7: How do I get Involved?
We have argued the case for the DisCOverse and gone through its existing components, as well as the strategies to get us to a feminist, decolonial and decidedly not capitalist DisCO futures in the short/medium term.
Let's not fool ourselves, this won't be easy. We have the full power of a system stacked against us, trained to oppress, control and kill its opponents. Presently, our collective acts of resistance are actively surveilled and fed into algorithms and AI to optimize our suppression.
Money, oil and guns will only go so far, though. The converging ecological and social crises have globalized a basic existential trauma for most of the world's population. You’ve seen it yourself, today’s “outlandish suggestions” are quickly becoming tomorrow’s “realistic solutions”. Perhaps you see it as we do: inaction will lead us and our future relations, human and more-than-human, into a planet unfit for survival. If you're ready to take a stand, DisCO can prepare you to transition to a better, more scientifically grounded and respectful world. You will not be alone.
If we've done our job well, maybe you’re ready to say "Yes, I want to DisCO!" If so, read on. We know that DisCO is only one solution among many in the field of alternative economics, but we've designed it to play nice with the others. Clear DisCOmplementarities exist with:
We've spoken about the Commons throughout this site. It's one of the four main strands of the DisCO DNA. Etymologically, “Commons” Commons - Commoning - Commoner comes from the Latin munus, which means both “gift” and “duty”. This conveys a very different way of relating and caring for the gifts of nature and our cultural heritage. Our responsibility as part of nature and as commoners is to take care of our gifts. What gifts do you see or sense? What do you feel are your responsibilities? These are major reflections which cannot be rushed. In short, DisCO begins with you… but always continues with others.
Once you see DisCO as a process that applies to a wide variety of places, groups and situations, you can begin applying the act of DisCOfying to some of its most natural expressions such as Carework, capacity building, community action, building and stewarding shared resources etc. No matter how it happens, we want to help.
Find the others
It takes two to tango, but it takes three to DisCO. That's right, you can't do DisCO alone or as part of a power couple, you need to do the hard work of creating and caring for a community. The dominant system actively trains us away from building kin and staying with the trouble, making this work feel difficult at times. Once again, the antidote is commoning:
As author and Commons scholar David Bollier tells it, “a commons arises whenever a given community decides it wishes to manage a resource in a collective manner, with special regard for equitable access, use and sustainability.” Simply put, commoning by nature is a community act, however small or large the community. We often find groups practicing the act of commoning or things similar to DisCO without being conscious of what a commons or DisCO practice implies. As a framework for explicitly Feminist and Decolonial commoning, it's important that DisCO is not superficial but integrated as lived experiences that can lead to meaningful outcomes.
Who are the others? Whether they’re just like you or quite different in some ways, the common link is that you can see that they have been measurably othered by oppressive systems. People of color, women, trans and non-binary persons, anticapitalists, migrants, stateless, enslaved, precariat, disenfranchised, sex workers, the homeless and the land and nature itself… Social sciences allow us to quite precisely measure the level of othering, whether economic or social, that hierarchical power structures exert. And that hierarchy is reinforced because everyone knows the simple truth: there's more of us than there is of the measurably non-othered. The often occluded truth that follows is: "we know how to do it better". DisCO is one of the ways to develop this.
Where can you find the others? Following the logic of DisCO Principle 4: DisCOspaRethinking Local/Global Economics we suggest that you relate to the DisCOverse both online and in your own immediate surroundings.
DisCO online begins with DisCO.coop, our website. There you will find community spaces, the DisCOspace Loomio discussion forum and our regular calls. This is where you can meet other people who are creating DisCOs or looking to find out more. You can also contact us for more pointers or, if you want our dedicated help, contact us for DisCOnsulting.
Our website contains a comprehensive section of Partner Orgs. These include our supporters and groups working on similar issues from varied perspectives. Many of them are discussing becoming DisCO LABS or in the process of doing so. We'll say it again, DisCO is one way. No one knows what the future brings or what viable solutions will stick. Having an overview of complementarities in movements (for example, commoning, ecofeminism, degrowth, mutual aid, land back etc) is more important than the naming used. All of these organizations are doing outstanding work which directly or indirectly benefit DisCO. We have strong personal ties with all these orgs and can vouch for their work and the incredible people doing it. They include:
- Supermarkt Berlin: Platform for digital culture and alternative economies, based in Berlin since 2010.
- Alternative Futures: Greenpeace spinoff working with organizations building change through learning from Indigenous and local communities.
- Transnational Institute: Amsterdam-based international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable planet since 1974.
- Guerrilla Media Collective: Feminist P2P Translation collective, the OG DisCO.
- Open Collective: Open finances platform for communities enabling collective and transparent management.
- Commons Network: Collaboratory for the social and ecological transition.
- Autonomous Design Group: Design collective using art for liberation, against capitalism and authoritarianism.
- Commons Strategies Group: Partnership to help advance the commons as a paradigm in diverse settings, in both theory and practice.
- Media Economics Design Lab College of Media, Communication and Information experimenting with democratic ownership and governance in the online economy.
- Moral Imaginations: Organisation driving a movement of imagination-powered activism.
- Resonate: Decolonial, artist-owned music platform.
- COMPOST: Publication on the Digital Commons.
- Metagov: Interdisciplinary research collective building standards and infrastructure for digital self-governance.
- Telekommunisten: Berlin-based collective whose work investigates the political economy of communications technology.
- Art Coop: Cooperative of artists building networks of culture toward a solidarity economy.
- Culture Hack LABS: Decolonial ontoshifts and narratives.
- Space of Urgency: Network enabling access to spaces for the next generation of culture through public actions, offline events, digital tools and government research.
- REPAIRE: Independent arts peer group for research and experimentation in Canada and abroad.
- Furtherfield: Artist-led online community, organization and magazine interweaving art and technology for eco-social change.
- DWeb: global network of builders and dreamers working to create a better, decentralized web.
- MAKEA: P2P open access furniture and urban space.
- Post Growth Institute: International, non-profit organization working to enable collective wellbeing within ecological limits.
- Shareable: Non-profit news, action network, and consultancy for the sharing transformation.
- Zemos98: Cooperative dedicated to cultural production and social research for more than twenty years.
- Solidarity Economy Association: Multi-stakeholder cooperative based in Oxford striving for building a thriving solidarity economy for the UK.
- Sporobole: Contemporary art center and incubator for alternative economies.
Beyond DisCO and our partner orgs you will find many groups which are DisCO compatible and host their own asynchronous online spaces. One good example is social.coop, our chosen federated Mastodon instance. Some of our favorite discussions take place on Loomio, the Open Source discussion and decision making platform built by Enspiral, which is one of many DisCO inspirations and precursors. Edgeryders is a long standing online community with over 7000 users that uses semantic network analysis to foster collective solutions.
If real time synchronous communication is more your speed, you'll find good and relevant discussions in The Metagov Community. The Blockchain Socialist and Breadchain, two projects that align well with DisCO, rose from the Crypto Leftist forum in Discord. If crypto-leftism is your thing, you can also visit the OG Reddit Cryptoleftists.
More online resources for finding DisCOnauts and DisCO related projects can be found in the DisCO Ball Wiki and, in particular, the DisCOverse category. The Wiki is continually being built and added to as a practical world and lore building exercise within the DisCO Journey, so if what you're looking for isn't there yet, check back regularly, or straight up ask us for what you want.
Good FLOSS tools for your own groups or DisCOs include Mattermost, Matrix, Loomio and Hylo. A well-configured Discourse forum can be really powerful. Other groups use Signal or Telegram groups. Also: don't forget the classic email list, as they can become really powerful communication tools, and increasingly favored by those wishing to avoid big tech social media and its capricious and punitive policies. The Media Economics Design Lab has a great example setup with Matrix integrated into Nextcloud through Cloudron.
Rather than only focusing on particular tools, it is worth engaging with the concept of "governable stacks",where the focus is on the communities' self-governance and relation to the tools. Replace "are you using good tools?" with "are you using tools that help deepen community self-governance practices?". Check out the DisCO Stack, for our own spin on this.
Remember that both Online and Offline are Onlife! Human beings are designed for social interaction. The safe spaces and boundaries where these interactions take place will vary greatly. You need to check in with yourself and your values for a good balance of stimulating and comfortable. Whenever entering a new space, be aware of the community’s expectations around communications and consent.
Once you’ve found one or more communities, you can choose your active involvement: environmental work, open source software, reclamation of urban spaces, political coalition building, restorative agriculture… There’s no shortage of activities to get involved in which are ripe for building DisCO structures and value flows. The important factor is manifesting and applying the logic of commoning within your social processes.
A fun way to assess this is by co-creating “user stories” around acts of commoning. This method (pioneered by our friends at Platoniq) is useful for brainstorming ways of getting involved in the DisCOVerse:
WHAT IF? What if, as a ____, I could _____, with (or, using) ______, in order to ______.
RESULT: In doing so I am (we are) co-creating a_______ commons.
WHAT IF?: “What if, as a resident of a village, I could influence my municipal government with case studies and policy recommendations in order to legally gain open access for local people to viable lands and/or buildings presently in dis-use.“
RESULT: In doing so, I am (we are) co-creating a commons of public access.”
WHAT IF??: “What if, as a research student, I could request shared access to (controversially) paywall-protected academic publications online, using a hashtag on Twitter #icanhazpdf, in order to alert others with access to that material that I would like them to share those .pdf files.“
RESULT In doing so I am co-creating a digital commons of knowledge.
Keep it safe for yourself and others.
An important aspect of all these spaces, online, offline, onlife is entering with respect and presence. These spaces are not necessarily mediated by mainstream societal norms where certain assumptions about who has the right to assert themselves and "feel at home" are taken for granted. These are essentially commons, where the community gathered around the gift decides how to operate as a community and how to best take care of the gifts stewarded.
What many commons, activist collectives and mutual aid groups share are explicit codes of conduct that orient people in non-violent and consented ways of relating.
The Caring Community Guidelines are DisCO.coop's code of conduct. They apply to our Wiki, the DisCOspace Loomio discussion forum and other DisCO.coop-hosted spaces (including social media, video meetings and in person events). The Caring Community Guidelines originated in P2P Left — one of the various groups where DisCO was incubated. We encourage you to read the full guidelines in the DisCO Ball Wiki, but stand outs include:
- Be nice
- Speak up
- Let compassion guide your behavior
- Harassment won’t be tolerated
- Respect boundaries and acknowledge systemic oppression
- Honor diversity
- Report issues
- Abide by the guidelines
Codes of conduct are fascinating. Many are overlapping and offer different solutions for similar problems, while others deal in more specific matters. Here is a selection of some of our favorites. Like DisCO, all of these are Open Source: you are free to copy, paste and adapt them for your own purposes — as long as you credit the source.
- DisCO.coop Norms and Boundaries
- DWeb Code of Conduct
- Constant Collaboration Guidelines
- Varia's Code of Conduct
- Social Rules
- Free BSD Code of Conduct
- 10 principles of Burning Man
- PAF (Performing Arts Forum) Basics
- The Rochdale Principles
- How to write a great code of conduct
- Field Guide: Equity-Centered Community Design
- Terminology, Power and Inclusive Language
- The Cooperative Principles
- Open Stack Legal Community Code of Conduct
- Design a Code of Conduct for your Community
- Conflict Resolution at Enspiral
- Integralist Code of Conduct
- OuishareFest Code of Conduct
- Wikimedia Launches First of its Kind Code of Conduct
Keep Reading, watching, listening
We are blessed with abundant materials that have inspired DisCO. Our list of influences is long and continually expanding.
If reading is your jam and DisCO your funk, do start with the DisCO Trilogy. To look deeper into its influences, here is the reading list for Guerrilla Translation Reloaded, a 2018 event that directly led to the creation of DisCO. The DisCO Manifesto has been described as a dangerously immersive rabbit hole of hyperlinks. Those links are all listed here for you and will take you through our thinking process at the time. Finally, here's a playlist with all the videos featured in the Manifesto, as well as the DisCO Manifesto Trailer. The Manifesto's sequel, The DisCO Elements, includes a full bibliography, as well as another playlist with all the featured videos, as well as the DisCO Elements Trailer.
On top of that, we have plenty of articles, interviews and videos which you can find in DisCO.coop's Stories section. If you want more explicit DisCO recommendations skip to skip to DisCO Basics Chapter 9, which has an updated curated list of materials.
Books, publications,videos and podcasts
Here are some more recommendations that touch on the DisCO DNA (Commons and P2P, Open Cooperativism, Feminist Economics and Radical Distributed Tech), as well as our Anticapitalist, Decolonial and Intersectional Feminist positions. All of these categories overlap to some degree, but the following sections will provide you with a solid overview of these foundational perspectives for a better world.
Note that these recommendations are rich in content. If you want to skip to the rest of the article, click here
Commons and P2P
If you want to dig into the Commons we recommend starting with what we consider its defining text, David Bollier and Silke Helfrich's Free Fair and Alive: the Insurgent Power of the Commons. A large portion of the DisCO team was integral to the design and outreach process surrounding the book and we hold it dear. Free, Fair and Alive has plenty of practical examples and tools. Also by Bollier and Helfrich, see their earlier compilations The Wealth of the Commons and Patterns of Commoning, as well as Bollier’s Think Like a Commoner.
David Bollier and the much missed Silke led the Commons Strategies Group, another organization closely linked to DisCO where we spent our formative years. We created their webpage and helped compile their publications and videos. Standout publications include Re-imagining Value: Insights from the Care Economy, Commons, Cyberspace and Nature, State Power and Commoning: Transcending a Problematic Relationship, and Democratic Money and Capital for the Commons.
One of our favorite authors is Kevin Carson and we consider his texts on the Commons to be foundational. If you want a sweeping introduction to political movements in the last two centuries and a fully DisCO-compatible guide to changing the world, check out Exodus: General Idea of the Revolution in the XXI Century. His earlier books The Desktop Regulatory State: The Countervailing Power of Individuals and Networks and The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto are some of the best articulations of possible P2P futures. His articles and publications for C4SS are also highly recommended.
For more perspectives on the commons, check out Silvia Federicis’s Caliban and the Witch and Commoning with George Caffentzis and Silvia Federici, Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks, Dmytri Kleiner’s Telekommunist Manifesto, Massimo De Angelis Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism and Hardt and Negri's Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, and Commonwealth, McKenzie Wark's A Hacker Manifesto and Lewis Hyde's Common as air : Revolution, Art, and Ownership.
When talking about the Commons we must mention Elinor Ostrom. Standout books include Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action and Understanding knowledge as a commons: from theory to practice. For a short introduction read this article with Ostrom's Eight Design Principles for Successful Commons.
The above are basic texts on the Commons, offering different perspectives, at times, contradictions. For essential non-western perspectives on the commons, see the Decoloniality section, where we’ll recommend you the Colonial commons and the decolonisation of the left again.
Although we're no longer affiliated, the DisCO co-founders were part of the P2P Foundation from 2013-19, where we helped produce these publications. We are very proud of our work on the Commons Transition and P2P Primer, which led to the Commons Transition Primer website as a more accessible and inclusive way to understand the Commons and P2P. DisCO’.coop's co-founders Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel wrote several articles during that time that pointed toward what would become DisCO. These include From Platform to Open Cooperativism, Commons in the Time of Monsters and Reimagine, Don’t Seize, the Means of Production.
The P2P Lab's independent research on Commons-Based Peer ProductionC contains many valuable ideas and is highly readable. Closely related is the work of Research and Degrowth who offer a rich understanding of the commons informed by decolonial perspectives. Great books on degrowth offering realistic ways forward for commoning in the 21st century include Jason Hickel's Less is More: How Degrowth will Save the World, The Case for Degrowth, by Giorgos Kallis, Susan Paulson, Giacomo D'Alisa, Federico Demaria and The Future is Degrowth: A Guide to a World Beyond Capitalism by Matthias Schmelzer, Aaron Vansintjan and Andrea Vetter. Ephemera's issue on Organizing for the Post-Growth Economy is a good complement.
Other recommended sites regularly featuring stories on P2P and the Commons include Shareable, ROAR Magazine, Connected Action for the Commons, Stir to Action, the Sustainable Economies Law Center blog, the Journal of Peer Production, On the Commons, the International Journal of the Commons and Metapolis Magazine (co-edited with our sisters at Guerrilla Media Collective, the OG DisCO).
Commons superhero David Bollier writes regularly on the topic in his long running blog and produces the excellent Frontiers of Commoning Podcast. DisCO Pink Board member Dmytri Kleiner has written extensively on the political economy of network architectures and P2P in his blog. All of these resources have been foundational in DisCO's thinking
Open Cooperativism and the Social Solidarity Economy
DisCO’s DNA is largely related to the combination of Open Cooperativism and Platform Cooperativism. What's the difference? We wrote the article From Platform to Open Cooperativism, explaining how they diverge but also complement each other. This led directly to our work in DisCO.
Open Cooperativism was initially discussed in 2014 as part of a Commons Strategies Group Deep Dive called, "Toward an Open Cooperativism". The resulting report, by David Bollier and Pat Conaty, describes historical and then-current examples and much inspirational information.
Following the same thread, we recommend Common Strategies Group’s introduction and resources on Open Cooperativism, Shareable’s explainer on Platform Cooperativism. Nathan Schneider and Trebor Scholz are two prominent advocates for radically fair applications of Platform Cooperativism. Schneider wrote the whirlwind tour of the cooperative movement Everything for Everyone the Radical Tradition That Is Shaping the Next Economy. Scholz wroteUberworked and Underpaid: How Workers Are Disrupting the Digital Economy, and together they compiled Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet.
In the company of such brilliant minds in the field as McKenzie Wark or Renata Avila, DisCO.coop’s founders Ann Marie Utratel and Stacco Troncoso were honored to be invited to contribute to Autonomy.work’s Platforming Equality: Policy Challenges for the Digital Economy, one the papers featured. The full document explored emerging challenges in the digital economy and how various forms of cooperativism could answer them.
You can find much written about Platform and Open Cooperative practices drawn from the experiences of Enspiral or one of its community working groups, Better Work Together. It’s also worth looking at projects such as Civic Square and Participatory City’s Designed to Scale.
The cooperative movement has a large presence in the Social and Solidarity Economy, with which it shares features such as democratic and participatory management, fair distribution of wealth and commitment to the community. Art.coop is a network that connects and supports creatives in the Solidarity Economy sphere, and the RIPESS website is a rich source of knowledge in this subject. To learn more about this and mutual cooperation, we also recommend reading complementary articles like What is Social Solidarity Economy, Not alone: what the UK can learn from union co-ops, Joreen’s evergreen The Tyranny of Structurelessness, and Co-Op Ownership: 175 Years Of People Over Profits.
In order to understand quickly why Feminist Economics is so revolutionary and challenges the capitalist mindset, we encourage you to start by checking out Naila Kabeer’s article, Why we need feminist economists, The Problem of Value for ‘Women’s Work*’*, as well as the Women’s Budget Group’s excellent resources and infographics. Then you’ll be ready for longer walks at the Feminist Economics site.
For further exciting explorations through the intersections of Feminist Economics and Technology, we suggest you check GenderIT.org’s articles, especially Why We Need ‘Feminist Digital Economics’ and Marilyn Waring’s noteworthy and groundbreaking book Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth, as well as the rest of her extensive production in this field.
But if you want a personal recommendation that we hold dear, then go for the Radical Care: Embracing Feminist Finance zine, published by Amateur Cities and the Institute of Network Cultures and featuring the contributions of some of our long-time collaborators such as Ruth Catlow, Ailie Rutherford, Inte Gloerich and Denise Thwaites:
Radical Distributed Tech
Before arriving to the realm of Radical Distribution, we first need to cross the lands of Decentralization and some of its most hyped concepts: Bitcoin, the blockchain, Ethereum and the DAOs.
Old but gold, the 1995 essay The Californian Ideology harshly critiques “dotcom neoliberalism”, heralding a distrust of technological determinism.
One game changing document broke the blockchain sphere wide open: the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto’s White Paper described a peer-to-peer electronic cash system without central servers (spoiler: he was describing Bitcoin!)
Blockchain is the technology that enables this techno-political catalyst called Bitcoin. Primavera de Filippi and Aaron Wright’s book Blockchain and the Law -The Rule of Code covers the essentials. But blockchain’s potential to truly decentralize and help build fairer futures shouldn’t be taken for granted, as it is argued in Richard D. Bartlett’s Patterns for Decentralised Governance and why Blockchain Doesn’t Decentralise Power… Unless You Design It To. See also Rachel O’Dwyer’s Blockchain Just Isn’t As Radical As You Want It To Be, Ersin Akinc’s Don’t buy the blockchain hype, and Kostakis and Giotitsas’ The (A)Political Economy of Bitcoin. This generative skepticism is also reflected in MoneyLab #7: Outside of Finance, which heavily intersects with our previous theme of Feminist Economics.
When Ethereum (the blockchain that used smart contracts) came into play, articles like Ethereum: Freenet or Skynet? and books like Vitalik Buterin’s Proof of Stake: The Making of Ethereum and the Philosophy of Blockchains helped us keep up with the growing complexity.
More on the Radical Distributed Tech side, Sasha-Constanza Chock addresses the question of how design might be led by marginalized communities to dismantle structural inequality in Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need. In The Matrix of Convivial Technology – Assessing technologies for degrowth, Andrea Vetter analyzes the underlying ethical assumptions of technological developers. Gabriella Coleman talks about the beauty of hacking and free software in Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking.
Regarding the impact of decentralized technologies in the Arts, Lisa Blanning’s A Beginner’s Guide to the Decentralized Internet provides a thorough analysis of the implications for the underground music community. The Critical Makers Reader: (Un)learning Technology reflects on the wide meaning of “making”; Kevin Carson’s The Homebrew Industrial Revolution- a Low-Overhead Manifesto explores the dramatic technological and social changes on work and manufacturing, and Radical Friends – Decentralised Autonomous Organisations and the Arts dives into new forms of radical care and connectivity within the art industry (it also features an exclusive interview with our very own DisCO CAT!)
We advise you to prepare to sail an ocean of possibilities in different formats, for this is a multi-faceted, kaleidoscopic subject.
Let’s start with awesome projects. Means.tv is the world's first worker-owned streaming service (and its content oozes anticapitalism, too!) Sub.Media gathers subversive, anti-capitalist, mutual aid, and anti-colonial tactics. Libcom.org is a repository of resources to improve our lives, communities and working conditions.
One of our favorite authors, the deeply missed David Graeber, wrote uncountable gems but Debt: The First 5000 years and Bullshit Jobs hold special relevance. Other titles covering the evil decrepitude of capitalism are McKenzie Wark’s Capital is Dead: Is This Something Worse? and Max Haiven’s Revenge Capitalism.
On a brighter note, there are so many feasible alternatives and workarounds: Erik Olin Wright’s How to be an Anticapitalist in the 21s Century, Robin Hahnel’s Of the People, by the People, and the book both authors co-wrote: Alternatives to Capitalism. The list goes on and on: Neurocapitalism. Technological Mediation and Vanishing Lines by Giorgio Griziotti, A Postcapitalist Politics by JK Gibson Graham, Experimental Practice, Technoscience, Alterontologies, and More-Than-Social Movements by Dimitris Papadopoulos, and Kevin Carson’s The Desktop Regulatory State: The Countervailing Power of Individuals and Networks and Exodus: General Idea of the Revolution in the XXI Century (yes, again). Still as relevant as ever, don’t miss these true classics: the 1973 book Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich or Mutual Aid: A Factor for Evolution by Kropotkin.
Challenging Eurocentric views and the imposition of hierarchies upon Indigenous people and their cultures, heritage and territories is crucial for restoration and for the building of a better world.
Antoni Aguiló’s interview Necropolitics, Social Fascism and Algorithmic Colonialism by Guerrilla Translation is a great overview of how radically democratic movements incorporate learnings from feminism, LGBTIQ+ collectives and decolonial perspectives. For your convenience, we disclose several mentions and recommendations extracted from the interview in this paragraph. In 1950 Aimé Césaire began his Discourse on Colonialism stating that Western civilization had been unable to solve problems related to class and colonialism. Among these frameworks we can highlight Liberation Theology, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Subaltern Studies in India, Dependence Theory, Fals Borda’s participatory action research, Latin-American decoloniality, Patricio Guerrero’s coinage of the term corazonar, decolonial feminism and the epistemologies of the South.
Some additional recommended light readings on this subject are Iborra and Montañez’s Colonial commons and the decolonisation of the left, Graeber and Wengrow’s How to change the course of human history, resources on Buen Vivir and Shuvatri Dasgupta’s Decolonial Intellectual History: An Anti-capitalist Feminist Agenda, with a special mention to the 1977 Statement by the Combahee River Collective.
Our book recommendations include Harney and Moten’s The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study, Ruha Benjamin’s Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want and Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, and Elizabeth (Dori) Tunstall’s Decolonizing Design: A Cultural Justice Guidebook.
The pluriverse is central in Decolonial thinking and invites us to honor all the ways in which diversity exists on Earth. Some books focused on this concept are Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical Interdependence, Autonomy, and the Making of Worlds by Arturo Escobar and Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary.
At the axis of anticapitalism, care-oriented practices, feminist economics and decoloniality, we find intersectionality. Although it might seem like only common sense to understand that all forms of oppression are connected, somehow not everyone is aware that patriarchy, capitalism and colonialism are the three pillars of present centralization and hierarchy.
Counteracting that disconnect, we recommend the following articles: Henia Belalia’s Intersectionality isn’t just a win-win; it’s the only way out, Silvia Federici’s reflection on Wages for Housework, JR Thorpe’s What Exactly Is Ecofeminism?, Ernest W. Adams’s Feminism is not only about equality, and there is more work to do! and Carly Friesen’s How Feminism Helps Everyone.
If you’re feeling avid for larger volumes of wisdom, then go for Sandra Harding’s Sciences from Below: Feminisms, Postcolonialities, and Modernities and/or Sisterhood Is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women's Liberation Movement. Let's talk about labour, starting with Helen Hester and Nick Srnicek's After Work:A History of the Home and the Fight for Free Time. Inspired by social reproduction theory, Stefania Barca's The Forces of Reproduction uses feminist political ecology to declare a counter-hegemonic anthropocene based on reproductive Earthcare labour.
And last, but not least, if you fancy some feminist technoscience, we thoroughly encourage you to read Donna Haraway’s essential A Cyborg Manifesto, Karen Barad’s Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning and Rosi Braidotti's Posthuman Feminism.
Take the DisCO Journey
Earlier, we told you all about the DisCO Journey, our immersive DisCOverse learning, building and co-developing experience. While you can become a DisCO by simply going through the DisCO Challenge, taking the full Journey will be a much more enriching experience. The materials being developed are designed to be accessible at any time, but if your goal is ‘finding the others’, our recommendation is that you join the DisCO Journey cohort.
In the cohort you'll meet some other up and coming DisCOs and jam with them, along with the DisCO.coop team. The best way of learning is by doing, and this experience becomes much richer in good company. The Journey also prioritizes mutuality and P2P learning, breaking down the distinction between teachers and students. We strongly believe we can all learn from each other. Please join us on the Journey!
Strengthening the DisCOverse means that we need to…
Build Knowledge Commons
Wikis and mapping are excellent tools for committed changemakers to find each other, work together, provide mutual support and build common-pool resources. For wiki work, contact us if you want to contribute to the DisCO Ball Wiki so we can show you the ropes and take you through the documentation.
Other useful wikis include Appropedia, Wikihouse, RepRap and Farm Hack. Our engagement with the P2P Foundation Wiki was formative, and still contains a great deal of very useful information. However, since 2018 the organization and the politics of its founder and only visible figure have become increasingly incompatible with DisCO, so proceed at your own discretion, with caution.
In reality, we encourage all who build and maintain Commons to document and open-source their processes online — good and bad! Whether as part of your website, or in Github or our wiki, we can all benefit from the knowledge. As a complement to the better known Creative Commons Licenses, we urge you to have a look at thePeer Production License and our upcoming work on DisCO licensing.
Build Material Commons
When making contact with people in your community, see if there are any existing community workshops in your area, or see if there’s an interest in creating one. Mutualizing productive infrastructures and face to face collaborations are (highly) rewarding ways of commoning. From shared or community kitchens, to self-managed spaces and hackerspaces and fab LABS, it’s worth getting involved in creating tangible stuff through commons-based peer production processes. To get started, check out Shareable's excellent collection of How-to guides — which also cover immaterial commons and the other recommendations in this chapter.
Makerspaces, hackerspaces and fab LABS are in flux and rather undefinable as a whole. A simple, inclusive description could be “community-run physical places where people can utilize local manufacturing technologies”.
As of writing, 2,471 makerspaces are listed in the hackerspaces.org wiki. Among these, 851 are marked as active, 355 as planned, while the rest appear to be inactive or closed. Although the majority of makerspaces are situated in the North-Western world with a recent expansion to the East and South, the phenomenon has achieved a global spread (see below).
Not all Fab LABS are created equal, though, and too many invisibilize or minimize the need for the decolonial and intersectional feminist actions we are comitted to. DisCO Principle 4: Rethinking Global/Local Economics is all about distributed manufacturing, but suffused with DisCO values. Our governance suggestions and educational materials can be really easily adapted to Makerspaces, Fab LABS and other community spaces. Let’s go!
Do we really want to, for example, make our own toothbrushes every few months? Maybe yes, maybe no, but there are many environmental and social benefits to localizing production of certain things. Production-on-demand according to community needs offers convivial alternatives to overconsumption, consumerism and planned obsolescence. Nourishing and caring for material commons will result in collective knowledge, building on local resources and a lived understanding of material circularity according to planetary boundaries.
Live, work and consume differently
Some people might get into hand-on, local production in their spare time; others may simply not have the time or the social conditions to do so. DisCO is a way to create more available time to do the things we value and prioritize; to change conditions, where possible, and stop being complicit in the profit-accumulation scheme of peak hierarchy. This isn’t a simple or rapid process. It will largely depend on the networks you build through the previous steps. Think about this and make sure that whatever changes you make feel true to your own life circumstances and values.
The first way to withdraw power from market-accumulation is by depriving it of your labor power. The capitalist market requires wage labor as a commodity: you are forced to sell your labor in order to keep the accumulation and destruction machine going for the benefit of the few. Look for ways to refuse, not just by “dropping out” (although that’s also a respectable and increasingly popular option) but perhaps by pro-actively building alternatives to create sustenance for yourself and your community. The key is finding your passions and framing them within the patterns offered by DisCO. In reality, most generative forms of market organizations can be reimagined as such. What will be given up? Profit and hierarchy —but the returns will be infinitely more rewarding, and safer in the long run.
Another way to disrupt is to remove your cooperation as a consumer. Follow the trend of decommodification and mutualize your consumption. Some examples include community-supported agriculture, solar energy coops, and platform and open coops, along with simply living the commoner lifestyle - cheaper, and more fun.
Without our contributions as workers and consumers, capital cannot reproduce itself, but we have to ensure our own social reproduction through solidarity mechanisms, such as DisCO or other Meta-Economic Networks (check out Mutual Aid Network and their resources section for information on how to start one), transvestment strategies and DisCO Licensing, as explained in the previous sections.
Back in Chapter 5: DisCO Futures, we argued that for DisCO to be a successful Open Source Conspiracy, DisCOnauts must build economic and political power. By “political”, here we refer not only to political representation but also to exercising the actionable rights of everyone affected by political decisions. So, big question time:how do we increase the credibility and influence of the DisCOverse in the political sphere?
In truth, any act of commoning is political, as it challenges established power structures and their associated systems of oppression. Some of our pre-DisCO arguments can be read in the Commons Transition articles “What are P2P Politics” and “Commons in the Time of Monsters”. In summary, it is not enough to hope that change will come about exclusively through prefigurative strategies. We need both approaches. Individual DisCOs will need to decide whether and how to engage with existing political structures, and reimagine them in commons-oriented ways. This could include striving to transcend them, or to help them "wither away".
Maybe your individual calling drives you more towards the prefigurative aspects, like building extitutions. Whether you express your politics outside the system or critically engage within it, the keys are to communicate transparently, build bridges and foster mutual support. If you choose not to engage with State politics, your actions are still relevant. One of the DisCO Values is Politically Alive and just by being a DisCO, you're effectively "building the new in the shell of the old". Whatever approaches you choose, the end goals are the same.We need to support each other in our diversities.
If you do decide to engage with the currently existing political system, it’s useful to imagine a DisCO political strategy under the logic of transvestment. If, in economics, transvestment means leeching power from extractive production towards the Commons, in politics it implies the “commonification” of municipal, regional, state or transnational institutions. The goal is to enable our autonomy as citizens, individuals, and groups to create and steward common resources, quite different from being a passive consumer of state services.
There are many ways of doing this, depending on where you reside and the local political options. An obvious starting place would be building bridges between parties (eg. Pirate, New Left and Green) through the logic of the Commons. A particularly inspiring example is that of the citizen-driven municipal coalitions in Spain which, while being inclusive of existing parties, opened the field of politics to a much larger public. One of the best resources on this new wave of municipalism include Barcelona en Comú’s guide to taking back the City. You can read stories about municipalism on Commons Transition and in the archives of the P2P Foundation Blog. Why not invent ways of replicating such initiatives in your town?
Map by Fearless Cities
If there's no group in your area, maybe it's time to think about creating your own, which brings us back to…
Find the others (again)
We’ve shared plenty of recommendations to get you started. We highly encourage you to follow our lead and create your own, and share them with others.
Giving and sharing are at the heart of commoning. Treating our relationships and the environment as gifts and responsibilities in the context of commoning leads to new behaviors, values and thoughts. Create new commons, find the others, put care at the core and help drive the Open Source Conspiracy forward!
- If you want to start DisCOfying your life, we encourage you to:
- Organically integrate practices such as Carework and commoning.
- Find at least 2 other traveling companions willing to embark on the DisCO Journey with you.
- Engage with DisCO’s online or offline communities or contact us directly.
- Stay tuned and dive deeper into our materials.
- Contribute actively to the commons (either material or knowledge).
- Rethink the way you live, work and consume.
- Engage with existing political structures and reimagine them in commons-oriented ways.
- Share and spread the word!