The true P2P (r)evolution may not happen in Europe and America

Just some random thoughts, as I’m returning from a lecturing trip in Europe, which I combined with reading a remarkable book by Lawrence Taub, The Spiritual Imperative, Sex, Caste and the Last Age. Some other things that prompted my thoughts below, was an incredible lecture by Menno Van Doorn (Sogeti) on the rapid growth of crowdsourcing, reading an article in Business Week on the open source car project, and recent coverage of the explosion of the Asian blogosphere.

Taub has written the type of book you may find many details wrong with, but which overall, sets you thinking, and its immense value lies in generating so many questions. In short, as we will return on this book as Book of the Week later, he argues that rather than see the world as an evolution of class, we should look at it as an evolution of caste, with caste referring to deep seated preferences for a particular way of doing things and of conceiving the world. In short, he claims, as the Hindus would agree, we moved from the prevalence of the spiritual caste, to an evolution towards the subsequent dominance of warriors, merchants, and workers (the bureaucratic-technocratic structures of today), with a coming return of the spiritually-inclined.

An interesting points he makes is the following. In any transition, three phases can be recognized: 1) the pioneering phase which takes place in the dominant countries of the old sphere (example: emergent of merchants in feudal/imperial Spain and Portugal); 2) a revolutionary/evolutionary phase: the revolution takes place at the periphery (i.e. the merchants take power in Holland and England), while in the former dominant countries, an evolutionary caste merger takes place. But the countries where the revolution takes place, become the new dominant power centers. Example: the workers revolution’s took place at the periphery in Russia and China, but in the West,the elite of the worker’s caste merged with the merchant class to form social-welfare with technocratic capitalism.

Now to my own point. Think of the new OSCAR open source solar car project. Who in the West would be interested? It seems unlikely as workers would take a pay cut, and capital would be weary of operating without the IP projection that guarantees state-protected extra profits. But what of the Asian capital owners, who are in any case already illegaly copying many IP-protected designs. Why would they not be interested in taking up such copyright free designs? I see such an evolution as a distinct possibility.

A recent study of the Asian blogosphere pinpoints another important trend. It shows the enormous growth of blogs, but also that they are taken up by youth and women, and disdained by the older masculine elites which are still so dominant in the more authoritarian post-feudal cultures of Asia. The youth, already educated in the new ways, with access to the internet, are using blogs for expression and to bypass social limits, creating a new culture that is in headlong conflict with the older culture. Such an evolution could be a seed for a generation gap, and resulting social revolution, a kind of Asian 1960’s, that would enormously speed-up the uptake of the open/free, participatory and commons-oriented paradigms. Following Taub though, we should acknowledge that China for example, as an expression of the worker caste dominance, would be unlikely places for such radical change, and that we should look more to the Asian periphery, see Iran, or Malaysia?

What the future will bring is unknown, but I think it is important to open our minds to the possibilities that the major P2P evolutions, after the pioneering phase in the West and East Asia, may in fact emerge in full force elsewhere.

6 Comments The true P2P (r)evolution may not happen in Europe and America

  1. AvatarAlan

    How could I get my eyes on the lecture content from the lecture:
    Menno Van Doorn (Sogeti) on the rapid growth of crowdsourcing. Please let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks, Alan.

  2. AvatarMichel Bauwens

    Hi Alan,

    I can’t make out your email, so I will ask Menno to respond in this space.

    You can also email me at michelsub2004 at gmail dot com and I will forward your request to Menno.


  3. Pingback: Larry Taub’s Spiritual Imperative reaches number one in Japan » P2P Foundation

  4. Avatarjeff buderer


    Thanks for sharing this post with me.

    In terms of how this links with our email conversation…

    The idea of losing geographic measures of difference as a result of globalization is a good and key point to consider in terms of understanding P2P and decentralization. So in other words people will see things as less than what Silicon Valley or USA is doing by more in terms of innovation by various groups linked together globally by the net.

    A key consideration is how we as part of this global group of innovators can support efforts by the group in a particular region such as was mentioned in the post…rather than say whether core or so called perephrial regions will lead the next stage in societal development in the modern age.

    So what that means basically is that innovation will be more driven by certain groups of people in global society rather than among certain leading regions.

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