Copyright was invented by and for early capitalism, and its importance to that system has grown ever since. To oppose copyright is to oppose capitalism. Thus, Marxism is a natural starting point when challenging copyright. Marx's concept of a 'general intellect', suggesting that at some point a collective learning process will surpass physical labour as a productive force, offers a promising backdrop to understand the accomplishments of the free software community. Furthermore, the chief concerns of hacker philosophy, creativity and technological empowerment, closely correspond to key Marxist concepts of alienation, the division of labour, deskilling, and commodification. At the end of my inquiry, I will suggest that the development of free software provides an early model of the contradictions inherent to information capitalism, and that free software development has a wider relevance to all future production of information.

Contents Introduction Problem Method and Literature Historical Materialism History of Copyright Marxists on Information Information as a Resource Information Microeconomics The Commodification of Information Technology Tailored History of the Free Software Movement Strengths of Free Software The Ideology of Hacking Capital and Community The Fettering of the General Intellect From Property to Licenses - Change in the Relations of Production? Conclusion

Introduction In the 90's computer programs developed by hobbyists grew into serious competitors to commercial software. Today the only challenger to Microsoft's monopoly in operative systems, Windows, is one of these community projects - Linux. As the free software community and computer industry confront each other, the political colour of the hacker movement is actualised. According to some, free software equals communism [1]. Some within the community vehemently reject such political linkages while others embrace free software as a radical force. I will make a case for that free software is not just another business model, as the advocates of the Californian Ideology would like us to believe, but a political project for social change. Though Marxist phrases often circulate in writings by hackers, there have been few attempts at a comprehensive Marxist analysis of free software. Likewise, radical theory has largely overlooked the phenomenon of hacking, despite recent interest in issues of information, surveillance, Internet and intellectual property regimes. My ambition is to overcome the divide and show that both groups can gain from cross-fertilisation. The article address readers sympathetic to the Marxist project and it presumes a basic knowledge of Marxist terminology. I have drawn from disparate Marxist traditions, as well as post-Marxists and non-Marxist sources, without giving much attention to their internal differences. This is not a comprehensive account of Marxist positions on the subject; I have incorporated them as they intersect with my investigation into the intellectual property regime. The first part of the article is theoretical, so I ask my readers to please endure it, and hopefully it will prove worthwhile once applied to the reality of free software.

Problem How can Marxist theory be applied to understand the development of free software?

Method and Literature This article is a literature study. The literature on intellectual property is marked by a lack of crossreferences between the two opposing views of the issue. Mainstream writings and official commissions treat intellectual property as exclusively a financial and legal technicality; they operate within the consensus that intellectual property is an undisputable entity. Those writers that do recognise intellectual property as a contested terrain also write to campaign against it. Approaches in the latter camp originate either from the experiences of hackers or from academic Marxist analysis, and the two branches are equally detached from each other. My analysis draws from the theoretical framework of historical materialism. The use of this theory demands some comment since it has fallen into disarray and been abandoned by many Marxists. The theory lost credibility when its prediction that capitalism inevitable would evolve into socialism was seemingly proved wrong. Theoretically it has been challenged for its tendencies of evolutionism, technological determinism, functionalism and economic reductionism (Giddens, 1981). By partly coinciding with and incorporating this criticism, some Marxists have responded to Giddens' comments stating that a reconstructed historical materialism holds true and is a valuable analytic tool (Wright, Levine, and Sober, 1992). A weak version of the model is sound, they say, to help structure our understanding of past and current history, provided that the theory does not pretend to prophesy the future. In accord with them I find it relevant to evoke historical materialism here because

The class that dominates the relations of production favour a certain legal. raw materials. but merely highlight parts where it relates to my inquiry into free software development. 2000). and knowledge). these concepts and ideas would lack adequate foundations" [2]. labour power. though. the composition of ownership in society. Historical Materialism Historical materialism [3] starts with the assumption that human consciousness is conditioned by its physical environment. At the core lie the 'forces of production' (predominately machinery. and therefore that primacy in society flows from its material base to its organisation of social life. The struggle between the ruling class and those classes it submerged (which has been ongoing) now burst into revolutionary change."the idea that class struggle is crucial to understanding social change is grounded in historical materialist claims. that influence the 'relations of production'. In order to .e. A new social order emerges that better corresponds to the material basis of production (Cohen. political and ideological constitution of society (superstructure) that will support their social order. while the established order tends to conserve its position. while Christian values despised capitalist virtues. If historical materialism where rejected altogether. The prime example of this transition is that from feudalism to early capitalism. A point is reached when the old establishment fetters the emerging productive forces. But because the forces of production develop continuously. the organisation of society will increasingly become at odds with its material production. i. Privileges and tradition prevented free social and geographical mobility and fuelled the resistance to factory discipline. I will not. give a full account of the controversy surrounding the theory.

but its failure ought to be closely examined in order to unravel the precise changes. the irrational deployment of productive powers. I have no such ambition here. Use Fettering is more promising: ". This argument. A common objection from post-Marxists (and Marxists too) is that the 'chain of direction' breaks down because the superstructure becomes productive in itself in ". If so. and Sober point out that "in order to conclude that there will be an overall epochal trajectory of social changes of the kind historical materialism postulates. wage labour.. in practice certain features of the Information Age. Levine. the information age. Nevertheless. Instead he leans towards Use Fettering. reluctantly. that restriction to the pace of development in productivity is not a sufficient cause of destabilization. the tendency for the forces of production to develop is a more potent cause of the destabilization of production relations than the superstructure is of their stabilization" [6]. however. He says. There are numerous difficulties with this theory.. the theory claims. in general. such as the bias in capitalism towards consumption at the expense of leisure. the theory should not be discarded hastily. the bourgeois class had to tear down these barriers to the free flow of capital. far from rendering historical materialism obsolete. marked by the autonomy of culture vis-a-vis the material bases of our existence" [5]. In the same way. Still. in this article I maintain that though historical materialism is difficult to defend theoretically. Wright. since the . Cohen has difficulties in assuring that fettering could fuel a successful revolution against capitalism. a case must be made that. will capitalism be fettering the future forces of production [4]. and market exchange.. also implies that historical materialism up till now has been working.flourish. reflect and strengthen some of its features.. even if the basic assumption is true.

and change than. and did not originate from an individual creator. especially the printing press. Narratives were in constant flux. 1996). sources of information were thoroughly documented. In the sixteenth century religious conflicts spurred the circulation of pamphlets. a more potent stimulant of unrest. therefore. and is. Brendan Scott (2000) argues that this censorship bears . Early forms of what has become copyright can be traced further back into history. since its function is meaningless without a developed market economy (Bettig. closely followed by legislation that banned writings of heresy." [7]. With the emergence of a bourgeoisie consciousness of individuals and property. In Talmud tradition. History of Copyright Intellectual property rights were invented in the Italian merchant states and accompanied the spread of early capitalism to Netherlands and Britain [8]. Copyright in a non-trivial sense can only be realized within the context of a capitalist society.discrepancy between capacity and use is more perceptible than. I will return to his distinction between Development and Use Fettering later in this paper and argue that they both accord with the intellectual property regime.. as is sometimes done by copyright champions.. for example. the need of copyright was created. but for the purpose of ensuring the authenticity of information. Great Britain developed the first advanced copyright law. protest. and technological breakthroughs. sedition. the spread of market relations. the shortfall in rate of development . For most of human existence oral tradition has dominated. Consequently. and treason. which seldom could be credited since most culture was built on religious myths or common folklore. Performance was regarded more highly than authorship.

Limiting the number of publishers was a key strategy in the government's arsenal to regulate writings (Bettig. to forget that information is the result of human labour.the legacy of copyright. It entered a new stage with the signing of the TRIPs Agreement. a global treaty on intellectual property. 1996). 2000). to ignore that a staff of 'symbol-analysts' require a labour force that satisfy society's material needs. The two strategies to consolidate control by eradicating anonymity and restricting the number of sources of reproduction are themes that echo into the present day. Claims that information would replace labour as prime source of value helped to raise suspicion among Marxists. and to downplay the continuity of capitalist industrialism in the new era . For example. The tightening of the intellectual property regime coincides with the increasing exchange value of information and what is held to be the coming of an information age. not to ensure the originator due credit. Marxists on Information Marxists have been dismissive of literature giving priority to information over labour and capital in production. Marxists rightly criticize the post-industrialist advocates for failing to take account of power relationships. but in order for the king to keep track of disobedient writers. in 1994 (May. the custom of printers and authors to have their name listed with their creations began as a law demanding this practice. and (not without cause) the post-industrial hype was often written off as a hegemonic smokescreen. The expansion of patents and copyright has grown since. In 1556 a royal charter established the Stationers' Company and granted it exclusive control of all printing in the United Kingdom. The notion of a post-industrial age has become associated with apolitical futurists.

The change lies in that information has been commodified. something of actual or potential use. Implicit to this view is that information as a resource has remained constant. partly through surveillance.. and the vulgar Marxist position discarding information as a mere surplus-eater of the industrial production [9] is no longer tenable. One of the points I will advance is that this stance hinders Marxists like Shiller from recognising the growing contradiction in information capitalism that is inherent to the intellectual property regime. and nowhere more divided than in the labour process: ".. pioneered by Harry Braverman. is to study how technology is deployed to aid capital against labour. Shiller criticises those theories for failing to distinguish between information as a resource. and information as a commodity. the importance of information in production can no longer be ignored. Shiller rejects the claims that information commodities have an immaterial element inherent to them. it takes information to make a flint axe too. 1999). Technological utopias have been touted before to justify the destructiveness and smoothen the acceptance of new technologies (Stallabrass. 1995). partly by transferring knowledge from labour to machinery. information is claimed by capitalist expansion to be produced by wage labour for and within a market. However. However. Another Marxist approach to information technology. since humanity is divided. Like other resources before. but as the instrument of those to whom the accumulation of capital gives the ownership of the . Dan Shiller represents a tradition of Marxism that recognizes the emerging importance of information but disputes the unique value credited to information by post-industrial thinkers.(Dyer-Witheford. machinery comes into the world not as the servant of 'humanity'.

is now entering a new and more pervasive stage . computers make even highly intellectual and artistic professions vulnerable to the deskilling process (Rifkin. so that the labourer/user is left without influence over the functions that the machinery imposes on her. now expanding capital's influence through mechanisation into society at large and to ever-higher tiers of intellectual labour [11]. which are then sold back in the form of commodities [.. 1995).machines.. the depredation of knowledge and skills. has lately . turning it into a 'digitalised diploma mill' (Noble.]" [12]. hitherto most apparent in the capitalist labour process. We are talking about a process of social deskilling. the Information Age is refining a process that started with the Industrial Revolution. The pessimistic view on information technology as a tool of capitalist control. 1979). The capacity of humans to control the labor process through machinery is seized upon by management from the beginning of capitalism as the prime means whereby production may be controlled not by the direct producers but by the owners and representatives of capital" [10] From this perspective. 1998). Technology is designed into 'black boxes'. Recent studies shows that user-friendly but impregnable automation has escalated a defeating sense of helplessness among the deskilled.. blue-collar workforce operating the machinery (Sennett. A classic illustration of how technology is used in this way to control labour activity is the speed set by the assembly line in a factory (Edwards. Concerns are raising that multimedia and recording technology may mechanise education. Robins and Webster describe this new era as 'Social Taylorism': "Our argument is that this gathering of skill/knowledge/information. 1999). shared by many Marxists. Furthermore. when skilled craftsmen were forced into unqualified and fragmented factory work..

] The malleability of the new technologies means that their design and application becomes a site of conflict and holds unprecedented potential for recapture" [13]. 1995). this technological power is disseminated to ever-wider circles of the (western) population. However. and argue that the hacker community plays an important part in it. I will focus on this struggle later.. and therefore that new computers never will reach the poor majority (Stallabrass. Stallabrass correctly points out that falling costs is met with more computer capacity for a sustained price. the objection fails to acknowledge the mounting pile of perfectly operational but out-fashioned.] often constituted by contending pressure that implant in them contradictory potentialities: which of these are realized is something that will be determined only in further struggle and conflict" [15]. technologies are: "[. Marxist tradition thus strongly emphasises the social construction of (information) technology. second-hand computers that will 'trickle down'. Thanks to falling production costs. But first I wish to give my case why I believe. which grants the subject autonomy over her use of the technology. In DyerWitheford's words. that information has become inherently valuable. The keyword is malleability. I believe . Information as a Resource Though I stress the importance of recognising the social construction of information into a commodity. In particular the general-purpose personal computer with its network capabilities has empowered a small section of the population with technological skills [14].been matched with an interest in counter-use of those technologies. counter to some Marxists. "[....

steel. the creation of real wealth comes to depend less on labour time and on the amount of labour employed than on the power of the agencies set in motion during labour time. This marks the emergence of what Marx called the 'general intellect' as a productive source in itself. railway. A Techno-Economic Paradigm stretches for 50-60 years and centres on a major technological breakthrough in one sector that affects the economy. electricity. iron. The common denominator of these key technologies is that they are located in the . building on the classic work of Thomas Kuhn about scientific evolution (Kuhn. the productivity of industries depends now more on the development of fixed capital than the human labour: "But to the degree that large industry develops. 1996). high-tech machinery and cutting edge science.i. whose powerful effectiveness is itself in turn out of all proportion to the direct labour time spent on their production. information. Furthermore. More clues are offered in a marginal (non-Marxist) theory within political economy known as Kondratiev waves [17]. and combustion engines as key technologies of previous TechnoEconomic Paradigms. Thus comes a rapid shift of relative costs (exchange value) from labour to fixed capital . sharply rises.e. Perez and Freeman introduce the idea of 'Techno-Economical Paradigms' [18]. Writing in this tradition. oil. The shift can be extrapolated from capital's ambition to replace the workforce with machinery and science. and organisational forms of that whole period. industry. primarily to suppress labour militancy. but depends rather on the general state of science and on the progress of technology.that the post-industrial advocates are right in that information as a resource has qualitively changed. A consequence of the replacement of labour with robots is that the cost of labour in production falls while the expenses for fixed capital. Different scholars have suggested coal. or the application of this science to production" [16].

information and communication are the very commodities produced.areas of materials. 1987. materials and energy were essential to the creation of exchange value. Computer networks become both the factory and distribution channel of exchange value. "In all forms of society there is one specific kind of production which predominates over the rest. (while the exchange value of material goods is becoming peripheral relative to information) those sectors lose in importance. However. Or. energy and transportation. when the highest exchange value is extracted from information. 1990). The increase in costs/exchange value of information (fixed capital) in relation to direct labour is the cause for capitalism to commodify information. The characteristics of the information sector will gradually encompass most of the economy. a near consensus exists among scholars that its key technologies are manifested in microelectronics and possibly microbiology (Volland. It is a general illumination which bathes all the other colours and modifies their particularity" [20]. This tendency was essential in Marx's analysis. During the industrial period. Grubler and Nowotny. the network itself is the site of both production and circulation" [19]. The broken continuity can be explained in terms of Marxist value theory. and the transportation of this value depended on infrastructure. "At the pinnacle of contemporary production. so too the informational revolution will transform industry by redefining and rejuvenating manufacturing processes" [21]. inspecting the latest Techno-Economic Paradigm. However. not the other way around. whose relations thus assign rank and influence to the others. But because of the intangible nature of . to be more specific: "Just as the processes of industrialization transformed agriculture and made it more productive.

and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it" [22]. challenges the three pillars that market economy rests on: excludability. Bradford De Long and Michael Froomkin. contradictions emerges out of attempts to enclose it. they argue. Without rivalry two users can consume the same information product without compromising each other's consumption. Excludability is the power to prevent usage of a desirable utility. rivalry and transparency. two goods are made at twice the price of one. Information.e. but the moment it is divulged it forces itself into the possession of everyone. a presumption in economist theory that buyers and sellers have perfect information . This is intimately linked with the abolition of rivalry.information. Information Microeconomics "If nature has made anything less susceptible than all others of exclusive property. Thirdly the concept of transparency. considered the consequences in their paper "Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrows Economy". and is required for the property holder to force payment of the user (extract exchange-value). which assumes that cost rises linearly with increased production. the immaterial nature of information has undermined the capacity of policing. which an individual may exclusive possess as long as he keeps it to himself. The words of Thomas Jefferson sum up the unique features of information. i. it is the action of the thinking power called an idea. Though De Long and Froomkin recognise that excludability of material property always was "less a matter of nature and more a matter of culture" that had to be enforced by police action. clearly nonMarxist economists. Digital information can be duplicated infinitely in perfect copies at a marginal cost approaching zero.

the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998 . the new enclosure is concerned with creating conditions for excludability. though they function differently and the effect of each is distinct. is concealed by information capitalists whose interests are best served if ideas are treated as analogous to scarce. May demonstrates. material property [25].S. "Constraints work together. As then. In the U. This contradiction [24]. markets constrain through the price that they extract. and law constrains through the punishment it threatens" [26]. architectures constrain through the physical burdens they impose.on what they want and what is for sale. is failing because of the complexity of the high-tech market. and law. The privatisation of cultural expressions corresponds to the enclosure of public land in the fifteenth to eighteenth century. Norms constrain through the stigma that a community imposes. markets. Lawrence Lessig lists four methods to direct the behaviour of the individual to comply with property regulation: social norms." The Commodification of Information "The contradiction that lies at the heart of the political economy of intellectual property is between the low to non-existent marginal cost of reproduction of knowledge and its treatment as scarce property" [23]. Their conclusion is that "The ongoing revolution in data processing and data communications technology may well be starting to undermine those basic features of property and exchange that make the invisible hand a powerful social mechanism for organizing production and distribution. Several new national laws have been passed in recent years on intellectual property rights. architecture (including technology and code).

However. the non-existent constriction of the market. and decreed a regulation that authorises patent claims to computer programmes [27]. These national laws were implemented under the direction of what is known as the Uruguay Round agreements [28]. established by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). and its importance lies in two respects: "as an extension of the rights accorded to the owners of intellectual property and as part of the extension of a property-based market liberalism into new areas of social interaction. The European Patent Office circumvented scheduled political decisions to be taken by European governments. displace law as the primary defence of intellectual property in cyberspace" [32].and has been imitated by legislation in Europe. i. . and will. common among hackers. previously outside market relations" [29]. Simply by coordinating national regulations on a global level the net of intellectual property is tightened. the rhetoric of 'piracy' has not transformed social norms to any greater extent. that information technology is inherently anarchistic. Similarly. Bettig remarks "The initial period following the introduction of a new communications medium often involves a temporary loss of control by copyright owners over the use of their property" [31]. Lessig warns against the false reliance. The failure to curb copying is linked with the low costs and low risks for individuals to copy.e. The industry is determined to redesign hardware and software to command compliance with the intellectual property regime. TRIP was backed by American and European pharmacy companies and entertainment industries. and unsuccessfully opposed by the developing nations and northern civil society. "Code can. It is predominantly this struggle that I now will attend to. Despite the rigged debate on intellectual property in the mainstream media [30]. As a part of the bargain came the treaty of Trade Related Intellectual Property (TRIP).

Capitalists need to utilize the Internet. examples abound on how machinery was tailored to direct the behaviour of workers. The . as it is believed to be the major production centre and distribution channel of exchange value in the future. In short. persistent encryption (allows consumer to use information while it is encrypted). We can expect the same strategy to be deployed as consumer technology is now disseminating throughout society. A number of technologies are being used to realise this agenda. to ensure that the sender of a message cannot deny that he send it" [33]. (3) privacy: to ensure that others can not see what exchanges there are. the architecture of the Internet has to fulfill five requirements: "(1) authenticitation. (4) integrity: to ensure the transmission is not altered en route. A committee appointed by the U. and watermarking (helps tracking down copying and distribution). government lists five different methods: security/integrity features in operating systems (file access). 'technological control'. This form of regulation. surveillance has to replace the anonymity and anarchy of the Internet. But to accomplish their vision of the Internet as an ethereal market place.S. 1979). and (5) nonrepudiation. encryption (scramble and then de-scramble file information). rights management languages (some on machine language level). (2) authorization. to ensure that the person is sanctioned for a particular function. was of particular importance to domesticate the workforce in the first half of the twentieth century (Edwards.Technology Tailored In the history of factory production. to ensure the identity of the person you are dealing with.

The future outcome of security systems will be resolved in present conflict. Oz Shy remarks that: "It is interestingly to note that these devices generally produce side effects that reduce the quality of originals and copies and therefore their value for consumers" [37]. However. 2000). and then turned into a commercial outlet. and convenient to operate for users with the lowest possible skill. immediately replaced it [35]. and so far hackers have kept up with encryption (National Research Council. A technology supporting the property regime must build a black box not comprehensible to the smartest user. and thus there are no central administration to put pressure on (Markoff.problem for designers of secure systems is that encrypted information has to be accessed at some point. Unlike Napster. May doubts that security systems will be viable because of the rapid pace of technological development and interest among stray capitalists not depending on copyright but profiting from selling devices that enable copying [36]. Such devices would have to be designed for special purposes (one machine for playing games. two new file-sharing programs. Freenet and Gnutella. with state coordination backing the common interest of the property regime. One suggested strategy to prevent circumvention is to bind software in hardware devices and thereby introduce a material component to the immaterial goods. or else they will bypass the security systems [34]. Pressure by the record industry convinced the . one for reading books and so on) to oppose the generality and flexibility of the personal computer that provides the user with autonomy over her actions. these programmes are not dependent on any central server. When Napster was closed down by legal action from the recoding industry. Users must be deprived of their technological knowledge that grants them control over the product. 2000). This leaves a potential gap that is possible for hackers to explore. law will urge stray capitalists to fall back in line [38].

S. Operating software was developed in academic settings. female employees because of frequent mischief. In this power struggle resistance must increasingly be fought with technological skills. Ripping off the system was so convenient that it out-lived the anarchist ideology. University campuses became a main breeding ground for developments in the functionality of the Internet. These . a subculture specialised in tapping phone lines and other high-tech petty theft. It is in this context that the hacker community and the Free Software Movement are critical. primarily at Berkeley and MIT. It is time to examine the other side of the conflict. that cyberspace emerged 1876 with the telephone. History of the Free Software Movement One could argue. It was in the 60's when the U. like Bruce Sterling. and in major corporate research facilities like the Bell Labs where the researchers had considerable autonomy. The heritage of the hacker community could then be traced back to boys employed as phone operators. The Internet initially resided in military and academic circles and eventually spread to phone phreaks through students and dropouts. In the following decade some evolved into phone phreaks. 1996a). military funded research that eventually led to the invention of the Internet. The hacker community grew directly out of the American anarchist movement of the 60's that practised ripping off the system as a strategy of civil disobedience.manufacturers of digital audio tape (DAT) to install a chip that restricted copying (Samuelson. It appears as if capital increasingly will rely on technology to regulate social behaviour in general. increasingly the drive of phone phreaks was the empowering rush of mastering technology (Sterling. but soon replaced with more reliable. 1994).

And of major symbolical importance. Today free source programs dominate several computer applications. When software became more valued than hardware. holds 50% of the web serving market while the largest commercial operator. GNU. The program is the biggest and most widely recognised free software project and is of particular significance. Microsoft.early computer users largely created programs for their own needs and for the needs of their colleagues. Linux. Software was a by-product. Linux is of relevance to a wide range of computer applications. it is hard to find engineering developments comparable in size and geographical reach to that undertaken by the Linux project (Moon and Sproull. 2000). it was the machines that encapsulated the real costs. Essential to file sharing was softwares secondary status relative to the computer. the institutions demanded control over its distribution. programmers were linked together in a network. Apache.000 major contributors of code. Even in the highly organised and hierarchical corporate sector. consulting each other was an essential part of the learning process. Windows. and music are released under this license [40]. images. The diffusion of the Internet in the early 90s spurred the movement and realized its greatest accomplishment. Being an operating system. In response to this efforts toward control. Maybe of even greater importance was the invention of the General Public License. When Usenet was developed in 1979. Linux is based on the efforts of at least 3. which further encouraged sharing (Lerner and Tirole. The Foundation was based on a software toolbox. has merely 20% . Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation in 1985. Linux is challenging Microsoft's key product. For example. GPL is applicable everywhere where copyright is used. which is now the backbone of the free programming community. books. scattered over 90 countries and five continents. 2000). also known as copyleft [39]. a program for Web servers.

bazaarmodel versions are released frequently. IBM and Oracle support Open Source projects financially. To some developing countries. Sections of the hacker community seem interested in including business in the community. the high-energy physics laboratory.[41]. Thus.. The Open Source offensive has been successful in attracting large multinational corporations. They believe that capital investments and the respectability of corporations could benefit free software and help diffuse it into the mainstream. that chose Linux to run their computers. In 1998. 1999a). Open Source was launched. Eric Raymond compares two opposed styles of software development. in extreme cases with one new version every day. To fully utilise the feedback from the users. free software offers an affordable alternative in the course of developing an information infrastructure (Bezroukov. In the bazaar model. a more business-friendly licensing scheme. Another proof of its success is that highly demanding users prefer free source code. 1999). anyone with Internet access and programming skills can be engaged in the process. and improvements are . The current trend is a growing engagement with the computer underground by corporations. The large number of betatesters and co-developers is a major advantage because it critically speeds up the time of identifying and fixing bugs. partly to reduce costs. and Netscape supplies its Web browser with the source code (DiBona et al. Fermilab. Strengths of Free Software In "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". and partly because free software allowed them more control [42]. a zero-budget free software project often involves more working hours from skilled programmers than a big corporation could afford. the cathedral model of commercial programming and the bazaar model of free/open software programming.

. shrewdness and technical skill play an important role in directing any free software development. "[. The free software community is not as pluralistic as it appears. In contrast. Young insists. upgrades of cathedralstyle software cannot be released before long periods of testing to ensure that all bugs are removed.. contacts. A reasonable expectation of an anarchic mode of software production is that it eventually must balkanise. with a further disproportion at the top (Ghosh and Prakash. One survey found that the top 10% producers of free software programs contribute 72. In the end free/open software will triumph. Raymond attests. Power relations based on reputation. Not at all..3% of the total code base.made continuously. Relevant as these objections are. Neither does the egalitarian outlook withstand facts. However. First mover advantage is strong. 1999). because a successful project tends to cannibalise similar projects. .] because the commercial world cannot win an evolutionary arms race with open-source communities that can put orders of magnitude more skilled time into a problem" The high innovation rate of free software has been stressed by many others and is one reason for recent interest by companies in the movement (DiBona et al. ego is an important motivation and status hierarchies within the community the organising principle. Raymonds paper has been criticised by some as being simplistic. The anarchic ideal is further compromised by the dependency of free software developments on a core group of chieftains and/or a charismatic leader heading the project (Bezroukov. it is the other way around. In property developments innovations are kept enclosed. they leave us with explaining how Linux and other free software projects have come to outperform commercial million-dollar equivalents. 1999b). One such case is the BSD Unix that effectively was absorbed by the success of Linux. 2000). maybe even stronger than in commercial developments.

If one Linux supplier adopts an innovation that becomes popular in the market.. the other Linux vendors will immediately adopt that innovation.and as commercial projects develop they diverge from each other. "In Linux the pressure is reverse. This is because they have access to the source code of that innovation and it comes under a license that allows them to use it . His argument is that the market will force the software industry itself to decommission copyright on their products. Oz Shy also touches upon comparability although from a completely different angle. an open standard . This is part of the power of Open Source: it creates this kind of unifying pressure to conform to a common reference point . But institutions. thereby increasing the value of the software" [44]. Therefore Oz concludes that "in a software industry in which all firms protect their software. networks gets more valuable the more nodes it includes. since all consumers who were excluded from the market by not wanting to pay for the software now becomes users. companies and universities will always be paying effect. a software firm can increase its profit by removing the copy protection from its software" [45]. According to what is known as the 'network externalities assumption'.and removes the intellectual property barriers that would otherwise inhibit this convergence" [43]. Users desire compability and not excludability. "Producing unprotected software increases the total number of users.. The firm can thus charge a higher price for the software than it otherwise could. it becomes more useful the greater the number that speaks it. The common interest of corporations to maintain intellectual property rights extends narrow market . No doubt the increased payment that is charged is traded off from the number of customers that will stop paying. Oz's expectation that the market in its own right will adjust to consumer demand of comparability is naive. The ideal model of this logic is the language.

1994). 1999). Oz's reasoning applies neatly to the non-market existence of free software. Basic motivations to engage in free programming are the rush of technological empowerment (Sterling. Unfortunately. Like the activity of many 'alternative' subcultures that are not directly defined by their political engagement. the joy . and cultural and hence they are biopolitical struggles. However. The hacker movement is a political project. resistance must become technological too. the Internet is credited solely as a mobilising tool for traditional protest movements. and not surprising given the hegemonic dominance of the corporate sector in the United States and the greater stakes in free software for business. it runs counter to the roots of hacking. which essentially is a reaction against Taylorism (Hannemyr. The rightwing drift. The hacker community is positioned at the forefront of this contested field. radical theory often overlooks the potential of free software and hacking. They are constituent struggles. struggles over the form of life. dubbed as the Californian Ideology. creating new public spaces and new forms of community" [46]. "the struggles are at once economic. is a recent transition. The Ideology of Hacking Earlier I have stressed that as command increasingly is executed through technology. Free software has an immense advantage over property software in not having any economic barriers to entry. Opposition to Microsoft draws both from socialist anarchistic principles. political. However. which in turn puts pressure on the commercial products on the market. 1999a). and from high-tech libertarianism.analysis. and in the low technological threshold that allows amateurs to engage in it actively. The chief uniting and mobilising force for the hacker underground is the common enemy of Microsoft (Bezroukov.

but reputation only viable within a group of peers. Those values may not seem political at first sight. despite that the operative . as students living on their parents. are social democratic north European countries. The rising tension within the hacker community are illuminated by the words of Manuel Castells: "The struggle between diverse capitalists and miscellaneous working class is subsumed into the more fundamental opposition between the bare logic of capital flows and the cultural values of human experience" [47]. and the sense of belonging to a community (commonly recognised by hackers themselves as 'ego'. in relation to their population. The interest in a 'gift economy' and abundance in hacker philosophy parallels the concept of 'social surplus' that is a cornerstone of classic Marxist thought. Britain and the Commonwealth are less involved in free programming than countries on the European continent. but they are on collision course with the commercial agenda of turning the Internet into a marketplace. Social surplus is defined as the material wealth produced in society above the level required by the direct producers of that wealth [49]. and therein lays the origin of the class society [50]. or even employees within computer companies .e. A recent study shows that the most frequent contributors to Open Source. a community). i. as dropouts getting by on social benefits. the surplus wealth is appropriated by non-producers. while the activity in the United States in relative numbers are surprisingly low [51].and their existence is linked to the burgeoning material surplus of informational capitalism [48]. However. Hackers are generally supported financially in diverse ways . Post-scarcity champions tend to neglect the power relations in society that act upon material abundance.of un-alienated creativity (Moglen. 1999). Paradoxically. A prerequisite of free programming is that those involved are sustained outside of market relations.

Young adds in a critical comment. numbers) disproves notions on post-scarcity gift-economies. Capital and Community The antagonism between free software and property software can be questioned when recalling that big corporations are now backing Open Source. The thriving of the free software community is embedded in a wider political context of redistribution. suggesting that their lobbying for copyright protection is isolated and ultimately doomed. There are even companies. generates only a fraction of the .S. Therefore the hacker movement is political in a second sense.language is English (Lancashire. whose business models are founded entirely on free software. To confront this position. Cygnus and Red Hat being the most prominent. Lancashire alleges that the low engagement in free software in the U. Is this just another example of what Schumpeter labelled capitalism's 'creative destruction'. (in relative. 2001). Quite to the contrary. Chairman of Red Hat.S. Users prefer to pay Red Hat as it provides them with a sense of reliability. we have to examine how companies exploit free software. Robert F. is the wealthiest country in the world. His conclusion is flawed because he too fails to take into account the distribution of the wealth. Young. where young new enterprises challenge and replace old business practices? That is the view of many reformist critics of copyright. because the U. the study supports a connection between general welfare systems and commitment to non-commercial projects. explains that his company persuades customers to buy software that they can have for free. This irrational but non-coercive source of income. even when hackers do not take direct part in that struggle. through branding. not absolute. Pamela Samuelson discounts the copyright industries as "dinosaurs of the Second Wave" [52].

Certainly then. Another way to put it. major companies utilise Open Source if a market leader. unless forced to (Young in DiBona et al. innovative labour of the community. But since the profits are inferior. Though this is not the place to develop this thought further. but from its agents (communal or commercial). the employment and wage situation for software programmers. 1999). there are contradictory interests between the two sides. Companies like Netscape are attracted to free software. Supporting Oz's prediction. having property monopoly themselves.profit of property software. will be dumped [54]. is that companies seek to slash labour costs [53]. lost to would-be Open Source revolutionaries. Open Source proponents exclaim. the livelihood of many in the free software community. Inevitably. If companies are allowed to tap the unpaid. and flow of profit allowed by the license especially as companies try to . not originating so much from the formal activity (free or closed software). such as distributing software to promote sales of hardware or sell supportive services. I suggest one central point of struggle. monopolises the market. usually Microsoft. and therefore that corporate engagement in free software prerequisites an existing monopoly. for the innovative capacity of the community. Corporations established in a property software regime would be stupid to decommission copyright. If communities become direct producers of value for capital. accessibility. instead they can enlarge profits in other ways. inhouse and waged labour will be pushed out by the market imperative to cut down on personnel expenses. Conflicts are likely to evolve around the control. I propose this to be a secondary choice to the preferred one. an antagonist relationship similar to the one between capital and labour should be expected to emerge [55]. Other companies have little to lose. The dangers of not making a critical analysis could not be demonstrated more clearly..

the core of the future economy. In the last section I will bring in historical materialism to outline the likely conflict. the contradiction of intellectual property strikes at the heart of the 'Third Wave' industries. communication. as opposed to an economy based on free gifts. What reformist critics of copyright like Pamela Samuelson miss is that the sectors troubled by unauthorised copying are not entrenched. but preparations for birth. To put it in a catchphrase. becomes a producing entity in itself. .maximise the distance between the free labour pools engaged in any project while narrowing the conditions of use of the result [56]. entrenched capitalists. 'Second Wave' dinosaurs. On the contrary. It is daft to believe that multinational corporations would broadly support counter-strategies against this agenda. we are not witnessing a death struggle. is a consequence of non-rival goods. but the coordinated will of the universal capitalist class. That assumption. or the general intellect. whether it is multimedia entertainment. stating that comparability rules over excludability. other than incidentally when they stand to profit from 'crossing the line'. biomedical conglomerates or other industries based on cutting-edge science. The free software community provides the first and most complete example of how a collective learning process. and thus offers a pure model of the network externalities assumption. Intellectual property seeks to establish the necessary conditions for sustaining a market exchange economy of the future. It is not a last stand of singular. backed by the capitalist state. The Fettering of the General Intellect Marx's brief notes on 'general intellect' are explored by a contemporary school of radical thinkers known as Autonomist Marxist [57]. Code is essentially a language. software producers.

For example.. which could be supplied for a . In the last three decades scientific research has rapidly become privatised [59] through patents and the transition of funding from governments to the corporate sector (Nelkin.that is. "[.] what happens when the friction becomes the machine?" (DeLong and Froomkin. Self-interest ensures an 'economy of gifts' [58] as opposed to exchange. . research and innovation becomes the heart of the economy . In the case of the computer industries. Robinson summed up the paradoxical existence of property-based research: "The justification for the patent system is that by slowing down diffusion of technological progress it ensures that there will be more progress to diffuse. 2000). Since it is rooted in a contradiction. 1987). so enforcing equal exchange would hurt everyone (Barbrook. there can be no such thing as an ideally beneficial patent system [.because "everyone takes far more out of the Internet than they can ever give away as an individual". 1999). But if the prediction is correct that "[. companies have occasionally suppressed new technologies to ensure resource dependency (Dunford.... as in the case when poor people in the Third World are denied life-saving drugs. which for most part has been structured on a reward system independent of market demands (Shavell and Ypersele. capitalism has never worked optimally even when measured with its own narrow benchmark..] specific to the informational mode of development is the action of knowledge upon knowledge itself as the main source of productivity" [62]. innovation in the industry slowed down [61]. 1998).]" [60]..then we are justified to ask. that the intellectual property regime has become a Development Fetter to the emerging forces of production. a MIT study suggests that after it became common practice in the sector to enforce patents. It is also a Use Fetter.. 1984). Of course.. It is now plausible to claim. The strengths of gift economies in organising immaterial social labour is suggested by academic research.

Small units of self-owning . with all their new responsibilities for quality. Arguably. as the dominant form of control over the means of production. The ascendancy of leasing is evident not only in the information sector. This can be taken as an indication of how the productive forces are undermining established relations of production. Without the coordinating function. From Property to Licenses . what will happen when workers. but are withhold in order to preserve the exchange value and commodity form of the medicine.negligible cost (Bailey. which leads Lyon to muse: "The question is. the distinguishing and most promising feature of free software is that it has mushroomed spontaneously and entirely outside of previous capital structures of production. Social labour is making inroads within capitalist production itself. It has built a parallel economy that outperforms the market economy. However.Change in the Relations of Production? Now when historical materialism has proved to be functional in describing the evolving forces of production and the fettering of those forces. capital loses dominance over labour. 2001). Take the fast food industry for example. but is equally potent in agriculture and manufacturing. there is a shift today from property to leases. which needs to utilize the cooperative and communicative capacity of the workforce in order to stay competitive [63]. we are required to examine the accuracy of its prediction that the relations of production are affected too [65]. Since the rise of capitalism. ownership assigned to private property has been the primary vehicle to enforce 'effective power'. ask why management is needed at all? Holding on to the means of surveillance is the only remaining basis of power that managers have over their workers" [64].

different incarnations of the intellectual property regime. and shorter product life-cycles. one of its foundation states that "the class which rules through a period. Capital does not own the installations per se. There are some real advantages on the production side to capital in transcending the property regime: "In a world of increasing competition. The line is not drawn between property and licenses. Who will prevail? Recalling historical materialism. This leads Christopher May to a drastic proposal. Similarly. incentives exist on the consumption side to replace ownership with licenses: "This is the main disadvantage for knowledge producers in relying on a form of property regime. and thus owned. whether it is a brand. but still reap the lion's share by commanding the license. most able. companies stay on top by controlling finance and distribution channels while pushing off onto smaller entities the burden of ownership and management of physical assets" [66]. patent. or emerges triumphant after epochal conflict. . one supporting a proprietary regime and the other a communal.producers run most of the supply chain. more diversified products and services. whether it is software made by hackers or crops that has been cultivated by generations of farmers. and disposed. or a copyright . to preside over the development of the productive forces at the given time" [68]. is the class best suited. from the farmer to the franchised outlet. but between opposing forms of licenses. the owner becomes a rights holder (even if these rights are secondary and circumscribed in relation to the intellectual property's reproduction) and has legally legitimate rights regarding the use of such property to their private ends" [67]. The knowledge that capital claims as intellectual property is often appropriated from communities in the first place. A strategy to fight corporate piracy would be to acknowledge the property rights status of specific communities. By allowing that the product can be sold. This strategy is essentially the route taken by the Free Software Foundation and copyleft.

The productivity of social labour power impels corporations to subjugate the activity of communities. To have it both ways. communities will turn into hotbeds of counter-hegemonic resistance. It is to this cause that the cheerleaders of the Californian Ideology so readily line up to serve. But for every successful 'management' of social cooperation to boost profits. which makes the demarcation line between friend and foe harder to draw. But here rouses a contradiction to capital. other parts of the community will be radicalised and pitched into the conflict. ideological confusion is caused by capital's experimentations to exploit the labour power and idealism of collectives (Open Source licenses being a case in point). Ultimately. capital can only rely on its hegemonic force. on one hand it prospers from the technologically skilled. The success of free software in outperforming commercial software is a showcase of the productive force of the general intellect. but is contested and resolved in struggles between social actors. Initially. on the other hand it must suppress the knowledge power of those users to protect the intellectual property regime. conveniently mapped out by historical materialism. social labour of users. foreseen by Marx 150 years ago. unpaid.Conclusion Marxism offers a theoretical framework to analyse the contradictions inherent in the current intellectual property regime. It is here that Marxism has its role to play as a toolbox of critical analysis and ideological awareness. Inevitable. the direction of history is not reducible to emerging productive forces. In this struggle the hacker . and supports their case of a rising mismatch between collective labour power and an economy based on private property. It underpins the claim by Autonomist Marxists that production is becoming intensively social.

. because they can challenge capital's domination over technological development.movement is important. I stress.

whose works from the 30s are still stunning in their actuality and perceptiveness.About the Author Johan Söderberg is currently finishing his second degree in Illustration at the Falmouth College of Arts. anarchistic state into a mechanism for regulation and surveillance. His texts are easy to find on the Internet. Nick Dyer-Witheford's book Cyber-Marx. is Richard Barbrook. 1999) offers a convincing argument of why and how information technology can be transformed from its present.uwo. 1999) is what you are looking for. Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism (Urbana. . well-researched overview on contemporary Marxist's response to the Information Recommended Reading I would like to recommend four books for further reading. E-mail: soderbergjohan@hotmail. England. I would like to promote Lewis Mumford. In addition. Ill. The most informed writer I have come across who directly addresses hacking issues from a radical perspective.: University of Illinois dex.fims.htm. It is available on the Internet at http://www. Lawrence Lessig in his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (New York: Basic Books. To get a comprehensive. The material for this article draws from several years of research and will eventually be part of a book on the subject.

Wright. "Opinion: Is free software communist?" at http://www. 2000. italics in original. the development of the powers of production becomes a barrier for capital. I will follow the authoritative. 5. Cohen.Notes 1. 2000. 37. Marx's writings on the subject are sketchy. p. 1998. Attributed to Bill Gates. Kelly. volume I. 2000. slavery. 749. Wright. Advocated by Baran and Sweezy as criticized by Shiller in Mosco and Wasko. 9. p. and Sober. (New York: Wiley.s oftware. . 4.cnn. p. see also J. "Beyond a certain point. p. 1997). enters into the same relation towards the development of social wealth and of the forces of production as the guild system. p. capital. 1992. 10. Cohen defined it in his book Karl Marxs Theory of History: a Defence. wage labour. accessed 4 March 2002. although to be fair he claims he never made it. hence the capital relation a barrier for the development of the productive powers of labour. 7. 133." 2. 1996. i. and Sober. Braverman. 478. 8. 11. When it has reached this point. The origin of the word 'patent' is equally intriguing It derives from 'letters patent'. 266. 331. Levine.S.idg/. p. according to James Wallace. Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace. Levine. which notes that "That infamous assertion is often attributed to Bill Gates." Marx. 1992. 6. and opinions among contemporary Marxists differ on what he really meant. serfdom. Castells.e. see Shiva. 3. orthodox interpretation of historical materialism as G. p. quoted by Barbook (1998). and is necessarily stripped off as a fetter. 1988. open letters granted by European sovereigns to conquer foreign lands or to obtain import monopolies.

14. Dyer-Witheford. The use of such tools by one person does not restrain another from using them equally. The intensive expansion is the colonisation of culture. Illich mentions the telephone. Expansionism (imperialism) is driven by capital's simultaneous need to push back labour costs (wages) while refining the production capacity. 15. Hardt and Negri propose that globalisation is this point where the whole outside has been internalised. by anybody. 221 ff.. p. 65 and 66. see Hardt and Negri. p. 2000." As an example of a convivial tool. But as soon as the outside is engaged it becomes internalised into the capitalist economy and the search starts for a new 'outside'. 180. Illich.. are thus unable to absorb the increased output of goods and a market outside the capitalist area is required to solve the crisis of overproduction. 1988. . For a comprehensive overview of capitalist expansionism. Rosa Luxemburg predicted that capitals infinite expansion would collapse when confronted with the finite boundaries of earth (Ibid. Consumer markets in the capitalist nations. 22: "Tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used. 13. 1973. 272). 12. but instead of collapsing "capital no longer looks outside but rather inside its domain. and this expansion is thus intensive rather than extensive" (Ibid.11. Arguably. 1999. 1999. pp. Dyer-Witheford. They allow the user to express his meaning in action. Their existence does not impose any obligation to use them. Robins and Webster in Mosco and Wasko. 228). as often or as seldom as desired. consisting of workers. p. p. 72. Ivan Illich might have considered the personal computer to be a potential tool of conviviality. for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user. p. They do not require previous certification of the user. p.

pp. 20. 42. 106-107. it has to be enforced . 285. Lessig. 30. New inequalities will be created in the accessibility to information (Rifkin. "A century ago. 28. 25. 2001. See http://www.html. 1990. Cultural expressions are expropriated and branded (Klein. 21. 1984). In Dosi et al. May. 2000. p. 1993.ideas _pr. 37. 704-705. 2000). 1988. according to . Anarchists in the midst of the consumer society foresaw this contradiction already in the purely material sphere. 26. Bo Göransson and I have further explored this approach in a paper yet to be published. 72. 18. 1999.hence the importance of the state in the present era". 1999). 1998).wto. The privatising of information will have wideranging consequences. p. p. 298. May. today. Hardt and Negri. 1994). Marx.16. scarcity had to be endured. pp. as well as the education system (Noble.03/economy.wired. accessed 4 March 2002. See the EuroLinux Alliance. Marx. Jefferson quoted in Barlow. 2000. Bookchin.htm accessed 4 March 2002. 22. p. accessed 4 March 2002. p. The efforts made by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to 'educate' the public. 29. 17. Science is dependent on commercial interests (Nelkin. the means made available by the computer revolution (Lyon. For example 26 April. at http://www. 24. Hardt and Negri. 88.. 19. at http://www. 23. And surveillance becomes necessary to guard immaterial property. p. borders at times on the absurd.eurolinux. 27.

36.P.wipo. 34. nowadays that distributor has been replaced by tens of thousands of individuals all acquiring a single copy of that work from perhaps disparate information sources. direct repression against highly skilled users plays only a minor though complementary part in the agenda of securing the system from independent subjects. Bettig.. Gail L. 97. 126. 2000. "an opportunity to highlight the significance of creativity and innovation in people's daily lives and in the betterment of society". Its real momentum lies in lessening the skill level demanded of the average user. 31. 37. p. 2000. Operation Sundevil. a nationwide law enforcement campaign in U. my emphasis. May.] [A] large part of infringement is being shifted from profit making activities to cost reducing activities. no one which is worth pursuing. is the World Intellectual Property Day. p. quoted in Lessig. this is precisely the reason why strong incentives exist to create a finegrated. should be seen in this light.htm.." This reflection is only reassuring if we assume that regulating tens of thousands of individuals is an impossible feat. . see http://www. There are simply too many targets.. full-scale panopticon. p. 32.. One crucial difficulty to the I. 147. In Kahin et al.WIPO. Grant. Lessig. 35. If we fear that computers provide such capabilities. 33. agenda was identified by Scott in "Copyright in a Frictionless World": "[.S. Where before a copyright holder may have had a distributor who was selling tens of thousands of copies of a work. p. 40. directed against the hacker community (Sterling. p. However. as is expressed in the deceitful phrase 'user-friendly technology'. 1999.. . accessed 4 March 2002. 1999. 1997. 1994).

indymedia. Ockman and Stone. p. p. 47. 42.. 1996. any more than blacklegs and informants prove that capital and labour live in . Young in DiBona et al. p. which is written and edited in an Open Source manner (Lawton. Another novel initiative is the encyclopaedia Wikipedia. see http://www.fnal. 105. 1999. 119. but flips it over to serve the opposite purpose: instead of a means of privatising software. confirms this prediction. cit. p. 44.. DiBona et al. accessed 4 March 2002. p. 1999. 40. Shy in Kahin and Varian. and Young in DiBona et al. The latest experiment involving copyleft is OpenCola. p. Lessig. 17. because the media conglomerates "[. Hardt and Negri. accessed 4 March 2002. 39. 108.] with their overpaid pretty people and their massive technical infrastructure.. 9. global networks where everyone is able to report local news. Castells. The start-up of independent media centres. Congress made it a felony to write and sell software that circumvents copyright management schemes". are about the only organizations in the world that cant afford to be everywhere all the time:quot.38. The fact that parts of the Open Source community do profit from their (or others) efforts does not disclaim the existence of a 'conflict of interests'.. 59. 49. 1999. 2000. 41. 43. See http://wwwoss. 45.. "Copyleft uses copyright law. Moglen stated that news reporting is the next area where anarchy will triumph. volume I. 1999. a soft drink supplied with its recipe. p. p. Moglen. it becomes a means of keeping software free". p. 476. 56. Richard Stallman. Op. 124. p. in DiBona.. 2002). 2000. 1999. "In the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

and this class contributed for a disproportionate part of the societies' cultural production. 1986. Mumford. "At stage 3 the surplus has become generous enough to make capitalism possible. It then grows still further until it becomes so massive that capitalism becomes untenable. the antagonistic relationship guarantees that others are radicalised and will 'join ranks'. In .. 48. "At the first stage. and the fourth and final social form. a surplus appears.. 364-365. "The course of social development is by no means that because one individual has satisfied his need he then proceeds to create a superfluity for himself. which is nonprimitive communism. 151. a Ruskin existed by such grace [.]" and "the extension of this system to the community as a whole is what I mean by basic communism".harmonious marriage. the small incomes of the rentier classes have been an obvious help in the arts and sciences to their recipients: a Milton. Mumford wrote in 1934 that widows.. "In the second stage of material development.. p." This epoch of history is sometimes thought of as 'primitive communism'. orphans and 'prudent sedentary people' constituted a rentier class independent of the wage labour relation. but not large enough to sustain a capitalist accumulation process.] indeed. therefore notlabour and surplus wealth are posited on the other. Cohen distinguishes four historical stages based on the quantity of surplus that the society generates. 49. of a size sufficient to support an exploiting class. 50. but rather because one individual or class of individuals is forced to work more than required for the satisfaction of its need because surplus labour is on one side. 2000. Just as there always will be some that abandon their convictions for personal rewards." This stage comprises slave and feudal societies. a Shelley. the modern classless society. Cohen. a Darwin. pp. productive power is too meagre to enable a class of non-producers to live off the labour of producers. emerges". "[.

Part of the explanation to this paradox. embark on a model of tapping the free labour power of global communities. offered by David Lancashire and to which I concede. and that in the United States with its cutting-edge computer industry. Slashdot is part of the Open Source Developers Network (OSDN). italics in original.reality the development of wealth exists only in these opposites: in potentiality.. it could add another pipeline of resources from the poor nations to the powerful ones. is that the software industry is bigger in the U. Lancashire. p. actualises a different concern. while to some extent paying in-house labour back home. many Marxists would repel this claim. "The organization of the cycle of production of immaterial labor [. 54. 2001. and it is hardly coincidental that the site cheerleads for sister company Sourceforge when the stock price of the parent company VA Linux swings with the productivity of unpaid developers". Samuelson. 53. 55. and more likely to requite Open Source programmers. 1993. Indeed..]". and to a secondary degree European. 191. 1996b. 52.. Lazzarato in Virno and Hardt. manufacture and information. but it is a central concept in Autonomist Marxist thinking. 401. The location in which it operates is outside in the society at large [.. In this case 'the Second Wave' refers to the futurist Alvin Toffler's (1980) three waves of agriculture. code writers tend to be absorbed into the commercial sector. Marx.] is not defined by the four walls of a factory. Lancashire's observation that geography matters in terms of where Open Source programming takes place. "And yet there is no denying that the very communities so quick to celebrate the Open Source movement have in the past been those quickest to "cashin" on the phenomenon. . p.S. its development is the possibility of the suspension of these opposites". If predominantly American firms. 51.

communicational. 2000. Hardt and Negri. the analysis and application of mechanical and chemical laws. anyone is welcome to use their code and "lock it up" behind their own closed. This fact of being within capital and sustaining capital is what defines the proletariat as a class". Marx anticipated this development. accessed 4 March 2002. Barr.] subject to capitalist discipline and capitalist relations of production. The term 'gift economy' is not entirely applicable since the central function of a gift is the personal obligation it imposes. 58.1996. The split between GPL and Open Source licensing is a case in point of business demands rewriting the conditions of community activity to better fit with their requirements. Thus. Hardt and Negri. all activities in society become " [. The phrase 'gift economy' was first used by Marsel Mauss (1988) to describe the economical organisation of pre-capitalist rol4/. and affective networks".. and wrote "[. arising directly out of science. Joe Barr writes that GPL is the prime target of whispering campaigns because it is not corruptible. they have made good use of code from the various BSD projects. 1992). 136. which . It would therefore be more appropriate to speak of a 'library model' (Frow. 2001.. 53. 1996). "Today productivity. however I will use the term 'gift economy' since it has become customary. "Live and let license. wealth. Because the BSD licenses are not "copyleft" licenses. The gift economy has been actualised anew by the hacker community as captured in the phrase 'information wants to be free'. p. proprietary licenses".] It is. firstly. Later situationists adopted the term in their criticism of the alienation in capitalist society (Debord. 294.." http://www.. "Why does Microsoft care about these differences in open source Licenses? Well. and the creation of social surpluses take the form of cooperative interactivity through linguistic.itworld. 1999. p. 56. 59. p. 57.

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