In his book [ImTaktDesGeldes] Eske Bockelmann describes very nicely how the foundation for the new capitalist mode of production has been laid by the invention of capitalist money which in turn gave the foundation for a new way of thinking - the functional abstraction. If you look at capitalism today and compare it with pre-capitalist societies we can see this functional abstraction at work everywhere.

Well, we are talking of a new mode of production here. An interesting question is whether there is some new mode of thinking visible today. A good part of [ImTaktDesGeldes] tells how unconscious this shift in the thinking took place. Taking into account that this very shift has been recognized nearly 400 years after the fact, it may be very difficult to recognize a different mode of thinking today.

This said we offer two shifts which can be recognized today. The first shift has to do with the availability of products. On the one hand in the industrialized country many people are used to a situation where all means of living are more or less available. Of course this material wealth has to be bought by labor but in the industrialized countries for quite some time this worked fine for many. In fact the crisis of capitalism we currently witness changes this. More and more people are no longer save that the material foundation of their life is simply given. But that's a sign of crisis.

But there is another aspect of availability of products. This availability stems from the copyability of digital products - given the contemporary digital infrastructure. Today digital products are easy to copy technically. Without saying this applies to Free digital products like Free Software or Wikipedia. Though for commercial digital products there are often artificial limits which are enforced by means of copyright and sometimes by technical means, in practice the copyability of commercial digital products is taken for granted a lot more than the right holders like. For instance look at digitized music which is commonplace to have without proper rights or for digitized movies. The smarter part of the copyright industry slowly begins to accept that this ghost from the bottle can not be pushed back any more. [references for instance to iTunes would be nice] In effect young people today grow up with this way of thinking: Digital products can be copied easily and any hindrance of this seems unfair.

Of course one can argue that the same way of thinking should apply to material goods - since they are available like described above. In fact as of now this way of thinking is all but commonplace. What people find wrong for digital products they find right for material products - although the reason for the production of commercial products in both cases is the same: earning money.

May be this interesting difference has to do with the fact that by a copy you don't take away anything from the one who possesses the original. In fact by creating a digital copy you produce something anew instead of just changing ownership like you do with material products.

The other shift has to do with Selbstentfaltung. In the capitalist mode of thinking it is common to give something only if you receive something. In core capitalism this exchange always is an exchange of equivalents. In core capitalism the equivalence of things is expressed by the price: Things with the same price are equivalent. In particular they are equivalent to a certain amount of money. However, in normal life it is rarely possible to put a price tag on everything. Still there is the common perception that there should be at least some exchange.

A particular thing which is not given away without an exchange is work - especially if those who benefit from your work are a more or less anonymous mass of people. The only realm where this seems to be possible seems to be relationships which are characterized by some type of love. However, humans are not very capable of loving an anonymous mass so this is limited to personal relationships.

In fact there is a new mode of thinking developing in peer production. External openness requires that Free products are generally available. Thus a Free producer can not expect any exchange for his or her work. In fact Free producers produce things which are useful for the general public - i.e. an anonymous mass - just because they like to produce.

This shift in thinking is major. People no longer ask what they receive in exchange for their work but focus on their own needs regarding productive activity. They do what they like - even if they do not get anything in exchange. Yes, this sounds weird but in practice sometimes people are not productive just because they can not expect an exchange - although they would have fun being productive.

As outlined above at the brink of a new mode of production it is probably difficult to recognize the new thinking. So these attempts need to be taken with a grain of salt.

[ImTaktDesGeldes](1, 2) Eske Bockelmann * Im Takt des Geldes

Oekonux/Project/Book/ModeOfProduction/RoleOfThinking (last edited 2011-11-28 18:44:06 by StefanMerten)

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