05 June 2008

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Ignoring the parodistic language, that is:

Essentially, with the Internet, capitalism gifts the masses with a false commons where people can work, off the clock, creating information and relationships that the ruling class can enclose, appropriate, commodify, and sell back to us at a later date. It’s a way of letting the process of primitive accumulation work as a perpetual, and because of the stagnation of the economies in the advanced capitalist countries, vital, supplement to the mechanism of exploitation, and one that should be seen alongside the other forms of primitive accumulation that are occurring right now and are, for sure, much more important: the direct seizure of Iraqi resources, the copyrighting and commodifying of the material of our bodies, and most obviously, the accumulation by dispossession that is occurring in Africa, in China, in Latin America, as capitalism pushes to its limits and attempts to expunge from the earth any trace of commonly-held land.

What's wrong with it? Well, centrally, it looks at things purely in monetary terms: that everything has a price, and that everything has to be paid for. In many ways, the central insight of commons-based activities is that there are things of worth beyond money, things that capitalism really can't capture (luckily).

Or as Michel Bauwens puts it in his own reply in the same post:

The last thing we want and need to do is the be so mentally colonized by the logic of market exchange that all we can and want to ask is just for a bigger piece of the pie. The key question is: how can we both preserve the social achievements of participation and peer production, and make a living at the same time. Out of the answers to this question will come the new social forms.

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