“What was missing for us to start out on this path was a monetary initiative present in these markets which, instead of relying on human competition to retain the greatest value, would be based on human cooperation as equals, creating value for all. With the arrival of Fair.Coop, faircoin has become the cryptocurrency focused on the social cooperation that was missing.
Enric Duran initially approached us during the late spring. He’d read Michel Bauwens’ policy paper for Transitioning to a Common Based Society and said that he was interested in collaborating with the P2P Foundation on a number of projects. When we asked for his impressions on Michel’s policy paper, he replied, “Yeah, we’re already doing half of what you describe in the paper at the CIC (Catalan Integral Cooperative)…now we want to do the other half”.
It is this brash, hands-on attitude that I admire so much about Enric Duran. While others were criticising the banking system and monetary creation as interest-bearing debt, Duran dared to have these same banks lend him money which he then redistributed to social justice collectives. Michel and I feel much the same way about the Fair.Coop initiative, promoted by (among others) Duran, Amir Taaki, the CIC and the P2P Foundation itself.
Monetary and economic theories centered on the fairer distribution and stewardship of the earth’s wealth abound. As invaluable as these theories are, we’re still sorely lacking practical examples to refine and adapt them to local and transnational realities. Something similar has happened in the realm of cryptocurrencies. While people are understandably excited by Bitcoin and its potential, I think that it’s a stretch to believe that a cryptocurrency with a Gini coefficient higher than traditional fiat currencies, combined with the fact that 1% of Bitcoin owners hoard 50% of the wealth, will do much to address global social inequality. Thankfully, alternatives abound, but many of them remain theoretical at best, and at worst, mired in never-ending discussions about whose monetary theory is the best, and why the rest are naive.
Back to Duran and Fair.Coop. The punk rock spirit that underlies the Fair.Coop initiative is admirable. Infused with an attitude transcending punk’s DIY ethos and arriving at a DIWO (Do it with Others) position, Fair.Coop has decided to tackle the big picture, reaching out to people and collectives who want practical action to offset the abundance of rhetoric. Rather than undermining the wealth of theoretical work promoting new models of monetary creation and wealth distribution, initiatives like Fair.Coop can only strengthen the validity of such work (in my opinion), feeding back into it and refining proposed approaches.
Whether the project succeeds or not, the experience and insights gained will prove to be invaluable. It is also worth mentioning that Fair.Coop isn’t merely a stunt designed to engorge a cryptocurrency detached from any social or environmental responsibilities. Instead, it is a working project for a whole financial eco-system as articulated by the P2P Foundation’s proposed guidelines for Open Cooperativism, which underlie the transnational structure of the coop. I won’t describe the project itself here, for that you should read what’s copied below, originally published by Duran on his personal blog, where he offers a personal narrative and perspective on the project. For more technical details and an abundance of supporting material, please visit Fair.Coop’s excellent new website, and if you’re motivated to contribute, join their social network.
An open cooperative as a revolutionary tool for building a new global economy
By Enric Duran
Today I have not expropriated any banks, nor am I presenting anything which anyone can call illegal. I am not presenting a strategy directly related to my return to public freedom (perhaps contrary to what many may expect), although that does not mean I am not still defining that plan.
What I am presenting here is a revolutionary project on a global scale, a fruit of the immersion and learning afforded to me by 19 months of intense activity in seclusion and hiding.
The moment this project was born during my nights of creative solitude, it became clear to me that I had to make this both a priority and a reality before taking any risk as an individual. Today, I am pleased to have acted on that determination, and I hereby submit the project so that it may become everyone’s.
It is the open, global cooperative Fair.Coop, one more step in the extension of the integral revolution worldwide, along with P2P society values, open cooperation, and hacker ethics, among others.
Now I will explain some of the thoughts which inspired me to do this:
The blockchain and Bitcoin brought the world one of the few missing pieces to allow us to become independent from the old economic system. Old centralized and new decentralized systems have begun an open competition for domination of the future world. And, for the first time in thousands of years, decentralized systems now have another chance.
However, for those of us who understand the world in terms of cooperation, decentralization is not enough. We believe this new world needs self-organization and mutual support; cooperation needs to penetrate all the corners where domination has fallen behind.
Cooperative, self-managed, collective, community-based projects are extending and multiplying everywhere.
The practices that model the everyday ways this other world could be are very much alive. Although these practices are starting to interconnect at a bio-regional scale, they are still too isolated; there is mutual ignorance among initiatives separated by thousands of kilometers, on different continents, based on different languages.
Large amounts of commons are being built in parallel at the local scale, but any one project’s evolution has so far been insufficiently shared with the others. We need more powerful tools to help us share our knowledge, and we must be able to finance their development.
We don’t want to remain spectators in the confrontation between the old oligarchical and the new netarchical capitalism. We also want a cooperative system on a global scale, just as we already practice it at local scale – and if we want to see it happen, we have to build it.
Therefore, we felt it was necessary to develop a project that puts social cooperation back on the stage where these dominance struggles between economic systems are playing out, and to show that the path toward putting human beings back at the center is possible, it exists, and it’s ready for us to expand.
This project has arrived, and is called Fair.Coop, The Earth Cooperative for a fair economy.
The initial push to boost this initiative is what we call, “hacking money markets to introduce the virus of cooperation”.
A cryptocurrency, negotiable outside the control of decentralized markets around the world, can be understood as social capital, in which the number of shares is equal to the total number of coins created .
If we choose it as our founding capital for a cooperative, it means that this capital, rather than being accounted in the dominant currency (euro, dollar), would be in a currency the system can not control. Additionally, as our cooperative project grows and provides resources and services of proven usefulness, the value of this capital and the entire cryptocurrency will grow accordingly.
This is an important point, and I will explain what this means in a different way to be sure it is fully understood:
Consider traditional capitalism. Company owners extract value primarily through:
- Income from capital
- Labour exploitation
In some transnational corporations, netarchical capitalism adds a third way to extract value: free collaboration between humans. For example, Facebook and Google ads generate a lot of money because we use their “free” services, while we in fact we are working for them, for free.
What if we were to create technological tools for cooperation between equals, and then use them to generate free knowledge, a global commons?
Well, then we could do the things which we like and consider helpful, such as cooperating, sharing, and learning, while letting the economic value of our work remain in cooperative projects, and even revert to ourselves.
Therefore, it became necessary to find a coin that was not controlled by old capitalism (euros / dollars…), nor exploited by the most innovative capitalism (Bitcoin), one in which we could incorporate our values and cooperative practices. With all this in mind, Faircoin was chosen.
After months of networking and creation, Fair.Coop is born today
The space is open to start cooperation among us all, and we have supplied the cooperative 10,000,000 faircoins, which represents 20% of total existing coins.
This social capital was injected into Fair.Coop with the following distribution:
- 5,000,000 faircoins for the Global South fund (address: https://chain.fair-coin.org/address/fU3wRGZwese65gZqRiQiJvE483iyjY2QD4 )
- 2,500,000 faircoins for the Commons fund (address: https://chain.fair-coin.org/address/fMxkQtTCFZpWuZNZQTq7HxwcZ6rQn1yAWj )
- 1,500,000 faircoins for the Technology Infrastructure fund (address: https://chain.fair-coin.org/address/fJ7dwkfHiJW9867xcovaJ9QDN7khDEMJMm )
- 1,000,000 faircoins for the Pooled fund (address: https://chain.fair-coin.org/address/fNWcvkQLg9ELKkV5gH1nsYBJnzHqw7pka7 )
And the following conditions:
Except for the Pooled fund which can be used to cover operating expenses at the discretion of the Ecosystem Council and the whole Fair.Coop, contributions to the other three funds can not be touched during a period of one year.
With the Global South fund, we call for a redistribution that can reach as many local projects as possible, prioritizing the empowerment of the areas and environments most under attack by the current system, generating a peer-to-peer cooperation environment to restore global economic justice.
As for the Commons and Technology Infrastructure funds, the call is to qualitatively prioritize projects that can most benefit the global common good.
This period may well serve to build a participatory, creative and mutually supportive process leading to decisions in relation to the right priorities, defined collectively and efficiently. Also, as collaboration between equals multiplies under all Fair.Coop and especially the FairNetwork, the value of Fair.Coop’s social capital is expected to respond by appreciating relative to fiat currencies – not forgetting, as a symbol of our independence, that 1 faircoin will always equal 1 faircoin.
This way, just for starters, 20% of the existing monetary resources remains in the hands of a participatory and open political process. Meanwhile, Fair.Coop will work to continue recovering resources for the common good which may be redistributed through the same funds.
So this time, if our collaborative and freely shared vocation is to benefit someone financially, it will be the same ones who are building it before anyone else, that is all cooperatives, and through the funded projects, all of humanity.
In other words, we have finally found a way to cooperatively organize, share, learn, and help; one that can self-manage without the need, at least in the most delicate initial phase, to depend on others, or to prioritize selling our production in the market, not even keeping up with regular member fees. All we need in this first phase is to create free knowledge, share and become interwoven the way we know best, extend the intangible, and build the material commons; build social currency networks based on faircoin, such as the Faircredit project already presented.
We can innovate to create value together in many areas of the commons.
We can each contribute our bit of knowledge, political participation, time, donations, products, services, investment, network-building, each based on their capabilities and priorities.
The market will value this by buying our cryptocurrency and pushing up the value of our social capital, in relation to other currencies. So, we can finally “squat” or “occupy” the forex markets, responsible for so much inequality, and recover from some part – large or small, only time will tell – of these injustices.
I can imagine that this all might seem contradictory to some anticapitalists – me, articulating the role of money markets in this project.
Anyone trying to quit using money, who has already done a lot of work involving community economy and direct exchange, can certainly go beyond Fair.Coop’s monetary initiatives. This does not prevent them from getting involved as one more in collective creation and political participation.
But most of us who often do use currency, whether fiat or social, for trading or saving, are dependent on a reference framework for prices and store-of-value function (which is imposed by central banks), so we are in some ways passive partners of the system we want to overcome.
Moreover, I would like to remind you that the foreign exchange market is an indisputible historical reality, over 100 years old, with a trend toward being less and less regulated. In recent years, only authoritarian states (such as the case of China, where value is set by government decision) have explored a second path in relation to how to deal politically with the market. Meanwhile, as far as I know (from sectors with related ideas, shared in the context of the integral revolution), despite having tried various pathways toward using social currencies as exchange tools, up until now there have been no previous approaches created regarding how to confront the forex market to build global economic empowerment.
In recent years, new cryptocurrency exchange markets have appeared, outside the control of governments. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to have a country and a central bank in order to have a currency that can be exchanged across the world. The banking system is outdated, and more and more of us are realizing it. The path we’re taking now is toward building something that will someday consolidate a global alternative.
What was missing for us to start out on this path was a monetary initiative present in these markets which, instead of relying on human competition to retain the greatest value, would be based on human cooperation as equals, to create value for all. With the arrival of Fair.Coop, faircoin has become the cryptocurrency focused on the social cooperation that was missing.
We will see over time whether the way we’re choosing is the best or not, but at least with this initiative we now have a path to explore, as far as addressing this global issue of how to create a more just economic system, with the level of social cooperation that this planet needs and the current technology allows.