Friday, September 11, 2015

Peer Production and Post Capitalism - between snark & a boojum

Reading about Post Capital and the proposal by Paul Mason to restructure society around peer production to get rid of the:Precariat which appears not to be able to rise up, on account of Acquiescence causing all such occupy/indignados movements to fizzle out, despite the rediculously offensive Capital++ details.
(indeed, there's a whole other blog entry to be written about how the post modern disruption by surkov is remarkably similar to the US employment of shock doctrine, and the EU follows like a poodle....

Anyhow, I have to disagree with Mason's key idea, which seems to be based on the same false premise as Charles Stross' accelerando, that information markets can exponentiate in "value", and have zero marginal costs, so replace capital or labour systems of value.

The problem is that you cannot eat or drink bits. Bits of information do not fend off rain, snow, tides or enemies. Knowledge doesn't keep you warm, although it may reduce the chances you catch diseases.
The problem is that a knowledge economy is built on the same quicksand and lime as the whole financial service industry - indeed, the financial service instruments are exactly that - pieces of (often faulty) knowledge (algorithms for trading), that do not link either to time (labour) or wealth (capital). In the end, humans have to trade time for money, or money for time.

Plus Mason makes no proposal to solve the social inertia, that humans are either driven by greed (for more toys) or by altruism (wish to be liked == greed for more social capital). A new economy needs to have a sound social basis. Even Russell Brand had at least a better stab at that. Maybe we could just revisit socialism (with modern technology) and see how syndicalism might be made to work (it nearly did in Spain until Franco backed, by the Nazis and unopposed by the Brits or the Russians for shameful reasons, killed it. In a modern world, such a movement might be able to resist the IMF.