Towards a possible integration of the horizontal and the vertical
The three main modalities for allocating resources are:
- free and mutual coordination, the modality of allocation used by the commons and open-source communities
- pricing, the mechanism used by the market
- orchestrated planning, the modality offered by the state
The three could be integrated in the following way.
- Imagine a first layer of global coordination of free and voluntary projects, undertaken by organised citizens; i.e. peer production communities. These commons-centric projects align through mutual signalling. For example, in the same way that bees and ants actually do not have a hierarchical monarch (the queen) deciding on everything – but in reality coordinate through chemical signals or a ‘dancing language’ – open-source developers are able to coordinate through shared accounting and logistics.
- Imagine a second layer of regenerative market practices; i.e markets that work for both communities and nature and which take into account ‘externalities’ and non-market contributions. For example, the Fishcoin cryptocurrency carries information on the reproduction cycles of fish, setting limits to the amounts of fish that can be traded.
- Finally, imagine a third layer of new transnational institutions which take care of the planetary boundaries and unsolved human needs. These limitations would be visible and integrated in our accounting systems. This is what is proposed by the R30 project through their Global Thresholds and Allocations Council.
As a bonus, imagine public authorities, rather than encouraging decarbonisation through competitive bidding, opening a public ledger which allows any individual or collective to have their decarbonisation efforts verified. These verified contributions are tokenised and then financed, through public funding but also by large institutions that directly benefit from these positive externalities, creating a ‘circular finance’ to permanently fund such regenerative work.
The world today seems to be facing some very stark choices. On one side of the equation stands those that prefer business as usual and want to preserve the neoliberal form of globalisation, with a free flow of capital and labor. However, this choice does not seem to be sustainable in ecological terms while migration is now a very contentious political subject, creating powerful political alliances that are opposed to it. The reaction to globalisation therefore takes the form of a return to the nation state, sometimes accompanied by a desire for local closure. What our model is proposing is a third possibility: cosmo-localisation. In this model, ‘all that is light is global and shared’ – scientific and technological cooperation takes place through global open design communities and the world does not lose its globalised culture of mutual learning – while ‘all that is heavy is as local as possible’. The latter is an argument for the ‘subsidiarity of material production’; i.e. to produce closer to human need, not in fanatical way, but in a reasonable way that still remains open to trade and exchange. The model is certainly technically feasible; the future will tell us if it is also desirable.