P2P Foundation

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Discussing the ethical economy, chapter 1

Let's participate in discussing Adam Arvidsson's very important draft book, starting with chapter 1. One month is dedicated to discussing this chapter.

Here's the announcement:

“We’re proud to announce a new website for the Ethical Economy book project. At www.ethicaleconomy.com, you can download a final version of the first chapter that introduces and summarizes the argument (the second chapter, The Ethical Economy is Already Here, on how capitalism is no longer ‘capitalist’ but something else, will be available int he end of November). There is also a wiki where you can contribute and comment and a blog.


“This book suggests that we are facing an epochal economic and social shift, perhaps of an importance unsurpassed since the bourgeois revolution that gave birth to the capitalist economy that we have today. The next economy will be an ethical economy where value is no longer based on labour as in the capitalist economy (nor on land as in the feudal economy that preceded it), but on the ability to construct ethically significant social relations. This is no utopia: the ethical economy is already here, in brand management, in advanced forms of knowledge work, on financial markets, and in the expanding range of autonomous forms of social production- ranging from P2P software, via fan communities to alternative forms of agriculture and food distribution- that have evolved around new information and communication technologies. And its impact is set to grow with the further diffusion and evolution of those technologies. This book offers a first coherent theory of the ethical economy, examining its origins, its present dynamics and its future potential. It draws out the implications of this epochal shift for business, politics and society.”

Views: 24

Comment by Evolving Trends on November 4, 2008 at 5:05
As a stream of thought, it is definitely interesting and thought provoking.

With respect to the choice of words/meaning, I personally prefer the word 'conscious' to 'ethical,' as in the new 'conscious economy' because consciousness hints at the emergent self-awareness of this new economy whereas ethics refer to the rules/criteria that will guarantee or encourage an increased degree of fairness.

What is required, IMVHO, is for people to see people like themselves, average people, talk about their concerns and struggles under the current economy and show how they can satisfy their hopes or improve their ability to satisfy their hopes under the new conscious economy.

What I'm hoping for personally is a populist approach that encourages a population-wide process of emotional, intellectual and spiritual symbiosis and emergence that changes changes the world as the world changes itself.

I'm personally interested in the emotional dimension because that where I have the widest opportunity to learn and advance as a person.

Others maybe interested in the intellectual or spiritual.

Underlying all three dimensions is the shared consciousness.

The genie is out of the bottle.

Will it be 20 years before we get to a conscious economy?

My 2 cents.
Comment by Gee Turf on November 4, 2008 at 8:54
you can do bad things consciously, but you cannot do bad things ethically, isn't it??
Comment by Evolving Trends on November 4, 2008 at 10:09
The reply here is that what they probably mean by ethical is subjective and decided by the individual.

If so, that would reflect my own belief that the new economy should respect personal choice/freedom and should be resilient to and tolerant of transactions that may be considered "bad" by some or most participants, not intolerant.

In other words, each participant in the new economy should set their own ethical criteria for each transaction they make or for all their transactions, and those criteria (or ethics, or value system) should exist only during the given transaction, i.e. not attached permanently to the money as it flows from one party to another.

By programming their value system into their money the money becomes a mirror of their consciousness, so it becomes conscious. Not ethical. You can't force people to use money only for what some or most participants consider as "good"

The criteria for how we define the new money/economy itself, not the criteria on each transaction, should be ethical. For example, since we know interest is ultimately destructive we should not include it in the model/definition. Since we know that credit rating is good but interest is bad the credit rating should be given for generosity in lending. Ideas like that contribute to an ethical definition/model for the new money/economy, but they do not make the new money/economy ethical at the level of each transaction because the value system/ethics should be up to the individual (it's their money so they should decide whom it should be paid to, and through this conscious selection mechanism, i.e. the multidimensional value system that they can impose on each transaction, by each participant in the economy makes an economy that is composed of conscious transactions, i.e. a conscious economy, not an ethical economy, as the latter would imply that it's intolerant of what some or most participants may consider as "bad" transactions.

The bottom line is we should not have a set of global criteria (or ethics) on how people should spend their money.

Each person should be able to decide the criteria per each transaction (and the criteria is attached to the transaction not the money itself.)

Having global criteria for what is ethical amounts to telling people how to spend their money and that would not be cool.

People should be able to mirror their own consciousness, in the moment, in each of their transactions, using rules/criteria that define a multi-dimensional value system.

Hence, conscious money and as a result conscious economy.

The use of the phrase Ethical Economy is forgivable/understandable but is not accurate IMO, unless they mean that people should be told how to spend their money, which i would disagree with.
Comment by Michel Bauwens on November 6, 2008 at 4:27
re your statement:

In other words, each participant in the new economy should set their own ethical criteria for each transaction they make or for all their transactions, and those criteria (or ethics, or value system) should exist only during the given transaction, i.e. not attached permanently to the money as it flows from one party to another.

This is exactly what Adam's Actics.com project is doing, do check it out,

Comment by Michel Bauwens on November 6, 2008 at 7:07
This being said, an ethics that would be purely subjective would in my mind not be an ethics at all ...

I do believe that "global criteria for what is ethical" is a legimate pursuit,

Comment by Evolving Trends on November 6, 2008 at 7:51
I totally love what Actics is doing.

As to to having global criteria for what is ethical I'm iffy on it as that correlates with 'religion' in my mind... It's definitely a legitimate pursuit, but I would be disturbed to have ethical rules or religious doctrine be enforced on everyone in automated fashion because like criminal and civil law the ethical rules are bound to be questioned in many grey areas and that require human judges and jury to resolve, i.e. the existing legal model ...
Comment by Evolving Trends on November 6, 2008 at 8:05
I agree there is no such thing as subjective ethics... which is why I favor the phrase conscious transaction or conscious money/economy to ethical transaction or ethical economy.

With respect to Actics, they seem to be focused on companies only, and I'm suggesting making that model apply to all transactions, which requires some sort of multidimensional 'trust' system.

I'm also suggesting that a new type of money should be used that is not created through interest and that integrates electronically with said multidimensional trust system... and maybe have the numerical value for the money come from p2p energy.

Furthermore, I'm suggesting that the concept of credit rating be redefined to reward good will and remove interest from the equation. And such good will based 'credit' rating, together with the user/supplied rules/criteria would form the trust rating

I'll publish the second draft of the P2P Social Currency post to be more clear and more exact in its definitions.

The discussion here and with Dante has helped me a lot.
Comment by Evolving Trends on November 6, 2008 at 8:10
Make that "trust matrix"
Comment by Michel Bauwens on November 6, 2008 at 12:23
HI Marc,

when I say universal, let me give you an example; children, I think that most ethical systems would agree that 'harming' children is negative ethically; but of course, how this is then defined gets to be different in various societies and individuals still need to process the social injunctions in their own particular way. I think we agree on the various levels and on the need to protect that individual choice.
Comment by Evolving Trends on November 6, 2008 at 17:31
I'm trying to figure out how blog comment editing/deletion works here.

Re-posting previous reply since I think I've deleted it:

There is definitely a universal moral agreement on protecting children. That's a really important aspect that I would not have realized because I'm generally against constraining individual choice in the way money is used, but there are bad parents out there who would not put any constraints on the use of their money by their own kids, so I see that as a really terrific example of universal 'morals'. However, both words, morals and ethics, can be misinterpreted to mean that the design of the new money/economy would dictate moral or ethical values on everyone (with child protection being the legitimate exception here), so I believe that choosing the right umbrella title is important to avoid misinterpretation... maybe a generic benign title like Economy 3.0, Conscious Economy or better still P2P Money/Economy (void of any assumptions and focused on the real radical shift which is the abandonment of centralization in the way money is created and how the transactions are governed by individual choice while riding on the P2P ideals/notions for a better society, which the P2P Foundation has been documenting. In other words, I'm leaning towards promoting a P2P Economy, P2P Currency, that leverages the P2P umbrella of ideals, ideas and principles as opposed to wording like Ethical or Conscious or Moral Economy/Money that have shortcomings and don't leverage the wealth of good will and enlightenment that the P2P movement has achieved.

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