Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis have just published a new book that offers a rich, sophisticated critique of our current brand of capitalism, and looks to current trends in digital collaboration to propose the outlines of the next, network-based economy and society.
Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy is a scholarly book published by Palgrave Macmillan. If you’d like to look at a working draft of the book, you can find it online here.
Bauwens is the founder of the P2P Foundation, and Kostakis is a political economist and founder of the P2P Lab. He is also a research fellow at the Ragnar Nurkse School of Innovation and Governance at Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia.
Kostakis and Bauwens write:
The aim of this book is not to provide yet another critique of capitalism but rather to contribute to the ongoing dialogue for post-capitalist construction, and to discuss how another world could be possible. We build on the idea that peer-to-peer infrastructures are gradually becoming the general conditions of work, economy, and society, considering peer production as a social advancement within capitalism but with various post-capitalistic aspects in need of protection, enforcement, stimulation and connection with progressive social movements.
The authors outline four scenarios to “explore relevant trajectories of the current techno-economic paradigm within and beyond capitalism.” They envision the rise of "netarchical capitalism," a network-based capitalism, that sanctions several types of compatible and conflicting forms of capitalism – what they call “the mixed model of neo-feudal cognitive capitalism.” There are variations that are possible, including "distributed capitalism, resilient communities and global Commons."
Kostakis and Bauwens regard resilient communities and the global Commons as “the hypothetical model of mature peer production under civic dominance,” and propose that this scenario – the Commons – represents “a sustainable alternative to capital accumulation.” However, moving to this scenario requires transition strategies for the state, the market and the civic domain, for which Kostakis and Bauwens make some tentative proposals.
Those of you who have been following Michel Bauwens’ thinking for some time will find many familiar themes and arguments. Yet this book also represents a the best single, comprehensive overview of Bauwens' pioneering thinking, informed by dozens of real-life examples around the world. The great virtue of this book is its careful, empirically informed analysis and its integration of political and cultural factors in making sense of the economy. Highly recommended!
PART ONE: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1. Capitalism as a creative destruction system
2. Beyond the end of history: Three competing value models
3. The P2P infrastructures: Two axes and four quadrants
PART TWO: COGNITIVE CAPITALISM
4. Netarchical capitalism
5. Distributed capitalism
6. The social dynamics of the mixed model of neo-feudal cognitive capitalism
PART THREE: THE HYPOTHETICAL MODEL OF MATURE PEER PRODUCTION: TOWARDS A COMMONS-ORIENTED ECONOMY AND SOCIETY
7. Resilient communities
8. Global Commons
9. Transition proposals towards a Commons-oriented economy and society