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.


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 [2]

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." (

Key Resources

Key Articles

  • Can We Liberate the Market through Commons Governance? By Wouter Tebbens. [3] : "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."

Key Books

Pages in category "P2P Market Approaches"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 250 total.

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