DS Danyl Strype Public Seen by 277

Pirate economics cannot be based on either of the traditional economics ideologies of the last century:

  • Socialism (whether Marxist or social democrat) is based on the idea that the economy should be planned, or at least managed, by the people who govern states. To this end, essential infrastructure should be owned by the state, to ensure it is maintained, and run for the greater good of the citizens of that state.

  • Capitalism (whether libertarian or conservative) is based on the idea that the economy should be planned, or at least managed, by the people who own companies, with the largest companies having the most influence. To this end essential infrastructure should be owned by large companies, to ensure it is maintained, and run for the benefit of those able to pay for it.

Inspired by free code software projects like GNU/Linux, and free culture projects like Wikipedia, Pirate ideas imply a peer-to-peer economy, planned and managed by everyone through collaborative networks. To this end, essential infrastructure should be treated as commons, held in trust by steward organisations, to ensure that they are maintained, and run for the benefit of everyone in the world.

Jeremy Rifkin is one of a handful of economists who understand the implications of this new way of thinking, and with the rise of the Maker movement and the Internet of Things, his book 'The Zero Marginal Cost Society' may be as important as Lawrence Lessig's 'Free Culture':

A lot of commentators are also talking about these implications in terms of the rise of the 'Sharing Economy':

...or 'collaborative consumption':

...or the end of business as usual:

Pirate economics also needs to engage with the obvious reality that you cannot have ongoing, exponential growth on a finite planet, and we need to come up with new economic goals and measures which do not pathologically valourize growth. Physicist Dr Albert Bartlett explains the implications of this for population and energy:


Danyl Strype Wed 30 Apr 2014 2:11AM

Colonizing and mining space is still in the realms of science fiction, where it will remain, until someone comes up with a new energy source as concentrated and easily exploited as the fossil fuels which currently put all payloads into space. The point of Dr Bartlett’s talk is that the majority of exploitable fossil oil will be used up in our lifetime, assuming current rates of usage, and faster if we don’t achieve zero population growth ASAP. Also, if we burn all that oil, rather than leaving it in the ground, we will go above 2 degree warming, kicking off catastrophic climate change.

These are the scientific realities we must get our heads around so my daughter’s generation can have the luxury of brining up their own children on a planet which is habitable by humans. Our economic policy must engage with these scientific realities.

The market has been given pretty much free reign across the world twice, in the age of classical liberalism in the 18th century, and in the neo-liberal era of the late 20th. It’s pretty clear that without conscious human direction, “free markets” (free of democratic regulation) makes the aforementioned problems exponentially worse. So I agree with @adambullen that we need government to adopt post-growth economic policy, and apply regulations to business which rewards renewable energy generation and use, energy efficiency and recycling, and penalizes non-renewables, energy gluttony and waste creation. But exactly what rules need to be created? How do we avoid creating unintended consequences, backlash, and perverse incentives? How should they be enforced, and with what penalties?


Danyl Strype Sun 4 Oct 2015 12:12PM

There's been more focused academic work done on Peer Production or Co-Production since we had this discussion. Even more exciting, Michael Bauwens from the P2P Foundation and his team were invited to Ecuador to help their government plan a managed transition to a commons-ownership/ co-production form of political-economy, inspired by free software and open source ideas! Bauwens and his team have produced a book called Commons Transition, building on their work.