Category:Partner State

From Commons Transition Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search



The Partner State is the concept whereby public authorities play a sustaining role in the 'direct creation of value by civil society', i.e. sustains and promotes commons-based peer production


Bauwens and Kostakis write: "We introduce the concept of the partner state approach (PSA), in which the state becomes a “partner state” and enables autonomous social production. The PSA could be considered a cluster of policies and ideas whose fundamental mission is to empower direct social-value creation, and to focus on the protection of the commons sphere, as well as on the promotion of sustainable models of entrepreneurship and participatory politics. It is important to emphasise that we consider the partner state as the ideal condition for a government to pursue and the P2P movement to fight for. While people continue to enrich and expand the commons, building an alternative political economy within the capitalist one, by adopting a PSA, the state becomes an arbiter, retreating from the binary state/privatisation dilemma to the triarchical choice of an optimal mix amongst government regulation, private-market freedom and autonomous civil-society projects."

Opinions on the Partner State

Tommaso Fattori:"The partner state includes the welfare state"

"Bauwens points out that, to avoid the risk that the concept of partner state be confused with plans to dismantle the welfare state, along the “big society” model: “the peer production of common value requires civic wealth and strong civic institutions. In other words, the partner state concept transcends and includes the best of the welfare state, such as the social solidarity mechanisms, strong educational systems and a vibrant and publicly supported cultural life. What the British Tories did was to use the Big Society rhetoric to attempt to further weaken the remnants of social solidarity, and throw people to fend for themselves. This was not enabling and empowering; it was its opposite.”

Silke Helfrich on state support for the commons

"For me the role of the state is not only to stop enclosures, but to trigger the production/construction of new commons by

  • (co-)management of complex resource systems which are not limited to local boundaries or specific communities (as manager and partner)
  • survey of rules (chartas) to care for the commons (mediator or judge)
  • kicking of or providing incentives for commoners governing their commons - here the point is to design intelligent rules which automatically protect the commons, like the GPL does (facilitator)"

(email, September 2009)

Dmytri Kleiner

From an interview conducted by KMO, of the C-Realm Podcast:

"Is there any point in trying to request that the state serve the ends of a peer-to-peer society, or is the state completely at odds with that by definition?

There are a number of threads in the overall strategy that I think are necessary. On one hand, we need venture communism, which means independent, federated entrepreneurship along communist principles. But on the other hand, the state does exist, and I believe that we can’t just imagine that we live in a future state-less society. We have to understand what the state provides now, and we have to struggle within the state as a theater of struggle as well, to get what we can out of it. So I would say yes, but that it really depends on where you are.

In principle, if you look at public funding for other kinds of media, like film, television, and movies, in many cases there’s been quite significant public involvement in the development of those media. So, do I think that there is the prospect for public involvement in funding of social media for a positive impact? Certainly, but, in an era where we’re still not out of the neoliberal phase of history, in an era where governments don’t even want to pay for schools and housing and education and roads, the idea that they will suddenly become interested in paying for social media seems unlikely. So, it doesn’t seem to be a prospect that I have a lot of confidence will actually come about, though it could come about, and if it did, it could be positive. Perhaps, especially in areas that are trying to assert their independence from global neoliberalism, like South and Central America for instance, perhaps they will understand the public need to finance social media in the same way that they finance their broadcast media and their film media." Source: "Venture Communism and Technological Miscommunication: a conversationn with Dmytri Kleiner"

RC Smith on anti-statism

From an interview with John Wisniewski

Someone asked me the other day about the intersections between critical theory and anarchist thought, which led to some interesting discussion and debate. Perhaps it will be fruitful to reflect on this a bit in light of the above question. I do think there are points of intersection that we can discern. For instance, in many Heathwood studies one will often read an emphasis toward non-hierarchical, non-dominant, anti-authoritarian alternatives – this is obviously also a popular theme in the anarchist tradition. In many past Frankfurt School studies, particularly in relation to a critique of ‘coercive society’ (i.e., hierarchical, dominant, authoritarian society), which of course aligns with a fundamental critique of the historical genesis of human society, we read very explicit and direct accounts against many things that the anarchist movement (broadly defined) seems to also rail against. This is not to say that the Frankfurt School is fundamentally anarchist, because there are also many fundamental differences. I mean, it would be difficult to sit here and discuss all of the variations of the anarchist movement within such little space and provide a very general caricature, but in general one conflict I feel today is the absolute anti-statist position commonly held in the anarchist tradition. While not necessarily inaccurate in terms of its critique of the State, which is dominant and coercive, I think it fails to recognise the practical need for some sort of state organisation, albeit fundamentally different from modern hierarchical, dominant and coercive state practice. I like to think of this along the lines of a critical concept of the state or, at least, along the lines of its radical reconceptualisation: i.e., the ‘non-state like state’ or the ‘non-state state’ particularly in relation to or coinciding with a radical alternative participatory politics and things like a theory of non-coercive power.

The one thing I will say is that the idea of non-dominant, non-hierarchical human relations is something I admire about the anarchist tradition, and is one thing that should be celebrated with regards to the history of anarchist thought. I also appreciate how certain anarchist movements believe in a sort of anti-dogmatic (open, inclusive, integrative) philosophy and are openly critical of themselves and traditional leftist politics. On the other hand, I do think certain other anarchist movements are susceptible to, have become, or are almost inherently dogmatic. A critique of anarcho-primitivism comes to mind, as well as this strange phenomenon called ‘anarcho-libertarian capitalism’ or something as such. In this respect, I think there are large sections of anarchism that have become bound up in contemporary structures of political thought, which is worth some reflection. (

Additional Resources

Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy

  1. M. Bauwens & V. Kostakis' 2014 book (The last chapter of Part Three discusses the partner state approach):

David Ronfeld on the Partner State concept by Michel Bauwens:

  1. Bauwens’ “partner state” (part 1 of 3) . . . vis à vis TIMN