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<nettime-ann> Reminder::Self organising and the economy. Friday April 1st 5-7 Mile End, London

[Apologies for cross-posting]

Self-organisation and the economy - Friday April 1st 2011
Time: 5-7 pm
Location: Lock Keepers Cottage, QMUL, Mile End, London E14NS

Self-organisation in the economy from cooperatives to social
enterprises, between state funding, self funding, alternative
economies and charity dependence, and related questions of authorship,
redistribution of resources, production of value and co-production.

SiÃn Whellens (Calverts Coop, London)

SiÃn Whellens was a contributing editor at Anarchy Magazine, and active
with London Workers Group, Workers Playtime and the anti-party and
autonomist communist left in London in the late 1970s and 1980's. He
co-published a bi-weekly newsletter, the Picket Bulletin, during the long
Wapping printers' lockout of 1986, dedicated to creating an effective
communication tool for grassroots activists. Since 1983 he has worked with
Calverts, a collective-type worker co-operative of graphic designers and
printers, and in the wider worker co-operative milieu. He is an elected
member of the Worker Co-operative Council and a director of Co-operatives
UK . SiÃn is interested in exploring the conflicts and potentials of
workersâ self-_expression_, self-organisation and self-management under
capitalism, and understanding how the development of our day-to-day
activity can contribute to the emergence of a new social economy.


Marcel Mars (Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht)

Marcel Mars will discuss the use of free software, proprietary
collaborative software/social networks and file sharing practices in the
context of self-organization. Software is a socio-technical system in which
machines, people, and processes are inextricably interconnected and
interdependent. [1]
The use of collaborative software in every organization will affect its
organizational structure, capacity of negotiations, rules of access to
(org) resources, decision making process and overall group dynamics. That
said, an organization (still) controls the strength of the effect with its
knowledge of how to use and adapt (develop) collaborative software to its
own needs.
The collaborative development of software, as in the case of free software
movement, brought to the world enormous autonomous infrastructure beloved
by many activists and self-organization freaks. Still, the network effect
[2] created by most of the groups, activists or not, pays off to the web2.0
startups, social network giants and other proprietary solutions.
"Utility Computing is the packaging of computing resources, such as
computation, storage and services, as a metered service similar to a
traditional public utility (such as electricity, water, natural gas, or
telephone network)."[3] When computing in general and computer-supported
collaboration becomes public utility its development becomes more and more
invisible to the public. Utility computing is still in its first phase. It
is mainly led by big corporations like: Amazon, Microsoft, HP, Google,
Oracle, IBM etc.
Their infrastructures are built upon Free software (Linux, Xen, KVM,
Apache, Hadoop). But, they keep their advances in technology as trade

[1] Ensmenger, Nathan L. The Computer Boys Take Over: Computers,
Programmers, and the Politics of Technical Expertise. The MIT Press,
[2] âNetwork effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaâ, n.d.
[3] âUtility computing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaâ, n.d.


Matt Zimmerman (Debian/Ubuntu, London)


Toni Prug (QMUL, London, Hack the State, gComm(o)ns)

Toni Prug will discuss the impossibility of democratic self organization in
the economy.

â"If the economy disrupts our lives, then we must disrupt the economy"
(UK Uncut, 2011)

For self organization to be democratic, there must be no capital, state
power holders, or holders of physical forces of coercion (parts of society
without state/capitalist controls over them) who are in the position to
impose their will to dictate the model of cooperation by utilizing
peopleâs need to acquire the means of subsistence by selling their labour
for a wage, or to obey in fear for life. The egalitarian impulse that
exists in self organization is rarely developed due to participantsâ
different class positions (skills, time, space, money, social networks) and
the lack of value chains external to capitalist models of valorization
whose inbuilt anti-egalitarianism cannot valorize egalitarian self

The richest parts of the world have increased their productivity several
times since WWII. Instead of proliferation of time for self organization
based on abundance of the time gained by increased productivity,
egalitarian elements (access to shelter, health, education, care) are
disappearing and the amount of labour time sold for a wage, or volunteered
in a hope of one, is increasing. If we consider self organization as a form
of emancipation, and if we aim for it to be democratic, in the times of
rapidly reduced material equality amongst the people of some of the
wealthiest states in the world, the possibility of democratic self
organization has to be considered not as a sporadic question, but as a
central, systemic one.


For more information or to take part in the project, please write to or visit


Next encounter in the series:

Friday May 6th

Self-organization and community

External dynamics, political discourse and outreach. The role of the
organizer when working with constituencies. Issues of politicization,
outreach, involvement, negotiation.

Doina Petrescu (Atelier d'Architecture AutogÃrÃe, Paris)

Jane Wills (QMUL, London)

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