P2P and the Commons as a Dual Boot strategy (2): Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff echoes the dual boot strategy earlier explained by David de Ugarte.

Republished from the excellent Tikkun magazine.

Douglas Rushkoff:

“I know we’re not supposed to say such things, but I have lost faith in national politics. Yes, I’ll vote in the coming elections, and do my part to get the less sold-out, less anti-communitarian candidate in office. But I no longer look to the top tier of centralized government to solve our problems or help us grope toward conclusions together.

For me, big government has become as abstract as the corporations that made it possible. The more I study the emergence of corporate capitalism, the more I see central government as the other side of the same coin: a booming peer-to-peer society was intentionally dismantled during the Renaissance in order to reassert the authority of the aristocracy. This was achieved by giving “chartered monopolies” the exclusive authority to do business in their industries (cronyism) and by giving central banks the exclusive authority to issue currency.

All work, trade, lending, and borrowing now had to go through the central authorities. This abstracted what we think of as commerce. We don’t buy from our neighbors, anymore. We buy from the firms our neighbors may work for. We don’t create value; we serve as employees. We have no relationships with our producers. We engage instead with the brands concocted to shield us from the labor embedded in what we buy.

We live in a society where laborers are disconnected from their competencies; consumers are disconnected from producers; and consumers are alienated from one another. We are taught to look up, rather than toward one another, for solutions. Our best presidents, true believers in the corporate-government partnership, try to kick-start our economy by giving banks money in the hope that they will lend money to corporations, which will in turn open factories in depressed regions so that people can get jobs. This only creates more dependence on institutions whose true purpose is to extract value.

What a national leader might do instead, of course, is simply encourage the people in these areas to develop their own economies, beginning with favor banks (online networks through which people can “bank” services they do for one member of a community in order to receive services from another), local currencies, and community agriculture. (Just like what is going on Greece, where people’s limited access to the euro and the greater economy has forced them to look to one another as resources for goods and services.)

The focus on national politics gives people the false impression that a new national leader is going to somehow get us the things we need, when the tools and rules he has at his disposal are intrinsically biased against that ever happening. National politics – from corporate sponsored candidacies and bank bailouts to spectator democracy and the branding of issues – doesn’t simply occur on an abstract scale that has nothing to do with us; this activityitself reinforces the conditions and beliefs that perpetuate its dominance.

So I have taken my eyes off the prize, and my focus off the national political stage. I am looking instead at very local politics, and the trickle-up effect of people engaging on the ground with the issues that matter to them on a daily basis. I want a state legislator who will help my Community Supported Agriculture group get its land approved for something other than corn, or who will change the regulations on biodiesel alternatives to oil.

But most of all I want to help develop conversations about what we can actually do for one another, instead of who is supposed to represent us in the abstracted, stalled, and dehumanizing landscape of national politics.”

5 Comments P2P and the Commons as a Dual Boot strategy (2): Douglas Rushkoff

  1. AvatarTom Crowl

    There are practical ways to fundamentally change the ability to raise the ‘weight of opinion’ held by the less powerful.

    Moreover, the network resulting from catalyzing this ability can encourage localization, promote the individual creator and completely alter the focus of campaign fundraising… while over time affecting the nature of banking and credit themselves (which have much more to do with power concentration than most realize).

    Liberate the micro-transaction in political lobbying and make sure the network enabling it is free from the dominance of narrow interests.

    This won’t happen by hope… nor ideological arguments of the right or left… but by placing the Commons in a more powerful role than either governments or large corporate and financial interests would prefer.

    The irony is that its a capability and a network that even the existing political class will have difficulty opposing.

    At least… that’s my opinion.

    On Tools for Citizenship: the Neglected Essential

  2. AvatarTom Crowl

    I might add that advocating such a neutral network is the smartest practical step that OWS (or the Tea Party for that matter) could take without at the same time taking a partisan or narrow position.

    What both OWS and the Tea Party both understand is that LARGE INSTITUTIONS ARE NOT WORKING.

    And this problems is ancient, recurring, not connected to ideology… and has never been seriously addressed. Its a function of our biology… not our ideals.

    Issues in Scaling Civilization: The Altruism Dilemma

  3. AvatarTom Crowl

    Sorry to be so ‘pieced together’ here but one last point of clarification:

    Its the political microtransaction that fundamentally shifts the landscape on the larger scale…

    But its the resulting network that empowers on the local level.

    Its a lever large enough to move the world.

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