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[ox-en] Re: Marxists and Anarchists, was: Re: [AktiviX] Reading on politics of free software

I am quite a supporter of the Free Software movement. Good to see Asa's essay pitching the movement to anarchos. As I am replying to email that was cross posted to the oekonux list I am cc:ing this there. I just subbed there and had brief look at archived and am a bit in awe at level of some of contributions. And was even going to hold back chucking in my musing but I though what the heck. So here they are some thoughts on how I feel when it come to being a movement to bring about a new society the free software movement throws up some contradictions.

cc wrote:

The free software mode of production is something that
has come about within capitalism (of course), it does work
within capitalism but I don't understand why you think
that this mode of production cannot be applied generally.

Why can't it 'infect' the whole system?

One thing that strikes me is that because free software function in the eco-system of capitalism where one is forced to sells one labour the freedom afforded by free software is granted in the main to those with power to purchase labour. There is great hopes of free software being way forward

Does free software (alone) challenge wage labour? or will it just allow capital to become more efficient?

One thing I have found it as a supporter of the free software movement and it tactical alliance with the open source movement I find myself often cheerleading various of the factions of bosses in there battles with each other. I often find myself doing this when I listen to the very enjoyable Linux Show [1].

In interview about how a company was deploying free software as they could ensure the software was tailor made for the job, increasing work discipline. (I have been unable to dig out web ref but will post if I do). I myself used to work in some stores and every computer had a full copy of Microsoft office on, plus minesweeper. I just imputed some numbers in a terminal window, which I guess would have lead to a more focused set up if free software had been used. The fact everyone had Microsoft office on that hit company productivity hard as it helped with slacking off. Deployment of free software may be against immediate interests of workers and they will resist it.

Another thing is that part of the free software/open source push is to build negotiated standards ( HTML4.01, XHTML, ) rather than de-facto standards ( eg Zip drives, FAT, .doc format ) . If wage labour were abolished I believe de-facto standards with no desire to keep them closed would be much more acceptable and function much better.

Free Software movement is appealing because of it creation of what is effectively communal property as a concious creation. The GPL is amazing in it's linking of a vision with the practicalities of the now. But the way copyleft depends on strong copyright, makes me uneasy even if it is smart. I find idea of a Free Software Act [2] implemented by world wide treaty rather than having to rely on further spread and hardening of Berne convention. But even this has political problems for me. It smacks of the demands for a Tobin tax, social wage or 'social credit'. If our class if able to gain enough confidence/leverage/power to force the powers that be to grant these concessions, then we might as well abolish class society, so why play with these transitional demands.

I am not saying one should back off from supporting and being involved in the free software movement, and revolutionaries should engage with it and learn from it.

I am sure when I find time go back through list archive I will see some illumination what this really means, and do these contradictions really hold back free software movements role in building the new society.

A comrade here in Edinburgh wants to persuade me to got to Oekonux conference. I am tempted. Anyway have a good one.


Space Bunny



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