News and Articles

Blaq/Celine Trefle

Mapping the emerging Post-Capitalist paradigm and its main thinkers

“We do not live in an era of change, but in a change of eras” is the way Jan Rotmans from the University Rotterdam describes the structural changes impacting our societies. This is also the phrase Michel Bauwens chose to open his latest book yet to be published in English which title is likely to be close to “Towards a post-capitalist society with the Peer-to-Peer”.

For thinkers like Jan Rotmans and Michel Bauwens this change of eras is akin to the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 19th century, and characterized by transitions in various fields. In a nutshell, our societies face 3 major tipping points:

  • A change in social order from a central, hierarchically-controlled society to a horizontal, decentralized, and bottom-up working unit.
  • A changing economic structure: where in the past large, bureaucratic organizations were necessary to produce cheap products, in the new digital economy it is possible to develop products and services locally on a small scale.
  • A change in power relations: where once political influence and economies of scale determined access to resources, access to knowledge and information is now also accessible outside of political and social institutions.

Following this analysis, it is to gain further insights that we at blaqswans.org wanted to paint a big picture of the emerging post-capitalist paradigm, underpinned by peer-to-peer and collaborative dimensions. We started mapping various domains to go beyond the anecdotal evidence that such or such initiative is venturing into car-sharing or house swapping.

(click on the images for higher resolution)

Alternatives - roue 0.2 - P2PFoundation BW

Alternatives - roue 0.2 - 2P2Foundation Color

We confirmed a few things as we drew this map:

  • There is much more to this transition that the greenwashing offered by Uber and Airbnb, which are actually not peer-to-peer. This is precisely why we deliberately reused the shape of a honeycomb popularised by the “Collaborative Economy Honeycomb” infographic. It lists startup companies claiming to be part of that ‘sharing economy’, when many really are unbridled capitalism trying to further optimise the existing ‘selling economy’ – nothing wrong with selling but let’s not call it ‘sharing’ with the ethical claims usually attached to it.
  • The intellectual work of theorising this new economy has now reached a critical mass that is too often overlooked by ‘mainstream’ economists, observers, and policy makers who treat it as fringe.
  • Put together, the practical initiatives run at the grassroots level offer a credible sustainable alternative contradicting the eventual perception that the post-capitalist paradigm is a utopia dreamt up by isolated hippies. On the contrary, it is now possible to shop food regularly outside of mass retailers’ distribution networks, it is possible for a major French city like Grenoble, or Barcelona in Spain to be run by grassroots movements, and it is possible for farmers to produce in a biodynamic and commercially viable way to escape the vicious cycle of pesticides and high yields.

This map is very much work in progress and will be improved as we progress. We wanted to stop contemplating the problems of the current paradigm, and instead show how each of those issues has robust thinkers and influencers offering credible alternatives (we have chosen just a few to illustrate but there are obviously many more), and how those alternatives have started to be implemented to form a coherent system that will bring a post-capitalist society to life.

For this to be successful it will require a movement of movements, an alliance of separate movements, including a coalition of the global social and environmental justice movements, environmentalists, activists for the cancellation of debt, and so on. There is of course no guarantee of success. Every change requires a successful transition: that will be the challenge. But counting and mapping our troops is a first and necessary step to make this cause prevail.


High Resolution Links

Current Capitalist Paradigm Diagram: PNG, PDF

Beyond Capitalism Diagram: PNG, PDF


Lead image by Marlon Böhland

35 Comments

  1. Commons Transition

    We published Celine and Blacq’s diagrams on the P2P Foundation blog a few days ago and, since then, it has generated many comments. One of the most recurring criticisms concerned the lack of female thinkers in the original chart, an inadequacy that Celine and Blacq have tried to address in the version published above.

    If you want to read the discussion in the P2PF blog, please follow this link.

    1. Stephen Freedman

      Capitalism is bantered about as if it had an opposite benign force. Capitalism is a root function in evolution. Thinking more about competition and cooperation, as biologically and functionally more fundamental than capitalism versus communism would be a valuable dialog.

      1. Mike Pod

        Cspitalism isn’t a system…it’s a description of how people act in the absence of an imposed system. If anything, it can be considered buffered social Darwinism. The less centralized or minimally dispersed regulation, the greater the opportunity for the worst attributes of social Darwinism to assert themselves.

      2. Mike pod

        Exactly. Well put.

  2. Maria Lusitano

    This is no war, I mean,the metaphor of war doesn’t serve us anymore, so no need to speak about troops 🙂

    1. Eimhin

      Why are you using war metaphors ? I would caution that the language be watched with more care and less sensationalism.

  3. Kevin jones

    Glad to see the list evolve with more gender balance . I still think the biosphere the reality of living on the planet needs to be a major honeycomb node.

    1. Sarah

      Totally agree

  4. Max Pont

    One of the most critical building blocks for a P2P, sharing, and commons based world is open source software and abolished so called Intellectual Property Rights. Without the patent system, innovations will quickly be adapted in the entire economy. The argument that mega corporations need patents to invest in innovation is false. Lawrence Lessig has written on this but I think that the Pirate Party movement should also be included in the list of inspirational thinkers.

    1. Commons Transition

      Max, on this topic we also recommend the work of our teammate George Dafermos. His full policy paper on distributed manufacturing can be read here, but you can also go straight to the section on patents (and the lack of innovation and productivity they provoke) in our wiki.

  5. gregorylent

    mystics smile .. they have recognized this development for a long time .. keep on!

  6. Kostas

    Is there an editable version of the diagrams? Maybe an .xcf format for GIMP?
    I would really like to translate it to greek.

  7. Caleb Williams

    I can’t believe you have left out Otto Scharmer and Charles Eisenstein! Correct this at once, please!

    Otto Scharmer’s Theory U provides a GREAT methodology for getting groups to think into the eco-centered ways of thinking!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcbB1I__BmM

    And Charles Eisenstein has pin-pointed the need for the place of new stories to describe our new paradigm. The book is available as links chapter by chapter at the bottom of the page.
    http://charleseisenstein.net/project/the-more-beautiful-world-our-hearts-know-is-possible/

    God Bless! Stay Alert and Watch for Signs!

    1. Malin

      Just like to agree with the previous comment. The gift economy that Eisenstein takes about. Theory U from Otto Scharmer and team. Very beautiful made, thank you.

  8. J. Levy

    J.K. Gibson-Graham …

  9. Sarah

    I like the honeycomb map, but it has left out one very vital component and that is our relationship with the environment. In our current capatialust society the environment as something that can be ‘owned’ and is to be exploited. Potection of the environment is only achieve through regulations on enterprise and very badly at that. Post capatilist society will see the environment as a commons in which all humans have an stake as do the all other lifeforms on this planet. The protection of the environment will be achieved through a participatoy and scientific process that recognises the interrelationships of the hydrological, geological, atmospheric and biological spheres of the planet.

  10. Daniel Strypey Bruce

    These diagrams are also reminiscent of the Permaculture Flower created by Permaculture co-founder David Holmgren (second page down):
    http://holmgren.com.au/downloads/Essence_of_Pc_EN.pdf

  11. Nathan Surendran

    I’d add Gail Tverberg of http://www.ourfiniteworld.com to the list, for one of the most coherent critiques of the flaws in current economic thinking on an energy basis..

    I’d also add Donnie Maclurcan from the Post Growth Institute for his thinking on a not for profit future, as he explains it in this podacst (book due out next year): http://bit.ly/1RCiWh6

    1. Thieme Hennis

      what about Tim Jackson (Prosperity without Growth).. just my 2 cents. Interesting and fascinating picture. Need much more time to comprehend.

  12. Bart Anderson

    Excellent overview!

    We re-posted the article on our website (resilience.org), and one of the commenters pointed out that the “Current Capitalist Paradigm” figure has two typos:
    “des-humanizing” should be “dehumanizing” (or maybe “de-humanizing”)
    “On going” should be “Ongoing”

    Keep up the good work.

  13. Dora

    I would like you to consider John Thackara, and John Wood (design theorist +++).
    But very much agree with the gender balance questions, and may get back with more names.

  14. Carlos

    I guess it’s hard to name them all, but I think you left out Satoshi Nakamoto as a relevant game-changer for decentralization of economy.

  15. Jeremy Hunter

    I’m surprised no one has invoked Peter Drucker, who foresaw the emergence of Post-Capitalism over two decades ago. This Harvard Business Review article maps out the fundamentals of what we’ve been experiencing.

    https://hbr.org/1993/05/the-post-capitalist-executive-an-interview-with-peter-f-drucker

  16. Doug

    Agree that humanity’s relationship witht he environment should be more prominent. Also, to add to the list of thinkers who should be on the second map, Murray Bookchin needs a place.

  17. Ethan

    This focus on making a list of what specific people are (or, by exclusion are not) central to the emergence of new economies seems to distract from a much more important reality: “post-capitalism” is actually being build, here-and-now, by thousands of not-so-famous innovators working collectively in many different combinations to make practical differences. Thinkers and writers are crucially important, but are often either reporting on what is already emerging from the creativity of others, or synthesizing this work and offering new perspectives and directions for it. That’s only a few roles among many in this movement (documenting, synthesizing, strategizing) and we elevate this above other roles at the loss of much other essential work. If we’re going to make lists, then listing organizations, associations, and practice-based affiliations would be at least as important if not more than famous thinkers/writers. The last thing we need is a post-capitalism popularity contest!

    1. Kevin jones

      The maps need mulitple overlays thinkers , practioners, organizations, collaboratives engaged in local or vertical ( solar, water, etc) partnership initiatives etc

  18. D Smith

    ORIENTAL Values???

    1. Mário

      Yep! That part is a bit wrong. It is made by Westerners 😉
      If they heard a lot of catholic thinkers, including the Pope, (and others even non-christian) it is impossible to continue to attack it.

      A view that is not P2P but it is not Capitalism or other of the traditional -isms:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Communion_in_Freedom, http://www.edc-online.org/en and http://www.catholicbusinessethics.org/2009/07/the-economy-of-communion-ii.html

  19. Thieme Hennis

    Tim Jackson – Prosperity without Growth
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Jackson_%28economist%29

  20. Richard Hull

    I would add:
    Community Economies Collective http://www.communityeconomies.org/Home
    They have been inspired by the feminist economics demonstrated in, e.g.
    J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy (2013) Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming our Communities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. And also
    Gerda Roelvink, Kevin St. Martin, and J. K. Gibson-Graham (2015) Making Other Worlds Possible: Performing Diverse Economies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Vandana Shiva – http://vandanashiva.com/ many books on EcoFeminism, food sovereignty, women’s struggles against GMOs in India, and more.

    De-growth:- Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era, (2014) edited by Giacomo D’Alisa, Federico Demaria and Giorgos Kallis (vocabulary.degrowth.org), Routledge.

    Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics (including a good debate with DeGrowth) http://www.kateraworth.com/blog/

    Activist-oriented sociology of markets:- Susi Geiger, D. Harrison, H. Kjellberg and A. Mallard , Edward Elgar, 2014.

    Social & Solidarity Economy:- A lot is written about this but one of the best current books is:- Peter Utting (Ed.) , Zed Books, 2015. But also see the work of Jean-Louis Laville, e.g. chapter in , edited by Defourney, Hulgard and Pestoff. London: Routledge.

    Globalization From Below: The Power of Solidarity – original book by Jeremy Brecher & Tim Costello, 2000. Boston: Southend Press.
    A more recent treatment of similar ideas, from an anthropological perspective:- Gordon Mathews, Gustavo Lins Ribeiro and Carlos Alba Vega (2012) Globalization From Below: The World’s Other Economy. London: Routledge.

    Keith Hart has also written along similar lines:- Hart (Ed.) (2015) Economy For and Against Democracy (The Human Economy). Oxford: Bergahn Books. He is also co-founder of the Human Economy Project in Pretoria, South Africa http://www.up.ac.za/human-economy-programme and there is a related Blog http://thehumaneconomy.blogspot.co.uk/

    Ivan Illich must surely be listed, especially his 1973 but also his advocacy of “a peer-matching network” in the 1971 .

    Robert Owen or any other notable figure writing on co-operatives.

    Peter Kropotkin , 1898; 1902

    1. Thieme Hennis

      Indeed Ivan Illich. I am in educational research, and his book Deschooling Society really changed my perspective on education. The educational system is, as someone (I forgot) once noted, “a pattern-maintenance machine”. To end with a quote from Illich:

      “Schools are the advertising agency that makes you believe you need society as it is.”
      &
      “People who submit to the standard of others for the measure of their own personal growth soon apply the same standard to themselves. They no longer have to be put in their place but put themselves into their assigned slots, squeeze themselves into the niche which they have been taught to seek, and in the very process, put their fellows into their places, too, until everybody and everything fits.” (Illich, 1971, p. 40)

  21. Ronaldo

    The problem is…if you keep Central Banks, even controlled by citizens, you keep the bank system. We need abolish Fractional-reserve banking , this will remove the power of Banks and Central Banks in creation-currency process(and inflation). Better than is, is have a society without dependence of banks. If we create forms of centralization of the economy, we will never give power to the people(us), only serves interesting of few people.

  22. Eric

    Don’t forget about Christopher Alexander. The Nature of Order completely changes the approach we need to take to the natural world and to constructing the built world. Without this fundamental change, we’re still living in places that have no life.

  23. Aurélie

    It would be great to be able to translate this version to any language easily like french !

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *