Linked by David Adams on Fri 17th Dec 2004 18:20 UTC, submitted by jeanmarc
Editorial The real heart of open source lies in its potential to be greater than the sum of its parts, the capacity to leverage the talent and abilities of an entire community of developers and users who are striving towards a common goal, according to an editorial at Linux Insider.
Permalink for comment
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
by karl on Mon 20th Dec 2004 10:14 UTC

I have no doubts about the work you have done. I have noticed as many others undoubtedly have, it has been quite obvious from your posts, that you have dealt with and used FOSS software. I also understand that you are a champion of the commercial software world-I imagine your livelihood is rather tied up in it. Nothing I have said is against you or your livelihood.

If you could avoid loosing yourself in endless equivocation this who discussion could be so much more fruitful-and less recriminatory.

My first post was a response to the article, "It's the community, stupid". I was criticizing the naive understanding of "free markets" being used by the author of the article and the attempt to romanticize the FOSS community as some kind of expression of Adam Smiths ideas.

I am fully convinced that the FOSS community in the future will be a paid community-ie. will consist of individuals who draw their livelihood from their work. Any society which makes the transitition to using FOSS in the public sector will end up creating many, many thousands of new jobs. Societies which do so start empowering their own citizens-instead of funneling a large percentage of their GDP to foreign software corporations. The skills involved in programming become marketable valuable skills in the local economy-the local economy of every city and town in the societies which make the transition. The money which is saved in this process can be reinvested in other areas-everyone knows that public institutions are hard pressed financially in virtually all parts of the world.

The wages which these programmers/sys. admins/technicians etc. will be paid, is going to be taxed which increases the revenue available to the governement to allocate for public services. Moreover the software in use in the public sector will be far better suited to the local specific needs of those contributing to it-and remeber custom tailored software is far more valuable than "pre-packaged".

If you are, as you state, a libertarian then you must surely know that the talk about "free markets" is pure ideological b.s. You know damned well that there is virtually nothing "free" about our(american) "free markets". The american government subsidizes specific industries continuously-which is totally contradictory to the notion of a "free market". If the government via a program like the 401k redirects %10 of the income of the majority of its workers directly into the stockmarket by excepting it from taxation status-well how exactly do you understand "government underwriting of corporations". There is no such thing as "free markets" or "pure" capitalism. And when we the people have no say in where the wealth of this nation is directed -how "free" are we. Surely as a libertarian you must see such.

Many libertarians wish to abolish most of the services of the state and wish to allow the "free market" to fullfill these services. What these conservative reactionaries however fail to grasp time and time again is that the modern form of the corporation is a function of the State. Without the services provided by the State there would be no such thing as a corporation.

And one of the most important services of the State is to be found in the laws which codify what property means. It is the very particular interpretation of property codified today in our laws which makes the kinds of corporations viable which today exist. If the societal definitions of property change, ie. the laws which codify these definitions, then everything founded in these laws change-the forms of corporatism, the functioning of the market, and the ascription of value to those things deamed "goods" in the market.

I find it helpful to envision the legal structures as a kind of ecosystem: according to the legal structures at hand certain kinds of organisms are viable, and other kinds of organisms are not viable. Modern corporate america is viable due to the legal structures at hand. A big chunk of modern corporate America is dependent upon the codification in law of very specific interpretations of what property is.

When I say that FOSS is a challenge to the definition of property I mean: a) there is no legal or jurisprudence tradition which can adequately cope with copyleft. b) because there is no pre-existing tradition precedence cases must be established c) in the attempt to codify such precedence cases the established definitions surround intellectual property will become problematic d) this will result in changes to the societal understanding of property-ie. the codification in the forms of laws thereof e) this will have ramifications for all facets of society which have their legal foothold in these laws.

Now I am not saying that this will be unequivocally "good". I am also not saying that this will "utterly" change society. I am also not saying that there will be universal employment, an end to market exploitation or a "revolution". I am distinctly not saying that everyone will be "happy" and "free" as a result of such. I am just pointing out that as the numbers of those who embrace FOSS increase that there is a gradual change in the societal consensus about what constitutes property. And this will necessitate that the State codify this new emergent consensus.

What I am saying here is only "radical" in the sense that it delves into the roots of things. The codification of property is perhaps one of the most fundamental things in the formation of modern society-for the form of this codification defines the market and the vast majority of people buy and sell the products and services of labor via this market-the majority of human activity finds its expression in this market.

Now if what I am saying here sounds like "neo-socialism" may I kindly suggest that you go enroll yourself in a class on economics and a class on law.

I do not believe that the purpose of human labor is monentary economic self-survival. I believe that human labor is not about making money. I believe that economy is something fundamental to human interaction. The monetary economy is but one kind of economy and arguably one of the less important forms of economy. The monetary economy is but a means to an end-an end which itself has no monetary value. Economy metes out and apportions the interaction of indidivudals within larger societal "communities". Economy is the medium of social interaction.

In a sense the author of the article was correct-it is the community, stupid. But not the community defined by the monetary economy. Not consumers and not producers.