In blockchain circles, there is much enthusiasm for DAOs, or decentralized autonomous organizations. These are free-standing, self-organized groups of people who use blockchain tools to structure their members’ interactions and behave as “ownerless” organizations or institutions. The idea behind DAOs is to “allow people to exchange economic value, to pool resources and form joint-ventures, without control from the center, in ways that were impossible before blockchains; and to agree on how risks and rewards should be distributed and to enjoy the benefits (or otherwise) of the shared activity in the future,” as Ruth Catlow of the Furtherfield Collective writes in a crisp foreword.
This is indeed an exciting prospect, but DAOs are generally envisioned as a new breed of “trustless” market organization. They function on the same epistemic plane as capitalism, with everyone treated as isolated individuals looking to maximize their personal (monetary) interests.
DisCOs, by contrast, start from a different set of premises about humanity. They regard we humans as a cooperative species whose members need and want to engage with others, personally. Earned trust among people and open collaboration can then achieve some remarkable things. That’s the essential goal of DisCOs, which consist of a set of organizational tools and practices for people who want to work together in a cooperative, commons-oriented, and feminist economics form.