Free administration (was: Re: [ox-en] Collective Consciousness)
- From: Stefan Merten <smerten oekonux.de>
- Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2001 10:32:12 +0100
Hi Nadav, Paul, all!
I'll try to put that in an Oekonux context. I changed the subject
hoping it fits.
Yesterday Nadav Har'El wrote:
On Thu, Dec 13, 2001, paul.7.saunders bt.com wrote about "RE: [ox-en] Collective Consciousness":
For the last couple of years I have been giving consideration to an open
Until now we didn't do that on the German list - simply nobody brought
the point up really. But the time is always right :-) .
The kind of system that would be one step above a democracy.
I guess every kind of (positive) next society would be a step above
democracy. Free Software for instance is not democratic but more
oriented in consensus.
All sorts of ideas have popped through my head like making the working week
shorter and requiring everyone to contribute to an open project. The
How do you define an "open" project? Does your definition work with
requiring people to work on such a project? I'm asking this because currently
most people that are involved in free software projects are there because
they *wanted* to participate, not because they were forced. Even people
that get paid to write free software (sadly, there are less and less of
them nowadays) usually first started to write the free software, and then
got on somebody's payroll (e.g., when that somebody wanted to ever-so-slightly
push development towards a certain direction).
IMHO Nadev is perfectly right here. As I tried to point out in the
interview, the core idea in Free Software is not the openness in
itself but the freedom. An open project consisting of people somehow
forced to work in that project has only the advantage of being
non-secret - which in a democratic society should be a fundamental
Thinking about it in the Oekonux context, I could imagine free groups
of people caring about certain aspects of the whole society because
they like to. Here comes in handy a question Joanne posed originally in
the interview but then was dropped to reduce length.
> Q: You have previously compared the initiatives to
> start NGOs with the development of free software.
> How? Because NGOs are an attempt at
> self-organization? Because they are not interested in
> profit? But NGOs could not exist without being
> heavily financed by foundations--whose interests are
> not "innocent" and bound to specific territories. For
> instance, the (Dutch) European Cultural Foundations is
> providing a lot of money to NGOs in Eastern Europe
> under the guise of spreading European "democratic"
> values to the barbarians. NGOs cannot produce anything
> without this money, they are parasites, in a sense.
> But perhaps developers are also parasites on
> capitalism - since they need to work within the system
> to live. And maybe it is not so important where the
> money that allows a production without exchange to
> happen, but that it happens. Where are the limitations
> of this analogy between NGOs and free software?
Well, admittedly NGOs is a very broad term today and you differentiate
between several sorts. Indeed there are examples where the
"non-governmental" part of an organization only hints to the withering
away of governments in many parts of this planet. Though this shows,
that state-controlled organization is no longer as needed as it was
before, this is not what I had in mind when I made that analogy.
Actually I thought of NGOs such as Greenpeace or amnesty international
which is at least based on the self-unfolding of their members. People
supporting such organizations by their activity do that because they
are convinced, that their activity is needed and may help this planet
becoming a better place. Insofar such NGOs have some similarities with
* The motivation of the activists is similary part of their
self-unfolding as it is for developers of Free Software.
* At least the aim of such NGOs is as global as the need for a full
featured software suite running on everything with a microprocessor.
* Such NGOs work on an international basis with modern means as the
Free Software developers do.
* NGOs are at least not mainly interested in maximizing profit but
instead strive for maximum "use value" - for instance by the
prevention of destruction.
* There are experts in the NGOs which have a deep knowledge of the
area they are active in just as most Free Software developers are
experts for software.
So in some way NGOs of the type described above may build a germ form
in their respective area. In the context of a GPL Society for instance
Greenpeace may become something like the "ozone hole maintainer".
As I see it (and please don't flame me, I'm no political scientist)
BTW: Part of the reason for the success of Project Oekonux is, that
there is no flaming. Flaming destroys an atmosphere where learning is
possible. Only if you don't need to worry that you may be flamed for
virtually every word you say, you have the inner freedom to tell us
unfinished thoughts which we together can elaborate on and perhaps
make fruitful for all. Criticism and asking on the other hand is not
only ok but needed for a learning process.
the things that went wrong with Communism was that the Equality-Liberty
balance was tipped too much to the Equality side, and too little personal
liberty, like choosing your job, remained.
Lately I'm coming to the conclusion, that in a GPL society the
equality / liberty balance will be abolished in a dialectical sense. I
don't have that very clear at the moment, but I think this points in
the right direction. At least the question of equality as posed in our
current society will vanish if everybody can simply take what s/he
government could run pseudo normally, but consist heavily of people working
on government open projects. The government itself would be constantly in
ebb and flow with the people best suited to the Ministry of ???? being
appointed and reappointed via yearly web votes (conducted in a secure way of
Do you mean that the government beaurocracy, not only the ministers themselves
get voted? The question then would be how such a government will be able to
carry out long-term plans, with the people executing these plans changing
and trying to please the public all the time (so they get voted again).
Good point! Representative democracy is indeed pretty interruptive for
administration processes and when looking at the use of these
processes that's not always a good idea.
Well in democracies of our brand you need to interrupt the latest
dictator you elected since you have no other chance to get things
changed. But I think it would be far better if more people have a say
in political processes so they don't need to be interrupted just to
change their direction.
And BTW: Working for getting voted again is as much an alienation as
getting paid for this work.
Mit Freien Grüßen