The “Sharing Economy,” the “economy of the commons,” deserves and needs a point of reference equivalent to the large institutions of European social theory.
Pablo Arriazu commented yesterday on the difficulties the new generation has facing the development of its own economic community guided by different values. These difficulties go far beyond the May 15th movement, and we also find them in the three Americas and Europe. It seems strange, because the possibility of building viable economies, starting small, has never been so close at hand.
On the one hand, the “sharing economy” is growing and surprising even MIT with the magnitude of its social and economic impact. That’s in spite of the fact that, as O’Reilly points out, national accounting systems don’t factor in the value of abundance. In any case, the “Sharing Economy” and the “P2P sector” provide globally relevant figures.
On the other hand, in the middle of the crisis, a New Industrial Revolution is starting up and gathering strength within a wider pattern that points to the leadership of small scales in highly productive economies. It’s a true P2P revolution that already offers real alternatives for generating local industry and employment.
In general, what we’re seeing is a movement towards business models centered on the development of the commons, a true P2P mode of production being developed by sectors from free software to automotion, and from agricultural machinery all the way to urban planning and urban space management.
What does a Commons Economy need?
Surely the anti-marketism of the present generations is one of the most counterproductive cultural legacies of the neoliberal policies of the Eighties and Ninties. That makes it more urgent than ever to explain why the market, once it’s freed of rent captures and oriented toward the generation of the commons, is the basis of any alternative model of generating abundance. And that is created through empowerment with concrete models, with experiences and talking, with technologies and methods for those who propose new forms of development for their towns and cities.
The opportunity comes from the fact that the decrease in scales is also radically transforming teaching options: today, it’s possible to create a global point of reference that feeds local demand without abandoning research, and which develops practical workshops that regularly include, through high-level video courses and live videoconferences, great theoreticians and entrepreneurs known to all.
What’s more, a school like this could not only be configured in the field of the the New Industrial Revolution or the “sharing economy,” it could also use them as a base to work towards a reinterpretion demanded by consolidated movements like cooperativism, the disintermediation of social participation, collective financing or even renewable energies. These reinterpretations will define the post-crisis world.
For a “Somewhere School of Sharing Economics”
The “Sharing Economics”, the “Economics of the commons”, deserves and needs a point of reference like this. It’s no longer necessary start in London or Stockholm to dispute the centrality of the offers from the other side of the Atlantic, because what it’s really about is pushing a world without centralization rents. It’s not even necessary to start from a state-academic recognition when what it’s all about is discussing and developing social and technological work whose leading voices have never needed such recognition to gain leadership, develop industries, or gain public relevance.
That’s why, as an immediately achievable project, it would be fitting to think of a Somewhere School of Sharing Economics. All it would need is clear concepts, a good global network, and a friendly place. If it’s peripheral, all the better. If it’s on an old connector — medieval commercial routes, a river, a port — better still. Shall we get started?