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Everything written by Michel Bauwens

Organizing workers globally through networked technology: LaborTech conference

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
18th June 2015


Steve Zeltzer of LaborTech and the Labor Video Project announces the LaborTech Conference on 26th July in Stanford:

The organization of workers globally through the internet has greater potential obviously than at any time in history. Workers are linked up through multi-nationals and face global struggles for their lives that can only be resolved throughout organizing as a class internationally. The idea by the the tech billionaires that they could disrupt the economic structure including social conditions of the working class to multiply their profits and exploitation obviously has a backlash and that is the organization of these workers internationally. We will be discussing these issues at the upcoming LaborTech conference in Stanford on the 26th of July and we will also be streaming it.

Read his editorial in Al Jazeera:

* Digital-media workers of the world, unite!

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Posted in P2P Labor | No Comments »

Urban commoning is moving beyond community gardens

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
18th June 2015


Stavrides argues that for commoning to become more mainstream would require new kinds of institutions, specifically political ones. Thus far, political inspiration has come from outside Europe: from the water commons system in Cochabamba, Bolivia, or the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, or most recently the Syrian Kurds in Kobane. But that may be changing. With the election of Ada Colau of the Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) movement as mayor of Barcelona last month, commons-based governance finally has a foothold in a major European city.

Excerpted from Justin McGuirk:

“In fact, it is often in moments of crisis that the idea of commons asserts itself. The protest movements that took over Tahrir Square in Cairo, Gezi Park in Istanbul and Zuccotti Park in New York transformed public space – state-owned, with the exception of Zuccotti – into temporary commons through mass self-organisation. Similarly, the economic crisis in Greece has led to a resurgence of commoning in Athens, where parks neglected by the municipality started to be maintained by resident groups. And one could cite numerous examples of commoning in the favelas of Brazil, where many communities take pride in co-creating and self-managing their environment.

The question is whether the commons, with its potent political dimension, can transcend extreme need and symbolic resistance on the one hand and harmless local initiatives on the other. And there are encouraging examples. One commons project that is beginning to achieve an ambitious scale and complexity is in Colombes, in the suburbs of Paris. Since 2012, the Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée has been developing what its co-director, Doina Petrescou, calls “a bottom-up strategy of resilient regeneration” – and it goes beyond your average urban agriculture initiative. It’s true that there is a micro-farm for collective use but that is only one of three hubs, the others being a mini recycling plant and cooperative eco-housing.

The project now has 400 citizens co-managing 5000 square metres of land, producing food, energy and housing, while actively reducing waste and water usage. Already, by European standards, it is a fairly large-scale experiment in alternative urban living. But the aim is to add five more hubs over the next five years and to grow into a commons-based civic movement.

This is just one case study in how hundreds of ordinary citizens, not activists, can create an alternative urban economy. However, the question that always arises with the commons is, who is included? In contrast to public space, which is held by an authority for the benefit of all, commons can easily become enclaves. They tend to be determined by limited groups of stakeholders with a geographical attachment to a site. What happens when outsiders want to assert their right to that so-called commons?

Stavros Stavrides, a Greek academic specialising in spatial politics, is clear that for a commons to remain an open community it needs to be able to incorporate newcomers. “Commoning has to do with difference, not commonality, it should always be expanding those who can participate,” he said at a lecture on commons in London last month.

The bigger that community gets, the more complex the social relations. But that is not necessarily an impediment. The greater challenge, it seems, is whether commons can be sustained without an undue burden on the community. One of the most inspiring community initiatives in recent years has been the Campo de Cebada in Madrid, an abandoned lot that a group of architects and local citizens reactivated into a public square and cultural space. But members of the collective, Zuloark, confessed recently that they are tired. So the system of commoning needs to be sustainable otherwise its idealistic potential falls foul of a romantic underestimation of what it takes.

And recent political discourse has routinely, even cynically, made that mistake. The Tories’ aborted Big Society agenda invoked a vague volunteerism to paper over local authority budget cuts. With UK employees working the longest hours in Europe, when are we supposed to serve our communities? For commons-style thinking to take hold, we would need to move beyond quaint notions of the gift economy and engage in systemic restructuring.

Stavrides argues that for commoning to become more mainstream would require new kinds of institutions, specifically political ones. Thus far, political inspiration has come from outside Europe: from the water commons system in Cochabamba, Bolivia, or the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico, or most recently the Syrian Kurds in Kobane. But that may be changing. With the election of Ada Colau of the Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common) movement as mayor of Barcelona last month, commons-based governance finally has a foothold in a major European city. If movements like Barcelona en Comú can even begin to institutionalise a participative politics, then the commons may begin to reshape our understanding of citizenship and sustainability – and move the conversation beyond gardening.”

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Posted in Commons, P2P Architecture and Urbanism | 2 Comments »

Maasai women lead a solar revolution

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Michel Bauwens
17th June 2015


The Women and Entrepreneurship in Renewable Energy Project (WEREP), an initiative by Green Energy Africa, aims to turn Kajiado County to solar power by training women as solar installers and encouraging them to market the clean energy concept to fellow pastoralists. The solar energy drive began in around November 2014, and so far about 2,000 households in the country have adopted solar technology. Barely seven months into the effort, the area has jumped from zero solar energy consumption in 2006, according to estimates by the government’s Arid Land Resource Management Project, to 20 percent today, energy experts say.

Excerpted from Leopold Obi:

“Not long ago, dusk was a time of unease for the people of Magadi, a village in Kenya’s Kajiado County.

As the sun set, farmers began worrying about their cattle, easy prey for hyenas and leopards. Children lit fires to finish their schoolwork, filling homes with smoke.

Now as darkness falls, lights flick on across this sleepy hamlet, thanks to the efforts of more than 200 Maasai women at the frontline of a solar power revolution.

The women, trained in solar panel installation, use donkeys to haul their solar wares from home to home in the remote region, giving families their first access to clean and reliable power.

“For us, the impact of solar technology is unparalleled,” said Jackline Naiputa, who heads the Osopuko-Edonyinap group, one of the five women’s groups leading the alternative energy charge in the area.

Renewable energy developer Green Energy Africa provides the group with solar products – including solar panels, lights, and small rechargeable batteries – at a discount. The women sell the products at a profit of around 300 shillings ($3) each, which goes into the group’s account to buy more stock.

Naiputa, who in 2014 lost 10 goats to wild cats, said her teenage son used to spend cold nights in the cattle enclosure to guard their herd. Now, with solar lamps hanging around her homestead, Naiputa and her four children can sleep soundly in the warmth of their home.

“The light scares the hyenas away, so we don’t have to worry about losing our animals at night,” she said.”

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Posted in P2P Development, P2P Energy | No Comments »

Background on the urban and tourist issues in Barcelona

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Michel Bauwens
17th June 2015


What the new commons coalition has on its plate, excerpted from Ashifa Kassam:

“Colau’s main challenge will come from inheriting a city at a crossroads. “The Barcelona model is in decline,” said journalist Marta Monedero, referring to the ideas that guided the city’s growth in the late 1980s and early 1990s and helped put Barcelona on the world map. “The model was a way to understand the city and bring it closer to the people – there wasn’t a lot of money so they came up with things like having lots of squares and intensifying the social fabric of the city through organisations.”

Monedero recently co-edited a book called The Dream of Barcelona: A City in Which to Live or to See?, in which she and journalist Núria Cuadrado asked residents from various sectors of society about the issues facing the city. What they found was that the model that had once been so successful in guiding the city was now deeply out of sync with everyday reality. Unlike in the late 1980s, today around 17% of the city’s population is foreign born. Housing activists say that some 15 residents a day were evicted from their homes in 2014. Like other cities across Spain, unemployment remains stubbornly in double digits, while the young and educated continue to leave the city in hopes of finding work abroad.

The failure of policymakers to address these issues has created a climate of inequality that colours ordinary life in Barcelona, said Monedero. “Not just inequality between neighbourhoods, but also between residents and the tourists that come here.” The result is a city that has reached a tipping point, she said. “Barcelona is a liveable city right now, but could stop being that way if measures aren’t taken to correct these differences.”

Colau said during the campaign that inequality is one of Barcelona’s biggest problems. “In the past four years the difference between the most rich and more poor of the city has increased by 40%,” she said, pointing to neighbourhoods where the average income has increased six-fold, while other areas struggle with unemployment, home evictions and families who can’t afford their electricity bills. “An unequal city is a city that can be broken easily, it’s an insecure city.”

Another issue on Colau’s radar is tourism. Recent years have seen the number of tourists in Barcelona more than quadruple, from 1.7 million in 1990 to 7.5 million in 2013. This city is now the third most visited in Europe, with the annual number of tourists outnumbering residents four times over. For many years, these numbers were seen as a success story; with visitors leaving behind more than €12bn a year in the city and supporting an estimated 100,000 jobs.

But persistent issues with noise, illegal tourist flats and rising real estate prices have led weary residents to draw battle lines in recent years against the seemingly never-ending tide of camera-toting, beer-swilling visitors.

In Plaça del Sol, in the district of Gràcia, construction workers hammer away inside a three-storey concrete building, slowly turning it into a 14-room hotel with a restaurant and a pool. In February, after several hundred people attended a protest against the construction of new hotels in the district, the soon-to-be hotel was occupied by activists, who turned it into a impromptu office to help those on the verge of being evicted from their homes.

The group was dislodged by police earlier this month. The words “Gràcia is not for sale” scrawled on the side of the building are now the only remnants of their three-month occupation to protest against the effects of rampant tourism on the city.

Colau has vowed to put a moratorium on new licences for hotel and tourist apartments, in order to take stock of how many there are and how many each neighbourhood can realistically support. The hope, she said, is to avoid Barcelona “ending up like Venice” – a city where locals have been pushed out by tourists.

The city’s most central neighbourhoods have become overrun with hotels and illegal tourist lets, she said, leading to a spike in rents and the feeling among residents that they’re being expelled from their homes. Left unchecked, Colau said, mass tourism in Barcelona could kill off the very essence of the city that attracted the tourists in the first place. “More and more tourists are disappointed when they visit Barcelona because in the centre of Barcelona they find a theme park. Everyone wants to see the real city, but if the centre fills up with multinationals and big stores that you can find in any other city, it doesn’t work.”

Her goal is to distribute tourists across the city and crack down on the precarious, low-paying jobs that often proliferate in the industry. “We’re saying that we need to put conditions on the industry, such as restaurants and hotels, so that they better distribute the wealth.” The tourist tax, which currently is used for tourism promotion, will instead be directed towards providing basic services for the neighbourhoods most affected by the influx of visitors.

Film-maker Eduardo Chibás, who captured the city’s polarised conversation about tourism in his documentary Bye Bye Barcelona, doubted whether moving tourists to other neighbourhoods would help address the problem. “It’s just going to take the problems elsewhere,” he said, pointing to the series of protests sparked in La Barceloneta district last summer, after three naked Italians frolicked through the neighbourhood one Friday morning.

“Imagine the people that live there. They just exploded. La Barceloneta used to be a really nice place to walk around and to be with your family, and eat or have a drink. Now it’s become something very awkward.”

He argued that tourists will inevitably end up drawn to the same areas. “Tourists obviously go to the same places – that’s what they’re here for,” he said, pointing to the masses that throng daily around Antoni Gaudí’s most famous work near his home in the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood. “It’s spectacular. Just incredible,” he said. “One has to laugh at it, I’m not going to get bitter anymore.”

The simpler solution, he said, lies in trying not to have as many tourists in Barcelona. Limits could be put on cruise ship tourists coming into the city, he said, while a crackdown on the thousands of tourist lets that aren’t legally registered with local authorities would help. “If they found a great way of attracting people, I’m sure they can find a way of de-attracting them.”

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Posted in P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Movements, P2P Public Policy, Politics | No Comments »

An update on CommonAccord, a commons for Civil Code 3.0 legal documents

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Michel Bauwens
17th June 2015


An update via James Hazard:

Commonaccorda commons for legal documents, a kind of Civil Code 3.0, on GitHub, and compatible with P2P transacting systems such as blockchain. Primavera de Filippi did the software code and Marc Dangeard is using it in his company.

The License can be found here , along with some documents we did before.

The Participatory Orgs LLC agreement, which Joel Dietz sent my direction earlier, is now also in this repo.

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Posted in Commons, P2P Governance, P2P Legal Dev. | No Comments »

Short video interview on the money commons on the occasion of the launch of the Brand currency at Berg Rivier, South Africa

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
16th June 2015


More detais on the project to follow.

This short interview was done just two hours before my departure from South Africa and online before the flight took off.

Enjoy it here:

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Posted in Commons, P2P Money, Videos | No Comments »

Project of the Day: Green Worker Cooperatives

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Michel Bauwens
16th June 2015


The Green Worker Cooperatives are a nonprofit created by South Bronx native Omar Freilla:

“Through his organization, Freilla aims to cultivate a whole network of worker-owned green businesses in his hometown, the traditional dumping ground for New York City. The first of these co-ops, ReBuilders Source, began operations last year as a discount retailer of used and surplus building materials. The idea is to provide an alternative to the landfill for some of the 1,900 tons of construction waste that pass through the South Bronx every day” *.

Shareable writes that “Green Worker Cooperatives is another social justice organization “dedicated to incubating worker-owned and environmentally friendly cooperatives in the South Bronx.” Their website states, “Our approach is a response to high unemployment and decades of environmental racism. We don’t have the luxury to wait for new alternatives. That’s why we’re creating them.” Green Worker Cooperatives offers an aggressive 80 hour coop boot camp, which includes a combination of training, coaching, and technical support like legal incorporation, graphic design, and website development. IDEPSCA, an immigrant and worker rights organization in the Los Angeles area also incubates green worker cooperatives such as Magic Cleaners, a green home cleaning service, and Native Green, a sustainable landscaping service focused on native plants.”

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Posted in Cooperatives, Featured Project, P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Collaboration | No Comments »

Disenclosing the Crises of Imagination and Power

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Michel Bauwens
13th June 2015


Max Haiven introduces his book:

* Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power. By Max Haiven. Zed Books, 2015

By Max Haiven:

“In Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power (Zed Books, forthcoming), I argue that this sense of futility is the residual effect of the way capitalism ‘encloses’ not only our time, our communities and our environment; but also our imaginations. Enclosure here is a metaphor borrowed from the process by which medieval peasants were dispossessed of their common lands and forced to rely on wage labor for survival. Throughout the book, I argue in various ways that this enclosure of the imagination is something that occurs not simply at the level of the individual mind, but at the level of social and material relationships.

Overcoming fatalism, futility and cynicism, then, is not simply a matter of ‘thinking differently’ — although education remains a key part of the transformative process. Instead, the radical imagination and the ability to dream of and build towards different social horizons beyond the fog of capitalist unreason, depends on doing differently; on creating alternatives spaces, times and modes of reproducing ourselves, our communities and our world. This is a process of ‘commoning,’ of building living alternatives not in the sense of future utopias, but in the sense of radical models and zones to reproduce our relationships and our lives based on shared values.

In the first chapter of the book, I argue that in order to do this we need to re-imagine the idea of value and pay attention to the way capitalism isn’t just a system for stealing economic value from workers, from the environment and from communities. It is also a system that drives and depends on the transformation of how we imagine social, cultural and moral values (as individuals and as communities). The system’s reproduction, in turn, corrupts and undermines the reproduction of our own lives as we become increasingly overworked, privatized, alienated and enclosed in debt. In this way, capitalism’s inherent and recurrent crises are externalized onto individuals and communities.

In order to overcome this vicious cycle, we need to reclaim value. This doesn’t just mean redistributing social wealth in its already materialized form. It also means taking back our collective creative cooperative capacity, no longer lending it to the reproduction of capitalism but instead directing it towards the constant rebuilding of a society based on the values of solidarity, equality, individuality, empowerment and peace. In the second chapter, ‘Publics, Commons, Occupations’, I suggest that to do so we blend a concept of the commons with a concept of the public. In addition to more socialist strategies, which promise a public system based on state-managed social reproduction, and anarchistic strategies, which advocate a radical horizontalism where social reproduction is held in common, I suggest that we need to imagine ways to make the commons public and the public common.
We can imagine the struggles against austerity today, characterized by the strategy of occupations, as having two simultaneous dimensions. The first is an attempt to create new commons of social reproduction outside the command and control of capital, including new and rekindled forms of community care, horizontal and grassroots democratic decision-making and local production. The second is a double attempt to (a) defend and reclaim public institutions (schools, hospitals, public works) from the market by reclaiming them in the name of the public; and (b) increasingly democratize and render these institutions common, so as to avoid the enclosure of ostensibly public bodies by bureaucracy and crypto-capitalist models of ‘efficiency.’

* The Enclosure of the Imagination

In chapters 3 and 4, I seek to show how the capitalist crisis of the imagination played out in two influential spheres. In ‘The Crisis of the Financialized Imagination’, I argue that financialization is a unique means by which capitalism’s economic, political, social and cultural power is synchronized; plunging us into a world of greater inequality, ramped-up neoliberal austerity, precarious labor and ubiquitous debt. I try to show that finance reveals a fundamental dimension and contradiction of capitalism: capital, money and financial assets are all, essentially, figments of our collective imaginations, yet they have terrifyingly real power. This is one way in which capitalism, as well as the struggle against it, relies on the imagination. Financialization, which preys on everyday debt and credit as never before and drives an economy based on otherworldly abstractions of value, transforms our imaginations of who and what is valuable and, in turn, relies on that very transformation.

In ‘Within and Beyond the Edu-Factory’, I take the fate of the neoliberal university as a case study: a space where the imagination is disciplined and shaped in the interests of capitalism’s reproduction. In turn, the university’s transformed imagination enables and applauds the neoliberal disciplining of the university itself. The transformation of the university from an elitist ivory tower into an institution primarily tasked with chaining young people to insurmountable debt is not simply about government cuts to higher education in the age of austerity; it is about the constriction of social reproduction and the relentless reproduction of capitalism more broadly. Yet, because of this, the university is also a space of possibility, experimentation and resistance. While its overarching paradigm is one of the enclosure of knowledge and the foreclosure of the future, it can also be a laboratory or nursery for the radical imagination and for experiments in reproducing life otherwise.

* Remembering the Commons

It is with this idea in mind that chapter 5 focuses on ‘The Enclosure of History, the Debt of the Past, the Commons of Memory.’ Here, I expand on some of the more conceptual and theoretical themes in Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power; notably the tension between our collective, cooperative, creative powers and the way they solidify into durable commodities, things, institutions and social conventions. For me, this is the most important question of the politics of the imagination: the way it forms into patterns and processes which, in turn, shape the flows of the imagination; and the way this process can lead both to the rigidities of hierarchy, exploitation and oppression and to the radical possibility of change and revolution.

In chapter 1, this theme arises in terms of the way values are transformed into economic ‘value’; the way the processes of social cooperation are conscripted into the reproduction of oppression and exploitation. In chapter 2, the theme emerges in the tension between the idea of a horizontal, democratic ‘commons’ and the need for more durable, structured ‘public’ institutions. In chapter 3, I explore this in terms of the power of largely ‘imaginary wealth’ and the way financialization’s economic and political power relies on and helps to feed its social and cultural authority. In chapter 4, I explore the way the university — as an idea and as an institution — is a material site of struggle over what is imaginable and over the politics of the imagination writ large.

In chapter 5, I turn to memory and its importance. Not only does memory reveal the past; it is also an intimate and important part of the way we reproduce our lives and our society in the present, and the way we, together, forge our futures. Rekindling the hopes, dreams and passions of past generations of radical struggle is critical both because it can lead to better strategies for change now, and because it answers to the ‘debt of history’: the way that past events haunt the present and the way the hoped-for utopias of past revolts animate our dreams today.
I explore how mainstream history erases these radical legacies or conscripts them into the service of rationalizing today’s status quo as inevitable, contributing to the sense of universal fatalism and futility that reproduces capitalism in the imagination and in material reality. I also try to suggest that the ‘commoning’ of memory is not about creating a different authoritative version of history, nor about abandoning all hope for historical accuracy. Instead, it is about creating intentional spaces and times to bring memories together as a way to reproduce our lives, our relationships and our social order based on common values; to bring the past to bear on the present in order to create different futures.

* The Radical Imagination

At issue here is the politics of the imagination and the power of creativity, not as we are accustomed to imagining them, as personal possessions, but as shared or common capacities. In chapter 6, I try to show that the very idea of creativity itself has been enclosed, made to serve the reproduction of capital and to conscript the imagination to the services of privatization, profit, consumerist individualism and gentrification. Today, we’ve seen the promise of creativity used as a carrot to entice us to invest our hopes, skills, passions and energies in a capitalist system that does not reflect our values or meet our needs, and which in fact undermines creativity in any meaningful sense. I conclude by re-imagining creativity in a way that doesn’t valorize individual genius but, instead, makes us aware of how all creativity — even when it is expressed in individual pursuits — is both the product and the producer of our shared lives; a fragment of our collective, cooperative, and common labors.

Likewise, in chapter 7, I approach the question of the radical imagination. Tracing the idea and the ideal of the imagination from ancient times through European colonial modernity and into the present, I suggest that the value of the radical imagination is not simply its capacity to make us think differently; but the way it feeds and is fed by forms of cooperation. As with the process of ‘commoning’ memory, I want to frame the radical imagination not as a thing some people possess, but as something we do together. The radical imagination emerges from our experience of non-capitalist values in the fabric of our lives, and in turn can inspire and shape the struggle to render those values common and militant.

The politics of the imagination are paramount today; but these politics are not simply about dreaming up future utopias or developing sophisticated critiques of the status quo. We need to develop a dialectics of the imagination. In Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power, I aim to show how, in a very specific way — and in the context of today’s struggles within, against and beyond austerity — the imagination is a process of collective doing. More generally, I also aim to demonstrate how the imagination creates reality and how reality in turn shapes the imagination. I want to make plain that, because of this dialectic relationship, the crisis of capitalism (or, really, capitalism’s multiple, overlapping crises) is also a suite of crises on the level of the imagination itself. And I set out to illustrate the fact that overcoming both sets of crises (those of capital and those of the imagination) demands the intertwined work of rekindling common values; imagining social relations and the future otherwise; and, in a militant and radical way, building powerful alternatives and social movements.

The fatalism and sense of futility that pervade the imagination today and that facilitate the reproduction of capitalism are, existentially, something of a defense mechanism. I believe that on some level, most people know that the capitalist game is rigged, that it is destroying the planet, that it is making us miserable (or soon will), and that it must be stopped. The cynicism, obtuse skepticism, blithe ignorance and individualistic sensibilities that might be bemoaned by activists and militants today are, in actuality, the allergic reaction of a sort of psychic immune system. To the extent that we can ignore or turn away from the systemic implications and ramifications of capitalism (and our own participation in it); to the extent that we can insulate our imaginations from the severity of its crises; we can imagine that our own individual lives (and perhaps those of our loved ones) can be meaningful, fulfilling, painless and happy. To the extent that we recognize and acknowledge the everyday and global-scale tragedy of capital, we must, if we are decent people, dedicate ourselves to a lifelong struggle.

* The Struggles Ahead

Let me hasten here to note that I am not suggesting that capitalism is merely a state of mind. Nor am I arguing that overcoming capitalism is simply a matter of withdrawing our imagination. Capitalism is a material system of wealth and power that perpetuates itself through its co-optation of our labor. But it is also a system driven by a ruling class that controls the major societal tools and infrastructure, and that uses its wealth and power to control governments. Overcoming capitalism will, inevitably, require the reclamation of collective wealth from the ruling class, and that requires material struggles, mass movements and, probably, some level of violence. More accurately, the endemic violence of class struggle — which today is experienced by the working classes largely as the misery of poverty, overwork, debt, imperialism, racism and patriarchy — needs to be redirected towards the authors and beneficiaries of the system.

In my desire to explore the tensions between value and values, I am not seeking to make a moralistic argument against capitalism — such arguments are far from necessary. Rather, I am trying to gesture towards a historic circumstance of struggle today. I seek to show that in contrast to the dynamics of class struggle and capitalist accumulation of a century ago, the system is more invested than ever in preoccupying and enclosing our sense of self and of the future; our hopes, dreams and aspirations; and our capacity to imagine. As such, the possibilities of meaningful solidarity and class struggle depend on the politics of the imagination. The imagination is a material process: it emerges from and informs our capacity to cooperate and labor together, and as such is at the core of the reproduction of value. If we can understand capitalism as a system based on the reproduction of value, the role of the imagination cannot be gainsaid.

As capitalist crises deepen under today’s new regimes of austerity, the desire to reinforce our ignorance, apathy and fatalism becomes stronger. As the contradictions of the system grow ever more pronounced, they put greater and greater strain on the veneer of capitalist ideology. And yet we should never expect that this strain will lead to the emergence of the radical imagination. Indeed, without the hard work of organized and purposeful anti-capitalist agitators, it will more likely see the rise of what we might call the reactionary imagination: the forms of religious fundamentalism, ethnic nationalism, backlash racism and right-wing vindictiveness that, today, mount on the horizon of politics around the world.

As I explore in chapter 1, these movements — animated by a pathological attachment to idealized, punitive and excessive ‘values’ (i.e. family values, Christian values, Western values) — conscript the imagination much more easily and readily than the more complicated but more radical ideas I have tried to summarize in the book; and which can be found in the politics of anti-racism, socialism, feminism, queer liberation movements, ecological justice struggles and anti-capitalist politics.

The years to come will be defined by struggles over the imagination. But these struggles will, themselves, be defined by the ability of various groups and factions to make radical values a reality. A revolution is not made of good ideas, but rather by good ideas materialized in social spaces. Solidarity is not a matter of having the right political ideals and sympathies, but of building real, tangible relationships. This is not to discount the importance of theory and reflection (otherwise, why would I have bothered to write such a book?); but it is to say that the struggles to come — like the struggles throughout history — will succeed to the extent that they preoccupy themselves with the dialectic of imagination; and the way the imagination as a shared capacity grows out of social cooperation, alternative building and the establishment of new commons. And, likewise, it is only in the soil of these cooperative ventures, these lived alternatives, and these new commons that the imagination can find root and withstand the vicious storms to come.”

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Posted in Collective Intelligence, Commons, P2P Books | No Comments »

Ada Colau, Barcelona’s New Mayor, interviewed on Spain’s Political Revolution by Democracy Now

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Michel Bauwens
13th June 2015


Worth watching!

” A longtime anti-eviction activist has just been elected mayor of Barcelona, becoming the city’s first female mayor. Ada Colau co-founded the anti-eviction group Platform for People Affected by Mortgages and was an active member of the Indignados, or 15-M Movement. Colau has vowed to fine banks with empty homes on their books, stop evictions, expand public housing, set a minimum monthly wage of $670, force utility companies to lower prices, and slash the mayoral salary. Colau enjoyed support from the Podemos party, which grew out of the indignados movement that began occupying squares in Spain four years ago. Ada Colau joins us to discuss her victory.”

Watch the interview here:

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Posted in P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Public Policy, Politics | No Comments »

Video: Juliet Schor on the goods and bads of sharing economy

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Michel Bauwens
12th June 2015


At the first International Workshop on the Sharing Economy Martijn Arets interviewed Juliet Schor about her keynote

Will the sharing economy lead to a new form of hyper-capitalism or to a sustainable alternative?

Very interesting and balanced intervention.

Watch the video here:

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Posted in Economy and Business, Ethical Economy, P2P Business Models, Sharing, Videos | No Comments »