Michel Bauwens is opening a discursive path which, in my judgement, prepares new consensuses and tools broad social and ideological sectors fit into. It would be a mistake to see it as something “passing” or as a mere ideological expression. It’s still in an early state, but it’s quite possible that, in the near future, it may bring together or constitute broad opinion trends.
We’ve known Michel Bauwens, and followed his work, for years. With the P2P Foundation, he has built a practically global connector of movements linked to the commons and the perspective of a P2P mode of production, which makes his own synthesis especially interesting, since there can hardly be anyone more up to date on how the different community tendencies around world are maturing, and having been the first to propose a role for the State in the transition towards a P2P mode of production with his theory of the “partner state,” which he has developed over the years, and also being one of the first to recognize the potential role of phyles in the creation of spaces of transnational well-being.
At the end of 2012, he surprised us all by writing, in his Al-Jazeera column, that he saw space for, and in fact, the foundation was being laid for, a grand alliance around the defense of common goods and the immaterial commons. This alliance includes the Pirate Parties, the Greens, worker and social justice movements, and the Social Liberal parties. The idea was then extended to Syriza in Greece and Melenchon in France. This “Alliance of the Commons» would be complemented, through the same foundation, by the creation of a global phyle and “Chamber of the Commons.”
Interesting? Very much so, obviously. But even more interesting to us is the analysis of the big picture in which he bases his proposals.
Michel Bauwens’ strategic framework
- Netarchical Capitalism= centralized control of infrastructure + an orientation towards accumulation of capital (whose current model/vector would be the face books)
- Distributed capitalism= distributed control focused on the accumulation of capital. Bitcoin and Kickstarter would be the current seeds.
- Local resilient communities= localism + circulation of social benefit (led today by ecovillages and “transition towns,” the children of degrowth and localism, which point to a sort of neo-feudalization).
- Global commons= globalism + circulation of social benefit. This scenario, the most desirable to Bauwens, would combine phyles as a distributed form of enterprise and transnational political control of common goods.
Developing this analysis, in his latest writings, he has presented us with what he calls the “three socioeconomic models that compete in the era of P2P production“:
- Under the global domain of current capitalist production
- With an emergent P2P mode of production, but still under the conditions of private capitalism.
- Under conditions of a strong presence of P2P production, but under civic control
Michel Bauwens is opening a discursive path which, in my judgement, prepares new consensuses and tools that broad social and ideological sectors fit into. It would be a mistake to see it as something “passing” or as a mere ideological expression. It’s still in an early state, but it’s quite possible that, in the near future, it may bring together or constitute broad opinion trends. It would be most accurate, surely, to compare it with the birth of German social democracy in the first decades of the telegraph, and, of course, to include it in the logic of the new political movements that are characteristic of network society that Bruce Sterling announced a decade ago.