[P2P-F] Fwd: Reflections on Week 1: Towards the Next System: Transition to Cooperative Commonwealth

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Sun Apr 9 08:02:38 CEST 2017

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 1:02 PM
Subject: Re: Reflections on Week 1: Towards the Next System: Transition to
Cooperative Commonwealth
To: reply+ac18a366eaa86e1e7a06a2821903d91768f58d01-11~
23394781 at notifications.canvaslms.com, John Restakis <restakis1 at gmail.com>,
Michael Lewis <Lewiscccr at shaw.ca>

I am not actively participating in this course nor debate for the moment,

but I think something is missing here.

What is missing is that Polany was discussing how the people and political
forces (in the nation-states) were forcing states to re-embed market forces
through national politics (even as it may have occured across different

But the balance of forces has profoundly shifted, meaning that if
capitalism is understood as Capital-nation-state (as Kojin Karatani
suggests in The Structure of World History), then capital has clearly moved
at a much strong transnational level of action and power, but nation-states
have not. This makes the nation-state revolts inoperable, as can be seen by
recent experiences of left governments (Syriza comes to mind). This  that
both right-wing populist attempts to nationalist and exclusionary
protectionism and mercantilism) but also left-wing progressive patriotism,
cannot work to instantiate the double movement at the nation-state level.
What is needed instead is moving to transnational hegemony of
counter-power. Several avenues are open to thus supplement any nation-state
policy with such trans-nationalization: 1) global civic power, as
exemplified in the emergence of global open design communities 2) global
economic counter-power, as exemplified with the emergence of 'phyles',
business coalitions around these communities 3) global state power,
transnational coalitions of progressive cities

This means that the best thing progressive national governments could do is
not to confront capital locally, but to focus on the creation and expansion
of such institutions of counterpower, at everly level of trans-locality.

Michel Bauwens

On Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 6:00 AM, Canvas Network <
notifications at instructure.com> wrote:

> A key focus of the readings and discussions in Week 1 was Polanyi's
> concept of the Double Movement. So let me start by sharing some comments on
> the Double Movement, wherein social forces react to, and defend against,
> the undermining of social values and bonds by the instrumentalist forces of
> capital. (Indeed, I would describe this Synergia MOOC as one aspect of this
> social aspect of the Double Movement).
> A key difference between the situation today and Polanyi’s timeframe is
> that now the Double Movement is global – precisely because capitalism is
> now global. This is perhaps a key point of evolution and shift beyond the
> early forces of capital incursion/social reaction & self-defence that
> Polanyi described in The Great Transformation. Globalization and the
> internationalization of capitalist forms are not new --- they have been
> going on for three hundred years. What is new is the crystallization of
> this mode of industrial and social production into a nexus that now
> threatens to exclude all other possibilities. And this is what many of the
> comments among the participants who have posted their views reflects.
> In reading again through people’s postings a number of themes seem to
> resurface as primary preoccupations for many that have signed on to this
> course. Here are some of my reflections on these and the Double Movement in
> general.
>    1. A number of people have commented on the binary nature of the
>    Double Movement and also cited critiques of this approach as being too
>    simplistic and given to reifying or abstracting the notion of society as a
>    single and coherent agent in this process.
>    This critique has some substance to it, if we approach Polanyi’s
>    account merely on its face. My sense is that indeed, Polanyi tried to
>    capture the diversity of forms and dynamics that constitute resistance to
>    the capitalist process of instrumentalizing all aspects of society and
>    nature into raw materials for market ends.
>    A deeper reading into Polanyi’s analysis, as for example provided by
>    the excellent paper shared by Arzeena (Polanyi’s Double Movement and the
>    Reconstruction of Critical Theory – Fred Block), indicates how the Double
>    Movement takes account of the complexity of forces and interests that
>    together react to capitalist processes – sometimes in tandem, sometimes in
>    competition with each other. This too, is part of the dilemma concerning
>    the role of the state as an entity that simultaneously tries to steer a
>    course between the pressures of public interest, political survival, and
>    the continuity of state institutional power. And it is precisely these
>    divisions and contradictions that make political action and public pressure
>    possible in a nominally democratic society.
>      Indeed, these are the dynamics that are constantly negotiated and
> exploited by political  actors and agents for social change – whether on
> the left… or the right. The question then becomes how do we negotiate
> system change that unites civil forces along the values we wish to espouse
> (environmental sustainability, human and civil rights, gender equity,
> democracy… etc. etc.). In the end, the social element of the Double
> Movement doesn’t guarantee a given outcome… this ultimately is a question
> of politics and the             interaction between different political,
> social, cultural, and economic interests *within* society.
>    1. I was struck by Rob Macintosh’s comment concerning the importance
>    of examining system change as something continuous or congruent with the
>    existing system. This also connects with the oft repeated concern by
>    participants on the real prospect for change given the overwhelming
>    presence and influence of laissez faire ideas and practices. Indeed,
>    unravelling and understanding prospects for change has been one of the
>    primary motivations for people taking part in this course.
>      I often detect a note of deep frustration – if not despair –
> concerning this question. My response to this is that it is precisely in
> those times when new ideas and models are most needed that they are least
> supported by mainstream forces. We are in such a time now. Austerity
> ideology has taken hold of public policy everywhere and it seems as if
> alternatives are systematically discounted and discredited.
>      In my view this is a sign of deep anxiety and self-doubt within the
> status quo itself. Evidence of mass rejection of this ideology is growing
> everywhere, from the rise of the anti-globalization movements of the 80s to
> the deep polarization in national politics today, where rejection of the
> status quo is a central element in the path to political power – witness
> the rise of Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK, and the turmoil and
> polarization of national politics in Europe.
>      The question then, is not whether alternatives are wanted, or needed,
> but how they are framed and what they mean. This has to do with a coherent
> and truly transformative vision for change and that is what ultimately this
> course, and our collective work, is about. The point is, the examples for
> new directions are there, the political and economic analysis is there, the
> desire for substantive change is there.
>      I see our task as making what is hidden and repressed visible and
> clear in the light of public action, public debate, and political
> mobilization.
>    1. Some people have voiced the sense that somehow we need to
>    disassociate ourselves from capitalist forms to effect the kind of change
>    we seek. I understand this sentiment, but approach the issue differently.
>    Aside from the sheer difficulty and impracticality of withdrawing from
>    capitalist society as a broad social strategy, I would rather reclaim the
>    forces of economics and the market as serving of the common good. That, to
>    me, is the essence of transformative change *within* the contours of
>    the capitalist set up. Let is not forget, co-operatives, collective
>    ownership, renewable and sustainable systems, all these are active and
>    operating now, *within* the current set up.
>    We cannot allow the capitalist discourse to claim a legitimacy and
>    hegemony on economics that it does not deserve. We have at hand
>    alternatives and practices that are demonstrably superior for both people
>    and planet. Exploring what these are, how they work, and how they can be
>    applied and multiplied, is a prime objective of this course.

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