Michel Bauwens examines how collaborative, commons-based production is emerging to challenge capitalism. Below, Hilary Wainwright responds
Capitalism in its present form is facing limits, especially resource limits, and in spite of the rapid growth of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) economies, is undergoing a process of decomposition. The question is whether the new proto-mode can generate the institutional capacity and the alliances able to break the political power of the old order.
One way to describe the changes now taking place is as a shift away from a context in which the technological and economic advantage lies with economies of scale and mass production that depend on cheap global transportation and, thus, the continuous availability of fossil fuels. The move is to ‘economies of scope’, where bringing down the cost of common infrastructure for networked enterprises brings competitive advantages.
It is in achieving these economies of scope that the distributed, peer-to-peer forms of production made possible by new information and communication technologies can be deployed.
Phi Beta Iota: Capitalism has suffered two major flaws since its modern adoption. First, information assymetries have consistently favored buyers over sellers and intermediaries over both (e.g. Wall Street). Second, no provision has been made for free-riders and corruption. No one goes to jail today for exploding entire economies (except in Iceland). “Moral Capitalism” is consistent with all religions but has been dishonored by the Griftopia blend of criminal government and criminal finance. “Open Capitalism” appears to be an emerging term of art, and an excellent focal point for the near future. Implicit in Open Capitalism is human scale and local to local resilience, with a very strong emphasis on “true cost” for the entire supply chain of every behavior, product, and service.