"Peer to Peer: The Commons Manifesto". A new (and free) book provides the big picture for alternative enterprises

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We’ve explored thoroughly in A/UK the upsurge in thinking about what a “commons” might mean for our everyday lives. The attractiveness of the concept is that it’s a resource or territory that’s owned neither by the state nor the marketplace, and which invites active responsibility and care from the citizens and workers that sustain and benefit from it.

Elinor Ostrom won a Nobel Prize in Economics - the first female winner - for showing how commons were viable under many different cultural and local conditions in the world (see our blog with Adam Lent, showing Ostrom’s relevance to UK communities).

So we’re delighted to see that a major new work on the viability of the commons, particularly in the digital and networked age, has come out from one of our regular inspirations, Micheal Bauwens (along with Vasilis Kostakis and Alex Pazaitis).

Peer To Peer: A Commons Manifesto (hardcopy here, free PDF here) is the culmination of almost 15 years of vision and research. On the Commons Transition blog, they explain the book:

During this time we have studied

  • the economic and governance systems evolving around digital commons of knowledge

  • the urban commons

  • and productive commons, where physical material production takes place.

Studying these seed forms leads to discovering a potential pathway for a future society. One that is both more equitable, but can also produce for human needs without destroying our planet.

If you are curious how the current political economy around capital, state and nation could be transformed to one based on—

  • new ecosystems, connecting up productive communities, who share common resources,

  • generative market mechanisms that work for these communities (and the parts of the state friendly to them)

  • public authorities which enable and empower the autonomy of individuals and communities, through public-commons partnerships

— then you’ll find this book to be of high interest.

The story of P2P presents a ‘Real Utopia’, one that is all the more possible because countless pioneering communities have already shown how it can work at the micro-level.

This is how societies have changed in the past, and this is how they are changing now and in the future.

…Peer to peer (P2P) is a type of social relations in human networks, as well as a technological infrastructure that makes the generalization and scaling up of such relations possible. We believe that these aspects will profoundly change human society.

P2P ideally describes systems in which any human being can contribute to the creation and maintenance of a shared resource while benefiting from it.

There is an enormous variety of such systems: from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia to free and open-source software projects, to open design and hardware communities, to relocalization initiatives and community currencies. 

P2P enables a new mode of production and creates the potential for a transition to a commons-oriented economy. 

Ambitious words. If you want to know more about how Bauwens and his partners have manifested their P2P model on the ground, look at