About the seminar
The P2P foundation is a global, non-profit network dedicated to advocacy and research of commons-oriented peer to peer (P2P) dynamics in society. In this seminar, its founder Michel Bauwens will give a synthesis of the various research undertaken with the P2P Foundation over the last twenty years (*). He will also elaborate on a multi-year study of the basic concepts of civilizational transition taken from the macro-historians of the 20th century (**). During the seminar, he will apply these insights to speculate on the possibility of a 'fourth generation civilization' based on 'mutual coordination economics' (***).
(*) For twenty years, P2P has looked at the emergence of peer production, the mutualization of urban provisioning systems by commons-centric civic initiatives, the self-infrastructuring of crypto communities for the global coordination of contribute labor and its financing; commons transition planning by cities and states, as well as the emergence of cosmo-local production initiatives which 'localize what is heavy and globally share what is light'. In the seminar, we will explore to what degree these prefigurative seed forms are indicative of new societal logics.
(**) Over the past five years, the P2P foundation has undertaken an in-depth study of the 'evolution of civilizations' as studied by macro-historians such as Spengler, Toynbee, Sorokin, Quigley and others (augmented by world systems analysis and Big History). In the seminar, we will use their concepts, such as 'instruments of expansion' by Quigley, to help look at the current transitional decades.
(***) P2P is currently working on a book studying the emergence of infrastructures for the mutual coordination of cosmo-local economic networks (aka fourth sector networks).
Substack archive with writings since mid-2023
Extensive bibliography on civilizational analysis
The hypothesis of a new type of global civilization, based on Mutual Coordination.
Viktor Glushkov - the founding father of information technology in the Soviet Union - has proposed the idea that humanity in its history has passed through two thresholds, two management crises or - in the language of cybernetics - two historical information barriers. The first barrier arose in the context of the decomposition of the clan economy and was resolved with the emergence, on the one hand, of monetary-commercial relations and, on the other, of a hierarchical management system, in which the superior manager directs the subordinates, and these the executors.
Starting in the 1930s, according to Glushkov, it becomes clear that the second “information barrier” is coming, when neither hierarchy in management nor commodity-money relations help anymore. The cause of such a crisis is the inability, even with the participation of many actors, to cover all the problems of economic management. Viktor Glushkov said that according to his calculations from the 1930s, solving the management problems of the Soviet economy required some 1014 mathematical operations per year. At the time of the interview, in the mid-1970s, already about 1016 operations. If we assume that one person without the help of machinery can perform on average 1 million operations a year, then it turns out that about 10 billion people are needed to maintain a well-run economy:
“From now on, only ‘machineless’ management efforts are not enough. Humanity managed to overcome the first information barrier or threshold because it invented monetary-commercial relations and the pyramidal management structure. The invention that will allow us to cross the second threshold is computer technology. A historical turn in the famous spiral of development takes place. When an automated state management system appears, we will easily grasp the entire economy at a single glance. In the new historical stage, with new technology, in the next turn of the dialectical spiral, we are as if “floating” over that point of the dialectical spiral below which, separated from us by millennia, was the period when the subsistence economy of man was easy to see with the naked eye."
- Vasiliy Pikhorovic, paraphrasing Viktor Glushkov
About the speaker
Michel Bauwens is the founder and director of the P2P Foundation and works in collaboration with a global group of researchers in the exploration of peer production and commons-centric economics. He is also a founding member of the Commons Strategies Group and has (co-)published various books and reports, such as ‘Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy’, and more recently ‘Peer to Peer: The Commons Manifesto’ (Westminster Un. Pr. 2019). In 2014, Michel crafted a Commons Transition Plan for government institutions in Ecuador, and in 2017, for the city of Ghent in Belgium. He is currently engaged in studying the impact of the acceleration of global catastrophic risks and its intersection with civilizational transitions, by focusing on the underestimated importance of commons-based institutions. In a separate inquiry he focuses on the optimal forms of mutual coordination for translocal economic networks, and how these capacities intersect with market and state dynamics. From 2018 to 2022, Bauwens was also adviser to SMart.coop, a fast growing European labor mutual, looking in the types of welfare reform (commonfare), that can benefit the growing number of autonomous workers, including the 34 million digital nomads. He also contributed to the commons strategy of the One Project NGO. His report, P2P Accounting for Planetary Survival, examines how the shared accounting systems developed by open source and blockchain-based Coordi-Nations, can contribute to the coordination of production within planetary boundaries. He studied the emergence of cosmo-local forms of productive organization, in the Cosmo-Local Reader. Post-Covid, Michel Bauwens is doing 'civilizational transition' research for the Civilization Research Institute, and functions as research coordinator for the Global Chinese Commons, a crypto-nomadic community. He is also listed at #82 on the Post Growth Institute (En)Rich list, a list which is meant to convey a selection of the people who have contributed to the world.
The CLEA seminars are taking place simultaneously at the VUB campus and online (via Zoom) and are open to everyone interested!
When. Friday January 9, 2024 from 17h15 until 19h15
Where. VUB campus Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Elsene. Building I, room I.1.01
Online. You can follow the seminar online via Zoom. You may need a Meeting ID and passcode to enter.
Meeting ID: 827 5779 8426
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