The script we followed went more or less like this:
The great symbol of industrial capitalism is the automobile industry
Applying state-of-the-art technology, intensive capital, a new organization of labor (“Taylorism”), large-scaleproduction and market achieved something implausible before that time: turning the automobile — a sophisticated machine — into a consumer product that was affordable to the middle class masses.
Today, we can build more efficient, cheaper, and nicer cars, free from intellectual property, in any small workshop by joining a project like Wikispeed.
Basically, two things:
In the first place, productivity has multiplied,
which has drastically reduced theoptimum scale of production… which leaves the state capitalism of the Eastern countries right out of the picture, but also puts European and U.S. Big Businesses in check.
Secondly, the communication structure
We’re moving from a decentralized world (the world of the telegraph and of nations) towards a distributed model of communication (the world of the Internet).
By bringing both changes together with the removal of commercial barriers in the Nineties, the result has been a constant increase in commerce based, above all,
on the emergence of new, smaller-scale agents, that are less capital-intensive and exist at the periphery
The direct consequence has been the greatest reduction in poverty in human history, but also a remarkable growth in inequality and a growing economic instability. Why?
Capital, far from adapting to the reduction of scale, has continued increasing it, turning to “financialization” and “securitization,” separating itself from the productive system and regularly creating bubbles.
Its strategy of forcing scales has meant, to assure profits, restricting intellectual property, needlessly “redefining” the Internet to make sense of recentralizing infrastructures (Google, Facebook, etc.), and above all, multiplying the pressure to capture the State.
This strategy can only result in the simultaneous destruction of the market and the state, a phenomenon we call “decomposition,” and which parallels the destruction of productive capacity by the crises and wars that precede and accompany it.
But, at the same time, with free software, a new mode of producing and distributing has appeared, whose focus is not on the accumulation of capital, but on the “commons,” which is to say, on abundance, on which the market eliminates profit — on intellectual property, position, etc. — to focus on remunerating labor and rewarding the innovation and customization that further enrich the commons.
It’s what we call P2P mode of production, and just as it works to produce software, it works to produce material objects and all kinds of services.
In the last three years, there’s been a large increase in the number of industrial manufacturing projects based on the possibilities in high productivity on a small scale based on a commons of technical knowledge.
The “Open Source Ecology” project alone is working on the design of 40 free basic industrial machines: from a wind generator to a tractor to a brick-making machine.
We “indianos” think that these technologies, while still a bit green, can be a solid base to confront the effects of the financial crisis in the traditional local productive sector and in micro and small industrial businesses, from neighborhood workshops to component factories.
Starting with professional training centers, giving training on new products to businesses and organizing workshops on the commons oriented not to prototyping or experimentation, but to the productive community and existing demand at the local level
Knowledge, processes, and simple business models waiting to be put into practice…
…and we encourage you to do just that, and we also offer to support any P2P initiative for local production that you undertake.
A major theme that came up throughout our first School of Commoning workshop with Michel Bauwens concerned the need to co-create sustainable commons based institutions. The overriding sentiment was to create institutions that are commons and are therefore inherently sustainable by their nature. In the transition to these commons based institutions Michel spoke of the kinds of actions we will need to take. The rest of this post highlights what was discussed by Michel and our workshop on this important next step we must take.
Virtual Commons: The Need for a Shift in Priority
Following on from the Furtherfield event in which Michel spoke ofthe three key peer to peer developments that have unfolded starting with open sharing, open code and more recently open design, Michel built on this the following day, in our workshop:
I probably should have titled this “Hacking the Organization”.
What follows is not a primer of organizational design but simply a back-of-the-envelope sketch of how a number of organizational design and management ideas might be applied to peer-to-peer (P2P) organizations. My intention is for these ideas to be adapted or “hacked” for P2P applications without getting hung up on ideology or terminology, much of which has historical baggage. The idea is to ignore the baggage, take what you can use, and leave the rest. However, if this gets picked apart and criticized from top to bottom it may still have served some purpose.
I recognize that many p2p activities may be amorphous, fluid, informally organized, or conducted by completely autonomous and independent individuals. My own preferred lifestyle is agrarian and communitarian. I’m not a particularly good team player. But I would like to think of a world where p2p organizations can launch satellites, build solar-powered factories, and make trains run on time.
In The Political Economy of Peer Production, Michel Bauwens describes peerism as “cooperative individualism”. I think that is an important perspective and I think it can be extended to groups as well. Whether cooperation is one to one, one to many, many to one, or many to many, all cooperators are peers. If they are not peers, the enterprise should not be called cooperation.
A new way to produce is emerging. By this I mean: a new way to produce anything and everything, whether it is software, food, or cities. What once required rigid organisations and a society defined by the mentality of hierarchies, we are discovering now (and in many cases re-discovering) how to do through free association of peers.
It is also becoming clear that entering an era defined by an ethos of free association and horizontality doesn’t mean institutionality itself will dissappear, but that it will undergo the deepest of transformations. In the emerging institutional model of peer production, most visibly in the free software industry, we can distinguish an interplay between three partners:
A community of contributors that create commons of knowledge, software or design;
An enterpreneurial coalition that creates market value on top of that commons; and
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.
We create an aesthetic and political experiment in the Berlin Biennale space for people from all over the world to gather, organize assemblies, direct action, interactive self-education, strategy-development and other forms of politico-social engagement. Thus we create a Global Square to connect and interrelate the revolts and thus contributing to the coordination and strengthening of social culture opposed to the arrogance of power.
Wir errichten einen politisch-gesellschaftlichen Raum, in dem Menschen aus Berlin und aller Welt zusammenkommen, um Versammlungen, interaktive Wissensaneignung, gemeinsame Strategieentwicklung, direkte Aktionen politischer Intervention sowie andere Formen politisch-gesellschaftlichen Engagements auf die Beine zu stellen. Es geht dabei um die Schaffung eines Global Square, der die Aufstände miteinander vernetzt, in Beziehung bringt und so der Koordinierung und Stärkung sozialer Kultur gegenüber der Arroganz der Macht dienen soll.
Many socialists have cheered Lars Lih’s demolition of the textbook interpretation of Lenin’s work in Lenin Rediscovered(2008) without examining how many of our own preconceptions on the subject are now part of the same pile of rubble. The fact that Occupy has functioned in practice like the much-sought-after but never replicated vanguard party that Lenin helped create in early 20th century Russia has also escaped much of the Marxist and socialist lefts.
These two developments are not coincidental.
Occupy Petrograd – circa 1917.
Leon Trotsky’s description of the party as “a lever for enhancing the activity of the advanced workingmen” captures exactly how Occupy has functioned. In the space of four weeks, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) mobilized more workers and oppressed people than the entire U.S. socialist left combined has in four decades. OWS did not begin with a program or a series of demands but with an action that inspired tens of thousands of others to act, speak, march, occupy, and rise up in an elemental awakening (or stikhiinyi in Russian). Continue reading →
The Arab Spring was sparked by the first protests that occurred in Tunisia on 18 December 2010 following Mohamed Bouazizi‘s self-immolation in protest of police corruption and ill treatment. With the success of the protests in Tunisia, a wave of unrest sparked by the Tunisian “Burning Man” struck Algeria, Jordan,Egypt, Syria and Yemen, then spread to other Arab countries.
Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January following the Tunisian revolution protests. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarakresigned on 11 February 2011 after 18 days of massive protests, ending his 30-year presidency.
A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world has been “ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam” (“the people want to bring down the regime”) and they did it in Tunisia and Egypt with a sustained campaigns or “non-stop protest” involving strikes, demonstrations, marches, occupations…
All through the winter of 2010 the collective “Democracia Real Ya!” (DRY), in association with approximately 200 smaller organizations, had been preparing a huge demonstration for real democracy in Spain. The protest movement gained momentum on May 15 with a camping occupation in Madrid’s main square, the Puerta del Sol, spreading to squares in 57 other major and smaller cities in Spain, and then to Spanish embassies all around the world.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is a model for a new economic paradigm, in which value is first created by communities.
In Zuccotti Park, protesters created an ‘ethical economy’ based on the group’s shared values [GALLO/GETTY]
Chiang Mai, Thailand – Last week I discussed the value crisis of contemporary capitalism: the broken feedback loop between the productive publics who create exponentially increasing use value, and those who capture this value through social media – but do not return these income streams to the value “produsers”.
In other words, the current so-called “knowledge economy” is a sham and a pipe dream – because abundant goods do not fare well in a market economy. For the sake of the world’s workers, who live in an increasingly precarious situation, is there a way out of this conundrum? Can we restore the broken feedback loop?
Strangely enough, the answer may be found in the recent political movement that is Occupy, because along with “peer producing their political commons“, they also exemplified new business and value practices. These practices were, in fact, remarkably similar to the institutional ecology that is already practiced in producing free software and open hardware communities. This is not a coincidence. Continue reading →
PLEASE pay attention to this invitation: what if we take a break together? for a moment, gather in an Open Space where everyone is welcome to contribute and learn and effectively boost the Global May we envision. The more we are and the more diverse our points of views and backgrounds, the richer the dialogue will be. Is this Saturday 14th.
The Transnationals Information Exchange (tie) was set up by a group of union activists at a meeting held at the Transnational Institute (TNI) in Amsterdam in 1978. Today there are groups working to strengthen democratic and pluralist unionism in Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the USA. Örsan Şenalp, a member of the New Unionism Network, has worked withtie in the Netherlands since 2007. He is as an external project advisor, as well as being a key figure in the development of “social network unionism” (seehttps://snuproject.wordpress.com/). Wearing all three hats, Örsan has sent us some intriguing material on the MAPEO process, which tie has developed to help workers map and influence the production process. It’s an intriguing advance in what is sometimes called “shop floor internationalism”.Below you will find links to two documents – the first a presentation and the second a summary of production mapping.The MAPEO method helps workers systematically map and analyse production processes, be it in a company or a global chain. The process was first developed byTIE-Brazil (who produced both of the documents below), in cooperation with members of various unions.
MAPEO is not a one-size-fits-all methodology; it has been adapted for different contexts, and modified by workers and unions themselves in accordance with national, local and shop floor level realities.
You may remember that the project was inspired by a Z Poll about revolutionary organization. You can see that poll from the ZNet top page, left menu. The response to the poll was a bit over 4,000 replies, over 95% of whom said they would join an organization like that described in the poll.
Well, that organization is IOPS. And as the poll takers were overwhelmingly Z Sustainers, the odds are very high that you either took it, or that had you done so, you would have had reactions like those of those who did take it. That is, the odds are very high that as a Z Sustainer your views and those defining IOPS are quite closely compatible.
We hope you will look to see. We hope if you do find that you like the interim organizational description, vision, etc., you will seriously consider joining. Of course to do so is a kind of leap of faith. But without such leaps how does anything ever get accomplished?
This is an invitation to join an Inter-Assembly Newswire project. It’s being run by team members from Occupy/15M/PAN in the USA, Spain and London. Please read the following information, and ask your Assembly’s external and international communications workgroups (or equivalent) to subscribe and participate.
There are two aspects to this project: (1) the global email list and (2) the decentralised blog-link, or global newswire. The newswire allows you to ‘news tag’ your local local blog posts so people can follow and receive your news at the global level. Both platforms are designed to maintain local assembly autonomy while also establishing clean lines of inter-assembly communication, and are open-source so can be utilised on other sites. You may subscribe to one or both (both are recommended).
Participation in the Email List requires only that your local workgroup (i) subscribe and (ii) considers what assembly-endorsed messages to post there [*]. Individuals may also subscribe, but only as observers.
Participation in the Decentralised Blog-link/Global Newswire requires that you (i) set up a new posting category (on your local blog) and (ii) send us the RSS feed. Similar posting guidelines apply to both platforms [*].
The year 2011 has breathed new life into horizontal models of democratic decision-making. With the rise of the 15 May movement and the occupy movement horizontal decision-making became one of the key political structures for organising responses to the current global economic crisis. While this decision-making process has arguably never been as widely practiced as it is today, it has also never seemed as difficult and complicated as it does today. At its height there were 5,000 people at the general assemblies in Placa Catalunya in Barcelona and even more in Madrid. It is no longer just activists trying to use and teach each other these decision-making processes but it is hundreds or thousands of people who have a far greater disparity in terms of backgrounds, starting assumptions, aims and discursive styles. This is incredibly good news, but it is not easy.
With Wikileaks and several other major players throwing their weight behind the project, a vaporware press release has made The Global Square go viral.Ever since a group of activists released the original proposal for The Global Square on ROAR back in November, the collaborative endeavor to build an alternative peer-to-peer social network has generated considerable media attention. After featuring in a major story in Wired last year, a recent call for coders by our friends and partners at Wikileaks Central has once again propelled the project into the global public discourse.
The Global Square has gained traction in recent months as we have secured the support of an independent team of developers, coordinated by Ed Knutson of the Occupy movement in the US and Johan Pauwelse in the Netherlands. Pauwelse directs the Tribler P2P research team at the Technical University of Delft, which — with a budget of 26 million euros — is the world’s largest experimental research group working on self-organizing internet systems.
Meanwhile, we are being assisted by the legendary hacker and free-software activist Richard Stallman, who as the main author of several copyleft licenses, including the GNU General Public License — the most widely used free software license in the world — has agreed to contribute his GNU platform to the project. Furthermore, we are now drawing on the direct support of a number of hackers and free software activists associated with Wikileaks and Anonymous.
The Global Square — a proposal launched on ROAR last year — is starting to take shape. Now we need coders to help us build the actual platform!Call from our partners at WikiLeaks Central:
The Global Square (original proposal/project description here) aims to be the first massive decentralized social network in the history of the Internet. We are aware of the difficulties we must overcome, but we believe the Internet Community has reached a point where such an initiative is possible. It is possible because we are more united; censorship and repression have created stronger bonds between those who care about freedom and the free flow of information. How can we achieve this goal?
Structure: organizing humanity in a single collective
The Global Square is to be an easy to use social and work platform for individuals and groups. One of the main goals is that it should have very low barriers of entry for inexperienced users, making it as easy as possible for them to contribute work, interact and use the various tools at their disposal. Another goal is that the Global Square be expandable to allow global coordinated and efficient work in every system. The Global Square recognizes the principles of personal privacy as a basic right of individuals and transparency to all users as an obligation for public systems.
The « Joint Social Conference » (JSC) was launched two years ago by a group of 30 trade unions and social movements, precedently involved in the European Social Forum and/or members of ETUC. The JSC is held, in March of each year, as a social alternative to the EU “Spring Summits”.
All relevant information on the JSC objectives, member organizations, press releases can be found on the JSC Website : www.jointsocialconference.eu.
* * *
The 2012 edition of the JSC is of particular importance.
Since 2011, we are witnessing a turning point in Europe. Economic turn : most European countries are now experiencing recession; social turn: unprecedented austerity plans are implemented, generating broad social mobilization by social movements and unions (Indignados, demonstrations, general strikes …); political turn: Neoliberalism has never been so obvious and democracy so threatened in the EU.
All this happens against a background of serious ecological imbalances, the current orientations will only aggravate.
Faced with the indifference of leaders vis-à-vis social mobilization, it is urgent to intensify the struggle, and in particular to develop coordinated action at European level. This will be the JSC’s priority this year.
Unions are in a death spiral. Private sector unionism has all but vanished, accounting for a measly 6.9 percent of the workforce. Public sector workers are being hammered by government cutbacks and hostile media that blame teachers, nurses and firefighters for budget crises. To counter this trend organized labor banked on creating more hospitable organizing conditions by contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party the last two election cycles. In return Obama abandoned the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made union campaigns marginally easier, failed to push for an increase in the minimum wage, and installed an education secretary who attacks teachers and public education.
The Obama administration’s dismal record on labor issues has been compounded by the rise of the Tea Party movement, which portrays unions as public enemy No. 1, and the Supreme Court’s Citizens Uniteddecision, which opened the political floodgates to corporate money. By last year, organized labor realized that its days were numbered unless it took a different approach.
So it went back to basics. Across the country unions threw resources into community organizing, aiming to build a broad-based constituency outside of the workplace for progressive politics. In cities like Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., newly formed community groups found ready support for organizing around issues of economic justice, but they were stymied by a national debate dominated by voices blaming government spending for an economic crisis caused by Wall Street.
From European campaigns to the construction of an alternative Europe
February 10-12, Teatro Valle Occupato, Rome
Throughout Europe, we are witnessing massive transfers of resources from the public to the private sphere. The political responses to the crises are defined by austerity measures and by cuts to social spending, driving Europe further into recession.
From Greece to Spain, from London to Rome, European people are increasingly aware of the need for a different model of globalisation. From those resisting the privatisation of resources (for example in Italy with the water referendum, and currently in Romania) to the recent occupations of public spaces against neoliberalism (for example in the UK and Spain), this is the moment to construct an alternative Europe which is not a product of neoliberal politics, but the political expression of European citizens.