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An IPO - but not as we know it, Jim

by ChrisCook Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 07:16:17 PM EST

The Venture Communist Telephony Collective, Telekommunisten, launches Initial Public Offering giving labour-investors the opportunity to earn equity in this anti-capitalist technology startup.

Founded in May 1st, 2006, Telekommunisten is working toward experimenting with and developing the practice of Venture Communism.  Starting from the point of departure that political power is an extension of economic power, Venture Communism proposes that the workers of the world can not address the many problems that Capitalism and Corporate Rule is inflicting on the world unless we first start producing and sharing differently, enclosing labour power into commons-based production communities, and thereby reducing surplus value extraction.

Workers should exchange their labour product, not sell their labour power. Any change in the social structure can only follow, and never precede, a change in the mode of production.  Telekommunisten believe such a change in the mode of production is emerging from the classical anarchist belief in worker's self management along with epoch defining developments in international telecommunications, peer to peer network technology and the growth of the informal economy being spread by international migration and diasporic/trans-local communities.

The existence of Capitalism has always been dependant on privilege granted by the State and enforced by violence, trans-local peer production has the potential to challenge State granted privilege.

On May 1st 2007, Telekommunisten launched its first consumer product Dialstation which allows inexpensive international telephone calls to be made from any normal or mobile telephone and includes a user-generated voucher system which enables any user to transfer credit to any user and thus create their own business or local gift economy.

Telekommunisten is looking to expand their operations and reach and is thus launching an Initial Public Offering, offering labour investors to become worker-owners and take part in the expansion of our economic and political activities.

Currently, Telekommunisten most needs graphic designers/artists to create graphics, animations, and videos to help promote and explain our products as well as the political issues involved and to help us create new products such as t-shirts, stickers and other memorabilia.

We also need writers and translators to improve our communications and make them available in other languages. Also, we need energetic and friendly people to distribute Telekommunisten materials in their local area and help spread the word.

Now I think this is the most interesting workers' collective since the hard left miners at Tower Colliery bought their own pit.

The guy behind it - Dmitry Kleiner - knows his Marx, but more to the point, also knows his telecomms and IT.

Whether Dialstation will cut it asa a product in the hard world out there remains to be seen, but not having to pay rentier investors could be a competitive advantage....


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Are you using it?  (The rates they quote are @ 3-5 euro-cents a minute, that's 1.5p...are those good rates?)

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 08:19:42 PM EST
I haven't used it yet, but I think the rates are pretty CompetitiveTM.

includes a user-generated voucher system which enables any user to transfer credit to any user and thus create their own business or local gift economy.

This seems a close relative of global money transmission.

It reminds me of the story of how Orange (I think it was) were forced to stop selling their Phonecards in Egypt, because people started using them as money, and they were showing up the official currency....


"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 04:05:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You must be a mobile phone chap--a report back on how you found the signing up process and whether it's making you money would be very interesting (to me at least.)

The sharing of vouchers....yeah!  But first we need some ETers using the system--if it's any good.

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 07:27:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
gift economy! the coolest class of barter.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Sep 24th, 2007 at 10:35:06 PM EST
Gift economy isn't barter.

The myth of Liberal Economics, that prehistoric men bartered and the development of barter leads straight to the modern globalised laissez-faire Market, is far from being an anthropological universal.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 02:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that's one interpretation. there are also biological/anthropological explanations of "barter": altruism.

here i'll note that "business" is another word for exchange. among "lower order" organisms incapable of conceptualizing "high order" incentives of exchange, altruism is the kindliest explanation of social organnizaion -- insect to primate.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 07:14:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's your definition of barter? To me it is a form of trade where goods of equal or equivalent values are exchanged without a money intermediary.

Whereas gift and counter gift aren't of equivalent value, and don't really constitute an exchange. The gift engages the receiver to make a counter gift, which itself as a gift also requires a gift in answer.

Altruism isn't of an higher or lower order than, i.e. not necessarily a motive for, social customs that require gifts and counter gifts, or social customs that require trade at market value. (Or social custom that require war and pillage, another way of doing exchanges)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 07:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
how do you define things of being of equal value?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 07:31:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Things are of "equal" values in barter when the exchange is the result of negotiation between the two parties, and both agree on that the deal is reasonable and walk away happy.

In econoterms, both parties had their utility increased as a result of the exchange.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Sep 27th, 2007 at 07:45:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your "barter" definition almost takes the words right out of me mouth. We part company, I suppose, on definitions, metaphors, and meanings of a "good" and a "transaction." You employ situationally specific transactions to imply their values without immediately resorting to price. I like the possibilities.

There once was a fellow named Robert Hartman who made a career of axiology in his quest to rationalize morality. He theorize three concepts corresponding to three kinds of value: systemic, extrinsic, intrinsic.

When I spoke of the "coolest gift," I meant that tangible (extrinsic) or intangible (intrinsic) goods are "traded," there being no expectation or explicit demand for "counter gift" between the parties. That is my custom. For example, the enjoyment I receive from giving provides a tautological value proposition for the transaction. True, my pleasure may be diminished, if my gift is received churlishly or, worse, violently. Or it may not.

I'm sure that "war and pillage" is another type of transaction -- an inferior social custom for all parties concerned (except the political agent who waits with bated breath back at the castle. Writers like Oliver Williams take excessive delight in justifying transaction economics of such ventures.) But I'm not sure how this example defeats the value of altruism, symbolized by a gift, or motives which may be reasoned (high-order cognitive ability) or instinctive (low-order cognitive abilitiy).

Since I am not a biologist, I like to refer to Sarah Blaffer Hrdy who wrote a most interesting treatise Mother Nature, A history of mothers, infants, and natural selection. (It's also the only book I've read on the subject of animal behavior.) It's chock full of observations on alloparenting, cooperative breeding, and tsk altruism.

Hamilton's Rule: Instead of focusing on the sterile worker's genetic representation in the next generation --which would be zero--Hamilton expanded the concept of an individual's lifetime reproductive success (or fitness) to include the inclusive fitness of the individual. By inclusive fitness Hamilton meant the effect the the female worker's behavior has on her own fitness plus the effects her behavior has on the fitness of close kin who share genes by common descent. Using this principle, Hamilton derived simple mathematical expressions predicting that altruism should evolve whenever the cost to the giver was less than the fitness benefits obained by helping another individual who was related by (r), a term designating the proportion of genes these two individuals share by common descent.
cool.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 09:01:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It all comes down to creation and "exchange" of "Value".

Whatever Value is: and I tried to get at that, in my untutored way, in this

Knowledge-based Value & Intellectual property

paper at Lancaster University, a couple of years ago...

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 09:17:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uncanny! My master's thesis is (still) titled "Pricing a Knowledge Management Solution." That was written (with many typos!) some years ago and deposited with  misgivings in the library of the alma mater. From the rather pretentious abstract:
The text develops a theory of profit maximization based on value fulfillment [Hartman,1959; Simon, 1997; Ballentine et al, 2000] rather than competitive pricing or market share tactics which tend in either case to destroy value [Dolan, 1999]. Whereas conjoint analysis induces trade-offs from buyers, this model rationalizes their intentionality.

Section 1 structures the problem of unknown demand by describing the business problem in terms of market failure and two related assumptions that are captured in either aggregate data or normative industry analyses. First, demand for information and knowledge are indifferentiable. Second, knowledge has a value which cannot be priced and sold efficiently through a market system. The purchase process method is used to organize a review of prior research into KM valuation and establish a value analysis methodology. ...

I shall read your paper with great interest! I'll bet these two share concern with the inadequacies of market priced valuation of things, ideas, and of course people. Some days, even now, I'm quite overwhelmed by the invidious ways by which Ricardo-esque ideology demeans our ordinary regard for one another, daily. Then I remember that I actually did interview purchasing agents at a few very large MNCs who demonstrated some nuance in their investment strategies.

I found Harman's categorical solution elegant in its simplicity and useful in organizing project valuation in which a number of stakeholders participate. Hartman, ironically, was an early, obscure management consultant who did a lot of "work" for GE and GM-sized congloms. I'm not sure how many of his papers remain on the www, though. Last time I checked a foundation had sequestered and was charging consulting fees for "training" in administering psychometric tests. Ha!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 10:11:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect I am approaching the subject from an entirely different, and empirical angle ie as a practical problem solver and ex market practitioner just trying to make sense of it all, and driven to examining the very metaphysical foundations of markets, because the assumptions that underpin conventional economics are IMHO such nonsense.

But maybe there will be some aspects of it that will resonate with you.

 

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 10:20:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is quite an interesting archeological excursion a Foucault! I have not given much thought to the epistemology of value other than the headache produced by reading "The Protestant Ethic" (Weber) in one sitting. Beside Plato and Mill, I'm beginning to wonder if Jeremy Bentham is not one of the most frequently quoted secular prophets of industry.

Whether a new form of "enterprise model" is the inevitable conclusion to organization of property rights is a very intriguing idea -- one I had not anticipated but do welcome. The closed economy of corporate enterprise in force today is unsustainable, as evinced by perennial calls for "creativity" within such organizations, cyclical M&A activity to acquire "innovation," and all manner of dumbing down rationales inflicted on members of society in order to standardize intellectual property and determine its price. I think you've (Pirsig) captured the phenomenological conundrum of valuation which attempts to objectify intangible goods and human relationships.

Economics --of virtually all schools-- confuses indeterminate Value with a market-determined Price
The historical confusion however is rather the deceit which accompanies the ideologically purposeful and political expedience of extracting monetary profit from every possible social exchange. I am convinced; Benham of course is best remembered in my mind for arguing the charitable grace imbued by workhouses.

You guessed correctly; my paper commences actually from a case study where the premise, knowledge is a corporate (in each sense that you identify that "enterprise") asset --carrying transaction costs and productive value-- is generally accepted. At the time (2000), the concept of a "knowledge economy" was a controversial topic in that few mass marketers were sure how to monetize information beyond installation of ERP software. And virtually every academic, empirical study of IT and "knowledge" transactions examined cost avoidance and productivity metrics or forecast IRR from IT investment.

However, in attempting to price "a knowledge management solution" (to ignorance) accurately, I was concerned with methods that quantify characteristics of intellectual capital "quality," namely the necessity of Labor. That's how I came to appreciate Hartman. Allow me to elaborate systematic, extrinsic, and intrinsic value. These categories are perforce phenomenological.

  • Systemic value is the fulfillment of a construct.
  • Extrinsic value is the fulfillment of an abstract. [a market of wants and needs]
  • Intrinsic value is the fulfillment of the singular.

Their properties and the difference between these values can be quantified because the measurement of value is  the concept of a thing, the set of properties which defines it.  
  • A construct has a finite set of properties. It is a description. The configuration of hardware or software is a construct. The number of components is a systemic value.
  • An abstract has denumerably infinite properties. It is a comparative description. The cost of a hat is an abstract as is the attribute of a profession. The positive or negative performance of IT is an extrinsic value.
  • The singular has a set of indenumerably infinite properties. It is unique. The only thing that describes and fulfills the concept of itself is an individual.

What do you think? Is the value of human relations indeterminate?


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Sep 28th, 2007 at 03:04:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no doubt that the value of human relations is indeterminate: "Man is the measure of all things".

But I regret that I lack the level of intellect necessary to totally comprehend the categorisation of value that you outline.

I think that one of the key facets of the "Open" corporate is its "open-ness": its absence of a closed "boundary" that walls it off from the outside world and which defines those "inside the box" against those "outside the box".  

Note that the UK Limited Liability Partnership is in a sense not "open", due to its use of the "semi-permeable membrane" of limited liability.

But in fact this is a red herring because I have already observed in practice that if ALL of the stakeholders (customers, investors, service providers and custodian) are brought "inside the box" then "limited liability" simply becomes irrelevant, because there is no-one "outside the box" (aka "costs") to limit one's liability AGAINST and to extract profit from.

In such an "Open Corporate", where (say) the users of a service are a member of a "Community Partnership" alongside the providers of the service, then in fact the outcome is not an "Organisation" at all, but a "framework" within which stakeholders "self organise".

There is no "Profit" and no "Loss" inside such an "Open Corporate" either, merely the creation and exchange of "Value" in all its forms: tangible and intangible; denumerable or indenumerable.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sat Sep 29th, 2007 at 04:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you are too modest. I thought of you, when I came across this article. I would encourage you to develop further the "open corporate" business model with specific IT and other industrial or public service production in mind. I look forward to studying the possibility case by case.

think that one of the key facets of the "Open" corporate is its "open-ness": its absence of a closed "boundary" that walls it off from the outside world and which defines those "inside the box" against those "outside the box".
Behavioral economists have too much fun for far too long conditioning a belief in people that bounded rationality is a good thing. Which wasn't Simon's point at all.

Thank you for sharing. If you'd like an electronic copy of my thesis, pls email me.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Sep 29th, 2007 at 03:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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