[p2p-research] Building Alliances

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Fri Nov 6 18:48:19 CET 2009


On your first point, at least I try to wave Manuel de Landa's balance of 
meshworks and hierarchies point around, to maintain some ideological 
consistency. :-)
"To make things worse, the solution to this is not simply to begin adding 
meshwork components to the mix. Indeed, one must resist the temptation to 
make hierarchies into villains and meshworks into heroes, not only because, 
as I said, they are constantly turning into one another, but because in real 
life we find only mixtures and hybrids, and the properties of these cannot 
be established through theory alone but demand concrete experimentation."

So, at least I feel consistent in accepting taxation as well as promoting 
p2p. :-)

--Paul Fernhout

Ryan Lanham wrote:
> Hi Michel,
> On the one hand you claim that power extracts wealth from those who
> rightfully earn it.  On the other, you claim from each according to his
> ability to each according to his need.  How are these different?  It would
> be a strange worldview that saw them not as not both focused on taking
> something from someone else by power.  That is not P2P.
> I have no problem with someone saying they are a communist and working for
> the state.  That is logical.  But to say one is for P2P and that one works
> with and for the state (or willingly takes its assets) is, to me, absurd.
> It negates the very idea.  One cannot possibly be a communist (or a
> capitalist) or neoliberal, if you prefer, though that term seems
> intentionally acrimonious while being largely non-descriptive (I know of no
> person who calls themselves a neoliberal though I know many economists and
> capitalists--like Robert Reich), while being formally for P2P. One cannot be
> for P2P in any strong sense and be conventional in political philosophical
> terms.
> P2P does not allow for a politics of redistribution as I understand it.
> Why/how should it? Sharing is not redistribution...it is self driven, hence
> the threat of a tragedy of the commons.
> As an aside, capital gains is income from wealth already taxes as work after
> it is invested.  It is an additional tax.  Again, not controversial for
> anyone in the fields of accounting and economics (which admittedly can be
> waved off easily in political terms).  But that's my very point.  Those who
> wave off such views subscribe to a given (communist/socialist) political
> philosophy that people like Kevin and myself reject. I'd sure like to know
> how it can be reconciled so I can know whether P2P is actually just a shill
> idea for communism.  If it is so, I for one reject it totally. Likewise
> others would reject it if it were a shill for capitalism, which, to me, it
> clearly is not.
> What the problem here is that there is a mixture of politics (usually
> socialist/communist) and P2P.  The one major exception is Kevin who seems to
> me to be morally consistent over all his posts.  I totally understand and
> recognize the consistency and validity of his position because it makes
> coherent sense.  I disagree with it, but I understand it as a coherent
> moral/political/economic theory.
> Spouting anti-market communist ideas on the one hand, and P2P on the other,
> does both a disservice in my view.  If a person is a communist, they should
> fulfill themselves in communist parties and on the many communist sites.  On
> the other hand, if a person is for P2P, I cannot see how they can
> consistently reconcile themselves to communist rhetoric.  The two are, so
> far as I can tell, wholly incompatible.
> I am not trying to be argumentative.  I certainly have no issue with people
> being communists.  I do not personally agree with that political/economic
> philosophy, but I understand it.  It is coherent.  P2P, it seems to me, runs
> great risk at not being what it is because people are being sloppy with its
> moral rules.  Either it is a worldview/political philosophy or it isn't very
> interesting (to me). Others here have said it is a set of technologies.  I
> doubt that personally.  It seems to me it requires a position against
> coercion (which makes it inherently not communist) and it requires a moral
> commitment to sharing.  It is not inherently inconsistent with capitalism
> but it is socially so because it sets the growth of the commons above that
> of the individual.
> Best,
> Ryan
> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 11:18 AM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Hi ryan,
>> i think the moral principle is very simple: the public's money should go to
>> the public, and the people who produce wealth, the workers and
>> enterpreneurs, should get taxed less than those who make money through
>> speculation,
>> here's the gist of the 2nd argument, applying to the US:
>>  - "Under current law, income from investments gets taxed at 15 percent.
>> Income from work gets taxed at up to 35 percent. No coherent moral
>> justification exists for such an enormous tax preference for income from
>> wealth."
>> I'm not sure what non-controversial evidence you have, but here is some
>> that shows there is a bit of controversy involved:
>> from
>> http://www.alternet.org/workplace/136592/tax_day%3A_you_pay_your_taxes_--_why_don%27t_the_rich_pay_their_share/ (source:
>> http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/#1207)
>> what this shows is that the very rich pay comparatively low taxes, see:
>> - if you look in Who Pays Taxes<http://www.opednews.com/articles/Who-Pays-Taxes-by-PrMaine-081210-57.html>(Figure 5) you will see that there has been a truly impressive decline in
>> income taxes paid by corporations.
>> Even in actual dollars though, the very rich get away with paying
>> proportionally less in taxes than the merely rich. In Figure 7, you will see
>> that the percent of income one pays in income taxes reaches a peak at an
>> income of about $600,000 and it steadily declines as incomes grow above that
>> level.
>> This may be falling into propaganda trap of thinking that only income taxes
>> matter, however. Clearly the very rich only pay a negligible portion of
>> their income in payroll taxes, while this is the major tax on the many
>> making less than $100,000 (according to Figure 6a, that is more than 80% of
>> us).
>> If you look in Who Pays Taxes II<http://www.opednews.com/articles/Who-Pays-Taxes-II-by-PrMaine-081214-854.html>,
>> you will see that in 2006, 10% of the income in the U.S. went to the tiny
>> 0.025% of the population making $5 million or more, but this tiny minority
>> paid only 8.9% of the combined income and payroll taxes, not even the 10%
>> that is the very least that fairness would dictate they pay.
>> It is worth note that while those with incomes in the $42,000 to $62,000
>> range paid a greater tax rate than those making over $5 million, they still
>> paid only roughly the same rate as the entire population of the U.S.
>> If some groups pay less than average, other groups have to pay more than
>> average taxes, and the charts in the second article make it clear that it is
>> the people with incomes in the range from $2 million to $5 million who are
>> making up for those who pay less.
>> People making over $2 million a year are quite able to pay a bit more in
>> taxes and I do not see them as in need of tax relief. However it is hard to
>> see why those making over $5 million should pay so much less, unless it is
>> these people who have the best political connections and propagandists. In
>> fact, many of them probably are politicians and propagandists.
>> the excerpts:
>> Few Americans realize just how incredibly little, historically speaking,
>> our nation's wealthy now pay in taxes.
>> In 1955, the year April 15 became the IRS tax-filing deadline, America's
>> top 400 taxpayers paid three times more of their income in taxes than the
>> top 400 of 2006, the most recent year with IRS data available.
>> According to a new Tax Day report that we co-authored, if the top 400 of
>> 2006 had paid taxes at 1955 rates, the federal treasury would have collected
>> -- from these 400 taxpayers alone -- an additional $35.9 billion more in
>> revenue in 2006.
>> The 139,000 U.S. taxpayers who made over $2 million in 2006, our report
>> also notes, averaged $5.9 million in income. They paid 23.2 percent of their
>> total incomes in federal income tax. The comparable rate for equivalent
>> high-income Americans in 1955: 49 percent.
>> If the over-$2 million set in 2006 had paid taxes at the same rate as their
>> 1955 counterparts, the federal treasury would have collected $202 billion.
>> We've now lived through 30 years of "shrink, shift and shaft" federal
>> budget and tax policies. Right-wing pols, aided by Democrats who should have
>> known better, have shrunk government and the share of taxes paid by the
>> wealthiest 1 percent. The tax burden, consequently, has shifted off wealth
>> and onto wages, off the federal tax system and onto the regressive tax
>> systems of states and localities.
>> The direct result: States and localities have gotten the budget shaft --
>> and that has forced years of chronic underfunding for mass transit,
>> education and myriad public services.
>> So what can we do, as a nation, to start turning this situation around? Our
>> Institute for Policy Studies report -- "Reversing the Great Tax Shift"<http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/#1207>advances a set of specific steps that would generate over $450 billion in
>> annual revenue, dollars that would help finance our recovery fairly.
>> We recommend that lawmakers:
>> *Tax income from capital gains and dividends at the same rates as wage
>> income*. Under current law, income from investments gets taxed at 15
>> percent. Income from work gets taxed at up to 35 percent. No coherent moral
>> justification exists for such an enormous tax preference for income from
>> wealth. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, taxing all forms of income
>> the same would generate $80 billion a year.
>> *Create a new top tax rate for incomes over $2 million. *Presently, a
>> person with an income of $300,000 faces the same tax rates as a person with
>> an income of $3 million. Instituting a top tax rate of 50 percent on incomes
>> over $2 million would generate more than $60 billion a year.
>> *Levy a progressive estate tax on large fortunes. *The federal estate tax,
>> our nation's only levy on grand accumulations of private wealth, will expire
>> in 2010 and revert to the 2000 status quo. Lawmakers aren't going to let
>> that happen -- if, for no other reason, to take inflation into account --
>> and that reality creates an opportunity to make the estate tax more
>> progressive.
>> One reform would be to institute graduated tax rates on large estates,
>> while exempting estates worth less than $2 million, $4 million for a couple.
>> Such an approach would generate over $100 billion a year a decade from now
>> -- while taxing no more than 1 of every 200 estates.
>> All these steps, we believe, would enjoy widespread public support.
>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 10:53 PM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> Hi Michel,
>>> It is certainly not the case in the United States where most taxes are
>>> paid by the rich both in dollar terms and in percentage terms.  It's not
>>> controversial and readily discoverable.  I recommend the CBO numbers.
>>> I think we'd have to agree to disagree on exploitation and value
>>> extraction.  But I don't see where that is the point.
>>> The point is that P2P folks often rail against the market, the system, and
>>> the government.  Why then would they be funded by it?
>>> Ryan
>>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 9:36 AM, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004 at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>> Hi Ryan,
>>>> most big companies and rich individuals pay much less taxes than average
>>>> income people, they have access to plenty of loopholes, but even if they
>>>> paid, their money didn't come from the sky, but from the value they first
>>>> extracted from working people. Since working people create the value, and
>>>> are the ultimate source of taxation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with
>>>> public funding, on the contrary, it is a moral obligation. We must end the
>>>> neoliberal corporate welfare state, but rather than just restoring the
>>>> sometimes paternalistic and disempowering welfare state (which as a baseline
>>>> to be restored needs to be reformed  against bureaucratic control), we need
>>>> to augment it with partner state productions, so that more wellbeing and
>>>> wealth can be created by civil society. The preferential treatment by the
>>>> neoliberal state of the speculatively richest to the detriment of the
>>>> producing enterpreneurs and working people would be the way forward.
>>>> Being against public funding is also an argument for the pure
>>>> commodification of art as a pure market commodity ... that would be truly
>>>> immoral,
>>>> Michel
>>>>   On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 6:48 PM, Ryan Lanham <rlanham1963 at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>>> Wouldn't it be immoral for people who believe in P2P to take money from
>>>>> tax payers who are mostly the selfish rich and corporations?
>>>>> Ryan
>>>>> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 6:28 AM, Kevin Flanagan <kev.flanagan at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>>>> Hey Paul,
>>>>>> State support for the arts is common in europe.
>>>>>> Im most familiar with the Irish and UK Arts Councils.
>>>>>> Im not advocating further state support for 'artists'.
>>>>>> Im interested in putting together an strong argument for state support
>>>>>> for free culture and hacker spaces.
>>>>>> Using already in place institutions and infrastructure such as arts
>>>>>> councils.
>>>>>> I support the idea of a basic income for all.
>>>>>> But Im suggesting what I see as a practical and achievable short term
>>>>>> goal.
>>>>>> If we could specifically get these institutions to recognise the
>>>>>> social value and put in policy the importance of commons oriented
>>>>>> production for free culture and hacker spaces then maybe in time we
>>>>>> can get the state to recognize the value and importance of commons
>>>>>> based production on a broader scale.
>>>>>> Lets get these arts councils to expand their remit to support
>>>>>> specifically free culture and hacker spaces.
>>>>>> Surely we can show how the skills developed in hack labs are useful
>>>>>> and transferable and worth state economic investment. Hacker spaces in
>>>>>> in disadvantaged communities could be a great outlet for young people.
>>>>>> I dont have time to look up a good links at the moment because I have
>>>>>> to go now.
>>>>>> For example it would be nice to see some research on how Brazil has
>>>>>> got on with its effort in supporting acces to digital technology.
>>>>>> Brazilian minister for digital culture Gilberto Gill supporting the
>>>>>> creation of 650 cultural spaces giving citizens access to computers
>>>>>> cameras to share music and culture.
>>>>>> http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9786370-7.html
>>>>>> Ok Im off for now.
>>>>>> Kevin F
>>>>>> On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 6:07 PM, Paul D. Fernhout
>>>>>> <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>>>>>>> Kevin-
>>>>>>> As I see it, more support for the arts is a good idea, but a
>>>>>> half-measure.
>>>>>>> As you say at the end, we could look at expanding it to all sorts of
>>>>>> commons
>>>>>>> production, but it is hard to judge what is "worthy". A "basic
>>>>>> income" for
>>>>>>> all is probably a better general solution than trying to decide what
>>>>>>> projects a person wants to do are worthy of support. References:
>>>>>>>  http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html
>>>>>>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income
>>>>>>>  http://www.usbig.net/whatisbig.html
>>>>>>> A basic income just for "artists" is possible:
>>>>>>>  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_income_in_the_Netherlands
>>>>>>> but in the end, is a mother or father any less an artist for helping
>>>>>> sculpt
>>>>>>> a young life than someone who works in clay and sculpts statues? And,
>>>>>> it is
>>>>>>> hard to judge a person's worth or a project's worth at the time. It
>>>>>> may only
>>>>>>> become clear 1000 years later if something is "worthwhile". And
>>>>>> besides,
>>>>>>> worthwhile to whom? Maybe it is enough that an individual's life is
>>>>>>> worthwhile to themselves?
>>>>>>> For me, a big changeover point is if everyone could get laws about a
>>>>>> basic
>>>>>>> income passed everywhere. So, rather than have artists fighting
>>>>>> against
>>>>>>> mothers and fathers and mimes and songwriters and so on over who
>>>>>> should get
>>>>>>> the most subsidies, we have both working together, as an alliance, to
>>>>>> have a
>>>>>>> basic income for artists, mothers, fathers, writers, journalists,
>>>>>> mimes, and
>>>>>>> everyone else, even rich CEOs.
>>>>>>> It's been said:
>>>>>>>  http://quotationsbook.com/quote/31495/
>>>>>>> "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
>>>>>> poor, to
>>>>>>> sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets and to steal bread. "
>>>>>>> Well, a basic income, in its majestic equality, allows both the rich
>>>>>> as well
>>>>>>> as the poor to paint local bridges, to mime in the streets, and to
>>>>>> give away
>>>>>>> home-baked bread. :-) Maybe financially obese people won't want to do
>>>>>> those
>>>>>>> things compared to poor people who know how important those things
>>>>>> are, but
>>>>>>> with a basic income, rich people could. :-)
>>>>>>> See also:
>>>>>>> "[p2p-research] Basic income from a millionaire's perspective?"
>>>>>> http://listcultures.org/pipermail/p2presearch_listcultures.org/2009-August/003949.html
>>>>>>> Is it possible you could make some freely licensed art about that
>>>>>> issue? :-)
>>>>>>> --Paul Fernhout
>>>>>>> http://www.pdfernhout.net/
>>>>>>> Kevin Flanagan wrote:
>>>>>>>> Hello,
>>>>>>>> It was great to finally get to meet some of you in person at media
>>>>>>>> ecologies.
>>>>>>>> I have some suggestions and questions regarding building alliances
>>>>>>>> that Id be interested in thrashing out here on the list.
>>>>>>>> My question here is how can we incentivize government to support the
>>>>>>>> building and protection of the commons?
>>>>>>>> My suggestion is this -
>>>>>>>> As an artist Ive been involved in and worked with several artist led
>>>>>>>> organisations. Most of these organisations could not survive without
>>>>>>>> government subsidy through bodies such as arts councils. Naturally
>>>>>>>> there is pressure from government on arts councils and hence on
>>>>>>>> artists and arts organisations to be accountable for this
>>>>>> investment.
>>>>>>>> In order to receive financial support artists and arts organisations
>>>>>>>> are required to fulfill certain criteria to prove the social value
>>>>>> of
>>>>>>>> their work. So the better an organisation is at proving the social
>>>>>>>> value of their work the more likely it is that they will receive
>>>>>>>> support. This means that lots of artists end up working to
>>>>>> governments
>>>>>>>> agenda through Public Art and Community Arts projects. Maybe this
>>>>>>>> sounds a bit harsh but sometimes I think of community arts as a kind
>>>>>>>> of goverment funded social band aid for disadvantaged communities.
>>>>>> The
>>>>>>>> criteria for funding are usually that such projects support , social
>>>>>>>> inclusion, multiculturalism, intercultural relations. Often what is
>>>>>>>> produced in the creative process if immaterial affect so its not
>>>>>>>> always easy to show how these arts projects fulfill these criteria.
>>>>>>>> What Im wondering is can free culture centers, hack\fab labs, maker
>>>>>>>> clubs, do this better. I think so. The added advantage of such
>>>>>> centres
>>>>>>>> is eductaion in transferable skills. Goverment likes transferable
>>>>>>>> skills that help peoples job prospects. Whether in electronics,
>>>>>>>> programming, media. Some research into how the EU and UNESCO promote
>>>>>>>> social inclusion through culture would be useful. Are these policies
>>>>>>>> IP biased? Can we as advocates of free culture and the commons
>>>>>> propose
>>>>>>>> ammendments or new policies that incentivize governments to provide
>>>>>>>> financial support for free culture spaces, hack labs and to
>>>>>> recognize
>>>>>>>> the intercultural importance of the shared commons oriented
>>>>>> production
>>>>>>>> of these spaces? Any ideas who might already be working on this?
>>>>>>>> Existing models perhaps that can be used as examples?
>>>>>>>> How might dialogue about the commons interface with current thinking
>>>>>>>> on multiculturalism? Does breaking down financial barriers to entry
>>>>>>>> promote social inclusion locally, nationally, internationally? Of
>>>>>>>> course but how do we measure this?
>>>>>>>> I dont know how this sounds or even if its interesting but I thought
>>>>>>>> Id just put it out there.
>>>>>>>> Maybe the the current system of support for the arts is one to look
>>>>>> at
>>>>>>>> expanding for supporting the commons based production? Maybe
>>>>>> alliances
>>>>>>>> can be built with existing cultural organisations?

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