Sunday, December 9, 2012

Michel Bauwens — 'Occupy' as a business model: The emerging open-source civilisation

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a model for a new economic paradigm, in which value is first created by communities.
'Occupy' as business model
In the title of this editorial, I describe Occupy as a business model and link it to the possibility of a new civilisational model. We can do this by expanding from the already-existing institutional logic of peer production in knowledge, software and hardware, to a vision of the macro-economy.

Today, we assume that value is created by for-profit companies and conceive of civil society as a "remainder" category: it's what we do when we come home, exhausted after our paid work. This is reflected in the language we use to describe civil society, when we call them non-profits or non-governmental.
This system as a whole is managed by a state. But the social democratic welfare state has increasingly become a corporate-welfare state, in which the gains are privatised and the losses socialised. In other words, the state has become an extension of the corporation and is less and less a servant of the citizenry. We can see the progress of this model in how the so-called "troika" (consisting of the European Union, European Central Bank and the IMF) is now imposing slash-and-burn politics in Greece.
Occupy and open-source models illuminate a new possible reality, in which the democratic civic sphere, productive commons and a vibrant market can co-exist for mutual benefit:
• At the core of value creation are various commons, where innovations are open for all to share and to build upon;=
• These commons are protected through non-profit civic associations, which empower that social production;
• Around the commons emerges a vibrant commons-oriented economy comprised of ethical companies, whose legal structures tie them to the values and goals of the commons communities, not to creating private profit.
Where these three circles intersect, citizens decide on the optimal shape of their provisioning systems.
This model can exist as a submodel within capitalism, and to some extent already does so in the present system, as the open-source software business ecology. It could also become, with some necessary hacks, the core logic of a new civilisation.
Occupy has not just shown us prefigurative politics, but prefigurative economics as well.
Al Jazeera
'Occupy' as a business model: The emerging open-source civilisation
Michel Bauwens | P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Foundation

System people are busy transferring knowledge and skills to social organization in a spontaneous way in response to challenges of increasing complexity, as would be expected in an intelligent species exploring options based on needs.


20 comments:

Matt Franko said...

" Occupy Wall Street set up working groups to find solutions to their physical needs. The economy was considered as a provisioning system (as explained in Marvin Brown's wonderful book, Civilising the Economy), and it was the "citizens", organised in these working groups, who decided which provisioning system was appropriate given their ethical values.

For example, organic farmers from Vermont provided free food to the campers, but this had a negative side effect: the local street vendors, generally poor immigrants, did not fare too well with everyone getting free food. The occupiers cared about the vendors and so they set up an Occupy Wall Street Vendor Project, which raised funds to buy food from the vendors.

Bingo: in one swoop, OWS created a well-functioning ethical economy that included a market dynamic, but that also functioned in harmony with the value system of the occupiers."

It looks like this micro-economy relied on the provision of free food from the Vermont people, and free USD balances from others in order to provide sustenance to the occupiers...

I dont think we can count on people providing all of our food for free but perhaps the "free money" part could be considered equivalent to a BIG from the govt...

I think this is the same guy you posted up about that 'minuto' currency... look if we dont attack the ignorance of the current crop of those in positions of authority, what is to say that in a few decades, the people running the Minuto system wont come out and say: "we're out of minutos" or "the sytem is building up laibilities of minutos at an unsustainable rate!"

Or the bitcoin people coming out and saying: "we're out of bits!"

Look we already have the system in place that the occupy people seem to crave, its called the govt and the monetary US economy. Only it is being operated currently by morons. imo that is not a reason to shit-can the whole thing but rather bring in people who are non-morons...

These "citizen working groups" are equivalent to and supposed to be what our govt does... I dont see anything new here other than non-morons in the positions who can understand public purpose and some semantics...

rsp,

Tom Hickey said...

Matt, I think that it's a matter of not only bringing down the morons, but of establishing a new order based on fairness, equal justice, and sustainability. That means deep institutional and even cultural change rather than just shifting the people in charge.

The key here is that younger people are thinking digitally instead of analog. They are looking for solutions that make sense to them in terms of their experience, and that experience is different from the experience of those that didn't grow up in the digital age.

paul said...

"Look we already have the system in place that the occupy people seem to crave, its called the govt and the monetary US economy. Only it is being operated currently by morons. imo that is not a reason to shit-can the whole thing but rather bring in people who are non-morons…"

Hallelujah

Matt Franko said...

I view the open source software movement as a response to a desire by industry to provide/maintain "choice" or a competitive environment in dealing with vendors within their IT systems...

Nobody wanted to remain "locked in" to IBM or Microsoft or Apple or "The Bell System" end to end.. to get the best price you need to foster a competitive dog eat dog acquisition environment. Indeed this really took off with the breakup of the "Bells"...

btw, The word "OPEN" that you hear all the time originally comes from the Open Systems Interconnection model in communication systems engineering which started back in the 80's.

It (as usual) comes out of DoD.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSI_model

You define a standard architecture and then standard interfaces and then you can compete the sub-systems and avoid a monopoly/oligopoly situation when your firm or organization seeks provision of IT equipment and services...

This didnt come from a desire for "togetherness" or "let's all work together" or "kumbaya" it came imo from a defensive positioning by the major purchasers of IT (mostly govts imo) who wanted a more competitive environment... and they got it as this is one industry where the price just keeps falling and falling while performance just keeps going up and up.... (where else does this happen?)

The stuff with Operating Systems (Linux/UNIX) is just taking this same approach down into the OS now more recently...

"Open" systems initiatives are NOT driven by some sort of desire for "togetherness" or "team effort" they are driven by a BUSINESS decision to pit one firm against another based on lowest price...

Granted some of these young programmers at the working level may get the feeling they are "working together" but at the top level, this is all driven by a "dog eat dog" business mentality to foster MAX COMPETITION and choice in manufacturers/vendors and associated lower prices for IT systems and services...

The "buiness model" of Open Systems is "max competition at all levels"... it's ruthless and deflationary and is working.

rsp,

Dan Kervick said...

The occupiers cared about the vendors and so they set up an Occupy Wall Street Vendor Project, which raised funds to buy food from the vendors.

From where did the funds come?

So far, these folks seem just impossibly naive, and haven't even begun to think clearly about the economic problems of human existence.

Dan Kervick said...

The monetary system is only one component of the economic system. The big questions are such things as:

What is produced?
How is it produced?
Who produces it?
How are the things that are produced distributed?
Who controls the means of production?
How are decisions about all these things made?

The Occupy literature routinely ignores most of these questions. Perhaps one reason is that the Occupy encampments themselves contain very little production, and depend for their existence on production that occurs exogenously. The same is true of the sources of "funding" that provide the means for the Occupiers to purchase the endogenously generated products.

paul said...

"The monetary system is only one component of the economic system." - Dan

None of the items listed occur if the monetary system doesn't work…it is the necessary condition upon which all other things rely…under current arrangements.

JK said...

Is it time to take Marx seriously?

Matt Franko said...

I basically agree with what Dan K and Paul write here but would again point out that the exogenous source of USDs that enabled the occupy folks to acquire nutrition products from the street vendors could be seen as mathematically equivalent in a macro sense to a Basic Income Guaranty provided by govt via fiscal policy....

rsp

paul said...

Don't know if anyone's seen it already but Warren Mosler just put up a post pointing out that Bitcoin and things like it are just a form of payments system…more or less like PayPal.

http://moslereconomics.com/2012/12/10/bitcoins-join-global-bank-network/

All of these systems have one thing in common…they require the local currency to work.

Matt Franko said...

Paul,

Hope they dont have a bunch of idiots running the bitcoin system who may wake up one day and think they can run out of bits!

Or they are leaving bitcoin liabilities to their grandchildren!

;)

paul said...

Matt,

All of these schemes boil down to Dropbox for money.

Where does the money come from? Can we run out?

These appear to be the important questions.

Tom Hickey said...

This didnt come from a desire for "togetherness" or "let's all work together" or "kumbaya" it came imo from a defensive positioning by the major purchasers of IT

Same with the Interent. But once out there it takes on a life of its own and no one can predict where the future will take it. Many if not most great innovations have come from the military, but they were then adapted to non-military uses in very different ways.

Tom Hickey said...

So far, these folks seem just impossibly naive, and haven't even begun to think clearly about the economic problems of human existence.

Naive. Have you talked seriously with people like David Graeber? The MMT economists think he is worth talking to.

Tom Hickey said...

The monetary system is only one component of the economic system. The big questions are such things as:

What is produced?
How is it produced?
Who produces it?
How are the things that are produced distributed?
Who controls the means of production?
How are decisions about all these things made?

The Occupy literature routinely ignores most of these questions. Perhaps one reason is that the Occupy encampments themselves contain very little production, and depend for their existence on production that occurs exogenously. The same is true of the sources of "funding" that


Please acquaint yourself with the rather large and growing underground economy that has developed since the Sixties. Of course, it is not completely unhinged from the larger economy but it operates on different principles.

Tom Hickey said...

None of the items listed occur if the monetary system doesn't work…it is the necessary condition upon which all other things rely…under current arrangements.

Right, and that is why there is a big push for alternative currencies like Bitcoin.

Tom Hickey said...

Is it time to take Marx seriously?

It was time to take Marx serious from the get-go. Some MMT economists (Bill Mitchell) take him seriously and so do allies like Michael Hudson.

Classical economics was about productive contribution v. rent-seeking. Neoclassical economists dispensed with this distinction. It as reintroduced by Keynes and Kalecki.

Now it is returning with a vengeance. See Izzy's post at Alphaville that I linked to today.

Tom Hickey said...

Don't know if anyone's seen it already but Warren Mosler just put up a post pointing out that Bitcoin and things like it are just a form of payments system…more or less like PayPal.

http://moslereconomics.com/2012/12/10/bitcoins-join-global-bank-network/

All of these systems have one thing in common…they require the local currency to work.


True, of course, but just like the official payment system, most of the settlement clears by netting.

Tom Hickey said...

Hope they dont have a bunch of idiots running the bitcoin system who may wake up one day and think they can run out of bits!

Or they are leaving bitcoin liabilities to their grandchildren!


The type of monetary system doesn't matter if you think that the primary function of money is as either a medium of exchange or a store of value rather than as a unit of account.

paul said...

The systems are based on trust, just like any payment system.

Seems to me that having these alternative payment systems without a state-issued currency would put us in Bob Roddis' glorious world.

Plus, if we "run out of money" will these systems still work?