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Video of the Day: The Future of Workers in the Sharing Economy

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
21st November 2014


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Second of a series of videos from the New School on Digital Labor. You can find the whole series here.

The Future of Workers in the Sharing Economy – Part 1

The Future of Workers in the Sharing Economy – Part 2

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Posted in Cognitive Capitalism, Crowdsourcing, Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Featured Video, P2P Labor, Sharing, Videos | No Comments »

Trend of the Day: Edible Forests

photo of Guy James

Guy James
20th November 2014


Luke Runyon of kvnf.org

Luke Runyon of kvnf.org

By LUKE RUNYON:

“Imagine turning a public park into a free-for-all of community plants – and snacks. Food forests have been likened to Garden of Eden revelry, or the blissful sampling in Willy Wonka’s chocolate waterfall room.

It’s like a community garden on steroids. The concept is pretty simple: planners recreate a forest ecosystem with edible plants and trees in a public space. Then, in a deviation from most community garden models, they open it up and allow people to forage for food for free.

“It is a forest. It is a park. But it’s all edible, so the whole community can come in and sit under the apple tree and eat from the apple tree,” said Stephanie Syson, manager at the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI).

There are only a few food forests already up and running in the country, with the highest profile projects in Seattle, Wash. andWestern Massachusetts. Planners of a new food forest in the tiny mountain town of Basalt, Colo., are experimenting with the concept now, trying to figure out how to make a publicly-owned food project work.” Read More.

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Posted in Featured Trend, Food and Agriculture, P2P Infrastructures | No Comments »

Our Generation of Hackers by Nathan Schneider

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
17th November 2014


Belgian futurist Michel Bauwens in his rented apartment in Quito, Ecuador, where he helped lead FLOK, a project to develop open-knowledge policies for the country. Image by Nathan Schneider

Over the summer of 2014 Nathan Schneider embarked on a journey with the Wisdom Hackers—a group of artists, writers, entrepreneurs, and activists exploring elemental questions together. Travelling to Paris, Berlin, southern Italy, to Ecuador, and Silicon Valley, and a hacker congress in New York. This week he presents insights from that journey as a chapter in a serial digital book.

The following article “Our Generation of Hackers” originally featured on Vice is a short teaser from Nathan Schneider’s contribution. The book features writing by Anna Stothard in defense of hoarding objects, Brett Scott on the creepy ecology of smart cities, Tom Kenning on festival temporality, Lee-Sean Huang on the thinking body, Alnoor Ladha on mystic anarchism, and our instigator Alexa Clay on being the Amish Futurist. And more.

If you enjoy the writing please show your support for these young writers by subscribing to the book today. Spread the word about it if you can, too.

By Nathan Schneider. Source – http://www.vice.com/read/our-generation-of-hackers-111

We are all hackers now, apparently—or are trying to be. Guilty as charged. I am writing these words, as I write most things, not with a pen and paper, or a commercial word processor, but on Emacs, a command-line text editor first developed in the 1970s for that early generation of free-software hackers. I had to hack it, so to speak, with a few crude lines of scripting code in order that it would properly serve my purposes as a writer. And it does so extremely well, with only simple text files, an integrated interpreter for the Markdown markup language, and as many split screens as I want. I get to feel clever and devious every time I sit down to use it.

Thus it seemed fitting that when I was asked to join a “philosophy incubator” with a few fellow restless young souls, I was told the group’s name—and that of the book we’d be publishing w?ith an internet startup—was Wisdom Hackers. Hacking is what this generation does, after all, or at least what we aspire to. The hacker archetype both celebrates the mythology of the dominant high-tech class and nods toward the specter of an unsettling and shifty subculture lurking in the dark. Edward Snowden is a hacker hero, but so is Bill Gates. The criminals and the CEOs occupied the same rungs on the high school social ladder, lurked in the same listservs, and now share our adulation.

To hack is to approach a problem as an outsider, to be unconfined by law or decorum, to find whatever back doors might lead the way to a solution or a fix. To hack is to seek simplicity, elegance, and coherence, but also to display one’s non-attachment—by way of gratuitous lulz, if necessary. Wisdom is not normally a feature of the hacker’s arsenal (they prefer cleverness), but evidently some of us have come to sense that even this generation of hackers will need to pick up some wisdom along the way.

But why hack in the first place? That is, why we should always need to use a back door?

For me this line of questioning began in 2011, the year of leaderless uprisings, starting with Tunis and Cairo and ending with police raids on Occupy camps, a civil war in Syria and a seemingly endless series of revelations spawned by Wikileaks. I followed these happenings as much as I could. I happened to be the first reporter allowed to? cover the planning meetings that led to Occupy Wall Street, and I stayed close to those early organizers as their illicit occupation became a global media fixation, then long after the fixation passed. Through them—and their sudden and surprising success—I tried to obtain some grasp of the spirit of 2011, which was elusive enough that it couldn’t be organized in some simple list of demands, but also intuitive enough that protesters around the world, in hugely different kinds of societies, found themselves saying and doing a lot of the same things.

I keep coming back to the slogan of Spain’s homegrown occupation movement of that year: “Real democracy now!” This had uncanny explanatory power from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park. Whether under Mubarak or Bush and Obama, young people around the world have grown up in societies they were always told were democracies despite repeated and undeniable signals that it was not: police brutality as a fact of life (whether by secret police or militarized regular ones), an unrelenting state of exception (whether by emergency law or the war on terror), and corruption (whether by outright graft or the mechanisms of campaign financing). When a system is broken, we resort to improvised solutions, jury-rigged workarounds, hacks. No wonder, then, that the mask of the amorphous hacktivist collective Anonymous became a symbol of the uprisings.

For 2011’s movements, however, the initial virality and the rhetoric of direct democracy turned out to mask a generation unprepared to deal with power—either wielding it or confronting it effectively. The young liberals in Tahrir may have created Facebook pages, but it was the Muslim Brotherhood’s decades of dangerous, underground, person-to-person organizing that won the country’s first fair elections. Even the Brotherhood would soon be massacred after a coup unseated them in favor of the military. “The army and the people are one hand,” Egyptians had chanted in Tahrir. With similar historical irony, the same might have been chanted about the internet.

In the Arab world, the 2011 endgame has included the rise of the Islamic State. Hacking every bit of social media it can get its hands on, the militants formerly known as ISIS emerged as a potent remix of al Qaeda’s guerrilla anti-colonialism and Tahrir Square’s utopian confidence, of Saudi-funded fundamentalism and hardened generals left over from Saddam’s secular regime. These disparate apps have been hacked together into one thanks to hashtags, an elusive leader, a black flag, and gruesome vigilantism.

I reject the often-uttered claim that the 2011 movements lacked purpose, or reason, or demands. Their fascination with hacking, and the vital fecundity that enchanted them, attest to the widely felt longing for a deeper, somehow realer global democracy. But what they share also had a hand in bringing them down. The allure of certain hacker delusions, I believe, played a part in keeping the noble aspirations of that year from taking hold, from meaningfully confronting the powers that now pretend to rule the world.

Ours is a generation of hackers because we sense that we aren’t being allowed in the front door. Most of us have never had the feeling that our supposed democracies are really listening to us; we spend our lives working for organizations that gobble up most of the value we produce for those at the top. We have to hack to get by. Maybe we can at least hack better than whoever is in charge—though that is increasingly doubtful. We become so used to hacking our way into the back door that we forget that there could be any other way.

I don’t want to hack forever. I want to open up the front door—to a society where “democracy” actually means democracy and technology does its part to help, where we can spend less time hacking and hustling and more time getting better at being human. Tech won’t do it for us, because it can’t. Hacking isn’t an end in itself—wisdom is.

Bio: Nathan Schneider is the author of God in Proof and Thank You, Anarchy. His website is The?RowBoat.com, and he tweets at @nathanairplane.

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Posted in Featured Book, P2P Movements | No Comments »

Convivialist Manifesto – Declaration of Interdependence

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Kevin Flanagan
15th November 2014


Forty francophone intellectuals agree on a manifesto, which proposes nothing less than a new humanism. A circle of people around French sociologist Alain Caillé, amongst others philosopher Elena Pulcini (Alumni Senior Fellow at the centre), Eva Illouz, Chantal Mouffe, Hans Joas and Serge Latouche, agreed in a period of a year and a half on this manifesto, as a lowest common denominator of their claims and perspectives for the future. In cooperation with Claus Leggewie (co-director of the centre) and Frank Adloff (also Alumni Senior Fellow) this book has been published exclusively in an English version at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research.The group of social scientists, who call themselves convivialists (deduced from the Latin: convivere: living together and also spending time together) speak out in favor of a new art of cohabitation. They do so out of conviction but also based on the insight of urgent necessity. The convivialists share the concern about the many urgent present and future problems which endanger the fate of mankind. These are: climate change, poverty and inequality, post-democratic tendencies and corruption, the financial crisis as a symptom of unbridled and decoupled financial markets as well as terrorism, war and expulsion.

The criticism is mainly directed against the model and idea of man as “homo oeconomicus” and the telos of a utility-maximizing agent, which alike a self-fulfilling prophecy, economizes the Social by its totality. Sociality gets subjected to a strictly rational logic of profit maximization. In the opinion of the authors this process must be combated. Closely connected to this model is the paradigm of growth, which is inherent to our modern world and which was an element of both major contradicting ideologies of the 20th century: capitalism and communism. The implicit “modern-day productivism” tries to solve social problems by growth and technological development but in most cases it just reproduces the problems on a technologically advanced level, at the expense of mankind an the ecosystem. Convivialism, as a counter-model, represents a synthesis of productive knowledge about mankind’s cohabitation and its needs, as it is found in ideologies like liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, or also religions and quasi-religions. The convivial logic of the Social approaches the primacy of economy and its totality, without questioning the necessity and importance of economy per se. What is criticized is the economization of the Social, at the expense of other elements of human life, which include solicitousness, solidarity, a sense of duty, responsibility and an understanding of equality. The undermining of the social not only often forces individuals to subject to an economic logic in everyday life, but also effects an agony of the democratic systems on the macro scale, which manifests in current post-democratic tendencies. Those tendencies tend to reproduce inequality and injustice through corruption and forms of violence.

The convivialist’s alternative plan is based on the theoretical conception of the paradigm of gift, as it was formulated by French ethnologist and sociologist Marcel Mauss, and in its developed form by Alain Caillé. In this understanding the utilitarian idea of man gets contrasted by the model of the gift, which includes reciprocity and trust and at the same time breaks with the hegemonic image of the donor because it emphasizes mutually recognition and at the same time still allows rivalry to occur. The convivialists spot acts of solidarity in our everyday life, for example in families, friendships, or amongst colleagues. Due to complexity and anonymity it is much harder though to notice forms of convivial cohabitation on the macro scale, but phenomenon like share economy, fair trade, the wiki-movement or creative commons indicate that this logic also takes place on a larger scale of sociality. The claim is to strengthen existing tendencies of convivial existence. A “good life” commits to its own democratic constitution, recognizes humans in their individuality and their universal equality at the same time and accepts competing interests and conflicts as natural and potentially creative, as long as they take place in the light of mutual recognition and non-violence. Based on these principles and the premise of “pluriversalism”, a culture-specific “relativistic kind of universalism”, ‘right politics’ are possible. Its inherent logic of solidarity and cooperative coexistence, mutual recognition and self-organization enables convivialism to also be a starting point in order to fight post-democratic tendencies beyond the outdated political arenas.

Specific convivialistic claims include an unconditional basic income as well as limitation of maximum income embedded in the framework of a sustainable, convivialistic “New Deal”. The proposed “third way beyond the purported absolutes of state and market” defines sociality as an end in itself and inspires a quest of “real utopias”.

The English version of the manifesto is available as creative commons download on our publications section

French website of the convivialists

Convivialist Manifesto (English)

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Posted in Commons, Cooperatives, Culture & Ideas, Featured Movement, Open Access | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Algorithms of Capital

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hartsellml
15th November 2014


Book: Algorithms of Capital. Ed./curated by Matteo Pasquinelli.

URL = http://matteopasquinelli.com/algorithms-of-capital/

The book is based on the #Acclerationisty politics. Anyway the above link is to the Italian version. Yet most of the articles are already online in English.

 

Discussion

Orsan Senalp:

“Here is how I would formulate a part of the code needs yet to be put in algorithms:

I agree with many others who think global working class is currently making it self through ongoing and intensifying struggles. In my opinion any form of self-organisation of the global working classes needs to be, simultaneously very well grounded, transnational, and global. It also needs to be open to all the working people, so free [gratis and accessible] to enter and leave, designed as modularly integrated organized networks linking workers [including hacker-, academic-, art-, sex-. … so on workers], social-environmental-cultural-informational-sexual justice activists.

Adoptable principles, in form of the ‘code’, which can be pre-determined, as well as the coding process itself needs to be very well documented, totally open and accesible to local, workplace, neighbourhood, issue based, activist or other forms of political collectives. In a way similar to Anonymous, 15M, Occupy, Gezi. or other decentralized forms, but with more structured and open working protocols, as it is in FLOSS projects, or grassroots and worker cooperatives. It sould not be including membership, service, representation type logics that leads to reproduction of disempowerment for the involving nodes. It should not be organized by intellectual activists from out side in, and from top down towards the working class. With an opposite perspective, it should be designed by volunteer participation based on self-governing and representation principles. It should be able to put forward creative, assertive and effective direct non-violent mass action, which makes fun of and ridicule the target by allowing the formation of collective intelligence. Therefore active peer to peer self-learninig should be the core cultural production and learning principle. Instead of having teachers who must show the right and enlightented road to the candidate working class members, who needs to get a self-consciousness, a global and networked labour union should be providing working people with the access to the tools, resources and key networks that would make self- empowerment easily possible. By linking spaces where continious open exchanges take place and carry the energy from one space to other. Utilizing How to(s), Do it Yourself and Do it With Others guides, in online and real world context, by FLOSS communication tools as well as mass-action tactics it would replace top down (issue-anger-action) organizing model, which would allow self-articulation, respectful and collaborative working praxis by harmonized through peer to peer digital communication -where possible and desirable, as well as face to face and secure meetings, cultural and recreational events cultural events. It should be collaboraing with other organizations, creative and productive projects that undermines capitalist mode of production and develop the algorithms and codes of alternative modes, as operating systems that could replace capitalism. Such global network needs to grow by linking existing radical networks groups of activists, hackers, organizers, makers, DIY groups, squatters, eco-willages, diggers, immigrants, asylum seekers, solidarity networks, and so on. In a way all nodes could associate with the globally networked ties, while keeping their autonomy.

So instead of #Accelerate motto, i would suggest some thing like: “All empower one, one empower all!”

 

Contents

Links to English versions:

  • Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics by Alex

Williams and Nick Srnicek http://syntheticedifice.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/accelerate-manifesto-for-an-accelerationist-politics/

  • Reflections on the Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics by Toni

Negri: http://syntheticedifice.wordpress.com/2014/03/01/riflessioni-sul-manifesto-per-una-politica-accelerazionista/

  • Mattoe Pasquinelli:

“To Anticipate and Accelerate: Italian Operaismo and Reading Marx’s Notion of Organic Composition of Capital”, Rethinking Marxism journal, vol. 26, n. 2, 2014.

http://matteopasquinelli.com/anticipate-an

“The Power of Abstraction and Its Antagonism. On Some Problems Common to Contemporary Neuroscience and the Theory of Cognitive Capitalism”,Psychopathologies of Cognitive Capitalism, Part 2. Berlin: Archive Books, 2014.: http://matteopasquinelli.com/power-of-abstraction/]

  • Red stack attack! Algorithms, capital and the automation of the common

– by Tiziana Terranova: http://quaderni.sanprecario.info/2014/02/red-stack-attack-algorithms-capital-and-the-automation-of-the-common-di-tiziana-terranova/

  • #Celerity: A Critique of the Manifesto for an Accelerationist

Politics: http://syntheticedifice.wordpress.com/2013/06/28/celerity-a-critique-of-the-manifesto-for-an-accelerationist-politics/

 

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Posted in Featured Book, Networks, Open Innovation, Open Standards, P2P Theory | No Comments »

Book of the Day: How to Out Your Local Economy

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hartsellml
12th November 2014


eBook: The Map – How to Out Your Local Economy. By John Rogers. Lulu, 2014URL = http://www.lulu.com/shop/john-rogers/the-map-how-to-out-your-local-economy/ebook/product-21809538.html

 

Description

“The Map describes how to make the rich underused capacity of regional economies more visible. It shows how to engage individuals, businesses, voluntary groups and local government to share their underused assets to meet each others’ needs. The Map is both a vision and a practical action programme.”

 

Discussion

John Rogers:

“I believe that Austerity is an unfounded, unnecessary and dangerous idea. But it is not going away any time soon.

On the other side of Austerity is Sustain-Ability, our ability to sustain an abundant life for all. We need to pool our collective resources and do more with what we have.

Too much of our existing local economy remains invisible, unknown and not working at capacity. It needs ‘outing’. The ‘sharing’ or ‘collaborative’ economy shows us one way to do this. New websites pop up every week offering a platform for you to buy, sell, barter, gift, share, hire, rent, lend or swap.

Most of these sites are limited to exchanges between consumers and businesses and do not focus on single regions. The Map described here unlocks the whole regional economy with all its players: individuals, businesses, voluntary groups and local government.

Imagine an online map of your region that shows households, businesses, voluntary organisations and government agencies. It shows what they need and what they want to share.

Imagine Google Search plus Google Maps meets Facebook, with eBay mashed up with Kickstarter and Loyalty Points, available online and on the move, all focussed on your home region. It is a social and economic network that can scale down to a single postcode and up to regional level.

Although it doesn’t yet exist as described here, it is called The Map.

Imagine you’re looking for a babysitter. You log on to the Map App on your smartphone that connects you to The Map. It quickly shows you where the babysitters are in your area.

Imagine your small business is looking for part-time help. The Map App helps you find reliable workers when you need them.

Imagine you are an amateur football club looking for coaches. You can find volunteers via the Map App.

Every person and every group needs something and has something to give.

The Map allows people to show up, show off, connect, cooperate, compete, give, share, borrow, lend, swap, tip, buy, sell, raise funds, review, complain, criticise, rate, recommend, praise…

The Map provides a network for the good times, a safety net for the bad times and a permanently open space for all to contribute. It creates a true ‘free market’ that is local and cross-sectoral.

The world is getting ever more connected. Entrepreneurs are creating new applications to bring us together and share every day. Smartphone use in the UK may reach nearly 100% by 2018. More and more gadgets will be able to talk to each other via the Internet. We will programme our devices to automatically find best offers and to order goods and services such as taxis, books, etc.

The Map uses this connectivity to enhance existing regional networks. It provides incentives for people to share what they have to benefit everyone, to do more with less.
The Map can help us to realise this grand ambition. And it can only do that if it:

– enables investment in everyone and their ideas, talents and energy

– creates new sources of local production

– brings out the best that everyone has to give to others.
The Map can help us to grow a society and economy far superior to the narrow-minded, cramped view of Austerity and help us realise the goal of Sustain-Ability.”

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Posted in Featured Book, P2P Localization | 1 Comment »

Video of the Day: Ben Goldacre on Why Medicine Research Should Be Open

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
11th November 2014


“When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world — except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous.

Ben Goldacre unpicks dodgy scientific claims made by scaremongering journalists, dubious government reports, pharmaceutical corporations, PR companies and quacks.”

Watch the video here:

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Posted in Featured Video, Open Models, P2P Healthcare, Videos | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Workers Control from the Commune to the Present

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hartsellml
10th November 2014


Book: Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control From the Commune to the Present. Edited by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini. Chicago, IL, Haymarket, 2014

 

Review

by Andy Piascik:

“Much recent discussion and scholarship has gone into dissecting the decline in the strength of the working class in the United States. For the most part, the emphasis has been on the steady weakening of trade unions and on excavating why union officials have been unwilling to attempt new forms of resistance. In such a context, discussions of workers control of the means of production—how it might look, what about it has succeeded and failed in the past, its relationship to revolutionary change—may seem a stretch. But maybe not. For perhaps what the U.S. working class needs as much as anything is to explore alternatives not only to neoliberalism but to traditional unionism, even that of the social movement type.

Ours to Master and to Own: Workers Control from the Commune to the Present edited by Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini goes a long way in assisting us in that exploration. Ness and Azzellini are well-positioned to put together such an important work; both have long radical histories as writers, teachers and activists. The result of their efforts is a rich collection of stories of workers seizing control of production in different epochs under a vast array of circumstances in numerous countries.

Councils, in a nutshell, are self- management organizations established by workers to administer production, usually in periods of great tumult. They may take shape in a single plant, in an entire industry or, in a revolutionary situation, in many plants and industries simultaneously. Through them, workers oversee all aspects of production including those which, under capitalism, are done by owners and bosses. The forms differ greatly but the common thread is that those who do the work should decide how it’s done.

There are two important themes that emerge as one reads through the cases collected by Ness and Azzellini. One is that many workers across time and around the world have understood better than any revolutionary theoretician that the working class controlling its own work is the way it should be. Second is that councils, apart from any trade union or vanguard party, develop spontaneously and organically as the system of private ownership slips into crisis. As detailed in the book, this development occurs so frequently in such instances as to be almost a natural phenomenon.

Ours to Master and to Own begins with four overview essays and follows with groups of analytical chapters in four categories. Significantly, stories of the global South are well-represented. Though far less industrialized than the North (and perhaps precisely for that reason), countries like Argentina and Venezuela are home to some of the most important contemporary experiments in workers control. With upheaval rocking much of the Middle East and Latin America, these case histories, together with those where councils were an integral part of anti-colonial insurgencies in Indonesia and Algeria, take on an additional timeliness.

Ours to Master and to Own also includes a number of familiar cases. Perhaps the three best known occurred in revolutionary (or at least what were perceived by some of the participants as revolutionary) situations: the soviets in Russia leading up to and immediately after 1917; the councils in Germany during World War I up to the unsuccessful uprising of 1919; and the anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movements in Spain in the 1930s and earlier. Each of these chapters is highly instructive, with nuanced analyses of the wide array of challenges the different groups faced. For the most part, each of these council movements failed simply because the forces aligned against them were too strong. However, there are valuable lessons within each that the contributing authors do an excellent job of mining.

Equally important are more recent cases such as Argentina during the economic crisis of 2001, compellingly summarized by Marina Kabat. Initially a response to neo-liberalism, the factory takeovers that helped topple President Fernando de la Rua took on a life of their own. As the takeovers evolved, workers grappled with how best to affect a degree of control within a capitalist society. No easy feat that, and many efforts failed or were coopted. As with the uprisings in the early 20th century, however, there is much in the experience of value. As Kabat writes of the takeovers, “an objective study of their characteristics and shortcomings will help remove obstacles and develop their complete potential for the future,” especially since “[t]he reprise of the economic crisis has opened new horizons for the taken factories.”

Other chapters of note are two from Eastern Europe—one on Yugoslavia by Goran Music and one on Poland by Zbiginew Marcin Kowalewski. Both document ongoing struggles for autonomy in societies purported to be workers’ states. The class conflict that surfaced quite dramatically in Poland in 1980 with the formation of Solidarity, for example, was the culmination of decades’ worth of work, rather than a brand new phenomenon. In Yugoslavia, Music relates the continuous contention between workers and the state over the form of self-management that lasted until the collapse of 1989.

Then there’s a fascinating case in India authored by Arup Kumar Sen where workers in a variety of work- places went head to head with a Communist state government within a capitalist society. Events unfolded much as those in other cases, and workers there faced many of the same obstacles. It would seem from so many examples that vanguardists are right in one thing and that is the revolutionary potential of the working class. That they often fear it and have frequently been—from Lenin and Trotsky forward—as hostile to it as any capitalist is one of the most important lessons of this volume.

Trade unions, including ones of the left, have also frequently opposed working class autonomy in the form of councils, especially at times of great upheaval. The period when fascism in Portugal was overthrown in 1974-75 is a prime example. As related by Peter Robinson, the alliance the Socialist unions forged with liberal military officials checked the possibility that the Revolutionary Councils of Workers, Soldiers and Sailors might expand their influence right at a point when something besides corporate liberalism was a possibility. Again, as we examine what was, we are left to wonder what might have been.

Still, the tone of Ours To Master and To Own is decidedly positive. In chapter after chapter, we can practically see workers contending with the most fundamental of revolutionary questions: what should the kind of society we want look like? How do we best get there?

Again and again, as events unfold, great emphasis is placed on process. In fact, in case after case, a successful outcome, however else that is measured, is inseparable from process. Workers went forward as often as not without deeply elaborated theories, but with a highly attuned sense that each was responsible to one another as well as to the future.

There is also much strategic discussion that is of immense value. In a revolutionary situation, for example, do councils pre-figure a working class state? Or does their consolidation mark the beginning of the end of the state? If the former, what should the relationship of the councils be to the state? Although some of the contributors put forward more decisive answers than others, the overall tone of the book is that these are still open questions to be answered with greater experience.

Inclusion of at least a few chapters authored by workers might have added another dimension to the book. Workers are quoted throughout and their insights are meaningful parts of a number of the analyses. Still, hearing summaries and perhaps some tentative conclusions from on-the-ground participants could have provided a larger understanding of the subject at hand.

The specific experiences of women in worker councils are also largely invisible in these accounts, perhaps because industrial work has been the domain of men and the councils largely the domain of the industrial work- force. Still, it would have been beneficial to hear about the role of women in at least a few of the case studies.

Though it is difficult to imagine any popular movement, working class-centered or otherwise, in which women would not play a prominent role, much of the work women do remains below the surface. It is for this reason that councils of the present and the future, at least those that are the most inclusive, may be influenced by cooperative economics with its emphasis on the citizenry at all levels—worker, domestic laborer, and consumer. At the same time, analysis that assumes the special role of women may bring into being more inclusive council formations.

The value of Ours to Master and to Own is that its contributors collectively wrestle with these kinds of big questions. Who should decide and which factors must be weighed in the deciding—are not questions with easy answers, after all. Ness, Azzellini, and all of the contributors have made a valuable contribution to our understanding of how to go forward. All the better that a second volume is in the works.” (Z Magazine)

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Essay of the Day: Re-Politicising Participatory Design in the Fairphone Project

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Michel Bauwens
9th November 2014


* Essay: RE-POLITICISING PARTICIPATORY DESIGN: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM FAIRPHONE? Maja van der Velden.

From the Abstract:

“This exploratory paper is a contribution to the discussion of the re-politisation of Participatory Design. After a brief introduction of this Scandinavian design tradition, the Fairphone, a sustainable and fair mobile phone, is introduced as a case to rethink design as politics. Concern for planetary destruction, as a result of climate change, motivates the discussion of Tony Fry’s notion of redirective design in the analysis of the Fairphone. Is the Fairphone just ‘less bad’ or is it paradigmatic example of an alternative technological vision? There are many lessons to be learned from Fairphone, not just by Participatory Design. Most importantly, Fairphone shows the importance of relating the things we help design to futures that become possible or impossible. Participatory Design, with its focus on democratic practices and ‘having a say’, needs to find ways to bring the voices of future generations into today’s design practices.”

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Posted in Featured Essay, Open Models | No Comments »

‘Change through sharing': STWR interviewed by WeltenWandel.tv

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Rajesh Makwana
9th November 2014


As part of a series of filmed conversations on the theme of ‘Change through Sharing’, STWR’s director Rajesh Makwana was interviewed earlier this year about the political implications of global economic sharing for a world in crisis.

During the course of the discussion, Makwana addressed issues as diverse as how sharing is a fundamental aspect of human nature, the problem of endlessly pursuing economic growth, and the ongoing overconsumption of the planet’s finite resources. The half-hour interview presents an accessible introduction to STWR’s perspective on the urgent need for a fairer distribution of wealth, power and resources in order to help address pressing global issues such as extreme inequality, climate change and conflict over natural resources.

The interview was conducted by Robert Fleischer and was originally published onWeltenWandel.tv

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