What is P2P? An Introduction

Julie Tran from MakeChangeTV interviews Michel Bauwens

“We can’t continue with a system that creates wealth, but that’s also destroying the planet and creating so much social inequality. I think that after 400 years of this, we know it doesn’t work. We need a new system to reclaim all these communal values”

What would a post capitalist economy look like? Julie Tran from Makechange TV interviews Michel Bauwens to inquire on the particulars of P2P or “Peer to Peer” philosophy. Bauwens gives clear, direct answers to questions such as: “What is a P2P economy?”, “How does it differ from Communism or Capitalism?”, “Is it the same as collaborative consumption or crowdsourcing?”, “Will it be become a main trend of the future?”.

To round out the video, we also include a short text below, written by Bauwens for Open Thoughts dealing with value, sustainable commons-based production and how P2P works within society.

Image by Open Source Embroidery

Openness, a necessary revolution into a smarter world

Our current political economy has the weirdest DNA. It considers nature to be a perpetually abundant resource, i.e. it is based on a false notion of material abundance; on the other hand, it believes that intellectual, scientific and technical exchange should be subject to strong proprietary constraints, and subjects innovation to internet restrictions. Thus the paradoxical but also dramatic contradiction of the present system: while it is rapidly overburdening the carrying capacity of the planet, at the same time it inhibits the solutions that humanity might find for it.

Luckily, the emergence of peer producing communities that share knowledge, code and design for the common good of humanity using open licensing arrangements that enable and facilitate universal sharing are showing the way for a fundamental reorganisation into a smarter world.

First, the value is created in global open design communities that easily outcooperate and outcompete single corporations, no matter how big or rich they are, as no isolated can be smarter than a globally networked collective intelligence. Second, this collaborative value creation is enabled and protected by for-benefic organisations, the FLOSS Foundations such as the Apache Foundation and many others. These are mostly democratically run by contributors to the common pool. Thirdly, entrepreneurial coalitions make and sell the products, improving them in the process, which have been designed (and are perpetually and continuously improved) by the contributor communities, creating a vibrant economy around the commons (think of the free software economy, or the Arduino economy as examples).

«Global open communities can outcooperate and outcompete single corporations, as no isolated can be smarter than a globally networked collective intelligence»

This new way does not only enable perpetual sharing of innovation, but also ensures sustainability, as communities do not have vested interests in artificial scarcity. Hence, if you design as a corporation for the market, you design for scarcity, but if you design as a community, you naturally design for sustainability. If you build and sell sustainable designs, then you are becoming a sustainable market players, abandoning the pernicious pursuit of planned obsolescence.

There is one missing player in this picture, the overall society, i.e. the polis. This polis must transform from the current market state — which privileges extractive corporations that deplete the commons, endanger the biosphere and oppose innovation sharing ? into a partner state which enables and empowers the social production of sustainable value by creating civic infrastructures that facilitate its emergence in strong ecosystems. Through public-commons partnerships and the commonification of public services, a new productive matrix is created, which guarantees a smarter planet that combines the recognition of the necessarily sustainability of material resources with the infinite innovation capabilities of global knowledge commons.

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