Peer-to-peer activities and the coming of the commons

This article in the July 2012 issue of Red Pepper is quite relevant to our discussions about degrowth. Michel Bauwens’ article examines how collaborative, commons-based activities (including manufacturing, information and even money) are emerging to challenge capitalism. Hilary Wainwright poses some questions about how to achieve a commons-based alternative to capitalist production.

New words expressing new concepts usually indicate stirrings at other levels of reality. So when we read of widespread ‘peer-to-peer’ activity (sharing without central authorities) and the spread of ‘open source’ (the mutuality of creativity), or come across seemingly paradoxical concepts such as ‘produsers’ (users producing value as they use), or entirely new concepts such as ‘phyles’ (transnational networks of small companies in which the values of the commons are predominant), we should find out about the innovations that old language does not capture.

While I personally found Bauwens’ academic style sometimes hard to follow, he presents a very important discussion of how peer and/or commons centred activities (open hardware, information, currencies) are flowing or might flow from open source software and other intellectual sharing movements.

I think this is a very important area of research and discussion for the degrowth movement, as it has direct relevance to our vision of a new economic, social and political paradigm.

Bob

Peer-to-peer production and the coming of the commons

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