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Essay of the Day: Peer to Peer Production as the Alternative to Capitalism

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
2nd August 2012


* Article: Peer to peer production as the alternative to capitalism. Jakob Rigi. Journal of Peer Production. Issue #1: Productive Negation, 2012.

Jakob Rigi writes in the abstract:

‘The current crisis of capitalism has provoked protests, revolts and revolutions in major parts of the planet that include 3 billions of inhabitants. Even the mainstream Time Magazine made “The Protester” the person of the year. The caption on Time’s cover reads: From the Arab Spring To Athens, from Occupy Wall Street to Moscow. China, Chile, Spain, England, Italy, India, Israel, Iran and France, among many other places, can be added to Time’s hotbeds of recent social protests.

The protest movements have put alternatives to capitalism on the historical agenda (Hardt and Negri, 2011). This article argues that a section of knowledge workers have already created a new mode of production termed Peer to Peer Production (P2P) which is a viable alternative to capitalism. Although still in its emerging phase and dominated by capitalism, P2P clearly displays the main contours of an egalitarian society. The very fact that sections of P2P activists and ICT workers are also actively involved in the current protests may work as a good catalyst in connecting P2P to these movements.

In P2P production, producers collectively produce goods through voluntary participation in a de-centered, network-based production system. Volunteers choose the tasks they perform; the amount of time they spend on collective production; the place and time of their productive activity. In term of distribution, anyone in the world can use the products for free according to their own needs, regardless of their contribution (Benkler, 2006). This mode of production is very similar to what Marx (1978 a, 1978b) described as advanced communism. Therefore, it has also been called cyber communism.”

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