Two days ago, we presented the article by Seth Ackerman in which he presented the ‘economic calculation problem’ and various solutions to it, ending his argument with a call for a form of socialized finance which would respect the autonomy of the firm.
For a more in-depth understanding, see how I have processed his arguments here.
Please note what may be an essential difference between the classic left approach of the author Seth Ackerman, and our own sensibility .. Ackerman seems to call, despite the autonomy of the firms that he recognizes, for a unified public property as socialized finance, while I believe today the approach of distributed property (including distributed commons), offers stronger guarantees against any state-driven control.
In the P2P and commons transition context, the issue is the following:
* capitalist pricing is very flawed and often miscalculates, but the autonomy of the firms allows a lot of flexibility to coordinate the economy
* central planning only worked well (and at a costly human price), in the early moments of economic modernization and stalls in the informational stage
* democratic central planning, like proposed by Parecon, seems eminently unworkable
Therefore, the P2P proposal, which maintains the autonomy of the firm, but transforms them into commons-oriented entrepreneurial coalitions which ‘internalize’ the costs that capitalism itself externalizes, make a lot of sense, allowing maximum coordination through stigmergy, both at the level of the work done by the open contributory systems, and at the level of the cooperative firms.
Here are four five theses, which introduce our special wiki section on Mutual Coordination Economics:
“0. What market pricing is to capitalism and planning is to state-based production, mutual coordination is to commons-based peer production!
1. Today we have the emergence of a new proto-system of production, Commons-Based Peer Production in which contributors are free to contribute to a common pool of shareable knowledge, code and design, which may be associated through physical production in microfactories using distributed machinery such as 3D printing.
2. This emerging new system of value creation and distribution is not sustainable if contributors need to find work as labour for capital, so contributors need to be able to generate livelihoods for themselves, keeping the generation of surplus value within the sphere of the commons and its contributors.
3. To achieve this, we advocate the use of Commons-Based Reciprocity Licenses such as the Peer Production License. This allows for the creation of a non-capitalist ‘counter’ economy based on Open Cooperativism and other forms of an ethical economy. In this proposal, the commoners or peer producers, i.e. the contributors to the commons, are also cooperators of their own corporate entities, which create livelihoods and insure the surplus value remains within the commons. So, in between the sphere of the accumulation of the commons (open input, participatory process, commons-oriented output), and the sphere of capital accumulation, there is a intermediary sphere of cooperative production, which regulates physical production and the social reproduction of the commoners-cooperators.
4. The production of immaterial common pools is already regulated through mutual coordination and stigmergy, i.e. coordination based on open and transparent signals of what is needed by the system; but physical production cannot be coordinated without similar signals, i.e. the coordination of production through information. It is therefore a next logical step to advocate and practice, within the ethical entrepreneurial coalitions that coalesce around particular commons through their shared adherence to the commons-based licenses, to also practice open accounting and open supply-chains and logistics. This means that within these coalitions, physical production can also be coordinated through stigmergic signals; and negotiated coordination and even voluntary common planning can take place on the basis of the shared production information.”
Recent advances would seem to suggest that the blockchain may be a key technology for participatory open supply chains, while advances in contributory accounting are in the process of producing an added coordination mechanism for open contributory systems based on distributed tasks, linking the contributory dynamics to those of the cooperative firms. (I am personally however, quite happy with a stronger ‘wall’ between the two systems, i.e. a strong separation between commons and market).