Book of Abundance
* The Book of Abundance. Reflections on abundance, economics, and community by the las Indias collective. Translated by Level Translation. Grassroots Economic Organizing, 2015.
Chosen by translator Steve Herrick:
"Abundance exists when it becomes unnecessary to work out what is produced and what not, and above all, how much access to a given product this or that person will have.
All products, in all times and systems, “are carriers of worlds”—they create social meaning. What’s different now is that this meaning, the values that give it social content, are made obvious throughout the process to those who are part of it. The community that creates something new discusses “why” and “how” until everyone is satisfied. The community dimension of the new productive forms turns each new product into an act of transformation that is conscious of the natural and social surroundings.
This is the polar opposite of consumption oriented by the mass media and adherence towards the recentralizers of the Internet. The passive expression of liking or disliking doesn’t work in this kind of relationship between individual and network. Identity is built through choices and learning in conversation on networks oriented towards making, not as the result of a series of buying patterns, or as a mold. Identity is no longer something that objects impose on people; they now discover themselves in the story that communities give to their creations.
The starting point for an ethic of abundance should be establishing that if abundance can appear as an attainable objective in history, it is through the development and extension of knowledge. Every ethic of abundance, and by extension every emancipating ethic, must revolve around it.
But knowledge—and especially social knowledge—is a community act, a distillation that exists in the framework of an experience and contexts that are not, in themselves, universal. An ethic of abundance is a community ethic, oriented to shaping the real community and understanding it not as a constriction of the individual, but as the essential condition of their own development. Because, as the cyberpunks said, “life is a package deal,” a unique thing, a necessarily transformative activity.
And that means two things: the most obvious is that there is no such thing as “living time” differentiated from and opposed to “working time.” Work, transformative activity, is knowledge in action and the action of creating knowledge—theory and practice that are aware of each other. An ethic of abundance is a work ethic motivated by knowledge. The view of work as subjugation, as slavery, is the result of alienation, a separation of ourselves into arbitrary parts, which should not be tolerated, but overcome by providing meaning through making and changing the conditions we live in.
So, in the new productive models oriented towards abundance, not only does the idea of community regain an importance it has not had since preindustrial society, but with it, the practice of an egalitarian ideal. And, as we have seen in the study of pluriarchy, in our age, egalitarianism is the result of the direct incorporation of knowledge into production."