ROBIN HOOD STUTTGART OFFICE
Address of the Office: Römerstrasse 2, Stuttgart
Opening Hours: Saturday 7.6. – Friday 13.6.2014 every day 10:00 – 19:00
Booking of meeting times: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358504369005
Office Workers: Florin Flueras, Alina Popa, Mathieu Alexis, Akseli Virtanen, Harri Homi, Lennart Laberenz, Tere Vaden, Valentina Desideri, Marcell Mars, Adrian Lucas, Maurizio Lazzarato, Brian Massumi, Erin Manning, Peter Pál Pelbart, Bojana Cvejic, Tiziana Terranova, Jan Ritsema, David Munoz, Gianluigi Biagini among others.
TIMETABLE (*please notice some changes in the timetable!)
10:00-15:00 Office set up and work preparations / Meetings with interested people
16:00- Opening of the Vagabondenkongress, Theater Rampe / Introduction to Robin Hood: What is it?
10:00-19:00 Aesthetic paradigm of Robin Hood: What is minor asset management and its service design? / Meetings with interested people
10:00-19:00 Production of the Common / Meetings with interested people
10:00-19:00 Virtual Currency / Meetings with interested people
10:00-12:00 Meetings with interested people
13:00-19:00 n-1 seminar “Power at the End of the Economy”: Peter Pal Pelbart: Cartography of Exhaustion
10:00-12:00 Erin Manning: How to Put Thought in Motion?
13:00-19:00 n-1 seminar “Power at the End of the Economy” / Brian Massumi: Power at the End of the Economy
10:00-12:00 Meetings with interested people
13:00-19:00 n-1 seminar “Power at the End of the Economy” / Maurizio Lazzarato: Signs, Machines, Subjectivities
20:00-22:00 What is Robin Hood? A Discussion with Akseli Virtanen at the Herbergssalon, Theater Rampe
14:00-16:00 Maurizio Lazzarato: Marcel Duchamp and the Refusal of Work, Kunstverein Stuttgart
Robin Hood opens a temporary office where everyone is welcome to join the merry bandits of Sharewood and to participate in their work on the financialization of economy, tactical and open finance, financial activism, and the limits of neoliberal economy.
We work in the office like one does in the office (or how we imagine one does it…) this time especially on our service design, virtual currency relationship and how we can make the production of the commons take actually place. Some very interesting thinkers will come to help us work on these issues. We want to engage with three levels of politico-socio-aesthetico-technical innovation: virtual money and algorithmic production, coming forms of cooperation and bio-aesthetics. Together they constitute, as Tiziana Terranova has suggested, a possible way to think about an infrastructure of autonomization linking together finance, technology, art and subjectivation that could reopen the field of possible. The office is open and anybody is welcome to join us in the work or just to watch and listen.
We also pre-arrange appointments for asset management planning with local people and networks who have expressed interested in Robin Hood and its project to democratize finance, also from cultural institutions (funds, museums, galleries), and from networks of financial money: funds, networks, individuals, angel investors interested in social impact and disruptive start-ups. If you are interested, please contact us!
The work and discussions are documented with an aim of providing material for a later a documentary about Robin Hood in Germany. Later this year Robin Hood opens offices in Frankfurt (Mousonturm, October 2014) and Berlin (Berliner Gazette Conference, November 2014). Robin Hood in Germany is part of the FINNLAND COOL 2014 satellite programme organized by the Finnland Institute in Deutschland. The Institute has chosen Robin Hood as one of the interesting enterprises from Finland it wants to promote in Germany 2014.
The office is open, welcome.
The office space at Römerstarsse 2, Stuttgart is provided by the generous support of Akademie Schloss Solitude, and the opening of the office is also part of the Vagabundenkongress 2014. The work of Robin Hood Asset Management Cooperative is supported by Kone Foundation.
In cooperation with:
1. AESTHETIC PARADIGM OF ROBIN HOOD: MINOR AESTHETICS OF SERVICE DESIGN
How to invent a becoming?
Robin Hood is closer to poetry than to the old business models of the last century.
We are taking the question of minor asset management and of the new aesthetic paradigm seriously: it does not call for an aesthetization of the social and political, but for making production of subjectivity the central practice of Robin Hood – and this does not take place only nor mainly discursively, but by existential affirmation and apprehension of the self, others, the world. If capitalism finds the surplus especially in the subjective implications in which also the workers of the immaterial must yield in the same way than immigrant and factory workers, what kind subjectivity, what kind of service – minor, parasitic, monstrous, cynic, sophist, post-ethically ethic, post-politically political – and with what kind of means do we produce it?
First, what do our members need? At least something the banks don’t offer: Genuine taking care of even small assets that takes place transparently and credibly and the best interest of members all the time in mind. Financial independence. Money as means of freedom and not tied to debt or to the capital relation as a historical form of production. Income not tied to the necessity of work. Means to share the risks and possibilities involved with our precarious life. Maybe less a community and engagement, but rather affective rest? A love bank? A possibility to save our love? An institution with which we can save our love – memory, time, affection, abilities and skills and relationships which we need to continuously invest in our work – and still have a possibility of income? Or in any case, processual openings making our existential territory more habitable. Eco-practices or art of eco, as Guattari calls them. An eco bank…
How do we produce these? The financial-tactical rationality of the operation is very important, and it must operate like a machine, but to deviate from dominant significations it might be not enough or it is at least in need of expressive support? What does the change from logo-centric to machine-centric world (Lazzarato) or to “languages of infrastructures” (Pasolini) mean for the operation Robin Hood? Language can even slow down and prohibit semiotic opening and proliferation, it often is the non-linguistic components that catalyze mutations and break dominant significations. Without attention to the a-signifying semiotics Robin Hood is “incapable of speaking” and intervening in the processes of production of subjectivity. What does this mean in terms of our service design, web, logo, line and attitude of aesthetics?
We think that the common ground of art and politics and art and economy is today in the collapse of old forms of life and in the creation of new forms, this is where they meet. Robin Hood is a method to bring and hold together many essential but heterogeneous elements like art&economy&politics or opportunismðics&weapons industry… It creates a new form, a new combination, a paradox or monster that don’t seem to fit the boundaries of normal life, the easy flow of things and action. “Paradox”, “concept” and “monster” are attempts to articulate this new form we are after. Paradox causes problems to common understanding and categorizations, as if it did not fit within the boundaries of normal life and thought. Paradox reveals the limits of our current understanding. It expresses the inability of used language and words to express what it is, it is like a rebel element which does not signify but only functions and forces a demonstrative gesture “there”. Monster instead is something unpleasant, disgusting and a-natural, where there are together elements which do not “normally” belong together.
But as we have already experienced, the non-understanding of what Robin Hood is, is not cognitive, but ethical. Ethical and political at once. It seems often that in order to be understood, Robin Hood should deny its own problematic and paradoxical nature. Rather than try to enter and please the self-evidencies of the common world, could we singularize it and determine our own problems? What kind of service do we produce and for whom? How could we best start secreting other systems of reference (money as a means of freedom, cooperation as a means opening the possible)?
And there is the question of trust, how do you make people trust you? Or, if we are right, and distrust must be considered as the starting condition for any serious thought of organization, how does that work? If relying on personal bonds of trust is our of question, writes Brian Massumi, there is only one option: depersonalize trust, make it impersonal, create system trust.
Should we appear more like a trustworthy bank? Imitate and use their trust building devices? Or make fun of them? Do you think that would work? Make an experiment: ask a friend to join.
Should we draw on the story of Robin Hood – whose roots are in the Brittish Forest Law which allowed Norman kings to add more and more common forest areas under their ownership. Villages, houses, fields and even churches were distroyed to add new land to king’s forests. Inhabitants of those areas were thrown away without food, resources, opportunities and prospects. They had very limited options of survival, some of them became informers, conmen and traitors, the local officers were deeply corrupted providing their services to those who could pay. And the punishments were severe: Robin Hood got his death penalty for poaching king’s deer in Sherwood. Six hundred years later we see new “Forest Laws” being enforced everywhere and the commons are again under threat…
The primary function of the narrative is not to produce rational, cognitive, scientific explanation, but to generate complex refrains (mythico-conceptual, paradoxical, poetic…) which give consistency and expressive support to the emergence of new existential territories. Or as Lazzarato says, self-positioning, self-affectation, self-referentiality are at the core of becoming: they draw on signs, myths, narratives and conceptualizations that serve as a cartography for localization and access to processes of subjectivation and existential territories. Robin Hood as a framework where it doesn’t have a communicational or cognitive function but an aesthetic/existential one? Semiotic acts initiate subjectivation, they may bring us to other universes of reference, but the discursive is not enough to grasp subjectivity, to engage it, or to spur it into action, to becoming a member! How could we find a way to function as access points to new worlds, as a diagrammatic initiator of action?
And if our potential members are the bored businessman, the opportunist artist, the frustrated activist, the unaccomplishing optimist, the depressed princess, the non-cynical businessman, the consuming environmentalist, the hyperactive vacationist, and the concerned vagabond… who don’t want any independence… how to design our service?
How to design a service that addresses people who don’t have free time and good will, but yet are willing to benefit from each other?
2. PRODUCTION OF THE COMMON
How to concretely govern the common, with what kind of practices we turn the acquired resources (profit) into production of the common?
For example Elinor Ostrom says that for common pool resource management to work, there should be: well defined boundaries (for whom, for what kind of projects); rules of appropriation and provision (how the common resources can be used and provided); collective choice arrangement that allows most resource appropriators to participate in decision making (accessibility vs monopoly in decision making); monitors of the process who are accountable for the appropriators (transparency); scale of sanctions for resource appropriators violating the rules; cheap and easy access conflict resolution mechanisms; self-determination of the community accepted by authorities…
How do we turn the profits into commons (vs. turning them again into someone’s private property, public property, property of the community)? How to make Robin Hood a common, an institution of the common?
Or Enzo Rullani says that the value of a knowledge is created by a composition of three drivers: the value of its performance and application + number of its multiplications and replica + the sharing rate of the value among people. How can we make Robin Hood the most valuable? How can we make Robin Hood to work for the increase of value of a knowledge. With what kind of procedures?
So we need to create answers at least to these questions:
-are the resources for members only, or available for others too? for anybody?
How to make accessible?
-how to make the resources available and accessible (to the ones for whom they are)?
-is there an application procedure, proposals, or some other way to prepare the decision making?
-could it be that one does not get the resource as one’s “own” but only an access to its use?
-should we even prepare for becoming a bank with an ability to create money through credit?
-how is the allocation decision made, by whom? can/should it be done anonymously?
-could we utilize “peer.do” (new service for anonymous crowd funding) for the decision making process?
-how can limited access and monopoly in decision making be avoided? or “those who do, decide”?
What kind of projects?
-what kind of projects/areas of attention are eligible?
-with what kind of projects do we turn the profits into commons (vs. turning them again into someone’s private property, public property, property of the community)?
-how to allow productive uses of common stock (like land used to breed or harvest animals, to pasture cows and produce milk on it…)?
-with what kind of projects could Robin Hood produce independence, support cooperation and sharing of risks and possibilities, multiply and increase in use?
-should they relate to the paradoxes of biopolitical economy, broader (minor/major) antagonistic and productive processes?
With what kind of tools?
-what kind of instruments (loans, grants, investments. gifts) should be used?
-how is the monitoring, transparency and accountability carried out?
We hope we will be able to work out a model/models which we can suggest to the general meeting of the cooperative in July.
3. VIRTUAL CURRENCY
Step 1: How can we start taking in assets in Bitcoin? There are people with considerable amounts of assets in Bitcoin, and the owners are getting little nervous of the volatility and might desire an asset management service to secure their already made gains. With what practical moves could a product like that be set up? Would this work: we offer to take assets in Bitcoin, turn them into dollars (for a set exchange rate or a particular time, agreed with a exchange service), and start managing them like our normal assets. A particular service/product directed to Bitcoin-holders. With which exchange should we start to cooperate (to externalize the exchange risk)? What is the best way to reach Bitcoin holders with the product?
Step 2: Could we think of Robin Hood becoming a new virtual currency which is backed up by real assets: not gold, but a dynamic portfolio of the stocks of the best companies in the world – or more precisely, a dynamic portfolio of the emerging conventions of value production at the market. Bitcoin’s problem (like many other virtual currencies’ too) seems to be a strong deflatory tendency and volatility. As there was a very strange belief that market will take care of everything (just like the neoclassical economics claim, and we know, from Foucault for example, that has never been and can never be the case). Everything else is missing, well not everything, the algorithmic protocol is really an elegant move: it proves that peer-to-peer controlled virtual money is possible and can function. But the structure encourages hoarding, and not use and involvement with others.
But what if the value of Bitcoin – or a new virtual currency called, lets say, Robinhoodcoin – was backed up with assets: not gold, but dynamic portfolio of the stocks of the best companies in the world (or more precisely a dynamic portfolio of the emerging “conventions” of value production at the market). This is what we could do. Robin Hood could become a virtual currency. With your investment, you would not anymore get a “share” but a coin, which holds its value and that you can use, save, sell, give… You buy a Rohinboodcoin, and the dollars, yens, euros you use to buy it are allocated to our portfolio, and the net asset value determines the exchange rates. The value of Robinhoodcoin is always backed by our assets. We could even build there a “burning mechanism” so that the value of the coin will stay stable and the actual increase in the value of that investment is stored in the Robin Food Fund and used for Robin Hood Projects. The owners would be the community of users, there would be no artificial constraints of scarcity, and it would have an ability to operate as a means of production. This would work. Effects? Strong relatively stability, transparency, and near to impossibility of manipulation. Maybe the most stable currency in the world?
What characteristics such a currency should in fact have?
-not cumulative (melting or burning character), motivating use, circulation, involvement with others
-be a means of freedom and independence; not tied to the necessity to work, nor to any local community etc (exchangeability)
-possessing a power to finance, to organize production activity, to act as a means of production