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Michel Bauwens on Our Ecological Cricis

Michel: Look at Wikipedia. It’s massive produced parallel development. Anybody in the world can work on something at the same time, and there is no capitalist company that can do that. Another example is Wikispeed, you might have heard of it. It is an open source car that took three months to develop. It has five star crash rating, drives hundred miles per gallon, it can be constructed in a micro factory, and has joined with open source ecology, which is a project to make fifty basic machinery in open source hardware.

They develop something called the extreme manufacturing platform, which would allow massive parallel-distributed development of any design. This is like Henry Ford inventing the assembly line. It’s the method of this new reality. I wanted to say this in order to show you that this is developing a lot faster than we think. But the second thing is that these new practices breed a new culture that wants to defend this new practice. So I see the pirate parties as directly being created by these practices of sharing, and therefore as a natural defender of the digital commons. I see the Greens as the natural defenders of the environmental commons, and I see what I would call the renewed left as a natural expression of the productive commons. And finally I think -and this might be seen as class collaboration by orthodox Marxists- that social liberals expressing social entrepreneurship represent these ethical companies that work under the commons. They can also be included in this coalition. So I see this as a basis for new vision on politics. I also want to say one thing about escapism, considering the ecological data… just take climate change: the prediction is that by 2030 the agricultural production of Africa will fall back by fifty percent. The Sahara is getting bigger, there are water issues… The Club of Rome Rapport, Limits to Growth, seems to underestimate the speed with which these things will develop. MIT made a projection for 2030 called peak civilization and predicts massive population die-outs, starting in 2030. Millions of people will die. If you look at other studies, from Oxfam for example, they all go in the same direction. There are nine vital systems for the planet and three of them are damaged already. Oxfam made a similar study about social issues, 8 of the 12 are declining. So I don’t think that the view that capitalism is in serious problems is escapism. I think that it is really grounded in scientific recognition of the ecological crisis. And there is absolutely no sign that they can do anything about it within their logic. The big debate within the ecological movement is the following. We know that the energy resources are going down, so energy scarcity is increasing and we need replacement. The big debate is: is it actually possible to find enough replacements fast enough to keep our civilization functioning in pretty much the same way as now, or can’t we do it and do we face a very severe contraction. I tend to lean on the pessimistic side. - Michel Bauwens

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