Saturday, January 9, 2016

Paul Mason and his critics

This article responds to this earlier linked one. It criticizes the earlier article for conflating the capitalistic appropriation of the emerging sharing economy with its true forms. An excerpt:

"As Nick Dyer-Witheford argued in Cyber-Marx, there are two broad groups, sometimes using superficially similar rhetoric but in fact fundamentally opposed, that celebrate the emergence of a new kind of society based on current technological trends. One such group, whose material interests center on putting new wine in old bottles, enclosing the new liberatory technologies of abundance within a corporate framework of artificial scarcity for the sake of rent extraction, are trying to pass off a counterfeit of the real thing. Another group is promoting the real thing — among them autonomists like Dyer-Witheford, Hardt and Negri, groups like Oekonux that see peer-production and free and open-source software as kernels of a future communist society, and thinkers like Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation who envision a system incorporating non-capitalist markets along with cooperative production based on the natural resource and information commons. Mason, I think, falls unmistakably in the latter category. The false prophets of corporate information capitalism do a great deal of harm in passing themselves off as the real thing. But deluded figures on the Left like McMillan, who pretend that the two groups are the same, arguably do even more damage by discrediting our best hope for a post-capitalist society."

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