Re: [OPE] Peer production and abundance

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Thu Jan 07 2010 - 11:02:03 EST

On 2010-01-07 11:09, wrote:
> In the orthodox soviet presentation of communism it depended on
> abbundance --
> Kruschevs Goulash communism: “What sort of communism is it that cannot
> produce sausage?”
> The general idea was that under communism goods would be distributed free
> and thus the top priority was to develop industrial production to the
> level that would support this free distribution of goods.
> I have grave doubts about the practicality of being able to do this with
> goods that require a substantial marginal labour input for their
> production. If the marginal input is significant, then some sort of
> pricing -- preferably by labour coupons seems inevitable.
> However for information goods that is not the case, here abundance and
> free distribution already exist on the internet, and would exist on a
> larger scale were it not for legally imposed monopolies and copyright
> legislation.
> There is a school of thought - heavily influenced by Marx that claims that
> the production of open source software ( which they call peer production )
> is the germform (Keimform) of a new mode of production growing up within
> the capitalist system. That implies that the transition to communism is
> thought more in terms of the transition from feudalism to capitalism with
> the Keimform of the new mode of production arising within the body of the
> old.
> This school is represented on the Oekonux mailing list.
> Have other list members read these ideas before, and what do they think of
> them.
I've come across variants of the idea in the 'autonomist Marxist'
tradition before. If I remember correctly Dyer-Witheford in his book
'Cyber-Marx' made arguments along these lines based on some passages in

I think there is merit to the argument that the 'open source' mode of
production conflicts with and potentially undermines capitalist property
relations. But a systematic theory of this mode of production has yet to
be formulated.

Has anyone counted the labour of the freely produced content and
distribution services? This labour has an input side that has to be met.
For digital content it seems to me that the old idea of collectively or
publicly funded libraries is the best system. But that is still quite
compatible with the existence of a capitalist market in general, even if
it would destroy the monopolies of a few firms.

If the 'open source' mode of production is to become the dominant mode,
the question arises: what share of the total output of an economy could
actually be produced in this way?

//Dave Z

ope mailing list
Received on Thu Jan 7 11:05:32 2010

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