New blog series: What can WE do: 1 and 2

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In the new series of blogs we will concentrate from now on on the very positive and promising directions various presentations and new books point us into. We are witnessing a floodgate of them, so we have only selected the very best that we can recommend to you.

What can we do 1. A must-view brilliant TED lecture by George Monbiot is in our humble opinion a perfect introduction about the why and how of an urgently needed NEW STORY to get all of us into the right mindset to receive the signals and messages that point in the same direction. See: link or click on this :

Summary and key messageTo get out of the mess we’re in, we need a new story that explains the present and guides the future, says author George Monbiot. Drawing on findings from psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology, he offers a new vision for society built around our fundamental capacity for altruism and cooperation. This contagiously optimistic talk will make you rethink the possibilities for our shared future.


What can we do 2. One of the best candidates for that New Story is the organisation form of a Peer-to-Peer Commons = P2P Commons in which actions, contributions, decisions and output are shared; according to strict rules. For more about “Commons”, see

The #P2PFoundation , of which my friend Michel Bauwens is one of the main drivers, (see also their blog) has studied and experimented with this organisation form, not by the State and not as a Business enterprise. they recently published a promising report about that:

P2P report

P2P Accounting for Planetary Survival: Towards a P2P Infrastructure for a Socially Just Circular Society”  by Michel Bauwens and Alex Pazaitis. Foreword by Kate Raworth. P2P Foundation, June 2019.

URL = ; draft illustrations

How shared perma-circular supply chains, post-blockchain distributed ledgers, protocol cooperatives, and three new forms of post-capitalist accounting, could very well save the planet.


How to read this report: If you are not an expert but interested in future infrastructures, then chapter 1 is the most readable ‘visionary’ chapter, which will give you the broad background about what we want to achieve with this report. Chapters 2 and 3 are aimed for the more motivated experts who are specifically interested in a number of technical tools that are becoming available to enable this vision. Each of these chapters also has its own contextual introduction, which might be useful for the less technical reader.

The key issue addressed in this study is how to change a system which incentivizes and rewards extraction — but cannot recognize and reward the wealth created by generative activities — towards a system which is able to reward and incentivize generative practices. ((= value creation))

This report is based on the understanding that one of the main weaknesses of the current political economy is its inability to recognize and deal with ‘externalities’, in regards to costs and benefits received or caused by economic actors that are not accounted or paid for. Under capitalism, a firm becomes competitive in large part because of its ability, and that of the system as a whole, to not ‘pay’ for positive social and environmental contributions, and to leave the reparations of social and environmental damages to other actors, that is, mainly the citizenry or the state. There is no structural solution to fund (re)generative activities except mostly ‘after the fact’ or through ‘regulations’ that are imposed ‘from the outside,’ by the coercive force of the state. This report looks at efforts underway, even in prototypal and experimental forms, to remedy this situation, that is, to have a productive systems that can fulfill human needs without violating external boundaries, pretty much like Kate Raworth has explained it in her book Doughnut Economics. These solutions would be located much more ‘internally,’ within the system of production itself. This way of thinking is analogous to thinking about more socially just ‘predistribution’ of wealth, rather than mere ‘redistribution.’ These solutions would not replace external regulation, which still has a role, but rather complement it.

We believe that a significant number of these necessary ingredients for such a structural change are available through some of the emerging techno-social systems that are co-evolving with distributed networks.

The first structural element is shared supply chains for a perma-circular economy. At the P2P Foundation, we believe a circular economy cannot be achieved without sharing the logistical knowledge that is presently locked up in the walled gardens of private logistics. Only by sharing each other’s input and output can partners in an open ecosystem adapt towards a real circular economy. In this report, we pay some attention to a shift towards ecosystemic collaboration, but without going into the details of supply chains themselves. The concept of ‘perma-circularity’ refers to the necessity for the growth of our material and energy usage to remain under one percent a year, in order to avoid the exponential increase in resources we need from our planet.

We do pay attention to a number of technologies that will allow us to shift towards ecosystems of collaboration, specifically open and shared distributed ledgers, mostly coming from the so-called ‘blockchain’ space of technical development. But we focus in part on ‘post-blockchain’ developments, which avoid a number of systemic problems associated with the first generation of blockchain technologies, for example, issues of scaling, exponential energy usage, etc. Protocol cooperatives are global open source repositories of knowledge, code and design, that allow humanity to create infrastructures for the mutualization of the main provisioning systems (such as food, habitat, mobility), and that are governed by the various stakeholders involved, including the affected citizenry.

With distributed ledgers, three new forms of collaborative accounting can be introduced, which will allow economic actors to manage their production while recognizing positive and negative social and ecological externalities. 1) Contributive accounting, which we discussed in our previous report. 2) Values in the Commons Economy, allows for the recognition of all types of contributions, not just waged labor. 3) REA accounting, i.e., accounting for Resources, Events, Agents, allows actors to see their transactions as part of an ecosystem of collaboration, which is ‘flow accounting’ rather than a vision based on the accumulation of assets in a single firm. Finally, we need direct access to the real ‘thermodynamic flows’ necessitated by production, in other words, the amounts of matter and energy needed, in the context of planetary boundaries.

Chapter 1 of this report is a summary of ten years of research at the P2P Foundation (including that carried out by our own P2P Lab but also by our partners in common research programs) of what we know today about the emerging commons economy. It includes a basic account of why the ‘invention’ of the blockchain has been important, but stresses that the distributed ledgers needed may take other forms in the future. This section may not offer a lot of new elements for those that are already technologically savvy about the topic, but it does present a critical engagement with the qualities and flaws of the current model, and suggests how it can be tweaked and transformed to also serve as a basis for a post-capitalist, commons-centric economy.

Chapter 2 of this report goes into the details of various technological projects that could be used as tools to develop ecosystems of collaborations, based on distributed ledgers. Our objective here is to show that solutions are being worked on, but remain fragmented to date, so our aim is to demonstrate that an alignment in a higher integration would lead to significant advances towards sustainable production.

Finally, chapter 3 focuses on the accounting innovations that we will need, and which will need to be integrated in the new practices based on shared supply chains using shared ledgers. This includes, as explained above, tools for contributive, flow-based, and thermodynamic accounting.

This report focuses not on the innovations within mainstream industrial players striving towards more sustainability, but on seed forms that, by not having legacy systems to deal with are better able to reorganise themselves in direct harmony with the possibilities offered by the new tools reflecting the new paradigm. Of course, this means they have fewer resources, but they offer more clear pointers to a possible future.

The aim of this report is therefore to encourage open-mindedness towards new possibilities of integration so that we can transition to a regenerative economy, and to show that emerging tools are available to implement these necessary changes.


Jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

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2 Responses to New blog series: What can WE do: 1 and 2

  1. Pingback: What can WE do, number 5: About COMMONS | The Connectivist

  2. Pingback: What can WE do, 8 : The Fifth Network Effect: The Law of P2P Cooperation and scaling up | The Connectivist

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