We will be serially excerpting from this publication from our friends at Las Indias:
Abundance within reach
The massive development of the Internet through the ’90s profoundly changed ways of socializing, sharing, and working. Wealth was created in places that were socially and geographically peripheral by the hands of millions of small producers that, for the first time, could effectively access other markets and knowledge. In Asia alone, we saw hundreds of millions of people escape misery, more than in the rest of the history of humanity.
As technological change became generational and social change, there appeared more and more environments of abundance, free goods, new forms of collaborative work and, above all, a new work ethic based on knowledge, the creation of goods, and “de-alienation.” The “hacker ethic,” as it was termed at the turn of the century, inspired the birth of first universal public good to be intentionally constructed by our species: free software, which, by itself, has meant a transfer of knowledge and technology greater than all developmental aid from rich countries.
And, yet, not even the other great crisis of the last hundred years—the one that started with the “Crash of ’29?—created such discontent, such a dark spirit, and so much widespread pessimism. Neither admonitions nor hope work any longer to create attractive narratives. Well-being has ceased to be a credible expectation of analysts’ predictions or political parties’ options, whether old or new. All lines of contention have been shown to be futile for the common people. We’re entering a time in which no narrative can be believed if can’t demonstrate, here and now, that it successfully allows a new generation to develop and live decently through work.
Inequality, unemployment and demoralization
And, if anything has been really global over the last ten years, it’s been the experience of social decomposition. It’s the same whether we look in the most developed regions in the world or at emerging nations, in the Mediterranean or in the South China Sea, in the English-speaking world or in South America: society is more and more unequal, and the differences quickly become cumulative. If you miss the train, you don’t reach the destination.
In the most developed nations, the middle class has rediscovered unemployment. New generations don’t even have access to work, or if they do, it’s so precarious that it doesn’t let them experience the meaning real of what they do. Work has ceased to be considered the center of collective action, the origin of personal autonomy, and each person’s contribution to society. In today’s popular culture, work is a scarce good. There’s no lack of start-ups and NGOs that speculate with it, as if it was a precious metal. Work, the necessary link between personal effort and collective effort, is devalued to the limit, not only in the market—reducing its piece of the pie compared to capital—but also morally, in its public consideration and in its internal organization. It has gone from being universally considered the center of social organization to being perceived as facing extinction, from being experienced as the basis of personal realization to being seen as a source of anguish.
In a world where being able to contribute to the common well-being, work is talked about as if it was a privilege, and the only way of building a life seems to be getting rents. Rents are not just any income, but an opportunistic and undeserved position, a extraordinary benefit produced outside of the value that one contributes. Rents are the benefits created by big businesses thanks to made-to-fit regulations or monopolies that only exist by legal imposition, like intellectual property. Rents are “incentives” that are decided on and inflated by the same directors that receive them, or the consequences in cold, hard cash of belonging to certain social spheres where certain positions and contracts, public or private, can be accessed. Rents easily become cumulative and create a spiral of inequality when access to information and education depends on personal income, or when competition to assure them is systematically restricted, as the State routinely does in key sectors like energy, telecommunications or the media.
In a world of rents, everything looks like a zero-sum game, where one wins because others lose. Distrust of everything and everyone, institutions and people, is the norm. It shows an individualism of the worst kind, for which life is senseless, and mere survival.
What is decomposing is not only the economic system, but what the human experience means
It’s not just social cohesion that’s decomposing. The rules of the economic system are decomposing, and with them, the human experience and what it means to be human in our time. It’s the inability of the economic system to create a future for everyone the that produces loneliness and distrust of everyone; it’s the pettiness of a system in which businesses depend on the benefits they get thanks to rents more than selling their products, or on eliminating competitors more than improve themselves, that produces lives of dependency, begging, and voracity.
Never has there been so much wealth or so much knowledge as now and, yet, far from feeling like both things give hope of abundance for everyone, more and more people are afraid that this is a threat to Nature, the same way they feel, day in and day out, like it’s a threat to personal survival.
The Communard Manifesto
- The dilemma of our time
- Abundance within reach
- Inequality, unemployment and demoralization
- What is decomposing is not only the economic system, but what the human experience means
- Capitalism and its critics
- Capitalism shaped the world because, before changing the State, it was able to create a new form of human experience
- Revolutionaries that loved crises and large scales
- The history we weren’t told
- The new world will be born and affirmed inside the old
- New relationships, here and now
- Scale and scope
- From the era of economies of scale…
- …to the era of the inefficiencies of scale
- Today, capital is too big for the real productive scale…
- … and the optimal scale is approaching community dimensions
- Building abundance here and now
- Abundance has to do with production, not with consumption
- A scarce product in a decentralized network is abundant in a distributed network
- The “P2P mode of production” is the model for the production of abundance
- The two faces of productivity
- Artificially creating scarcity has become a way of life for over-scaled industry
- Abundance is the magic that shines through the “hacker ethic”
- The path of abundance does not mean producing less
- What will we do about the overuse of natural resources?
- Connecting the dots
- Conquer work, reconquer life
- To be unable to access work is to be in social exile
- There’s no self-realization without work
- To conquer work is reconquer life
- From adding to multiplying
- The scene will be urban
- The tasks of the communards
- You are the protagonist
- Appendix: concrete things you can do with this manifesto
- Expand the conversation
- Prepare to “make community”
You are the protagonist of this Manifesto. You can be part of a growing movement and build here and now, a meaningful life and a different world .
Natalia Fernández, las Indias
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The Communard Manifesto is the result of a collaborative process. It started with an 8.000 words proposal by las Indias. Open discussion -both live and on line- doubled its length and pulished its style. Then volunteers from three different continents started to translate it to Catalan, Portuguese, French, German and English.
María Rodríguez, las Indias