Meet the Edgeryder: Kevin!

Kevin is an associate researcher at the left-wing market anarchist think tank Center for Stateless Society, and the author of several works on mutualist political economy and organization theory. Politically, Kevin stands somewhere at the intersection of libertarian socialism and free market libertarianism - read more about his complex ideological path in his ryde shared with Edgeryders.

Kevin’s latest project is a new book called Desktop Regulatory State, in which he argues that the desktop revolution is another example of the phenomenon described by Tom Coates: the narrowing gap between the

kinds of “regulation” that can be carried out at work in an office at a large hierarchical institution, and what can be done at home. This phenomenon made itself felt in the software, publishing, music, education, and journalism industries a decade or more ago. Now it’s enabling a similar kind of individual empowerment in regulatory functions: the individual citizen, worker and consumer, or self-organized networks of such individuals, can challenge the power of giant corporate and state institutions in ways that previously required the countervailing power of other large institutions…

With the desktop and digital revolution, the network revolution, and the forms of stigmergic organization that they make possible, the individual increasingly has at her disposal the means of taking on large, powerful bureaucratic institutions as an equal. So basically networked activism offers to do to the state and the large corporation what the file-sharing movement has only begun to do to the record industry, and what Wikileaks has barely even begun to do to the U.S. national security community. Is this groundbreaking or what?

To publish Desktop Regulatory State more quickly and perhaps on a larger scale, Kevin needs funding (perhaps a grant from a non-profit institution that would allow him to publish it with an open license like CC), so if you happen to work in publishing or know people who know people who could help just drop a line and help Kevin! Post them as a comment below (you’ll need to be signed in) or email it to: edgeryders@gmail.com. Also, if you’ve had a similar bump in the road don’t miss out on sharing it with Edgeryders, we could all learn from that!

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Can’t unsee it

I, too, have been following Kevin here on Edgeryders. I think I can see what he sees: social reality in terms of emergence, i.e. many individual agents that, by interacting with each other, give rise to higher-level phenomena (“the market”, “globalization”, “the crisis”). It is a fascinating way to see the word, because it plays down individual contributions of leaders (nice side effect: it disposes of conspiracy theories) while at the same time killing the “story as clockwork” vision that is so annoying on 19th century thinkers like Marx. There is no clockwork, just emergence from interaction.

My experience is that, once you see the world in these terms, it becomes impossible to unsee emergence. Just ask Kevin.

The Future of Work

I am not very familiar with Tom Coates, but I read Thomas W. Malone, The Future of Work. How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management Style, and Your Life’, Harvard Business Review Press, 2004.

Malone says that ‘Flexible webs of small companies or even temporary combinations of electronically connected freelancers - e-lancers, as he calls them - can sometimes do the same things big companies do, but more effectively’. He foresees that ‘another revolution - a revolution in business - may ultimately be as profound as the democratic revolution in government.’

However, another revolution in government has to take place.

Hopefully, we are getting closer to a world in which more and more people are at the center of their own organizations. Which would bring us closer to our true essence: we are a localized expression of a unified field. The nearer we get to that, the greater will be our ability to create prosperity.

Éditions Londres

Not sure this will help, because a French editor. @editionslondres : révolutionner l’édition en ligne et d’apporter un peu de lumière au monde.