Skip to content
Welcome guest. | Register | Login | Add
About | Wiki | Legacy

Open source and post-capitalistic society

(!) This articles has been revised - please read it here! (!)


There is a relation between technology and capitalism. And there is a relation between open source and free software movement and so to be called post-capitalism. What is post-capitalistic society and where are these relations?

Capitalism as the social structure was founded in order to support further evolution and development of human race, to support the innovation which was oppressed by the former system. It was brought up by the two industrial revolutions. The technology was obviously the main to blame for the outcoming capitalistic society. The new capitalism was more liberalistic promoting free trade and pushing globalization in order to support further development and growth of technology.

But, it seems like the technology has been pushed so far and so high that the now old capitalism formed to support it starts to act as it\'s oppressor. The world of software technology is the obvious example of it. The first signs of these events can be recognized far back into 70s and 80s when the software technology\'s started to emerge.
Now, the capitalism oppresses the further technology growth by oppressing the development of software. How? By making it proprietary, creating monopoly\'s. To capitalism, everything is property, including software. And that is where the problem is. The software cannot be considered as property, it is more like an information. It is simply too easy to copy it without ANY effort and that is what led to it becoming a commodity which is a reason more why it just cannot be proprietary. If it is considered proprietary and created and used in such manner, we are getting monopolies created, patents issued and other restrictions that do no good to the further development of software technology, but to oppress it.

Look at the capitalistic giant, Microsoft! Imagine that there were no free software movement and open source. Microsoft would be the ultimate monopolist, the whole world would be their empire. In such case, there would be no real progress and innovation because there is no force to drive it.
THAT is the very proof of capitalism being simply too old and incompetent to handle the new technology of today properly, in the information age run by computers and software.
The open source and free software movement are already taking steps further, outgrowing the limitations of the old and incompetent capitalistic system in order to create what may be called a post-capitalism, true liberalistic, society where the technology will be freely developed at the rates the open source software gets developed today.
More to this, open source and free software movement being the major sign is not the only sign of the sickness of capitalism and it\'s fall.
Simply look at the way things are going at this point in history regarding the major events. When there was a war in Iraq, masses of global and organized people, ordinary people like you and me, used internet to start the organized real time and worldwide demonstrations against the war in Iraq. The same happens with any other major event. There is a global network of people united in their fight for freedom and peace. It shows how the technology of today gives the power to the ordinary people instead of power being in hands of a few big shots. And those people, masses, globally networked masses, ask for one thing: FREEDOM!
Their (our) �enemies� are therefore everyone that anyhow try\'s to restrict the freedom and impose the control over them.
The entity\'s that fall into that category include:

the greatest corporations such as Microsoft and oil companies (imposing monopolies and restrictions in order to control as much as possible)
political entities such as USA and European Union (imposing wars such as the one in Iraq, pushing restrictions of freedoms to use and develop technology through software patents etc.)

And when we say �enemy�, we don\'t mean that the corporations, companies and governments as the organizations should be terminated in order for us to have the freedom we deserve nor we in any case mean to fight them with violence acting like terrorists. We should simply raise our voices using the internet and technology in order to change the way these entities function today so that they are no longer the oppressors of freedom, but it\'s supporters.

These global networked movements, such as open source and free software movement are actually forming a third industrial revolution which may crush capitalism as a social structure and finally bring the power to the majority and support the unrestricted growth of technology.

I am on the right side, are you?

NOTE: Everyone reading this should read Free software movement and post-capitalistic society instead as it is completely reworked, well researched revision of much better quality than this article which is more like a \"shouted out\" opinion. :-)

Thank you


the immoral few


What I meant to say is:
We might see an end to monopolies on information in the near future. This will give us more freedom in the ways we share information. However, I don't see how it will end other monopolists from limiting our freedom in other ways.

By the way, I don't agree with you about software patents. A patent stops everyone else from making money out of your idea. It should be valid for about the time you need to get back your investment. This time need not be short for software. The problem you point out is trivial patents, which also exist in the hardware world.

Now please don't misunderstand me. I don't think software patents are good. I think all patents are a bad and unneeded way to regulate the use of information. Copyright is much better. It is completely unnecessary to link research&development to production of a patented product. A better idea is to have r&d-only companies invent new things, publish documents about these, and get paid for the copyrights. This way it is not possible for a company to decide not to sell their patented product in a certain part of the world because it is "not profitable enough" (AIDS medicines are a horrible example of this). Anyone (who is rich enough of course) can decide to buy the manual and produce the product himself.

The same thing should work fine for software. Invent, publish research paper, get paid.


Re: the immoral few


"We might see an end to monopolies on information in the near future."

That is, monopolies on software and news. I don't think patents will disappear. That would be a huge step towards a more fair world.


Re: the immoral few

By the other monopolists do you mean hardware monopolists, non-software company's? If yes, i agree that this problem wouldn't be solved as soon as software monopoly might be. But i believe that supporting and puhing the free software movement in it's goals will be a good way toward influencing non-IT industry's to follow the same paths, only with rules and regulations appropriate for these industries. Probably the best example of non-IT monopoly is oil industry. The whole oil industry in itself is a monopoly and inside the industry itself we have USA that obviously wants to hold the monopoly on oil in their hands.
Why is oil industry in a whole a monopoly? Because it oppresses other types of energy that may replace oil. I don't know if you're familiar with the mistery of a car run on water. I heard and read that this innovation existed all the way back into 80s, but never saw the daylight because of the oil industry which may be very crippled if not crushed if the water powered cars replaced the ones on oil. Here again, we have a conflict between new technology and the old systems. And again, in this case we have problems with humans and their wish to stay on power even if it harms the whole humanity. The same happens with software industry, really. It would be easy to bring on new era's of technological prosperity if the powerful men would only accept that they should step off it's power for the good of humanity.

For software patents. The software developers could get payed in their investments very quickly, even if they release their software with a code allowing the redistribution. I explained that. Open source IS business model. Many just seem not to recognize that and are afraid that they wont get their investements back, or that they wont get payed anyhow. That's not true.

I agree with you that copyright is much better than patents for regulation of use of information and your idea is intriguing.
However, the tricky part is that free software movement encourages free share of information which is in some contradiction with the r&d company's selling copyrighted innovation since i suppose it means that these copyright licences would not allow re-distribution of this information.
I should research that issue a bit further.


Sill Rabit, Socialism is for Kids


Capitalism as it stands today only sucks for those poor countries and individuals who do not have the Darwinian gumption to claim what is thiers by might.

water car


The car that runs on water is an old april fools joke. The only ways to get energy out of water are nuclear fusion and by pouring it over a wheel in a water mill. Both possibilities are not usable in a car.

Cars that burn hydrogen and produce only water exist. I have some doubts about how environment friendly these actually are. Fuel cells contain a lot of platinum, and platinum mines are very dirty.

Sharing all information with everyone is better than my copyrights idea, which could be a logical first step in that direction. The next step would be to move all research into public universities.

Re: water car


Hydrogen powered cars, that's what i meant. It splits the water (H2O) into hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O2). By that, i don't see the released oxygen as a threat to environment. However, i am not much of a chemistry guy so i want debate on that too much. However, i still believe that this technology would reach it's top and more wide usage if the oil monopolies only let it. I am sure we don't have to drive those cars on that dirty oil forever, but that's what oil industry obviously wants. It's in their interest.

Daniel Orsolic

Re: water car


Ah, I can see the misunderstanding here.
Oxygen and hydrogen go in, water comes out, not the other way around. Splitting water TAKES energy.
Don't they teach this in highschool over there?

Actually the oil industry is not so unhappy about this technology anymore now they found a way to split hydrogen off oil. I'm not sure if the byproduct is carbon or carbon dioxide...

Anyway, cars that run on bio oil may be cleaner than hydrogen cars...

Reply to multiple comments


This is a reply to multiple comments.

>> I also believe that Marxism in practice leads to everyone being equally miserable.

>How is this different from capitalism?

With capitalism, an individual is free to improve their financial status. With capitalism there is certainly not equal misery for all, but a good life for those willing to put forth the effort to make it that way.

>You may be richer than you would be in a communist society now, but how rich will >your children's children be?

That depends on their actions and to some extent what I can leave for them when I die.

>Both "fair" >communism and "fair" capitalism will eventually be abused by an >immoral few.

The difference is that there is less corruption with capitalism. There is absolutely no way to eliminate all corruption, but most implementations of capitalism have laws that keep corruption in check such as antitrust laws. With communism or any form of strong socialism, corruption is the only alternative to improve your financial status. Its absurd to think that capitalism should be abandoned just because it is not perfect.

>In the USA there are "few" people who know what true poverty is. Why are there any >in such a rich country?

Mostly because of their own actions, though certainly not in all cases. There are maybe some who are homeless because they are mentally ill. There are also some who are truly disabled in other ways who may know what true poverty is. For people in these situations, there are sufficient socialist measures to make sure they are not truly in poverty. People dependant on the government in the USA generally have sufficient food and shelter as well as cable TV and other luxuries to where they can't reasonably be considered impoverished. Some of these people do need this assistance. However, most continue to depend on the government because they lack the ambition to provide for themselves. For those who must dependant on others, I believe that charities and the families of these individuals should provide assistance, though I understand that this may not always be sufficient.

>When capitalism goes wrong, the answer is not communism. We need something new. I >think the author of this article pointed out very well that this new thing is >evolving in the way people share information.

If one of the headlights on your car burns out, are you going to buy a new car or just replace the headlight? If you find a bug in your software, are you going to rewrite it from scratch, or just fix the bug? There is nothing fundamentally wrong with capitalism. Some implementations of capitalism may need a few "bug fixes" from time to time.

>1. Please explain how patents are good for hardware, but bad for software. Please >explain why the two are different, and in one case you have more ownership rights >to the fruits of my thought, my labour, my effort than another.

Copyrights are sufficient for intellectual property. I believe it is more difficult to weed out frivolous software patents. If you wrote a novel, you could copywrite that novel, but it would be silly if you could patent your writing style or to patent the format of the novel. Why should software be any different.

>2. For all of you Marxists out there: If I labour, and work (regardless of the form >that work manifests itself) by what right do you claim ownership to my efforts? For >the public? Who are the Public? For the common good of society? Who judges what is >the common good and who are the society? Once you define these concepts with >something a little more precise, then I might be able to offer an opinion, but as >long as the "social collectivists" deal in non absolutes and undefineable terms, it >is hard to base any reason based response on the fuzzy terms used.

This is easy regardless of their terms. No one has the right to the fruit of your labors.

>3. I build myself a house. It is my house, you have no right to it! I build myself >a bicycle from raw materials, you have no right to it, it is mine. These are the >rewards for my effort, and my labour. People do not have a right to it based on >need! I write software. What I do with that software is my choice, it is the result >of my effort, no one has rights to except me and who ever I decide I wish to share >it with "under my terms" if you do not agree to those terms then I will not let you >use *my* software that I created.

Right on!!! For all those marxists/socialist who want to call us capitalists greedy, remember that capitalism leaves intact the right to give what you have freely. This is the key difference between socialism and capitalism. Giving of your own free will is a wonderful thing. Not sharing what is yours is well within your rights (a lack of a positive is not a negative). Having what is yours forcibly taken from you is wrong regardless of who needs it. Many capitalists such as myself, are generous people. But we want and deserve to have control over what we contribute and weather or not we should contribute.

>Please stop rehashing the ages old communism vs capitalism discussion. Both systems >suck, in different ways.

Their is nothing fundamental about capitalism that sucks. The philosophies behind capitalism and socialism are relevant to software and how open source software fits into our society and are therefore relevant to this article. As long as there are a significant number of those who believe that socialism is preferable to capitalism, I will continue to discuss why capitalism is better. Socialist ideas are a threat to me because people can elect socialist politicians who will f$*# up my way of life, and that would really piss me off. If other nations prefer socialism, then that is fine with me, but since Americans are reading these comments, I will continue to argue against socialism.

>1. ....Software not only doesn't need's patents to make the developers effort >worthwhile, it can only make harm bringing chaos into the software world and >restricting freedoms for other developers to use certain algorithms in their >programs just because it has been patented. The chaos, because you will never be >sure if the algorithm you just came up with has not been patented already.

Right on!!!. That is why I, a strong capitalist, hate software patents, and think that copyrights are sufficient for the protection of intellectual property. But I still believe that someone who owns intellectual property has the right to ask payment for each copy. I love opensourced software, and in many cases it makes great business sense, but no one should be forced to open source their software.

>Capitalism as it stands today only sucks for those poor countries and individuals >who do not have the Darwinian gumption to claim what is theirs by might.

"Darwinian"? Capitalism is about earning what is yours and claiming what you have earned. Its not about forcibly keeping resources from those who are less fortunate. Capitalism provides opportunity for all who wish to put forth the effort to improve their life.

Hydrogen powered cars would kick ass. While the oil companies probably do not care to contribute to such technology, companies are certainly free to do their own R&D. I think right now, the technology is just not affordable to the average person, but it is heading in that direction. I don't know what the oil companies are doing to hinder the efforts of others to produce this technology, but I would like to know. If their is some wrong doing on the part of the oil industry, then it should be addressed in a way that is not detrimental to capitalism.

Rowdy Riemer

Re: Reply to multiple comments


Hello Rowdy.

You clearly described your points of view here and i wont comment too much since i agree with most of them.

What i recently came to realize is that it is not the capitalism in it's roots, basic founding principles that is overall "bad". But, what actually is bad about it is the fact that it seems to be the ideal that human society didn't reach yet. Capitalism as it exists today is corrupt and mixed. And while i agree that we shouldn't completely abandon it just becuase of these imperfections or bugs, i believe that we must urge those "bug fixes" as much as possible.
And speaking of bugs in todays's capitalism, i believe that the greatest, major bug is the way capitalism tends to handle information technology today, which is simply wrong. That is also the reason why many free software advocates tend to act in a highly anti-capitalistic manner. Their field, and that is IT industry, is what the capitalism "hurts" the most. Information technology is not the same as other technology's and it cannot therefore be handles the same way.

I agree that you have the right to choose whether you'll provide your software as free to redistribute or not, but it doesn't means that making people pay for every copy is a right thing to do. Therefore, it doesn't means that the choice you make is always the right one. You have the freedom to choose, whatever your choice is.

That leads me to another thing i also don't agree with is that positive doesn't automatically means negative. Hm.. what is the middle then? Either it is right or wrong. It may be rather simplistic, almost religious point of view, but it is true.

Daniel Orsolic

Re: Reply to multiple comments


Much of my last comment was a reply to others. As far as your article and comments, I think we have narrowed down that to which we disagree as much as we can. If you be live that "You have the freedom to choose, whatever your choice is." but that it is better to not make people pay for every copy, then we do mostly agree atleast within the scope of opensource software.

The middle would be 0, or nothing, or null, or "neither right nor wrong". It is simplistic, but complex things are build out of many simple things.

Thanks for putting up with my long wordy comments.

Rowdy Riemer

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.