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Neither pro nor anti but trans! (was: Re: [ox-en] GPL Restrictive (and all the rest of those threads that this grew out of))

Hi Mako and list!

This also relates to my mail I wrote some minutes ago.

Last month (53 days ago) Benj Mako Hill wrote:
On Fri, Nov 14, 2003 at 07:17:07PM -0800, cc wrote:
So in a real way it is a dispute between capitalists however there is
something far more important going on here.

Although capitalists can use free software in competion with other
capitalists the result of the capitalists that are backing free software
winning is, at the end of the day, not in the interests of capitalism.

I don't buy this.

The result of the software sector of the global economy switching to
the free software mode of production would result in the destruction
of 'property' and the ellimination of commodities -- no need to buy
stuff no more scarcity :-)

I also don't buy this.

Worst of all for capitalism there would be an increased danger that
this mode of production might start spreading to other sectors of
the economy.

I believe it will start spreading but I don't believe that this spells
the end of capitalism.

I'd say capitalism had had it's culmination point in the 1970's and
since that time it is on a decline. So I'd say that capitalism comes
to an end already - which may well be a catastrophe! But that's not
too important here.

Your email, and your argument, seems to be rooted in the (quite
pervasive) idea that: Free Software == anti-capitalist production or
some derivation of that.

It's neither pro- nor anti- but it's trans-capitalist. If you assume
that you suddenly can explain a lot of things.

Now we all agree that Free Software has been picked up by a pretty
diverse group of people. Three can show the breadth of the spectrum:

 - Indymedia folks and even more radical groups like Riseup and Resist
   who are clearly anti-capitalist and who see Free Software as an
   extension of their anti-capitalist work;

 - IBM, capitalists and free market libertarians who see FOSS who see
   FOSS as a step in the creation of a more efficient capitalist
   system and who see things like copyright, etc as unfair government
   interference with a free market;

 - The Commons movement who see FOSS and FOSS licensing as a model for
   putting limits on capitalism and creating something like

Your argument seems to be that group 1 is The Right One and that
numbers 2 and 3 are having the wool pulled over their eyes and that
they are going to wake up one day and realize that the system they
supported, worked within and thought was ultra-capitalist or whatever
has in fact undone them and their goals!

I think Chris' did not mean it that way. At least I don't mean it this

Actually I have more difficulties with the leftist who for some years
now start to claim how Free Software should be - to fit into their
agenda - than with business people who simply make profit by selling
computers operated by Free Software or selling services around Free

I don't buy the FOSS == anti-capitalist argument any more than I buy
the FOSS == capitalist or anything else. I think it's a system of
*practice* that is simply not defined in these terms because it can be
practiced for any and all of these purposes and for many more.

This at least does not contradict the trans-capitalist nature of Free

FOSS and FOSS licensing is not a magic bullet for any political
ideology bur rather a techo-legal hack and it's political orientation
depends a whole lot on how it's used.

Free Software undermines the principle of scarcity like nothing else
before. That makes it basically incompatible with the capitalist model
of creating (exchange) value. As a consequence the Free Software mode
of production can not be the base of a capitalist society.

I supposse I simply don't have a lot of faith in the idea of sitting
back and letting the capitalists undo themselves.

I think it is not about sitting back and waiting for the historical
process to do its job. There are already fights going on. The fight in
Europe around software patents is probably the most important of them.

But I'd say there are times which are good to bring a fundamental
change about and times where there is little point in even trying.

Today I think we are on the edge of the old (industrial) era being
dominated by material production and we are confronted with the
up-coming of the new (information) era being dominated by information
production. The production of information is different from material
production in a number of important ways. I think this is the key to
the question why a fundamental change is taking place right now or at
least chances for such a change are better than anytime during the
past 200 years.

						Mit Freien Grüßen



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