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Re: [ox-en] Re: herrschaft

Hi Felix,

I pretty much agree with everything you wrote here... how to expand on it 
is the problem...

On Fri, 16 Jan 2004, Felix Stalder wrote:

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

Felix wrote: 

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. 

However big IBM is as a whole, it does not monopolize the packaged 
software market - in that particular sector it is an underdog. And the 
strategy of the underdog in many capitalist industries has been to try
to break the control of the monopolist by providing free or semi-free 
alternatives. The fact that IBM are currently using gpl-ed software to do 
this rather than emulating Microsofts making Explorer free (but still 
closed source) to break Netscape is just because they perceive the gpl as 
fashionable and non-dangerous. So rather than this being a convergence
of the kind you're talking about - between large corporations and
free software - I'd see it as a temporary tactic, and precisely NOT used
by the largest corporation in any particular sector.

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.

When the Brazilian government originally announced it's 'fome zero' plan - 
with the aim of everyone in the country being able to eat 3 meals a day -
it was at the same time that they first started sounding serious about 
backing free software. At the time, they calculated that the savings from
paying license fees for software used by the state (in its broadest sense)
would fund a considerable part of the fome zero plan. Of course this is
not outside the capitalist context, and IMO was probably very optimistic -
but it does show that there is a link, and is perceived to be a link.

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 

I don't believe in 'necessary', and am inclined to agree with you on 
'likely'. But I would like to find out if it's possible, in order to make 
it more likely :-)

On the other hand, there do seem to be two clusters of emerging trends 
that seem to me to increase the likelihood already:

1. Technological: the change in a range of industries (food, 
pharmaceuticals, entertainment) which are already making exactly the same
issues as have been raised by free software relevant to those industries,
as well as possible near-future developments which may expand this sphere 
to other industries (eg. electronics); and in the longer term, maybe 
nano-technology too.
2. Political/social: the coincidence of a large number of contradictions 
in the system (including those raised by the technological changes) around 
trade negotiations between the developing and 'developed' nations (or 
maybe empire and its opponents); coincidence which has already led to 
strong involvement by free software exponents within the WSF - would that
have been imagineable a few years ago?) and direct political clashes 
between governments and the US over free software.

For the near future, my own feeling is that the relationship between free
software and capitalism will probably tend to become rather different from
nation to nation; that the mode of development of capitalism will change
in different ways depending on how it tries to integrate free software;
that this isn't unimportant, even though it is not a change in mode of
production; and that it may lead to a point where how a real change of
mode of production can take place is more visible.

Seeing this isn't the same at all as having some kind of program, of 
saying 'there is a direct route from free software to a free society
requiring us to follow steps a,b, and c'. 'Form the party, recruit the 
cadres, write the program, lead the multitudes' is not an option.

Do you think this is still wildly optimistic/unreal?






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