Reality Sandwich, 4 April 2012
In the emerging institutional model of peer production, most visibly in the free software industry, we can distinguish an interplay between three partners, i.e.
1) a community of contributors that create a commons of knowledge, software or design;
2) an enterpreneurial coalition that creates market value on top of that commons; and
3) a set of “for-benefit institutions’ which manage the ‘infrastructure of cooperation’.
There is a clear institutional division of labour between these three players.
The contributors create the use value that is deposited in the shared innovation commons of knowledge, design and code.
The for-benefit institution enables and defends the general infrastructure of cooperation which makes the project ‘collectively’ sustainable. For example the Wikimedia Foundation collects the funds to support the server space without which access to the Wikipedia would become impossible.
The enterpreneurial coalition makes the individual contributors ‘sustainable’, by providing an income, and very often they provide means for the continued existence of the for-benefit associations as well.
Can we also learn something about the politics of this new mode of value creation, something that would be useful not just for these particular communities, but to society in general? Is there perhaps a new model of power and democracy co-evolving out of these new social practices, that may be an answer to the contemporary crisis of democracy? My answer will be an emphatic yes, and stronger yet, I will argue that we are witnessing a new model for the state. A ‘P2P’ state, if you will.
Let’s look at the mechanics of power and the politics of commons-oriented peer production by looking at the three players involved in this new institutional set-up.
1. The post-democratic logic of community
2. The relation between the community and the enterpreneurial coalition
3. The democratic logic of the for-benefit institutions
4. Towards a Partner State
5. A value crisis of the capitalist economy
6. The prefiguration of a new social model
7. Towards a civilization based on economies of scope, not scale
. . . . . . .
The only thing left to do is to have an answer to the crucial question: how does global governance look like in P2P civilization? How can we transform the global material Empire which at present dominates world affairs for the benefit of a few, and replace the ineffectual global institutions that are present inadequate to deal with global challenges?
Phi Beta Iota: Those of us committed to a prosperous world at peace, in which governance is characterized by intelligence and integrity, all see the insanity of artificial scarcity and embedded corruption. What is emergent and increasingly visible (i.e. comprehensible) to the public at large is the alternative model of Open Source Everything, a Non-Zero approach to both the material and the intangible. The above can be readily expanded to embrace the eight communities (academic, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit)–all of them have vital resources and perspectives that must be integrated if we are to achieve Panarchy–self-governance with intelligence and integrity at all levels on all issues.