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[chox] Adam Arvidsson und Michel Bouwens über die Krise des Werts

Wertkritische Gedanken werden schön langsam international populär. Das
Undenkbare - eine Welt ohne Geld - ist vor dem Hintergrund der
unübersehbaren Entwicklung einer anderen Ökonomie auf Basis freier Modi
denkbar geworden. Michel Bauwens replizierte in seinem Blog auf einen
interessanten Artikel von Adam Arvidsson, den ich vom Autor zur
Publikation in Oekonux erhalten habe. Da ich aber auf der deutschen Liste
derzeit nicht subskribiert bin, stell ich ihn mal auf chat, wird schon
noch jemand crossposten.


Michel Bouwens in http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/: 22nd June 2007

Adam Arvidsson has just sent me his latest essay, and I have no hesitation
to call it a landmark essay because it is the very first really cogent
analysis of the emerging Crisis of Value which is affecting the present
market economy model.

In short, a new second economy is arising, which he calls the Ethical
Economy, which does not run according to monetary exchange, and can only
be very partially monetized and controlled by the market. There is a
crisis of value he says, because this new economy cannot be measured,
either because the right metrics are not yet in place, but perhaps more
fundamentally, because it is largely beyond measure, and even what can be
measured of it, cannot be directly related to the monetary economy.

This essay is as yet unpublished


Adam Arvidsson  - The Crisis of Value and the Ethical Economy

                                         ?We have sophisticated metrics 
                                          which capture Love and Respect?

                                           Kevin Roberts, CEO of the  
                                           Saatchi & Saatchi Ideas Company

It is becoming ever more obvious, as even the mainstream business press is
acknowledging this, that the information economy is split in two; we have
two economies rather than one (or three, if we include the growing
criminal or informal economy which we will not treat in this paper). 

On the one hand, there is the traditional capitalist economy that works
with monetary incentives. This economy still handles the main part of
material production: the production of cars, shoes, computer chips, and
the transportation and maintenance of these goods. 

But immaterial production- the production of the ideas, innovations,
experiences and other intangibles that virtually everybody agrees to be
the most important source of value and development- is increasingly
performed by another economy that does not primarily move according to
monetary incentives. Most people who participate in creating the enormous
wealth of content that give MySpace or YouTube their market values are not
in it for the money.  Instead they want to build networks, make friends,
show off, be cool or what have you. The same thing goes for the users who
participate in the multitude of smaller, less famous sites that make up
the new productive developments known as Web 2.0.  Neither are the people
who participate in the many business initiated user-led innovation
initiatives that now proliferate, like the Nokia Concept Lounge (450.000
visitors, 4.500 Ideas submitted) or user generated advertising campaigns
like Heinz tv-challenge, primarily there for the money. (2) Indeed the
very business sense behind such initiatives is that they give access to an
enormous reservoir of free creativity that needs not be paid for (to be
deployed either in the actual design of products or advertisements, or,
more importantly perhaps, in brand building, von Hippel, 2006). 

The importance of such non-monetary production is however not limited to
the world of on-line initiatives or web 2.0. Within companies it has long
been recognized that the prime source of productivity is not what people
get paid for, but what is more difficult to include in a job description:
their ability to network, share knowledge and support each other, to
co-create a good working environment, a marketable service or a flexible
organization.  Managers recognize that the best way to foster such forms
of cooperation is not through monetary incentives, but rather by fostering
a solid corporate culture with strong values, a strong sense of solidarity
or commitment, a particular ?mood? or ?vibe? (cf. Brian & Joyce, 2006).
Similarly marketers have discovered that the autonomous cooperation among
consumers is an important source of brand value (Holt. 2002, Arvidsson,
2006). Finally, the ?creative economy? of the urban music, arts and
fashion scenes, which is growing in importance as a productive externality
for the creative industries proper, is not primarily motivated by monetary
incentives. Most members of the ?creative class? do not live off their
creative labour, but rather accept poor or precarious economic conditions
as a (temporary, they hope) trade off for the ability to realize
themselves or pursue their dreams (Florida, 2002, cf. Arvidsson, 2007).

I have chosen to call this emerging non-monetary economy an ?ethical?
economy. Not because I necessarily believe that it is inherently better or
nicer than the mainstream corporate economy. Instead, my choice of the
term ?ethical? refers to the fact that this economy is largely coordinated
by respect, peer-status, networks, friendships and other forms of
inter-personal recognition; and it is geared towards the accumulation of
such forms of  interpersonal recognition, what sociologists would call
?social capital?. 

After all ethics in the classic (pre-Kantian) sense of the term, was not
primarily concerned with deciding between good and bad, but with
regulating the interaction between free human beings (men) in a situation
where no explicit hierarchies or obligations (whether moral or monetary)
prevailed. Ethos (as opposed to nomos) was thus directly related to the
?small world? of interpersonal relations in an environment with no given
hierarchies and a generalized contingency. Now this ?ethical climate?
closely resembles the ?post-modern condition? in general (cf. Bauman,
1993), and in particular the kind of cooperative peer production that
marks the productive condition of these networks (Bauwens, 2005). So this
economy is ?ethical? in the sense that it is coordinated by a number of
emergent media of interpersonal recognition (respect, peer status,
networks, friendship). But it is also ?ethical? in the sense that its
valuable product is often an ?ethical thing?: a community, a shared value
(like the appreciation of a brand or the lived values of an organization)
or an affective intensity. The ethical economy mainly produces what
Maurizio Lazzarato (1997) has called an ?ethical surplus?, a social
relation, a value, an affective intensity that was not there before.
Indeed, we could argue that what the ethical economy really produces is
(however transitory) forms of order in an increasingly fluid and
contingent world: the organization of a productive process (as in a
project team arising in a flexible organization), a distinction between
friends and enemies (as in a MySpace network), a community, or an
affective intensity (as in a music concert or a YouTube video), or the
(however temporary) ability to say that something is better or more useful
than something else (as in the aggregate of social judgements that results
form a Google search). 

An emerging structural feature of the capitalist information economy is
thus that value is less based on direct command over a productive process,
and more founded on the ability to organize and appropriate an external
production process: to tap into the ethical economy and subsume it. This
is true for Web 2.0 successes like MySpace or Google who do not primarily
found their business models on the valorization of intellectual property,
but on the organization of productive networks. Michel Bauwens (2005)
calls this form of capital ?netarchic? in that it primarily exploits the
formation of networks. 

The same model applies to less obvious cases, like the pharmaceutical
company that constructs an online forum for health practitioners in order
to siphon off their knowledge and innovations; the market research company
that mines the data consumers freely supply in their online movement for
marketable patterns; the advertising agency that lives of its ability to
read new trends and forms of cool, or even the struggling ?creative? that
acquires market value by capitalizing on her personality and network in an
effort to ?self-brand?. 

In this situation, value becomes increasingly based on the ability to
translate the products of one, namely ethical economy, to the standards of
another, monetary economy. There is a general agreement within the
management literature that, overall, the products of the ethical economy
do have important monetary values, that, for example, Share-holder Value
Performance and Social Value Performance correlate in the abstract, or
that strongly lived corporate values do have monetary values in that they
increase the efficiency of cooperation. But there is, so far, no standard
measure able to determine the exact, or even approximate value of the
particular products of this ethical economy. (Rather there is a
proliferation of ad hoc measures that work with very different standards.)

This absence of a measure points towards a power vacuum within the
information economy. There is no common measure simply because nobody has
been strong enough to impose a common measure, or to put in more
Nietzschian terms, to decide what the values should be. 

Indeed, the issue is not so much ontological as it is sociological. It is
not that you cannot measure ?ethical things? like love or respect, there
are systems that do this as we will show below. It is rather that the
ethical economy presents a problem of measure for the capitalist monetary
economy because it largely unfolds beyond its direct control. The
situation was similar, two centuries ago. The way in which industrial
capitalism established itself was by imposing its own measure of value as
the societal standard,  against the moral economy of peasant tradition.

Modern management, emerged (with Taylorist scientific management) as an
attempt to break down the complex networks of craft production into simple
units of worker-machine interaction that cold be measured in terms of
labour time. (And modern consumerism was largely shaped by the need to
impose a different conception of the value of time: that it was better
spent productively to acquire more goods than idly in rest once one had
accumulated enough.) Consequently, productivity could be defined as output
per unit of labour time. Although this kind of measure originated with the
situation of material factory production it has since been extended to
various forms of immaterial labour, like the taylorized production of
services at McDonalds restaurants, call-centres and increasingly, British

So the problem of measure is not about the nature of immaterial
production. It is rather about its sociological relation to ?the
(capitalist) machine? that mediates productive interaction within the
factory or organization. Indeed, the further we move from the original
situation in which this philosophy of measurement developed, the less the
quantum of time spent interacting with a machine that also acts as a
disciplining device (whether a material machine or an immaterial,
organizational one), and the more emergent factors like networks, tacit
knowledge and social organization- what Marx called ?General Intellect?-
matters, the less valid this form of measurement becomes. And we can argue
that the main productive contribution of information- and communication
technologies is unleashing of such General Intellect on a societal scale,
which is difficult to control and measure. (And the reason why the
relation between investments in ICTs and productivity growth is tenuous is
precisely that productive contribution of this General Intellect largely
unfolds outside of the monetary economy.)  The result is a ?crisis of
value?: a lot of the actual wealth produced cannot be measured, or can
only be measured with great difficulty. And what cannot be measured can
hardly be managed.

 In many ways the contemporary proliferation of Non Financial Performance
Metrics can be read as a response to the crisis of value that confronts
contemporary capitalism. Sometimes these metrics originate with NGOs or
other actors who want to make their particular value agenda prevail. They
are subsequently welcomed by corporations: in part because they offer new
and complimentary ways to estimate their social value. Often such metrics
are developed by consultancies as a way to legitimized increasingly
blatant discrepancies between the market values of companies and their
?book values?, captured by antiquated accounting systems designed to
capture the material realties of industrial production. Most such systems,
like brand valuation for example, are not developed to measure the
empirical performance of a brand, but to provide an explanation for what
is chiefly an accounting problem. The point is that these measurements
have no common origin, but emerge out of a multitude of agendas and
concerns, most of which are not primarily preoccupied with actual

So when they are successful that is not because they work as valid
measurements of some independent reality: what does a system like
Buzzmetrics, that provides a quantitative estimate of how often a brand or
organization is mentioned in the blogsphere, really say about its
potential to make money? How does the ?wall of codes?, where Chinese
garment factories tape up the codes of conduct, imposed on them by
(mostly) western subcontractors relate to worker rights or environmental
standards? Does the performance review measure anything apart form
excellence in filling in performance review forms and other forms of
documentation?  Rather these systems work if they can become
self-fulfilling. If a company like Interbrand claims that a brand is worth
$ X million (based on a combination of factors ranging from its spending
on advertising, via the number of patents the company possesses to the
brand?s standing in trend barometers) then investors will act on this and
the brand will attract money. Such metrics primarily work to guide
investment decisions on financial markets that have become increasingly
distanced form the realities of real wealth production (whether material
or immaterial), but as tools for aligning ?shareholder value-creation and
social value-creation? they are virtually worthless (Chatterji & Levine,

Interestingly, the ethical economy is developing its own measurement
systems, and these are directly aimed at measuring the social, rather than
the monetary value of people or products. Of course such systems have
always existed on a rudimental level, in the form of guidebooks and peer
advice. But new information and communication technologies take this to a
new level by enabling the aggregation of complex assemblages of such
peer-produced data. Affinity markets, like ALOHAS (Association for
Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, an estimated $ 227 billion
market) allow the valuation of products not simply according to their
monetary prices, but also according to a multitude of alternative values
systems (like, in this case environmental sustainability). Peer based
systems for the evaluation of trust or reputation, like Slashdot?s Karma
system, E-bay?s system of user rating or advanced alternative econometric
indicators like the ?Gross or Net Orchestrated Convivality? developed by
the Centre for Adventure Economics, connected to the hospitality network
Couchsurfing, aggregate the social standing of a product or individual
into an easily managed quantitative index. 

Such alternative, emergent measurement systems significantly empower the
ethical economy, by endowing it with its own means of organization. Indeed
the next thing on the horizon are the alternative or Open Money systems
that are emerging all across the globe. These can accomplish the
coordination of scarce resources by means of media that are both
disconnected from the global capitalist economy and thus oriented to
alternative value flows, and that provide different protocols for

 The advantages of such peer based measurement systems are that they are
emergent. They are not imposed by managers, NGOs or other organizations
who might have little knowledge of the actual productive realities of
particular practice, and who tend to impose ?codes of conduct?, which
easily degenerate into mere bureaucratic exercises. Instead they are
generated by the community itself, and hence tend to give a more realistic
estimate of the social impact of a product, organization or person. And we
can envision that such peer-based valuation systems will become more
efficient with technological development. With a mobile internet and
developed RFID tagging it could be possible to sweep one?s mobile phone
over a sweater or another piece of garment to instantly acquire a
quantitative estimate of what several thousand people, placed all along
the production and distribution chain say about its environmental impact,
respect for worker?s rights, adherence to particular religious practices,
or what have you. It might also be possible to use your cell phone to
easily acquire products with alternative currencies, like units of credit
earned writing for a blog or hosting someone on your couch. 

The perspective for the immediate future is that the monetary capitalist
economy will continue to loose its monopoly over the measurement, and
hence also the organization of productive processes. 

This is natural, since that monopoly has essentially been founded on a
monopoly over the means of organization. It has only been possible to
govern complex productive networks like the modern corporation, by means
of efficient information processing machines like the bureaucracy.
Likewise, the central bank with its large affiliated research institutions
was the only organ capable of determining the price of money with any
accuracy. Today such information monopolies are challenged. Central banks
have but a minimal influence over the price of money, Most is determined
by financial markets, which are in essence mediated real time interaction
systems, not very different from Second Life (Zaloom, 2006).(4)

 In the form of Information and Communication technologies the means of
organization have been socialized to the extent that alternative
coordination and measurement systems can and do arise beyond the direct
control of corporate capital. The outcomes of this are twofold. On the one
hand, such new peer based measurement systems can be integrated into the
value dynamics of corporate capitalism. This is already happening: the
proliferation of non- financial performance metrics is a (generally
inefficient) step in that direction. There are also a number of
consultancies that provide advice on performing such integration, like
Namaste economics, offering to ?integrate economics with social values? or
the Karmainitative, providing ?trust metrics in the market place?. On the
other hand we can predict that corporate capitalism and the institutions
at its control will resist and repress attempts at constructing
alternative valuation and measurement media. 

 Again this is already happening. We can understand Intellectual Property
legislation and Digital Rights Management systems as attempts not only to
enforce property claims, but also to restrict the circulation of such
property to circuits in which measurable values are created. Central banks
and financial markets are bound to resist the proliferation of alternative
currencies once these become sufficiently influential

A Case for the Ethical Economy

In any case, the resolution of this crisis of value is crucial to the
future of the information economy. Today we find ourselves in a situation
where a large share of the growing immaterial economy is not recognized as
valuable by capital. The result is an underpaid, underemployed and
generally precarious ?creative proletariat? that does not receive any
retribution form either capital or the state. (Think of absurd
unemployment policies that force young people into unproductive
job-training programs.) 

More generally we maintain a capitalist economy the very monetary protocol
of which is geared towards a continuous expansion which is neither
environmentally nor socially sustainable. 

On the positive side, new and alternative valuation systems are emerging
and will probably further proliferate in the future. At the same time the
spread of Socially Responsible Investment and sustainable accounting
systems means that financial investors are recognizing that there is a
massive discrepancy between the actually sustainable social value of a
company and its value on the books, as recognized by traditional
accountancy systems. Market research is also going beyond the study of
buying decisions to try to develop ways to valorize and include consumer
produced opinion and sentiment before it reaches the market (Bonini et al.

On the other hand, however there is a strong structural incompatibility
between the privatizing logic of Intellectual Property Right on which the
monetary economy relies and the sharing logic of the ethical economy. The
likely outcome is a shift of real productive power over to the ethical

* First the productivity of this economy accelerates with the ongoing
diffusion of ICTs. Companies or states that embraces its logic are bound
to perform better than those who do not. (This way the situation is
similar to the bourgeois revolution where states who embraced trade and
manufacture grew more powerful than those who did not.) 
* Second because the ethical economy is generates new forms of political
participation. We already see emerging trends like the social
entrepreneurship movement that are mobilizing the disenfranchised
political energies of the educated and networked middle classes (Ray &
Anderson, 2000), while the political institutions of twentieth century
capitalism, as well as its chief ideology, consumerism, are loosing their
* Thirdly, even though the monetary economy today commands the lions share
of material production, that share is likely to diminish in the future.
Trends in desktop manufacturing, in rapid manufacturing and tooling, in
easy to localize multi-purpose machinery, in personal fabricators that
move from plastic to metals, will tend to distribute physical productive
capacity and undermine the industrial model of capitalism. 

The problem is that as physical production will become more distributed,
and associated with financial trends such as social lending and the direct
social production of money and wealth acknowledgement systems, any
strategy that aims to replace lower rates of physical profit with higher
rates of immaterial profit, will tend to be undermined by the
generalization of open designs. So we have a deepening crisis of
accumulation of capital on the horizon. 

Finally, the present model of capitalism is rapidly loosing legitimacy. It
begins to be obvious to more and more people that a model that builds on
the creation of an artificial abundance of non renewable natural resources
and an artificial scarcity of easy-to-renew immaterial resources is not
only unsustainable but also ethically corrupt. 

Given these scenarios, states and other political actors would do well to
develop strategies to strengthen and enable the productivity of the
ethical economy. This would entail an increasing state involvement in
social productive practices facilitating access to technology and other
means of production, enabling (instead of repressing) sharing and other
new forms of distribution and standing up against global pressures to
enforce restrictive IP legislation. Second it would entail some form of
comprehensive valorization of the ethical economy so that the many
participants producing social wealth outside of the market would be able
to live off their efforts. 


1) ?Loyal beyond reason?, A Presentation to Various US Defence Agencies,
New York City 9 March, 2005 (on how to better ?brand? and ?sell? the
Iraqui war), available at
(accessed 20/6-2007).

2) Nokia does not offer any cash prices but seems to suggest that the cool
interactivity of the experience is reward enough in itself. Heinz offers a
cash price of $ 57.000 but only to the winner, the main motivation is
presented as the possibility to be seen: all contributed videos will be
posted on Heinz websites ?and seen by up to 65.000 viewers?, finalists go
on national television ?and reach millions of viewers?. Similarly
Electrolux Design Lab, a contest open for design school students offers
rather meagre cash prices (? 5000 and ? 3000 for first and second price).
The real cherry is rather the event in itself, ?with a star-packed jury?
and ?an exciting press conference with journalists from around the world?.

3) We use the term protocol in Alex Galloway?s (2004) sense as the
preferences or ?affordances? for particular actions that are inscribed in
a particular medium. The protocol of official money, for example promotes
expansion and productive investment. Since interest rates are positive,
money has a price, and that price can only be paid by investing money so
that more money is made. This way the established monetary economy is one
in continuous expansion

4) Along with others, Zaloom has shown how the determination of values on
financial markets is not so much determined by Keynes? anarchic ?animal
spirits?, as much as it is anchored in the consistent construction of the
market and other market actors as a meaningful relational object. In their
interaction with the cold facts of numbers on a screen, traders base their
strategies on their ability to imagine ??the market? as a place populated
by actors who have ethical motivations and are driven by values. They
?find and exploit the social? and search for ?hidden values and phantom
figures lurking beneath the numbers? (Zaloom, 2006:82).



Response by Michel Bouwens:

Dear Adam:

This is an absolutely remarkable text, to which I do not have much to add,
but perhaps I could restate some of the issues in a somewhat different
language, and confront it to my own concerns and research at the P2P

 1.       You are absolutely right that there is a new post-monetary
'economy' evolving. In my view, it takes three main forms. 

One, the sharing economy, which is primarily about sharing one's creative
expression, not geared to the production of common value directly. 

Such individuals or groups generally produce for their own use value and
enjoyment, for the alternative recognition systems that you mention
(knowledge, relationship, reputational value). Expected monetary returns
are marginal to the main motivation. In this scenario, I believe that the
individuals have weak links to each other, and they are happy to accept
that the platforms that enable such sharing are created by others,
presently by the Web 2.0 proprietary platforms. These in turn, use the
aggregated attention to fund and profit from these platforms. In my
opinion, it is governed by a social contract which says, from the point of
view of the users: it is fine that you provide such a platform, and that
you profit from it, provided our freedom to share is respected as well.
Such netarchical platforms are then driven to the contradictory
positioning of having to stimulate community and freedom (let's call it
the dolphin type of behavior, based on the notion of the abundance of
sharing), with the fight for marketshare with other attention aggregators
(let's call it the shark type of behavior). The tendency to protect the
turf through closure, as against the total freedom of movement of the
users, has to be kept in balance with the kind of freedom demanded by the
users, who could move away to another platform. 

Two, the commons economy. Here there is a much more conscious collective
construction of common value, think of Linux or Wikipedia. 

Such construction is only possible by forging stronger links, driven for
example by the need for consensus on Wikipedia pages. Such more strongly
linked communities often have their own infrastructure. Nevertheless, such
communities, and the individuals involved, also tend to appreciate, under
certain conditions, the involvement of commercial entities, which can
strengthen the project. Such companies create derivate business
strategies, based on creating relative scarcities around the common pool,
in return for some kind of support for the common efforts. This is in my
view the underlying social contract of this second form, i.e. the need for
the profiting parties to create some kind of return flow to the commons
and their communities.

Third,  the crowdsourcing economy (more generally, the co-creation economy
whereby for-profit entities integrate the demand and opportunity
participation in their own business models and value chains).   

Given that both the sharing and commons oriented value creating models
show that innovation is becoming social, it is normal that existing
institutions, in particular the for-profit business companies, seek to
integrate such social innovation in their own value chains. 

What does it mean that innovation is becoming social? It means that
innovation is less and less an internal affair, paid for by corporate
funds and their R & D departments.   It means that it is more and more an
emerging quality of the networks itself, arising from the multitude of
interactions within and between individuals and communities. It means that
it can arise without the intervention of capital or the state, or for that
matter, academia. It means, amongst other things, that the capital needed
for starting an internet company has decreased by 80% in 8 years. The role
of capital therefore shift to being an a priori enabler of such social
innovation, such is the role and strategy of crowdsourcing, and of a
posteriori captation of value, as is the case with the sharing and the
commons models. Dare we say that capital is more parasitical in such
context. To return to the crowdsourcing model, this is the most direct
model of trying to integrate these innovation processes right in the value
chain of the corporations, but it is also the one were the underlying
social contract is the shakiest, because the 'exploitation' is the most
visible. It is in this context that the value creators, the participating
public, most clearly sees that the value they are creating is being used
with the most little return. 

We must also note that monetary value that is being realized by the
capital players, is ? in many if not most of the cases,   not of the same
order as the value created by the social innovation processes.  The
user-producers-participants are creating direct use value, videos in
YouTube, knowledge and software in the case of commons-oriented projects.
This use value is put in common pool, freely usable, and therefore, does
not consist of scarce products for which pricing can be demanded. The
sharing platforms live from selling the derivative attention created, not
the use value itself. In the commons model, the abundant commons can also
not be directly marketed, without the creation of additional 'scarcities'.
Finally, as Adam Arvidsson shows, even in crowdsourcing, the value may
often not be in the product design themselves, but in other forms of
value, such as branding, etc? 

 2.       Does this not create a crisis of accumulation of capital?

We can already posit a number of conclusions from our comments above. One,
it is now possible to create all kinds of use value without, or with only
a minimal, intervention of capital.  We are dealing with post-monetary,
post-capitalist modes of value creation and exchange, that are both
immanent, i.e.  embedded, to the market, but also transcendent to it, i.e.
operating outside its boundaries. Two, capital is increasingly dependent,
and profiting in all kinds of ways, from the positive externalities of
such social innovation. Three, the   full , partial, or hybrid peer
production models that we discuss above, may be collectively sustainable
as value creation processes, but do not offer a direct solution for the
income and survivability of the participants. 

So the challenge can be described as follows:
 1) we have a process of social innovation which creates mostly
non-monetary value for the participants;   
 2) we may have an increasingly huge gap between the possibility of
creating post-monetary value, and the derivative exchange values that are
realized by enterprise; 
 3) the participants engaged in such passionate production and innovation,
mostly cannot find in such processes an answer to their own

Hence, the impossibility to realize more than just a small partial
monetary value, from the point of view of most commercial players.
Increasing precarity for the participants of social innovation. In other
words, the current market model does not have a reverse process of
redistribution for the value that is being created. 

This might of course be a temporary crisis, but we do not believe it is.
The reason is that the market can only indirectly and partially provide
monetary compensation for processes which are not motivated by such
compensation. What we need therefore are more general redistributive
processes that allow society and the market to give back part of the value
that is being so created.

One possibility is the further development of transitional labour market
measures (protect the worker, not the job), which recognize the
flexibility and mobility of contemporary careers. But this needs an
important add-on development: the realization that contemporary workers
are moving not just from job to job, but also from jobs to non-jobs, and
that in fact, what is most useful and meaningful for them (and the market,
 and society)  are not the paid jobs for the market, but the episodes of
passionate production.  It seems to me therefore that a more general
measure, not linked to the job, but conceived as a repayment for, and
enabler of, social innovation, is needed.   

The name of that general measure is most probably some form of basic

 3.       Different value systems, different economies, different
measurement systems
Whether or not such measures materialize, peer production and social
innovation are there to stay. We will in all likelyhood have at least two
competing economies, or even three.   

The first one is the market economy for scarce physical goods. It is
likely that this part of the economy will have to cope with the increasing
presence of open designs, and therefore, will be more and more a form of
built-only capitalism, based on commons-derivate business models. Note
that in this sector, the property rents (copyright, etc?) might
dramatically decline, and hence the associated profit rates as well. The
second part of the market economy will be the market for attention, that
will realize part of the value of the sharing economy, and can provide
some kind of return to the peer producers. 

Then there will be the non-market, non-monetary part of the economy. It
will increase in value and scope, but not create additional monetary
streams. In other words, no matter how many reputation schemes, wealth
acknowledgement systems, or collective quality-control schemes might be
developed, this is not directly linked to any monetization by the market
economy. It will feed it indirectly, but will never be fully monetized.
This is a fact we have to learn to deal with, and have to reorganize our
political economy around. As I argue above, I expect that communities will
develop various forms of gifting, sharing and exchange, as well as a
number of affinity or community based currencies to measure such value.
And in addition to that, some general form of redistribution or monetary
repayment may have to be created. 


 4.       The Ethical Economy, Power, and Common Norms

I may disagree with Adam Arvidsson that this emerging ethical economy, a
concept that I consider analogous to what I call the emerging sphere of
peer production, is not 'necessarily better' than the older monetary
production. Of course, peer production will create its own problems and
contradictions, and will indeed create a rather rocky transition time. But
I believe that there are strong reasons that this new mode will win out. 

First of all, the new mode is more productive. More value, more
innovation, more usefulness is created for its participants and society
and general. For profit companies that rely on proprietary strategies, and
where innovation is dependent and limited by competition, will tend to
loose out, over time, due to this asymmetric competition,  to  the for
benefit institutions and their associated communities of peer producers
which constantly innovate. Second, the process is more participative in
the political sense. It provides more meaning, and autonomy in all spheres
of human life. Intrinsic motivation is inherently more productive than the
extrinsic motivation and neutral exchange on the market. Finally, the new
forms of peer property are inherently more distributive. All this means
that in the second form of competition, between for profit companies
relying on closed proprietary strategies and for profit companies using
open/free, participatory and commons-oriented extensions, the former will
tend to loose out against the latter. So companies will increasingly
choose for their insertion in the new logics. The corollary is that
individuals will choose to engage in passionate production whenever they
can, and will tend to choose for those companies that have integrated
these logics in their own processes. Nations that choose to adopt such
strategies, becoming Partner States that enable and empower such
processes, will tend to develop faster than those refusing this path. Just
as importantly, the same process of miniaturization which changed the
structural position of knowledge workers vis a vis capital, as they own
their own means of production, their brains and computers, tend to be
replicated in the physical economy as well. Trends in desktop
manufacturing, in rapid manufacturing and tooling, in easy to localize
multi-purpose machinery, in personal fabricators that move from plastic to
metals, will tend to distribute physical productive capacity and undermine
the industrial model of capitalism. The problem is that as physical
production will become more distributed, and associated with financial
trends such as social lending and the direct social production of money
and wealth acknowledgement systems, any strategy that aims to replace
lower rates of physical profit with higher rates of immaterial profit,
will tend to be undermined by the generalization of open designs. Here
again we have the same crisis of accumulation of capital on the horizon. 

Where is the power in this changing world? In the world of immaterial
near-zero reproduction costs, neither market pricing, nor hierarchies, nor
democratic negotiation, are needed to allocate scarce resources (but they
still will be needed wherever there is scarcity). In the distributed
production networks, bottom up peer governance processes will emerge more
and more.   In the sharing networks, their will be a balance of power, and
associated conflicts, between the creative users and the platform owners,
whereby the former are not powerless. Where there are no overt
hierarchies, power becomes expressed in invisible architectures that
enable or discourge certain types of social relationships over others.
However, as commons-oriented communities become stronger, we expect the
literacy of such power to increase. Of course, the platform enablers have
power too, as do the commons-oriented businesses and the crowdsourcing
operators, and we may expect conflicts over protocols. It is possible that
communities with strong business involvement and ecologies, will perform
better than communities without such support, a fact which plays in favour
of the commercial players. Similarly, Partner State efforts to enable and
empower social value creation, may select certain social production
processes over others. The conclusion is therefore that this is an open
process, and that the process of mutual accommodation, between private and
public institutions, versus sharing   and commons communities, will be a
co-created reality. The future is truly open.

 5.       Scenarios for the future

The existing market model is clearly in trouble. It cannot continue to
treat nature as both a positive externality from which it can endlessly
profit, and in which it can dump the negative externalities of its own
operations. A system of infinite growth in a finite environment is a
logical impossibility. 

At the same time, a simple transfer of its core operations towards the
immaterial economy is not a simple proposition. A reliance on intellectual
property rents is deeply challenged by the new non-proprietary forms which
point to a future of open designs. 

The current system which combines pseudo-abundance in the material sphere,
thereby destroying the biosphere, and pseudo-scarcity in the immaterial
sphere, thereby holding up social innovation, is deeply flawed and not
sustainable in the long term. 

In terms of value creation, it is now competing with a third mode of
production, governance and property, where it is beaten at its own game.

In the first emerging stage of peer production, market forces will embed
it in their own operations, just as the imperial slaveholders freed their
slaves to become feudal colini (serfs), and as the feudal kings and lords
started investing in capitalist merchants and manufacturers, so for profit
companies are adapting and investing in the new modes, which they hope to
subjugate and integrate. In this they will be partially successful. 

But precisely because they are successful, they are also strengthening the
new mode and logic. At some point, a parity of influence between the logic
of the commodity and the peer to peer logic may be achieved. 

Past experience suggests however, that such a transitional period is not
sustainable on the long term, and that one logic can and should be the
dominant logic of value creation. 

In the tribal economy, it was the gift and the attendant symmetrical
social relations and processes which dominant. In the hierarchical
imperial/feudal systems, it was the tribute of the weak to the strong. In
industrial capitalism, and in the first phases of the information economy,
it was the commodity. 

We therefore strongly suggest that the third  phase or scenario will
develop around the dominance of the peer to peer logic. This means that
most immaterial value creation, i.e. what really matters to a postmaterial
civilization, which will produced by value communities, competing for
allegiance. They will use non-proprietary formats.  For exchange, they
will use different kinds of wealth acknowledgement systems. 

The physical sphere will be managed by post-capitalist markets for scarce
goods. Note how the newest forms of market trading are already being
informed by the P2P or partnership principle: the for-benefit institutions
enabling peer production communities, the social entrepreneurs using
profit as a means only, the fair trade models which put the power-based
market relations under the arbitrage of the partnership principle, etc?
Methods of 'markets without capitalism', 'natural capitalism', cradle to
cradle production systems and a steady state economy will have to become
the format of the market, if the biosphere is not to be further harmed.
But clearly, such market mechanisms are already subsumed under the higher
logic of partnership with other humans and nature. 

There is of course another scenario, whereby the P2P logic is subsumed to
the continued dominance of the capitalist market, based on some kind of
rent-based proprietary models where nobody really owns anything; this
would be an information feudalism kept in place by repressive IP laws and
DRM technology. But such a dominance would imply also that the
nature-destroying logic remains in place, and hence, points to the dark
scenario of a generalized fight for scarce natural resources. This is
simply put a recipe for generalized disaster, and hopefully, it is
unlikely that humanity will choose for this static and regressive path. 

Web-Site: http://www.oekonux.de/
Organization: http://www.oekonux.de/projekt/
Contact: projekt oekonux.de

[English translation]
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