Re: [jox] A response to Michel and Jakob
- From: Michel Bauwens <michel p2pfoundation.net>
- Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2012 15:28:59 +0700
[Converted from multipart/alternative]
hi jakob, if I remember it correctly, AOL hugely depended for its success
on forum volunteers, I think this is what she is referring to ..
Could you send me a final text that I could publish on the p2p blog, unless
I have already done so?
I do find the thesis problematic myself, because it accepts that the only
worthy value is exchange value. But knowledge workers <are> creating value
for society, use value, communicative value and many other types of
non-monetary value. It is this peer to peer exchange that should be
protected, and why we need 1) to create our own platforms and networks 2)
refuse commodification of this 3) replace revenue-sharing by benefit
sharing 4) find a solution for our social reproduction needs,
No, peer producers are not exploiting wage workers and extracting value for
them, we are creating value, for them, and we are one and the same .. the
knowledge workers are now the primary expression of the working class in
the western world, who don't own capital and still need to sell their
labour time in order to survive,
On Wed, Mar 21, 2012 at 6:00 AM, Jakob Rigi <rigij ceu.hu> wrote:
I read Tiziana Terranova`s artickle `Free Labor: Producing for Digital
Economy ` for the first time this evening.I want to see whether she offers
a particular arguement of why as Michel claims in his piecen Ajazeera the
pool ofattention of the users produce value for facebook.
Terranova claims the AOL was run by Volunteer labor. Can any one of you
explain this for me? Or email me please titls of books or articles?
Meanwhile, I enclose a piece I wrot eon facebook,
? Occupy Wall Street and the Peer-to-Peer Revolution: a discussion with
Michel Bauwens Part I
A brief response to Chris Land?s and Steffen Bohm?s Short Essay: ?They are
exploiting us! Why we all work for Facebbok for free?
The gist of the essay is the following hypothesis: The users of Facebook
produce value in the same way as wage workers produce it. Hence, Facebook
exploits users by expropriating this value.
Although I have a great respect for Land?s and Bohm?s good intentions and
sympathize with their anti Facebook sentiments their claim that Facebook
exploits users by extracting value from them is wrong.
Facebook definitely exploits someone. But whom? The answer is: the total
world wage labor which is exchanged with capital (variable capital),
including its own workers. This is Marx?s definition of productive labor
under capitalism. From the point of view of capital only the labor that
produces value and surplus value is productive. Only, in this limited sense
productive labor is equated with the wage labor, whether material or
immaterial, which is exchanged with capital. Otherwise, all labor as far as
it is a purposeful activity is productive, because it produces something,
whether material or immaterial.
A small part of the value expropriated by face book is produced by its own
paid workers, and the overwhelming rest of such value consists of rents
which are extracted from the worldwide wage labor (both material and
immaterial) which is exchanged with capital. Hence to claim that Facebook
users produce value is to deny the role of wage laborers and their
antagonism to rent-extracting entities such as faceebook and google.
Marx, in Vol. 3 of Capital, demonstrates how the surplus values that are produced
by different sections of working class become a total pool and then are
redistributed among industrial and commercial capitalists ( in the form
of profit), Bankers (in the form of interest ), and land owners (in the
form of rent). So the source of both interest and rent is surplus value
produced by the labor which is exchanged with capital. We use banks on
daily basis and banks lend our money (savings, pensions..) to others in
exchange for interests. It would be absurd to claim that users of banks
produce value for banks. We spend time and energy to use bank services,
even when we use credit cards. But this energy -time does not produce
value, because it is not exchanged with capital. Even when users pay fees
to banks for using services they, do not produce values but buy values
which are produced by bank workers. It is equally absurd to claim that the
users of Facebook and Google produce value. Facebook and Google extract
rents that are parts of the total surplus value which is produced by the
wage laborers worldwide, including their own workers.
Actually the knowledge economy in general rests on the shoulders of the
wage labor which is exchanged with capital outside it. The overwhelming
part of the value circulating in the knowledge economy is produced by wage
labor outside it, though knowledge workers themselves also contribute to
the total surplus value to the extent that their labor is exchanged with
capital (variable capital).
The thesis that users produce value for facebook may lead to the following
practical misleading conclusion. The users should build their own p2p
cooperatives of Facebooks and Googles, and sell information and collect
fees for adverts. According to the thesis this is a fair exchange, because,
the members of such cooperatives appropriate the value they themselves have
produced. But, such cooperatives only replace Facebook in extracting
surplus value in the form of rent from the wage labor. The thesis
foregrounds rentier forms of p2p communities. Hence, the thesis is
indeed a mystification of the exploitation of labor by capital.
To conclude the claim that users produce value for facebook is a very
bad thesis. We should not fight to become rent suckers but to abolish wage
labor, surplus value, in all its forms including rent
omments are welcome, as I try to expand the essay.
Toni Prug <toni.prug gmail.com> 03/20/12 9:15 PM >>>
How do we run a city without accounting? A region? A state? How do
we collect contributions, as we do in the forms of tax and money
today? We ask for tax to be voluntarily donated and hope for the
How does Wikipedia collect contributions? Or Free Software? Or
WikiSpeed? They let the people contribute, because they want to. The
rest is organization -- which is done in the same way: by voluntary
It is a huge topic, so i will limit my response to this small bit.
Monetary contributions to Wikipedia and Free Software are such a tiny
part of the overall cost of those productions that it is hardly worth
mentioning - since the actual cost is not the cost of infrastructure and
core staff, but the cost of reproduction and spare time of all the
In other words, those economic activities that pay for the housing,
clothes, food and the rest of living costs of all contributors are the
activities on which p2p entirely depends - wages, studentships, parents'
funds, inheritances ... all earned or created in capitalist or other
existing systems based on commodities, exchange, labour, money, value.
To be more precise, p2p is an incredibly thin, but an important new (i
agree with the need to research it), way of producing voluntarily and
collectively. However, it seems quite inappropriate to call it a mode of
production, since it rests on top other modes and fully depends on them.
To put in simple terms (without entering economics or marxist
terminology): on its own, p2p can't build, mantain and develop a city,
nor can it organize division of labour and allocation of overall
produced wealth necessary for such achievements. While slavery,
feudalism, capitalism and socialism all could/can.
It's not a surprise that p2p theorists have not been able so far to
produce a plausible vision of how a p2p society perhaps might one day
delivery cities and rest that other modes of production delivered so far
and that we wish to improve on. Producing such visions is a task too
difficult for anyone or any group of humans - this is one important
thing to learn from social sciences (equally from Marx, or Keynes, or
neoclassical economics and political theorists): there are too many
Hence the need to stick with analysing the existing p2p practices, and
to recognize conditions in which those practices exist - the above
mentioned total dependence on other dominant modes of production being
the starting point.
Yes, you may rightly say, new starts its existence in the old. You may
also say that there are new phenomena which are able to boot-strap
itself out of the old and create a new totality on their own. The
problem is, nothing so far points out in the direction of p2p being such
a new phenomena able to become an overall logic of organizing the entire
society (mode of production, if you wish), due to its full dependence on
the existing modes of production - i'm speaking here as a p2p fan and as
a former and occasional p2p practitioner who would love to see any
evidence of the opposite.
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