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The founding principles of the Indiano ‘P2P’ phyle

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
28th November 2012


The Foundation of the Indiano phyle is the basic organizational definition of the phyle and the link between its communitarian logic and its economic metabolism.

The foundation document of the Las Indias cooperative group has recently been translated. This is the first part on the founding principles, and an impressive document.

Origins and values

For more than a decade, the Indiano phyle represented a unique experience of deliberation and construction of knowledge, centered on the enrichment of the commons and sustained on the principle of pluriarchy.

Our success was based on our community’s determination to build and maintain an economic structure sufficient to maintain serenity about our lifestyle, the development of our ideas, and the course of our debates.

That common economic metabolism is dedicated to giving sustenance to a community centered on the development of the people in it, the knowledge they develop, and the social cohesion of their surroundings. Their development is based on the affirmation of a work ethic born in distributed networks and which understands knowledge as the engine and prime mover of productive activity and life in community.

Our work ethic demands a non-separation between life time and work time in the social production of knowledge, which implies vindication and practice the plurispecialization in our projects and holds up, as a fundamental value, the “freedom to do.” That is to say, both in internal ordering and faced with existing institutions in the places where we develop, we Indianos don’t demand that things “be done,” we do them for ourselves. If we demand anything, it’s the withdrawl of prohibitions and obstacles of any kind that prevent us from constructing the tools needed to develop freedom and well-being in our surroundings.

We Indianos jealously guard our freedoms, and have a limitless hunger for them, but we don’t trust or pursue rents, privileges, or rights.

As a direct consequence of this ethical conception of life and work, the three guiding principles of our structure were born:

Abundance and communal development. One of the institutional obstacles to the serene development of knowledge is the existence of artificial monopolies created by States, such as intellectual property. This amounts to a way of artificially generating scarcity for the benefit of a few. By excluding people from the enjoyment of knowledge, such monopolies are harmful to everyone’s freedoms, innovation in general, and social cohesion. That’s why the generation of abundance in the form of a knowledge commons open to all is, for us, the foundation of each person’s freedom to be able build new projects for him/herself in his/her own search for knowledge. That freedom, born of the abundance of the commons, is measured in the diversity of projects and alternatives.

With that logic, economic democracy isn’t just democratic management of scarcity in our common structures, but also each person’s freedom to build a new project. That freedom is built through guarantees of access to training and resources — which is why we provided ourselves a common economic structure — but it’s not a right to “do” out on the far reaches of reality or of free agreement, but rather a freedom to make proposals to others and to our surroundings, because we are profoundly convinced that the greatest freedom for each person and the greatest serenity for the community are found concurrently in the market, and not depending on donations or subsidies, external or internal.

That’s why we think about the relationship between the projects that we foster with confederal logic, since the responsibility for each project also implies sovereignty over it by those who unite to develop it. This sovereignty is not at odds with the common sovereignty of the common structures which make the new initiatives possible and ensure the common good of the Indianos and their impact on the surroundings. In fact, it is the autonomy of the projects and their teams that sustains the viability and the unity of our common funds and their common, democratic management by the full Indiano community.

Objectives

The general objective of the economic structure of the Indianos is to constitute for our community a space for personal development, security, and well-being, which is transnational and resilient, sustained on the above-mentioned values, and decidedly involved in the cohesion of our real surroundings.

Means

The means through which we develop these objectives are structural projects created for the development of specific functions

the common generation of funds dedicated to training, well-being, the development of our surroundings, and setting new projects in motion.

Structure and demos

The structure of the Indiano phyle is based on a work ethic centered on knowledge and based on the principles of economic democracy, confederalism and the generation of abundance, defined and developed in this foundation.

Anyone can be an Indiano who, after declaring their identification with these values as defined, works in an Indiano working group, calls him or herself an Indiano/a, participates in the deliberation of the Indiano community, and is recognized as such by the rest.

The structure of the Indiano phyle is made up of

The Assembly of the Indianos. Made up of all the Indianos, it decides in common what part of the available surplus from the Indianos’ work will be dedicated to the common funds, and gives direction about its management to the specific working groups or projects charged with its use, evaluating their results and tutoring their performance.

When it is time to make decisions about the common structure and its resources, the Indianos act as freely associated people, each one speaks, contributes, and participates in decisionmaking for him/herself. The demos of the Indiano economic structure is made up exclusively of Indianos, and not groups, projects, or structures.

The working groups. The Indianos develop their economic activity in different productive projects born of their initiative, but which can be shared with other people, projects, and organizations. Each one will have its own forms and balances, born of free agreement among the parties, and each one is sovereign to dictate its own course through its guiding bodies, which are made up, to a greater or lesser extent, by Indianos who work on that project or on others. The Indianos can’t be a brake on that sovereignty or subordinate support for it to interests other than those of the project itself and the people who develop it.

So, considering the general organization of our social structure, it’s not the projects themselves that sustain the common structure, but rather their working groups, when they are formed by Indianos.

The structural projects. In spite of the above, we Indianos have created projects with different forms — cooperatives, associations, societies — formed exclusively by us and oriented towards the development of specific functions to bring about a common system of entrepreneurship, training, well-being, and support for the cohesion of our surroundings.

That’s how the Cooperative Society of the Art of Things was born as an incubator of new projects, the Library of the Indies as a structure for formative projects and for action in our broader setting, etc. They are structural projects, the functional skeleton of the phyle and the guarantee of its serenity, with working groups, tasks, and responsibilities of their own, which subject its general actions to the strategy drawn up at any given time by the Assembly of the Indianos.

The Governor. This person represents and takes care of the Indiano “mood,” presides over the assemblies, is the external representative of the organizational and economic dimension of the phyle and has the “voice of command” in situations of scarcity or crisis.

The Dogo. He is the public representation of the deliberation and the phyle’s own “genius.” His opening speech marks the beginning of the Assembly of the Indianos.

Definition and accounting of the available surplus

Each working group, both in projects made up exclusively of Indianos and in projects formed in association with others, administers a fairly large part of the surplus of each project. That available surplus — and not the general results of the project — is the starting point from which each group can contribute to the common structure.

In the worker co-ops made up exclusively of Indiano worker-members, they are completely sovereign over the surplus, so, the total surplus of the project will be counted as the available surplus, after discounting the obligatory reserves and the contributions to the wider networks the group is part of.

In cooperative projects developed with other partners, available surpluses will be calculated after deducting reserves, contributions to common networks, and the portion dedicated to paying financial partners, provided they are not workers in the cooperative.

In the anonymous and limited societies [corporations], what will be counted as available surplus is participation in results, as well as the funds that respective management bodies may dedicate to training, well-being, etc., in cases where they leave the administration of their destiny in the hands of the members of the working group.”

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One Response to “The founding principles of the Indiano ‘P2P’ phyle”

  1. David de Ugarte Says:

    Thanks Michel!! It is a great honour it interested you! In the meanwhile from the publishing a new group and their project -originally born in Grenade- has united us «under the terms of fundamento» :-)

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