[lbo-talk] The Politics of DIY

Nicholas Roberts nicholas at themediasociety.org
Sun Jan 23 16:46:47 PST 2011

I'm organising an event in the Bay Area in the Spring along these lines http://www.permacultureunconference.org/ http://wiki.permaculture.coop/wiki/Permaculture_Unconference_Bay_Area_2011

Juliet Schor has written a book about some of these trends, Plenitude and has MacArthur funding to study the open source hardware movement http://www.julietschor.org/2010/05/welcome-to-plenitude/

The digital fabrication scene is big, see Make magazine, but has more elements of totalitraian anarchism / anarcho capitalist / right libertarian than left communitarianism

there are hacker spaces and craft clubs, but not many organised cooperatives... more loose collections of individuals building small businesses https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/Noisebridge

like the open software movement, commercial businesses will be built

and some of the leading characters such as Marcin Jakubowski from Open Source Ecology are more like Bill Gates than Howard Rheingold http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/mendenyo/message/2803

which remind me, that Nicholas Carr, author of "Is Google Making Us Stupid" and "The Shallows" wrote and article about Web 2.0 and crowd-sourced social media called "Share Cropping the Long Tail" .. much of the free, means free from remuneration, the open means, open to exploitation http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2006/12/sharecropping_t.php.. the Web 2.0 was going to set us free, and Tim Oreilly sells lots of books and now hosts expensive corporate-friendly events on free software http://www.roughtype.com/archives/2005/10/the_amorality_o.php

there is an excellent online resource called the p2pfoundation (peer to peer) founded and curated by Michel Bauwens that is something for a haven for much of this - perhaps guilt of boosterism and over intellectualizing, but certainly a rich resource with high-quality contributions http://p2pfoundation.net/

an underground manifesto is The Homebrew Revolution, written by Kevin Carson is fascinating, and again catalogs much of the stuff in Plenitude and above - but large organised operations like Mondragon are too big and corporate looking for Kevin, its got to be small and local... larger federations or layers of organisation scaling up to the level of states or nation-states, thats carefully critiqued and destroyed in his arguments...


whats missing from all of these is an active, facilitative system of government, dare I say a state (corporations are a product of the state dont you know) and so its impossible to do any kind of collective problem solving on a large scale...

I suspect that the Totalitarian Anarchism from the Koch Brothers and others is splintering the left and these movements further by propagating the anarcho capitalist concepts - and steering people away from libertraian socialism which has many of the real answers imho http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

open source software, and open source hardware etc means a radical outsourcing of R&D - i.e. its a cheap way for innovation to be done, and highly exploitable i.e. open source usually means no meaningful commercial exploiatation of IP (not that small, independet inventors actually ever really did get much, see David F Noble, America By Design)

in short, I think it comes down to the differences between Market Anarchism / Libertarian Capitalism vs Commons Anarchism / Libertarian Socialism http://c4ss.org/about-market-anarchism

its a short step from (market anarchism/libertarian capitalilsm) to corporate consultant ... a much bigger step from commons anarchism/libertarian socialism - check out the orginal editor of the Whole Earth Catalog - he went from advocating small is beautiful solutions in the Whole EArth Catalog in the 70s, Stewart Brand http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Earth_Catalog to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Earth_Discipline Brand tackles "touchy issues" like nuclear power<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power> ,genetic engineering <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_engineering> and geoengineering <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoengineering>, "fully aware that many of the environmentalist readers he hopes to reach will start out disagreeing with him".[3]<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_Earth_Discipline#cite_note-2>

for anyone interested and

[The following article aggravated the hell out of me, but maybe I'm being a
> little too harsh because I'm not all that familiar with the culture. The
> movement (or perhaps more accurately, "movement") is characterized as
> politically left-wing, with references to anarchism, punk, a 'democratic
> world-view', organic farming, etc. But the few times the article
> articulates
> actual politics, instead of its interminable cataloging of sock puppets and
> pillow cases, it demonstrates an industry more and more awash in corporate
> money and ideologies that don't seem all that different from the average
> Wall Street guy: e.g. "the movement?s anti-industrial, anti-institutional
> and highly entrepreneurial manifesto". I have a ton of liberal and lefty
> friends who are up to their necks in DIY, and many honestly believe that
> there's some political potential in it. But if this article is
> representative of DIY culture, I don't see where that political potential
> is.)
> James
> http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/garden/04craft.html?_r=1&ref=penelopegreen

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