Peer to Peer and the Subject

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* Article: Peer to peer Production in the Software and Hardware communities, and the Subject. By Dr Phoebe Moore


The article will be published in the journal Fibreculture in a special issue to be called 'Media Ecologies', edited by Jussi Parikka and Michael Goddard.


"Scholars of media ecology, and what Fuller has called ‘media ecologies’ (2005) are interested in how real social change is possible, and in fact necessary, in the era of digital media. By questioning hierarchical formations in arrangements of lives and production and the lines of force for interactivity which have historically been uni-directional and fundamentally restricting, the peer to peer production movement is an example of the type of media ecology that promises ‘deep’ social, as well as mental, and environmental, change. Do the networked commons emerging from peer to peer production founded in the free software arena, and the ecologies of productive and artistic cooperation therein; pose a resilient threat to capitalism? This article deals with that question."


From the conclusion (draft version):

"The emerging ecology discussed here presents a critical view of the technological determinism that now pervades a tendency to place widespread reliance on human innovation to immutably coincide with the contemporary age of production, seen in dominant and pervasive enterprise initiatives in every sector in the neoliberal age. Can the emergence of participants' battle with capital transform traditional hierarchies within typified sites of production of the industrial age? This contemporary post-capitalist ecology is one that I argue allows workers to arrest their own self-management and return to a situation wherein people can formulate revolutionary subjectivities, and own their labour and means of production, rather than continue to be subordinated to hierarchies and the deterministic views of technology and progress. The self-organising communities of peer production threaten the status quo by the ownership of the means and modes and thus the ecologies of production, and structuring capital output into a commons from which to adopt and adapt personally or communally through the creation of a licensing model (General Public Licensing) that renders obsolete the intellectual property control of ideas.

Through 'commoning' and through the production of open software and hardware and related alternative protocol, it has become possible to challenge capitalism and to become new forms of employable subjects in a way that casts the wage relation and the invasive externally imposed subjectivity required in capitalist recipes for success into chaotic disarray. The global passive revolution requires passive subjects, who manifest one dominant subjectivity. Elites intend to advance this, cutting through an aesthetic veneer that advances the autonomous affective self (Colman 2010, 3). The peer production movement is a veritable media ecology that poses an active revolutionary threat to the contemporary post-colonial project of capitalist subsumption."

Author info

Dr Phoebe Moore, Lecturer in International Relations & International Political Economy