On December 8th, I’m participating in a dialogue with left parliamentarians (socialist MEPs) in Porto, Portugal. Here’s the basic framework that will be organizing my remarks. I just want to make clear that though I personally place myself on the left of the political spectrum, the P2P Foundation as a project is pluralist. The new politics will, before it is reflected in the existing political parties, proceed from ad-hoc networks of networks, whose visions and demands can be met and interpreted by various political forces, not just or not necessarily on the left. As a metaparadigm that combines both freedom and equality as co-constitutive, participation can appeal to a broad spectrum of opinion.
Basically, I start from the triangularity between state, market, and civil society.
As the autonomous productivity of the social increases in a sharing economy, distributed networks gain in importance related to decentralized and centralized networks.
Peer governance becomes the norm in distributed networks, but society remains a decentralized network of competing powers, therefore the arena of representative democracy.
More and more governance forms become hybrid, i.e. enriching bureaucratic government and representative processes with multistakeholdership governance
The politicians become interpreters and experts, which can guide the issues emerging out of civil society based networks into the institutional realm.
The state becomes neutral (or better yet: commons-favorable), i.e. the regulator and arbiter of the 3 realms, and retreats from the state/privatisation dilemma to a choice between the optimal mix between government regulation, private market freedom, and civil society projects.
From civil society emerges a new institutionalization, the commons, a new form of regulation and property (see Peter Barnes on one man/one vote/one share trusts to preserve natural resources for example) becomes an accepted alternative to nationalization and deregulation/privatization.
That is the broad framework that I see.
For left politics, it means:
1) dissociation of the automatic link with bureaucratic government modalities (which does not mean that it is not appropriate in certain circumstances)
2) dissocation from its alternative: deregulation/privatization (same remark)
3) development of civl society and commons oriented policies
The left becomes informational rather than a modality of industrial society. Instead of defending the industrial status quo, it becomes again an offensive force (say: a form of civil socialism) for an equity-based information society), more closely allied with the open/free, participatory, commons-oriented forces and movements.
The 3 keywords are open/free, participatory, commons. Open and free raw material for free cultural production, participation in the processes, protection from private appropriation through the commons, so that the resulting use value can again be used.
There is a huge potential to become aligned with the values of a new generation of youth, and achieve the long-term advantage that the Republicans had achieved since the 80s.
Creating legal and regulatory frameworks that
1) diminish artificial scarcities in the informational field
2) a) introduce true costing in the material field; 2) created more distributed access to the means of production (peer-based financing, distributed energy production, etc…)
Politicians need of course to become conversant with the existing tools, and perhaps, Philippe Aigrain is working on this, new tools for online-based civic engagement and dialogue can be used. But I don’t think it’s a matter of tools, rather than of re-alignment towards the autonomous forces of civil society.