Commit bc111b40 authored by Nicolás Reynolds's avatar Nicolás Reynolds
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parent 79d32f85
**Thesis on Digital Labor, by Michel Bauwens:**
"Peer to peer is the ideology of the new cognitive working class. The
majority of workers in Western countries are no longer involved in
factory work, but are either cognitive or service workers. There are
strong connections between peer-to-peer values such as openness,
participation, as well as commons-orientation and the structural
conditions of this new working class.
First, peer-to-peer responds to the ideal conditions for cognitive work.
For cognitive work to progress, it needs participation of all those who
can contribute, the knowledge needs to be freely shared, and available
to all who will need the same material in the future. It is no accident
that peer production was born amongst the developers of software code,
who are uniquely dependent on access to shareable code in order to
progress in their work.
Under structural conditions of exploitative and Intellectual
Property-constrained wage-based knowledge work, peer production is the
modality of life and work that cognitive workers aspire too, and engage
in whenever they can either escape voluntarily from waged labor, or are
obliged to engage in because of a precarious exodus outside of wage
labor in the context of conditions of temporary or permanent economic
Peer-to-peer corresponds to the objective needs of the new craft
structure of cognitive labor. Cognitive workers are no longer primarily
engaged in long-term factory work, but have very flexible career paths,
by choice or necessity, which require them to change from being wage
laborers, to independent free lance consultants, to being entrepreneurs,
and back again. Under conditions of chosen or forced flexibility,
workers have an objective interested in being networked, in order to
gain practical experience, and social and reputational capital, as well
as access to networks of exchange and solidarity. Networked peer
production is the best avenue to obtain these advantages.
Peer to peer, and engagement with peer production, is the objective
condition of participation into networks, and therefore affects and
engages all network users, to the degree that they are engaged in online
collaboration and knowledge exchange, and the eventual creation of
common value through such free aggregation of effort. All work however,
has cognitive aspects, and so today, all workers are exposed to networks
and the peer-to-peer value system. The peer-to-peer value system and
peer production as a social dynamic are therefore NOT constrained to
full-time knowledge workers, but to the totality of the working class
and working people.
Because of the hyperproductive nature of peer production, which allows
for broader participation and input, passionate engagement, and
universal distribution of its benefits (conditioned by network access),
it attracts the participation and engagement of capital, through the
activities of netarchical capitalists.
Netarchical capital is that sector of capital, which understands the
hyper-productive nature of peer production and therefore enables and
empowers social production to occur, but conditioned by the possibility
of value extraction to the benefit of the holders of capital.
Peer production is both immanent and transcendent vis a vis capitalism
because it has features which strongly decommodifies both labor and
immaterial value and institutes a field of action based on peer-to-peer
dynamics and a peer-to-peer value system. Peer production functions
within the cycle of accumulation of capital, but also within the new
cycle of the creation and accumulation of the commons. Netarchical
capital uses peer production for its own accumulation of capital; peer
producers naturally strive for the continued existence and protection of
their commons.
The creation of commons under the rule of capital is NOT a zero sum
game. This means that the fact or objective relation between the commons
and capital does not automatically constitute a hard and fast
distinction between capitalist and anti-capitalist commons. Workers
associated with peer production have a natural interest to maintain and
expand the commons of knowledge, code and design, and under conditions
of capital, the role of wage labor and capitalist investment contributes
to the sustainability of both the commons and the commoners.
However, under conditions of capitalist crisis, commoners have an
objective interest in maintaining commons and conditions of
participation that create maximum independence from capital, and aim for
its eventual replacement as dominant system. We propose that this can
happen through the creation of non-capitalist, community-supportive,
benefit-driven entities that participate in market exchange without
participating in capital accumulation. Benefit-driven institutions are
responsible for the financial sustainability and social reproduction of
the commoners, as well as for the protection and strengthening of the
Through the use of a new type of peer production license, commoners can
freely share the commons with commons-friendly entities, while charging
for-profit entities who do not reciprocate to the commons, thereby
creating a positive feedback loop which creates a commons-centered
counter-economy. Crucial for phase transition under conditions of
capitalist crisis is to combine the emergent counter-economy, and its
working solutions to issues of social reproduction, to the broad social
movements that emerge to protect the life conditions of working people.
Traditional labor and their organizations has an objective interest,
under conditions of declining capitalism, to adopt the idea of global
and shared innovation commons, and thereby ally themselves with the
emergence and deepening of peer production. In conditions of social
strife, capitalist corporations can be transformed into workers-owned,
self-managed entities that create their own commons of shared knowledge,
code, and design.
Farmers and agricultural workers have a similar interest in the creation
of shared innovation commons in order to transform soil-depleting
industrial agriculture into smart eco-agriculture based on shared
innovation commons uniting farmers and agricultural knowledge workers.
Commons-oriented peer production can both strengthen netarchical capital
and hence the system of capital accumulation, and the reproduction of
the commons. Peer producers can both benefit for corporate platforms,
while struggling for their own rights as the real value creators, and in
conditions of social strength, could potentially take over such
platforms as common or publicly owned utilities.
Participants in commoner-owned for-benefit entities can significantly
transcend purely competitive market dynamics, while avoiding
authoritarian central planning, through the adoption of open book
management, adaptation to the publicly available signaling, as well as
through negotiated coordination of production and distribution. This
does not obviate possible need for democratic planning through citizen
participation, whenever this is needed and wished for. However, it
creates broad areas for mutual alignment of productive capacities.
The traditional ideologies and movements of the industrial labor
movement became largely associated with collective property. Peer
production opens the avenue for more distributed property, whereby
individuals can freely aggregate, not only their immaterial productive
resources, but their material productive resources. Under those
conditions, possible abuse of collective property is balanced by the
individual freedom of forking productive resources.
Peer production is vital for sustainability and biosphere-friendly
production methods, as open design communities design naturally for
sustainability, but also transform the production process itself, for
example to insure participation and more distributed access to
productive resources. Combined with the development of more distributed
machinery, as well as more distributed capital allocation, peer
production can lead to a new system that combines smart material
re-localization, with global cooperative innovation, and the existence
of global phyles uniting peer production entities on a global 'material'
scale. Phyles are transnational, community-supportive entities, which
create a new layer of post-capitalist material cooperation.
Free labor is only problematic under conditions of precarity and
non-reciprocal value capture by (netarchical) capital. Under conditions
of social solidarity, the freely given participation to common value
projects is a highly emancipatory activity.
Because of its hyper-productive nature, and inherent ecological
sustainability, peer production becomes the condition for transcending
capitalism. Its own logic, i.e. free contributions to a commons, managed
by for-benefit associations and made sustainable through for-benefit
entrepreneurship of the commoners themselves, create a seed form for a
new social and economic form, centered around the core value creation of
the commons, managed and contributed to by both for-benefit associations
and entrepreneurial coalitions, and sustained by participatory
collective services, which form the basis of a new model of the Partner
State, which enables and empowers social production as the core reason
of its existence.
The hyper-productivity of peer production, makes it conform to the dual
conditions for phase transitions, i.e. the crisis of the old model of
production, and the availability of a working alternative which can
perform better while solving a number of systemic problems plaguing the
current dominant form of production. The task of the movements of
cognitive and other forms of labor, is to create a new hegemony and a
new commons- based alliance for social change, which challenges the
domination of capital, the commodity form, and the biospheric
destruction that is inherent to it."
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