Yochai Benkler

“Cooperation in the commons, in the network environment, for a quarter of a century: I’ve seen it move from a theoretical impossibility to an important practice, to a quirky side event, and ultimately to a solution space for a wide range of practices, ranging from Wikipedia to free software to citizen journalism. What we’re seeing today with cooperativism, platform cooperativism, open cooperativism, is an effort to learn the lessons of the last quarter century of cooperation and apply them to challenges of exploitation in capitalism, both old and new. Partly, we have contingent work that is very old. Partly we have on-demand economy that is very new.

But what we’re seeing is an effort to learn from the experiences of online cooperation to design better, more sustainable cooperatives of work online, to allow producers and consumers to grab control over the platforms that allow us to pursue our life plans, and with this new model of cooperation, create a way of life that is both productive, but also more embedded in actual social and ethical values that people embrace. We need research that will teach us how to make these cooperative works when they need to deal with new problems like allowing people to make a decent and sustainable living. We need to understand how consumer co-ops can allow us to avoid the pressures of surveillance capitalism. All of these are new challenges. We’ll need to learn how to do things new.

But the most important thing represented by platform cooperatives is a new consciousness. The fact that you can, in fact, do something differently and build a new way of organizing production so that you’re not stuck in the same old models of exploitation that have been so important and so powerful for so long.”