Mut-Talk 10 with Michel Bauwens: Seed forms of our common(s) future

Mut-Talks Folge 10
Hosted by Ira Mollay  •  Musik: Inner Journey by Audionautix
Recorded on Jan 3, 2020

In conversation with Michel Bauwens – Founder of the P2P Foundation, researcher, writer, speaker

„What I try to do is to use the commons as a concept to bring the commons together.“

„What we have to do, the first wave of people, is create seed forms that are coherent enough that, when the crisis gets worse, there can actually be a receptacle for people.“

„We need a new multilateralism, new forms of translocality, transnationality and I don’t see the political force that is pushing this agenda.“

„There are two kinds of people in the world: the once-born and the twice-born.“

MIchel Bauwens


In this episode, Ira Mollay talked with Michel Bauwens about …

  • the evolution of human interaction and group size over time
  • technology as enabler for open, contributive systems and new forms of human cooperation
  • the example of the „nomadic printing press“ and how it changed the fabric of society
  • from 3D printing to cosmo-local production
  • the level at which globalisation is a material problem and mutualisation can diminish it
  • how human needs can be satisfied while diminishing the use of matter and energy
  • why pure individual property cannot resolve our issues
  • economies of scale versus economies of scope
  • combining the institutions of the commons and the market
  • why competing systems historically collapse and the „breathing rhythm“ of human societies
  • the Tokugawa period in Japan as an example of equilibrium between needs and resource base
  • the guilds as a commons and social security system in a market that was embedded in society
  • what the idea of a common-centric society refers to
  • Michel’s personal path from feeling part of the problem rather than the solution to a sabbatical that changed his course
  • Michel’s study of phase transitions and seed forms
  • yes, even about purgatory and its business aspects
  • how to create market and state forms that work for the commons
  • how the P2P Foundation evolved, its autonomous organisations and its role as a seed form
  • seed forms and economic ecosystems instead of supply chains
  • platform cooperatives: how to implement P2P and the commons in an ecosystem instead of extracting the value
  • whether we can do without a competitive system
  • what the phase transition to a new system could look like
  • a world of three classes as described by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Todd and why it fails
  • a transition plan for Ghent and how it could help overcome the three-class paradigm
  • what the common denominators and ingredients of the seed forms are
  • what encourages Michel and what he needs courage for
  • the concept of being born once or twice
  • Michel’s family as a commons and mutualisation as a basis for survival
  • where various actors currently stand in the transition phase
  • extraction of value and redistribution versus a tokenised accounting system for positive externalities and generative activities
  • looking at economic incentive systems and the Common Good Economy
  • the prerequisites of a circular economy and moving far beyond financial accounting
  • the fallacy of the horizontal market and how anti-oligarchic protocols could help
  • going from redistribution to predistribution, from blockchain to holochain
  • the wealth of material in the P2P Wiki and the numerous publications by the P2P Foundation
  • Michel’s best hopes for the future – based on a realistic assessment of phase transition – and the role politics, policy and self-organisation play in it
  • how strong belief systems can strengthen your purpose


Michel’s P2P platforms

Seed forms

Books and publications


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