P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

Peer-to-Peer and Marxism: analogies and differences

Last month I was in London where I  attended a lecture by Michel Bauwens on peer-to-peer dynamics. I wrote an article in Dutch for ‘De Wereld Morgen’. Fortunaletly, there is a edited version of the lecture on vimeo.

P2P and the Commons as the new paradigm from David Nixon on Vimeo.

After the lecture, I contacted Michel for an interview.

We all know examples of P2P in the immaterial field: Linux, Wikipedia, Arduino. Can you give some examples of P2P in the ‘real’, material world, i.e. in the field of production?

Michel Bauwens: Arduino is already an example touching on material production since the collaboratively designed motherboards are already produced and sold on the market by companies using the Arduino trademark. An example I really like is the Nutrient Dense Project, a collaborative research network of farmers and citizen scientists that directly use nutrient research in their own immediate production. One of the most exciting areas is probably that of so-called open source cars, like the Rallye Motor and the Darpa-funded XC2V marine assault vehicle, the latter which is based on an input of more than 30,000 designs. The StreetScooter, an electric car based on a corporate design commons with over 50 companies participating is perhaps most exciting, since the orders have already rolled in and the car should be driving in German cities by 2013. In the p2pfoundation wiki section on Product Hacking (http://p2pfoundation.net/Product_Hacking), we've annotated nearly 300 open hardware projects but they are just the tip of the iceberg. It helps to distinguish the design phase, where crowd sourcing and collaboration are not qualitatively different from software collaboration, from the phase of 'making', which would require an infrastructure for open and distributed manufacturing which is only marginally available. But in the field of making we have exciting developments towards shared material infrastructures such as co-working and hacker spaces, product-service systems for car sharing and many other services, and the miniaturization of production via 3D Printing and Fab Labs, all of which also have open source versions and aspects.


You compare the transition from capitalism to P2P with the transition from slavery to feudalism, or with feudalism to capitalism. In both cases there was a mutual change from the top and the bottom. In London you only dwelled on the first one: slaves leaving the system and slave owners turning slaves into serves who were better off than before, but what about the transition from feudalism to capitalism? There was the birth of a new class and the transformation from noblemen to capitalists, but you can hardly say that workers were better off than before. So where is the positive change from the bottom?

Michel Bauwens:The transition from one form of unequal class society to another is always problematic for the value producing classes at the bottom. One can argue that serfhood is an inherently better position than slavery but it was still exploitation and dominance, and many serfs had been free farmers before. The situation with capitalism is not that different, though there was, and is, a lot of hardship, the formal rights of workers are certainly an improvement, and at least for the western working class, there has been for a long while, substantial material improvement. But overall, the systems transitioned because the old system was no longer sustainable and the new one was overall more efficient in creating material riches. It all depends on the social contract and the relative strength of the forces at play. Strong labour movements have tremendously improved the situation of working people, and the situation in the Middle Ages between the 10th and the 13th century was also one of improving living standards. So the record is always mixed and the people themselves usually have a pretty clear picture of what needs to be improved. For example, what worker would want to a return to serfhood as a social condition? Since I have difficulties in imagining a classless society myself, I see peer producers in conflict with netarchical capital about their social condition, rights, and material livelihoods, until the moment that peer producers become the core social layer, and the commons the locus of core value creation. This is not a scientific scenario with a certain and unavoidable ending but rather a description of the field of tension in which peer production develops.

To continue this analogy: do you see a new class arising under capitalism, or a sort of ‘enlightened capitalists’ turning to open source (as described in Wikinomics)?

Michel BauwensIncreasingly the commons is and will be the core of value creation, but value is still essentially captured by market economy, and netarchical capital is the fraction of capital which understands that change and want to profit from it. This means they have both to enable and empower social production, but also subject it to their own control, so that they can capture the value that is generated. The first part forces them to a certain type of strategic behaviour that fosters sharing, while the second requirement forces them to maintain a general context of continued dominance. This is in essence the new social tension of the emerging p2p age, between communities of peer producers and the platform owners. The key for peer producers is to gain control of their own livelihoods and social reproduction, and in my view this can best be done by creating their own cooperative/corporate vehicles, which I call, following Neil Stephenson in the Diamond Age and the lasindias.net suggestions, "Phyllis", i.e. community-supportive entities that allow commoners to sustain their work in the commons, and to substract it from the mainstream economy of profit-maximization.


Can you see a parallel between P2P and the cooperative movement born in the eighteenth century (utopian socialism), or with the hippies and the communes in the sixties?

Michel BauwensThe communal impulse is one of the permanent aspects of humanity, which ebbs and flows according to social conditions, and I think we are witnessing a revival of this impulse. However, there is a big difference, cooperative forms of organization can now work around open design commons and become hyper-innovative, and can obtain economies of scope to outcooperate shareholder-based multinationals. Cooperatives and intentional communities are therefore no longer 'dwarfish forms' but actually the vanguard of the new p2p production system. If you combine shared open innovation commons (instead of privatized intellectual property which holds back innovation), with these new product-maximizing and commons-maximizing entities, you can obtain a quantum leap in productivity. This is why netarchical capitalists invest in platforms, and this is why the alternative ethical economy needs to do the same, and if they do, they could replace the for-profit corporation at the heart of our economy.


If you say that we need to prepare an alternative to capitalism, is the P2P-movement not a sort of ‘escapism’?

Michel BauwensInfinite growth is not possible in a finite environment, and we are now reaching the limits of growth. This means that capitalism is increasingly unable to grow its way out of its problems and that the share of the 1% can only grow through dispossion, and this is what we are now witness in Europe, with Greece an advance example of what is in store for the working populations. So it is not a matter of escapism, the old system is dying and will be replaced, but it could be replaced by something worse, it could regress like in the early centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, or it could reorganize itself to a higher level of achievement and complexity, which is what the p2p approach indicates.


You describe #Occupy as an example of peer producing political commons. In what way is this different from historical ‘anarchist’ or ‘communist’ movements like the Paris Commune, Barcelona 1937, or perhaps even the Russian Revolution?

Michel BauwensIf you observe an occupation, you see a community that is producing its politics autonomously, not following hierarchical or authoritarian political movements with a pre-ordained program; you see for-benefit institutions in charge of the provisioning of the occupiers (food, healthcare), and the creation of an ethical economy around it (such as Occupy's Street Vendor Project). This is prefigurative of a new form of society in which the commons is at the core of value creation; these commons' are maintained by non-profit institutions, and the livelihoods are guaranteed through an ethical economy. Of course there are historical precedents, but what is new is the extraordinary organisational, mobilization and co-learning potential of their networks. Occupy works as an open API with modules, such as 'protest camping', 'general assemblies', which can be used as templates and modified by all, without the need for central leadership. We can now have global coordination and mutual alignment of a multitude of small-group dynamics, and this requires a new type of leadership. The realization of historical moment of Peak Hierarchy, the moment in which distributed networks asymmetrically challenge vertical institutions in a way they could not do before, forces social movements to look for new ways of governance... but these are not given, and have to be discovered experimentally, and of course, there will be valuable lessons to learn from predecessor movements!


In order for P2P to really blossom, we need to get rid of intellectual property rights, copyrights, patents, etc. How do you think we can achieve this?

Michel BauwensI'm personally not a pure abolitionist, because I believe a lot of artists and creators believe in the necessity of author's rights, so I think we can do number things. Bring back protection to reasonable amounts of time, no more than the original 14 years of protection, or less, the Pirate Party proposes a five-year limit. Next is to offer choice to creators, by popularising choice-based licenses such as the Creative Commons. But the priority is to find new ways to fund creation ... this can be done through collective licensing and other forms of public funding, promoting and sustaining open business models, and ultimately, through a basic income, which recognizes that, every citizen is a value contributor and creator. These goals can be achieved partly through the social innovation that results from peer production communities, who are intensively experiment with open business models, and partly through stronger social and political movements, such as the free culture movement, the Pirate Parties, and other expressions of the new sharing culture.

It seems to me that P2P is creating a sort of ‘whole new world’, but without any references or links to the present political system. If Occupy represents an alternative way to engage in politics, what is the link between peer politics and bourgeois democracy and political parties?

Michel BauwensThat is a very difficult question and results from a paradox. One is the increasing social awareness that our present democracy is a facade, and that the state has been taken over by a predatory financial faction, while classic politicians see no other way out than to succumb to their blackmail. But the other side is that people's freedoms and rights and private and social income is increasingly under pressure, which leads to political and social mobilization as well as effective policy engagement. The first aspect leads to continuous democratic innovation from the new p2p culture, think about the peer governance mechanisms in peer production communities; new inventions such as dynamic voting, and while these mechanisms operate outside the mainstream, they are also embedded in the new forms of value creation, new p2p social institutions, and therefore, poised to grow. The second aspect leads to new political and social forces that work within the present system, such as the emerging Pirate Party. In Brazil, I heard that the vibrant FORA DO EIXO cultural movement, which has a functioning counter-economy around music, is also politicising and engaging with local politics. The second leads to what I call diagonal politics, i.e. mutual adaptation between emerging p2p forces and practices, and the old institutional realities. To the degree that this is ineffective, it pushes from the solution coming from the first aspect, i.e. prepares for a more radical and revolutionary re-ordering of our institutions. Tellingly, a Swedish pirate party member once wrote that the Pirate Party is the last chance to avoid revolution. To the degree that the present system refuses adaptation, to that degree they heighten the need and push for more radical transformations.

How do you estimate the impact of P2P on the labour movement? Doesn’t it also undermine the bureaucratic structures of workers organisations?

Michel BauwensI'm in touch with young labour and union activist who are strong believers in networked labour movements and we also see how the Occupy movement has already radicalized the U.S. labour movement. But ultimately, the old institutional and hierarchical structure of the unions, as well as their increasing inability to protect social achievements within the present regressive system, must also lead to a profound renewal of the labour movement. In a way, the p2p movement is actually an expression of the new dominant layer of cognitive workers, who in the West are the mainstay of productive labour. P2P is their culture and what needs to happen to do productive and useful work. In that sense, the P2P movement is the new labour movement of the 21st century, with the Indignados and Occupy as the first expression of that new labour but also civic, sensibility.

You claim that P2P makes a new, ‘higher’ form of society possible. Before, that was not the case because the technology did not exist. Marxists make this claim already for more than 150 years. Do you think they were wrong then, perhaps correct today, or it P2P something ‘completely different’?

Michel BauwensI consider Marxism, and the other forms of socialism and anarchism, ultimately as an expression of a dichotomy within the industrial capitalist system, and proposing other logics to manage the industrial model. But P2P is the expression of the evolving class and social dynamics under cognitive capitalism. And while the former was essentially anti-capitalist, and could not really point to a new hyperproductive model of organising production (socialism was a hypothesis, and its real life examples inevitably disappointed, there was no emergent socialism within capitalism and only 'state capitalism' outside of it), what is different for the p2p movement is that it can point out to already existing models that are outcooperating and outcompeting classic capitalist models, i.e. it is already post-capitalist. Marx was right about capitalism, but wrong about socialism and I believe the politically driven model of social change, when not based on an existing prior new productive model, was ill-conceived. The P2P movement is therefore poised to realize what the 19th and 20th century social movements couldn't, because the hyperproductive alternative was not available to them. The politics of P2P flow from an already existing social practice, that is a really key difference.

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Comment by Jean Lievens on January 6, 2012 at 15:17

A Dutch translation + new intro can be found at De Wereld Morgen

Comment by Örsan Şenalp on January 11, 2012 at 13:33

An interesting marxian critique of peer production: 


Part II: The Neoliberal Ideology of P2P

IN SOME WAYS, THE RISE of the open source movement runs counter to the neoliberal ideology that has prevailed since the late 1970s. Neoliberal policies rolled back the welfare state, disciplined labor and eliminated government-supported utilities and services, replacing them with for-profit corporations, turning public goods into commodities. But in the technology industry, the movement from private ownership to open source projects engaged in social production seems to point in the opposite direction, towards de-privatization and de-commodification.

This may be cause for optimism for some anti-capitalist activists, but in Part I of this blog post, I show how de-privatization is still profitable and compatible with proprietary software – it probably wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t. A similar point can be made of other types of peer production in general. Wikipedia is a non-profit charity and doesn’t earn revenue directly from the work of it’s editors, but because most people search Wikipedia with Google, it generates a profit for Google. As the 6th most popular site on the Internet, this is probably somewhat significant.

But for the optimists, this is not enough. All I have shown is that peer production has not overthrown capitalism yet. The establishment of gift economies, even if they grow profits right now, might contain the seeds of eliminating capitalist production altogether. I’m going to call this the Beachhead Hypothesis: in the vast territory controlled by capitalism, P2P creates autonomous spaces free from exploitative wage labor that can be expanded to encroach further on enemy territory.

I disagree with this hypothesis because I don’t think we took this territory, I think it was created by capitalism. This possibility is often ignored because of what seems to me to be a too totalizing view of capitalism, a view which is sometimes read in Marx. From The Communist Manifesto:

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade.

If the expansion of capitalism involves the replacement of every relation with self-interest, then the beachhead hypothesis makes sense. But despite neoliberal ideology, this does not seem to be the case, and this can be illustrated by looking at a difference between life in France and in the US.

If you live in France and you want to start a local soccer club, you go to the local government and ask for funding. If they agree, they will subsidize uniforms and equipment and this is paid for out of tax revenue. In the US and other Anglo-Saxon countries, this is practically unthinkable – maybe there would be some very small grants available to help underprivilege

Comment by Michel Bauwens on January 12, 2012 at 13:04

hi Orsan, what makes you think this is a marxian critique?

Comment by Örsan Şenalp on January 12, 2012 at 15:20

it was a quick first impression yet reading it again see i made a mistake, it should be a 'post-marxian' critique

Comment by Jean Lievens on January 13, 2012 at 10:50

I am not quit satisfied with the answer to my first question. For me, there remains a big difference between the examples of Wikipedia and Linux where knowledge is freely produced and shared, and the examples in the production sphere where commercial companies collaborate to produce material goods for the market by using paid labour. The examples of Fab Labs and 3-D printing are inspiring, but I don’t see them –also in the long run- as a valid alternative for large-scale production, even if we abolish the production of useless and non-durable products.

Of course peer production develops within the present system, and reinforces it in many ways. But it also clashes with its internal logic based on the protection of private interests. Take the use of open source and knowledge sharing. Private companies keep practically always a part of the knowledge private to keep a competitive advantage. They want to take advantage of the knowledge existing outside their companies, but they do not want to share the benefits. So I think that traditional (and new) contradictions that Marxism detects within the system remain, and although capitalism always tries to overcome them, it can only do so to a certain limit.

The same goes for global challenges, like the financial crisis and the need for international regulation. In their book Macro Wikinomics, Tapscott and Williams claim that in today’s global financial environment, the current patchwork of regulation is not enough. They quote Peter Gruetter, former secretary-general at the Swiss Federal Department of Finance, saying, “We have a perfectly networked financial industry but a much less networked regulatory community. Tapscott and Williams don’t believe that we can regulate the financial markets through traditional policy networks and multilateral forums like the G20, but that we need to go further, including real-time collaboration among regulatory agencies around the world. Although not one national state, including the US can solve global economic problems and global collaboration is needed to solve all major problems (finance, ecology, climate, energy, water etc), national interests do persist and withhold the unanimity needed to reach a solution. On the other hand, developing an alternative monetary system within capitalism seems too me utopian. I think we need a combination of reforming the old and building the new, but it will probably take a social revolution in one or several important countries in order to make these changes possible and let peer production in a global ‘networked society really take off.

Comment by Jean Lievens on January 17, 2012 at 14:09

Bauwens: Peer-to-peer is Socialism of the 21st century

I took the liberty to translate an interview with Michel Bauwens, first published in French on the Anne-Sophie Novel’s blog Greensiders.  I think it's a great contribution to this discussion.

"Peer-to-peer", often abbreviated P2P, allows for example to exchange music files or movies on the Internet. Napster, eDonkey, eMule, Kazaa or more recently Spotify ... P2P systems are prominent examples of P2P. However, this mode of operation gradually permeates our thinking, to the point of incarnating, for some, a powerful lever to change the world. This is certainly the thesis put forward by Michel Bauwens, one of the most renowned scholars of peer-to-peer and founder of the Foundation for P2P-alternatives.

Antonin Leonard and I met Michel Bauwens in a Parisian brasserie in December 2011 in order to better understand his thesis, that would indeed provide viable solutions to ensure the future of our societies.

Greensiders: How does one get involved in the world of P2P?

Michel Bauwens: In the late 1990s I was responsible for long-term strategy of the telephone company Belgacom. I became aware of the glaring inconsistencies dominating our world: environmental damage, social injustice, degradation of the quality of human relations, etc. There was a whole set of indicators pointing "in the wrong direction." I started questioning myself and began to realize that the logic of peer-to-peer is a powerful formula to address the failures in the system. When you are looking for alternatives today, you need to turn to P2P because it is there that the structures are changing. This lever for change corresponds first of all with a new technological paradigm, not with a traditional ideology. The revolution induced by P2P will have similar effects as those caused by the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century. I can even affirm that P2P is socialism of the twenty-first century!

Greensiders: The concept seems a bit cryptic at first sight. Can you give a simple definition?

Michel Bauwens: In my opinion, there are four modes of human relations. The first is the ‘gift-mode’, gift against gift, as our ancestors did, in tribal societies, and as we are still doing within the family and amongst friends and neighbours Then we have the authoritarian mode, as expressed for example in the relationship between o parents and children. Thirdly, there’s the merchant mode, where goods and services are exchanged on the market. And finally there’s the “common mode”, in which each can contribute to the common good. This is the most beneficial option. It is just that what P2O is: contribute to the commons. This concept is easy to understand when you take the example of natural common goods, such as air or water, or when we talk about knowledge sharing.

Greensiders: How does "peer to peer” work?

Michel Bauwens: The functioning of P2P is founded on a networked architecture: it is based on the voluntary participation of people in the production of common resources. The motivation of its contributors is not based on a mechanism of financial compensation. Traditional management methods (by executing command and control) are also "old school". P2P creates a "common" rather than a market or a state; it allocates resources according to social relations and not according to price mechanisms or a hierarchical system.

Greensiders: More concretely, what would a P2P society be like?

Michel Bauwens: It would be a society based on the logic of "open source", which is not that utopian. It is an extension of what we observe in the pioneering sectors of software production. The essential value is created under common license, its management structure has a non-profit cause and the markets are organized around it. At the lev

Comment by Jean Lievens on January 17, 2012 at 14:11

At the level of the social order, the core of the new company is a collection of common goods managed by democratic institutions completing the role of the partner state, guaranteeing the community spirit of sharing and cooperation. The ethical economy resulting from this ensures that corporations respect the environment and the interests of citizens for the good reason that their success depends on their productive relationship with the wider community of contributors to the "commons". This model of society does not abolish anything, but changes everything in a more balanced synthesis.

Greensiders: But how do we escape the immaterial world?

Michel Bauwens: By playing on reciprocity, for instance: people need to know what their interests are if they contribute to a local exchange. Another example? Local Motors, a car manufacturer in open-source model, can co-create a car, which is produced locally. Thousands of cars have already been produced in this way. For another project funded by DARPA, Local Motors would have generated more than 30,000 contributions of engineers. On a local scale, imagine the amount of stuff that could be shared amongst neighbours. For every choir there surely is somebody who can help you out of the corner! Finally, P2P practices are based on a change of perspective: everyone can compensate for the failures of others. When we lack a resource or a particular knowledge, I can find it in my community. Scarce resources from the point of view of the individual are susceptible to share. The importance is to see how we can exchange without collectivizing. The challenge lies in the way in which we can generate trust and model these exchanges.

Greensiders: When can we expect to live in such a society?

Michel Bauwens: When the era of cheap energy comes to an end. We will then re-localize production with redistributed capital ("crowdsourcing", etc..), production tools will be more miniaturized (multi-machines, FabLabs, 3D printers) and everything will be based on "common shared innovation." The deployment of P2P networks lead to a "flattening" of society: in contrast to the vertical institutions that dominate our current organizations, this economic and civilization philosophy tends to rebalance our value systems. In the end, small-scale knowledge will be put to a more global scale, and the whole society will shift from a centralized logic to a logic of mutual coordination. It's been now fifteen years that things are redistributed to the Internet. The social change is accelerating, we find ourselves in an emergence phase.

Greensiders: But all countries are not in the same phase of emergence.

Michel Bauwens: It’s true true: this new economic model is favoured in countries where free culture is highly developed, above all in Latin America and particularly Brazil. The problem of Europe is that it is already too late to change the model. Emerging economies have yet to build a lot of infrastructure. They are free to choose other organisational modes; hence Brazil favours peer-to-peer structures. There are also favourable conditions in Europe; I think France has the biggest number of bloggers in the world. But the majority of politicians are not well aware of this new development of peer production. We need real politics of social change build on emerging civic movements. Movements like the "Indignados" or "Occupy Wall Street" are born in the digital age and represent the first expressions of political organizations influenced by digital technology. When these organizations will gain influence, they will promote peer-to-peer. The Pirate Party, close to the open-source movement, has already a majority amongst the youth in Berlin and Sweden!

Greensiders: Is the introduction of a basic income for everyone the first step to take in order to accelerate this change?

Comment by Jean Lievens on January 17, 2012 at 14:12

Michel Bauwens: A basic income is probably a good idea, but I take up the idea of income transition of my Belgian friend Arnsperger, which that seems more applicable in the current state of affairs. The idea is, from today, to reward those who invest time and energy in the transition.

(I don't know what happened, but I cannot publish the interview as a whole, so I needed to 'chop it up' in three peaces....

Comment by Örsan Şenalp on February 28, 2012 at 12:54

The P2P – Marxism Debate Takes Off

As an intro to a recent post ‘And the Debate Begins… Peer-to-Peer and Marxism: analogies and diff...‘ we have said:
“We are posting a critically timed and very important interview on P2P-Marxism nexus. Conducted by Jean Lievens with the founder of the Foundation for P2P Alternatives Michel Bauwens on some aspects of his P2P theory and Marxist theory, the interview might be the opening of the greatest debate of coming years. While the rising ‘mode of P2P Production’ and new P2P political processes have obviously overdetermined the massive social change process that came about in 2011, with the contribution of such productive debate we would be able to get much clearer projections

on real alternatives to capitalism, and how to make these alternatives happen. In the aftermath of the death of  the ‘postmodern condition’ and with the return of  the ‘class warfare’ , such debate would level the field for a constructive engagement between marxist, anarchist, and post-marxist critical traditions.”

The debate has been recently took off with impulses coming from a short article by Bohm and Land, and Jakob Rigi’s response to them. We reproduce the email exchange below. The debate will likely continue here and/orhere. In order to join the debate on the first link you will need to register P2P Foundation’s social network on Ning first.


Bauwen’s reactions embedded in Rigi’s previous reaction (28.02.2012): 

Hi Muchel.Thanks for the reply. Actually, our difference  is  a difference on the nature of money and commodity, i.e, the theory of value. I hold to Max’s theory of value, in which money is the universal form which expresses the abstract labor congealed in commodities.  Trade is the exchange of these values in the market by means of money. If commons (the products of peer production),  will replace the commodity form, then money, trade and market will have no relevance.

Hi Jacob, I’m partial to, but ultimately agnostic to Marx’ value theory, because whatever its truth, it is not necessary to adhere to it to

Comment by Anna Harris on March 1, 2012 at 9:44

Quote from above – ‘The key is that generalized non-reciprocity cannot be imposed by any top-down force, however benign, but must by necessity mature in the real society as people can gradually move towards it as sufficiency and abundance replace scarcity dynamics.’

One large factor being ignored here is the role of childcare usually provided by the mother, the basis of all non-reciprocal relationships, producing value which is nowhere acknowledged as an economic asset, but without which no society could exist. or regenerate itself. I hesitate to mention the word ‘love’ in this context but without it why would people move towards more generalised reciprocity? It is that primary relationship with a carer – not to exclude fathers or others – which is the first experience of sufficiency and abundance, which will set the pattern of receiving and giving, and will enable a deeper connection with and solidarity with humanity as a whole. In that ability to care, engendered by that first primary relationship, care for ourselves and the other, we can discover our deep need to give, to contribute to another’s well-being, which can nourish our own dignity and empowerment. Through that experience we can envisage the maturity described above moving towards the ‘social individualism’ described by Marx and further towards the ‘Communism [that] is the voluntary cooperation among individuals for both social good and for their own pleasure and development.’

This is not a relationship that has to be created. It is our natural relationship to each other and to the world which is distorted by the economic system of markets and money mechanisms, which alienates us from our true selves. It remains to be discovered when that conditioning and those conditions are thrown off. Whether we have to go through a transition period will depend more, in my opinion, on how quickly we recognise the motivating role of Love and the priority of the mother/carer/child relationship.

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