Michael Bauwens: P2P and Human Evolution (essay)

Michael Bauwens’ essay describes the emergence, or expansion, of a specific type of relational dynamic, which I call peer to peer. It’s a form of human network-based organisation which rests upon the free participation of equipotent partners, engaged in the production of common resources, without recourse to monetary compensation as key motivating factor, and not organized according to hierarchical methods of command and control. This format is emerging throughout the social field: as a format of technology (the point to point internet, filesharing, grid computing, the Writeable Web initiatives, blogs), as a third mode of production which is also called Commons-based peer production (neither centrally planned nor profit-driven), producing hardware, software (often called Free Libre Open Sources Software or FLOSS) and intellectual and cultural resources (wetware) that are of great value to humanity (GNU/Linux, Wikipedia), and as a general mode of knowledge exchange and collective learning which is massively practiced on the internet. It also emerges as new organizational formats in politics, spirituality; as a new ‘culture of work’. This essay thus traces the expansion of this format, seen as a “isomorphism” (= having the same format), in as many fields as possible. But it does more than that: it tries to provide an explanatory framework of why it is emerging now, and how it fits in a wider evolutionary framework.

Praise for Michael Bauwens essay by Chris Stewart, Integral Foresight Institute:
“What Michael Bauwens has achieved in a very short space fullfills the same function as the Communist Manifesto once did: a call for a worldwide movement for social and political change, firmly rooted in the objective and subjective changes of contempary society, and articulated as a practical and insightful model of human value and power relations that is ahead of its time.  If we listen more carefully to Bauwens than we ever did Marx, however, it just might lead to a smooth evolution for humanity rather than revolution, or at worst, destruction.  Bauwens has traced out real contours of hope for Western civilization.  His presentation of a P2P perspective includes a clear theory of human power and value relations, a practical appreciation of its relationship to the current orthodoxy, and an inspiring vision for viable, sustainable, and desirable futures.  Just as Bauwens notes the limited social acceptance of Marx at the time of his writing, it may well be that in years to come Bauwens’s articulate and deeply considered insights will not only be as profoundly influential and valuable but, crucially, a lot more workable.”

Download the text as a pfd here