[iDC] Don Tapscott's Wikinomics: A Dismal Netology?

keith at thememorybank.co.uk keith at thememorybank.co.uk
Wed Aug 29 20:07:24 UTC 2007


I would have replied to this one, even if you hadn't mentioned me name.

>Hoping I can contribute a few broken thoughts to this debate, which  
the reanimated magi of the Scottish Enlightenment would doubtless  
shape much better than I can...<

Come back, Adam, all is forgiven.

>My only experience of non-establishment money systems are a few LETS  
schemes in Scotland - which work well in hard-bitten social  
situations, where community solidarity can be reanimated around these  
'socially'-fuelled systems of allocation of resources, talents and  
people. I also remember that the local money systems that emerged in  
Argentina did so in the wake of extreme economic crisis. I suppose  
the general point I'm making is that it has taken a pretty large  
capitalist meltdown, or an sustained experience at its sharp end, for  
alternative money systems to seem credible. Our acute and urgent  
ecological awareness of natural finitude may be able to draw a very  
thick line around the endless expansions of capitalism - and I'm then  
wondering whether the state legislators who still lay down the laws  
for capitalism's operations will realise that local money systems, or  
at least the recognition of the social dimension of currency and  
value-markers, might have a role to play in social order.<

I have summed up what I have learned about community currencies in a French
book chapter of which this is the translation:


You are not wrong about the appeal of LETS and similar cc schemes in
economically desperate circumstances. Michael Linton
(http://www.lets.net/)invented the original in the context of a slump in
British Columbia. The Argentina example is well-known, but the movement
collapsed equally rapidly. Alternative currencies have emerged mainly in
capitalist countries like Canada, Britain, Japan and France, perhaps in
more deprived areas (which is not certain), but they have not taken off in
a quarter-century of operations. It seems that, whatever their concrete
advantages in providing additional purchasing power, there is widespread
resistance to adopting them. This may be partly a question of persuading
people that their inured money habits are not inevitable. It is also
because they usually mimic the stand-alone model of nation-states and tend
to become introverted and clubby. At the very least these experiments are a
source of political education and spread ideas about non-capitalist forms
of economy, even if they have not yet offered anything like a credible
challenge to capitalism. I suspect that this is because their model of
closed local circuits of economy negates money's chief attraction -- its
ability to span our most inclusive associations and most immediate concrete
desires and obligations. It just isn't enough to float these things as
local welfare relief.

>Again, to pick up another point of Michel's, trust-based resource  
management pops up in the most interesting places, at least in the  
relatively material process of newspaper production - the Guardian  
now explicitly proclaims that its trust status is a guarantor of its  
editorial quality, freedom, and innovativeness. So the attractiveness  
of an ideal of social affect as the basis for running an enterprise,  
service or organisation - wikinomics, in Tapscott's sense - is  
already out there. I'm always wondering - and perhaps Keith Hart can  
help here - whether 'top down' is always oblivious to 'bottom up', or  
whether there might some imaginable state policy reform that could  
fecundly generate a whole range of collaborative enterprises. I'm  
thinking of the discussion around the PSP (public service provider)  
going on in Ofcom in the UK, where websites and gamemakers can bid  
for public money on the basis of providing a 'public service'; or the  
Swedish state subsidy for local newspapers, to protect press diversity.<

I like to start from Max Weber's notion of legitimation. Power works
alright as force, but it helps if you can persuade people that it is right.
There are specific social consequences of the claims that rulers make to be
rightful. If the king claims divine right, it will not do to arrange the
murder of the head of his church. Sticking with the religious analogy, the
World Bank is like the Vatican in the High Middle Ages. Even if cardinals
then were corrupt and compromised by power, the fact that the church was
Christian obliged them to go through the motions of caring for the poor.
The fact that the Bank is supposed according to its constitution to
alleviate global poverty means that there is ideological pressure to be
seen to do more than merely implement the White House's policies. This
leads the Bank to take up notions like the informal economy and social
capital which appear to address the real lives of the poor everywhere, But
of course, since it is a top-heavy western bureaucracy, it kills off
whatever initiatives it touches. The institutional desire to reach down to
the people, however, is at some level sincere, if maladroit. The same could
probably be said of Brown and the British government or even the Guardian
newspaper. It is in the nature of power of want to be right. This doesn't
mean ordinary people can influence the powerful. That was Emile Durkheim's
problem, not Weber's and the idea of a moral politics seems even less
relevant to our times than it did to his.



mail2web.com – What can On Demand Business Solutions do for you?

More information about the iDC mailing list