ox4 - Final Version

Free Software and Beyond
The World of Peer Production

Raoul Victor
Day 2
Room Humanities Bridgeford G7
Start time 16:00
Duration 01:30
ID 29
Event type Workshop
Track Future of peer production
Language English

Money and Peer Production

How can money and peer-production coexist? If we think peer production as a germ form of a future post-capitalist society, the answer depends on the step considered in the process which leads from the emergence of that new form to the entire reorganization of society according to its new principles. This is an attempt to set the problem and to envisage some answers using the framework of the "Five step model".

  • Money and peer production relay on different and antagonistic principles: symmetric exchange vs asymmetric exchange (or absence of exchange). How can they coexist and interrelate? If Peer production is thought as a germ form of a future post-capitalist society, the issue must be dealt with considering the different steps and conditions which may characterize the process which leads to a generalization of peer principles to the whole society. The "Five step model" provides a useful framework for that.

  • Step 1 to 3: (1. Emergence of the germ form of development. 2. Crisis of the old form of development. 3. Germ form becomes an important dimension inside the old form of development.) Peer production develops within capitalism. Its development is inevitably partially dependent on money. The key issue is how to prevent that dependence to subvert the core logic of peer production. Some remarks about the example of free-software writers paid by commercial corporations (IBM, Sun).

  • Step 4: (Germ form becomes the dominant form of development. ) Main means of production become part of the Commons and are collectively possessed and managed. But ampleness of material goods is not yet enough to allow free and unlimited distribution ("To each according to his needs/desires"). A transition system is necessary. A criticism is developed of the solutions based on the principle: "To each according to his labor". The possibility of using the principle "To each according to the social possibilities" is analysed.

  • Step 5: Reconstruction of the entire development process. Symmetric exchange (and thus the need of money) vanishes or is totally marginalized. Historically, symmetric exchange developed first not at the center of the primitive communities but at their fringes, through the trade between them. Its movement was from the periphery to the center. The disappearance of symmetric exchange and money should follow the reverse process, from the center to the periphery.