Michel Bauwens — Other Non-Capitalist Techno-Utopianisms

Download a PDF copy of Kevin Carson’s full C4SS Study: Center for a Stateless Society Paper No. 20 (Spring 2016)

Techno-Utopianism, Counterfeit and Real (With Special Regard to Paul Mason’sPost-Capitalism)

I. Capitalist Techno-Utopianism from Daniel Bell On
II. Categories of Leftist Techno-Utopianism
III. Other Non-Capitalist Techno-Utopianisms

John Holloway
Michel Bauwens

IV. Analysis: Comparison of the Two Strands of Techno-Utopianism

Areas of commonality

V. Paul Mason
VI. Left-Wing Critiques of Mason

Stephanie McMillan
Kate Aronoff


Left-wing theories of systemic transition to a high-tech post-capitalist economy are hardly limited to Marxism. One of the most useful non-Marxist schools is the post-capitalist model of commons-based peer production, which inclues that of Michel Bauwens of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives.

Late capitalism, Bauwens writes (with Franco Iacomella), is beset by two main structural irrationalities: artificial abundance and artificial scarcity.

1. The current political economy is based on a false idea of material abundance. We call it pseudo-abundance. It is based on a commitment to permanent growth, the infinite accumulation of capital and debt-driven dynamics through compound interest. This is unsustainable, of course, because infinite growth is logically and physically impossible in any physically constrained, finite system.

2. The current political economy is based on a false idea of “immaterial scarcity.” It believes that an exaggerated set of intellectual property monopolies — for copyrights, trademarks and patents — should restrain the sharing of scientific, social and economic innovations. Hence the system discourages human cooperation, excludes many people from benefiting from innovation and slows the collective learning of humanity. In an age of grave global challenges, the political economy keeps many practical alternatives sequestered behind private firewalls or unfunded if they cannot generate adequate profits. [67]

These structural contradictions have always made for reduced efficiency and irrationality. But in recent decades they have resulted in increasingly chronic crisis tendencies, which amount to a terminal crisis of capitalism as a system. Both artificial   abundance and artificial scarcity have been integral to capitalism since its beginnings five centuries or so ago, and absolutely essential for the extraction of profit. But capitalism is becoming increasingly dependent on both artificial abundance and artificial scarcity for its survival at the very same time that the state’s ability to provide them is reaching its limits and going into decline. Hence a crisis of sustainability.

Capitalism has pursued a model of growth based on the extensive addition of artificially cheap inputs. This has been possible either because the colonial conquest of the world outside Europe has given the extractive industries privileged access to mineral deposits, fossil fuels and other natural resources, or because capitalist states have subsidized important material inputs to the corporate economy like transportation infrastructure and the reproduction of trained labor-power, at the expense of the general population.

Western states have engaged in constant wars, not only directly intervening with military force and maintaining military and naval forces all over the world, but backing death squads and terrorist dictators like Suharto, Mobutu and Pinochet, to guarantee continued global corporate control of local land and natural resources. The main role of the US Navy is to keep the major sea lanes open at general taxpayer expense to subsidize the transportation of oil and other looted natural resources from the Global South, and to provide secure shipping lanes for container ships hauling offshored production back to the shelves of Walmart.

The problem is that when a particular factor input is subsidized and artificially cheap, a business will consume increasing amounts of it as it substitutes it for other factors. And at the same time, capitalism has been beset by a long-term tendency, since the depressions of the late 19th century, towards crises of overinvestment and excess capacity, demand shortfalls and declining organic rates of profit.

This means that an ever growing amount of state subsidies, and ever larger inputs of subsidized material inputs, are necessary just to keep the corporate economy running artificially in the black. In the words of James O’Connor, in Fiscal Crisis of the State, the state must subsidize a perpetually increasing share of the operating costs of capital to keep the economy out of depression.

The result is two forms of input crisis. First (in the words of O’Connor’s title) the “fiscal crisis of the state,” as the state must run increasingly large deficits, and incur increasingly large debt, in order to meet the constantly increasing demands for subsidized education, transportation infrastructure, and foreign imperial wars. Of course the growing deficits are necessary in their own right, in order to stimulate aggregate demand and counter the chronic crisis of excess capacity. And the growing debt, which is sold to the rentier classes, soaks up trillions in surplus investment capital that would otherwise lack a profitable outlet.

Capitalism — like every other class society in history — has likewise depended since the beginning on artificial scarcities. Such scarcities include all forms of artificial property rights that erect barriers between labor and natural productive opportunities, so that producers can be forced to work harder than necessary in order support privileged classes in addition to themselves. Capitalism inherited the artificial property rights in land of earlier systems of exploitation, by which vacant and unimproved land is engrossed and held out of use on a continuing basis, such engrossed land is made available to cultivators only on condition of paying tribute to the engrosser, or a landed oligarchy is superimposed on existing cultivators. Other forms of artificial scarcity are regulatory entry barriers that impose unnecessary capital outlays for undertaking production or limit the number of producers, regulations that impose artificial floors under the cost of subsistence, restraints on competition between producers that facilitate administered pricing, and restraints on competition in the issuance of credit and currency that enable those engaged in that function to charge usurious prices for it. Perhaps the most important form of artificial scarcity today is so-called “intellectual property,” which is a legal monopoly on the right to perform certain tasks or use certain knowledge, rather than engrossment of the means of production themselves.

Artificial scarcity, like artificial abundance, is becoming increasingly unsustainable. Copyright is rapidly becoming unenforceable, as the proprietary content industries are learning to their dismay. And the implosion of necessary capital outlays for manufacturing and of the feasible scale for micro-manufacturing, coupled with the ease of sharing digital CAD/CAM files, is raising the transaction costs of enforcing industrial patents to unsustainable levels. Intensive growing techniques like Permaculture are far more efficient in terms of output per acre than factory-farming, thus reducing the necessity and value of engrossed land for people to feed themselves. And the explosion vernacular building technologies, coupled with the fiscal exhaustion of states that enforce zoning regulations and building codes and the like, means that the imposition of artificial costs of comfortable subsistence is likewise becoming unsustainable.

Meanwhile, as capitalism reaches these terminal crises, it is generating its successor — its gravedigger classes — from within its own interstices. Like the classical slave economy and feudalism, capitalist political economy is reaching crises of extensive inputs and will be supplanted by a successor system that is able to pursue intensive use of inputs in ways its predecessor couldn’t. And the phase transition includes an “Exodus” very much like that envisioned by Negri and Hardt.

The first transition: Rome to feudalism

At some point in its evolution (3rd century onwards?), the Roman empire ceases to expand (the cost of of maintaining empire and expansion exceeds its benefits). No conquests means a drying up of the most important raw material of a slave economy, i.e. the slaves, which therefore become more ‘expensive’. At the same time, the tax base dries up, making it more and more difficult to maintain both internal coercion and external defenses. It is in this context that Perry Anderson mentions for example that when Germanic tribes were about to lay siege to a Roman city, they would offer to free the slaves, leading to an exodus of the city population. This exodus and the set of difficulties just described, set of a reorientation of some slave owners, who shift to the system of coloni, i.e. serfs. I.e. slaves are partially freed, can have families, can produce from themselves and have villages, giving the surplus to the new domain holders.

Hence, the phase transition goes something like this: 1) systemic crisis ; 2) exodus 3) mutual reconfiguration of the classes.

This whole process would of course take five centuries. In the First European Revolution, … the feudal system would only consolidate around 975, the date of the political revolution confirming the previous phase transition, and setting up a consolidated growth phase for the new system (doubling of the population between 10 and 13th century). [68]

…[T]he failure of extensive development is what brought down earlier civilizations and modes of production. For example, slavery was not only marked by low productivity, but could not extend this productivity as that would require making the slaves more autonomous, so slave-based empires had to grow in space, but at a certain point in that growth, the cost of expansion exceeded the benefits. This is why feudalism finally emerged, a system which refocused on the local, and allowed productivity growth as serfs had a self-interest in growing and ameliorating the tools of production.

The alternative to extensive development is intensive development, as happened in the transition from slavery to feudalism. But notice that to do this, the system had to change, the core logic was no longer the same. [69]

The second transition: feudalism to capitalism

Something very similar starts occurring as of the 16th century. The feudal system enters in crisis, and serfs start fleeing the countryside, installing themselves in the cities, where they are rejected by the feudal guild system, but embraced by a new type of proto-capitalist entrepreneurs. In other words, a section of the feudal class (as well as some upstarts from the lower classes) re-orient themselves by investing in the new mode of production (and those that don’t gradually impoverish themselves), while serfs become workers.

In short, we have the same scheme:
1) Systemic crisis
2) Exodus
3) Mutual reconfiguration of classes
4) After a long period of re-orientation and phase transitions: the political revolutions that configure the new capitalist system as dominant

Again, the process of reconfiguration takes several centuries, and the political revolutions come at the end of it.

Hypothesis of a third transition: capitalism to peer to peer

Again, we have a system faced with a crisis of extensive globalization, where nature itself has become the ultimate limit. It’s way out, cognitive capitalism, shows itself to be a mirage.

What we have then is an exodus, which takes multiple forms: precarity and flight from the salaried conditions; disenchantement with the salaried condition and turn towards passionate production. The formation of communities and commons are shared knowledge, code and design which show themselves to be a superior mode of social and economic organization.

The exodus into peer production creates a mutual reconfiguration of the classes. A section of capital becomes netarchical and ‘empowers and enables peer production’, while attempting to extract value from it, but thereby also building the new infrastructures of cooperation.

This process will take time but there is one crucial difference: the biosphere will not allow centuries of transition. So the maturation of the new configuration will have to consolidate faster and the political revolutions come earlier. [70]

“Cognitive capitalism” is increasingly dependent on p2p productive relations and communications infrastructures, and is attempting to incorporate them into its old corporate framework as a way of injecting life into the dying system. But it is a force that cannot be contained within the institutional framework of the old society, and can only come into its full development as the basis for a successor society.

Companies have used these technologies to integrate their processes with those of partners, suppliers, consumers, and each other, using a combination of intranets, extranets, and the public internet, and it has become the absolutely essential tool for international communication and business, and to enable the cooperative, internationally coordinated projects carried out by teams. As we will see in our full review on the emergence of P2P practices across the social field, an emphasis on business and economic processes would be very one-sided. Politics, culture, and science are equally changed by distributed practices enabled by the new technological infrastructure. Examples are the grown of massive multi-authorship in different scientific fields, with hundreds of people involved in research projects, and the distributed use of scientific instruments, such as arrays of small radio telescopes. [71]

So the general conclusion of all the above has to be the essentially cooperative nature of production, the fact that companies are drawing on this vast reservoir of a ‘commons of general intellectuality’, without which they could not function. That innovation is diffused throughout the social body. [72]

…Just as post- or late feudal society and its absolutist kings needed the bourgeoisie, late capitalist society cannot survive without knowledge workers and their P2P practices. It can be argued that the adoption of P2P processes is in fact essential for competitiveness: a strong foundation of P2P technologies, the use of free or open source software, processes for collective intelligence building, free and fluid cooperation, are now all necessary facets of the contemporary corporation. [73]

On the other hand, P2P systems are not just the outcome of plans of the establishment, but are the result of the active intervention of consumers avid for free access to culture, of knowledge workers actively working to find technical solutions for their needed cooperative work, and of activists consciously working for the creation of tools for an emerging participative culture. P2P is both ‘within’ and ‘beyond’ the current system. [74]

Some of the more “progressive” elites see “cognitive capitalism” as a way out of the crisis, but it simply isn’t a viable alternative. Although cognitive capitalism needs P2P, “it cannot cope with it very well, and often P2P is seen as a threat…. [W]hile being part and parcel of the capitalist and postmodern logics, it also already points beyond it….” [75]

And in addition, as we saw above, the artificial scarcities on which rent extraction depends are becoming largely unenforceable in the information realm.

The dream of our current economy is therefore one of intensive development, to grow in the immaterial field, and this is basically what the experience economy means. The hope that it expresses is that business can simply continue to grow in the immaterial field of experience.

But is that really so? I have a set of arguments and observations that argue against that hope. First of all, in the field of the immaterial, we are no longer dealing with scarce goods, but with marginal reproduction costs and non-rival goods. With such goods, sharing does not diminish the enjoyment of the good, since all parties retain their ability to use them. The emergence of peer production shows a new form of creating value, that is in fundamental aspects †̃outside the market †TM. Typically, in commons-based production we have a common pool, accessible to everyone (Linux, Wikipedia), around which an ecology of business can form to create and sell scarcities (usually services and experiences). In sharing-oriented production (YouTube, Google documents), we have proprietary platforms that enable and empower the sharing, but at the same time, sell the aggregated attention (a scarcity), to the advertising market. Finally, in the third crowdsourcing mode, companies try to integrate participation in their own value chain and framework.

So the good news is that indeed business is possible. But I would like the readers to entertain the following proposition, nl. That:

1) The creation of non-monetary value is exponential
2) The monetization of such value is linear

In other words, we have a growing discrepancy between the direct creation of use value through social relationships and collective intelligence (open platforms create near infinite value through the operations of the laws of Metcalfe and Reed), but only a fraction of that value can actually be captured by business and money. Innovation is becoming social and diffuse, an emergent property of the networks rather than an internal R & D affair within corporations; capital is becoming an a posteriori intervention in the realization of innovation, rather than a condition for its occurrence; more and more positive externalizations are created from the social field.

What this announces is a crisis of value, most such value is beyond measure, but also essentially a crisis of accumulation of capital. Furthermore, we lack a mechanism for the existing institutional world to re-fund what it receives from the social world. So on top of all of that, we have a crisis of social reproduction: peer production is collective sustainable, but not individually. For all of this, we will need new policies, major reforms and restructurations in our economy and society.

But one thing is sure: we will have markets, but the core logic of the emerging experience economy, operating as it does in the world of non-rival exchange, is unlikely to have capitalism as its core logic.

It can no longer grow extensively, but it cannot replace it by intensive growth. The history of slave empires and their transition to feudal structures is about to repeat itself, but in a different form. [76]

The successor society centered on peer production will not have capitalism’s core logic (material abundance, immaterial scarcity) at all. It will be steady-state and sustainable, with true cost pricing, in its use of physical resources, and it will permit the free replication, sharing and use of information without limit. [77]

Much as when “Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society,” Bauwens sees commons-based peer production as the core logic of the post-capitalist successor society. [78]

A new class of knowledge workers, in its broad sense already the majority of the working population in the West, and poised to be in the same situation elsewhere in a few decades, are creating new practices and tools that enable them to do what they need to do, i.e. knowledge exchange. As they create these new tools, bringing into being a new format of social exchange, they enable new types of subjectivation, which in turn not only changes themselves, but the world around them. When Marx wrote his Manifesto, there were only 100,000 industrial workers, yet he saw that this new social model was the essence of the new society being born. Similarly, even if today only a few million knowledge workers consciously practice P2P, one can see the birth of a new model of a much larger social consequence. This new model is inherently more productive in creating the new immaterial use value, just as the merchants and capitalists were more effective in the material economy. [79]

As the hegemonic organizational form of the new society, peer-to-peer is characterized by processes that

  • produce use-value through the free cooperation of producers who have access to distributed capital: this is the P2P production mode, a ‘third mode of production’ different from for-profit or public production by state-owned enterprises. Its product is not exchange value for a market, but use-value for a community of users.
  • are governed by the community of producers themselves, and not by market allocation or corporate hierarchy: this is the P2P governance mode, or ‘third mode of governance.’
  • make use-value freely accessible on a universal basis, through new common property regimes. This is its distribution or ‘peer property mode’: a ‘third mode of ownership,’ different from private property or public (state) property. [80]

With P2P, people voluntarily and cooperatively construct a commons according to the communist principle: “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” The use-value created by P2P projects is generated through free cooperation, without coercion toward the producers, and users have free access to the resulting use value. The legal infrastructure [of open licenses] creates an ‘Information Commons.’ The new Commons is related to the older form of the commons (most notably the communal lands of the peasantry in the Middle Ages and of the original mutualities of the workers in the industrial age), but it also differs mostly through its largely immaterial characteristics. The older Commons were localized, used, and sometimes regulated by specific communities; the new Commons are universally available and regulated by global cyber-collectives, usually affinity groups. While the new Commons is centered around non-rival goods (that is, in a context of abundance) the older forms of physical Commons (air, water, etc.) increasingly function in the context of scarcity, thus becoming more regulated. [81]

  • peer production effectively enables the free cooperation of producers, who have access to their own means of production, and the resulting use-value of the projects supercedes for-profit alternatives…
  • peer governance transcends both the authority of the market and the state
  • the new forms of universal common property, transcend the limitations of both private and public property models and are reconstituting a dynamic field of the Commons. [82]

Although commons-based peer production first appeared in the immaterial sphere, new technological possibilities for the widespread ownership of cheap, small-scale material production tools and distributed aggregation of capital have laid the groundwork for the same mode of production to spread rapidly into the physical realm as well.

  • P2P can arise not only in the immaterial sphere of intellectual and software production, but wherever there is access to distributed technology: spare computing cycles, distributed telecommunications and any kind of viral communicator meshwork.
  • P2P can arise wherever other forms of distributed fixed capital are available: such is the case for carpooling, which is the second most used mode of transportation in the U.S.
  • P2P can arise wherever the process of design may be separated from the process of physical production. Huge capital outlines for production can co-exist with a reliance on P2P processes for design and conception.
  • P2P can arise wherever financial capital can be distributed….
  • P2P could be expanded and sustained through the introduction of universal basic income. [83]

(As an anarchist who sees universal basic income as a positive step compared to the capitalist welfare state but also sees it as at least potentially problematic as an end-state institution, I would note that the same function is likely to be served by other, more decentralized voluntary institutions for pooling costs, risks and income through micro-villages, multi-family cohousing units and the like.)

The state and market will continue to exist, but will take on a fundamentally different character, defined by its relation to the larger society — with the commons as its hegemonic institution — into which it is embedded.

The peer-to-peer vision relies upon the three major sectors of society — the state, market and civil society — but with different roles and in a revitalized equilibrium. At the core of the new society is civil society, with the commons as its main institution, which uses peer production to generate common value outside of the market logic. These commons consist of both the natural heritage of mankind (oceans, the atmosphere, land, etc.), and commons that are created through collective societal innovation, many of which can be freely shared because of their immaterial nature (shared knowledge, software and design, culture and science). Civil society hosts a wide variety of activities that are naturally and structurally beneficial to the commons — not in an indirect and hypothetical way, as claimed by the “Invisible Hand” metaphor, but in a direct way, by entities that are structurally and constitutionally designed to work for the common good. This sphere includes entities such as trusts, which act as stewards of physical resources of common use (land trusts, natural parks), and for-benefit foundations, which help maintain the infrastructure of cooperation for cultural and digital commons. …

Around this new core is a private sphere, where market entities with private agendas and private governance can still create added-value around the commons by producing relatively scarce goods and services. However, because of the pathological and destructive nature of profit-maximizing corporations, in the P2P economy this private sphere is reformed to serve more ethical ends by using proper taxation, revenue and benefit-sharing modalities to help generate positive externalities, e.g., infrastructure, shareable knowledge, and by using taxation, competition, and rent-for-use to minimize negative externalities, e.g., pollution, overuse of collective resources.

Cooperative enterprises are the more prominent and developed form of private organization in this new economy. [84]

The markets will be non-capitalist — without the artificially cheap material inputs and the artificial scarcity of naturally free information — and the state will increasingly take on the character of a networked support platform in its relationship to self-managed, horizontal civil society organizations.

  • A powerful and re-invigorated sphere of reciprocity (gift-economy) centered around the introduction of time-based complementary currencies.
  • A reformed sphere for market exchange, the kind of ‘natural capitalism’ described by Paul Hawken, David Korten and Hazel Henderson, where the costs for natural and social reproduction are no longer externalized, and which abandons the growth imperative for a throughput economy as described by Herman Daly.
  • A reformed state that operates within a context of multistakeholdership and which is no longer subsumed to corporate interests, but act as a fair arbiter between the Commons, the market and the gift economy. [85]

The public sector of the P2P economy is neither a corporate welfare state at the service of a financial elite, nor a welfare state that has a paternalistic relation to civil society, but a Partner State, which serves civil society and takes responsibility for the metagovernance of the three spheres. The Partner State is dedicated to supporting “the common value creation of the civic sphere”; the “market” and the “mission-oriented” activities of the new private sphere; and all the public services that are necessary for the common good of all citizens.

It is very important here to distinguish the market from capitalism. Markets predate capitalism, and are a simple technique to allocate resources through the meeting of supply and demand using some medium of exchange. The allocation mechanism is compatible with a wide variety of other, eventually dominant systems. It is compatible with methods of “just pricing,” full or “true cost accounting” (internalization of all costs), fair trade, etc. It does not require that labor and money be considered as commodities nor that workers be separated from the means of production. Markets can be subsumed to other logics and modalities such as the state or the commons.

Capitalism, on the other hand, considered by some as an “anti-market”…, requires amongst other features: 1) the separation of producers and the means of production; and 2) infinite growth (either through competition and capital accumulation, as described by Karl Marx, or through compound interest dynamics, as described by Silvio Gesell).

In the vision of a commons-oriented society, the market is subsumed under the dominant logic of the commons and regulated by the Partner State. …

The essential characteristic of the new system is that the commons is the new core, and a variety of hybrid mechanisms can productively coexist around it, including reformed market and state forms. [86]

The basic principles of the emerging post-capitalist economy, with the peer-to-peer movement as its core, are:

“Firstly, there is the mutualisation of knowledge, the idea that it is unethical to withhold basic keys of knowledge that could solve the problems of the world.

“The second key point of open-source is called the `sharing economy’. It involves mutualising idle resources.

“The third point is relocalising production. New types of technology — such as 3-D printing — mean we can apply a typical rule: what is physically heavy is produced locally; what is light is globally distributed.”

It’s a twist on the traditional economic paradigm of supply and demand.

“At present we have a supply-driven economy in which companies either respond to real needs or try to create a perception of need; they centralise production, have massive over-production then require marketing and advertising to get rid of products.

“Studies have shown that two-thirds of matter and energy go into the transportation of goods, not their actual production. If we can diminish that transportation, we can have a much lighter impact on the planet.”

Bauwens suggests an economic model involving micro-factories that produce designs created via open-source networks. [87]

Bauwens sees commons-based peer production as a post-capitalist mode of production that will succeed capitalism, growing out of it in a matter analogous to how the manorial economy emerged from the collapse of the slave economy of classical antiquity and capitalism emerged from late feudalism. And like the previous transitions, peer-production will evolve as a solution to the crisis tendencies of late capitalism when the latter reaches its limits.

Although his approach is closer to the Exodus and horizontalism of Negri and Hardt, it is not purely one of quietism towards the state. Bauwens sees a need for active engagement with the state to manage the transition and to run interference on behalf of emergent P2P institutions, even if the primary path is evolutionary rather than by seizure of the state and implementation of a post-capitalist successor society through it.

A first step is to become aware of the isomorphism, the commonality, of peer to peer processes in the various fields. That people devising and using P2P sharing programs, start realizing that they are somehow doing the same thing than the alterglobalisation movement, and that both are related to the production of Linux, and to participative epistemologies. Thus what we must do first is building bridges of cooperation and understanding across the social fields. …

…[T]he second step is to “furiously” build the commons. When we develop Linux, it is there, cannot be destroyed, and by its very existence and use, builds another reality, based on another social logic, the P2P logic. Adopting a network sociality and building dense interconnections as we participate in knowledge creation and exchange is enormously politically significant. By feeding our immaterial and spiritual needs outside of the consumption system, we can stop the logic which is destroying our ecosphere. The present system may not like opposition, but even more does it fear indifference, because it can feed on the energy of strife, but starts dying when it is shunted. This is what is being expressed by Toni Negri’s concept of Exodus, and what other call ‘Desertion’ . These commentators note that it was ‘the refusal of work’ in the seventies, with blue-collar workers showing increasing dissatisfaction with the Taylorist/Fordist system of work, that lead to the fundamental re-arrangement of work in the first place. In the past, the labor movement and other social movements mostly shared the same values, and it was mostly about a fairer share of the pie. But the new struggles are mostly about producing a new kind of pie, and producing it in a different way. Or perhaps an even more correct metaphor: it is about the right to produce altogether different kinds of pie.

Today, the new ethic says that ‘to resist is in the first place to create’. The world we want is the world we are creating through our cooperative P2P ethos, it is visible in what we do today, not an utopian creation for the future. Building the commons has a crucial ingredient: the building of a dense alternative media network, for permanent and collective self-education in human culture, away from the mass-consumption model promoted by the corporate media.

Thus, if there is an ‘offensive’ strategy it would look like this: to build the commons, day after day, the process of creating of a society within society. In this context, the emergence of the internet and the web, is a tremendous step forward. …

Regarding the commons such an approach would entail:

1) a defense of the physical commons and the development of new institutions such as trusts to manage the environment;

2) an end to exaggerated private appropriation of the knowledge commons;

3) a universal basic income to create the conditions for the expansion of peer production;

4) any measure that speeds up the distribution of capital.

In the field of the gift economy: the promotion of reciprocity-based schemes, using alternative currency schemes based on equal time (Time Dollars and the like)

Finally, peer to peer also demands self-transformation. As we said, P2P is predicated on abundance, on transcending the animal impulse based on win-lose games. But abundance is not just objective, i.e. also, and perhaps most importantly, subjective. This is why tribal economies considered themselves to live in abundance, and were egalitarian in nature. This is why happiness researchers show that it is not poverty that makes us unhappy, but inequality. Thus, the P2P ethos demands a conversion, to a point of view, to a set of skills, which allow us to focus ourselves to fulfilling our immaterial and spiritual needs directly, and not through a perverted mechanism of consumption. As we focus on friendships, connections, love, knowledge exchange, the cooperative search for wisdom, the construction of common resources and use value, we direct our attention away from the artificial needs that are currently promoted, and this time we personally and collectively stop feeding the Beast that we have ourselves created. [88]


67. Michel Bauwens and Franco Iacomella, “Peer to Peer Economy and New Civilization Centered Around the Sustenance of the Commons” in David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, eds., The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State (Levellers Press, 2013). Online version at <http://wealthofthecommons.org/essay/peer-peer-economy-and-new-civilization-centered-around-sustenance-commons>.
68. Bauwens and Iacomella, op. cit.
69. Bauwens, “Can the Experience Economy Be Capitalist?” P2P Foundation Blog, September 27, 2007 <https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/can-the-experience-economy-be-capitalist/2007/09/27>.
70. Bauwens. “Three Times Exodus, Three Phase Transitions” P2P Foundation Blog, May 2, 2010 <https://blog.p2pfoundation.net/three-times-exodus-three-phase-transitions/2010/05/02>.
71. Section 2.1.B. The emergence of peer to peer as technological infrastructure, in Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto: The Emergence of P2P Civilization and Political Economy (MasterNewMedia: November 3, 2007) <http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/11/03/the_peer_to_peer_manifesto.htm>.
72. Section 3.1.B. The Communism of Capital, or, the cooperative nature of Cognitive Capitalism, in Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto.
73. Section 7.1.B. P2P, Postmodernity, Cognitive Capitalism: within and beyond, in Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto.
74. 2.1.B. The emergence of peer to peer as technological infrastructure, in Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto.
75. 7.1.B. P2P, Postmodernity, Cognitive Capitalism: within and beyond, in Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto.
76. Bauwens, “Can the Experience Economy be Capitalist?”
77. Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto: The Emergence of P2P Civilization and Political Economy (MasterNewMedia: November 3, 2007) <http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2007/11/03/the_peer_to_peer_manifesto.htm>.
78. Bauwens, “The Political Economy of Peer Production” CTheory.net, December 1, 2005 <http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=499>.
79. Section 7.1.A. Marginal trend or premise of new civilization? in Bauwens, The Peer to Peer Manifesto.
80. Bauwens, “The Political Economy of Peer Production.”
81. Ibid.
82. Ibid.
83. Ibid.
84. Bauwens and Iacomella, op. cit.
85. Ibid.
86. Bauwens and Iacomella, op. cit.
87 Shane Gilchrist, “Sharing the Future,” Otago Daily Times Online News (New Zealand), November 30, 2015 <http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/364835/sharing-future>.
88. Section 7.1 Possible political strategies, in Bauwens, Peer to Peer Manifesto.

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