[iDC] Learning from 1967

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 1 12:22:11 UTC 2009

Dear Trebor,

I know you and some of this list do not appreciate multiple responses, but given my travel schedule, I have to process my email in large simultaneous batches, sorry for that.

So, I just want to clear one thing up.

People like me are often accused of 'wishing' or 'predicting' a peer to peer utopia, but that is not at all what we are doing.

Peer to peer is NOT an utopia, it is a clearly existing social practice, which is as true for many knowledge workers as the natural/material commons is for many farmers and tribal people in the South, and mutual solidarity and aid was for workers and the labour movement.

So, while we may be empowered by a vision of a possibly better world, and I think this is legitimate and simple 'works better' than however critically informed pessimism and despair, what we are really doing is defending and trying to extend our social practice, that we have learned to love and appreciate because of the happiness and well-being it brings us.

So what we need is an instrumental critique, which acknowledges the pitfalls of 'reality' and existing social forces, but must be geared towards our emancipation.

So, yes we have to acknowledge the harrowing hybridity as you say, but at the same time, we are guided by the shining star of present and future emancipation, however remote,


----- Original Message ----
> From: Trebor Scholz <trebor at thing.net>
> To: "idc at mailman.thing.net" <idc at mailman.thing.net>
> Cc: "michelsub2004 at gmail.com" <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>
> Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:22:57 AM
> Subject: [iDC] Learning from 1967
> Michel Bauwens wrote:
> "We have enticed capital in building sharing and peer production platforms
> at no cost to us but our voluntary free time and our passionate creative
> pursuits, making them think that their miserable profits is worth creating
> the possibilities of massive post-monetary exchange beyond the commodity
> form." 
> "Now the situation has reversed, it is almost universally possible to do
> more outside of the corporate frameworks than inside of them."
> "Capital has not won, it is merely recognizing the victory of participation
> and adapting to it."
> Dear Michel, all,
> Activating us to work toward alternatives is key and I really appreciate
> your work with the p2p Foundation.
> However, I am not trying to make despair convincing when I point out that it
> takes a lot of willfulness not to mention that the vast majority of all
> net-bound activities takes place on a small number of privately owned
> platforms. 
> Almost half of all Internet traffic is concentrated on ten websites and the
> profits are mind blowing. There is much sharing, togetherness, and exchange
> of services taking place within those corporate social milieus. And beyond
> that, a non-commercial refuge like Wikipedia does establish expectations.
> (Why would you choose to pay for information that is available for free
> elsewhere?) However, such sites are currently still the exception, the Black
> swans of the net. 
> Cultures of sharing are not an easy victory of the people. Managerial
> literature celebrates frictionless capitalism (e.g., Tapcsott's/William's
> Wikinomics). Benkler claims that ³The key is managing the marriage of money
> and nonmoney without making nonmoney feel like a sucker.² To me, it looks
> like that marriage is working quite fine so far.
> In his last book, Fred Turner (hey, Fred!) argued that
> "If the information workers of the postindustrial era buy into the notion
> that computers and the network economy will bring about a peer-to-peer
> utopia, as many still do, they run the risk of perpetuating the forms of
> suffering and exclusion that plagued the back-to-the-landers."(257)
> The actor Peter Coyote, a former member of the Diggers and inhabitant of the
> Black Bear Ranch commune in Northern California explained that their
> communal living was driven by the hope of forcing the future into existence
> through the sheer audacity of living it.
> Can you force capitalism to its knees by believing that "we" won or should
> we accept the sometimes harrowing hybridity of the situation?
> Trebor
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