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Book of the Day: The Utopia of Rules

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
30th August 2015


* Book: The Utopia of Rules. David Graeber. 2015.

As usual, a landmark book, this time the authors tackles the history of bureaucracy and the state-corporate nexus.

Excerpted from David Graeber:

“At least since the 19th century, the idea that a market economy is opposed to and independent of government was used to justify laissez-faire economic policies designed to lessen the role of government, and yet they never actually have that effect. Nor, for example, did English liberalism lead to a reduction of state bureaucracy; instead, we ended up with a ballooning array of legal clerks, registrars, inspectors, notaries and police officials who made the liberal dream of a world of free contract between autonomous individuals possible. And there is little doubt that maintaining a market economy requires a thousand times more paperwork than a Louis XIV-style absolutist monarchy.

I’m going to call this the age of “total bureaucratisation”. I’d like to ask why that is and, particularly, to consider the possibility that many of the blanket condemnations of bureaucracy we hear are, in fact, somewhat disingenuous. Does the experience of operating within a system of formalised rules and regulations, under hierarchies of impersonal officials, hold a kind of covert appeal?

There is… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Featured Book, P2P Books, P2P Governance, P2P Hierarchy Theory |

Rebel Architecture – The pedreiro and the master planner

photo of Kevin Flanagan
Kevin Flanagan
29th August 2015


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Posted in: P2P Architecture and Urbanism, Videos |

The role of the ‘on demand economy’ in post-welfare capitalism

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
29th August 2015


If an higher education equivalent of Amazon or Google along the lines sketched above did come into being, it would disrupt the public university still further – only this time by means of an innovative, profit-driven, ‘sharing economy’ business operating according to a post-welfare capitalist model, just as Airbnb is currently disrupting the state regulated hotel industry, and Uber state regulated taxi companies. Increasing numbers of university workers would thus find themselves in a situation not dissimilar to that facing many cab drivers today. Instead of operating in a sector that’s accountable to state regulators, they would have little choice but to sell their cheap and easy-to-access courses to whoever’s prepared to pay for them in the ‘alternative’ education market created by platform capitalism. They too would become atomised, precarious, freelance microentrepreneurs. As such, they’d experience all the problems of deprofessionalisation, intensification and surveillance such a post-welfare capitalist economy brings.

Republished from The Uberfication of the University, by Gary Hall (Coventry University):

Talk about being careful what you wish for. A recent survey of UK vice-chancellors identifies a number of areas of innovation with the potential to transform UK higher education. Among them are ‘uses of student data analytics… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Cognitive Capitalism, Sharing |

Essay of the Day: Italian Precarious Workers Between Self-Organization and Self-Advocacy

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
29th August 2015


* Essay: “Inspire and conspire”: Italian precarious workers between self-organization and self-advocacy. Annalisa Murgia and Giulia Selmi. Interface: a journal for and about social movements, Volume 4 (2): 181 – 196 (November 2012)

From the abstract:

“The scenario we see today in the labor market in Italy is composed of a progressive proliferation of non-standard contracts. This involves first and foremost a problem of citizenship and welfare, due to the lower or almost nonexistent possibility of access to social rights associated with these types of contracts. Faced with this situation, over the last ten years, Italy has seen the emergence of a complex social movement to counter precariousness. This movement at first concentrated its efforts in the rewriting of the symbolic vocabulary and imagination at work, in an attempt to consolidate the precarious as a collective subjectivity beyond its traditional representations.

In recent years, however, this process of “self-representation” in terms of a collective narrative is matched by a process of “self-advocacy”: an effective self-organization of temporary workers to handle the conflict in the workplace. In a scenario of no confidence in political parties and trade unions in addressing the issue of precariousness, these movements refuse the delegation of the conflict,… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Featured Essay, P2P Labor |

Extraenvironmentalist – Interview with Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty on The Resilience Imperative

photo of Kevin Flanagan
Kevin Flanagan
28th August 2015


I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with authors Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty on a number of occasions. The depth of the knowledge they share is grounded in inspiring real world economic alternatives making “The Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy” an essential read. So I was delighted to come across this excellent interview with the Extraenvironmentalist.
Originally Posted – http://www.extraenvironmentalist.com/2015/08/17/episode-88-resilience-imperative/

Our governments, businesses and economic institutions were built on a society that was supercharged with fossil fuels to get as big as possible as fast as possible. Now, with the challenges of the 21st century, resilience is a more appropriate principle for reinventing and reorganizing our economic life. Is it possible to develop economic and financial arrangements that can emphasize aspects of humanity other than individual greed?

In Extraenvironmentalist #88 we discuss the Resilience Imperative: Cooperative Transitions to a Steady-State Economy with co-authors Michael Lewis and Pat Conaty. We talk about ways to create a decentralized, cooperative steady-state economy that can work as an alternative to the highly globalized and financialized economic paradigm of today.

 

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Posted in: Cooperatives |

Women in P2P: Alison Powell (Part 2)

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Rachel O'Dwyer
28th August 2015


Alison Powell interviewed by Rachel O’Dwyer (Part 2).

See here for Part One.

Alison Powell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Communications in the London School of Economics. Her research examines the history and future of openness within new media. Alison’s research explores open-source cultures including community wireless networks, free software advocates and people interested in open sourcing knowledge including hardware design. Alison was involved in Île Sans Fil,  a Montreal organisation founded in 2003 and committed to spreading Wi-Fi across the city.

 

The Peer-to-Peer City

I interviewed Alison last month during IAMCR in Montreal, Canada. In part one of this interview we spoke about the Community Wireless Network (CWN) Île Sans Fil in Montreal and the limited role of technologies in cultivating a p2p society . In this part of our interview,  we spoke about Alison’s work on the peer-to-peer city, an ‘alternative’ participatory governance model for cities that includes practices such as community networks, citizen science and citizen data collection operating alongside more hierarchical imaginaries of the ‘smart city’ or the data city. You can listen to a more detailed description of this concept in Alison’s Talk in Maynooth University Alison Powell – Coding alternative modes of governance:… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Default |

Thomas Greco brief report on Sardex Mutual Credit Trade Exchange

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Kevin Flanagan
28th August 2015


In his recent newsletter Thomas Greco reports on his recent trip to Sardinia where he met with business people using the Sardex mutual credit trade exchange.

>“I recently spent a few days on the Italian island of Sardinia conferring with the founders and administrators of Sardex (http://www.sardex.net/), a commercial credit clearing exchange that has been notable for its success in organizing small businesses and service providers on this island of about 1.6 million people. I’ve known about Sardex since almost its beginning five years ago and have corresponded over the past few years with Giuseppe Littera, one of its founders but this was the first opportunity I’ve had to get an inside look at their operation. I came away with a pretty good understanding of how they operate and the impression that the Sardex structures, procedures, and protocols come closer to optimal than any other trade exchange I’ve seen. It appears to be a developing model that is both scalable and replicable. I will not attempt to provide here a comprehensive report or detailed analysis, rather I will highlight a few major points and provide some sources of additional information for those who are interested in doing theirContinue reading »

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Posted in: Economy and Business, P2P Money |

Book of the Day: Communal Luxury

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
28th August 2015


“Kristin Ross argues that a rich legacy of ideas and practices developed during the Commune – the workers’ democracy that ruled Paris for two-and-a-half months in 1871 before being violently suppressed – needs to be recovered for the twenty-first century. *

* Book: Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune, Kristin Ross. Verso, 2015

Here is a short summary of this important book, a contribution to contemporary reflections on the possibility of abundance, followed by excerpts from an interview with the author:

“Kristin Ross’s new work on the thought and culture of the Communard uprising of 1871 resonates with the motivations and actions of contemporary protest, which has found its most powerful expression in the reclamation of public space. Today’s concerns—internationalism, education, the future of labor, the status of art, and ecological theory and practice—frame and inform her carefully researched restaging of the words and actions of individual Communards. This original analysis of an event and its centrifugal effects brings to life the workers in Paris who became revolutionaries, the significance they attributed to their struggle, and the elaboration and continuation of their thought in the encounters that transpired between the insurrection’s survivors and supporters like Marx,… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Ethical Economy, Featured Book, P2P Books, P2P Lifestyles, P2P Movements, P2P Subjectivity, P2P Theory, Peer Property |

Saving civilization with Bitcoin XT

photo of Øyvind Holmstad
Øyvind Holmstad
28th August 2015


By Eivind Berge. Original post here.

Having spent the last couple of years reading and thinking about energy and the economy, this is what I have learned: A primary energy source needs to fuel enough economic activity to pay for its own production (I think this is a self-evident statement, but correct me if I am wrong). This is how the laws of thermodynamics trump the law of supply and demand, which will not save us from low commodity prices in the end. The maximum prices possible for primary energy sources like oil, coal and gas are constrained by their energy content, which remains fixed by their chemical structures. Unfortunately, nonrenewable natural resources are also subject to depletion and hence diminishing returns as a result of rising production costs, which means they become less and less valuable to the economy over time (more and more economic resources are diverted into their extraction rather than doing the things people actually want). As of September 2015, we are at the point in history where none of the energy sources which have enabled industrial civilization are able to drive enough economic activity to pay for themselves any longer. Therefore, commodity prices are crashing… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Guest Post, P2P Money |

Pavlos Georgiades calls out for a Plan C for Greece

photo of Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens
27th August 2015


Pavlos Georgiadis wrote:

“Just over a month ago, Greek citizens were asked to go to the polls for a referendum that posed the country with an unprecedented existential dilemma and challenged the EU with the possibility of its collapse.

The question that shook the world was a choice between a Plan A – more of the same, evidently failed austerity policies that made the country lose 25 percent of its GDP in five years – and a Plan B – a poorly designed Grexit, with unpredictable consequences that could mean the country’s sudden death.

Instead of viewing Greece as a scapegoat, Europe should take this unique opportunity to capitalise on the solutions created by the civil society in the country.

It is an indisputable fact that Greece requires major reforms and Greeks know this better than anyone else. These are related, among others, to major existing legislative gaps, the country’s geography which generates huge transaction costs, a cultural gap between cities and rural areas, and the decision making processes in the country.

Such reforms are of systemic nature, something that no politician in Greece seems able to grasp or advocate. The old guard that still rules the country’s affairs, despite being fully aware… Continue reading »

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Posted in: Commons Transition, P2P Public Policy |