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Re: [ox-en] Re: herrschaft

On Friday 16 January 2004 00:38, Casimir Purzelbaum wrote:

Free Software is free because it serves the (self-)interests of
the knowledge elites (programmers with a reasonably secure
economic basis, large service oriented corporations like IBM)
to have it free.

I don't think that the FSF has been financed by IBM for most of
the time of it's existence (-- or, has it?)...
What is your point against "a reasonably secure economic basis"?
Does this affect the results in any negative way?  Or maybe
it's part of the answer: a "free society" is absolutely
unimaginable without "a reasonably secure economic basis".  On
the other hand, what would be the prerequisites for the general
availability of that reasonably secure economic basis?  (Would
that be another "structure", would it be a "free society"?)

I'm pretty sure that the FSF has never been financed by IBM or any other major 
corporation, though I doubt they would decline donations from them (and they 
would have no reason to). The case is different with many other GPLed Open 
Source projects, most importantly the Linux kernel development. Linus and 
other key figures are now employed by the OSDL, a foundation financed by an 
industry consortium. This, per se, is not a bad thing. I don't think it makes 
the code any less "free". But, I think significant in this context is that 
there is a convergence in the definition of freedom between highly skilled 
programmers and large IT corporations. 

The point I want to make is  that this indicates for me more of an innovation 
within capitalism (to be precise, on the level of the _mode of development_) 
rather than something that points beyond capitalism (as a _mode of 
production_). I think this old Althusserian strategy of distinguishing 
between the technical and the social relationships of production is still 

I agree that a free society requires a 'resonably secure economic basis' but 
this is a bit of a tautology (like saying to end world hunger, we need food 
for everyone). Again, I don't see Free Software contributing to that outside 
the capitalist context, at least for a significant number of people.

among others, because it's not a public good.

Software is not a public good either -- in the whole of the
Microsoft World.  But there are people migrating out of that
world... Why do you think this happens?

Ok, agreed, I rephrase: Software has a strong potential to become a public 
good, not the least because for important sectors of the productive system 
(capitalist or not) its more efficient, according to whatever criteria for 
efficiency are used by the various actors in these sectors.

People mirgate out of this world because free software allows them to what 
they want to do (be capitalists, or anti-globalization activists, for 
example) more efficiently. 

Don't get me wrong, I think free software is a great development because it 
levels they playing field. Insitutions with money always had access to 
advanced technologies, now also insitutions without money (but skills) have 
access as well. This certainly is a reason for optimism, but I have hard time 
deducing from this a necessary, or even likely. course of historical 




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