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A proposed ‘open cooperativism’ strategy for the commons-based phase transition

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
9th February 2014

Commentaries are very welcome:

“Today we have a paradox, the more “communistic” the sharing license we use (i.e. no restrictions on sharing), the more capitalistic the practice (i.e. multinationals can use it for free), with for example the Linux commons having become in a sense a corporate commons enriching IBM and the like … it works in a certain way, and seems acceptable to most free software developers, but is it the only way?

Hence, an alternative, having the choice not just for non-reciprocal full sharing licenses such as the GPL, but introducing a median choice of ‘socialist’ licenses, based on reciprocity. (I am using the concepts of socialism and communism in their technical meaning of the 19th century here)

This is the choice of the Peer Production License; it is not to be confused with the cc non commercial, as the logic is different; this is not to offer protection to individuals reluctant to share, but to enable and empower a counter-hegemonic reciprocal economy that combines commons that are open to all that contribute, while charging a license fee for the the for-profit companies who want to use without contributing. The PPL was originally designed by ‘venture communist’ Dmytri Kleiner and you can find it discussed at p2pfoundation.net/Bauwens,_Kleiner,_Restakis_on_Cooperative,_Commons-Based_Venture_Funding (full transcript now available)


The PPL is used experimentally by Guerilla Translation! and perhaps a few others. It links the commons to a entrepreneurial coalition of ethical market entities (coops and other models) and keeps the surplus value entirely within the sphere of commoners/cooperators instead of leaking out to the multinationals.

As this is the key contradiction of the liberal licenses (though they use the communist logic of from each according to their free contributions, to all according to need) which subsume free software to for-profit dynamics, i.e. that the only way to sustain livelihoods, remains the selling of labour for capital accumulation; the PPL changes this, as it allows commoners to create their own market entities, keeping the surplus value into the commons sphere, thereby allowing a proto-mode of production (peer production) to become a fully autonomous mode of commons oriented peer production. It creates a counter-economy that can be the basis for reconstituting a ‘counter-hegemony’ with a for-benefit circulation of value, which allied to pro-commons social movements, could be the basis of the political and social transformation of the political economy.

Moreover, inside the ethical economy, the application of open book accounting and open supply chains, would allow a different value circulation, whereby the stigmergic mutual coordination that already works at

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scale for immaterial cooperation and production, would move to the coordination of physical production, creating post-market dynamics for the allocation of resources in the physical sphere.

Finally, this can be strengthened by creating commons-based venture funding, so as to create material commons, as proposed by Dmytri Kleiner. In this way, the machine park itself is taken out of the sphere of capital accumulation.

Hence, as this process strengthens, and is accompanied by the growth of social and political power, the circulation of capital is replaced by a full circulation of the commons. The phase transition has effectively occurred.”



One Response to “A proposed ‘open cooperativism’ strategy for the commons-based phase transition”

  1. Rafael Reinehr Says:

    Will discuss in Coolmeia about the possibility of using this license in some extent in our network.

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