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The Real Question of the Referendum: The Enclosure of the Greek Commons

photo of Vasilis Kostakis

Vasilis Kostakis
4th July 2015


Hand

Being a typical academic, allow me to begin with a definition: the commons is a term used to describe shared resources (such as land, water, air, culture, science, infrastructures) in which each stakeholder has an equal interest.

The devastating enclosures of the English commons, between 16th and 19th centuries, has been labeled as the “revolution of the rich against the poor” by the eminent political economist Karl Polanyi. They forced peasants into the labor market and the factories of the industrial revolution and “marked the beginning of a worldwide process of commodifying the land, ocean, and atmosphere of the earth”.

So, what is the relevance of the loss of the English commons with the imminent Greek referendum?

Much discussion has been taking place around the meaning of a question posed in a relatively technical language. To put the matter bluntly, I would like to argue that the real question of the referendum is whether Greek citizens approve or disprove the enclosure of their commons. The proposed changes in the pension, taxing, labour and insurance systems are supposedly aimed at ensuring that Greece can service its foreign debt. However, these are not the biggest perils although they fill most of the pages of the notorious document the Greeks are called to approve or disprove.

In short, on page 17, the creditors suggest that Greece irreversibly privatizes its airports, harbors, railways, water supply and sewerage companies, energy infrastructures and public power corporations, motorways, post offices, thermal springs, cultural treasures and other properties (seaside land, marinas etc). These are assets which we have inherited or jointly created and, instead of delivering them intact or even enhanced to the next generations, we are called, under the pressure of an economic collapse, to sell them off to the rich. In addition, no hybrid forms of public-private partnership are explicitly mentioned (for instance, OTE, a profitable telecommunication public-private corporation, is to be entirely privatized).

Conditions in Greece today are not only reminiscent of those in Germany in 1933, as Prof. Sachs writes, but also of those in 16th-19th century England and Wales. Another revolution of the ultra-rich is taking place and the endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors might be only the beginning of a new global wave of enclosures.

Crisis


Vasilis Kostakis is Senior Research Fellow at the Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance (TUT), longtime collaborator of the P2P Foundation, and member of the CommonsTransition Team.

Images: (Top) (Bottom) by OpenSource.com

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Posted in Activism, Anti-P2P, Cognitive Capitalism, Commons, Commons Transition, Economy and Business, Empire, Original Content, P2P Rights, Politics | No Comments »

Michel Bauwens: The Transition Will Not Be Smooth Sailing

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
29th June 2015


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We present an English translation of the original interview in French conducted by Arthur de Grave. Cross-posted from OuiShare. Translation by Clement Defontaine. Originally published at Shareable Magazine

Michel Bauwens is one of the pioneers of the peer-to-peer movement. Theoretician, activist, and public speaker, he founded the P2P Foundation in 2005. His work, both rich and complex, is built around the concepts of networks and commons, and lays the conceptual foundations of a production system that would serve as an alternative to industrial capitalism. I had the opportunity to meet him at the French release of his latest book, Saving the World: Towards a Post-Capitalist Society with Peer-to-Peer (published by “Les Liens qui Libèrent”).

Michel, Save the World, your last book, is the translation of a series of talks with Jean Lievens published two years ago. What happened between then? Do you have the impression that the transition you talk about has accelerated?

In this regard, one should make haste slowly. It is clear that the transition to a post-capitalist, sustainable economy will not happen overnight, or even in a few years. It is a long process. Some projects which seemed to work well according to a peer-to-peer logic one or two years ago have since become purely capitalistic. This enables them to grow faster. It contrasts with other more open and truly collaborative projects that have chosen to grow more slowly.

When one has no money, one takes on “solidarity dynamics”. So yes, it can give an impression of a relative stagnation, but I do not worry too much. For this is a major crisis, ecological, social and economic, looming on the horizon. The challenge is to be ready when it breaks out, probably around 2030. FairCoop, WikiSpeed… These kinds of projects are still small and yes, too few. In the coming years, those who are still only the seeds of this transition will have to develop a stable ecosystem, in order to initiate a real movement.

In an interview with us in 2013, you stated that capitalism and peer-to-peer were still interdependent. Isn’t that the real problem? Is this a stable relationship?

No, of course not, how could it be? The value generated by the Commons is still largely captured by capital: by adopting extractive models, large platforms of the sharing economy are engaged in a form of parasitic commercial activity. In the old days, capitalism was a way of allocating resources in a situation of scarcity, but now it is an engineered scarcity system. Our system is completely mad: we pretend that natural resources are endless, and we set artificial barriers around what is abundant in nature, i.e.: creativity and human intelligence. This is a profound moral issue.

In her book Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution, Marjorie Kelly aptly defines the challenge that awaits us: moving from extractive capital to generative capital. The good news is that this process has already started. First of all, because it is impossible to hide the fact that civil society has now become a value creator. This is an important point, as civil society was mostly absent from the “classic” capitalist equation. In addition, we are beginning to witness a change in market structures: commercial spheres of a new kind are developing around the Commons. Enspiral [a collaborative network of social entrepreneurs], in New Zealand, is the perfect example of this type of entrepreneurial coalition.

In your opinion, how could the peer-to-peer model free itself from capitalism in practical terms?

For a start, we should choose the right strategy. I think that despite all the good intentions, projects that aspire to compete head-to-head with Google or Facebook are doomed to fail. I believe much more in targeted approaches like Loomio [an online tool for collaborative decision-making, editor’s note]. The transition will be a sum of such small victories that will connect with each other.

This also requires the creation of new legal tools. We have completely forgotten the tradition of Commons and this is really obvious in our legal tradition. We must make room for legal innovation. In this regard, a principle like the copyleft, or the opposite, the copysol [a license that prohibits any interaction with the traditional commercial market, editor’s note] are interesting but imperfect as they are too radical (in their implications). I want to find a third way, one that would provide a balance between the commercial sphere and the Commons. This is the goal of the work we began around the notion of Peer Production License, which balances out contribution to the Commons and use of these.

Will that be enough? Those in the hands of which capital is concentrated today have no interest in the emergence of a distributed and fair model…

No revolution ever happened without a fraction of the ruling elite take the side of progress! This means that a cultural shift is needed. Today, Joe Justice [founder of the Wikispeed community] struggles to raise funds, including from ethical finance funds, as Wikispeed does not file patents. The world of responsible finance can not continue to support models that create artificial scarcity.

As I was saying earlier, when one lacks resources, one works with other people. For initiatives of the Commons economy, building a network is an absolute necessity. To get an idea of what this kind of ecosystem might look like, go to Madison, Wisconsin: there, food cooperatives, cooperative credit systems between companies, time banks, etc. gathered to create the Mutual Aid Network. In Madison, the alternative economy can be seen and felt in the streets and took less than two years to happen! The same kind of ambition drove an initiative like Faircoop in Spain.

For now, the main transformative ideas that are penetrating the economy – open economy, solidarity economy and ecology – are applied independently from each other. But when these ideas converge, we will witness the birth of an open source and circular economy. This concept of Open Source Circular Economy is at the heart of the debate we are conducting within the P2P Foundation.

I have the feeling that, by focusing on economy and leaving aside the political processes, we have given in to the calls of technological solutionism criticized by Evgeny Morozov. What do you think? Should we relearn to do politics?

Yes, in some ways, but what matters is that politics ended up re-imposing itself through collective learning. The Commons Transition Platform in which I am very involved, gathers and details the political transformation plans necessary for the implementation of a post-capitalist society. This is also the idea of the approach we applied with the FLOK project in Ecuador. The devised political transition plan which included civil society at the centre of public-value creation, a market sphere integrating external factors and a State that serves as a facilitator. FLOK was a partial failure, due to a lack of political will and lack of social base on which to lean for support, however, the political vision we have outlined is making its way to Europe (some proposals have been included within the economic program of Syriza in Greece).

Occupy Wall Street and the Indignados eventually lost momentum. The Arab Spring was, for the most part, led astray. In Spain, Podemos movement attempts to maintain a balance between bottom-up and vertical power, but at the expense of permanent tensions. How can one overcome the contradiction between the institutional logic intertwined with political practices and horizontality, a concept cherished by social movements?

To transfer a concept in real-life conditions on the long term following a pure horizontal logic is very complicated, if not downright impossible. At one time or another, a collective entity has to intervene to transcend individual interests. This also forms part of the collective learning of politics that we had to do. This is also the goal of Podemos’ experience in Spain. A fully horizontal organization system causes too much energy loss; conversely, the vertical system should be confined to areas where it guarantees a greater degree of autonomy for everyone. A bit like the Domain Name System when Internet appeared.

Are the Commons a left-wing idea?

Politically, the P2P Foundation is a pluralistic organization, simply because the logic underlying the Commons spans the entire political spectrum. Solidarity also exists within right-wing parties, some ideas in the ideology of the Front National (French extreme right-wing party, translator’s note) could even be considered as more socialist than what the Parti Socialiste (French socialist party, translator’s note) offers today. But the real question is: who benefits from this solidarity? Right-wing parties only show real solidarity with their supporters! So it’s on the issue of inclusion that the real fault line between right and left comes to light.

It is on the issue of inclusion that the real fault line between right and left comes to light.

Personally, I have left-wing ideas, and I think that the transition to a Commons economy has to benefit to everyone. The real challenge is to go beyond the progressivism inherited from the world of work of the last century. In this context, it is not surprising that European socialism is going through a profound identity crisis.

It is true that none of the partisan parties really seized this idea of Commons. Was it a mistake? Can we really make this a political topic? The concept of Commons remains somewhat abstruse.

The jargon of the Commons may at first seem technical and hard to digest, which is true. But in the mid-2000s, when I created the P2P Foundation, I decided to completely give up the old political lexicon of the left. At that time, the public did not really know what was hidden behind the concept of peer-to-peer. But as social and cultural practices started evolving, as networks started being used on a daily basis, more and more people adopted this new language. The same will most likely happen with the terminology of the Commons.

All will depend on the social movements that will defend this original conceptual arsenal. However, I find you rather pessimistic: the Pirate Party, the European Greens, Podemos, or Syriza have largely embraced this concept of Commons. It is indeed at the core of a new progressive thinking.

Politicizing the Commons, is researching their roots and genealogy. If the law leaves so little room for the Commons today, it is because we forgot where they came from. Yet, this type of organization and management of resources existed long before modern industrial capitalism practices. We must reconnect with this tradition and rewrite this forgotten chapter in our economic history. Politicizing the Commons is also researching their roots and genealogy. It’s the condition to lay the foundation of a new narrative on progress. Changing the world for the better will require considerable efforts on the part of everyone, but I think that peer-to-peer is a vision of society that is worth the sacrifice.

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Posted in Activism, Commons, Commons Transition, Culture & Ideas, Ethical Economy, Open Models, Original Content, P2P Labor, P2P Subjectivity, Politics | No Comments »

Bologna Celebrates One Year of a Bold Experiment in Urban Commoning

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
28th June 2015


Colori di Bolonia

Reposted from Shareable Magazine, Neal Gorenflo describes the one year anniversary of The Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of the Urban Commons, a unique city policy that has turned “no you can’t” into “yes we can together.”


It all began with park benches.

In 2011, a group of women in Bologna, Italy wanted to donate benches to their neighborhood park, Piazza Carducci. There was nowhere to sit in their park. So they called the city government to get permission to put in benches. They called one department, which referred them to another, which sent them on again. No one in the city could help them. This dilemma highlighted an important civic lacuna — there simply was no way for citizens to contribute improvements to the city. In fact, it was illegal.

Fast forward to May 16, 2015. The mayor, city councilors, community leaders, journalists, and hundreds of others gathered at the awe-inspiring MAST Gallery for the opening ceremony of Bologna’s Civic Collaboration Fest celebrating the one year anniversary of the Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of the Urban Commons, a history-making institutional innovation that enables Bologna to operate as a collaborative commons. Now Bologna’s citizens have a legal way to contribute to the city. Since the regulation passed one year ago, more than 100 projects have signed “collaboration pacts” with the city under the regulation to contribute urban improvements with 100 more in the pipeline.

It was an impressive event filled with ceremony, emotion, historical significance all in a context of tough political realities.

The MAST Gallery in Bologna

The MAST Gallery in Bologna

City Councilor Luca Rizzo Nervo opened the ceremony with a rousing speech. He said a new day was dawning where “no you can’t” was turning into “yes we can together,” where citizens are self-determining, and where a new, empowering relationship between citizens and city had begun. He said he was tired of the old, pessimistic rhetoric and that the regulation opened up a new, hopeful development path that takes “active citizenship” to the next level. He ended with a vision of Bologna as an entire city powered by sharing and collaboration as part of a global network of other cities on the same path.

Administrator Donato Di Memmo, the urban commons project leader, spoke to the importance of the urban commons for urban art, digital innovation and social cohesion and the need for improvement in the application of the regulation. He said that relationships are the starting point and that with training and more visibility the regulation could meet the high expectations for it.

We heard from the leaders of three projects that had signed pacts. Michela Bassi spoke of the impact of her Social Streets project, which has moved from a network of neighborhood Facebook groups to a nonprofit with a set of tangible projects including an outdoor ad turned into a neighborhood bulletin board. Veronica Veronesi introduced Reuse With Love, a group of 50 neighbors who joined forces to fight waste and improve the lives of children and the poor. Annarita Ciaruffoli of Dentro Al Nido (Inside the Nest) spoke of how the regulation was helping to restore schools.

Stefano Brugnara, president of Arci Bologna and spokesperson for the Bologna Third Sector Forum, an association of local nonprofits, spoke of the durable role of nonprofits under the new regulation; that they don’t get subsumed by it, but rather can be strengthened by it, especially if there’s transparency in its application. His comments hinted at a concern that nonprofits would be weakened by the regulation.

Giovanni Ginocchini of Bologna’s Urban Center commented on urban transformation from a physical standpoint including fighting graffiti, renovation of the city’s famous arcades, green lighting in public spaces, and better social housing.

While the proceedings included a diverse set of stakeholders, Mayor Virginio Merola was clearly the headliner. He gave an engaging speech filled with emotion and historical reflection. His main point, which was a reminder of Bologna’s long history of civic innovation, was that Bologna’s people and their cooperative culture are the city’s most important assets, the things that set it apart. He said the regulation was taking this tradition to the next level.

Bologna's Mayor Merola about to give civic collaborators keys to the city at the recent Civic Collaboration Fest

Bologna’s Mayor Merola about to give civic collaborators keys to the city at the recent Civic Collaboration Fest

He got emotional at points in his speech, pausing to hold back tears. This stirred the audience. He connected. He spoke of the need for citizens to love each other and to have the freedom to do the best for oneself and others. He said it’s easy to get depressed by the daily news, but that the DNA of Bologna is the ability of citizens to fulfill their dreams. He spoke about the increasing diversity of the city – only 30% of residents are Bologna born – and the need to focus on commonalities, common assets, human rights, and equality. He urged the audience to create an intelligent city – one based on great relationships – as opposed to a merely smart city. He concluded that while there’s a need for much more citizen action, that this doesn’t mean the end of hierarchy. The city still needs dedicated civil servants.

The mayor has been criticized as “the mayor who cries” and for not having a vision. I got word after the ceremony that the mayor said the urban commons is now his vision. I was blown away how aligned his and Luca Rizzo Nervo’s vision is with Shareable’s and our Sharing Cities Network. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that our vision is aligned with theirs as Bologna has a thousand year history of civic innovation that includes the first university in the Western world, self-rule as a independent city-state during the Middle Ages, and more recently the rise of the region’s famously large cooperative sector. One conclusion of Robert Putnam’s influential book about Italy, Making Democracy Work, was that Northern Italians were richer than their southern cousins because they were civic, not the reverse as he had previously thought. The mayor’s speech about the cooperative spirit of Bologna was not hot air. It had the weight of history behind it. It spoke to a necessary and feasible revival of it.

Mayor Merola giving a citizen a key to the city. Said citizen beams with pride.

Mayor Merola giving a citizen a key to the city. Said citizen beams with pride.

After the mayor spoke, and on the invitation of our host, Christian Iaione of LUISS LabGov, Fordham University professor Sheila Foster, commons activist David Bollier (who also posted about the event here), and I gave short talks about the urban commons. Sheila focused on the potential of the urban commons to foster human development. David spoke about commons-based economic development, and Bologna’s potential to inspire other cities.  And I spoke about the how living day-to-day in the commons builds citizenship.

The ceremony was concluded in the most fitting way possible. All the leaders of projects operating under the regulation were invited on stage. The mayor gave each a USB key to the city with a copy of regulation on the drive. The USB key was the brainchild of Christian Iaione and Michele d’Alena, the civic collaboration fest project leader. What a great idea. It created a joyful moment that symbolized a shift in power from elected leaders to citizens.

One of the many keys that Mayor Merola passed out at the Civic Collaboration Festival

One of the many keys that Mayor Merola passed out at the Civic Collaboration Festival

The next day Christian Iaione and Elena De Nictolis, Alessandra Feola and Elia Lofranco of LUISS LabGov gave a delegation including Sheila Foster and I a tour of projects that were active that day. Our first stop was one of seven citizen groups painting buildings in the city’s historic center. Painting is a big deal because of an abundance of graffiti and the need to maintain the ancient buildings, which is crucial for quality of life not to mention the tourist trade.

A group of volunteers from nonprofit Lawyers at Work painting under one of the many arcades in Bologna's historic city center

A group of volunteers from nonprofit Lawyers at Work painting under one of the many arcades in Bologna’s historic city center

There I saw the regulation’s multistakeholder collaboration in action. The painting crew was a nonprofit, Lawyers at Work. The municipal waste management company Hera had dropped off the painting kit earlier in the day. It included paint that met the city’s historical code, brushes, smocks to protect clothing, cones to mark off the work area, and more.  Hera had also cleared the painting project with the building owner and city. The city hosted an online map that showed all the projects active that day and their location. Citizens could track and join projects online or do it spontaneously. A neighbor had joined Lawyers at Work when they happened by the worksite, something that happens regularly with Bologna’s urban commons projects. Neighbors also share project activity on social media which can spark more activity and civic pride.

A screen shot of a real-time map developed by the city to track urban commons project activity

A screen shot of a real-time map developed by the city to track urban commons project activity

My idea of placemaking was radically upgraded by witnessing the regulation in action.  Here the making part of placemaking was brought to life in a vivid and dynamic way. No longer was placemaking for urban design experts who plan everything out in advance, but rather it was for everyone in a real-time multistakeholder dance that included both planned and spontaneous elements. I began to see the possibilities of an entirely new way to live in a city that was even more creative, enlivening, and social than what cities already offer.

In between stops in what turned out to be a long, vigorous walk, I had the chance to chat with Sheila Foster and Christian Iaione who had just co-authored a soon-to-be published paper conceptualizing the city as commons from an administrative law standpoint. Two points stood out in our conversation. First, that a new era was dawning where citizens are active co-managers of the resources they use in cities instead of passive recipients of services. Secondly, that the old idea of commons needed an upgrade in the urban context. Most academic studies of commons revolve around relatively isolated natural resource commons like forests, fisheries, and pastures. Urban commons must by necessity be embedded in a dense weave of institutions. They can’t be as independent of the market and government as the natural resource commons that Elinor Ostrom was famous for studying. Room must be made for urban commons in a city’s administrative law and processes. In addition, they must be productively linked to other sectors of with a city. This arguably makes urban commons more complex to set up, but could provide more protection for them than what’s typical for natural resource commons, which are prone to closure. This highlighted the importance of Bologna’s urban commons regulation. It has opened space for the urban commons to flourish in Bologna and is already leading the way for other cities in Italy and beyond.

After a couple of other stops, we ended our tour at Piazza Carducci. I wanted to see where Bologna’s urban commons began. I got my wish. The park was ordinary, and that’s just the point. The most extraordinary social innovations can begin in ordinary places with a simple wish. This was such a place, and it was beautiful to me for that reason. All of us gathered on one of the benches for a picture to commemorate the pioneers of Bologna’s urban commons, the women of Piazza Carducci.

Sheila Foster, Christian Iaione, the LabGov team, and myself on a bench in Piazza Carducci

Sheila Foster, Christian Iaione, the LabGov team, and myself on a bench in Piazza Carducci


Originally published on Shareable
Lead image by Martina. Article images by Neal Gorenflo

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Posted in Activism, Commons, Commons Transition, Cooperatives, Culture & Ideas, Guest Post, Open Government, Open Models, P2P Architecture and Urbanism, P2P Movements, P2P Public Policy | No Comments »

A Burst of Festivals of the Commons: Italy, Greece and France

photo of David Bollier

David Bollier
25th June 2015


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There has been a real surge of festivals on the commons in recent months, and in the months ahead!   The First International Festival of the CommonsFestival Internazionale dei Beni Comuni – will be held in Chieri, Italy, from July 9 to 2.  The event is a cultural happening sponsored by the borough Chieri near Torino.

The festival will consist of meetings, round tables, music, cinema, theatre, art and performances (hashtag, #commonsfestival).  The primary focus, organizers declare, is “how to live and produce in common…..The Festival will be well more than an extemporaneous and spectacular event: it will bethe beginning of a shared journey to the imagination and construction of a more just, open and participated society.”

While there will be plenty of focus on “global theories” presented in Chieri, there will also be a focus on how to reclaim “those local spaces left empty and useless by the crisis of Fordist production.”  A number of panels will look at how to develop alternatives that are not just sustainable, but generative, and political models that let people share responsibilities and choices.

The legendary Brazilian musicians Gilberto Gil will perform reggae, samba and folk with Caetano Veloso on July 10 at Piazza Dante in Chieri.  Tickets are available now. Free culture fans will recall that Gil, besides showing exemplary courage as a political dissident in Brazil decades ago, was Culture Minister in the early 2000s and an early, critically important champion of Creative Commons licenses.

The Chieri festival will feature a number of headliners such as Vandana Shiva from India; Italian legal scholar, politician and commons theorist Stefano Rodotà; Italian legal scholar Ugo Mattei; Salvatore Settis, President of the Scientific Council of the Louvre; Italian jurist Gustavo Zagrebelsky; and a number of prominent Italian writers, directors and cultural figures.

I am pleased to join this august roster of commoners for a panel on “The State of the Digital Commons” on July 11 at 10 am.  I will also have the opportunity to celebrate the release of the Italian translation of Think Like a Commoner, as masterfully translated by Bernardo Parrella.  Professor Ugo Mattei has contributed the preface.

There’s another festival of the commons coming up in October – Le Temps des Communs, which will take place in a variety of Francophone locations http://tempsdescommuns.org/Temps des Communes, from October 5-18.  More than a dozen partners and sponsors are organizing the festival:  Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer, Conseil Région Ile de France, Fondation Mozilla and Région Rhode-Alpes, as wel as Vecam, Mairie de Brest, the Open Knowledge Foundation, La Quadrature du Net and Brussels Commons, among others.

In the past month, there were two other notable festivals on the commons:  The Ouishare conference in Paris, and the Athens CommonsFest.

The Greek event on May 15-17 was the third annual occasion of this festival, moving its location this time from Heraklion to Athens.  The Greek event had an accent on tech commons – or as the conference organizers put it, “to promote freedom of knowledge (or free knowledge) and peer-to-peer collaboration for the creation and management of the commons.”

The Athens festival hosted an exhibition, talks, screenings and workshops, all with the aim of promoting commons-based peer production and the philosophy of the commons.  There were talks by free software pioneer Richard Stallman, economist Massimo de Angelis and British co-operative finance expert Pat Conaty.  There was an exhibition of projects that embody peer-to-peer production, self-management and self-organization practices, which included Peliti, VIOME, the 136 water initiative, the Elliniko and Thessaloniki social clinics and hackerspace.gr.

You can find a copy of the CommonsFest program here.

Finally, the Ouishare Fest 2015, a three-day event in Paris about the collaborative economy, was held May 20-22.  About 1,000 people converged to discuss the future of collaborative consumption, open source software, makers and fablabs, coworking, crowdfunding, alternative currencies and horizontal governance. The event frankly embraced the dilemmas that it currently faces with a subtitle, “Lost in Transition?” which refers to the push-and-pull on sharing innovators by business and socially minded activists.

Neal Gorenflo of Shareable provides a great overview and summary of the Ouishare Fest, noting that a recurring topic was addressed in the keynote talk, “Venture Capital vs. Community Capital,” by Nick Grossman. The great potential of the blockchain ledger – the code at the heart of Bitcoin – for building new types of sharing communities, was apparently much on the minds of conference-goers.  It also seems that the fierce surge of the “sharing economy” (i.e., tech-assisted micro-rental economy) has “catalyzed a counter-movement to create democratic sharing economy platforms,” in Gorenflo’s words.  A lot of attention was also given to “sharing cities” such as Amsterdam and Nijmegen, and other sharing initiatives.

Inspiring to hear of all these gatherings to explore the potential of commons in their many guises.

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Posted in Activism, Commons, Commons Transition, Conferences, Culture & Ideas, Events, Original Content, P2P Movements, P2P Public Policy | No Comments »

Book of the Day: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
25th June 2015


* Book: William E. Connolly, The Fragility of Things: Self-Organizing Processes, Neoliberal Fantasies, and Democratic Activism (Duke University Press, 2013)

Excerpted from a review by Zachary Loeb:

“Connolly argues for an “ethic of cultivation” that can show “both how fragile the ethical life is and how important it is to cultivate it” . “Cultivation,” as developed in The Fragility of Things, stands in opposition to withdrawal. Instead it entails serious, ethically guided, activist engagement with the world – for us to recognize the fragility of natural, and human-made, systems (Connolly uses the term “force-fields”) and to act to protect this “fragility” instead of celebrating neoliberal risks that render the already precarious all the more tenuous.

Connolly argues that when natural disasters strike, and often in their wake set off rippling cascades of additional catastrophes, they exemplify the “spontaneous order” so beloved by neoliberal economics. Under neoliberalism, the market is treated as though it embodies a uniquely omniscient, self-organizing and self-guiding principle. Yet the economic system is not the only one that can be described this way: “open systems periodically interact in ways that support, amplify, or destabilize one another”. Even in the so-called Anthropocene era the ecosystem, much to humanity’s chagrin, can still demonstrate creative and unpredictable potentialities. Nevertheless, the ideological core of neoliberalism relies upon celebrating the market’s self-organizing capabilities whilst ignoring the similar capabilities of governments, the public sphere, or the natural world. The ascendancy of neoliberalism runs parallel with an increase in fragility as economic inequality widens and as neoliberalism treats the ecosystem as just another profit source. Fragility is everywhere today, and though the cracks are becoming increasingly visible, it is still given – in Connolly’s estimation – less attention than is its due, even in “radical theory.” On this issue Connolly wonders if perhaps “radical theorists,” and conceivably radical activists, “fear that coming to terms with fragility would undercut the political militancy needed to respond to it?”. Yet Connolly sees no choice but to “respond,” envisioning a revitalized Left that can take action with a mixture of advocacy for immediate reforms while simultaneously building towards systemic solutions.

Critically engaging with the thought of core neoliberal thinker and “spontaneous order” advocate Friedrich Hayek, Connolly demonstrates the way in which neoliberal ideology has been inculcated throughout society, even and especially amongst those whose lives have been made more fragile by neoliberalism: “a neoliberal economy cannot sustain itself unless it is supported by a self-conscious ideology internalized by most participants that celebrates the virtues of market individualism, market autonomy and a minimal state”. An army of Panglossian commentators must be deployed to remind the wary watchers that everything is for the best. That a high level of state intervention may be required to bolster and disseminate this ideology, and prop up neoliberalism, is wholly justified in a system that recognizes only neoliberalism as a source for creative self-organizing processes, indeed “sometimes you get the impression that ‘entrepreneurs’ are the sole paradigms of creativity in the Hayekian world”.

Resisting neoliberalism, for Connolly, requires remembering the sources of creativity that occur outside of a market context and seeing how these other systems demonstrate self-organizing capacities.

Within neoliberalism the market is treated as the ethical good, but Connolly works to counter this with “an ethic of cultivation” which works not only against neoliberalism but against certain elements of Kant’s philosophy. In Connolly’s estimation Kantian ethics provide some of the ideological shoring up for neoliberalism, as at times “Kant both prefigures some existential demands unconsciously folded into contemporary neoliberalism and reveals how precarious they in fact are. For he makes them postulates”. Connolly sees a certain similarity between the social conditioning that Kant saw as necessary for preparing the young to “obey moral law” and the ideological conditioning that trains people for life under neoliberalism – what is shared is a process by which a self-organizing system must counter people’s own self-organizing potential by organizing their reactions. Furthermore “the intensity of cultural desires to invest hopes in the images of self-regulating interest within markets and/or divine providence wards off acknowledgment of the fragility of things” (118). Connolly’s “ethic of cultivation” appears as a corrective to this ethic of inculcation – it features “an element of tragic possibility within it” which is the essential confrontation with the “fragility” that may act as a catalyst for a new radical activism.

In the face of impending doom neoliberalism will once more have an opportunity to demonstrate its creativity even as this very creativity will have reverberations that will potentially unleash further disasters. Facing the possible catastrophe means that “we may need to recraft the long debate between secular, linear, and deterministic images of the world on the one hand and divinely touched, voluntarist, providential, and/or punitive images on the other”. Creativity, and the potential for creativity, is once more essential – as it is the creativity in multiple self-organizing systems that has created the world, for better or worse, around us today. Bringing his earlier discussions of Kant into conversation with the thought of Whitehead and Nietzsche, Connolly further considers the place of creative processes in shaping and reshaping the world. Nietzsche, in particular, provides Connolly with a way to emphasize the dispersion of creativity by removing the province of creativity from the control of God to treat it as something naturally recurring across various “force-fields.” A different demand thus takes shape wherein “we need to slow down and divert human intrusions into various planetary force fields, even as we speed up efforts to reconstitute the identities, spiritualities, consumption practices, market faiths, and state policies entangled with them” though neoliberalism knows but one speed: faster.

An odd dissonance occurs at present wherein people are confronted with the seeming triumph of neoliberal capitalism (one can hear the echoes of “there is no alternative”) and the warnings pointing to the fragility of things. In this context, for Connolly, withdrawal is irresponsible, it would be to “cultivate a garden” when what is needed is an “ethic of cultivation.” Neoliberal capitalism has trained people to accept the strictures of its ideology, but now is a time when different roles are needed; it is a time to become “role experimentalists”. Such experiments may take a variety of forms that run the gamut from “reformist” to “revolutionary” and back again, but the process of such experimentation can break the training of neoliberalism and demonstrate other ways of living, interacting, being and having. Connolly does not put forth a simple solution for the challenges facing humanity, instead he emphasizes how recognizing the “fragility of things” allows for people to come to terms with these challenges. After all, it may be that neoliberalism only appears so solid because we have forgotten that it is not actually a naturally occurring mountain but a human built pyramid – and our backs are its foundation.

William Connolly’s The Fragility of Things is both ethically and intellectually rigorous, demanding readers perceive the “fragility” of the world around them even as it lays out the ways in which the world around them derives its stability from making that very fragility invisible. Though it may seem that there are relatively simple concerns at the core of The Fragility of Things Connolly never succumbs to simplistic argumentation – preferring the fine-toothed complexity that allows moments of fragility to be fully understood. The tone and style of The Fragility of Things feels as though it assumes its readership will consist primarily of academics, activists, and those who see themselves as both. It is a book that wastes no time trying to convince its reader that “climate change is real” or “neoliberalism is making things worse,” and the book is more easily understood if a reader begins with at least a basic acquaintance with the thought of Hayek, Kant, Whitehead, and Nietzsche. Even if not every reader of The Fragility of Things has dwelled for hours upon the question of “How do you prepare for the end of the world?” the book seems to expect that this question lurks somewhere in the subconscious of the reader.

Amidst Connolly’s discussions of ethics, fragility and neoliberalism, he devotes much of the book to arguing for the need for a revitalized, active, and committed Left – one that would conceivably do more than hold large marches and then disappear. While Connolly cautions against “giving up” on electoral politics he does evince a distrust for US party politics; to the extent that Connolly appears to be a democrat it is a democrat with a lowercase d. Drawing inspiration from the wave of protests in and around 2011 Connolly expresses the need for a multi-issue, broadly supported, international (and internationalist) Left that can organize effectively to win small-scale local reforms while building the power to truly challenge the grip of neoliberalism. The goal, as Connolly envisions it, is to eventually “mobilize enough collective energy to launch a general strike simultaneously in several countries in the near future” even as Connolly remains cognizant of threats that “the emergence of a neofascist or mafia-type capitalism” can pose (39). Connolly’s focus on the, often slow, “traditional” activist strategies of organizing should not be overlooked, as his focus on mobilizing large numbers of people acts as a retort to a utopian belief that “technology will fix everything.” The “general strike” as the democratic response once electoral democracy has gone awry is a theme that Connolly concludes with as he calls for his readership to take part in helping to bring together “a set of interacting minorities in several countries for the time when we coalesce around a general strike launched in several states simultaneously” (195). Connolly emphasizes the types of localized activism and action that are also necessary, but “the general strike” is iconic as the way to challenge neoliberalism. In emphasizing the “the general strike” Connolly stakes out a position in which people have an obligation to actively challenge existing neoliberalism, waiting for capitalism to collapse due to its own contradictions (and trying to accelerate these contradictions) does not appear as a viable tactic.

All of which raises something of prickly question for The Fragility of Things: which element of the book strikes the reader as more outlandish, the question of how to prepare for the end of the world, or the prospect of a renewed Left launching “a general strike…in the near future”? This question is not asked idly or as provocation; and the goal here is in no way to traffic in Leftist apocalyptic romanticism. Yet experience in current activism and organizing does not necessarily imbue one with great confidence in the prospect of a city-wide general strike (in the US) to say nothing of an international one. Activists may be acutely aware of the creative potentials and challenges faced by repressed communities, precarious labor, the ecosystem, and so forth – but these same activists are aware of the solidity of militarized police forces, a reactionary culture industry, and neoliberal dominance. Current, committed, activists’ awareness of the challenges they face makes it seem rather odd that Connolly suggests that radical theorists have ignored “fragility.” Indeed many radical thinkers, or at least some (Grace Lee Boggs and Franco “Bifo” Berardi, to name just two) seem to have warned consistently of “fragility” – even if they do not always use that exact term. Nevertheless, here the challenge may not be the Sisyphean work of activism but the rather cynical answer many, non-activists, give to the question of “How does one prepare for the end of the world?” That answer? Download some new apps, binge watch a few shows, enjoy the sci-fi cool of the latest gadget, and otherwise eat, drink and be merry because we’ll invent something to solve tomorrow’s problems next week. Neoliberalism has trained people well.

That answer, however, is the type that Connolly seems to find untenable, and his apparent hope in The Fragility of Things is that most readers will also find this answer unacceptable. Thus Connolly’s “ethic of cultivation” returns and shows its value again. “Our lives are messages” (185) Connolly writes and thus the actions that an individual takes to defend “fragility” and oppose neoliberalism act as a demonstration to others that different ways of being are possible.

What The Fragility of Things makes clear is that an “ethic of cultivation” is not a one-off event but an ongoing process – cultivating a garden, after all, is something that takes time. Some gardens require years of cultivation before they start to bear fruit.”

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A Introduction to the Basic P2P Ideas; Part 1: What is P2P?

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
23rd June 2015


Over the last ten years, the P2P Foundation has produced a sizeable body of material, both original and curated, but none of it is specifically designed as an introduction for newcomers and people who are not so familiar with the P2P approach. Hence Irma Wilson‘s proposal, during a trip which FutureSharp helped organize in South Africa in the two first weeks of June 2015, to produce a number of short videos. With Irma’s assistance, and the help of filmmaker Michel Taljaard, we produced four videos which are being serialised here in the P2P Foundation Blog and which will be compiled in a forthcoming Commons Transition Article.

This first video answers the question, what is peer to peer?

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Video: Statement of Solidarity with the Greek People Facing Illegitimate Debt

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
19th June 2015


Introduction from the from the Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform:

“What is exactly happening with Greece, what lies behind the negotiations and how important is debt and what are the consequences for the Greek people?

Last month Greece began a Debt Audit process which aims to analyse its debt on the basis of it being illegal, illegitimate, odious or unsustainable, through the Greek Debt Truth Committee. This international group has representatives from the Spanish Citizen Debt Audit Platform (PACD) and people from related groups such as the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) or the Observatory of Debt in Globalization (ODG).
The PACD has launched a new monographic blog www.AuditamosGrecia.org in order to monitor this process, to bring it closer to citizens, to find similarities with the indebtedness’ process in the Spanish State and, above all, to show the injustice of the debt mechanisms, with focus on the Hellenic country. From now on, we will publish official information, interviews, analysis of the situation and voice our strong support for the Greek people, among other related contents.

We invite you to be part of this citizen audit project, which will guide us through the events surrounding Greece and the Audit of its Public Debt, which may mark a before and after in the relations among indebted countries and their creditors.”

Watch the video, from the ‘Squares’ movement to the Greek people, here:

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24M: It was not a victory for Podemos, but for the 15M movement

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
15th June 2015


Click on the image to see full size

Click on the image to see full size. Source: autoconsulta.org.


X-net‘s Simona Levi reflects on the recent results of the Spanish Municipal Elections and seeks to correct some popular misconceptions resulting from international press coverage on the role of Podemos.


The propaganda has spread far and wide, and we are concerned to note how many analysts, particularly foreign media outlets without local correspondents, are giving Podemos undue centrality.

This text seeks to clarify the current state of the unfolding Spanish r-evolution, so that its major contribution to global change will not be lost among obsolete, simplistic models.

On May 24, civil society won a magnificent victory in Spain.

It was an intelligent, thoughtful, constructive victory in the true style of the indignados.

The definitions of what the indignados movement is are as numerous as the people who participated in it; and there have also been some deliberate misinterpretations of what it is.

For us, the spirit that allowed the indignados movement to be born and grow can be summed up in its own words: “Some of us see ourselves as more progressive, others more conservative…” leaving no doubt that 15M would be a pragmatic rather than an ideological movement. This is the key to its success. The left had been calling for rebellion for years, with few results. So whether we like it or not, the indignados achieved what the left couldn’t, precisely because it was not foundationally ideological.

The great political innovation of the indignados was forged on the basis of this transversality and pragmatism, in the first month and a half in the squares (stage one of the indignados). The movement was politicised but not ideological, constructive, not limited to protest. It was a movement that identified some minimum criteria on which to build a ‘real democracy’ (the famous ‘minimum criteria’ documents were drawn up in the first month).

During that first month we learnt to organise as citizens, to trust in our shared capacities and competencies rather than dogma, to accept responsibility and to assess results based on facts rather than rhetoric.

And the indignados movement has continued on this basis, in the second stage, in everything we have done and are doing, splitting into dozens of citizen devices and chalking up successes such as the PAH (platform to support victims of mortgage scams and of evictions), 15MpaRato (a citizen initiative that led to the arrest and trial of the former director of the IMF Rodrigo Rato and 100 other politicians and bankers for the banking swindle), the Citizen Debt Audit Network, the ‘White Tide’ (movement for universal healthcare and against privatisation) and all the other ‘tides’, Legal Sol (legal defense of basic rights, freedom of expression, and demonstrators)…

@PabloMP2P

The second phase of the indignados movement

The indignados movement is what we have kept doing ever since.

Back then, on 15 May 2011 – and not now or in 2014 with the rise of Podemos – we declared that part of our plan was to bring down the two-party system.

And since then, we’ve made progress in this regard: Aritmetica20N (2011);Partido X (2013); Podemos (2014); Barcelona en Comú (2015); AhoraMadrid(2015); Marea Atlántica (2015); Compostela Aberta (2015); Terrassa en Comú(2015); Capgirem (2015); … it isn’t the names that matter, but the patience and tenacity to keep going, adapting methods in order to achieve our collective goals on this and other regards.

This is why we are concerned by recent declarations in which Pablo Iglesias takes credit for a collective victory on behalf of Podemos.

Some examples:

Manuela Carmena and most of the citizens behind the electoral platform Ahora Madrid are not members of Podemos; Manuela barely held any rallies with Podemos, and many of the members of Ahora Madrid are indignados or activists in general and don’t have anything to do with Podemos. They are there to participate in designing a new city.

Likewise, Barcelona En Comú is not Podemos, nor is Ada Colau. Ada has fought side by side with activists in innumerable struggles in Barcelona over the past 15 years. The first thing she said to the people who had gathered to celebrate the victory of Barcelona En Comú is that it would not have been possible without the struggles that came before; she emphasised that a new kind of politics will not be possible without a strong, organised civil society, independent of any electoral platform, that will hold city councils and other public institutions to account. She called for us to be autonomous and vigilant, rather than merging with her.

The attitude of these new electoral platforms is worlds away from the attitude of Podemos so far towards civil society groups, which it has repeatedly called to join its ranks and dissolve into it.

The Podemos leadership style seems to repeatedly turn to a tactic destined to confuse involving a reinterpretation and claiming authorship of collective struggles. Some other thoroughly collective and distributed struggles of the past, such as the response to the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, and the struggle against evictions under the slogan ‘Yes we can’, which Podemos also used as its slogan for its founding assembly, are examples of this among many.

Podemos website featuring Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena without their consent. They have repeatedly said they are not members.

New Politics

We don’t believe that these are simply superficial details.

We are convinced that it will be impossible to make progress and continue on our common path if we limit options rather than harnessing this great opportunity to expand them.

Our history has seen fratricidal situations; in 1936-37 for example. They were much more tragic, but resonate in terms of political praxis. It would be criminal to repeat the same mistakes. To homogenise the diversity on this side of the trenches won’t improve our chances of success: it will destroy them.

We want a world in which, at last, organised and diverse civil society is as relevant as political parties, if not even more so.

In this context, it is important that Podemos resists the temptation to impose itself as hegemonic in a much broader r-evolution.

The indignados movement calls for relationships of mutual support. Theindignados hasn’t started from scratch, it works jointly with what civil society has already achieved. We don’t have enough spare energy or resources to allow us the luxury of starting over again as if nothing ever came before.

We have to increase our competencies and the fronts we’re fighting on, not implode into a single brand.

Podemos alone cannot and should not represent Everything. To continue to try to do so could be the end of them, as Isaac Rosa explains in this article “Sí se puede, pero solos no Podemos” (“For example: in Madrid, 285,000 people voted for Podemos in the autonomous community elections, while 519,000 voted for Ahora Madrid. In other words, almost half of Ahora Madrid voters did not vote for Podemos at the other level of governments (note: the elections were on the same day and in the same place).”

Podemos was not in the indignados movement.

We need Podemos. It is another comrade in our struggle.

Podemos, whose founders have hardly been involved in the 15M, and which doesn’t share its founding ideas, has intelligently harnessed the energy generated by the indignados to give rise to an electoral platform that had been brewing for years in the media.

http://www.manuelalucas.com/sre/

Podemos has contributed what it can to the expanding indignados movement: media power, the potential to reach millions of viewers.

We believe that if Podemos truly wants to be an instrument of popular will, of the spirit of the indignados, it should also celebrate the success of others. A hegemonic discourse that claims that organised civil society is only useful if it is inside the party brand, and that everything outside of it could threaten its leadership, can no longer stand up, luckily, amongst an empowered citizenry that is conscious of its responsibilities, the citizenry we have built with theIndignados.

Nor is it desirable for such a discourse to work. We do not want a passive civil society, like the society that the PSOE tamed in the eighties, absorbing the most highly profiled (not always the best) citizen activists into the party, as has been repeated by Izquierda Unida more recently.

Podemos is an important device for the change we want, and we hope that it will thrive among equals. The millions of organised citizens who are writing the future of 15M are ready to give and receive support based on mutual trust, because our goals can only be achieved if all of us who got down to work on 15 May 2011, and in subsequent years, keep on working.

For the r-evolution that began that day, the squares were important in 2011; diverse citizen devices in 2012-13; Podemos in 2014; and in 2015, municipal electoral platforms. In 2016, we’ll adopt whatever means are necessary to continue our work. With pragmatism and generosity.

Many opportunists climbed aboard Podemos after its success in 2014. It seems like treacherous terrain now. But there are also many valued, generous comrades who are using the opportunity that Podemos has provided to work towards the shared commitments of the indignados, just as Podemos has used the opportunity that the indignados movement opened up for them.

It is a luxury to work with these valuable people, and we know that organised citizens can rely on their support, just as they can rely on ours.

It is vital that this give and take of activism and cooperation should proliferate inside and beyond electoral platforms. The victory on 24 May has shown that we are on the right track, and that the last 4 years have only been the first stage in this era that is full of hope.

Thanks to Kate Shea Baird and Nuria Rodríguez for the translation.

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Posted in Activism, Collective Intelligence, Commons, Commons Transition, Culture & Ideas, Featured Movement, Open Government, P2P Action Items, P2P Collaboration, P2P Movements, P2P Public Policy, Politics | No Comments »

OuiShare Fest Finds Itself While Lost in Transition

photo of Stacco Troncoso

Stacco Troncoso
14th June 2015


Ouife_n

Originally published in Shareable, Neal Gorenflo shares his impressions of OuiShare Fest 2015


The third annual OuiShare Fest, hosted with the theme “Lost in Transition” in Paris’ charming Cabaret Sauvage, concluded last Friday. This unique gathering of sharing economy leaders from around the world found itself in at least two ways with their latest edition.

First, the theme brought the elephant in everybody’s room to the fore – the gaping contradiction between the utopian possibilities and the hyper-capitalist realities of the sharing economy. The key dilemma that OuiShare Fest underscored is that while leading platforms like Airbnb and Uber help users create value on an unprecedented scale, they do not share ownership and governance with users and could in fact exacerbate already severe inequalities. OuiShare Fest’s programming, which is largely crowdsourced, reflected a widely held belief that platforms should share ownership and governance with those most responsible for their success — users.

Instead of withering from this heat of this contradiction, the organizers held it. A remarkable number of sessions focused or touched on this contradiction (Ann Marie of Goteo blogged this contradiction in detail). While there were sessions that featured sharp criticism of the sharing economy, most sessions explored solutions to the contradiction, like using the blockchain to share ownership and governance with millions of users.

In fact, Nick Grossman’s keynote, “Venture Capital vs. Community Capital,” was OuiShare Fest in a nutshell. He elegantly articulated the contradiction and put forward the blockchain as a key solution. As Nathan Schneider pointed out last December in his Shareable feature story, “Owning is the New Sharing,” criticism of the sharing economy has catalyzed a counter-movement to create democratic sharing economy platforms. With Nick’s help, the blockchain had its coming out party at OuiShare Fest as the people-power solution to the sharing economy’s contradictions. Everybody was talking about the blockchain from keynotes to side conversations.

Whether or not the blockchain will live up to these expectations is another question. I have my doubts as it doesn’t build durable social relations necessary for communities to go on a new, long-term commons-based developmental path. Blockchain platforms are thin, and so are the social ties. There are no shortcuts, technological or otherwise, to social change. Social change is social, and social takes time. But there’s hope, as Swarm shared its recently released Distributed Collaborative Organization at the fest, a format that combines blockchain and human management of enterprises.

The second way OuiShare Fest found itself is that it seems all grown up in its third year. Things ran more smoothly, it was amply staffed with volunteers, it had all the trimmings of a professionally run conference, yet its organization reflected OuiShare’s values. With OuiShare Fest, OuiShare the organization talks the collaboration talk and walks the collaboration walk, a rare accomplishment. The fest is run in a largely decentralized fashion.

That said, I did come away with the impression that OuiShare Fest’s format and audience may be mismatched. As CrowdCompanies’ founder Jeremiah Owyang commented on Facebook, OuiShare Fest is a community of insiders, meaning it convenes the actors within the sharing economy, not the general public. To mature further, OuiShare Fest may need to create a better balance between keynotes and collaboration. FAB10, the gathering of FabLab leaders, might be a model to emulate. It’s really two events — a symposium for insiders and a festival for the public.

This model would make more sense for us at Shareable. As someone who reads about the sharing economy nearly every day, I didn’t learn much from the formal programming. It would have been great for newbies, however. OuiShare Fest would be more useful to us as an opportunity to convene stakeholders in the Sharing Cities Network. While I was delighted to give an update to a packed house on sharing cities with Nils Roemen of Sharing City Nijmegen and Harmen van Sprung of Sharing City Amersterdam, the three of us would have preferred to use this rare time together to push our work forward. I heard similar things from other attendees.

Thankfully, none of this diluted the best part of OuiShare Fest, the community spirit that brings out the best in attendees. Simone Cicero of Sharitories described the OuiShare Fest as “TED hugs Burning Man.” Like Burning Man, the fest gives attendees the opportunity to try on a new way to be in the world and relate to others.

As such, I had many encounters that exemplified the spirit of sharing, generosity, and love at OuiShare Fest. For example, on day one, Julie Da Vara and Valentine Philipponneau of JeLoueMonCampingCar, a camper van sharing platform, gave me a box of canales, Bordeaux-style cupcakes that are sinfully delicious. Johanna Steuth of Wirfel gave me a compliment card with the inscription, “For your passion for commons, communities and creating places for sharing. I like to see you there!” Ronald van den Hoff, Marielle Sijgers, and Vincent Ariens of Seats2Meet treated a bunch of us including Jen Billock of Couchsurfing and Christian Iaione of LabGov to dinner at a classic Parisian café across from the opera house. My friends Laurel and Quitterie of BioHacking Safari invited me to a lovely dinner of modern Sicilian food at DJoon. Chelsea Rustrum of It’s a Shareable Life and I livened up things at Mangopay’s party by dragging everyone onto the dance floor. Entrepreneur Daniel Goldman treated me, Tom Llewellyn, Chelsea, Benita Matofska, and her team at People Who Share to late night karaoke. And at the conference-ending OuiShare Love party, David We and I went below the surface in a conversation that revealed a similar need to connect authentically with others. It was the perfect way to end the fest – feeling totally accepted for who I am and we are, warts and all, ready to take OuiShare love out into the world.

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1200 students are ready to strike #DebtResistence

photo of Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Flanagan
14th June 2015


https://personaldemocracy.com/media/reverse-engineering-vampire-squid

Astra Taylor speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum on debt resistance . The Debt Collective in which she is involved are organising a Rolling Jubilee and organising more 1200 students to strike to have their loans wiped out by the department of education.

“We believe people should not go into debt for basic necessities like education, healthcare and housing. Strike Debt initiatives like the Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual offer advice to all kinds of debtors about how to escape debt and how to join a growing collective resistance to the debt system.”

How Does Rolling Jubilee Work?

“Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.”

 

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