Michel Bauwens: P2P Theory Toward Society Reform – Transforming Civil Society, the Private Sector, and the State

Civil Society, Commerce, Cultural Intelligence, Government
Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens

This article aims to be a summary of the very basic orientation that I propose for social change.

I start from the classic division of human society in three basic aspects: civil society, the private sector, and the state.

1. The transformation of civil society

I think it is safe to say that in the present system, civil society is not the primary social reality. “Value” is created in the private sector, where we are present as ‘workers’, under the ‘leadership’ of corporations and those members of our society who have access to capital. Civil society though in theory ‘sovereign’, chooses its own authority in terms of electing the state personnel. The secondary status is well established in our language, where the organisations of civil society are called non-profits, i.e. considered as secondary to the for-profit corporations, or NGO’s, non-governmental organisations that are secondary to ‘government’ or the state. Despite all democratic advances, the state forms have clearly been captured by private interests. Despite the critique that we can address to this state of affairs, it also represents some kind of reality, i.e. that in a capitalist system, ‘civil society’ is not directly productive of the goods and services that we need to survive, live and thrive.

However, the emergence of commons-based peer production, and all its derivative modes of creating value, clearly indicate that civil society has become not just productive, but in fact, the commons of knowledge, code and design are the primary productive factor in a knowledge-based economy, where everything that needs to be made, has to be designed through collaborative innovation in the first place. This means that under conditions of increased importance and centrality of peer production in value creation, civil society becomes the core of the civil-private-state triarchy.

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