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[ox-en] How's the Weather WAS Re: [Upd-discuss] Paper:"Digital property" By Sabine Nuss, NY, NY, April 12-14, 2002


April 12-14, 2002 Sabine Nuss wrote:

    The internet freedom fighters explicitly separate cyberspace from
    the real world (other rules etc.). This is false, both analytically
    and in reality.

06/08/05 19:36 Richard Stallman wrote:

    Here the article argues against a straw man.  Of course software is

    a part of the real world--what else could it be, a fantasy?  The use
    and development of software are part of the real world, too.

I agree

06/08/05 19:36 Richard Stallman wrote:

    What we say is that what can be done with software (and other
    information) in the real world is different from what can be done
    with physical objects--and this has consequences.

I agree

April 12-14, 2002 Sabine Nuss wrote:

    The critics of private property relations on the net refer only to
    the level of commodity circulation. They don't take into account the
    sphere of capitalist production .....

    ..... If you take this perspective, naturally the question does not
    arise why a principle like the exclusive power of disposition exists
    in the first place and where it comes from. Rather, the only
    question that comes up is how to change and adapt this principle
    considering the special quality of digital goods.

06/08/05 19:36 Richard Stallman wrote:

    Not just "how", but "whether"!

Good point !

Why would any one want to change and adapt a relationship in any case ?

But we do never the less. For instance, the GPL [1] enables us to
develop and distribute socially useful software in a method that suits
us in the main, and has Sabine wrote:

    Its mode of production is based on open knowledge, cooperation,
    flat hierarchies, flexibility, worldwide networking, and in most
    cases on unpaid labor without a binding contract.

( The being 'unpaid labor without a binding contract' bit though, can be
a bit of a drag, cf. below. )

As a by-product of this method of production, however, we do find
ourselves questioning the concept of *property relations* in patent law,
for example. This is one instance of the questioning running in my mind:

    What's this all about ?

    It's hard enough to make a living
    Without somebody else jumping on us back
    And leaching us labor ?

No doubt thought-objects such as this, coupled and complimented, refined
and distributed, by and with many Gigs of other thought-objects, from
all over the shot, had something to do with the recent constitutional
stand-off in Europe.

So, I take Richard's point, the question really is:

    Not just "how", but "whether"!

06/08/05 19:36 Richard Stallman wrote:

    The word "commodity" is part of the Marxist mind-set that thinks in
    terms of economic value only.

I agree

There has been a rake of Marxist comics produced that have helped trap
the thinking of the many people of our world in to the terms of
*economic value only*. I can only assume it was because they got sucked
in by the opening two paragraphs of Das Capital:

    The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of
    production prevails, presents itself as 'an immense accumulation of
    commodities', its unit being a single commodity. Our investigation
    must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.

    A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing
    that by its properties satisfies human wants, whether, for instance,
    they spring from the stomach or the fancy, makes no difference.
    Neither are we here concerned to know how the object satisfy these
    wants, whether directly as a means of subsistence, or indirectly as
    a means of production.

You will read Marx concentrates his analysis on the things that are
produced and sold to satiate desires, that is commodities. Whether that
is peanut butter, a printing press, petrol or pornography, it matters
little, for it is clear that in our world, the vast majority of
commodities produced, and minded, to satiate desires have little to do
with the pursuit of happiness. We are living in an unhappy world.

So now it seems we have both the "how" and the "whether", so let us now
again consider the "how":

The being *unpaid labor without a contract* bit

Our new mode of production has been dependent on unpaid labor to get off
the ground, for sure. The same can be said historically of any new
enterprise worth its salt. But there's loads of us making a living. As
an example, the way I get paid can be split into 3 rough parts:

   * Money from the UK Government to develop FLOSS
   * Money from Clients funded by the UK Government to develop FLOSS
   * Rents from Clients for web services based on FLOSS. Most of these
     Clients are funded by the UK Government.

All of the above, I do under contract.

On the money score, my day-to-day expenses are just about sorted [2].

On the money score, my major concern now is my pension, or rather
pensions in general.

Given the option, I would like to explore the suitability of a Community
Development Finance Institution [3] for this and other local purposes.
To explain ...

    National Self-Sufficiency : John Maynard Keynes 1933

   "I sympathise, therefore, with those who would minimise,
    rather than those who would maximise, economic entanglement
    between nations.

    Ideas, knowledge, art, hospitality, travel - these are the
    the things which should of their nature be international.
    But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonable and
    conveniently possible, and above all, let finance be primarily
    national." [4]

I've lifted this quote from *Green Alternatives to Globalisation : A
Manifesto* : Chapter 5 - Economic Localisation by Michael Woodin and
Caroline Lucas. They have another quote in Chapter 10 - Localising Money:

    Imagine a group of people who are all properly equipped with
    diaphragms and lungs, but share only one single brain-stem
    breathing centre. In this goofy arrangement, through breathing
    they would receive consolidated feedback on the carbon dioxide
    level of the whole group, without discriminating among the
    individuals producing it ... But suppose some of these people
    were sleeping, while others were playing tennis ... Worse yet,
    suppose some were swimming and diving, and for some reason, such as
    the breaking of the surf, had no control over the timing of these
    submersions ... In such an arrangement, feedback control would
    be working perfectly on its own terms, but the result would be
    devastating : Jane Jacobs 1986

This is an excellent analogy for currencies like the dollar or the euro.
We witness the different consequences of this *goofy arrangement*, in
analogy the drowning, the hyperventilation, the suffocation, daily
across the globe.

Perhaps this is a useful analogy for a currency per se. I have copied
Oekonux in for comment. On the Oekonux list Stefan Merten has kept a
clear perspective of our new mode of production, and recognised some
years ago that our common product, our library so to speak, is not of
the commodity form.

Further, Stefan theorises that when our new mode of production is fully
mature, then we will have no need for money what-so-ever. I like this
theory: It reminds me of Star Trek.

In the mean time however, Stefan i) gives local money schemes little
relevance, and ii) reminds us of the concept of alienation. I take both
Stefan's points. Dealing with them in turn:

i) Schemes of little relevance

There is much existing infrastructure in our present society that must
seem of little relevance to the new society we are building [5].
Personally, I used to have a real downer on trade unions, but one thing
I did find of relevance after serving a 10 year sentence is this: The
educator firsts needs to be educated.

That is to say, without an everyday working knowledge of the needs of a
group of people, one really is living in cloud-cuckoo land theorising
about any new form of global society. I strongly suspect that in the
unfolding transition period, we will learn far more about the world than
we could imagine, and, at the same time learn that most folk will be
encouraged if they have a clear path to economic stability. Also, I
would suspect that as a by-product of this envisaged localisation, money
will lose its metaphysical qualities in the minds of some folk, and
these same folk will as a consequence lose their fetish.

ii) Alienation

16 Jan 2002 Stefan Merten wrote:

    It's not the money in itself - it's the exchange which is the
    problem. Labor for an exchange introduces the alienation and more
    and more [I've] come to the conclusion, that the alienation is the
    biggest problem - at least if it drives the society.

I take it, that in this context, Stefan is using the term *alienation*
to mean the 'ensemble of social relations', within which the individual
is enmeshed - the material conditions of existence, so to speak.

Further, I take it, that he is referring to the unhealthy relationships,
in which we find ourselves, as a direct consequence of the endless
commodity-money-commodity-money-commodity transactions taking place around the world.

I would agree that this is a big problem, but would argue that our new
mode of production enables us to freely and creatively invest ourselves
in our products and we are therefore able to alienate ourselves to the

On this point, possibly the works of Rousseau have some relevance:

   "*Discourse on the Origins of Inequality ( 1755 )* - Here,
   alienation is uncompromisingly a condition of developed
   society, where systems of law - moral / religious, political
   and economic - rob one of the responsibility of setting
   parameters of one's own liberty. Under such conditions one
   will remain alienated from one's potential, moral self, unless
   and until one can reconstruct society to enable one to participate
   in the setting of such boundaries" [6]

And on this note, I would hope that our common product, our library so
to speak, will address what in my mind is a compositional imbalance of
most existing libraries; that is, they are currently dominated by the thoughts of
dead men.


[1] GPL : General Public License

[2] Although, with the ever increasing hike in petrol costs who can tell ?

[3] *Green Alternatives to Globalisation* : Micheal Woodin and Caroline

Community Development Finance Institutions help retain wealth and
exchange within a community. They provide insulation from the turbulence
of global financial markets and secure source of finance, often on
favorable terms, which can help generate local employment and training
opportunities or be used to finance community infrastructure. CDFI-based
schemes foster direct links between investors, producers and consumers,
and are characterised by their long-term commitment to the communities
in which they operate. This helps to strengthen and democratise those
communities by increasing the mutual interest between partners within
the local economy, as well as the accountability they bear to each other
for the social and environmental impacts of their activities. The CDFI
sector is playing an increasingly important role in the UK, particularly
in run-down urban areas where more traditional lenders are reluctant to

[4] *Green Alternatives to Globalisation* : Micheal Woodin and Caroline
Lucas - Further information.

Economic localisation actively discriminates in favour of more local
production and investment whenever it is, as Keynes said, 'reasonable
and conveniently possible'. However, 'local' will not always mean
national, as Keynes supposed. The New Economics Foundation defines local as

     ... a relative term. It means different things to different
     people and depends on context. For example, your local TV
     station is likely to be further away than your local corner shop.
     For some of us local is street. For others it means village,
     town, city or region. However we think of it, 'local' usually
     connects to a group of people and the things they depend on -
     whether shops, health services, schools or parks. Think of local
     as that surrounding environment and network of facilities that
     is vital to our quality of life and well-being.

[5] A traffic light is a good example. In some future imagined society,
one could argue that there would be no need for traffic lights because
we would have an automated public transport system. However, until the
new transport system is fully completed, it would be relevant to keep
the traffic lights in place; people are well aware of the order of the
colors and this order is necessary for road safety.

[6] Andrew Reeve : Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics

Contact: projekt

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