A statement on P2P and Post-Scarcity Thinking


We know we don´t speak for everybody, since we are a pluralistic community and we seek commonalities between divergent views, but that does not mean that we don’t have a concern about the efficiency of what we are doing. In this context, we feel the need to distinguish the P2P theory view from post scarcity assumptions that have received such a prominent place on our mailing list.

To make a strong statement: P2P is not about post – scarcity, but about restoring the right balance between scarcity and abundance – which is an alltogether different thing.

It does not believe that technology by itself provides any complete social solution, but it is always embedded in and driven by particular social and political logics

For example, automation is very much driven by capitalist competition to be more productive than other market players. It is absolutely not sure that autonomous communities would choose to totally abolish manual work. It is totally legitimate that communities or countries would choose industrious development paths preserving and augmenting direct human involvement in material production.

For example, an agricultural community may want to preserve its traditional ways of life – and that is a freedom we want everybody to have.

Maybe we can say that our contacts with local activist communities have made us aware that the identification with post-scarcity thinking is politically problematic – in particular the image of the „magical technical fix“.

We do not want to stop the dialogue, but we would like to make clear that no consensus can be assumed on that – and as a movement we do not want to be identified with it. It is not a central message, it is merely the hope of some, of people that we respect but also who carry a much stronger burden of proof. People who make extraordinary claims are bound more than others to show practical implementations.

All the material we have in the P2P wiki are actually existing projects and it is out of the observation of these existing social practises that we draw our conclusions.


P2P is operating in a world which is characterised by 2 main factors, mostly wrongly perceived:

Scarcity of natural resources, which is increasingly accelerated by a dysfunctional mode of production and is putting us into ever more serious planetary management problems. We are in friendly terms with the environmental movement(s) that adresses these issues and becomes more practical every day (renewables, solar, distributed energy…)

Our own priority as P2P movement is adressing the second factor, which is the enclosure of the intellectual and scientific and cultural commons which is being addressed by the „Open Everything Movements“. Opening up the realm of ideas and allowing the massive collaboration of the general intellect of the world is an essential condition of mastering the ecological crisis and to the fulfillment of the better promises and achievements of our civilisation through the building of a new civilisation or rather new culture.

But there is a third necessary factor that is crucial for a thrivable solution which would allow for further human evolution: without true active participation of all in the design and production of our material life, without the involvement of the majority of human beings into the effort to find a new social contract, we will not be able to reach the goals of a better life on this planet. Therefore P2P has to join forces with the third mass movement on this planet, which could roughly be characterized as the social justice movemen, involving the struggles of workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and knowledge workers.

We currenly see a strategic convergence of these three movements and we think it is our own responsibility to help make it happen. We believe that a perceived identification between P2P and post scarcity is counter to that goal, because post-scarcity is intentionally ignoring important issues raised by the other two movements, ecological and social justice movement.

Michel Bauwens, P2P Foundation
Franz Nahrada, Global Villages Network

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