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Re: [jox] p2p and market

Hi Michel ,

You are right in that a society in which p2p is the dominant mode of production still needs a regime of value for the distribution of certain rival goods. But you constantly confuse this with trade and money. As the contribution of labor to the common wealth cannot be a principle for such a regime of distribution, both trade and money will vanish. 

Methodologically, we can adequately approach the question of the regime of value in a p2p society only if we abstract from money and trade. 

In this point I have two questions for you: What is trade? What is money?

For me money is the representation of abstract labor congealed in commodities. Money represents commodities. Trade is the exchange of commodities through the mediation of money, with the caveat that barter is also a form of trade. This is clearly a Marxian approach. If commons will replace commodities how can we talk of trade and money? 
I know that Polanyi claimed that money was commons in pre-capitalist societies and was turned into a commodity by capitaism. But this confusion of commons and money stems from the fact that Polanyi did not undrestand the nature of money. He had no adequate theory of value. 

I think agreement, or at least clarification of differences, on the concepts of money and trade is essential for further advancement of the discussion. So I look forward to reading your (and others') concepts of money and trade.

all the best

Michel Bauwens 03/31/12 11:46 PM >>> 
[Converted from multipart/alternative] 

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thanks Christian, 

I'm glad that we have that settled and that you agree that there were 
markets outside of capitalism. 

Imagine a situation where labor, money, and nature are not commodities, 
but commons 

can you then accept that some people would still want to trade/exchange/ 
and other forms of reciprocal arrangements to manage the flow of certain 
rival goods, 

or do you see 'only non-reciprocal exchanges' as legitimate and lawful, 

if you agree that they are legitimate and that you do not wish for the 
power to illegalize them, then we have a plural economy under the 
dominance, but not exclusivity of the commons 


On Sat, Mar 31, 2012 at 9:54 PM, Christian Siefkes wrote: 

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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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, 
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 
state, mutualist and market dynamics until 10 years ago; so again, this 
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 
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 
people being forced to sell their labor power, that health care system 
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 
of them to judge). But in any case we have to look deeper as just to 
or not the "product" is free. 

Meanwhile, for a long time we'll remain in some kind of hybrid 
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 
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 

P2P Foundation: - 

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