With P2P Towards a Post-Capitalist Society
* De Wereld Redden. Met P2P naar een post-kapitalische samenleving. Michel Bauwens en Jean Lievens. Houtekiet / Oikos, 2013
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English presentation and summary:
"With P2P towards a postcapitalist society
Our present society is based on the absurd idea that material resources are abundant and immaterial ideas are scarce. We behave as if the planet is infinite and exploit the earth in a way that endangers survival of the human species. On the other hand, we are building artificial walls around human knowledge to prevent and impede sharing as much as possible.
The peer-to-peer model of Wikipedia (knowledge), Linux (software) and Wikipspeed (design), inspired by open source, wants to turn this logic on its head. According to Michel Bauwens, the sharing economy, P2P-networks, open source, crowd sourcing, fablabs, micro-factories, hackerspaces, the makers’ movement, urban agriculture… all new phenomena forming patterns that lead us towards a postcapitalist society, in which the market will be subsumed to the logic of the commons.
Just as feudalism developed within the womb of the Roman slave society and capitalism developed within feudalism, we are witnessing the embryo of a new form of society within capitalism. In order to save the world, we need a relocalisation of production and an extension of global cooperation in the field of knowledge, code and design.
Save the world is based on a 12-hour interview by former journalist Jean Lievens with Michel Bauwens, and is divided into six chapters:
Chapter 1: The Economy of P2P
For the first time in history, people all over the world can connect with each other and produce common value: a universal encyclopedia (Wikipedia), an operation system (Linux) or the design of a mother board (Arduino). They are building complex systems outside traditional organizations such as companies, government institutions or NGO’s. In addition, they don’t do it for the money, but because they like to do it, because they want to make themselves useful, because they want to solve a problem… Therefore, we are dealing with a new (proto-) mode of production, peer production. It is a hyper productive mode of production because it is based on passionate production and therefore, it has the tendency to outperform traditional businesses. In this chapter, Michel Bauwens places P2P within a historical framework and explains this new form of collaboration, sharing en producing.
Chapter 2, the politics of P2P
How will this transformation towards a new form of society in which P2P will become the dominant mode of production, take place? What are the social and political forces that will help determinate this transition? How will the ‘old world’ resist change and hinder the new emerging world? Will this transition be smoothly or will it be a revolutionary process?
Michel Bauwens considers P2P as the ideology of a new class of knowledge workers, with the same appeal as the ideas of socialism were for the industrial workers in the nineteenth century. The first political expressions - from the Swedish Pirate Party and the Greek Potato Movement to the Five Star Movement of Bopped Grillo - are still in their infancy. In addition, these new political formations need to find progressive partners to work out a program to defend and promote the interests of immaterial and material commons. In this Chapter, Michel Bauwens also tackles the role of the state that needs to transform itself from welfare state to partner state.
Chapter 3: P2P and spirituality
We cannot understand spiritual expressions and religious organizational structures outside of the historical social structure in which they originated and developed. Tribal religious forms like animism and shamanism didn’t have developed hierarchical structures as they arose within a social framework with egalitarian relationships relying on kinship. The large organized religions originating in highly hierarchical societies are defined by complex hierarchical structures. There is only one truth to which members have to obey. The protestant reaction was characterized by democratic features reflecting the values of a new urban bourgeoisie representing mercantilism and a nascent industrial capitalism. New Age reflects modern capitalist practices where even spiritual experiences have become consumer goods. In this chapter, Bauwens explains how the transition towards distributed networks will also have great consequences for spiritual development.
Chapter 4: the Philosophy of P2P
Michel Bauwens rejects methodologies that are trying to explain phenomena from one point of view. Not only do we need to take into account the objective, but also the subjective elements in their interdependency. At the same time his integral approach is a form of truth philosophy. According to Bauwens, truth needs to be constructed contributively and every object needs to be approached from as many angles and perspectives as possible. However, this integral approach also poses dangers, as shown by the reactionary nature of the ideas of Ken Wilber. For Michel Bauwens, the P2P-movement is a progressive, integrative emancipation movement.
Chapter 5: the P2P Foundation
The P2P Foundation is an international organization focused on studying, researching, documenting and promoting peer-to-peer practices in a very broad sense. This website is our knowledge commons and it’s collaboratively built by our community.
Chapter 6: a Biography of Michel Bauwens
Bauwens is founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives and works in collaboration with a global group of researchers in the exploration of peer production, governance, and property. He is listed at #82, on the Post Growth Institute’s (En)Rich list as one of the 100 most inspiring people in the world. He worked among others for BP and Belgacom as e-business strategy director and writers for online media as Al Jazeeera English. He is also economic adviser of the government of Ecuador.
Appendix; The Story of the book
Michel Bauwens and Jean Lievens met in the second half of the seventies at the Free University of Brussels, were they were active in the student movement. More than three decades later, the ideas of P2P brought them together again. Now in their fifties, confronted with a broken system that threatens the survival of the human species, they consider the transition towards a P2P society as a way out of the present crisis.
The book is based on a 12-hour interview by former journalist Jean Lievens with Michel Bauwens, and is divided into six chapters: the Economy of P2P, the Politics of P2P, P2P and Spirituality, the Philosophy of P2P, the P2P Foundation and a Biography of Michel Bauwens, who was elected on the Enriched List of the Post Growth Institute, a list with the 100 most inspiring people (dead and alive) ever in relation to sustainability.
216 pages | ISBN 978 90 8924 254 9