Category:Mutual Coordination

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Key hypothesis: What market pricing is to capitalism and planning is to state-based production, mutual coordination (i.e. Stigmergy) is to commons-based peer production!

Please check out our report P2P Accounting for Planetary Survival, for the vision of the P2P Foundation, as well as the Cosmo-Local Reader for practical examples.

We are asking you to imagine the following emerging reality:

  • a first layer of production and distribution involves direct mutual coordination, through open and shared supply chains, with integrate accounting and metrics to recognize both positive and negative social and ecological externalities
  • a second layer involves generative market transactions involving the various players in entredonneurial (generative entrepreneurs working together) coalitions that share common infrastructures and circular economies
  • a third 'planning' layer that involves biophysical accountability, using tools like Kate Raworth's Doughnut, or the Global Tresholds and Allocations developed by initiatives such as Reporting 3.0

The aim is to achieve a Resource Balanced Economy, characterized by Perma-Circularity. See the report by Simon Michaux about the nature of this transition. [1]. For details, see Simon Michaux on the Transition Towards a Resource Balanced Economy [2]

Our key report introducing a global infrastructive for collaborative production

* P2P Accounting for Planetary Survival: Towards a P2P Infrastructure for a Socially Just Circular Society. By Michel Bauwens and Alex Pazaitis. Foreword by Kate Raworth. P2P Foundation, 2019.

URL = Draft text ; draft illustrations

How shared perma-circular supply chains, post-blockchain distributed ledgers, protocol cooperatives, and three new forms of post-capitalist accounting, could very well save the planet.

Introduction to the potential for Mutual Coordination through Peer Production

Our approach marries 'mutual coordination' mechanisms in the commons, such as open and contributive accounting and shared and circular 'eco-systemic' supply chains, perhaps using REA accounting and verification through shared universal shared ledgers like the holochain; just pricing and exchange mechanisms in the sphere of the ethical and generative market; and a planning framework based on Thresholds and Allocations proposed by global resource commons institutions.

0. What market pricing is to capitalism and planning is to state-based production, mutual coordination is to commons-based peer production!

1. Today we have the emergence of a new proto-system of production, Commons-Based Peer Production in which contributors are free to contribute to a common pool of shareable knowledge, code and design, which may be associated through physical production in microfactories using distributed machinery such as 3D printing.

2. This emerging new system of value creation and distribution is not sustainable if contributors need to find work as labour for capital, so contributors need to be able to generate livelihoods for themselves, keeping the generation of surplus value within the sphere of the commons and its contributors.

3. To achieve this, we advocate the use of Commons-Based Reciprocity Licenses such as the Peer Production License. This allows for the creation of a non-capitalist 'counter' economy based on Open Cooperativism and other forms of an ethical economy. In this proposal, the commoners or peer producers, i.e. the contributors to the commons, are also cooperators of their own corporate entities, which create livelihoods and insure the surplus value remains within the commons. So, in between the sphere of the accumulation of the commons (open input, participatory process, commons-oriented output), and the sphere of capital accumulation, there is a intermediary sphere of cooperative production, which regulates physical production and the social reproduction of the commoners-cooperators.

4. The production of immaterial common pools is already regulated through mutual coordination and stigmergy, i.e. coordination based on open and transparent signals of what is needed by the system; but physical production cannot be coordinated without similar signals, i.e. the coordination of production through information. It is therefore a next logical step to advocate and practice, within the ethical entrepreneurial coalitions that coalesce around particular commons through their shared adherence to the commons-based licenses, to also practice open accounting and open supply-chains and logistics. This means that within these coalitions, physical production can also be coordinated through stigmergic signals; and negotiated coordination and even voluntary common planning can take place on the basis of the shared production information.

In conclusion: We Need To Evolve Towards Fifth Magisterium of the Commons, based on a Contributory Value Regime, in order to create a steady-state Mutual Coordination Economy.

It could be argued that since the Industrial Revolution, our societies have been managed by four relatively autonomous magisteria (a science regulating empirical production, a culture regulating public discourses, a politics regulating state allocation, and an industry regulating private/pragmatic production. In our previous work, P2P Accounting for Planetary Survival, we have described a shift from a commodity value regime to a contributory regime, which is co-emerging with three new types of accounting (contribution/impact; flow/ecosystems; and thermodynamic matter/energy), which on the one hand expand the sphere of free and open coordination to the sphere of material production, while creating a new magisteria, that through accounting can be integrated in contextual (bioregional) decision-making at every level of subsidiarity, i.e. a relatively autonomous informational commons (f.e. a global thresholds and allocations council) that reflects the limits set by the interests of the interdependent web of life. In other words, we need to institutionalize the human and natural commons and give them a proper Voice. We will explore our further findings about such a potential cyber-physical infrastructure through which Anthropocene humanity can produce for its needs, in the context of a vocal and orchestrated voice for the interdependent web of life to which it can be held accountable.

Projects of particular interest to the P2P Foundation

Most crypto-ledger and blockchain applications intend to create distributed markets, which tend to oligarchic concentration over time. The P2P Foundation is partial to commons-oriented approaches in which market dynamics serve the common good and more egalitarian outcomes. In the context of this section, blockchain and other crypto-ledger applications could be a vital tool for open supply chains.

Some criteria to look for (via Dick Bryan and Akseli Virtanen):

  • 1. "Programmable organizations enable production to be organized in a way that makes social criteria the rationale for production; not a constraint on it."


  • 2. "The rise of ‘networks’ as modes of corporate organization breaks down the conventional means that differentiate one corporation from another and challenges the principle of ‘competition’ as the driver of corporate rationale. These are both issues that feature prominently in decentralized applications."


* 3. Mechanisms, like tokens, that allow surplus value to be retained by the workers, not capital.

" Changes in the nature of work (precarization, casualization, subcontracting, the rise of the gig economy) see workers carrying greater risks and break down the attachment of work and living standards to employment. There is growing interest in alternative ways of organizing work." [5]

4. "the real potential is cryptocurrencies as units of account: as modes of measuring economic activity that are conceived differently from those intrinsic to fiat money. Fiat money has become tied to conventional framings of profit and loss, income and expenditure, and a market-centred calculus. Non-fiat monies have the potential for developing new ways to calculate economic activity; ways that represent different social and economic values, and measure performance by criteria other than profit. Think about it for a moment. The unit of account potential signals the importance of the crypto economy developing ways (not a singular way, but coin-specific ways) of accounting and measuring the activities supported by each token. We see this as central to giving tokens a material basis in the crypto economy; not just leaving them as speculative stores of value. .... "Exchange is often between parties of unequal power, so mutual gain cannot be presumed. An important issue of the crypto economy is how blockchain can and cannot countermand asymmetrical power in trade. We see blockchain not facilitating frictionless markets but rather frictionless capital: distributed capital." [6]

Interesting projects in this sphere are:

Key resources



  • How Hyper-competition leads to inefficiencies in the supply-chain [9]
  • Computing Utopia: The Horizons of Computational Economies in History and Science Fiction. By Jo Lindsay Walton. Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 3, Issue 46, pp. 471-89, 2019 [10]: "This article connects the recent flourishing of economic science fiction with the increasing technicity of contemporary financial markets, to pose questions about computational economies, both historical and fictional, and their ambiguous utopian currents. It explores examples of computational economies and societies in which economic resources are largely defined and allocated by computational systems to challenge — if not entirely dispel—assumptions about the inextricability of computation and the dystopian specters of capitalism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism. The article puts insights from the histories of cybernetics, computer science, and economics into dialogue with sf novels."


* Stefan Heidenreich. Money. Merve Verlag, 2017. [11] See: Stefan Heidenreich on the Post-Currency Non-Money Economy

  • Peters, M. A., Besley, T., Jandrić, P., & Zhu, X. (2020). Knowledge Socialism. The Rise of Peer Production: Collegiality, Collaboration, and Collective Intelligence. Singapore: Springer.
  • Recommended by Katarina Pistor: "For a comprehensive analysis of the weaknesses of the socialist system", see JANOS KORNAI,THE SOCIALIST SYSTEM: THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF COMMUNISM (1992). [12]

Neo-Socialist Approaches




Bob Haugen and William McCarthy:

"The Internet as a means of coordination is driving supply chain collaboration very quickly, but there is no accepted standardized semantic model that can actually encompass all supply chain activities. A standard, non-proprietary semantic model can make supply chain collaboration more like a public utility (the semantic Web) that businesses plug into than the current slow and expensive collaboration projects."


The Free Software Model

The Soviet model retained a contradiction between production and circulation, i.e. the alienation of the worker from his product, since he had to buy the products from the market, using the 'general equivalent' of money. In free software, this is not the case, a continuum of producers and users both produce, circulate, and use it. As feedback it does not use the price mechanism, but knowledge. Copyleft ensures its circulation, thereby preventing scarcity, i.e. a market.

(source unknown, booknote by Michel Bauwens [13]

Engage Global, Test Local, Spread Viral

John Boik:

"No matter how promising the design of a new system might be, it would be unreasonable to expect that a nation would abruptly drop an existing system in favor of a new one. Nevertheless, a viable, even attractive strategy exists by which new systems could be successfully researched, developed, tested, and implemented. I call it engage global, test local, spread viral.

Engage global means to engage the global academic community and technical sector, in partnership with other segments of society, in a well-defined R&D program aimed at computer simulation and scientific field testing of new systems and benchmarking of results. In this way, the most profound insights of science can be brought into play.

Test local means to scientifically test new designs at the local (e.g., city or community) level, using volunteers (individuals, businesses, non-profits, etc.) organized as civic clubs. This approach allows testing by relatively small teams, at relatively low cost and risk, in coexistence with existing systems, and without legislative action.

Spread viral means that if a system shows clear benefits in one location (elimination of poverty, for example, more meaningful jobs, or less crime) it would likely spread horizontally, even virally, to other local areas. This approach would create a global network of communities and cities that cooperate in trade, education, the setup of new systems, and other matters. Over time, its impact on all segments of society would grow.

Cities, big and small, are the legs upon which all national systems rest. Already cities and their communities are hubs for innovation. With some further encouragement and support, and the right tools and programs, they could become more resilient and robust, and bigger heroes in the coming great transition."


The Coordination Problem

Ian Wright:

"To solve the coordination problem we need to operate the economy at the correct activity levels such that final demand is satisfied without over or under production. A fully coordinated economy produces the population’s consumption bundle without wasteful accumulation, or unsustainable depletion, of stocks. Of course, final demand continually changes, and so do the techniques of production. So a complete solution of the coordination problem requires discovering, and re-discovering, the correct activity levels, and ensuring that the economy conforms to those levels."


Why Neoliberalism Overtook the Soviet Model

"The great experiment of communism failed in the twentieth century because it had a feeble mathematical imagination. It thought in terms of the geometry of empire with its single center of command and control, and its periphery of resources. With this sort of world-view, communism was archaic and Pharaonic, and it was no wonder that it got taken over by genocidal tyrants like Stalin and Mao. Capitalism outlasted communism because its mathematical imagination was one of complexity and self-organization from noise. ... Capitalists who think of physical objects in markets, and hypercapitalists who think of algorithmic trading and accelerations of time and manipulations of price and currency differences do not understand life. Capitalism as well as hypercapitalism will both fail in this century because a market is not a good model for a planetary ecology."

- William Irwin Thompson [14]

Pages in category "Mutual Coordination"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 203 total.

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