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Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism

To dissolve, submerge, and cause to disappear the political or governmental system in the economic system by reducing, simplifying, decentralizing and suppressing, one after another, all the wheels of this great machine, which is called the Government or the State. --Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution

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Location: Northwest Arkansas, United States

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

P2P: New Economic Paradigm?

I found a great article that amplifies on many of the same economic themes Dave Pollard does at How to Save the World (especially here): Michel Bauwens. "Peer to Peer and Human Evolution." Here's a snippet from the Executive Summary that should give some indication of how good it is:

After describing the emergence of P2P as the dominant mode, or 'form', of our current technological infrastructure (section two), we then describe its emergence in the economic sphere (section three), as a 'third mode of production', neither profit-driven nor centrally planned, but as a decentralized cooperative way of producing software (free software and open source movements), and other immaterial products, based on the free cooperation of 'equipotential' participants....

Such commons-based peer production has other important innovations, such as it taking place without the intervention of any manufacturer whatsoever. In fact the growing importance of 'user innovation communities' (section 3.1.B), which are starting to surpass the role of corporate sponsored marketing and research divisions in their innovation capacities, show that this formula is poised for expansion even in the world of material production, provided the design phase is separated from the production phase.

A lot of this also ties in to various strands of thought I tried to bring together in this old post: "On the Superior Efficiency of Small-Scale Organization."

I'm not sure I agree with Bauwens' contention that peer-to-peer networks will become the dominant form of economic organization. But to the extent that it's possible to disaggregate the separate stages of production within existing vertically integrated corporations, a good many of those stages (for example, as Bauwens says, the design stage) will be amenable to handling by decentralized peer networks and the gift economy.

And the various production stages themselves, when disaggregated in the same way, show a great potential for cooperative ownership and control, and for the use of a wide range of less capital-intensive forms of production. In a decentralized economy, individual stages of production that are currently carried on at a single large site by a vertically integrated corporation may be more economically done in small machine shops (cf. Jane Jacobs' account of the origins of the Japanese bicycle industry, in The Economy of Cities), or in Kirkpatrick Sale's neighborhood repair-recycling centers. In some stages of production, the substitution of lower-tech, partially human powered operations (cf Mumford's discussion of "polytechnic" in The Pentagon of Power) or Sale's and Bookchin's general-purpose production technologies, will be economical when savings on bureaucratic and distribution costs, and overhead, are taken into account.

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Blogger jomama said...

"How to save the world"...that brings a big grin to my face.

I think the guy's half serious even tho he knows he's fighting cultural (some might say hard wired) conditioning.

In any case, New World Disorder gonna look a lot different, even to the point of what is still seen in some small villages of many parts of the world, where some dude is delivering steer shit via donkey to my tomato patch, the ultimate P2P, notwithstanding all the "fine" analytical studies and layers of abstractions describing something so basic.

I expect the former P2P to survive.

It has senority and cuts to the shit.

December 03, 2005 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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January 06, 2006 5:53 AM  

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