[p2p-research] Building Alliances (fourth camp of funding)

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 7 03:22:29 CET 2009

Michel Bauwens wrote:
> Arts and free culture could conceivably have at least 3 major modes of
> funding: the public, the private i.e. the market, and itself; the latter
> still very problematic today. So hybrid models seem best, and if we don't
> want culture to be a pure commodity, public funding is good. Historically,
> the arts have always benefitted from patronage and public funding, not just
> from selling itself as a commodity.

A fourth mode has always been "personal" (which I distinguish from having a 
patron, even though the patron is yourself or sometimes your family).

Who funded the cave paintings? Big government? :-)

People can do what they want with their spare time, like volunteer.

And they can adopt lifestyles that require less money to live on, so they 
have more time to devote to their art (whatever it is).

And they can choose jobs that give them time to be creative (sometimes even 
manual labor that leaves their mind free during the day).

I feel there are two issues here:
* Robots and better design are gonna take your job. :-)
* Your art is calling you to do it full-time. :-)

Because, if you can get a good paying part-time job, or job share, with 
health benefits, and you are willing to work at your art part-time, then 
there is not a funding problem (at least, not for single people without 

But, there may be few good part-time jobs with health benefits, at least in 
the USA. And many artists want to work full time at what they do. Thus the 
issue of funding from government, private sales, and patrons.

But the fourth way is always open for most people. And many artists have 
pursued it.

Or, like my wife and I have done, you can alternate working for someone 
full-time and then work on your own stuff, and then go back to full-time 
work, etc. That is popular too in Australia, where people take really long 

And many artist and activists are alternatively philosophical and resentful 
about this situation in the USA:
   "The murdering of my years: artists & activists making ends meet" By 
Michael Zezima
The title of Soft Skull's latest Soft Skill book is taken from Charles 
Bukowski, who said of wage labor: "I couldn't understand the murdering of my 
years." A struggling activist/artist, Z. found that he was too short on time 
and money to write an activist's memoir and how-to. Instead, he e-mailed a 
questionnaire (printed at the end of the book), asking fellow activists and 
artists how they managed to be active yet survive economically. Each of the 
sections of the book is created from the responses to a particular question, 
but one gets the feeling that many activists and artists are quite private 
about their survival techniques. A.D. Nauman, for one, provides concrete 
ideas for writers looking for relatively painless work within the 
mainstream, and for artists who are also mothers, but the section entitled 
"The Dark Side: Illegal Jobs" is not nearly as juicy as one might hope. The 
e-mail format creates a tone that is entertaining, conversational and 
immediate, but also often prolix. Yet for anyone looking for some human 
company in the long struggle to make a living outside of the corporate 
structure, this book provides grassroots moral support. (June)

I'd actually suggest that 99% of artists (seen broadly) fall into this 
fourth camp. They just do their art (whatever it is) in their spare time. 
So, lots of people make music for fun. Copyright hurts them generally, 
because they can't build on what others have done. But, these people making 
music or painting or software or conversation not for money are not 
generally recognized as being "artists".

My guess is that 80% or more of professional artists only got that way from 
a huge investment from their families (plus sometimes other compromises on 
their own like other jobs or weird living conditions), even if they may be 
making frugal ends meet on their own at some point. Although I'm starting to 
think that is true of 80% of people working in more visible roles in the 
non-profit world, too. And this means most of those very visible full-time 
artistic successes are coming from family backgrounds somehow interlinked to 
the elite in the USA.

   "The Class-Domination Theory of Power: A summary of Who Rules America"
In terms of the big world-historical picture, and the Four Networks theory 
of power advocated on this site, money rules in America because there are no 
rival networks that grew up over a long and complex history:
     * No big church, as in many countries in Europe
     * No big government, as it took to survive as a nation-state in Europe
     * No big military until after 1940 (which is not very long ago) to 
threaten to take over the government
   So, the only power network of any consequence in the history of the 
United States has been the economic one, which under capitalism generates a 
business-owning class that hires workers and a working class, along with 
small businesses and skilled artisans who are self-employed, and a 
relatively small number of independent professionals like physicians. In 
this context, the key reason why gold can rule, i.e., why the business 
owners who hire workers can rule, is that the people who work in the 
factories and fields were divided from the outset into free and slave, white 
and black, and later into numerous immigrant ethnic groups as well, making 
it difficult for workers as a whole to unite politically to battle for 
higher wages and better social benefits. This important point is elaborated 
on toward the end of this document in a section entitled "The Weaknesses of 
the Working Class."
   Moreover, the simple answer that gold rules has to be qualified somewhat. 
Domination by the few does not mean complete control, but rather the ability 
to set the terms under which other groups and classes must operate. Highly 
trained professionals with an interest in environmental and consumer issues 
have been able to couple their technical information and their understanding 
of the legislative process with timely publicity to win governmental 
restrictions on some corporate practices. Wage and salary workers, when they 
are organized or disruptive, sometimes have been able to gain concessions on 
wages, hours, and working conditions.
   Most of all, there is free speech and the right to vote. While voting 
does not necessarily make government responsive to the will of the majority, 
under certain circumstances the electorate has been able to place restraints 
on the actions of the wealthy elites, or to decide which elites will have 
the greatest influence on policy. This is especially a possibility when 
there are disagreements within the higher circles of wealth and influence.
   Still, the idea that a relatively fixed group of privileged people 
dominate the economy and government goes against the American grain and the 
founding principles of the country. "Class" and "power" are terms that make 
Americans a little uneasy, and concepts such as "upper class" and "power 
elite" immediately put people on guard. Americans may differ in their social 
and income levels, and some may have more influence than others, but it is 
felt that there can be no fixed power group when power is constitutionally 
lodged in all the people, when there is democratic participation through 
elections and lobbying, and when the evidence of social mobility is 
everywhere apparent. So, it is usually concluded by most power analysts that 
elected officials, along with "interest groups" like "organized labor" and 
"consumers," have enough "countervailing" power to say that there is a 
fluid, "pluralistic" distribution of power rather than one with rich people 
and corporations at the top.
   Contrary to this pluralistic view, I will try to demonstrate how rule by 
the wealthy few is possible despite free speech, regular elections, and 
organized opposition:
     * "The rich" coalesce into a social upper class that has developed 
institutions by which the children of its members are socialized into an 
upper-class worldview, and newly wealthy people are assimilated.
     * Members of this upper class control corporations, which have been the 
primary mechanisms for generating and holding wealth in the United States 
for upwards of 150 years now.
     * There exists a network of nonprofit organizations through which 
members of the upper class and hired corporate leaders not yet in the upper 
class shape policy debates in the United States.
     * Members of the upper class, with the help of their high-level 
employees in profit and nonprofit institutions, are able to dominate the 
federal government in Washington.
     * The rich, and corporate leaders, nonetheless claim to be relatively 
     * Working people have less power than in many other democratic countries.
   Before running through this list, it is first necessary to define the 
term "power" and to explain the "indicators" of power that are used to 
determine who has it. Later other concepts will be introduced as they are 
needed. They include "social class," "upper class," "corporate community," 
"interlocking directorates," the "policy-planning network," the "power 
elite," the "special-interest process," the "candidate-selection process," 
and a few others. All of these concepts are necessary in order to understand 
the nature and operation of the "power structure" in the United States.

Anyway, the above, to me, explains why even most of the personally funded 
art work by full-time artists in the USA is not going to address these key 
transformational issues we talk about on the p2p list like moving to new 
economic paradigms. US artists as a group may talk about them at some point, 
when transformation becomes widely recognized as inevitable (and so the art 
is not so important), and there have always been a few who stand out doing 
something different (look at John Lennon and his Imagine song). Perhaps we 
are already at that point in the USA where we might see a widespread art 
movement towards a basic income or other significant social change. Here is 
an example of people who might pick up that and run with it?
"CULTURES OF RESISTANCE is a project, a campaign, a mission, and a living, 
breathing, growing network. Our collective of activists, agitators, artists, 
and dreamers is primarily focused on issues of peace and justice in the 
global south, and we are especially interested in supporting organizations 
and activists around the world who are working toward international 
solidarity and social justice."

I can also hope for more from those artists in Europe, which has been 
shaped, as above, by somewhat different forces. :-) On the other hand, as 
Kevin said at the start, their works may sometimes be compromised by the 
nature of state funding.

But, I don't mean to be pessimistic. I think "the ice is slowly melting".
The Beatles must have anticipated the Vitamin D sufficiency revolution :-)

--Paul Fernhout

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