[p2p-research] IMPORTANT, seven pathways to social power

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 7 20:55:56 CET 2009

Michel Bauwens wrote:
> This is the summary explanation: "In practice, therefore, the concepts of
> capitalism, statism and socialism should be thought of not simply as
> all-or-nothing ideal types of economic structures, but also as variables.
> The more the decisions made by actors exercising economic power determine
> the allocation and use of resources, the more capitalist is an economic
> structure. The more power exercised through the state determines the
> allocation and use of resources, the more the society is statist. The more
> power rooted in civil society determines such allocations and uses, the more
> the society is socialist. "

As is pointed out by Domhoff here:
businesses, churches, governments, and the military are all potentially 
strong hierarchies that may organize human affairs.

But, then social meshworks like p2p way be present too.

As Manuel de Landa suggest, there are always both meshworks and hierarchies.

My wife explores aspects of that in a paper here:
   "The Wisdom of Clounds"
"One way to use the ... framework is to  remove all set boundary lines and 
make the  space itself meaningful through the imposition of dimensions of 
continuous  variation. The canonical axes for the ...  framework are as 
shown in the figure on the  right. The strength of central connections 
grows from left to right, and the strength of  constituent connections grows 
from bottom to  top. I like Manuel de Landa's (1997) terms  for these forms 
of connection: hierarchy  grows from left to right, and meshwork grows  from 
bottom to top."

So, you can may a society in this space. You can, say, have strong 
hierarchies and no strong meshworks. Or, you could have both. Or neither. Or 
strong meshworks and no strong hierarchies. Of some mix in the middle of 
weaker meshworks and hierarchies.

Within than, then one might talk about what type of hierarchies you have. 
But, is there really that much difference between, say, a church hierarchy 
and a business hierarchy? It may matter a lot in the details of how the 
hierarchy justifies itself, but is there any difference in operations?

But there can be greater confusion. In the USA, 
Republican/FiscalConservatives arguing for the market make the argument on 
the grounds the market is a stigmergic meshwork. But many "Liberals" argue 
about the power of Big Business hierarchies, while sometimes talking about 
money going from the state to local needs and local meshworky projects.

Anyway, there is a lot of confusion in general on these themes, because we 
are mixing at least two types of organizational themes (meshworks and 
hierarchies) and then you can have multiple overlapping versions of each. 
For example, in the Netherlands, the overlapping business and church 
hierarchies kept each other in check somewhat.

And as Manuel de Land says, there are no pure forms of meshworks and 
hierarchies, and they tend to turn into each other. And there is even 
another issue of levels and interfaces, as one builds one type of form on 

--Paul Fernhout

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