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Section dedicated to the p2p-oriented practices of cooperation and collaboration.

A word of caution: you have to be familiar with the limitations of the cooperative model in a capitalist society, formulated as Oppenheimer’s Law of Transformation: cooperatives are a short-term means of survival, but tend towards capitalist privatization in the longer term Oppenheimer clearly formulated the prospect that as long as the macro-economic accounting system is governed by private capital calculation, no communal settlement can survive without adapting this economic model. Our own proposal for Open Cooperatives is meant as a pragmatic antidote to this deeper tendency, it recommends making 'commons creation' a legal and structural obligation for cooperatives, so that they produce common goods even as they veer towards adaptation.


The virtuous cycle of collaboration

"Scarcity is primarily a mindset and lack of collaboration not a biophysical reality! Competition creates scarcity, which in turn is used to justify competitive behaviour (a vicious circle). The natural limits of bioproductivity and healthy ecosystems functions don’t create scarcity as such. Collaboration can turn these natural planetary limits into enabling constraints to create abundance for all within healthy ecosystems and a healthy biosphere. Collaboration creates shared abundance, which in turn invites more collaboration (a virtuous circle)."

- Daniel Christian Wahl [1]

What is Free Cooperation ?

"There are three aspects that have to be taken into account if you want to build a free cooperation. The first is that all rules in this cooperation can be questioned by everybody, there are no holy rules that people cannot question or reject or bargain and negotiate about – which is not the case in most of the cooperations and organizational forms that we know.

And the second aspect that has to be guaranteed for free cooperation is that people can question and change these rules by using this primary material force of refusing to cooperate, by restricting their cooperation, by holding back what they do for these cooperations, making conditions under which they are willing to cooperate, or leaving cooperations. They must be guaranteed the right to use these measures to influence the rules and that everybody in the cooperation can do this.

And the third aspect – which is important because otherwise it would be just a blackmailing of the less powerful ones by the more powerful ones – is that the price of not cooperating, the price that it costs if you restrict your cooperation or if the cooperation splits up, should be …not exactly equal …but similar for all participants in this cooperation, and it should be affordable. That means, it can be done, it’s not impossible, it’s not a question of sheer existence to cooperate in this way.

So, if these three conditions are guaranteed, a cooperation is free or can be free, because everybody can question and change the rules, can negotiate about the rules by using his or her power to restrict what he or she puts into this cooperation, or by splitting up and searching another way to cooperate with other people and other groups. And the idea is to say that this third aspect, the price, which is not money necessarily, the price that it costs to split up or to restrict cooperation – to make this price equal and possible for all participants, that’s the core business of leftist policy, that’s the real core business, that’s what leftist policy does, it adjusts rules in a way that people have the same power to influence rules because the price that it costs them if there is a split or if they restrict their engagement is the same for everybody."

- Christoph Spehr [2]

Integration is crucial for cooperation at scale

“the crucial success factor for cooperation at increasing levels of scale is integration—a state of unity with differentiation. In a fully integrated system, each part maintains its unique identity while operating in coordination with other parts of the system. To do so, the parts must remain in intimate feedback loops of communication with a large number of related parts. Each of the systems we’ve been looking at—cells, organisms, ecosystems, and Gaia—is a paragon of this type of integration. In fact, integration is a defining characteristic of any purposive, self-organized entity.”

- Jeremy Lent [3]

The Evolutionary Advantages of Cooperation

  • cooperation creates a division of labour: an individual doesn't have to learn to everything, but can rely on others
  • combinations can do new emerging things that a part cannot
  • large scales allow for more complexity, more possibilities, new ways of creating beneficial environments
  • it diminishes the harmful effects of internal competition, displacing it to external group competition

Expanding the scale of cooperation augments adaptive possibilities and leads to phase changes in what can be done.

Key Resources

Key Articles

On the tension between two levels of natural selection: 1) At the group level, selfless behavior is advantageous 2) But at the individual level, selfish behavior is advantageous

Compiled by via Jennifer Sertl:

  1. Synthetic Overview of Collaborative Economy by Michel Bauwens & P2P Foundation
  2. Six Ways to Empower Yourself With Others Faisal Hoque
  3. Too Big To Know Where the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room
  4. The Individuation of Ideas
  5. Why we need each other
  6. Lessons from Edison & Collaborative Innovation
  7. Future Work Skills 2020 … via @iftf+1 virtual collaboration
  8. Synthesis in Collaborative Flow … by @sournce pov via @collabdna
  9. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice
  10. What Collaborative Leaders Know

Key Books

"No successful society can diverge too far from a structure that supports them:

1) the capacity to have and recognize individual identity

2) love for partners and offspring

3) friendship

4) social networks

5) cooperation

6) preference for one's own group

7) mild hierarchy / relative egalitarianism

8) social learning and teaching

See also:

* Non-Zero. By Robert Wright. [6]

""Wright showed that history involves a series of transitions, driven by rising population density plus new technologies (writing, roads, the printing press) that created new possibilities for mutually beneficial trade and learning. Zero-sum conflicts—such as the wars of religion that arose as the printing press spread heretical ideas across Europe—were better thought of as temporary setbacks, and sometimes even integral to progress." [7]

Three key books recommended by David Bollier:

  • Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, "A Cooperative Species: Human Reciprocity and Its Evolution" Princeton U. Press, 2011: evolutionary science, complexity theory and high-level scientific scholarship on the topic
  • Martin A. Nowak, "Super Cooperators: Altruism, Evolution and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed". Free Press, 2011: Nowak is a mathematical biologist and evolutionary scientist. Very readable book.
  • Martin A. Nowak,Why We Need Each Other to Succeed (New York, NY: Free Press, 2011);
  • David Sloan Wilson, Does Altruism Exist? Culture, Genes and the Welfare of Others (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2015);
  • Thomas Widlok, Anthropology and the Economy of Sharing (New York, NY: Routledge, 2017).

See also:

  • Richard Sennett. Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation. Yale University Press, 2012.
  • Gintis, Herbert, Samuel Bowles, et al., Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: The Foundations of Cooperation in Economic Life (MIT Press, 2005).
  • Hyde, Lewis, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property (Vintage Books, 1979).
  • Kropotkin, Peter, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers/ Extending Horizons Books, reprint of 1914 edition).
  • Linn, Karl, Building Commons and Community (Oakland, California: New Village Press, 2007).

Key Practices

(Neo)Traditional Gifting/Sharing/Cooperative Practices:

Via Co-Creative Recipes:

  1. Ayni: a term with a meaning that’s closely related to minga. It describes a system of work and family reciprocity among members
  2. Bayanihan: in the Philippines,'communal unity'
  3. Córima: The Rarámuri people of Mexico’s Chihuahua mountains use the word “córima” to describe an act of solidarity with someone who’s having trouble.
  4. Gadugi: a term used in the Cherokee language which means “working together” or “cooperative labor” within a community
  5. Gotong-Royong: in parts of Indonesia and Malaysia, Gotong-royong is a cooperation among many people to attain a shared goal with ideas of reciprocity or mutual aid.
  6. Guelaguetza: a cross between a potlatch and a tequio. The term describes “a reciprocal exchange of goods and services”.
  7. Harambee: a Kenyan tradition of community self-help events, e.g. playdraising or development activities. Harambee literally means “all pull together” in Swahili
  8. Imece: a name given for a traditional Turkish village-scale collaboration.
  9. Maloka: (or maloka in Portuguese) is an indigenous communal house found in the indigenous Amazon region of Colombia and Brazil.
  10. Meitheal: the Irish word for a work team, gang, or party and denotes the co-operative labour system in Ireland where groups of neighbours help each other in turn with farming work
  11. Mutirão: This is originally a Tupi term used in Brazil to describe collective mobilizations based on non-remunerated mutual help.
  12. Naffīr: an Arabic word used in parts of Sudan (including Kordofan, Darfur, parts of the Nuba mountains and Kassala) to describe particular types of communal work undertakings.
  13. Tequio: a very popular type of work for collective benefit in the Zapotec culture. Community members contribute materials or labor to carry out construction work for the community.

Key Videos

Related Wiki sections


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Pages in category "Cooperation"

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