This blog post represents the latest thinking from the founder of the P2P Foundation Michel Bauwens. As part of our collaboration with Making Worlds 2013 (#MW2013) the participants of whom will be figuring out ways in which we can build the Commons in NYC and beyond, Michel presents us with his thoughts on the key next steps for P2P and Commons networks as we move forward. Written by Michel Bauwens.
The recent success of a global mobilization (500+ participants and collectives in 23 countries and over 50 cities) to collaborative map P2P-driven, commons-oriented, collaboration/sharing-based initiatives in hispanic countries, has shown a grassroots hunger for more mutual coordination to enhance the capacity to initiate social change. I would like to add the hypothesis that what is in the making is not just a new social imaginery, but also a potential new political subject. To build and obtain more civic infrastructures to enable and empower autonomous social production, I believe we must move to mutualize our forces and create a new set of political, social and economic institutions which can have ‘transitional’ effects, i.e. prepare the ground for a phase-transition to a political economy and civilization in which socially and environmentally friendly free association between autonomous producers and citizens become the norm.
I believe the time is there to start constructing the following three institutional coalitions:
The civic/political institution: The Alliance of the Commons
An alliance of the commons is an alliance, meeting place and network of p2p-commons oriented networks, associations, places; who do not have economic rationales. These alliances can be topical, local, transnational, etc … An example is the initiative Paris Communs Urbains which is attempting to create a common platform for urban commons intiatives in the Paris region; another Parisian/French example is the freecultural network Libre Savoirs, which is developing a set of policy proposals around digital rights. (both examples were communicated to me by Lionel Maurel).
An alliance of the commons is a meeting place and platform to formulate policy proposals that enhance civic infrastructures for the commons.
The economic institution: the P2P/Commons Globa-local « Phyle »
A phyle (as orgiginally proposed by lasindias.net) is a coalition of commons-oriented, community-supportive ethical enterprises which trade and exchange in the market to create livelyhoods for commoners and peer producers engaged in social production. The use of a peer production licence keeps the created exchange value within the sphere of the commons and strengthens the existence of a more autonomous counter-economy which refuses the destructive logic of profit-maximisation and instead works to increase benefits for their own, but also the emerging global commons. Phyles created integrated economies around the commons, that render them more autonomous and insure the social reproduction of its members. Hyperproductive global phyles that generate well-being for their members will gradually create a counterpower to the hitherto dominant MNO’s.
The political-economy institution: The Chamber of the Commons
In analogy with the well-known chambers of commerce which work on the infrastructure for for-profit enterprise, the Commons chamber exclusively coordinates for the needs of the emergent coalitions of commons-friendly ethical enterprises (the phyles), but with a territorial focus. Their aim is to uncover the convergent needs of the new commons enterprises and to interface with territorial powers to express and obtain their infrastructural, policy and legal needs.
In short, we need a alliance of the commons to project civil and political power and influence at every level of society; we need phyles to strengthen our economic autonomy from the profit-maximizing dominant system; and we need Chambre of the Commons to achieve territorial policy; legal and infrastructural conditions for the alternative, human and nature-friendly political economy to thrive. Neither alone is sufficient, but together they could be a powerful triad for the necessary phase transition.