Creating a Membrane between the Commons and the Market

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Brian Massumi:

"What we’re thinking of is making the collaborative process moving through the platform function according to the radically anti-capitalist principles we were just talking about, centering on the collective production of surplus values of life, and separating that from the dominant economy by a membrane. A membrane creates a separation, but at the same time allows for movements across. It has a certain porosity. The idea is that we would find ways, associated with the affect-o-meter we were describing earlier, to register qualitative shifts in the creative process as it moves over its formative thresholds, and moves back and forth between online operations and offline events. What would be registered is the affective intensity of the production of surplus value of life, its ebbs and flows. The membrane would consist in a translation of those qualitative flows into a numerical expression, which would feed into a cryptocurrency. Basically, we’d be mining crypto with collaborative creative energies—monetizing emergent collectivity. The currency would be “backed” by the confidence we could build in our ability to keep the creative process going and spin it off into other projects, as evidenced by the activities of the Three Ecologies Institute as an experiment in alter-education.

On the side of the membrane facing the monetary economy, we would be producing a recognizable, quantifiable movement of value. But the membrane would shelter the creative process going on inside the platform from being colonized by that logic. We’d try to have the best of both worlds. It would be essential that the currency not be just a speculative vehicle that joins the crowd of coins. Our economic space would have to inhabit an ecology of other economic spaces experimenting with adapting blockchain and post-blockchain autonomous organization to cooperative endeavors. The key, once again, is finding workable solutions to the problem of how to use qualitative analysis to register movements of creative intensity—how to coax numbers into an alliance with qualities of experience." (