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Re: Peer production as post-X (was: Re: [ox-en] Triply-Free software)

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I definitely side with you. However, it is vital to define explicitly what
do we mean by saying ''democracy". Because when stating that peer governance
is post-democratic it seems that you absolutely relate the current
representative political system (as Castoriadis says "the liberal
oligarchy") to democracy. In fact, in my view, the notion of peer governance
is closer to democracy than the current system of governance in the
political and economic field. Then if we write that peer-governance is
post-representative, we may understand better its dynamics and potential.

While the economy was adopting the market pricing, as prestigious
economists  advocated that 'prices' could successfully act on behalf of
people - in other words, they could successfully 'represent' them -
simultaneously the concept of representative democracy was thriving. Today,
even in the big corporations the power is not in the hands of the owners,
but in the hands of directors' board that represents the shareholders. During
the transition from one economic paradigm to another, the civilisation would
face serious political changes as well: from monarchy to aristocracy (where
masses were not represented), to early representative paradigms till the
late 'representative' paradigms (where 'representation' embraces more and
more aspects of social, economic and political life). This brief analysis
reveals that during last centuries the progress of civilisation was actually
a progress of representation.

In addition, Hardt and Negri [2001, p. 43-44] write:

"We claim that Empire is better in the same way that Marx insists that
capitalism is better than the forms of society and modes of production that
came before it. Marx's view is grounded on a healthy and lucid disgust for
the parochial and rigid hierarchies that preceded capitalist society as well
as on a recognition that the potential for liberation is increased in the
new situation. In the same way today we can see that Empire does away with
the cruel regimes of modern power and also increases the potential for

So I see peer governance as an effort to construct new forms of democracy
that are adequate to the productive forces.

As Paolo Virno <>says:

"Contemporary production has come to a point that is much more complex, much
more mature than the administrative and legislative apparatuses of the
States. The question, then, is what type of democracy. It is not a matter of
simplified democracy, assemblies, direct democracy, but rather the contrary.
Non-representative democracy should be translated into politics, into new
institutions, as can already been seen on the level of global production. In
saying non-representative democracy it is easy to think of the myth of
direct democracy, which naturally is a beautiful myth. But it gives the idea
of a simplified and elementary politics. This is why the question is what is
adequate to the complexity of social production in which all the cognitive
and communicative capacities of the human animal are valorized, which Marx
named with the beautiful expression "General Intellect", the social brain
which is a pillar of modern production."

Apologies for the flaws...



On 04/02/2008, Michel Bauwens <michelsub2004> wrote:

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Hi Vasilis,

as you know, I'm myself not sure that peer governance is a full
for representational democracy, and the reason is scale.

The process of peer production is not necessarily replicable to areas of
life where scarce resources have to be allocated and competing 'group'
interests come into play.

Even within peer governance, see the degeneration of Wikipedia, the
of structureless may lead to power grabs that may necessitate formal
democratic rules (some of which may be representational) to intervene to
remedy the situation (elections in Debian and apache work very well)

I think that also we should not confuse what representative democracy can
be, and what it has become in the current political economy. Original
democracy in athens was quite different, using quite different techniques


On Feb 1, 2008 5:43 AM, Vasilis Kostakis <kostakis.b> wrote:

Hi all,

Michel wrote:

peer governance is post-democratic (because non-representational)

and Stefan added:

Not only because it is non-representational. It's also not so tied to
in numeric majorities - which to me is the core of democracy. It's
participative of course - something which is said to be a feature of

In my opinion peer governance is post-representative, because as Michel
and Stefan admit, it is a form of governance that does not rely on
representation but where participants directly co-decide.  Dunn [1993]
underscores that representative 'democracy' (and general the
in every sphere) is nothing more than the alteration of true democracy
a harmless one, appropriate for the modern state. Castoriadis
2003, p. 257] alleges that "representation is the alienation of power,
is, the transfer of power from the represented to the representatives"
there is created "a division of political function, a division between
rulers and the ruled".

Peer governance is actually a step closer to absolute democracy -
the real core of democracy.

Last but not least, I would like to add that peer production is
post-capitalistic as a mode of production not premised on competition.



On 31/01/2008, Stefan Merten <smerten> wrote:

Hash: SHA1

Hi Michel and all!

2 months (61 days) ago Michael Bauwens wrote:
Stefan Merten asked:

I also wonder whether then something like ownership makes actually
sense. Even today we see that something like Internet access step
step becomes a pre-condition for live and thus a society does well
simply deliver it.

This actually relates to something Hans-Gert mentioned some time ago:
That the preconditions of production get more and more important. The
production process itself becomes more and more irrelevant compared to
the preconditions.

I often say that peer production is post-capitalist,

Because it's post-exchange.

peer governance post-democratic (because non-representational)

Not only because it is non-representational. It's also not so tied to
in numeric majorities - which to me is the core of democracy. It's
participative of course - something which is said to be a feature of

and peer property is 'post-ownership'.

Steven Weber had an interesting concept of ownership in Free Software:

    Open source radically inverts the idea of exclusion as a basis of
    thinking about property. Property in open source is configured
    fundamentally around the right to distribute, not the right to
    exclude. [p.16]

for more quotes.

But here comes the point I originally wanted to make in this post:

In any case, we see sharing occuring on private platforms, and
commons-production using licenses such as the GPL, creating new
types of ownership. In the immaterial field of non-rival goods, it
does not make sense to have a property of something that can be
easily and freely copied (despite efforts to the contrary) and of
which you loose nothing by sharing it What to do then with common
'physical property'.

Sorry, but there is no much difference if you look at capitalism. For
a store it perfectly makes no sense to hoard all these commodities -
if they could not be sold. Hoarding commodities or goods makes sense
only if you have reasons alienated from the use value of the goods.

Physical goods can be used up which makes them unsharable (or rival).
That much is true. But for this type of relation between humans and
things I'd use possession. I'd guess a good part of ownership of
material goods in capitalism is for alienated reasons - i.e. the right
to exclude to sell them. Insofar the difference to restrictive
licenses for information goods is only marginal.


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