P2P ACCOUNTING FOR PLANETARY SURVIVAL
Why should you read this latest report of the P2P Foundation, and why does it matter?
Our inspiration comes from the great synthesis provided by Kate Raworth in her book, Doughnut Economics, which graphically presents the great question of our age: can we produce for human needs, without exceeding planetary boundaries?
In our opinion, this requires a fundamental change towards a commons-centric economic system, which can successfully not just conserve, but regenerate human and natural resources. How? By using the ‘technosphere’: our accumulation of technical and scientific knowledge, but on a new basis of a deep ecological consciousness, in partnership with the other beings on the planet.
To do this, we must take fully into account our impact on the world. First of all, we must recognize and mitigate our negative impacts, but we must also recognize positive contributions that remain unrecognized. Thus we enter into the sphere of what economists call ‘externalities’, and which are present barely recognized in our value and accounting systems.
The good news is that, at the same time that a growing number of people are recognizing the systemic crisis and its relation to ecology, tools are coming online that allow us to manage our economic processes differently. Using the principles of cosmo-local production, i.e. sharing knowledge globally but producing as local as is optimal for reducing our human footprint, we can now use shared logistics, and shared accounting systems. This report will introduce topics such as contributory accounting, which recognizes generative contributions to the wellbeing of the earth and its inhabitants; value flow accounting, posed as an alternative to the narcissistic double-entry bookeeping, upon which capitalism relies to remain blind to its social and ecological impact; and thermo-dynamic accounting, which provides direct access to non-financialized streams of matter and energy. The tools exist, that is the good news, but they are not integrated yet. This report offers a vision of how they can be integrated in a cosmo-local production infrastructure.
Some of our readers may be familiar with the ‘calculation debates’, of the 1930’s, which pitted liberal pro-market economists, like Hayek, who favoured pricing mechanisms, against the socialist economists like Bauer, Neurath and ultimately, Polanyi, who argued the benefits of planning. In our industrial societies, this lib/lab discussion has obscured a third dimension: that of the commons and their self-management through mutual coordination. Today, large capitalist firms certainly plan, but they do not plan for balance with humanity and natural beings, it is extractive planning. The market allocates resources, but without any knowledge of impact. And finally, we see a substantial amount of commons-based mutual coordination occurring in the production of so-called (but not really!) ‘immaterial resources’ (knowledge, software, design), but has hardly touched the coordination of material production yet. Through shared accounting, which sits between transactions in the material world, and our human decision-making, this now becomes possible.
So what we are describing here is a 3-layered economy, and its infrastructure, that is able to coordinate production, by transcending and including the 3 great methods of allocating resources:
Mutual coordination through shared logistics and shared accounting
Ethical, generative market mechanisms for the fair exchange of resources
A planning framework, indicating the planetary resources available for human choice, so that we can produce while preserving the planet and its beings, and even regenerating them.
We hope you enjoy our analysis of work done by innovative pioneers, who are developing the tools we will need to save our planet.