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Archive for 'Featured Content'

James Scott: The Art of Not Being Governed

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
28th November 2014

The author of several books including Seeing Like a State, Professor Scott’s research concerns political economy, comparative agrarian societies, theories of hegemony and resistance, peasant politics, revolution, Southeast Asia, theories of class relations and anarchism. We talk with Professor Scott about his newest book, The Art of Not Being Governed. It is the first-ever examination of the volumes of literature on state-making that evaluates why people would deliberately remain stateless.

James Scott, is Sterling Professor of Political Science, Professor of Anthropology, and Co-director of the Agrarian Studies Program at Yale University


Posted in Culture & Ideas, Featured Video, P2P Governance, Peer Property | No Comments »

Video of the Day: A Relevant Past for a Digital Age?

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
27th November 2014

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

A Relevant Past for a Digital Age?


Posted in Collective Intelligence, Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Featured Video, Networks, P2P Collaboration, P2P Labor, Videos | No Comments »

Video of the Day: Alternative Forms of Labor Organizations: Union Substitutes or Something Else?

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
25th November 2014


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

Alternative Forms of Labor Organizations: Union Substitutes or Something Else?


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

The End of Banking – a financial reform proposal (book)

photo of Sepp Hasslberger

Sepp Hasslberger
25th November 2014

“The End of Banking” is a book to be released before the end of November. There is a website where you can find out about availability.


The book is packed with good information. It makes the current situation in the world of finance transparent for You and I. We can finally understand how things went wrong, why the 2008 financial crisis happened and why we are still not back to normal. The authors’ proposal to overcome the banking crisis makes eminent sense and the book, although addressed to economists and bankers, is quite readable for an interested general reader.


The book addresses banking, not just banks, because banking, which the authors define as the creation of private or “inside” money, is not an activity limited to banks. Other, non-bank financial institutions are also involved in the money creation business.

“Calling for the end of banking might sound too simplistic to solve today’s problems in the financial system. Such a notion likely stems from a vague definition of banking. Some label all activities undertaken by banks as banking. Others think of banking as a bundle of financial services such as asset management or securities underwriting. We adopt a macroeconomic perspective and define banking as the creation of money out of credit.”

The “products” of banking eventually become as good as money, or so it is thought, but when things do go bad, governments, afraid of disruption of financial and economic activities, generally intervene to prevent the “too big to fail” banking institutions from folding. This goes beyond just protecting people against losing their deposits. Banks have been known to receive billions to keep them afloat and in the end, the tax payer must foot the bill.

How did this situation come about?

The authors (Jonathan McMillan is a pseudonym for two – a macroeconomist and an investment banker) say that it happened in the last few decades, it’s part of the digital revolution. When computers got into the financial markets, creating money out of credit became so easy all of a sudden, that banking could no longer be controlled. In the latest G20 meeting, a “framework for shadow banking” was discussed. Shadow banking, of course, is the creation of money by financial entities, not necessarily banks.

The authors’ proposal for handling is simple but efficient. A new, updated rule of bookkeeping is proposed to require, on balance sheets of all companies (not just the banks) the presence of real assets to balance all liabilities. This makes sure that money cannot be created by private interests. A bank may only loan money that is actually physically available or is covered by its own equity or reserves.

Today, the greater part of money in circulation is not central bank money but is created by banks and non-bank financial institutions. When private money creation will no longer be possible because of a change in liquidity requirements, money will have to be supplied in another way.

The authors propose that new money be issued no longer by banks, but by a money issuing authority. Any newly issued money is to be issued directly to citizens to spend, as an Unconditional Income distributed to all individuals.

A liquidity fee is to ensure stability of monetary value through time. No more inflation, in other words.

In addition to ensure stability of prices, the liquidity fee will

1. keep money circulating and
2. provide a way to directly intervene, if necessary, to diminish the amount of money in circulation.

The provision of credit will no longer be the main activity of the banking system. Credit is to be a private sector activity. The book gives older and new examples of disintermediated credit, being provided directly by individuals and private companies. Direct P2P credit, organised through the net, is discussed as an option for financing business investments.

The authors have specifically excluded a roadway for implementation from discussion in the book.

“Before thinking about how to implement a better financial system, we first have to define where to go. This is the objective of this book: To show that a financial system without banking is both desirable and possible.”

Like the authors, I hope that the book achieves that objective.

In any case, The End of Banking is a great contribution to the current discussion of monetary reform, especially because it is firmly grounded in the reality of banking and financial affairs and shows a creative way out of the mess we are finding ourselves in.

The expected publishing date is before the end of November, 2014. To get your copy, visit www.endofbanking.org


Posted in Featured Book, P2P Money | No Comments »

Green Grangers – Movement for Relocalisation and Community Resilience

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
24th November 2014

“The Order of Patrons of Husbandry, generally known as The Grange, was a radical populist movement from the 1870s that formed in opposition to both monopolistic corporations and their middlemen. This detrimental concentration of resources and the power it creates they reasoned, would result in a society that degraded the producer, violated the public good, and undermined the republic.

Over a century later, this situation not only persists, it thrives – fueled by dwindling supplies of non-renewable and toxic fossil fuels. To survive, society needs to transition to a sustainable, re-localized civilization. Many of us feel that the Grange should accept this challenge, and become a major player and even leader for rural communities in transition.”


Declaration of Purpose of the National Grange
Adopted by the St. Louis session of the National Grange, February 11, 1874


Profoundly impressed with the truth that the National Grange of the United States should definitely proclaim to the world its general objects, we hereby unanimously make this Declaration of Purposes of the Patrons of Husbandry.

General Objects

  1. United by the strong and faithful tie of Agriculture, we mutually resolve to labor for the good of our Order, our country, and mankind.
  2. We heartily endorse the motto: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Specific Objects

  1. We shall endeavor to advance our cause by laboring to accomplish the following objects:

To develop a better and higher manhood and womanhood among ourselves; to enhance the comforts and attractions of our homes, and strengthen our attachments to our pursuits; to foster mutual understanding and cooperation; to maintain inviolate our laws, and to emulate each other in labor, to hasten the good time coming; to reduce our expenses, both individual and corporate; to buy less and produce more, in order to make our farms self-sustaining; to diversify our crops and crop no more than we can cultivate; to condense the weight of our exports, selling less in the bushel and more on hoof and in fleece, less in lint and more in warp and woof; to systematize our work, and calculate intelligently on probabilities; to discountenance the credit system, the mortgage system, the fashion system, and every other system tending to prodigality and bankruptcy.

We propose meeting together, talking together, working together, buying together, selling together, and, in general, acting together for our mutual protection and advancement, as occasion may require. We shall avoid litigation as much as possible by arbitration in the Grange. We shall constantly strive to secure entire harmony, good will, vital brotherhood among ourselves, and to make our Order perpetual. We shall earnestly endeavor to suppress personal, local, sectional, and national prejudices, all unhealthy rivalry, all selfish ambition. Faithful adherence to these principles will insure our mental, moral, social and material advancement.

Business Relations

  1. For our business interests we desire to bring producers and consumers, farmers and manufacturers, into the most direct and friendly relations possible. Hence, we must dispense with a surplus of middlemen, not that we are unfriendly to them, but we do not need them. Their surplus and their exactions diminish our profits.

We wage no aggressive warfare against any other interests whatever. On the contrary, all our acts, and all our efforts, so far as business is concerned, are not only for the benefit of the producer and consumer, but also for all other interests that tend to bring these two parties into speedy and economical contact. Hence, we hold that transportation companies of every kind are necessary to our success, that their interests are intimately connected with our interests, and harmonious action is mutually advantageous, keeping in view the first sentence in our declaration of principles of action, that “Individual happiness depends upon general prosperity.”

We shall, therefore, advocate for every state the increase in every practicable way, of all facilities for transporting cheaply to the seaboard, or between home producers and consumers, all the productions of our country. We adopt it as our fixed purpose to “open out the channels in Nature’s great arteries, that the lifeblood of commerce may flow freely.”

We are not enemies of railroads, navigable and irrigating canals, nor of any corporation that will advance our industrial interests, nor of any laboring classes.

In our noble Order there is no communism, no agrarianism.

We are opposed to such spirit and management of any corporation or enterprise as tends to oppress the people and rob them of their just profits. We are not enemies to capital, but we oppose the tyranny of monopolies. We long to see the antagonism between capital and labor removed by common consent, and by an enlightened statesmanship worthy of the nineteenth century. We are opposed to excessive salaries, high rates of interest and exorbitant profits in trade. They greatly increase our burdens and do not bear a proper proportion to the profits of producers. We desire only self protection and the protection of every true interest of our land, by legitimate transactions, legitimate trade, and legitimate profits.


We shall advance the cause of education among ourselves, and for our children, by all just means within our power. We especially advocate for our agricultural and industrial colleges, that practical agriculture, domestic science, and all the arts which adorn the home, be taught in their courses of study.

The Grange Not Partisan

  1. We emphatically and sincerely assert the oft-repeated truth taught in our organic law, that the Grange – National, State or Subordinate is not a political or party organization. No Grange, if true to its obligation, can discuss partisan or sectarian questions, nor call political conventions, nor nominate candidates, nor even discuss their merits in its meetings.

Yet the principles we teach underlie all true politics, all true statesmanship, and, if properly carried out, ‘Will tend to purify the whole political atmosphere of our country. For we seek the greatest good to the greatest number.

We must always bear in mind that no one, by becoming a Patron of Husbandry, gives up that inalienable right and duty which belongs to every American citizen, to take a proper interest in the politics of his country.

On the contrary, it is right for every member to do all in his power legitimately to influence for good the actions of any political party to which he belongs. It is his duty to do all he can to put down bribery, corruption and trickery; to see that none but competent, faithful and honest men, who will unflinchingly stand by our interests, are nominated for all positions of trust; and to have carried out the principle which should always characterize every Patron that

The Office Should Seek the Man, and Not the Man the Office

We acknowledge the broad principle that difference of opinion is no crime, and hold that “progress toward truth is made by differences of opinion,” while “the fault lies in bitterness of controversy.”

We desire a proper equality, equity, and fairness; protection for the weak; restraint upon the strong; in short, justly distributed burdens and justly distributed power. These are America ideas, the very essence of American independence, and to advocate the contrary is unworthy of the sons and daughters of an American Republic. We cherish the belief that sectionalism is, and of right should be, dead and buried with the past. Our work is for the present and the future. In our agricultural brotherhood and its purposes, we shall recognize no North, no South, no East, no West. It is reserved by every Patron, as the right of a free man, to affiliate with any party that will best carry out his principles.

Outside Cooperation

  1. Ours being peculiarly a farmers’ institution, we cannot admit all to our ranks. Many are excluded by the nature of our organization, not because they are professional men, or artisans, or laborers, but because they have not a sufficient direct interest in tilling the soil, or may have some interest in conflict with our purposes. But we appeal to all good citizens for their cordial cooperation and assistance in our efforts toward reform, that we may eventually remove from our midst the last vestige of tyranny and corruption.

We hail the general desire for fraternal harmony, equitable compromises, and earnest cooperation as an omen of our future success.


  1. It shall be an abiding principle with us to relieve any of our oppressed and suffering brotherhood by any means at our command.

Last, but not least, we proclaim it among our purposes to inculcate a proper appreciation of the abilities and sphere of woman, as is indicated by admitting her to membership and position in our Order.

Imploring the continued assistance of our Divine Master to guide us in our work, we here pledge ourselves to faithful and harmonious labor for all future time, to return by our united efforts to the wisdom, justice, fraternity, and political purity of our forefathers.

Preamble to the Constitution of the National Grange

Human happiness is the acme of earthly ambition. Individual happiness depends upon general prosperity.

The prosperity of a nation is in proportion to the value of its production.

The soil is the source from whence we derive all that constitutes wealth; without it we would have no agriculture, no manufactures, no commerce. Of all the material gifts of the Creator, the various productions of the vegetable world are of the first importance. The art of agriculture is the parent and precursor of all arts, and its products the foundation of all wealth.

The productions of the earth are subject to the influence of natural laws, invariable and indisputable; the amount produced will consequently be in proportion to the intelligence of the producer, and success will depend upon his knowledge of the action of these laws, and the proper application of their principles.

Hence, knowledge is the foundation of happiness.

The ultimate object of this organization is for mutual instruction and protection, to lighten labor by diffusing a knowledge of its aims and purposes, to expand the mind by tracing the beautiful laws the Great Creator has established in the Universe, and to enlarge our views of creative wisdom and power.

To those who read aright, history proves that in all ages society is fragmentary, and successful results of general welfare can be secured only by general effort. Unity of action cannot be acquired without discipline, and discipline cannot be enforced without significant organization; hence we have a ceremony of initiation which binds us in mutual fraternity as with a band of iron; but, although its influence is so powerful, its application is as gentle as that of the silken thread that binds a wreath of flowers.


Posted in Culture & Ideas, Featured Movement, P2P Localization | No Comments »

Video of the Day: Algorithmic Hegemony & the Droning of Labor

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
22nd November 2014


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

Algorithmic Hegemony & the Droning of Labor -


Posted in Cognitive Capitalism, Collective Intelligence, Culture & Ideas, Economy and Business, Featured Content, Featured Video, P2P Labor, Peer Property, Videos | No Comments »

Knowledge as a Common – Communities of production and sharing in Greece

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
22nd November 2014

Vasilis Kostakis -

“The free/open source software and design communities; hackerspaces and the do-it-yourself enthusiasts; movements for an independent Internet; initiatives for free/communal wifi and open access to knowledge; permaculture communities… What do all these have in common? Are they unrelated cases or coincidences? Or could they be seen as seeds of a new civilization full of contradictions and chances for renaissance and change? This documentary — a low-budget yet sublime production — narrates the story of several Greek-based, knowledge-oriented communities that are building the world they want, within the confines of the fragmented world they want to transcend.”

For English subtitles, go to “settings” on youtube and press ‘cc’


Posted in Activism, Culture & Ideas, Featured Movement, Featured Video, Videos | No Comments »

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

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
21st November 2014


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


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


“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.


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.


Posted in Featured Book, P2P Movements | 2 Comments »