Michel Bauwens on Peer to Peer Politics

Michel BauwensOekonux and P2P-Foundation are preparing a common conference in March 2009 in Manchester, UK. The founder of P2P-Foundation, Michel Bauwens, was born in Belgium and is now living in Thailand. He is a busy traveller and promoter of the concept of a »P2P political economy«. The italian researcher Cosma Orsi made an extensive interview with Michel, where he adopted some parts from Peerconomy and germ form theory.

Here are some interesting snippets.

»In short, we now have commons-based peer production as a third mode of production, self-organization of such peer projects as a third mode of peer governance, and peer property as new mode of protecting that common from private appropriation.«

»The key then becomes designing production as a series of granular projects that can be self-selected for equipotential matching between the task and the self-assessing individual, which is only a posteriori validated by the community of peers. In other words, the motto is: “Let hundred flowers bloom, and only select the best bouquet afterwards!!”«

»I see humanity evolving from a civilization based on exchange, to one based on ‘contributions’.«

»Peer property is common property, not private nor public property. Private property is exclusionary, simply put: what is mine, is not yours. Public property is both of all of us, but also crucially from none of us. (…) But common property takes a novel position, it is both from you and me, and we cannot exclude each other from using it. So peer property stands for the universal availability of what has been commonly constructed.«

»Now, an important point is this: non-reciprocal peer production only works for non-rival goods that can be shared without loss; in the material world of scarcity and rival goods, we do need either exchange-based or reciprocity based mechanisms. Non-reciprocal open design communities need to be coupled with market-based built only capitalism, or other forms of allocation.« — True?

»So the image of change is the following: peer to peer develops as a germ form in the margins of the market, and is increasingly adopted, until it eventually achieves some kind of parity. At some point in time the old meta-system enters into crisis, and the already existing new subsystem becomes the new meta-system.«

»I belong to the strand who sees peer production as both immanent in the system, while it retains its transcendent, liberatory potential. One is the condition for the other. The Oekonux (Linux Economy) group is similar in its approach. (…) It is not a anticapitalist strain within the industrial system, but already a postcapitalist, postmonetary logic, a new productive life practice that has the potential to replace the current system.«

»The key issue will then become: how do we combine the non-reciprocal peer to peer logic of immaterial production, with the need for reciprocity in the physical production of scarce material goods. When we have the answer to that question, we will have the maturity to shift to a full peer to peer based political economy and civilization. There are already a number of thinkers, such as Christian Siefkes in his book on the Peer Economy, thoroughly thinking about how a shift from a economy of exchange to an economy of contributions, could occur.«

Read the complete interview here.

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