Multitudes 2 on the New Political Economy

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

* Special Issue: Multitudes #2 : La nouvelle economie politique



Michel Bauwens, reading notes 2004:

Introduction, by Yann-Moulier Boutang

Written before the crash of 2000-1, and the partial economic resurgence in 2004 YM-B asks whether a new phase of long-term growth has been achieved (end of a phase B of the Kondratieff cycle).

The creation of value may no longer be located essentially in the entreprise, but in the social processes before and after its role:

   - "la gouvernance des territoires productifs, la societe dans son ensemble, la qualite de la population, la cooperation, etc ...

More and more "positive externalities are generated by the cooperating population, before they are appropriated by business

   - YMB: "Le capitalisme dans sa nouvelle phase a besoin du communisme des multitudes. Dans l'economie cognitive, la loi de la valeur est contre-productive. 
En effet, la productivite considerable de la cooperation sociale n'est pas produite dans le marche ou par le marche, mais le precede comme sa condition."

Article 1: Antonella Corsani: Innovation is no longer located in the firm

Innovation is no longer located in the firm, or in the entrepreneur (Schumpeter) but in the general human capital and its interactions. Knowledge workers are no longer isolated within the firm. She reviews how economic theory has attempted to formulate new concepts, of endogenous growth, "outside the market".

Article 2: Bernard Paulre: living vs dead knowledge

Regarding theories to explain the new economy, M. Aglietta suggests a new form of financial regulation as key factor. He also mentions the theories of the OECD. Paulre distinguishes between "connaissances vivante", the capacity to solve problems, and "la connaissance morte", which is encoded in processes. In the new period the first becomes more crucial than the second. The class capable of innovation becomes dominant, and capital becomes very mobile but also risk-oriented, in order to evaluate these permanent potentials.

Article 3: Christian Marazzi:: in defense of derivatives

Marazzi stresses the fundamental role of derivaties in the post-Fordist society after 1980, when it manages and socializes risk. To counter the volatility of prices, futures and options are a bet on such prices, for those willing to take the risk (and so they all share that risk). A futures says you will buy commodity x and a fixed price. Options give you a right to buy or sell, for an advance premium. Thus, insecurity does not derive from those derivaties, but the opposite! It is therefore wrong to see the financial economy as parasitic and non-productive, on the contrary, they are a key factor in creating wealth. What their emergence reflect is the importance of information, since that is their function. The create wealth because they generate revenues for future production, for which they also even out risk. This risk is also globalized in the world financial system, which the author calls a global state. It allowed economics to go beyond the limits of the local market. A similar process of financialization took place in the housing market, enabling a global real estate boom, which consolidated and augmented substantially the wealth of the middle classes, beyond the power of what wages alone could accomplish.

Article 4: Anne Querrian: Unconditional funding works best

this article focuses on what happened after the demise of the steel industry in Lorraine, and notes that where a wage guarantee was obtained ('pre-pension'), it revitalized the old economy. The recipients fruitlfully reapplied their knowledge to other areas such as improving their homes, generating surplus value. In contrast, in the areas where conditional 'reconverserion' occured, depopulation was the norm.

Article 5: Enzo Rullani on Post-Fordism

There are 3 schools of economic theory that focus on Post-Fordism:

   - 1) evolutionary economics focuses on ad hoc solutions, national capitalisms, resource-based views, and learning through situated action
   - 2) the neo-schumpeterian vision focuses on the innovative subject. Innovation is also at the heart of the theory of techno-economic paradigms, i.e. from the school of Sussex
   - 3) the French regulatory school focuses on the institutional paradigms which dominate these different paradigms.

The fordist era was one of big reproducible structures, aided by a regulator-state. And philosophically, it was an era of structuralism. Postfordism puts these structures in danger, and means the end of structuralism. In its stead come 3 new schools of economic thought (see above) But each one of these schools insufficiently focuses on the autoregulation of the cognitive processes.

Rullani makes a difference between mismatches of a system, which can be ameliorated, and contradictions, which are inherent in the repressed past of the dominant system. Systems die because of an excess of coherence, which denies the complexities of life, and therefore make contradictions grow, until they make the paradigm obsolete.

- A paradox of knowledge is that it decreases in time. Thus, it has to be diffused rapidly to generate value. But at the same time, once diffused it becomes socialized, i.e. commonly known, and therefore uses up its market value. This is the key contradiction of cognitive capitalism. This is the first 'mismatch'.

- The second mismatch is between the slow pace of life, necessary for complex learning, and the quick pace of the entreprise, which creates alienation.

- Since the results of new knowledge are uncertain and risky, firms may restrain from investing in new knowledge, but thereby marginalize themselves from the flow of innovation. This is the third mismatch.

More information