Value Flows of the Public Forum
This builds and extends the energies of the non-violent resistance movements across the world. In many developed countries, we are only free to consume what we are served in markets that only pretend to be competitive. We don't have outright dictatorship and supression of speech, we have a system that ignores the speech of all but a select few. Political speech has deteriorated to a side show like the Harlem Globetrotters and the Washington Generals. Much of news only covers this spectacle so that we don't talk about the way the pubic is being denied serious dialog on any serious issues.
The resistance to a a violent non-democratic systems is necessarily more cautious, and this is clear in the writings of Gene Sharp on the strategy of non-violent resistance.(ref) The need for strategic engagement is no different when the oppression is the power of the anti-markets*(ref DeLanda paper), it is only the tactics that are different. In the faux-democracy world, the enemy is disengagement and apathy. The challenge is producing fun and rewarding engagement while also creating electoral power.
The swarming digital natives of social media are gaining experience and capacity day by day. This is common ground in all strategic contexts, owning the territory of digital expression and emergent social entities, social beings, and it is clear that this is the strategic ground of this struggle for power and voice. These swarms are also continually re-deploying the technology for its own purposes. The physical resource requirements of these systems is continually falling, the main inputs are actually in the work of repurposing which is exactly the same sort of work that goes into building capacity in social/political expression.
The only thing that is missing is an appropriate currency system. It has to connect to conventional money, because the people and organiations of the emergent network must be sustainable in a world where you obtain almost all resources by this conventional money. On the other hand, the new currency system has to promote vibrant gift economies and make their flows visible. If we are, as a network, creating value that can be "sold" in a market of conventional money, then we can have balanced flows of conventional money. If we are at the same time building shared assets and circulating monies that are backed by those same shared assets, then we can "pay" our workers and contributors in a mix of conventional and new currencies that represent different participation in shared value flows.
This is not very different in principle than the foundations that manage projects like Wikipedia or Apache, there is a shared asset that is being produced in a collective and some people are paid conventional money. With these examples, there is typically a hard line between paid full-time staff and unpaid volunteers, and this is why we need the new currencies. We can freely issue gift currencies, even currencies that function in exchange with conventional monies, as long as the system is coherent. If a currency is exchangable, their must be controls, but they will be different in character than conventional debt based financing. This is asset and credit based instead.
Strategically we need to identify the flows of value that we will build as shared assets. In the context of political power these flows will be all about participation in the political process as we find them, registering ourselves and our fellow citizens to vote as well as the production of candidates worth voting for, but it will also go beyond that. We find ourselves in a struggle for voice. Corporations have a voice, but communities do not. The politicians will recognize the power potential in the emergent flows, and some will take a strategy of suppression, but some will embrace this struggle with us, and even if they don't "get it", they will see the value in talking to their potential constituents through the networks we have built. They will have a lot of conventional money to give us for this privilege if they are to be successful in the conventional political system, and they will have a lot of our own network's gift currencies if they are already engaged. Either way, the shared assets are making currencies flow to both build the assets and in the expression of those flows in conventional ways.
-- June 9, 2011
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