1. At a public talk someone asks you, "okay, I understand what you reject, but I wonder what you are for? What institutions do you want that you think will be better than what we have, for the economy, polity, gender, race, ecology, or whatever you think is central to have vision for?
The P2P Foundation favours a society which is centered around the practices of the commons, i.e. pools of value, physical and cultural, in which people can freely contribute, and use, the common resource pool. We call these types of human relationships ‘peer to peer’, i.e. we want people to freely (permissionlessly) aggregate around the creation of common value, as is already happening in diverse free knowledge communities, free software initiatives, and shared design communities for open and distributed manufacturing. Around this we see the emergence of a plurality of entrepreneurs and cooperatives. So we favour the existence of free peer to peer communities that are supported by infrastructures of cooperation managed by democratically-run for-benefit associations, a thriving ecology of sustainable businesses geared towards producing for the social good, and benevolent and democratically run public authorities which enable and empower such social production.
2. Next, someone at the same event asks, "Why do you do what you do? That is, you are speaking to us, and I know you write, and maybe you organize, but why do you do it? What do you think it accomplishes? What is your goal for your coming year, or for your next ten years?
We practice what we preach, i.e. the P2P Foundation ‘peer produces’ knowledge and collective experience around the construction of commons in various fields. We attempt to build infrastructures which sustain the community, and hopefully at a later stage, outcome-based entrepreneurial ventures which can sustain that collective effort.
3. You are at home and you get an email that says a new organization is trying to form, internationally, federating national chapters, etc. It asks you to join the effort. Can you imagine plausible conditions under which you would say, yes, I will give my energies to making it happen along with the rest of you who are already involved? If so, what are those conditions? Or – do you think instead that regardless of the content of the agenda and make up of the participants, the idea can’t be worthy, now,or perhaps ever. If so, why?
The key is to find modalities in which the individual projects converge within a higher collective purpose where other projects can also congregate. We would prefer an infrastructure that can sustain such efforts, by combining them in a great coalition for social change. We would prefer institutions that strengthen and internetwork projects and movements, rather than replacing them or taking power over them.
4. Do you think efforts to organize movements, projects, and our own organizations should embody the seeds of the future in the present? If not, why? If yes, can you say what, very roughly, you think some of the implications would be for an organization you would favor?
Absolutely, we should construct the new society within the shell of the old, protect it from assault, and organize to change the existing meta-structures to that they peer to peer practices can flourish. We should be careful to distinguish the areas where the polarity of abundance predominates (non-rival immaterial goods), and the maximum freedom for individual initiative should be preserved; and the areas where scarce resources have to allocated, and these should be democratically run.
5. Why did you answer this interview? Why do you think others did not answer it?
We live in a period with much more expressive freedom and opportunities, but that also creates an attention deficit. Many are claiming for our attention, many are trying to confederate, and so it is very difficult to arise out of these multiple offerings.