Community supported manufacturing

for solidarity economy

Abridged version

Full version
(highly recommended)
is available here.

This is not a neutral text. This is a case for certain world-in-creation, written from a perspective of technology-involved person, seeing infrastructure and manufacturing as life support systems for communities – both in practical and in political sense.
You have been warned.

Why manufacturing matters

People in economy are busy with three types of activityi:

  • Extracting raw materials from the environment (including food production).

  • Converting these materials into more complex, tangible products (manufacturing).

  • Performing work that creates intangible products (services).

Manufacturing, known in this perspective as secondary sector, is the mainstay of every human civilization. Manufactured items – including tools, constructions, processed or preserved food – are generally considered as specific for humanity. The essence, however, is the fact that manufacturing relies on systematic, replicable procedures, based on experience and technological knowledge. Instead of one-off artisan products, manufacturing provides items that are standardized and their specification is known before they are made. It makes the whole process of social planning and cooperation whole lot easier.

World around us

Dominant ideology across the planet is capitalism. Capitalism is built around greed, the drive to concentrate wealth and power. Economy, governance, ecology and technology – all elements are collaborating to increase concentration of resources within a narrowing group of owners. Manufacturing sector is a part of it.

If we want to create capitalism-free world, we need to replace capitalist mechanisms with new ones, based on solidarity and responsibility for others.

The world we create

It is not about living off-grid. It is about living off-greed.

The world we create is built around sustainability and resilience for all. That makes ecology (including humans) the hub of our model. Assuming position of stewardship, community claims no rights to the environment – rather obligations, coming from responsibility for its elements. It boils down to the need to discover our role in global ecosystem and start fulfilling it to our best abilities.

We believe that heterogeneous communities, organized in a horizontal, peer-to-peer network (confederacyii) are the best framework for socially-based survival of humanity.

We strive to model and build communities that do not crush individuals. Community should work as an interface between them, helping them both contribute and benefit, with as little need for adjustment as possible1.

Inter-community communication, cooperation and coexistence, require confederated peer-to-peer network, guided by mutually agreed protocoliii.

We believe that for capitalism-free and self-organized communities, the best economic model is solidarity economy. On microeconomic level (inside community) it assumes the goal to fulfill people’s needs in the most equaliv way possible, within available resources. Availability of resources is limited by their sustainability and the level of outcome is limited by the needs of resilience (maintenance and strategic reserves).

On the macro level (among communities) at least part of economic surplus should be allocated according to solidarity criteria, thus improving equity and the spirit of mutual aid between communities. Whatever self-governance system people adopt, it has to support main values of the society: sustainability, resilience, self-determination and self-governance.

Capitalism-free manufacturing.

Changing the leading axiom of ideology makes everything work differently. In newly created world, also manufacturing sector becomes new, made of quite different components.

Technology is specialized knowledge how to use tools on components to create product and (possibly minimal) waste.

Liberatory technology is not only supporting the goals of sustainability and resilience. It also supports human self-determination and self-organization. Liberatory technology also aims at closing the gap between people and technology, making everyone involved in infrastructural processes. The challenge is to balance unavoidable conservatism of “consumer” communities against much-needed innovation drive, present in hackers’ makers’ and tinkerers’ tradition.

Capitalist investment decisions are driven by promised financial profit. In our world, investments2 are driven by mutual aid principle and decided through affinityv process.

There is a community that needs some products, but lacks skills or other conditions to make them. And there is another community that is able to make them, but lacks seed funds, or just sheer work-power.
So, pretty much similar to Community Supported Agriculture, one or more “receiving” communities may support the manufacturing one and all of them benefit from the outcome.

It is worth stressing out that this kind of support does not mean creating any fixed dependence. Scrutiny from supporting community is temporary and ends when the conditions for it are met (mostly when the loan is paid). There is no change of ownership regarding resources (we are strongly against ownership as a method of control), no new institution is created. The whole process is affinity based and only essential elements will be put in contractual form (and published for public control).

The freemium economic model we advocatevi assumes that every product should be available in several forms, some of them should be free, some moderately paid and some sold at a premium price. Premium forms of products would provide sustenance for people involved in manufacturing and funding for free and cheap versions.

In this context, community supported manufacturing would mean that a community assumes role of “premium customer”, providing resources to create and distribute product available for everyone. This is, we believe, solidarity economy as it should be.

Open invitation

For individuals: if you like ideas laid out in this document, talk to us. We will be happy to work with you remotely, to host you for a while and finally, perhaps, to welcome you as a long-term community member. Talk to us!

For communities: if you wish to participate in building manufacturing sector for solidarity economy, talk to us too. We will start from discussing, what products you need and how we can make them for you. Decisions take time, so let’s start early.

1 Let’s be frank. Adjustments needed can be quite substantial at times, but the plan is to keep them strictly at necessary level.

2 In capitalism-free context we use term “investment” in microeconomic sense, as the money spent to cover initial equipment and standing costs. There is nothing like “financial investment” here.


iv Like in “equity” rather than “equality”.