Peer to Peer: The Commons Manifesto (Book)

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Full title: Bauwens, M., Kostakis, V., & Pazaitis, A. (2019, forthcoming). Peer to Peer: The Commons Manifesto, London: Westminster University Press


Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a more profound transformation of the fundamentals of our social life. As capitalism faces a series of structural crises, a new social, political and economic dynamic is emerging: peer to peer. What is peer to peer? Why is it essential for building a commons-centric future? How could this happen?

These are the questions this book tries to answer. Peer to peer (P2P) is a type of social relations in human networks, as well as a technological infrastructure that makes the generalization and scaling up of such relations possible. We believe that these four aspects will profoundly change human society. P2P ideally describes systems in which any human being can contribute to the creation and maintenance of a shared resource while benefiting from it. There is an enormous variety of such systems: from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia to free and open-source software projects, to open design and hardware communities, to relocalization initiatives and community currencies. Thus, P2P enables a new mode of production and creates the potential for a transition to a commons-oriented economy.


This book is dedicated to Jean Lievens, who passed away in 2016 after a lifetime of engagement for social justice and the commons.

Πείτε μου εκείνες τις ιστορίες σας,
που κάνουν τα καλάμια να λυγίζουν,
στα όρια των χωραφιών κι εν μέσω άπνοιας
τα μέτωπα των αγροτών δροσίζουν.
Πείτε μου εκείνες τις ιστορίες σας.

Tell me those stories of yours
that make the reeds bend,
at the edge of the fields, and that, amidst wind lull,
cool the farmers' brow.
Tell me those stories of yours.

Thanasis Papakonstantinou, San Michele (avena un gallo) (2011)

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1. What is P2P and how is it related to the commons?
1.2. Are P2P technologies good or bad?
1.3. How does P2P relate to capitalism?
1.4. How is P2P to be implemented in practice?
1.5. Towards a commons-centric society?

2. P2P and a new ecosystem of value creation
2.1. Diverse skills and motivation
2.2. Transparent heterarchy
2.3. A new ecosystem of value creation
2.4. Four short case studies
2.5. From contradictions to an integrated economic reality
3. P2P and new socio-technological frameworks
3.1. Two generic models
3.2. The extractive model of cognitive capitalism
3.3. The generative model of commons-based peer production

4. P2P and the structure of world history
4.1. Four modes of exchange
4.2. Towards associationism

5. A commons transition strategy
5.1. Pooling and mutualizing resources wherever possible
5.2. Introducing reciprocity
5.3. From redistribution to empowerment and predistribution
5.4. Subordinating capitalist market
5.5. Organizing at the local and global level
5.6. Summary of our proposals
5.7. A last word

The Authors

Michel Bauwens is the Founder of the P2P Foundation and works in collaboration with a global group of researchers in the exploration of commons-based peer production, governance, and property.

Vasilis Kostakis is the Professor of P2P Governance at Tallinn University of Technology and Faculty Associate at Harvard University. He is the founder of the P2P Lab and core member of the P2P Foundation.

Alex Pazaitis is a Core Member of the P2P Lab and a Junior Research Fellow at the Ragnar Nurkse Department of Innovation and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology.