Message 00991 [Homepage] [Navigation]
Thread: joxT00985 Message: 12/24 L1 [In date index] [In thread index]
[First in Thread] [Last in Thread] [Date Next] [Date Prev]
[Next in Thread] [Prev in Thread] [Next Thread] [Prev Thread]

Re: [jox] p2p and market

Hi Michel, all,

On 03/30/2012 07:58 AM, Michel Bauwens wrote:
Because of these conflicting tendencies, I don't think the scenario of a
long-term, more or less peaceful co-existence of peer production and market
production credible. Market production is totalitarian:

well, this is absolutely factually and historically incorrect ... even in
tribal times, there have always been a multitude of exchange and
reciprocity mechanisms, except for perhaps really small bands who had no
contact with outsiders ... david graeber's latest book for example, shows
how market mechanisms were used with strangers and enemies in tribal
societies ... 

that is not my point, see what I wrote next:

if some goods (e.g. health care in your example) are only available on
the market (by paying for them), then *everybody* must remain a market
producer (engaging in some form of paid work or else living from the work
of others), since otherwise how would they get the necessary money?

Clearly, reciprocity (possibly in the form of generalized reciprocity)
exists in every society, as I already pointed out in an earlier mail. And if
by exchange you mean relationship of the form "if you do/give me this, I'll
do/give you that" (e.g. a little boy saying to a little girl [or vice
versa]: "show me yours and I'll show you mine"), then exchange will also
exist in any society. That's uncontroversial, and pretty uninteresting.

If we want to learn something about specific forms of society, we have to be
more specific. Modern market-based societies have the following traits,
which I would consider as necessary when we want to reasonably talk about
"market production" (as opposed to: some other form of production, in which
markets might have played a side rule):

1. Most people's livelihood depends on their being able to acquire goods on
the market. (As I said above: some goods [that are essential for people's
survival] are only available on the market.)

2. Most people are free to sell their own labor power, as well as the
results of their labor. (In other words: there is a job market.)

In tribal, feudal, and most other non-capitalist societies, neither of these
conditions was true. Maybe a whole tribe actually needed exchange with
outsiders to get what they couldn't produce themselves, but people's
individual survival depended first and foremost on the tribe. Likewise in
feudalism, different manors might have needed trade, but the survival of
individual serfs depended on their own subsistence production and the
protection they received from their lord of the manor (see ). Also, serfs might have had the right
to sell surplus produce on the market, but they certainly had no right to
sell their labor power. And tribe members wouldn't have been able to sell
their labor power without leaving the tribe, probably forever.

So whenever we look at a society, whether real or imaginary, we have to ask
whether these two conditions, especially the first one, hold. (Obviously, if
the first condition was true but not the second -- you need access to the
market to buy necessary goods, but you have nothing to sell -- only misery
would result. Indeed that's the situation of a majority of the world's
people today: while nominally free to sell their labor power, they cannot
find a capitalist interested in buying it, and they lack the means to
successfully run their own business.)

I predict that whenever these conditions are true, the resulting society
will look pretty similar to what we have today, since the basics of market
competition are then in effect. (You are forced to out-compete others in
order to successfully sell your labor power or some other goods; you can
grow your market niche and possibly expand your market share [thus
increasing your likelihood of long-term economic success] by destroying
non-market access to the goods you would like to sell; etc.)

And yet people tell me we can get out of capitalism without overcoming
condition 1, people's dependence on the market. I won't believe that for a

there are multiple ways to provide healtcare outside, with, and in the
market. I have lived in a country with free healthcare that was a hybrid of
state, mutualist and market dynamics until 10 years ago; so again, this is
factually and historically totally incorrect, it is perfectly possible to
have hybrid modes

Sure, in some countries there is free health care, but does it exist outside
the market? Your initial assumption, if I remember correctly, was that
doctors and nurses would still have to be paid, and that's certainly true
for the countries with a (more or less) free health care system I'm aware
of, such as Great Britain. So there is still a market for labor, and without
people being forced to sell their labor power, that health care system would
not exist.

Evidently I *do* believe that there are ways of organizing health care
outside the market system, and maybe some existing mutualist approaches are
already closer to what peer produced health care might be (don't know enough
of them to judge). But in any case we have to look deeper as just to whether
or not the "product" is free.

Meanwhile, for a long time we'll remain in some kind of hybrid situation,
where many people will be engaged in some kind of peer production, while
still needing some kind of paid work (part-time maybe, like me) to get the
money necessary to buy what peer production cannot yet provide.

and this is where we cannot afford  only imagining and dreaming, but need
to leverage change where necessary

Very true (provided the change is in the right direction, of course).

Best regards

|------- Dr. Christian Siefkes ------- christian -------
| Homepage: | Blog:
|    Peer Production Everywhere:
|---------------------------------- OpenPGP Key ID: 0x346452D8 --
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change
something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
        -- R. Buckminster Fuller

Thread: joxT00985 Message: 12/24 L1 [In date index] [In thread index]
Message 00991 [Homepage] [Navigation]