Will Capitalism Survive »Value Abundance«?

Michel Bauwens, founder of the P2P-Foundation, wrote a great article on Al Jazeera website on the expansion of sharing economy and peer production — and the problems for capitalism it causes.

The headline taken from Bauwens article is somewhat vague, because it is not clear what type of value is meant there. In the text he distinguishes between use value and exchange or monetary value. He explains, that the more use value is produced by way of open source and peer production, the more exchange value has been removed from the market:

Thus, the open-source economy destroys more proprietary software value than it replaces. Even as it creates an explosion of use value, its monetary value decreases.

This process does not only happen in the realm of immaterial goods, but also with physical products. Examples mentioned are Wikispeed, Local Motors, Arduino and Open Source Ecology. Additionally different approaches of a sharing economy like collaborative comsumption (shared use of tools etc.) will lead to a lesser sales of the respective commodities. Bauwens:

Such developments are good for the planet and good for humanity, but the larger question is: are they good for capitalism?

The answer is: no, it accelerates the crisis of capitalism. His preliminary conclusion:

The solution involves an adaptation of capitalism to peer production, but also opens up the avenues for a transcendence of capitalism.

A follow-up article is announced.

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