Michel Bauwens

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Michel Bauwens
Michel Bauwens in 2013
Born (1958-03-21) March 21, 1958 (age 66)
Occupation(s)Activist, Director and Founder of the P2P Foundation

Michel Bauwens (born 21 March 1958) is a Belgian theorist in the emerging field of peer-to-peer (P2P) collaboration, writer, and conference speaker on the subject of technology, culture and business innovation. Bauwens founded the P2P Foundation, a global organization of researchers working in open collaboration in the exploration of peer production, governance, and property.[1] He has authored a number of essays, including his thesis The Political Economy of Peer Production.[2]


Bauwens regularly lectures internationally on P2P theory, the resource commons and their potential for social change, taking a materialistic-conceptual approach.[citation needed]

In the first semester of 2014 Bauwens was research director with the FLOK Society (Free Libre Open Knowledge) at the National Institute of Advanced Studies of Ecuador (IAEN).[3] The FLOK Society developed a first of its kind Commons Transition Plan for the Ecuadorian government. Over fifteen policy papers the plan outlines policy proposals for transitioning Ecuador to what is described as a social knowledge economy based on the creation and support of open knowledge commons. One version of the plan is available online.

He currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

P2P theory[edit]

In The Political Economy of Peer Production Bauwens regards P2P phenomena as an emerging alternative to capitalism, although he argues that "peer production is highly dependent on the market, for peer production produces use-value through mostly immaterial production, without directly providing an income for its producers."[2] However, Bauwens goes on to argue that the interdependence is mutual: the capitalist system and market economies are also dependent on P2P production, particularly on distributed networks of information processing and production. Consequently, P2P economy may be seen as extending or already existing outside the sphere of free/open source software production and other non-rival immaterial goods.

This idea is explored also in the essay Peer to Peer and Human Evolution that expands the P2P meme beyond computer technology. It argues that egalitarian networking is a new form of relationship that is emerging throughout society, and profoundly transforming the way in which society and human civilization is organised.[4] The essay argues that new forms of non-representational politics are a crucial ingredient in finding the solutions to current global challenges; as well as a new and progressive ethos representing the highest aspirations of the new generations.

Honors and awards[edit]

  • 2012 - Bauwen was nominated and included on the Post Growth Institute Enrich List – a parody of the Forbes List of Billionaires that aims to highlight influential post-growth thinkers "whose collective contributions enrich paths to sustainable futures".[5]


Bauwens has repeatedly spoken out against identity politics, claiming it as antithetical to egalitarian participation within a post-racial community. This perspective was criticized as being a form of racial color blindness. In response, numerous contributors to the P2P Forum chose to officially distance themselves from him and his views.[6] In May 2021, Bauwens allegedly removed several signatories of the disassociation statement from the P2P Foundation wiki. Since it is a community-maintained wiki, this raised further controversy.[7] Two weeks later, Bauwens also edited the P2PF wiki article of P2P Lab (where several signatories belonged) diminishing its role. The wiki entries have been restored by other wiki editors.[7]


Bauwens has written for Open Democracy[8] and Al Jazeera[9] and has been mentioned by the New York Times,[10] De Morgen,[11] and Living Green Magazine.[12]


  • 2013, "De wereld redden Met peer-to-peer naar een postkapitalistische samenleving", by Michel Bauwens and Jean Lievens, Houtekiet , ISBN 9789089242549
  • 2014, "Network Society and Future Scenarios for a Collaborative Economy", by Vasilis Kostakis and Michel Bauwens, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 9781137415066
  • 2015, "Sauver le monde, Vers une société post-capitaliste avec le peer-to-peer", by Michel Bauwens and Jean Lievens, Les liens qui libèrent preface by Bernard Stiegler (at editionslesliensquiliberent), ISBN 979-10-209-0183-5





  • In September 2014 he gave a keynote at the Degrowth Conferences in Leipzig, Germany on "The Transition to a Sustainable Commons Society in Ecuador and beyond".[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "P2P Foundation:About". p2pfoundation.net.
  2. ^ a b Michel Bauwens (2005-01-12). "The Political Economy of Peer Production". Ctheory. Archived from the original on 2019-04-14. Retrieved 2005-12-21.
  3. ^ "Michel Bauwens colabora con el IAEN en proyecto estratégico" (in Spanish). Instituto de Altos Estudios Nacionales. 19 September 2013. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013.
  4. ^ Michel Bauwens (2005-06-15). "Peer to Peer and Human Evolution" (PDF). Institute of Network Cultures.
  5. ^ "Michel Bauwens". The (En)Rich List.
  6. ^ Baranoff, Zvi (March 2021). "Letter of Dissociation". p2p-left.gitlab.io. P2P Left. Retrieved 31 August 2021.
  7. ^ a b Pazaitis, Alex (2021-05-30). "Think (not) like a commoner". Medium. Retrieved 2021-12-25.
  8. ^ "Michel Bauwens". openDemocracy.
  9. ^ Michel Bauwens. "A German Pirate Party could bring a European coalition". aljazeera.com.
  10. ^ Gene Marks, This Week In Small Business: The Employer Mandate, New York Times, (July 8, 2013).
  11. ^ Dirk Holemans. "Opinie: Scheer deelinitiatieven als Autopia en Uber niet over dezelfde kam - Opinie - De Morgen". De Morgen.
  12. ^ "What Burning Man Can Teach Us About Living in Community". Living Green Magazine.
  13. ^ "When the economy becomes collaborative". orange.com. Archived from the original on 2012-10-04.
  14. ^ TechnoCalyps Archived 2017-12-30 at the Wayback Machine, Documentary by Frank Theys
  15. ^ "The Transition to a Sustainable Commons Society in Ecuador and beyond - Events - Degrowth 2014". degrowth.org.

External links[edit]