Cosmo-local production describes the process of bringing together our globally distributed knowledge and design commons with the high-to-low tech capacity for localized production. It is based on the ethical premise, drawing from cosmopolitanism, that people and communities should be universally empowered with the heritage of human ingenuity that allow them to more effectively create livelihoods and solve problems in their local environments, and that, reciprocally, local production and innovation should support the wellbeing of our planetary commons.
We are facing a civilizational crisis that intersects issues such as ensuring a safe climate, social equity, and living within planetary ecosystem boundaries. We are also undergoing a transition toward a post-capitalist mode of production that centres around the themes of mutualization (peer production) and the commons. Cosmo-local production has the potential to play a part in this transition and contribute to solutions by:
- creating planetary contributory systems that can respond to many challenges, thus accelerating our ability to respond to the challenges we collectively face,
- ensuring that all people have access to new opportunities for livelihood and problem solving through a well established global design commons and a right to design,
- supporting the development of localized circular economies that can transform the waste system and waste paradigm,
- supporting cities and regions in becoming auto-productive, to form complex cosmo-local value chains for greater resilience,
- demonstrating the outlines of a global workers / peer production solidarity system that can bypass the nation-versus-nation ethno-nationalist impasse,
- reducing the transport of goods and associated carbon / ecological footprints, and modeling production within planetary boundaries.
Michel Bauwens has described Cosmo-localizationas
“a new paradigm for the production and distribution of value that combines the universal sharing of knowledge (cosmo), but the ‘subsidiarity’ of production as close as possible to the place of need (‘local’), essentially through distributed local manufacturing and voluntary mutualization. The general idea is not to impede technological progress though intellectual property, in an era of climate change where we cannot afford the 20-year lag in innovation due to patents; and to radically diminish the physical cost of transport through local production. Cosmo-localization is based on the belief that the mutualization of provisioning systems can radically diminish the human footprint on natural resources , which need to be preserved for future generations and all beings of the planet.”
Likewise, Vasilis Kostakis and Andreas Roos describe this as:
“what is light (knowledge, design) becomes global, while what is heavy (machinery) is local, and ideally shared. Design global, manufacture local (DGML) demonstrates how a technology project can leverage the digital commons to engage the global community in its development, celebrating new forms of cooperation. Unlike large-scale industrial manufacturing, the DGML model emphasizes application that is small-scale, decentralized, resilient, and locally controlled.” Harvard Business Review
Vasilis Kostakis and colleagues are undertaking a multi-year EU funded study on cosmo-localism. https://www.cosmolocalism.eu/He may want share a bit about it, or not, I’m not sure at what stage it is in. I mention this because the Reader needs to sit within an ecology to this large scale study, which includes things like a detailed LSA of cosmo-local potentials, extensive action research projects, etc.
So what the Reader will do is to build a foundation for the core concepts, short cases and propositions. The Reader is meant to be a space for systemic self recognition (how one part / idea might fit with another — what projects exist) and will expand the space of inquiry. The Reader needs to support the efforts of the EU project, which will take the thinking further, not compete with it.
Other initiatives such as FabCity, have focused these potentials on city scale production.
In general the ecosystem metaphor serves to guide us. We want the Reader to be part of a generative ecosystem of projects and initiatives and to also support in the development of this ecosystem. In ecosystems actors have some autonomy but also coordinate and generate synergies and symbiosis.
Who is involved?
So far the editing team consists of me, Sharon Ede, Michel Bauwens and James Gien Wong. We are looking for sub-editors to document and develop sector specific areas, so if you’re interested, please get in contact.
There are several streams you can participate in:
CASES: Write a 1000 word or less overview of an existing cosmo-local project. This can be an overview of a well known example (e.g. FarmBot) or it can be a lesser known example that you are involved with.
ASPECTS: Write a 1000–2000 word thematic policy brief that outlines necessary political / economic / cultural / etc. changes that are required to support the development of a planetary cosmo-local production system. Examples include:
- Circular economy
- Food systems innovation
- Protocol cooperativism
- Housing infrastructure
- Documentation infrastructure and CL
PHILOSOPHY AND THEORY: Write a 2000 word or longer piece that develops the philosophical, theoretical, ontological and epistemological foundations of CL, as well as delving into existing problems, contradictions and issues that may need to be addressed.
- Planetary boundaries and CL
- CL as a post-capitalist political economy
- The human right to design
- Planetary stigmergy and CL
- Technology and the evolution of humanity
AUTO-ETHNOGRAPHIC REFLECTION: Write a 500 word or less reflection on your involvement, experience and insights in the domain of CL written in the first person tense.
- Propose your own idea for a contribution
You can formally submit a proposal here:
- Please submit a proposal by June 15.
- Thereafter contributions will be due on Sept 1
- We’ll provide review feedback by Oct 1
- Final contribution due by Nov 1
- Publication Dec 2019
The Reader is not a search for ideological purity or coherence. We all have different views and perspectives and these will play out in the Reader. Indeed over the last decade we’ve seen people tear each other apart for not sharing the same exact views. De Sousa Santos, in his study of the world social forum, talked about the need for “depolarizing pluralities”, and how when this done well, then there is the possibility of new meta-forms and emergences. Thus, we need to search for common ground amid difference, be willing to have debates and disagree, but ultimately connect the dots. It’s the fellowship of the ring! Hobbits, Dwarves, Elfs, Humans, etc… working together. The Reader will begin to show new convergences but also tensions / fault-lines. This is okay. Ultimately this is all about learning and then building a movement.
What is in a name?
DGML/Fabcity/cosmo-local/etc is quickly moving from the fringes to the mainstream.
Like with the sharing economy, the language and intent is and will be co-opted by capitalism, commodified, repackaged and resold back to us ensuring the continuation of a consumer trash producing society, rendering the potential of this inert and dull.
Cosmo-localism as a term is a binding together of our new technological potentials (planetary p2p networks + local manufacturing tech) with a planetary ethics (the right to design, production within planetary ecological boundaries, support for livelihoods, and the commons).
Thus, the Cosmo-local Reader is one of a number of attempts and experiments to bind the potential for DGML/Fabcity/cosmo-local/etc. to a planetary ethics and vision, grounded in a clear truth that we are brothers and sisters on this small planet that needs mutual care and protection, and that deep mutualization is the path for the care and support of all.
Of course a Reader is no match for the forces of capitalism! But… we can begin to steer the discourse, create the distinctions, build recognition and solidarity with each other, and coordinate for maximum impact. We can plant the seeds of change and begin to weave a commons.
In solidarity and for the commons