[p2p-research] The Non-Corporate Fortune 500

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 28 23:48:43 CET 2009

Ryan Lanham wrote:
> One looks to an Age when money doesn't garner status.  That is a P2P tenet I
> should think.  Since the only worldview we have traditionally that holds a
> similar view is socialism, or more properly, communism, there is a natural
> bridge between P2P and socialism.  And since communism despises profit,
> there is great antipathy toward that word in the P2P weltanschauung.

Is there any country that calls itself "communist" that does not (for 
whatever reason) have an fairly authoritarian regime that restricts 
information flow?

For example, Cuba could easily set itself up as a have for "Pirate Bay" and 
any other service that ignored copyrights, but it seems it won't because it 
restricts information flow and discussion by its people? From 2008:
"Last week, the Cuban government announced that ordinary Cubans will not be 
allowed to have Internet access in the short term, even though the 
government authorised ordinary citizens to buy computers and own mobile 
phones on 1 April 2008."

"Cuba cutting Internet access"
"In a move seen as aimed at anti-government bloggers, Cuba is further 
limiting access to the World Wide Web"

Anyway, is this just a sad quirk of history? Or is it that it is impossible 
for a country not in the grip of a strong dictator to stand up to the USA 
and capitalism? But even then, why restrict information flow? Where are the 
democratic but communist states?

Clearly there are many countries that call themselves democratic and 
"socialist" that have widespread internet access (like much of Europe 
perhaps). Although "socialist" is sort of a vague word at this point it 
seems (at least from the US point of view) that kind of means "we have a 
government we trust to manage some things well like health care, mass 
transit, and a social safety net". Even if technically it probably means 
more than that:
Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating 
public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of 
production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal 
access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based 
on the amount of labor expended.[1][2][3]
   Most socialists share the view that capitalism unfairly concentrates 
power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital and 
derives its wealth through exploitation, creates an unequal society, does 
not provide equal opportunities for everyone to maximise their 
potentialities[4] and does not utilise technology and resources to their 
maximum potential nor in the interests of the public.[5]

But it would seem that productivity now bears little relation to labor 
expended because of automation as well as the need to build on the work of 
others intellectually. So, what would one call it when:
XYZ? refers to various theories of economic organization advocating 
decentralized control of the means of production and allocation of 
resources, and a society characterized by mostly equal access to resources 
for all individuals with a method of compensation not very much based on the 
amount of labor expended.

Contrast with:
Communism is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes 
the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on 
common ownership and control of the means of production and property in 
general.[1][2][3] Karl Marx posited that communism would be the final stage 
in human society, which would be achieved through a proletarian revolution 
and only becoming possible only after a socialist stage develops the 
productive forces, leading to a superabundance of goods and services.[4][5]
   "Pure communism" in the Marxian sense refers to a classless, stateless 
and oppression-free society where decisions on what to produce and what 
policies to pursue are made democratically, allowing every member of society 
to participate in the decision-making process in both the political and 
economic spheres of life. In modern usage, communism is often used to refer 
to Bolshevism or Marxism-Leninism and the policies of the various communist 
states which had government ownership of all the means of production and 
centrally planned economies. Communist regimes have historically been 
authoritarian, repressive, and coercive governments concerned primarily with 
preserving their own power.[3]
Karl Marx never provided a detailed description as to how communism would 
function as an economic system, but it is understood that a communist 
economy would consist of common ownership of the means of production, 
culminating in the negation of the concept of private ownership of capital, 
which referred to the means of production in Marxian terminology.

But "the negation of the concept of private ownership of capital" really 
assumes "capital" is some big thing. If "capital" is a self-replicating 3D 
printer you have in your house, what does that mean?

Could it be that the oppressive side of communism that has been tried is 
related to trying to do it with a relative resource scarcity in relation to 
a nation's material aspirations?

But, in any case, other assumptions also break down if you assume people 
should mostly only do things because they are fun (like Charles Fourier 
suggested, or Bob Black).

It seems to me there is some future ideology as yet to be defined, perhaps 
one that may look a lot more like Fourierism update for the 21st century 
(editing out some of the more extreme parts of his writings).
Fourier declared that concern and cooperation were the secrets of social 
success. He believed that a society that cooperated would see an immense 
improvement in their productivity levels. Workers would be recompensed for 
their labors according to their contribution. Fourier saw such cooperation 
occurring in communities he called "phalanxes," based around structures 
called Phalanstères or "grand hotels." These buildings were four level 
apartment complexes where the richest had the uppermost apartments and the 
poorest enjoyed a ground floor residence. Wealth was determined by one's 
job; jobs were assigned based on the interests and desires of the 
individual. There were incentives: jobs people might not enjoy doing would 
receive higher pay. ... Fourier characterized poverty (not inequality) as 
the principal cause of disorder in society, and he proposed to eradicate it 
by sufficiently high wages and by a "decent minimum" for those who were not 
able to work.[11] ... ourier was deeply disturbed by the disorder of his 
time and wanted to stabilize the course of events which surrounded him. 
Fourier saw his fellow human beings living in a world full of strife, chaos, 
and disorder.[15] Fourier is best remembered for his writings on a new world 
order based on unity of action and harmonious collaboration.[2] ... Walter 
Benjamin considered Fourier crucial enough to devote an entire "konvolut" of 
his massive, projected book on the Paris arcades, the Passagenwerk, to 
Fourier's thought and influence. He writes: "To have instituted play as the 
canon of a labor no longer rooted in exploitation is one of the great merits 
of Fourier," and notes that "Only in the summery middle of the nineteenth 
century, only under its sun, can one conceive of Fourier's fantasy 
materialized." ...

Joan Roelofs has suggested the best parts of Marx's theories were taken from 

But even that assumes a world without a lot of automation... That would 
change the balance of all that.

Is P2P a sort of neo-Fourierist movement in some ways? :-)

--Paul Fernhout

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