Commons Based Peer Production

Benkler contrasts CBPP with Firms and Markets as a mode of production; on exploration of the concept, it is more like the original form of production from which the others originate. We are of the commons in the same way as our ancestors and all the living relations. We necessarily share a biosphere and co-create each local environment in resource webs and cycles. We inherit genetic and social assets the have enabled our peoples to survive in harmony with the web we find ourselves embedded within. They also have enabled us to respond to changes and eventually adapt to many environments.

We have always had to have faith that the stories of our ancestors will continue to serve us. For most of our history, only a few are literate and can even participate in keeping the stories our cultures have lived by, but in times of crisis the old stories fade and are replaced. If we adapt, our leaders created a new story that we could at least survive with. For the most part, the story of technology and progress has replaced the old stories; they are no longer powerful except to mobilize reactionary mobs. This is just another sign that the dominant storie is in trouble. The commons is suffering and if we fail to maintain it will eventually reduce its productive capacity and we will fail to thrive. The productive capacity that concerns us is the part that we live on and interact with, but that part is not separate from the web itself; we depend on all of the commons because parts cannot remain healthy without the whole web.

Markets are Commons

Stable markets like democracies are themselves production commons. Markets do not remain free and effiicient without governance and governance to be just, must be democratic. The way modern firms are organized under the oppressive role of capital makes no pretense to justice, pointing to the magic free market as axiomatic proof that rule by ownership is the only just system. This completes their coup against reality and eliminates any pretense that the capitalist winners are wealth creators and not just renting at monopoly prices.


Described by Yochai Benkler as a third mode of production in The Wealth of Networks.