Self-organisation and the economy - Friday April 1st 2011 Time: 5-7 pm Location: Lock Keepers Cottage, QMUL, Mile End, London E14NS http://self-org.blogspot.com/
Self-organisation in the economy from cooperatives to social enterprises, between state funding, self funding, alternative economies and charity dependence, and related questions of authorship, redistribution of resources, production of value and co-production.
SiÃn Whellens (Calverts Coop, London)
SiÃn Whellens was a contributing editor at Anarchy Magazine, and active with London Workers Group, Workers Playtime and the anti-party and autonomist communist left in London in the late 1970s and 1980's. He
co-published a bi-weekly newsletter, the Picket Bulletin, during the long Wapping printers' lockout of 1986, dedicated to creating an effective communication tool for grassroots activists. Since 1983 he has worked with
Calverts, a collective-type worker co-operative of graphic designers and printers, and in the wider worker co-operative milieu. He is an elected member of the Worker Co-operative Council and a director of Co-operatives
UK . SiÃn is interested in exploring the conflicts and potentials of workersâ self-_expression_, self-organisation and self-management under capitalism, and understanding how the development of our day-to-day activity can contribute to the emergence of a new social economy.
Marcel Mars (Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht)
Marcel Mars will discuss the use of free software, proprietary collaborative software/social networks and file sharing practices in the
context of self-organization. Software is a socio-technical system in which machines, people, and processes are inextricably interconnected and interdependent.  The use of collaborative software in every organization will affect its
organizational structure, capacity of negotiations, rules of access to (org) resources, decision making process and overall group dynamics. That said, an organization (still) controls the strength of the effect with its
knowledge of how to use and adapt (develop) collaborative software to its own needs. The collaborative development of software, as in the case of free software movement, brought to the world enormous autonomous infrastructure beloved
by many activists and self-organization freaks. Still, the network effect  created by most of the groups, activists or not, pays off to the web2.0 startups, social network giants and other proprietary solutions.
"Utility Computing is the packaging of computing resources, such as computation, storage and services, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility (such as electricity, water, natural gas, or
telephone network)." When computing in general and computer-supported collaboration becomes public utility its development becomes more and more invisible to the public. Utility computing is still in its first phase. It
is mainly led by big corporations like: Amazon, Microsoft, HP, Google, Oracle, IBM etc. Their infrastructures are built upon Free software (Linux, Xen, KVM, Apache, Hadoop). But, they keep their advances in technology as trade
Toni Prug (QMUL, London, Hack the State, gComm(o)ns)
Toni Prug will discuss the impossibility of democratic self organization in
â"If the economy disrupts our lives, then we must disrupt the economy" (UK Uncut, 2011)
For self organization to be democratic, there must be no capital, state power holders, or holders of physical forces of coercion (parts of society
without state/capitalist controls over them) who are in the position to impose their will to dictate the model of cooperation by utilizing peopleâs need to acquire the means of subsistence by selling their labour
for a wage, or to obey in fear for life. The egalitarian impulse that exists in self organization is rarely developed due to participantsâ different class positions (skills, time, space, money, social networks) and
the lack of value chains external to capitalist models of valorization whose inbuilt anti-egalitarianism cannot valorize egalitarian self organization.
The richest parts of the world have increased their productivity several
times since WWII. Instead of proliferation of time for self organization based on abundance of the time gained by increased productivity, egalitarian elements (access to shelter, health, education, care) are disappearing and the amount of labour time sold for a wage, or volunteered
in a hope of one, is increasing. If we consider self organization as a form of emancipation, and if we aim for it to be democratic, in the times of rapidly reduced material equality amongst the people of some of the
wealthiest states in the world, the possibility of democratic self organization has to be considered not as a sporadic question, but as a central, systemic one.