Definition and Criticism of Cybercommunism

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* Article: A definition and criticism of cybercommunism. Tere Vadén and Juha Suoranta. 2009, Capital & Class



“When Zizek (2002b) defines his idea of cybercommunism using an adaptation of the Leninist formula 'Socialism —free access to internet + the power of the Soviets', he omits the crucial part about electricity. The cybercommunist idea that the information society is more 'spectral' and 'malleable' than mere the previous 'crudely' economical societies conceals the question of what types of communities it favours. The political economy of cybercommunism also demands an analysis of the material conditions of cyber-freedom that can be conceptualised, for instance, in terms of levels of decreasing alienation.”


The Three Levels of Freedom Under Peer Production

Tere Vadén and Juha Suoranta:

"As we move toward more free modes of media and education, we first encounter social media and education as entrepreneurship, where the subjects are 'empowered' by active participation in economically constrained activities. This is the first order of freedom, in which free speech exists inside the confines of formal freedom. Strangely enough, the road to more freedom comes through realising that the economic constraints of liberal, multicultural capitalism are not nearly strict enough. Only when the ghost of exchange value is stripped off is the persistent and non-symbolic use value revealed. In terms of media, this means GNU/Linux or Wikipedia, which do not have any exchange value but do have a tremendous utility. But even that is not enough in terms of taking economics seriously: the oikos humanity is facing is the planet and its resources. Native skills and indigenous information need sustainable material lifestyles, which is something the West has not been able to devise so far.

Thus the last two modes of freedom are linked to changes in the modes of production, governance and property. These changes will occur through the following three processes described by Michel Bauwens (200J): use value will be produced 'through the free cooperation of producers who have access to distributed capital' — this is called 'the P2P [peer-to-peer] production mode', which differs from a capitalist 'anything for-profit standard' and from public production by state-owned enterprises. The purpose of the P2P production mode is not to produce useless commodities or 'exchange value for a market, but use-value for a community of users' (ibid.). The changes will also be 'governed by the community of producers themselves, and not by market allocation or corporate hierarchy: this is the P2P governance mode' (ibid.). In addition, they 'make use-value freely accessible on a universal basis, through new common property regimes. This is its distribution or "peer property mode": a "third mode of ownership", different from private property or public (state) property' (ibid.).

A third mode of ownership demands that we who are working, generally speaking, in the fields of education and public pedagogy should, as Peter McLaren (2008: 477) points out, try to transform the social relations of everyday life to a new social logic 'in terms of criteria that are not already steeped in the logic of commodification. Students can — and should — become resolute and intransigent adversaries of the values that lie at the heart of commodity capitalism. This implies building a new social culture, control of work by the associated producers and also the very transformation of the nature of work itself."


More information

  • "Equaliberty: "the notion of égaliberté (the demand for equality-freedom that transcends any existing order) proposed by the French philosopher Etienne Balibar in the context of digital technology". [1]