[iDC] Learning from 1967

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Sun Jun 21 18:22:57 UTC 2009

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

 "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

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?


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