What do you think of Dmytri Kleiner's 'The Telekommunist Manifesto'?

In answer to Quora question "What do you think of Dmytri Kleiner's 'The Telekommunist Manifesto'?"

Thanks for the A2A. I hadn't encountered the Telekommunist Manifesto until you asked this question, and have just finished spending some time with it. I think Kleiner offers good ideas, many of which I've encountered before in other socialist musings, and many of which clearly arise out of the Open Source movement - and most of them resonate with my own thinking about highly distributed, rhizomatic approaches. As a tool to help demonstrate viable alternatives to capitalism, I think his proposal of commons-based production ("Venture Communism") could be a useful model. At the same time - and this is an issue that Kleiner seems concerned with as well - it reminds me of the many past and present efforts to create such alternatives (communes, planned communities, Open Source construction sets, etc.), which remain fully embedded in capitalist systems, and in fact continue to remain reliant on them. In other words, they tend to invest in a "mimesis" replication to help escape the orbit of the dominant political economy. I don't think this is a bad thing, or entirely untenable...it's just not a particularly strong meme to counter individualistic materialism. As with many Marxist approaches, Kleiner's critique of capitalism is well-articulated, but it takes on structural oppression and exploitation without necessarily addressing the self-medicated, escapist, indulgent and infantilized state in which modern consumer society finds itself. In other words, it presumes that people (workers, etc.) are already itching to self-liberate, without accounting for the moral altitude necessary to move beyond I/Me/Mine.

So, as a possible piece of the bigger puzzle, I think Venture Communism offers some interesting ideas, and could be attractive to some people. At the same time, I find that I also have trouble with the adversarial nature I encounter in a lot of Marxist thinking. Class struggle is so central to Marx's ideas, and there always seems to be an In Group/Out Group dynamic in play. And of course I too find myself shaking an ideological fist at the oppressive machinations of huge corporations and the commoditization of every aspect of life. But I tend to shy away from the fetishism of the Proletariat in Marx, or focusing so emphatically on the means of production as a panacea for societal ills. Yes, I think worker-owned collectives are a great idea; and yes, I think a return to a commons-based model of self-organized resource management is absolutely necessary. In fact I discuss these ideas at length in much of my work. For me, though, there are many other important considerations. For example, community-centrism is also a critical piece; the idea that geographic communities (rather than the virtual communities that Kleiner describes) should be a basic unit of organization, that civic engagement and economic activity should occur first and foremost at the geographic community level, and that these communities should have a pronounced influence over local production activities, are all more critical to me than worker-empowerment per se.

Why? There are a number of reasons. For one, virtual relationships are limited; they are not truly multidimensional, and not fully interdependent. In fact, they tend to reinforce both a false sense of atomistic self and the "okayness" of incomplete sociality. In contrast, what occurs between people who see, touch, smell and hear each other in-the-flesh - and live together in cooperative ways - adds exponential depth to human interaction, increases a sense of belonging, enhances collective investment and communal accountability, and consequently enlivens and expands interdependence. In this way, the prosociality that strong community elicits helps erode the fundamental destructive features of capitalism. And this speaks to an even deeper issue for me: that individualism and materialism (and the moral immaturity they represent) are more substantive barriers to horizontally collective liberty than the Bourgeoisie; the real "boogeyman" is within us - it is the self-absorbed ego that craves easy gratification to animalistic impulses, and cronyist, clientist State capitalism is merely a byproduct of that underdevelopment. Thus community isn't the whole solution to this challenge either - but it is a critical piece.

This is probably why I'm not the biggest fan of anarcho-syndicalism as a standalone solution, and why Kleiner's proposal isn't a complete solution for me either: these simply don't address this more fundamental, inner challenge of requisite moral development. In fact I think that many libertarian socialist proposals (Participism, for example) also fall short of addressing this issue, and even though they have influenced my own framework, they are just a piece of the puzzle. What I feel add essential value to the moral development discussion are the ecology-centric ideas in Permaculture, Deep Ecology, Ecosophy and the like. This is where we begin to see the requisite enlarging of individual identity beyond individual ego, tribe, class affinity, or indeed even community. Again, though, even here the expectation is that participants will have already realized the importance of the ecosystem on which we all rely; they are preaching to the choir as it were. So moral development is still a separate issue that needs to be addressed, and that is what much of my own work has sought to engage. That is, in part, what Integral Lifework is about.

My 2 cents.


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