
> If you bet on platform capitalism and you think that these centralized
> crowdsourcing platforms will rule the world, the uberization of work, then
> labor, as subjected to corporations for production, distribution and
> rewards, then you might want to think of protective measures for labor, you
> may want to make it possible for labor to achieve a new equilibrium of
> forces.
> If you bet on peer production a la SENSORICA all this opposition
> disappears.
> There is a Facebook thread where I mention our observations of capital
> being more and more subjected to peer production rules, from our experience
> with servicing corporations.
> Some links
> Interfaces between open p2p networks and classical institutions
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ABmC6YJsszlIPoL-YXU3GF-PLHY0tmQdocBExswh7Lw/edit>
> On redistribution of resources
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/1F19rvACy80_0k3p32dI2NReuVkmozRvDJceaQCuf8y0/edit>
> On Sat, Jun 18, 2016 at 12:53 PM, Michel Bauwens <michel at p2pfoundation.net
> > wrote:
>> thanks Tom,
>> Michel
>> On Sat, Jun 18, 2016 at 11:36 PM, Tom Walker <lumpoflabor at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> Yes, Michel. Briefly, a few years ago I wrote a piece called "Time on
>>> the Ledger" that sketches the rudiments of a social accounting framework
>>> that could be used by a labour commons unionism. It's posted on Scribd:
>>> https://www.scribd.com/doc/44657733/Time-on-the-Ledger-Social-Accounting-for-the-Good-Society
>>> On Fri, Jun 17, 2016 at 4:41 PM, Michel Bauwens <
>>> michel at p2pfoundation.net> wrote:
>>>> Could you be very specific about this Tom,
>>>> I work with post-corporate entrepreneurial coalitions and labour
>>>> mutuals , and it would be of interest to me if you could explain the
>>>> practicalities of how this would work ?
>>>> have you looked into contributive accounting systems like Sensorica's
>>>> how does that relate to your ideas,
>>>> for example:
>>>> http://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Interfacing_Open_Peer_Production_Organizations_with_Classical_Institutions
>>>> --
>>>> CheckFrom: Tom Walker <lumpoflabor at gmail.com>
>>>> Subject: Re: [P2P-F] Fwd: [NetworkedLabour] Fwd: [Debate-List] (Fwd)
>>>>         Radical leisure, less work, more commoning (Eva Swidler)
>>>> To: P2P Foundation mailing list <p2p-foundation at lists.ourproject.org>
>>>> Message-ID:
>>>>         <
>>>> CANz+BQxMmvc9SEh1Rf52GHqiJirV_6RCOUzYA_KYJGM+RpD8rQ at mail.gmail.com>
>>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>>> I hope this article sparks the conversation that needs to take place. It
>>>> certainly raises the issues that need to be addressed.
>>>> In my view, the next step in thinking about labour, leisure and the
>>>> commons
>>>> is to conceptualize labour power as a common pool resource. Unions have
>>>> traditionally bargained for collective terms for individualized work
>>>> contracts, which reinforces the selling time for money paradigm. "A fair
>>>> day's work for a fair day's wage." Treating labour power as a common
>>>> pool
>>>> resource, however, would require the development of an entirely
>>>> different,
>>>> social accounting framework in which collective interests of security
>>>> and
>>>> community -- commonalty, to use the Luddites' term -- are prioritized.
>>>> I've
>>>> written a few things on labour power as a common pool resource and Paul
>>>> Burkett discussed the concept in Marx and Nature.
>>>> P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  -
>>>> http://blog.p2pfoundation.net
>>>> <http://lists.ourproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/p2p-foundation>Updates:
>>>> http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens
>>>> #82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
>>> --
>>> Cheers,
>>> Tom Walker (Sandwichman)
>> --
>> Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at:
>> http://commonstransition.org
>> P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net
>> <http://lists.ourproject.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/p2p-foundation>Updates:
>> http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens
>> #82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
> --
> t!b! <http://www.google.com/profiles/tiberius.brastaviceanu>
> co-founder of SENSORICA <http://www.sensorica.co>: an open value network
> (or open enterprise)
> co-founder of CAKE <http://aces-cake.org/>: consulting for the new economy
> founder of Multitude Project <http://multitudeproject.blogspot.ca/>:
> informing the new multitude
> Google Profile <https://plus.google.com/117593809719446924575/about>
> Facebook Tiberius Brastaviceanu
> <http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000279944184>
> Twitter  @TiberiusB <http://twitter.com/TiberiusB>


Tom Walker (Sandwichman)
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