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Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.

- Ryunosuke Satoro [1]

To find ways, against all odds, to bring together all the various highly differentiated and often local movements into some kind of commonality of purpose.

- David Harvey, Spaces of Hope [2]

These days, if you're an optimist, you're not paying attention to the facts, and if you're a pessimist, you're not paying attention to what some of us are doing despite them.

- Paul Hawken [3]

Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience.

- Alex Steffen [4]

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.

- Raymond Williams

"The Internet is a wonderful leveller. But democracy requires a great deal more than mere ‘levelling’. Primarily, it requires political institutions that enable the economically weak to have a decisive say on policy against the interests of the rich and powerful."

- Yanis Varoufakis [5]

"The People are supreme, the state is secondary and the Ruler is the least important: only those who please the people can rule."

- Mencius [6]


This page is for political and activist practices and processes that are somehow influenced by the peer to peer dynamic. See also the related page on P2P Governance Concepts, which deals with 'how we manage peer to peer processes'. We will particularly use this section to monitor Civic Hacking projects.

Not all concepts from the Encyclopedia have been ported to this page yet: only the terms from A-D (first two columns).

For the underpinnings of our work at the P2P Foundation, read: Theses on the Emergence of the Peer to Peer Civilization and Political Economy

The P2P Foundation supports the Manifest for the recovery of common goods of humanity

To start of your explorations, we recommend the following key articles:

  1. Michel Bauwens: Three Things We Need to Succeed in P2P Politics
  2. Alex Steffen: Optimism as a Political Act
  3. Dale Carrico: Technology Is Not a Force for Either Liberation or Oppression
  4. The Techorg vision: Hack the State: "Armed revolutionaries and anarchists hate the state. Social democrats want to be the state. I say we better hack it." [7]

Contextual Citation

"Minqi Li's claim is that too many formerly peripheral countries -- especially the giants, India and China -- have moved into the position of what the world systems theorists call "semi-peripheral" countries, supplying mid-range or partially elaborated products to the central, high-technology producers. The result is a declining pool of people to exploit, both in terms of labor and resources, and in terms of defenseless markets that must necessarily buy products from the center. When large percentages of the world population have access to at least mid-level producer technology, capital can no longer accumulate at the former centers, whose power declines. The current state of affairs in Western Europe and the US/Canada seems to bear this thesis out.

In such a perspective, the p2p ideas and those of everyone working on p2p and commons approaches become far more pertinent. When the centers of capital accumulation can off the fruits of very high technology to all of those, across the world, who rise into the middle classes, then there is scant likelihood of winning them over to a cooperative approach -- the powers of capitalist seduction are just too strong. Yet in a condition of long-term stagnation, coupled with environmental threats stemming directly and visibly from capital accumulation, alternative proposals may become much more attractive across a flattening global hierarchy."

- Brian Holmes, August 2014

What Can We Do?

  • Please watch:

Screencast with an Overview of the Transformative Proposals of the P2P Foundation

“The true object of politics is to create the institutions which, by being internalised by individuals, most facilitates their accession to their individual autonomy and their effective participation in all forms of explicit power existing in society”

– Cornelius Castoriadis [8]

Michel Bauwens:

As I see it, there are three main strategies being deployed. All have their strength and weaknesses, and I then conclude with the positioning of the P2P Foundation in that field.

1. First there are the hackers and their continuous attempt to create alternative infrastructures and to connect them to each other. Many attempts fail, but there are successes, like .. however, not nearly on the scale necessary to break network effects of the corporate platforms. A main weakness of this strategy is the communicative isolation from where humanity is actually interacting.

2. Bringing the fight to the internet platforms themselves, because such communication is a basic human necessity and they should therefore be considered 'commons' or public utilities, not subjected to corporate whim. An example of this approach is the Facebook Users Union, but this trend still seems very small. My assessment: networked communities can mobilize massively, on occasion, both online and offline, but have problems in terms of organising for 'la duree'

3. Counter-surveillance, sabotage, and transparency, i.e. Wikileaks, Anonymous etc .. here also a very mixed record and also their very successes lead to a tightening of security on the other side.

My conclusion is that all three approaches are necessary, but not sufficient, and that what is needed is an integrative approach. This focuses on the more long-term work of re-creating a new social hegemony based on the interlocking of the multitude of self-organized productive efforts that are now undertaken under the umbrella of peer production and the creation and protection of old and new commons. This approach focuses on the further creation of commons and p2p initiatives with an integrative vision for transformative social change. It works on the pluralistic politization of p2p/commons efforts with the view of creating strong social and political movements for social change.

Overview of P2P Transition Proposals

  • Las Indias summarizes recent p2p thinking from the period 2012-2013 [9]
  • a good summary of the triarchical proposal to simultaneously transform civil society, the market and the state [10]
  • political organizing:
    • 1) local change through civic Alliances of the Commons and Chamber of the Commons producing social charters to recreate local political majorities [11] ;
    • 2) the global alliance of the commons at nation-state level and beyond [12]

John Boik: 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." (

Douglas Rushkoff on Commons-Based Politics After Trump

"A paralyzed, incompetent federal administration will simply require people to develop more local mechanisms for economic recovery, social cohesion, and mutual aid. This means red and blue people working together to maintain the basics of civil society, from food supply chains and healthcare to education and peaceful streets. With neoliberalism and supra-national corporations at bay for a moment, we may actually have more of an opportunity to develop bottom-up alternatives than we've had for a long time. The Depression spawned local currencies, farm cooperatives, and new mechanisms for distributed prosperity. Those of us with a foot in the real world stand a chance of building similar tools and networks, today."

- email, November 2016

Framing the discussion in the contect of P2P-driven global governance

Poor Richard' Almanack :

"Can a hollowed-out, privatized government effectively cope with the increasing complexity of social and environmental crises such as global warming ?

I agree that the failure of government regulation to curb the destructive activity of large corporations is only likely to worsen with the increasing privatization of government and the increasing complexity of global problems. So what can p2p culture do about this?

1. Establish powerful, confederated P2P Guilds and Leagues based on various global commons of knowledge and expertise so that mitigations, adaptations, and other interventions can be crowd-sourced by massively distributed, parallel, and open networks of peers.

2. Establish many strong, self-reliant economies at the local geopolitical (or Eco-political) level by forming partnerships between the P2P guilds and progressive local communities. These partnerships would maximize economies of scope via peer production and would also be strongly confederated with their peers bio-regionally, nationally, and globally.

3. One more maneuver that may be necessary to assist this process I will dub “castling”, a term borrowed from the game of chess. What I mean by this is a shifting of local populations between adjacent local geopolitical jurisdictions (such as cities and counties in the US) so as to create political, social, and economic majorities of p2p culture in the targeted locations.

The resulting strongly confederated p2p cultural strongholds might stand the best chance of competing with the large corporate entities, excluding them from the “castled” commons, and limiting the scope of their environmental destruction." (

Introductory Articles

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  1. Important Policy statement: Five Principles of Openness and Transparency in Politics
  2. Action Item: Proposal for an Alliance between the Social Economy and Free Libre and Open Source Software. Bastien Sybille.
  3. The necessary attitude to the state form, explained by Dale Carrico: Why We Have To Work With the State


  1. Changing Self, Community, and Society, by Inspector Lohman #[13]
  2. David Loy: On the Relationship between Individual and Collective Awakening
  3. Openness is not sufficient for Democracy. Bill Thompson.
  4. Towards planetary, peer to peer, and green consciousness. Dale Carrico.
  5. The Networked Public Sphere: updating Habermas
  6. A Cluetrain Manifesto for People-Powered Politics: the 95 theses reworked for politics
  7. Stephen Downes: Values for the left in an age of distribution
  8. Social Network Sites for change: overview
  9. Cass Sunstein: Is the Internet a blessing for democracy?
  10. Jerry Brito: Crowdsourcing Government Transparency: great introductory overview of Open Government and Open Government Data principles and practices [14]

P2P Foundation

Blog entries at the P2P Foundation: please check the blog archive, for entries on the political aspects of P2P.

The essay that started it all:

Key articles:


See also:

  1. Towards a Grand Alliance for the Commons
  2. P2P, the Left, the Right, and Beyond

Longer essays:

  1. To the Finland Station: the political approach of P2P Theory
  2. P2P Politics, the State, and the Renewal of the Emancipatory Traditions. Re-public, Wiki Politics issue, 2007. Retrieved from Reprint at Democracy by the People blog,
  3. The social web and its social contracts. Re-public, . Retrieved from

Here's a selection of a few articles:

  1. Four levels of P2P: the influence of P2P advances in stages: which ones?
  2. Peer Production and the State, and follow-up
  3. Is P2P left or right?, and follow-up

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How To

See also:

  1. Online Advocacy Guide. By the Tactical Tech Collective: "a collection of popular online services that can be used for advocacy quickly with little to no technical support."
  2. How to organize an activist campaign via Facebook, by DigiActive [17]
  3. Ten online practical steps recommended to governments in support of democracy. Steven Clift
  4. Characteristics of Effective Activism
  5. Anonymous Blogging Guide: A step-by-step way to protecting your privacy and your safety
  6. Blog for a Cause: How to use blogs as advocacy tools for political and social change
  7. How To Communicate Securely in Repressive Environments. Patrick Meier: Core to effective strategic nonviolent action is the need to remain proactive and on the offensive; the rationale being that both the resistance movement and repressive regime have an equal amount of time allocated when the show-down begins. If the movement becomes idle at any point, this may give the regime the opportunity to regain the upper hand, or vice versa.



Encyclopedia Articles

  1. Civil Constitutions
  2. Civil Societarian approaches to politics
  3. the relational conception of the Common Good
  4. Subsidiarity

Key Articles

"A reconciliation of oral myth with literate reason will be the hallmark of a new epistemic settlement. The ordered path of technological evolution toward higher states of “inclusive consciousness” and “mythic integration,” along the lines of what McLuhan had envisioned, would be open once again".

  • Deen Freelon: Sorting through claims about the internet and revolutions, part 1
  • The Politics of Code in Web 2.0. 'Essay: Mapping Commercial Web 2.0 Worlds: Towards a New Critical Ontogenesis. By Ganaele Langlois, Fenwick McKelvey, Greg Elmer, and Kenneth Werbin. Fibreculture Journal, Issue 14. [19]


Integral Politics


  1. Tom Atlee: Integral Politics as Process.
  2. Daniel Gustav Anderson: A Proposal for Integral Macropolitics.


  1. This is related to my own, "integral" approach to P2P Theory (see [21] for background): "The claimed purpose of this project is to coordinate subjective (psychological, spiritual) and objective (social, political, economic) transformational imperatives into a coherent, non-ontological “counterproject.” [22]
  2. Of Syntheses and Surprises: Toward a Critical Integral Theory. By Daniel Gustav Anderson. [23]
  3. New Theses on Integral Micropolitics. By Daniel Gustav Anderson. [24]

Openness and Open Politics

  1. From Open Space to Open Politics. From Jai Sen's article: On Open Space: Explorations Towards a Vocabulary of a More Open Politics. Jai Sen. Antipode. Volume 42, Issue 4, pages 994–1018, September 2010 [25]
  2. Transparency and Accessibility as aspects of Openness
  3. Five Principles of Openness and Transparency in Politics
  4. Tim O'Reilly, "The Four Pillars of an Open Civic System" (this typology of Open Civic Systems includes: Government to Citizen, Citizen to Government, Citizen to Citizen, and Government to Government)

P2P Political Concepts

  1. A table to understand where we are at: Tere Vaden's Three Stages of Freedom
  2. The logic of affinity vs. the logic of hegemony
  3. Mark Pesce: The Power of the Cloud and the Cloud of Power
  4. The three power systems: hierarchy, heterarchy, and responsible autonomy
  5. On the Difference Between Epistemic Bubbles and Echo Chambers

P2P Political Struggles

  • A strategy for the commons in the context of social transformation: Massimo de Angelis, Crises, Movements and Commons. Borderlands e-journal, VOLUME 11 NUMBER 2, 2012. [26]

Key Books

URL = pdf

  • The Digital Party. Political Organisation and Online Democracy. By Paolo Gerbaudo. Pluto, 2018. [30]: "How political parties have changed in the age of social media."
  1. Clay Shirky: Here Comes Everybody: On the political implications of internet-enabled self-organisation
  2. Jeffrey Juris. Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalization. Duke University Press, 2008 [31]
  3. Netroots Rising. How a citizen army of bloggers and online activists is changing American politics. by Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox. 2008
  4. Digital Activism Decoded. Ed. by Mary Joyce. Idebate Press, 2010 [32]
  5. Report: Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics. PeaceWorks, 2010 : "critically assesses both the “cyberutopian” and “cyberskeptic” perspectives on the impact of new media on political movements. The authors propose a more complex approach that looks at the role of new media in contentious politics from five interlocking levels of analysis: individual transformation, intergroup relations, collective action, regime policies, and external attention."
  6. Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action. by Helen Margetts, Peter John, Scott Hale and Taha Yasseri. Princeton University Press, 2016


On the political implications of the free software and other open movements:

  1. Johan Soderbergh: Hacking Capitalism
  2. Decoding Liberation
  3. Christopher Kely. Two Bits, on the strategy of Recursive Publics
  4. Abstract Activism. Otto von Busch and Karl Palmås.

On Political and Social Change

  1. The Hacker Manifesto. McKenzie Wark.
  2. Massimo De Angelis: The Beginning of History. Value Struggles and Global Capital. Pluto, 2007: about the Commons as a political movement inaugurating a new era of history
  3. Cyber Marx. Nick Dyer-Whiteford.
  4. Gramsci is Dead. Richard Day.
  5. Code 2.0. Lawrence Lessig.
  6. Viral Spiral. David Bollier. An account of the emergence of the contemporary Commons movement

See also, for wider background:

  • The Anatomy of Revolution. Crane Brinton: outlines the "uniformities" of four major political revolutions: the English Revolution of the 1640s, the American, the French, and 1917 Russian Revolution.

On open and collaborative government:

  1. Wiki Government. How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. Beth Noveck. Brookings Institution Press, 2009: on the emergence of Collaborative Democracy,i.e. soliciting expertise from self-selected peers working together in groups in open networks

On participatory democracy:

  1. Jim Fishkin. When The People Speak: Deliberative Democracy and Public Consultation. Oxford University Press, 2009: "Fishkin’s essential argument is that ‘mass participation’ – that is, the participation of a full electorate – in policy making is flawed and open to manipulation for a variety of well-known reasons. The general public is usually not very informed, engaged or attentive. But what would people think if they were more informed, engaged and attentive? He posits a hard choice between actual, but ‘debilitated’, public opinion on the one hand, and ‘deliberative but counter factual opinion’ on the other. Deliberative assemblies may, by proxy, square the circle." [34]

On power in networks (Protocollary Power):

  1. Protocol and The Exploit: How Control Exists after Decentralization. Alexander Galloway et al.
  2. David Grewal: Network Power, how standards come about in non-free ways
  3. Theory of Power. By Jack Vail.

Also, for academic audiences:

  1. Reformatting Politics: Information Technology and Global Civil Society. Editor: Jodi Dean, Jon W. Anderson, Geert Lovink. New York and London: Routledge, 2006
  2. The Politics of Cyberconflict. Athina Karatzogianni. New York: Routledge, 2006
  3. Information Politics on the Web. Richard Rogers. MIT Press 2004

On new media and politics

  1. Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press. by Eric Boehlert. Free Press, 280 pp.,
  2. And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture. by Bill Wasik. Viking, 202 pp.,

Key Blogs

  1. DigiActive: blog monitoring digital activism
  2. Digital Resistance research is monitored via the iRevolution blog
  3. Social Government: monitors (U.S.) moves towards Government 2.0
  4. 'monitoring global protest movements through CrowdVoice

Key Conferences

  1. DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs. University of Toronto, Nov 12-14, 2010 [35]

Key Movements

  1. Technolibertarianism
  2. Technoprogressivism
  3. Technoindividualism
  4. Technoidealism

Key Podcasts/Webcasts

Fuller list available here: Videos and tapes on internet politics

See the video: The New Change-Makers: An Introduction to Digital Activism


On our own ideas:

Key Presentations

  1. Vasilis Kostakis: Open Source and Wikipolitics: short introduction to the potential of 'Wikipolitics'

The effect of the internet on politics

The Obama Election

Open Government

How To

Key Resources

  1. Top 10 Social Action Platforms for 2008: also a list of runner's up
  2. Steven Clift monitors e-democracy initiatives, at
  3. A Spectrum of Politics and Governance Grounded in Empowered Citizen Dialogue and Deliberation, at
  4. An initiative by R.U. Sirius et al. to define the ideal Open Source Political Toolkit
  5. Some tools for activists: Frontline SMS; Martus
  6. The following sites and resources are “insanely useful Web sites” for government transparency in the USA.
  7. A Global Map of Alternative Media, compiled by the Alternative Media Global Project
  8. Top 100 Networks for People Who Want to Change the World
  9. Web 2 0 Governance Policies and Best Practices: compilation of official documents from the U.S.
  10. DigiActive Guide to using Twitter for Activism
  11. Keele Guide to Political Resources on the Internet: amazingly comprehensive directory
  12. Jayne Craven's webpage on Studies and Research Regarding Online Volunteering / Virtual Volunteering provides a good list of studies in this subject area
  13. The Metagovernment Project keeps track of Collaborative Governance Projects and Collaborative Governance Software [39]
  14. Tools and Literature on Decision-Making for Democracy, compiled by Josef Davies-Coates


"Forget the marketplace of ideas. Forget the secular interregnum. It’s over: even if you personally are still among the number mumbling about civil debate and tolerance, you’re surrounded by a growing array of factions who don’t play by those rules. Sacred values become institutionalised as sacred, when true believers pull out all the stops to make that happen. And we’re back in an age of true believers. The phrase ‘post-liberal’ usually refers to an amiable, tweedy, vaguely Catholic-adjacent longing for a future of greater civic cohesion, underwritten by soft social conservatism; but the real post-liberal age is already here. And it’s not the tweedy vision. It’s a new era of schismatic, dogmatic, heretic-punishing religious war. In actually existing post-liberalism, your worldview will be granted as much space as you’re willing to fight for, and no more."

- Mary Harrington [40]

Long Citations

A peer is not an equal -- for there are no equals -- the peer is the one who appears in the public square, and by virtue of the public square, be it the polis of the streets or of the nets, and who appears as one who contributes, contests, collaborates, has a stake in the shared and made world precisely in her difference from others who also appear and associate in company. The ethos of politics, peer-to-peer, which is one and the same as the ethos of democratization, is always the interminable dynamic of equity-in-diversity.

- Dale Carrico [41]

No social order ever perishes before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have developed; and new, higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore mankind always sets itself only such tasks as it can solve; since, looking at the matter more closely, it will always be found that the tasks itself arises only when the material conditions of its solution already exist or are at least in the process of formation.

- Karl Marx, Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

John Robb on the War over the Means of Reality Production

"Over the last seven years, with the advent of social networking, there’s been an online civil war over who controls our information flow and how they get to do it. It’s been a messy, confusing fight that has touched on the following:

  • What type of information is allowed amplification, and what should be de-amplified?
  • What is fact or fiction? Can truth be hate speech? Is fiction harmful (conspiracy theories or unapproved theories)? Should false information and ideas be censored?
  • What is disinformation (harmful fiction or spun facts designed to mislead), and how can it be suppressed (de-amplification, soft bans, hard bans, blacklists)?

Until late last year, it looked like the conflict was over, and we were on a worrisome trajectory toward disaster:

  • An open-source alliance of global corporations, online political networks (networked tribes held together by their opposition to some great evil), and struggling institutions (from academia to government) had won that fight.

This alliance had established a censorship and control system growing ever more constrictive by the day (that could, given time, rival the networked authoritarianism we have seen in China). It also used the system to control political outcomes in the US and beyond.

Worse, the system showed signs of non-linear behavior — we saw this when the networked monoculture created by this system rapidly escalated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine into a sprawling global war between the West and Russia (China, etc.).

Elon’s acquisition of Twitter and use of information warfare (the Twitter files) paused this trajectory. However, it won’t last long. One reason is that nothing was done to fundamentally change the nature of our information system (digital rights and ownership); another is that a new and much more disruptive wave of technological change is on the way."

- John Robb [42]

The New Hobbesian Regime

"Our regime is founded on two rival pictures of the human subject. The Lockean one regards us as rational, self-governing creatures. It locates reason in a common human endowment — common sense, more or less — and underwrites a basically democratic or majoritarian form of politics. There are no secrets to governing. The second, rival picture insists we are irrationally proud, and in need of being governed. This Hobbesian picture is more hortatory than the first; it needs us to think of ourselves as vulnerable, so the state can play the role of saving us. It underwrites a technocratic, progressive form of politics. The Lockean assumption has been quietly put to bed over the last 30 years, and we have fully embraced the Hobbesian alternative. The Nineties saw the rise of new currents in the social sciences that emphasise the cognitive incompetence of human beings, deposing the “rational actor” model of human behaviour. This gave us nudge theory , a way to alter people’s behaviour without having to persuade them of anything. It would be hard to overstate the degree to which this approach has been institutionalised, on both sides of the Atlantic. The innovation achieved here is in the way government conceives its subjects: not as citizens whose considered consent must be secured, but as particles to be steered through a science of behaviour management that relies on our pre-reflective cognitive biases. This is one front in a larger development: an intensifying distrust of human judgment when it operates in the wild, unsupervised."

- Matthew Crawford [43]

Three Global Solution Tribes

"The conjuncture requires an analysis that comprehends not just at the World Trade Organization and the Zapatistas, but also Al Quaeda (not to mention all the Christian, Hindu, Judaic theocratic fundamentalisms).

Sketching in the ashes of a global war scenario, I propose a triangulation between three points:

a) The logic of neoliberal capitalism. I call this the logic of the World Market. It interpellates a planet of market subjects: consumers.

b) The logic of exclusionary ethno-nationalist-religious movements. I call this the logic of Fundamentalist Reaction. It addresses a planet lethally divided amongst chosen peoples.

c) The logic of collective creativity and welfare proposed by the counter-globalization movements. I call this the logic of Species Beings. It speaks to a planet of commoners. A whole series of molecular energies are currently being attracted, apportioned and annihilated between these three molar aggregates."

- Nick Dyer-Witheford [44]

The Logic of Hegemony vs. the logic of affinity

Day establishes an opposition between the “logic of hegemony” and the “logic of affinity. Hegemony, he tells us, is totalizing and state-centered. It operates, equally in either what he likes to term its “(neo)liberal” or its “(post)marxist” variants, by means of demand, representation, recognition, and integration. From the very moment that politics is predicated on the demand, it implies and invokes the existence of a state before which the individual or group constituted in the demand seeks to be represented, and by which it hopes to be first recognized and then integrated. Affinity, on the other hand, begins with Exodus and establishes self-generated (and self-valorizing) communities predicated on a “groundless solidarity” and “infinite responsibility” that are always open to the new and the other.

- paraphrasing Richard Day, in his book: Gramsci is Dead

McKenzie Wark on expressive politics

There can be no one book, no master thinker for these times. What is called for is a practice of combining heterogeneous modes of perception, thought and feeling, different styles of researching and writing, different kinds of connection to different readers, proliferation of information across different media, all practiced within a gift economy, expressing and elaborating differences, rather than broad-casting a dogma, a slogan, a critique or line. ⋅ ⋅ ⋅ This expressive politics does not seek to overthrow the state, or to reform its larger structures, or to preserve its structure so as to maintain an existing coalition of interests. It seeks to permeate existing states with a new state of existence. It spreads the seeds of an alternate practice of everyday life.

-McKenzie Wark. A Hacker Manifesto

David Snowden on idealistic vs. naturalistic sense-making

"In the idealistic approach, the leaders of an organization set out an ideal future state that they wish to achieve, identify the gap between the ideal and their perception of the present, and seek to close it. … Naturalistic approaches by contrast, seek to understand a sufficiency of the present in order to act to stimulate evolution of the system. Once such stimulation is made, monitoring of emergent patterns becomes a critical activity so that desired patterns can be supported and undesired patterns disrupted. The organization thus evolves to a future that was unknowable in advance, but is more contextually appropriate when discovered.” (Kurtz and David Snowden, Bramble Bushes in the Thicket)

William James on Meliorism

"meliorism treats salvation as neither inevitable nor impossible. It treats it as a possibility, which becomes more and more of a probability the more numerous the actual conditions of salvation become" (William James. Pragmatism. Harvard UP, 1975, p. 137)

"As meliorism takes as its goal to make things better through concerted effort, meliorism is a habit of mind and a mode of practice that aims for realistic optimism rather than passivity, pessimism, or nihilism" (Peter Lunenfeld [45])

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfectionism. – Mark Twain [46]

Pessimism is a luxury we can only afford in good times


"Pessimism is a luxury we can only afford in good times, in difficult times it easily represents a self-inflicted, self-fulfilling death sentence. This insight, to me, is real Realism or real Realpolitik, far from blue-eyed Idealism. We have to courageously resist the current tendency to suspect those who work for a better world to be hopeless idealists. This would mean Realpolitik letting disaster happen (by deepening fault lines instead of transcending them), and us not at least attempting to prevent this. Strange real Realpolitik!" (Evelin Lindner, 2004.)

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." (Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A personal history of our times, 2004, p. 208)

(both citations found here [47] )

2. Against the production of hopelessness

"Hopelessness isn't natural. It needs to be produced... the last thirty years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a kind of giant machine that is designed to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures. At root is a veritable obsession on the part of the rulers of the world with ensuring that social movements cannot be seen to grow, to flourish, to propose alternatives, that those who challenge existing power arrangements can never, under any circumstances, be perceived to win... Economically, this apparatus is pure dead weight; all the guns, surveillance cameras, and propaganda engines are extraordinarily expensive and really produce nothing, and as a result, it's dragging the entire capitalist system down with it."

- David Graeber [48]

Mitch Kapor on Open Politics

"the whole concept of open and equal access to information could do wonders for our politics. Placing information in the open, allowing people to debate both general and very specific aspects of software, and then creating a process for decision-making about implementation could be very important lessons.... There are many other interesting aspects to the open source community that may very well help define new participatory processes that can help us revitalize our democracy."

- Mitch Kapor [49]

The New Power of Internet-organized Minorities

"The adage that organized minorities are more powerful than disorganized majorities is now more true than ever. However, as these organized minorities multiply and grow, they are challenging the very nature of what power is and how it will be maintained in our society. ... Self-organizing groups, and networks that tie these groups into powerful coalitions, are the new players. To alter Time magazine’s formulation, the Person of the Year isn’t “you,” it’s “us.”

- Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry [50]

Dale Carrico on an emergent technoprogressive politics

"The fact remains that there seems to me to be an exciting, vitally important emerging technoprogressive mainstream in the United States of America and across the planet knitting together what might initially have seemed to be disparate concerns into an ever more unified, ever more popular, ever more emancipatory movement, conjoining

(a) democratic and anti-authoritarian education, agitation, and organizing via peer-to-peer networked formations,

(b) research, funding, and institutionalization of decentralized and renewable energy provision,

(c) advocacy of universal informed nonduressed consensual recourse to emerging genetic and prosthetic medicines,

(d) championing universal education to promote critical, literary, scientific, and civic literacy,

(e) defending the right of women to avoid or end unwanted pregnancies as well as to make recourse to ARTs to facilitate wanted ones,

(f) circumventing technodevelopmental wealth concentration via automation, outsourcing, and crowdsourcing through the advocacy of a non-means-tested universal basic income guarantee,

(g) overturning militarist budgetary priorities, regulating the trade in and use of arms of all kinds, dismantling private armies and policing forces, repudiating the ongoing automation and abstraction of death-dealing, and

(h) turning the tide of confiscatory intellectual enclosure by encouraging access to free creative content through public subsidy of citizen participation in networks, universal public access requirements for research funded by the public, limiting current legal copyright terms, widening fair use provisions, radically circumscribing state, corporate, and academic practices of secrecy, and repudiating the legal fiction of corporate personhood." (

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." (

Occupy as a Peer Production of a Political Commons

"If you observe an occupation, you see a community that is producing its politics autonomously, not following hierarchical or authoritarian political movements with a pre-ordained program; you see for-benefit institutions in charge of the provisioning of the occupiers (food, healthcare), and the creation of an ethical economy around it (such as Occupy’s Street Vendor Project). This is prefigurative of a new form of society in which the commons is at the core of value creation; these commons’ are maintained by non-profit institutions, and the livelihoods are guaranteed through an ethical economy. Of course there are historical precedents, but what is new is the extraordinary organisational, mobilization and co-learning potential of their networks. Occupy works as an open API with modules, such as ‘protest camping’, ‘general assemblies’, which can be used as templates and modified by all, without the need for central leadership. We can now have global coordination and mutual alignment of a multitude of small-group dynamics, and this requires a new type of leadership. The realization of historical moment of Peak Hierarchy, the moment in which distributed networks asymmetrically challenge vertical institutions in a way they could not do before, forces social movements to look for new ways of governance… but these are not given, and have to be discovered experimentally, and of course, there will be valuable lessons to learn from predecessor movements!"

- Michel Bauwens [51]

The Politics of Meaning

"One of four biggest challenges in building a new radical spiritual politics ("radical" meaning opposition to the totality of the inertia of the System) is distinguishing what we call the politics of meaning from normal liberal/progressive politics. One way that I've tried to express this is to take a liberal/progressive issue that we support, like universal health care, and restate the meaning of the issue in PoM terms. For example, to say that we support universal health care means we support caring about each other's health rather than insuring each other's bodies. It is the subjective element, or the intersubjective element, that is central to the politics of meaning, whereas in normal liberal/progressive discourse, the subjective element is only implicit—a love that dare not speak its name."

- Peter Gabel [52]

Howard Zinn on the Virtue of Potent Hope

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

― Howard Zinn [53]

Abandon all hope, so you can do what's right anyway

"abandon all hope that we can make things ‘right’ and give up the fear of what happens next. Do what you need to do in this time, make the contribution that you are called to make, but contemplate a shift in the vantage from which you view world events. Let’s not let hope keep us from (paradoxically) realizing and living the most extraordinary aspects of our birthright as human beings. From a fearless assessment of where we stand (or fall) can flow a liberating boldness, permission to live without attachment to outcomes. When we let go of hoping for a desired end and thus the fear which accompanies any threat to it, we are freed from the constraints of attempting to control something which is no longer in our hands. It then becomes possible to aspire to and build a way of living which embodies the very best and brightest of our human capacities, regardless of the endgame. "

- Elizabeth West [54]

On the Difference between 'Reformations' and 'Transformations'

“Reformations and transformations are not the same thing. Reformations are concerned with changing the means systems employ to pursue their objectives. Transformations involve changes in the objectives they pursue. Peter Drucker put this distinction dramatically when he said there is a difference between doing things right (the intent of reformations) and doing the right thing (the intent of transformations).

- Russel Ackoff, 2004 [55]

Emancipatory Narratives Precede Social Change

""Paul Ricœur believes, the identity of a human community has a prospective dimension, utopia is one of its essential components. The social imaginaire enables a society to construct its identity by expressing its expectations for the future. A society without a vision would therefore be dead. The study of the technical imaginaire shows that it always has two func- tions: building the identity of a social group or a society, and providing resources that can be reinvested directly in the preparation and implementation of projects.

In the case of the Internet, such projects can materialize very quickly since new software can circulate on computer networks and be used immediately. Not only can a utopia rapidly turn into a project; it can also be embodied in achievements. In this new situation, the issue of users’ mobilization is so crucial that a new ideology is produced. It is this ideology that is used to legitimize the new technique, to attract and integrate new users, to provide a framework for use of the innovation. It also affords a set of justifications that enable designers and users alike to explain their engagement in the digital world. The imaginaire is at the center of design and use of the Internet. As Michel de Certeau noted, “Narratives precede social practices and pave the way for them.”

- Patrice Flichy [56]

What the Hyperreal World Demands from Us Is Our Participation in its Mode of Production

"The cultural attitude of the early 21st century may perhaps one day be known as “the assault on concentration.” In an endless stream of information, the “new” is what counts. And when the “new” is endlessly replenished, concentration is superfluous. One does not need concentration when reality effortlessly floats by like a series of fragments, images, stimuli, informational content, episodes of a TV series, or handy slogans " ... "The proliferation of individual, yet acceptable viewpoints obfuscate a vantage point that becomes less visible over time: namely, that as an individual, one can generate universal insights. To deny this is to fully accept and internalize the postmodern assumption and its associated nihilism. To hold that one’s position “is just another narrative” is to submit oneself already to the postmodern mode of cultural production, and thereby succumbing to its oppressive and invasive logic of production. To treat one’s own convictions as mere narratives devoid of universality is to internalize the postmodern mode of cultural production, severing oneself from the exercise of one’s autonomy. If anything, a renewed and radicalized subjectivism is not the ultimate weapon of postmodernity, but against it. It is an attitudinal disposition that refuses to regard itself as a mere cog in the machine, and that actualizes the power of its own autonomy and validity through the liberating power of its subjective determinations. It does away with the bland relativism that reality is the sum total of viewpoints, thereby overcoming the postmodern, projected fear that one reasons “just from one’s own privileged perspective”, and that therefore one has to distance oneself from one’s innermost convictions. I use the term “subjectivism” as a deliberate provocation. The philosophy of high modernity abhorred subjectivism because it was seen as a nonsensical aberration that would have no place in the project of modernity. In postmodern culture, the only type of subjectivism on offer is the watered-down and marketable variety. In both cases, the exercise of individual autonomy is deeply mistrusted and undermined. Nevertheless, what appears from the viewpoint of high modern and postmodern culture as a cultural dead end appears from the viewpoint of radical subjectivism as the way forward—and more importantly, as the road to liberation and the free exercise of autonomy."

- Otto Paans [57]

An age of political exhaustion and retreat

"Russell Jacoby who analysed the failure of Western Marxism in Dialectics of Defeat (1981), argued in a later work, The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy (1999), there has been a collapse of intellectual visions and ambitions: ‘A new consensus has emerged: There are no alternatives. This is the wisdom of our times, an age of political exhaustion and retreat’ (p.xii). As Fredric Jameson observed, it appears easier now to imagine the end the world than the end of capitalism.It is this political exhaustion and lack of vision which is the problem."

- Arran Gare [58]

More Citations

How Change Does NOT Happen

“Normally, when you challenge the conventional wisdom—that the current economic and political system is the only possible one—the first reaction you are likely to get is a demand for a detailed architectural blueprint of how an alternative system would work, down to the nature of its financial instruments, energy supplies, and policies of sewer maintenance. Next, you are likely to be asked for a detailed program of how this system will be brought into existence. Historically, this is ridiculous. When has social change ever happened according to someone’s blueprint? It’s not as if a small circle of visionaries in Renaissance Florence conceived of something they called “capitalism,” figured out the details of how the stock exchange and factories would someday work, and then put in place a program to bring their visions into reality. In fact, the idea is so absurd we might well ask ourselves how it ever occurred to us to imagine this is how change happens to begin.”

- David Graeber [59]

Contemporary Western Politics Are Essentially Tribalistic

"The reason that this Right/Left language is so indispensable is because it’s now tied up with a structure of tribal animosity that is so profound. In recent years I’ve been stunned by the arbitrariness of the thing—it’s like the Roman Blue and Green. The differences between Right and Left are drowned out by tribal war. People have done tests on this. They put politicians’ policy proposals into the mouth of their opponent and the supporters of the opponent immediately backed up all those proposals that they had thought were absolute incarnation of evil when they came from the other guy. The notion that this tribal war is going to be reducible to a set a coherent ideological positions is nuts and an example you gave is totally like that. Who is saying something is much more important to people than the actual content, the positive proposition. The number of people who don’t fall prey to that is really small and I find them impressive. My own attempt not to be totally captured by tribalism is to try to make sure that there’s enough fissile hyperstitional craziness going on. Sometimes you have to flip about and get the sense what the thing looks like from the other side, but I really think that most of the world is locked so deep in the tribal war that it just doesn’t see what an idea is actually saying. They only see the question: is this the enemy thing or is this our stuff?"

- Nick Land [60]

Contemporary Civilizational Change needs to be global, conscious, and relatively fast

“In the past, all transitions in the forms of civilization were slow, local/regional, exclusive, optional and unconscious. Today, we are faced by the need to undertake a GT in our dominant form of civilization that, in contrast, must be fast (by any historic standard), scalable to the whole planet, inclusive of all 7.4 billion of us, recognized as required and conscious. This last requirement also implies that today we must not only be conscious about change at every scale, but must develop a capacity for meta-consciousness about change at every scale.”

- Ruben Nelson of Foresight Canada [61] [62]

The Era of the Globalisation of People

“Globalisation is not a new phenomenon. As analysed by Thomas Friedman in The World Is Not Flat, in the 16th and 17th centuries empires became global, whereas in the 20th century it was companies that became global, and the differential factor is that since the end of the millennium, ten years ago, it is people who are becoming global. And again it is a third technological revolution that is promoting the transformation: the revolution promoted by new information and communication technologies, of which the internet is the most transformative expression.”

- Josu Jon Imaz [63]

Gandhi on Non-Violence, Violence, and Apathy

"Over the course of the next 40 years, Gandhi and his movement were regularly denounced in the media, just as non-violent anarchists are also always denounced in the media (and I might remark here that while not an anarchist himself, Gandhi was strongly influenced by anarchists like Kropotkin and Tolstoy), as a mere front for more violent, terroristic elements, with whom he was said to be secretly collaborating. He was regularly challenged to prove his non-violent credentials by assisting the authorities in suppressing such elements. Here Gandhi remained resolute. It is always morally superior, he insisted, to oppose injustice through non-violent means than through violent means. However, to oppose injustice through violent means is still morally superior to not doing anything to oppose injustice at all."

- David Graeber [64]

A peer is not an equal

A peer is not an equal -- for there are no equals -- the peer is the one who appears in the public square, and by virtue of the public square, be it the polis of the streets or of the nets, and who appears as one who contributes, contests, collaborates, has a stake in the shared and made world precisely in her difference from others who also appear and associate in company. The ethos of politics, peer-to-peer, which is one and the same as the ethos of democratization, is always the interminable dynamic of equity-in-diversity.

- Dale Carrico [65]

Paul Hartzog on the need for alternative practices

"When faced with the constraints of existing structures, it is often the case that people will choose to, or be compelled, to turn aside and create something new on their own. This is the primary reason, in fact, why I keep returning to Hannah Arendt as a political thinker. From her we gain insight into the ability of people to undermine ostensibly illegitimate political and social practices, not by attacking them, but by simply engaging in some other practice that, by its very nature, calls the existing practices into question and, eventually, to account." (

Buzz Hollings on the next big pulse of change

"Holling thinks the world is reaching "a stage of vulnerability that could trigger a rare and major pulse of social transformation." Humankind has experienced only three or four such pulses during its entire evolution, including the transition from hunter-gatherer communities to agricultural settlement, the industrial revolution, and the recent global communications revolution.

Today another pulse is about to begin. "The immense destruction that a new pulse signals is both frightening and creative," he writes.

"The only way to approach such a period, in which uncertainty is very large and one cannot predict what the future holds, is not to predict, but to experiment and act inventively and exuberantly via diverse adventures in living."

- Thomas Homer-Dixon, Our Panarchic Future [66]

The disappearance of utopia brings about a static state of affairs in which man himself becomes no more than a thing. We would then be faced with the greatest paradox imaginable…After a long, torturous, but heroic development, just at the highest stage of awareness, when history is ceasing to be blind fate, and is becoming more and more man's own creation, with the relinquishment of utopia, man would lose his will to shape history and therewith his ability to understand it. ii

- Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, 1929-31 [67]

Short Citations

"The notion that the democratic deficit can be dealt with by some technological fix (i.e. some variant of e’democracy) is absurd. The Internet has granted the weaker and poorer their personal Speaker’s Corner within cyberspace but has not created an e’Assembly in which they can over-rule the powerful minority who control the economic sphere. An e’Mob has been created, even an e’Demos. But it has not been admitted into anything resembling a genuine e’Democracy."

- Yanis Varoufakis [68]

What distinguishes a utopian approach to social transformation from a materialist one is that the latter must start with the real contradictions that exist between technological imperatives and the social forms that currently exist. These specify not a future that might be desired, but what may be required.

- Paul Cockshott [69]

In spite of current ads and slogans, the world doesn't change one person at a time. It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what's possible.

- Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Freize [70]

"A coalition of liberals and radicals is needed to defeat authoritarian nationalists and inegalitarian freemarketeers. Liberals without radicals turn into moderates, and radicals without liberals turn into fundamentalists."

- Alex Foti

Much of our modern thinking about rights is informed by an idea of sovereignty that emphasises autonomy rather than relatedness.

- Billy Matheson [71]

It takes a long time for change to happen quickly.

- Jon Husband,

A revolution doesn't happen when a society adopts new tools - it happens when it adopts new behaviours.

- Clay Shirky [72]

Benefits of freeing data are many, arguably being the most relevant one the “Many minds principle”: there’ll always be someone that will find out a way to reuse data that you wouldn’t have even figured.

- José Manuel Alonso [73]

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it with our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories.”

- Arundhati Roy [74]

We connect with people that we resonate with, people who want what we want. When we nurture this sort of resonance we begin to build powerful networks. The networks that are built on resonance are the networks that have the capacity to self-organize.

- Gibran Rivera [75]

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