[iDC] Answers to Postings about Marx, Labour Theory of Value

Michael Bauwens michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 29 15:11:45 UTC 2009

 Hi Christian,

I'd like to post a quick reaction to the Pirate Party. I think they are an interesting development, and they represent the free cultural practices of new segments of youth.So far as I can see though, they are vehemently single issue around digital rights, and must do so to avoid any split between its dominant libertarian/liberal wing (European meaning), and its elements more to the left. This to me  is both their strength (because it avoids the sectararianism of radical left discourse which can only drive people away), but also their weakness, since it makes them unable to tackle any other deep structural issues.

However, I have had interesting conversations with some Belgian pirates, and someone else I know reported very similar feelings in Germany. What seems to occur is that the non-swedish parties suffer from their single issue position, and are under pressure from sympathizers to come up with full political programs.

This sets some of these parties in the direction of looking for commons-oriented policy positions, such a commons oriented position is perhaps the only way they can avoid 'choosing' between the radical left and the libertarian right, since it is compatible with both political philosophies.

I have create a new section on the p2p wiki to gather commons-related material, see http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Commons, in addition to the existing Policy section at http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Policy


----- Original Message ----
> From: Christian Fuchs <christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at>
> To: Michael Bauwens <michelsub2003 at yahoo.com>; idc <idc at mailman.thing.net>
> Sent: Thu, November 19, 2009 8:33:29 AM
> Subject: Re: [iDC] Answers to Postings about Marx, Labour Theory of Value
> Dear Michel,
> >     Christian, I agree with you. But what if we add a temporal
> >     dimension. Since these practices are emergent, they are weak and
> >     therefore more easily integrated. But already they create powerful
> >     new social possibilities and cultural shifts, many of which go
> >     against the grain of previously existing neoliberalism. Do yo
> >     agree then, that the issue is: how do we strengthen those
> >     post-capitalist aspects, how do we strengthen peer and sharing
> >     communities, how do we protect commony protected value from
> >     private appropriation. On the other side of the coin, what do you
> >     think of the Crisis of Value hypothesis, i.e. that these trends
> >     create a crisis for capital's monetization as well?
> > 
> Yes, of course, I agree wi th you, the political task is to strengthen those 
> potentials that anticipate a post-capitalist society. The Internet allows the 
> easy, fast, cheap copying and transmission of data. Therefore commodification is 
> to a certain extent undercut and threatened by the Internet-based sharing of 
> data. And that this is perceived as a threat by industry, can be viewed by the 
> reactions by the recording industry, the movie pictures industry, the trials 
> against Napster, Pirate Bay, etc. So to a certain extent these projects provide 
> alternatives to surplus value exploitation and therefore pose threats to surplus 
> value exploitation. But on the other hand there are also forms of how new 
> sources of surplus value are established by media corporations on the Internet 
> (targeted advertising, iTunes). New Internet business models also make use of 
> "free access". I have termed this phenomenon the Internet gift commodity 
> Internet ecomomy. In my opinion, there is a contradiction between the networked 
> forms of production and the (capitalist) relations of production. I have written 
> about this in a recent paper (http://fuchs.icts.sbg.ac.at/ICTS_EJC.pdf). 
> Alternative online projects anticipate a post-capitalist society and point 
> beyond capitalism, so they are transcendent projects. But on the other hand 
> their very principles can also become subsummed by capital. In the current form, 
> the capitalist Internet is stronger than the post-capitalist Internet. The 
> future is not determined, so I do not think that there is an automatic 
> evolutionary growth of alternative Internet projects that at a certain moment of 
> time will result in a leap from quantity into quality and result in a 
> post-capitalistic Internet. I rather think that a movement of intellectural 
> labour is needed that organizes itself politically and struggles for a 
> non-corporate Internet and for steps in the political regulation process that 
> help to further advance non-capitalist Internet projects. One could discuss to 
> which extent the US media reform movement or the various Pirate parties have 
> potentials for becoming such movements, I am not sure myself. I think that given 
> the current student protests against the commodification of education in Europe 
> and other parts of the world are responses to neoliberalism, the crisis, and the 
> neoliberal "socialism for the rich" crisis management strategies. If they 
> intensify and in a sort of domino effect extend themselves to large parts of the 
> globe, then I think a movement of intellectual labour could emerge. Critical 
> Internet politics could then be connected to this movement.
> > 
> >     Here I must disagree. Facebook usage is voluntary and I know many
> >     people who refuse to use it. The truth for me is that there are
> >     compelling reasons to that 1) third party platforms exists; 2) and
> >     that they are  currently 'better' than independent platforms. You
> >     have to see this as a acceptable social contract from the user's
> >     point of view. They get a lot out of it, which makes the quid pro
> >     quo valuable enough. Especially in the context of the value
> >     crisis, Howard Rheingold's quip, "I get more out of Flickr, than
> >     they do out of me", rings true.
> > 
> > 
> You hold what I have characterized as political position 1 in Internet politics 
> in this respect, whereas I more tend towards position 3. So I do not think that 
> this is a symmetric exchange because material aspects are crucial aspects of our 
> economy. We will not agree on this point, but we may agree that we disagree. In 
> terms of the formula rate of exploitation = s / v, the users of YouTube, Google, 
> etc are infinitely exploited. If some people want to define exploitation in 
> other ways, they are free to do so, but I find the Marxian formula more 
> convincing. Discussions about these points are not very productive, what they do 
> show is that there are different political positions underlying theoretical 
> arguments.
> Best, Christian
> -- - - -
> Priv.-Doz. Dr. Christian Fuchs
> Associate Professor
> Unified Theory of Information Research Group
> ICT&S Center
> University of Salzburg
> Sigmund Haffner Gasse 18
> 5020 Salzburg
> Austria
> christian.fuchs at sbg.ac.at
> Phone +43 662 8044 4823
> Personal Website: http://fuchs.uti.at
> Research Group: http;//www.uti.at
> Editor of tripleC - Cognition, Communication, Co-Operation | Open Access Journal 
> for a Global Sustainable Information Society
> http://www.triple-c.at
> Fuchs, Christian. 2008. Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information 
> Age. New York: Routledge. http://fuchs.uti.at/?page_id=40


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