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:


Adam Bullen Thu 24 Apr 2014 11:25PM

I agree with the statement "you cannot have ongoing, exponential growth on a finite planet", however I believe that slowing human progress to meet the limits of Earth is unwise and wont work.

It wont work because, at heart humans are an expansionist species.

We need to promote recycling as a design principal, i.e. all new products are designed to be recycled. Thus minimising the need for new raw materials. But new raw materials will always be required.
We need to promote design for energy efficiency, because to otherwise reduces the amount of energy we can use for new interesting technologies.

The problem is with the above two points is that the market has to demand it or the companies making stuff wont follow through.

This is where the we can step in and penalise inefficient or badly designed products, imagine if every two years or so the least efficient product in a category was removed from the market or had an extra tax applied to it. Every product in a category would strive to incorporate best design practices for efficiency and recyclability.


[deactivated account] Sun 27 Apr 2014 1:53PM

For the sake of the argument, lets call this the "darwin" tax.

For the sake of Pirate Economics, I would advocate that a welfare policy of a UBI is required to support everyone, not just those who contribute code.


Hubat McJuhes Mon 28 Apr 2014 10:48AM

@adambullen Interesting thoughts, but where do you read that the statement “you cannot have ongoing, exponential growth on a finite planet” means "slowing human progress to meet the limits of Earth is unwise and wont work"?


Hubat McJuhes Mon 28 Apr 2014 10:52AM

@andrewmcpherson I agree completely. Only that I would want to point out that the UBI in my eyes is not part of a welfare policy - quite the contrary: it is the abolition of welfare, really. It is the paradigm change of the century in social policy, in that it kills welfare completely, once and for all.

Welfare is dead, long live participation!


[deactivated account] Mon 28 Apr 2014 1:35PM

@hubatmcjuhes 1. It is logical to backup humanity from earth to the moon and mars, then we can explore the stars.
2. If in the near future, we mine the asteroid belt, then we also take care of the rare mineral supply issues and will be dealing with abundant cheap metals.
3. Space exploration and exploitation will result in improved environment on Earth, a warranty against catastrophic events on Earth and will provide cheaper metals and minerals for everyone.

All in all, a potential win for everyone and all we need do is convince a few politicians and companies around the world that there is an infinite supply of resources in space and a vast amount of technical progress to be made for a profit, and we will live in the second space age.


Adam Bullen Tue 29 Apr 2014 5:11AM

@hubatmcjuhes I have read many articles and papers on this topic, and many of them essentially boil down to "humans suck we are a big virus, we need to limit what we are doing to the planet" and the usual way is limit human potential.

Sorry if this is not what you were implying.

Humans are the only shot the world has of fixing the problems that humans have caused! The solutions are not going to come about from a policy of limitation. Solutions are going to come from policies like I stated above, that @andrewmcpherson so eloquently called the "Darwin tax". I would also hope manufacturers would roll out improvements faster rather then dribbling them to market to make more money.

We need to promote thinking big, like Space X trying to bring the cost to orbit down by a factor of 10 - 20, this will create a whole new economy.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 29 Apr 2014 9:06AM

@andrewmcpherson 4. we can transpose ourselves into body-less beings to avoid the inconvenient aspects of mass. Most notably will we be able to travel without being constrained to the speed of light.

But before we do this in the near future, let us right now develop Graphen to the stage that we can build some dearly needed space elevators. Space X is fine but clearly way to inefficient, yet.
And, yes, another internet sea cable connecting us with the free world would be nice as well.


Hubat McJuhes Tue 29 Apr 2014 9:20AM

@adambullen Is any of the sources that @strypey has bothered to offer us amongst those essentially boiling down to “humans suck we are a big virus, we need to limit what we are doing to the planet” and does any one of them suggest to limit human potential?
If there isn’t, then we don’t need to start yet another pointless discussion at the present point in time.


Andrew Reitemeyer Tue 29 Apr 2014 7:12PM

@adambullen the big thinkingyou talk about has just about put paid to space exploration in the near future; we are in serious danger of being trapped on the planet by our own space debris created by business and the military. To be able to “boldly go” we will have to fix the mess - and WE will have to pay. Let us think before we jump into new profit driven ventures.


Adam Bullen Tue 29 Apr 2014 8:55PM

@andrewreitemeyer I agree we have made a mess up there, but it presents a massive learning opportunity also.

If we can learn to clean up the mess we have made, that will give us a great test bed for capturing asteroids etc... I would much rather they perfect techniques while capturing a 3kg bit of junk that will burn up harmlessly should it strike the atmosphere.....rather then a 3 Billion tonne asteroid.

Also space junk is inevitable, mechanical wear and failure happen all the time. You can engineer great solutions etc... but failures happen, we have to know how to deal with it.

But we digress this discussion is supposed to be about the economy, not dreams of space flight. While I fully support anyone doing serious work towards getting humans to a multiplanet species....NZ isn't exactly the global hub of international space research.


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.