Capitalism 3.0

Peter Barnes

Barnes seems to be part of a very interesting group of contemporary thinkers inviting to re-visit and re-invent the way our communities organize the social generation of value and the distribution of value along the time.

His proposal is simple and intuitively makes sense.

He claim that our current "version" of capitalism is becoming problematic: the outcome is astonishing wealth for the very few -let say 5% of the population- , 20% of people in the planet living in misery, and a devastated biosphere.
His main point: the value generation in human communities is mainly based in the common -he characterize the common in terms of nature, social, and cultural value- and the common doesn't have institutional representation in our communities and political system. As a consequence of that, the common is been over exploited, mismanaged, and depleted in a way that endanger future generations.
Barnes' call is to update our modern capitalism by developing new kind of institutions and distribution mechanisms. He use the metaphor of a new operating system -as in computer software- to reorient the way our current capitalism work.

The key new institutions are Trust with a fiduciary role to:
  1. Address and ethical imperative: the common is a gift, for the benefit of all, that need to be preserved for new generations to come of all living forms.
  2. Improve specific forms of commons wealth - parks, water, festivities, stories/folk, ...- preserve them, invigorate them so, future generations of all species will inherit a better place to live.
  3. Introduce a new understanding and new forms of property and new legislation on property rights, so that the benefits generated by trust can be equally shared by an extended community.

Change Strategy:
  1. Capitalism 2.0 may resist the changes, but many other constituencies won't. At the end, we are part of the same planet -although this argument never works in real life-.
  2. New laws, institutions, and economics needs to be developed to create the representation of the commons.
  3. There is a new paradigmatic role emerging, the "commons' entrepreneur". People concerned and committed to expand value for the good of the commons - emblematic example: Berners-Lee, inventor and promotor of the www, and inventor of http -hypertext transfer protocol- and of HTML-
  4. Barnes say: "What is particularly nece abour Capitalism 3.0 is that we can install it one peice at a time. We needn't shout the machine dousn, or delete teh old operating system, before isntalling the new one. We needn't shut the machine down , or delete teh old operatin system, before isntalling the new one. Indeed, we're not even repalcingt most of the old operating system, wihich is fine as it is. Rather, we're attaching add-ons, or plug-ins, that allow for a gradua and safe transition. A formula for describin this is : Corporations + Commons= Capitalism 3.0."

  1. This approach seems to demand a global "enforcement", otherwise, local/predatory capitalist behaviors will take advantages of business communities operating in market environments not subsidized by the commons.
  2. Why Trust can be managed in a way they don't get systematically subordinated to gov or corporations interests?
  3. How the tensions and controversies between Commons' Trusts, Gov, and Corporations are going to be developed and overcome?
  4. How non-humans are going to be represented?

Barnes especulation is interesting, however it seems to downplay obstacles for change. As a consequence his change strategy looks naive, what at this stage seems to be a minor problem for someone contributing and commited to open a new space of possibilities to address fundamental issues. A better strategy will emerge, as he said, from experimenting concrete changes at multiple levels.

Commons entrepreneurs.