Movement of the Day: Societal Constitutionalism

Here is an interesting blogpost at the Italian Commons Sense Forum:

““in February 2011 at the International University College of Turin, Gunther Teubner presented an interesting paper in which he provided several interesting suggestions for thinking about the phenomenon of societal constitutionalism.

The Teubner version of “societal constitutionalism” is, of course, imbued with the sociologically-informed cybernetic approach of systems theory, which he is one of the main supporters of. This approach postulates the existence of multiple communicative systems – i.e. autopoietically closed structures of communication – like politics, law, the economy, the mass media, and so on. Each of these structures unfolds and evolves according to its own idiosyncratic “foundational rationality”, encompassing the self-understanding of a system, as well as its understanding of the relationship with other social systems. As a consequence, the presence of as many such “foundational rationalities” as there are social systems accommodates the possibility of radical change of a fundamental, “constitutional” nature in relation to each individual social system.

So, for example, for Teubner it is fundamental to alter the implosive tendencies of the capitalist economy by acting from within. One of the ways this is done is, to quote Teubner himself, through:

– Politicisation of the consumer: Instead of being taken as given, individual and collective preferences are openly politicised through consumer activism, boycotts, product-criticism, eco-labelling, public interest litigation and other expressions of ecological sustainability. Such politicisation of economic action represents a transformation of the inner constitution, touching the most sensitive area of the circulation of money, namely, the willingness of consumers and investors to pay.”

What does it have to do with P2P?

Obviously, it is quite true that there are these autonomous institutional processes going through in our society, and that users of these institutions, are elaborating and struggling to change them. But, what P2P Theory proposes, is that there is an increasingly common form inspiring new movements, the ‘isomorphic’ p2p form. so that, next to the diversity of practices, there is also an interesting common thread, that of p2p-driven social horizontalisation and the resulting new forms of creating value, i.e. peer production, peer governance, and peer property.