Marcin Jakubowski on a policy to expand material peer production through land

In one of the email discussions taking place around the edge of the P2P Foundation, there was a vigorous exchange after a remark by James Edwards:

“I feel that if the movement doesn’t free itself from its dependance on corporate support it can’t legitimately claim to be a viable and credible alternative to the current system.”

This was the occasion for Marcin to give the following strategic and tactical considerations for a transition to ‘material peer production’.

Marcin Jacubowski:

If you are talking about peer physical production, then I invite you to raise the level of expectations, expand your index of possibilities.

First, that can be done by becoming engaged effectively in the process of physical production, to make tangible objects (tech, food, energy, etc) that carry with them essential economic power. This tangible power cannot be coopted IF IT TRULY MEETS NEEDS. It then becomes replicable and in demand. It has to be better. This does not have a magic solution – this is a life of work for many.

Such production can be better if political-finance-trading-distribution-advertising-retail functions are unified and interoperable in a peer economy. We are calling for nothing less than this in a peer economy:

1. Peer political power – comes from economic power comes from production comes from resources come from land. (Note that land tenure is and always will be the ultimate frontier of civilizations). Political power in a peer economy comes not from the welfare state, but from distributed producers. On a practical level: once we have real production at Factor e Farm, I cannot see any other scenario than thousands of people adopting peer product in our area. I think the connection is pretty clear.

2. Peer finance – natural resources are capital if you have the means to convert the raw into the usable, largely by tools such as open source fab lab infrastructures; peer money systems or accounting systems are to be made based on this productivity. People today mistake finance capital as something real. Finance capital is funny money today – and should be reclaimed by converting it back to substance.

3. Peer trading – markets are local for needs, global for wants. This is similar to today, except that many needs are today sourced globally. Trading relies on productivity relies on land.

4. Peer distribution – physical and electronic transportation means are there already; new and novel physical and electronic ones can also emerge

5. Advertising – is replaced by social networks of peers

6. Retail – this is largely replaced by produsage, prosumerism. The age of the salesman (#1 job in America) will end with the peer economy.

I am suggesting the above as VIABLE PARALLEL OPTIONS TO THE MAINSTREAM SYSTEM. It is my opinion that most people are so satisfied with mediocrity that they will never aspire to the peer-culture economic processes. Yes, humans are quite adaptable. So a parallel system should exist for those who desire it – and I think such a parallel system will have about 5-20% of the world’s population as its adopters.

Marcin continues on how to start such a process on a more practical level:

Regarding practical action, one program for land acquisition that we are developing, and which we hope to deploy as the first or second route to replicating our facility to other locations – is the following.

It is based on productivity, so it requires skills and getting of ass.

The program is for 40 acres, which would be a small, manageable scale that we can implement readily.

The program is simple, boring Community Supported Permaculture, based on the CSA model but providing a product base primarily from perennial culture.

The program is: take 100 subscribers who pay for a $2k lifetime membership each. They just get product – about 2000 (conservative estimate) pounds of product (fruit, nut, tuber, egg, herb, vegetable, etc) every year for a lifetime.

This provides $200k of capital for land acquisition. That is $5k/acre – enough for land in many places.

Advantage: good method of capitalization; it is easy to find organic/local food freaks in any city who can support such an operation. Disadvantage: requires proximity to city, where subscribers are located. Requirements: open source tractor and ancilliary equipment; high level of skill in operators; renewable energy resources. Status: we’re developing all the requirements at present. We are beginning to understand the potential and productivity and labor requirements of a highly integrated agricultural operation, in year 2 of its existence. Next steps: master the cultivation and propagation of even larger plant, animal, etc. base; install solar turbine; complete LifeTrac Challenge: optimization of production so that supporting 100 full subscribers takes no more than 2 people full time to manage; our hopes are that it is about a half-time effort for these people once the operation is under way.

Consider this as another variant of big daddy Vinay’s Buying Out at the Bottom. Once land is secured, people can move in. Productivity of 40 acres is so huge that there’s space for an additional 1 person/acre in this scenario. So other operations of good life can begin.

This is my first public debut of this concept. It just became clear to me recently – once I started to understand the things under Status above.

I believe a capitalization package, based on production – is both replicable and doable. We are approaching the freedom question from the standpoint of land – the ultimate resource that can make you free. I think land -> productivity -> economic power -> social transformation -> land is the cycle of transforming the world to freedom. Legal transformation is a byproduct.

I don’t know if you know how productive the land is – but if you do – you will probably say that this is impossible to do at low effort. I think it is doable if you master nursery operations, open source equipment, skills, and other prerequisites. We are working on all those and asking for help to accelerate the process.”

3 Comments Marcin Jakubowski on a policy to expand material peer production through land

  1. Pingback: P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » A reply to ideas about the loss of credibilty and viability of “the movement”

  2. AvatarChristian Siefkes

    Nice concept! (though only for people who can afford the nice up-front cost 🙁 )

    There is one sentence I don’t understand:

    Productivity of 40 acres is so huge that there’s space for an additional 1 person/acre in this scenario.

    Does this mean that an area of 40 acres should be sufficient for 140 (100+40) people altogether?

  3. Kevin CarsonKevin Carson

    Excellent post. As I argued elsewhere, I think we’re approaching a singularity where the material basis for Gupta’s “unplugged” lifestyle will exist, on an irreversible basis. For most of two centuries, the state capitalist economy has managed to crowd out small-scale production, what with subsidies and anti-competitive regulations and whatnot. But we’re reaching the point where the efficiency of small-scale production will be too great to suppress.

    Once there are communities of local, small-scale producers producing peer designs with affordable multimachines and other desktop machinery, and such communities have desktop machinery capable of making the parts for more desktop machines, we’ve got (with spade horticulture thrown) a working model of a self-sufficient counter-economy. From that point on, it will spread virally as people witness it in operation (and as Peak Oil and the looming depression make the wage alternatives seem less and less attractive).

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