Category:P2P Market Approaches

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  • Michel Bauwens:
  1. The basic orientation of p2p theory towards societal reform: transforming civil society, the private and the state
  2. To the Finland Station: the political approach of P2P Theory

The P2P Foundation approach to re-embedding markets and making them work for the commons

Michel Bauwens

"First of all, we distinguish markets from capitalism, and we see markets as having both disadvantages and advantages, as have the 3 other main modes of allocation, for example as described in the Structure of World History by Kojin Karatani, and Alan Page Fiske's 'Structure of Social Life'.

We see that different historical periods have different configurations and 'dominations' of one mode above the others .... Capitalism, because of its extractivism and externalities is now hugely problematic, but it is hard to see how to eliminate markets completely without totalitarian coercion.

Thus it makes more sense in our view to focus on 2 interlocking strategies

1) the first is to re-embed markets in reciprocity mechanisms and as supporting the commons, and in fact we see this emerging and discuss this in our manuscript; we believe change does not descend ex nihilo from people who look at the system from outside and describe how they believe the world should work, but from actual praxis, and it is this praxis we examine. And what we see is commons-based productive communities aiming to re-discpline markets to their needs

2) second, we believe the role of the market will likely drastically diminish, on the condition we can export the current coordination mechanisms for immaterial work, which can already largely operate outside the market (free software , open design), to actual physical production, which will require both the development of open and contributory accounting, of other stigmergic mechanisms, but also shared and open supply chains; this will give the material basis of gradually increasing the mutual coordination of production outside of market mechanisms.

While the first is well underway, the second has hardly started, and so, in this transition period, the focus will be in our opinion on expanding the commons, and re-embedding markets under reciprocity mechanims, ie. de-capitalizing the markets if you like, but while this proceeds, the conditions for the second strategy gradually improves."

Characteristics of Alternative Economies

Proposed by Marvin Brown [1]:

  • They are more concrete and local than our current global financial economy.
  • They are more specific about wealth than the abstract measurement of GDP or even the accumulation of assets.
  • They focus more on the provisions of everyday life, such as food, housing, clothing, health, and entertainment instead of stocks and bonds.
  • They rely more on relationships of trust than the self-interest of disconnected individuals.
  • They are more contextual than most traditional economic thought.
  • They include people and the planet in their vision instead of focusing only on profit maximization.
  • They recognize the limits of growth.
  • They elicit the participation of all instead of only property owners.
  • They see themselves as belonging to the earth rather than the earth belonging to them.
  • They are part of the future, if we are to have one.

The 5 T’s of a Regenerative and Distributive Market Mechanisms

Ralph Thurm:

"If rightsholdership functions on a nano level, what would be the corresponding effects in macroeconomics, and how would it help to create System Value? At r3.0 we summarize it as the Five Ts: True Costing, True Benefiting, True Pricing, True Compensation, and True Taxation.

We believe it is the interplay and simultaneous effects of these five fundamental shifts that allow markets to steer in the direction of a System Value Economy.

Here’s how:

  • True Costs cover the actual impacts on nature and humanity, eliminating the perverse “externalization” of negative effects only and “internalization” of positive effects only;
  • True Benefits: balances “depreciation” with “appreciation” of positive effects;
  • True Prices: Price aligns with sustainable impact, with unsustainable products and services rising beyond affordability;
  • True Compensation: Link incentives to sustainable outcomes, including sustainable levels of income and benefits;
  • True Taxes: Levy adverse impacts (resource overuse, pollution) and liberate positive impacts (labor) from taxation."


Characteristics of Generative Ownership Forms

from (visited 2016-12)

THE DESIGN OF ECONOMIC POWER — The Architecture of Ownership

1. Financial Purpose: maximizing profits in the short term 1. Living Purpose: creating the conditions for life over the long term
2. Absentee Membership: ownership disconnected from the life of the enterprise 2. Rooted Membership: ownership in human hands
3. Governance by Markets: control by capital markets on autopilot 3. Mission-Controlled Governance: control by those dedicated to social mission
4. Casino Finance: capital as master 4. Stakeholder Finance: capital as friend
5. Commodity Networks: trading focused solely on price and profits 5. Ethical Networks: collective support for ecological and social norms


Chris Smaje: Markets yes, Capitalism no

"It’s often said nowadays that the old divisions between left-wing and right-wing politics are breaking down, which I think is true in many ways. I find class versus state approaches to capitalist development quite helpful in thinking through this reconfiguration.

People drawn to orthodox Brennerite class-based leftism are inclined to protest – too much, in my opinion – about small-scale private property rights, petty commerce, personal economic autonomy and so on, because they regard it as prelude to or generative of capitalism. But this is only likely to be true in situations where these features are being actively coopted by growing, centralized states forging a capitalist world order. The situation we now face is more likely one of state decline, contraction and disintegration – and in those circumstances I would, on the contrary, actively champion opportunities for widespread, accessible, secure, small-scale rural property tenure and petty marketing as critical for the possibilities of a decent life.

There are, alternatively, state-centred thinkers who take a rosy view of the capitalist state’s corporatism and technological prowess, and this usually terminates on both the political left and right in a techno-fixing rearguard commitment to the large-scale corporatist status quo in the face of present challenges – which is why to my eyes the arguments of people like Matt Ridley, Steven Pinker, Mike Shellenberger, Leigh Phillips, Mark Lynas or Nick Srnicek end up looking pretty similar, despite their different self-proclaimed positionings on a left-right axis.

Then there are people who view capitalist development as a largely malign manifestation of centralized state aggrandizement, and seek more convivial and organically local forms of socioeconomic action – a camp in which I find myself. Touchstone concepts for this way of thinking include individual and local self-reliance, autonomy, liberty, rural/small town revival, petty commerce and (primarily) local mutuality. The right-wing or conservative resonances of these concepts are perhaps obvious, but so too should be the left-wing ones – particularly once we abandon the misguided notion that selling wares at local markets or having decision-making autonomy over farm property are somehow intrinsically capitalist, or that notions of “community, magic, craftsmanship, and enchantment” as discussed by Ernie in this interesting comment are intrinsically conservative or ‘reactionary’.

- Chris Smaje [2]

How Anti-Markets Work

" The Dutch East India Company was the first modern corporation. It had to monopolize in order to function as it did. Fernand Braudel talks about this in his three-volume Civilization and Capitalism, as does Manuel DeLanda later on. Capitalism is really about anti-markets. It’s about international monopolies and cartels, because if you look at what the trade was like in the East Indies before the Europeans came, or more specifically before the Dutch came (because the Portuguese were unable or unwilling to stifle free trade in the region), the ports were completely open to Turks, Arabs, Chinese, Ethiopians—it was a multicultural paradise in terms of trade. But those ports were eventually monopolized by the Dutch. Controlling everything was their specific innovation. The spices in question were very rare at the time, coming only from specific and limited points on the globe. At the time, nutmeg, mace, and cloves came only from a small number of East Asian Islands: the “Spice Islands,” as they were known, which lie midway between Sulawesi and New Guinea. The Dutch would actually chop down the trees on certain islands to make sure they only grew on the islands they controlled, in order to keep monopoly prices high. It works, and that’s a sobering lesson: anti-markets work."

- Graham Harman [3]

David Graeber on Free Market Populism

"There have, certainly, been times and places when a kind of free market populism has emerged, where markets began operating independently of governments, at least to some degree – Medieval Islam is one famous example, and later, Ming China—but in such cases, they tended to operate in very different ways than the kind of markets we’re now familiar with, less about competition, much more about creating and maintaining relations of interpersonal trust, or for instance, profit-sharing operations instead of interest, etc etc."

- David Graeber [4]

David Graeber on Markets and States

"This is a great trap of the twentieth century: on one side is the logic of the market, where we like to imagine we all start out as individuals who don’t owe each other anything. On the other is the logic of the state, where we all begin with a debt we can never truly pay. We are constantly told that they are opposites, and that between them they contain the only real human possibilities. But it’s a false dichotomy. States created markets. Markets require states. Neither could continue without the other, at least, in anything like the forms we would recognize today."


Marvin Brown on why we need Civic Design for Civilizing the Economy

"When people say, ”We have seen the problem and the problem is us,” they deceive themselves. We are not the problem. The problem is one of design. Our current design of how we live together in unjust and unsustainable, and it is still controlled by commercial conversations without any moral foundation. Those who control financial markets are sovereign. If we expand and protect civic conversations we may, in time, participate in the solution—an economy based on civic norms making provisions for this and future generations."


Yochai Benkler:: Not all 'markets' are markets!

"One often hear people speaking of 'a market in reputation' .. It is important to note that such statements are metaphors. Markets as actual institutional forms are a particular information process, generating information in a very particular form -- prices. Other modadlities of allowing unorganized individuals to decide on their actions without hierarchical coordination, even if they are fully distributed and automatic in style, but that rely on other institutional forms and social practices, are not 'markets', except metaphorically."

(Sharing Nicely, p. 305)

Peter Ulrich: Embedding the Market in a Superordinate Societal Framework of Sustainability and Justice

"All ecological scarcities are embedded into social conflicts. Our foremost systematic task is to use these scarcities reasonably. This task cannot be resolved within the category of efficiency because it concerns our ethical reason that relates to the reciprocal respect and recognition of the people and to the fair consideration of legitimate claims of everybody on three levels – within a society, internationally and intergenerationally. From this perspective, „sustainable development“ is in the end just a different, almost euphemistic or trivializing term for what denotes the equal rights of all human beings in respect of scarce natural resources. The realization of these equal rights is of course still far away. But in any case, sustainability requires a normative concept which implies the obligation to embed the responsible use of natural resources into a just societal order – and I emphasize societal, not just economic order."

- Peter Ulrich [5]

Elin Whitney-Smith on the Historical Role of the Press in the Development of Markets and Capitalism

"Capitalism developed where and when it did because there was high information access. There was high information access because of a major advance in information technology - the press. Where the technology was not controlled by the ’’powers that be” there was economic growth and a shift in the entire social structure. Where it was controlled there was no structural change and there was economic ruin. The development of capitalism is a major step change in economic growth. It is also a major change in the way people organize themselves into groups. Major step changes in the growth and in the organization of cultures are found to be related to the introduction and use of information technology. The limit to growth is the limit of effective use of information or the variety limit. Economies are able to grow once the variety limit is raised. Information technology allows people to increase their individual variety in relation to the amount of information processed. This increase in individual variety allows the entire society to grow. Where there is high access to information through technology there is much growth and where there is less information access through control of technology there is less economic growth. When a high access economy is in competition for resources with a low access economy the high access economy will be more economically successful."

- Elin Whitney-Smith [6]

Key Resources

Key Articles

  • Can We Liberate the Market through Commons Governance? By Wouter Tebbens. [7] : "In the Barcelona-based Escola dels Commons we study the commons and right now we are discussing about the market, how current markets work and how they could work, if redefined under commons logic."

[8]: we can "distinguish three basic mechanisms of mediation or control: markets, which are efficient when performance ambiguity is low and goal incongruence is high; bureaucracies, which are efficient when both goal incongruence and performance ambiguity are moderately high; and clans, which are efficient when goal incongruence is low and performance ambiguity is high."

  • Markets do not respond sufficiently to maintain resiliency under an external shock as prices do not reflect thresholds: results from the study: Ecological threshold and ecological economic threshold. By Takuro Uehara. Ecological Economics, Volume 93, September 2013, Pages 374-384 [9]

Key Books

* Radical Markets. By Eric Posner & Glen Weyl.[10]: "Their ideas have captured the imaginations of blockchain technologists in particular. That is because while it is hard to change real-world property law, it is easy to rewrite the rules governing ownership of crypto-assets. Thus, there is a fascinating possibility of architecting crypto-asset ownership schemes that are simultaneously more efficient and more egalitarian than the Common Law scheme governing the real economy." [11]

  • Marvin Brown: Civilizing the Economy, on the economy as a provisioning system, controlled by civil society
  • Majorie Kelly: The Emerging Ownership Revolution, new forms of distributed ownership
  • Karl Polany: The Great Transformation, the classic critique of so-called 'free markets'; (and the update: The Power of Market Fundamentalism‎
  • A Small Farm Future: Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local Economies, Self-Provisioning, Agricultural Diversity, and a Shared Earth. By Chris Smaje. Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2020. [12]: "Drawing on a vast range of sources from across a multitude of disciplines, A Small Farm Future analyses the complex forces that make societal change inevitable; explains how low-carbon, locally self-reliant, agrarian communities can empower us to successfully confront these changes head on; and explores the pathways for delivering this vision politically”.
  • Röpke, W. (1960): A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market, transl. E. Henderson, Chicago: Henry Regnery Co. (orig. German: Jenseits von Angebot und Nachfrage, 2nd ed. 1958).
  • Ulrich, P. (2008): Integrative Economic Ethics: Foundations of a Civilized Market Economy, Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Commons, Markets and Associations in the European Middle Ages. JEAN-FRANÇOIS DRAPERI. Associations in the Medieval West. From the emergence of the commons to the supremacy of markets. Le fait associatif dans l’Occident médiéval. De l’émergence des communs à la suprématie des marchés. Le Bord de l'Eau, [13]: "Associations dominate the economy of the central Middle Ages: monasteries, parishes, guilds, brotherhoods, communes, found the renaissance of the 12th century. Acting on the medieval associative fact invites us to pose the hypothesis that associations and the social economy are not an invention of contemporary society, but rather a discovery. The social economy was not born in reaction to capitalism, but the capitalist economy was born from the transformation of trade associations and the seizure of power by merchants and bankers over the commons and communes in the 13th and 14th centuries."

Pages in category "P2P Market Approaches"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 325 total.

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