Christian Siefkes on Money (and state forms) in the Peer Economy

I have asked Christian, author of From Exchange to Contributions, his book about the Peer Economy, how he sees the role of money.

Below is his response, which gives an interesting view of the method he used to write his book.

Christian Siefkes:

I don’t think that I explicitly discuss corporations or money anywhere in my book. My book is about the generalization of peer production, not about the future of corporations or money.

That money doesn’t show up in my model is for another, and very simple reason: I didn’t try to fit any preconceived notions in my model (such as money, states, companies, you name it…), but instead I pursued a _problem-driven_ approach, starting from the problems that people will have when they try to produced jointly what they want to have, and trying to figure out sensible solutions for these problems.

So, the absence of money (or states, or companies) is my model is not by design, it is a result of my analysis. If money would have emerged as a sensible solution to one of the problems I discussed, it would have become a part of my model*, but it didn’t, and so I didn’t see any reason to try to distort the problems in order to to make it fit. (That would have been a solution-driven instead of my problem-driven approach.)

(*Just like, for example, auctions did become an important part of my model, which tends to surprise and annoy some leftist people, who seem to think that a non-capitalist mode of production “shouldn’t” rely on auctions. But satisfying people’s notions about what “should” or “shouldn’t” be part of the model simply wasn’t a concern of me when I composed it. My concern was simply to figure out which problems would emerge, and how they could be solved in a sensible way.)

Now, you could of course claim (some people have) that money etc. still exist in my model, except that I use different names for them. That weighted labor is “just another name” for money, that local associations are “just like” states, that projects are “just like” companies. Well, you could, but I think that you would be wrong if you actually did so. If you look closely at my model, you’ll notice, that, while there are some similarities in purpose and organization of these pairs, there are also important differences. Yes, weighted labor is “just like” money in some respects, but it it very different in other respects. Both the similarities and the differences are there for a purpose, and we should take both of them seriously.

My general advise, when thinking about other modes of production, would be: Don’t take _anything_ for granted. Don’t think that, because capitalism is based on exchange, all modes of production must be based on exchange, or that, because capitalism uses money, all modes must use money. Fit your solutions to your problems, and not the other way around.”

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