P2P Culture as a post-capitalist framework

Republished from Poor Richard:

“”P2P culture is the post-capitalist framework that makes the most sense to me. It includes but transcends capitalism; and encompasses many hybrids of open and closed, public and private, hierarchical and egalitarian associations.

P2P emphasizes cooperation, openness, fairness, transparency, information symmetry, sustainability, accountability, and innovation motivated by the full range of human aspirations even including, but definitely not limited to, personal financial gain.

I call p2p a “post-capitalist framework” because many of us are quite happy to abandon capitalism’s euphemisms and reductio ad absurdum altogether. However, other 99%-ers still consider it a major factor in lifting millions from poverty. They would rather reform and adapt it to humanitarian and ecological ends than to abandon it for something novel. I think it is entirely possible to craft forms of capitalism which “do no harm”, and I think there is ample room in the p2p community for such “diversity of tactics.”

IMO p2p relations can operate in almost any economic or political theater if two specific rules are respected. P2P capitalism, p2p Marxism, p2p anarchy, or p2p whatever, must make every possible effort to honor:

the political and legal equality of every peer

the fully informed consent of every peer

The relative degree to which these rules are followed is the relative degree of p2p-correctness, regardless of any other characteristics of the socioeconomic environment. It is entirely up to the self-identified capitalist, Marxist, anarcho-syndicalist, or whatever, to accept or reject these rules, in which case they are (or are not, respectively) a p2p capitalist, p2p Marxist, etc.

However, the simplicity of these two rules is deceptive because they have many corollaries and implications. And they don’t solve the problem of competing or conflicting rights and interests among peers–we must still have courts, legislatures, and social contracts for that.

In an ideology-agnostic nutshell, you might say the P2P framework is about cooperative individualism (this is precisely how Michel Bauwens describes peerism in “The Political Economy of Peer Production“).

With Thomas Jefferson, “I have sworn … eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Individuals are interdependent but retain a self-identity, dignity, and an intellectual and moral agency. Any system which diminishes that diminishes itself.

A peer is a self-directed individual, voluntarily consenting to various cooperative social contracts or arrangements. Whether cooperation is one to one, one to many, many to one, or many to many, all cooperators are peers. If they are not peers, the enterprise probably should not be called cooperation. Instead it would be some variety of coercion, manipulation, or exploitation.

I’d say that a person’s success at being a peer and treating others as peers depends largely on how well they absorb the ideas of intersubjectivity and enlightened self-interest.

The mixture of individuality (selfishness) and sociality (cooperation) in each person reflects the multilevel interaction of individual and group selection in evolution. This often carries a level of social conflict and cognitive dissonance that each peer and peer group must grapple with.”

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