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

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

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

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

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

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

the Information Age is refining a process that started with the Industrial Revolution. 1979). 1995). shared by many Marxists... hitherto most apparent in the capitalist labour process. when skilled craftsmen were forced into unqualified and fragmented factory work. has lately . 1999). Furthermore.. We are talking about a process of social deskilling. which are then sold back in the form of commodities [. computers make even highly intellectual and artistic professions vulnerable to the deskilling process (Rifkin. blue-collar workforce operating the machinery (Sennett. Recent studies shows that user-friendly but impregnable automation has escalated a defeating sense of helplessness among the deskilled. 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. now expanding capital's influence through mechanisation into society at large and to ever-higher tiers of intellectual labour [11]. is now entering a new and more pervasive stage . Robins and Webster describe this new era as 'Social Taylorism': "Our argument is that this gathering of skill/knowledge/information. 1998). The pessimistic view on information technology as a tool of capitalist control.]" [12]. turning it into a 'digitalised diploma mill' (Noble. the depredation of knowledge and skills. 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.. so that the labourer/user is left without influence over the functions that the machinery imposes on her. Technology is designed into 'black boxes'. Concerns are raising that multimedia and recording technology may mechanise education.machines.

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

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

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

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

architecture (including technology and code). architectures constrain through the physical burdens they impose. markets. Several new national laws have been passed in recent years on intellectual property rights. is failing because of the complexity of the high-tech market. Lawrence Lessig lists four methods to direct the behaviour of the individual to comply with property regulation: social norms.S. "Constraints work together.on what they want and what is for sale. and law constrains through the punishment it threatens" [26]. Norms constrain through the stigma that a community imposes. In the U. the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998 . 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. This contradiction [24]. the new enclosure is concerned with creating conditions for excludability. material property [25]. 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. and law. The privatisation of cultural expressions corresponds to the enclosure of public land in the fifteenth to eighteenth century." 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]. May demonstrates. As then. markets constrain through the price that they extract.

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

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

However. The future outcome of security systems will be resolved in present conflict. immediately replaced it [35]. Freenet and Gnutella. 2000). and convenient to operate for users with the lowest possible skill. or else they will bypass the security systems [34]. This leaves a potential gap that is possible for hackers to explore. One suggested strategy to prevent circumvention is to bind software in hardware devices and thereby introduce a material component to the immaterial goods. two new file-sharing programs. A technology supporting the property regime must build a black box not comprehensible to the smartest user. 2000). Unlike Napster. law will urge stray capitalists to fall back in line [38]. 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]. Pressure by the record industry convinced the . Users must be deprived of their technological knowledge that grants them control over the product. with state coordination backing the common interest of the property regime. Such devices would have to be designed for special purposes (one machine for playing games. 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. and thus there are no central administration to put pressure on (Markoff. When Napster was closed down by legal action from the recoding industry. these programmes are not dependent on any central server. and then turned into a commercial outlet.problem for designers of secure systems is that encrypted information has to be accessed at some point. 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]. and so far hackers have kept up with encryption (National Research Council.

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

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

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

made continuously. 1999). shrewdness and technical skill play an important role in directing any free software development. Neither does the egalitarian outlook withstand facts.. One survey found that the top 10% producers of free software programs contribute 72. they leave us with explaining how Linux and other free software projects have come to outperform commercial million-dollar equivalents.3% of the total code base. Raymond attests. A reasonable expectation of an anarchic mode of software production is that it eventually must balkanise. First mover advantage is strong. Young insists. with a further disproportion at the top (Ghosh and Prakash. because a successful project tends to cannibalise similar projects. However. it is the other way around. contacts. maybe even stronger than in commercial developments. In property developments innovations are kept enclosed. Not at all. Relevant as these objections are. In the end free/open software will triumph.] 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. Raymonds paper has been criticised by some as being simplistic. One such case is the BSD Unix that effectively was absorbed by the success of Linux. In contrast.. Power relations based on reputation. 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. "[. The free software community is not as pluralistic as it appears. 2000). upgrades of cathedralstyle software cannot be released before long periods of testing to ensure that all bugs are removed. . 1999b).. ego is an important motivation and status hierarchies within the community the organising principle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

whether it is a brand. and thus owned. . This strategy is essentially the route taken by the Free Software Foundation and copyleft. Who will prevail? Recalling historical materialism. 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.different incarnations of the intellectual property regime. Similarly. The line is not drawn between property and licenses. or a copyright . and disposed. but still reap the lion's share by commanding the license. from the farmer to the franchised outlet.producers run most of the supply chain. A strategy to fight corporate piracy would be to acknowledge the property rights status of specific communities. patent. 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. to preside over the development of the productive forces at the given time" [68]. one supporting a proprietary regime and the other a communal. and shorter product life-cycles. The knowledge that capital claims as intellectual property is often appropriated from communities in the first place. is the class best suited. but between opposing forms of licenses. one of its foundation states that "the class which rules through a period. This leads Christopher May to a drastic proposal. whether it is software made by hackers or crops that has been cultivated by generations of farmers. 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]. most able. more diversified products and services. 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]. By allowing that the product can be sold. or emerges triumphant after epochal conflict.

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

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

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

749. orthodox interpretation of historical materialism as G. volume I. quoted by Barbook (1998). 1996. 2000. Wright. serfdom. 37. p. i. see also J. according to James Wallace." Marx.com/2000/TECH/computing/02/11/free. 2000. 6. enters into the same relation towards the development of social wealth and of the forces of production as the guild system. p. Levine. 1988. wage labour. and opinions among contemporary Marxists differ on what he really meant. p. p. Castells. p. open letters granted by European sovereigns to conquer foreign lands or to obtain import monopolies. Levine. 4. Attributed to Bill Gates. 8. 478. Wright. slavery. Marx's writings on the subject are sketchy.s oftware. Advocated by Baran and Sweezy as criticized by Shiller in Mosco and Wasko. accessed 4 March 2002. p.idg/. although to be fair he claims he never made it.Notes 1. Kelly. Cohen. The origin of the word 'patent' is equally intriguing It derives from 'letters patent'. 1998. 1993. 7. 9. the development of the powers of production becomes a barrier for capital. 266. 10. 1997). When it has reached this point. and is necessarily stripped off as a fetter. 1992. 2000. 3.S. Cohen defined it in his book Karl Marxs Theory of History: a Defence. 331. and Sober. hence the capital relation a barrier for the development of the productive powers of labour. I will follow the authoritative. italics in original. 133. p. "Beyond a certain point. which notes that "That infamous assertion is often attributed to Bill Gates." 2. 1992. 11.cnn. see Shiva. capital. Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace. "Opinion: Is free software communist?" at http://www. Braverman. and Sober. 5. .e. (New York: Wiley.

1988. For a comprehensive overview of capitalist expansionism. 13. Dyer-Witheford. The intensive expansion is the colonisation of culture. p." As an example of a convivial tool. p. see Hardt and Negri. 1973. 14. They do not require previous certification of the user. 22: "Tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used. Expansionism (imperialism) is driven by capital's simultaneous need to push back labour costs (wages) while refining the production capacity. 228). and this expansion is thus intensive rather than extensive" (Ibid. Consumer markets in the capitalist nations. 2000.11. They allow the user to express his meaning in action. Their existence does not impose any obligation to use them. The use of such tools by one person does not restrain another from using them equally. 12. for the accomplishment of a purpose chosen by the user. But as soon as the outside is engaged it becomes internalised into the capitalist economy and the search starts for a new 'outside'.. Dyer-Witheford. but instead of collapsing "capital no longer looks outside but rather inside its domain. Illich mentions the telephone. 65 and 66. 221 ff. Robins and Webster in Mosco and Wasko. Rosa Luxemburg predicted that capitals infinite expansion would collapse when confronted with the finite boundaries of earth (Ibid. Illich. 1999. Ivan Illich might have considered the personal computer to be a potential tool of conviviality. 72. p. pp.. . p. 1999. 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. Arguably. Hardt and Negri propose that globalisation is this point where the whole outside has been internalised. 15. by anybody. 272). p. 180. p. as often or as seldom as desired. consisting of workers.

borders at times on the absurd. 25. 1994). The efforts made by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to 'educate' the public. Science is dependent on commercial interests (Nelkin. 2000). Marx. today. 24. "A century ago. Cultural expressions are expropriated and branded (Klein.htm accessed 4 March 2002. 18. Hardt and Negri. For example 26 April. 28. 106-107. 704-705. 21. according to . 1988. p. 1977. accessed 4 March 2002.com/wired/archive/2. 1999).wto. 1993. 2000. 88. 1998). 285. See http://www. 23. May.hence the importance of the state in the present era". The privatising of information will have wideranging consequences. Hardt and Negri. p. the means made available by the computer revolution (Lyon. at http://www.ideas _pr. it has to be enforced . Lessig. Marx.eurolinux. 72. 2001. 29. p. 1994. 42. See the EuroLinux Alliance. at http://www.. 27. 1984). 298.org/. May. New inequalities will be created in the accessibility to information (Rifkin.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/legal_e. as well as the education system (Noble. 22. pp. And surveillance becomes necessary to guard immaterial property. 2000. 19. Bo Göransson and I have further explored this approach in a paper yet to be published. 37. Jefferson quoted in Barlow. 1999. In Dosi et al. 20. 1990. p. 17. pp.html. 2001. Bookchin. scarcity had to be endured. accessed 4 March 2002.wired.03/economy. Anarchists in the midst of the consumer society foresaw this contradiction already in the purely material sphere.16. p. 30. p. 26.

. as is expressed in the deceitful phrase 'user-friendly technology'. direct repression against highly skilled users plays only a minor though complementary part in the agenda of securing the system from independent subjects. a nationwide law enforcement campaign in U. 34." This reflection is only reassuring if we assume that regulating tens of thousands of individuals is an impossible feat. my emphasis. . p. directed against the hacker community (Sterling. May. 2000. 37. 40.WIPO.. p. 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. accessed 4 March 2002. p. 126. should be seen in this light.P.. is the World Intellectual Property Day. this is precisely the reason why strong incentives exist to create a finegrated. 1997. Where before a copyright holder may have had a distributor who was selling tens of thousands of copies of a work. Grant.wipo. Gail L. "an opportunity to highlight the significance of creativity and innovation in people's daily lives and in the betterment of society". 33. There are simply too many targets. 1994). p.. 147. .int/news/en/worldip/world_ip.htm. 2000. full-scale panopticon. 1999.. agenda was identified by Scott in "Copyright in a Frictionless World": "[. 36. In Kahin et al. 32. see http://www. One crucial difficulty to the I. Bettig. quoted in Lessig. 31. p. However.S. 97. Its real momentum lies in lessening the skill level demanded of the average user. If we fear that computers provide such capabilities. 140.. 1999.] [A] large part of infringement is being shifted from profit making activities to cost reducing activities. no one which is worth pursuing. 35. Operation Sundevil. Lessig.

. see http://www. p. 47. 9. 105. and Young in DiBona et al. but flips it over to serve the opposite purpose: instead of a means of privatising software. Shy in Kahin and Varian. accessed 4 March 2002. 46. 476. it becomes a means of keeping software free". 1999. cit. "Copyleft uses copyright law. 40. The latest experiment involving copyleft is OpenCola. Lessig. The start-up of independent media centres. Hardt and Negri.38. 39. volume I. See http://wwwoss. 1999.. which is written and edited in an Open Source manner (Lawton. Moglen. any more than blacklegs and informants prove that capital and labour live in . confirms this prediction. 59.. p.. 42. 124. Another novel initiative is the encyclopaedia Wikipedia.] with their overpaid pretty people and their massive technical infrastructure. a soft drink supplied with its recipe. are about the only organizations in the world that cant afford to be everywhere all the time:quot. 119. Op. 45. 41. p. Moglen stated that news reporting is the next area where anarchy will triumph.. p. p. p. 1999. DiBona et al. p.gov/fss/documentation/linux/. 2002). 1999. 56. 1999. 43. Ockman and Stone. in DiBona. 1999.. "In the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Congress made it a felony to write and sell software that circumvents copyright management schemes". 49.org/. Young in DiBona et al. accessed 4 March 2002. 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'.indymedia. p. 108. 17. Castells.fnal. Richard Stallman. 2000. 44.. p. global networks where everyone is able to report local news. 2000. because the media conglomerates "[. p. 1996.

emerges". pp. but not large enough to sustain a capitalist accumulation process. In . "[. It then grows still further until it becomes so massive that capitalism becomes untenable. 151.]" and "the extension of this system to the community as a whole is what I mean by basic communism". Cohen distinguishes four historical stages based on the quantity of surplus that the society generates. of a size sufficient to support an exploiting class. the antagonistic relationship guarantees that others are radicalised and will 'join ranks'. 2000..harmonious marriage. 1986.. and this class contributed for a disproportionate part of the societies' cultural production. "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. "At stage 3 the surplus has become generous enough to make capitalism possible. the modern classless society. 364-365. 49. 50. productive power is too meagre to enable a class of non-producers to live off the labour of producers. Just as there always will be some that abandon their convictions for personal rewards. Cohen. "At the first stage.. a Darwin. Mumford. the small incomes of the rentier classes have been an obvious help in the arts and sciences to their recipients: a Milton. "In the second stage of material development. which is nonprimitive communism." This epoch of history is sometimes thought of as 'primitive communism'. a Shelley. a Ruskin existed by such grace [. 48. p. Mumford wrote in 1934 that widows. orphans and 'prudent sedentary people' constituted a rentier class independent of the wage labour relation." This stage comprises slave and feudal societies. a surplus appears.] indeed.. 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. therefore notlabour and surplus wealth are posited on the other. and the fourth and final social form.

1996b. Lancashire's observation that geography matters in terms of where Open Source programming takes place. 54. 401.. 55.reality the development of wealth exists only in these opposites: in potentiality.S. actualises a different concern. 53. Indeed. "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. and more likely to requite Open Source programmers. Marx. and to a secondary degree European. many Marxists would repel this claim. while to some extent paying in-house labour back home. italics in original. 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". "The organization of the cycle of production of immaterial labor [. 191. p. Slashdot is part of the Open Source Developers Network (OSDN). Lancashire. manufacture and information. If predominantly American firms. embark on a model of tapping the free labour power of global communities. 1993.. 52. 51. Lazzarato in Virno and Hardt. Samuelson.]".] is not defined by the four walls of a factory.. and that in the United States with its cutting-edge computer industry. but it is a central concept in Autonomist Marxist thinking. Part of the explanation to this paradox. it could add another pipeline of resources from the poor nations to the powerful ones. p. 2001. offered by David Lancashire and to which I concede. code writers tend to be absorbed into the commercial sector. . is that the software industry is bigger in the U. its development is the possibility of the suspension of these opposites".. 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.

firstly. 59. This fact of being within capital and sustaining capital is what defines the proletariat as a class". wealth. accessed 4 March 2002. 1999. and wrote "[. The term 'gift economy' is not entirely applicable since the central function of a gift is the personal obligation it imposes. and affective networks". 58. Later situationists adopted the term in their criticism of the alienation in capitalist society (Debord. 2000.. Hardt and Negri. 56.] It is.com/AppDev/350/LWD010523vcont rol4/. "Today productivity. arising directly out of science. Barr. p. "Why does Microsoft care about these differences in open source Licenses? Well. 1992).. they have made good use of code from the various BSD projects. The gift economy has been actualised anew by the hacker community as captured in the phrase 'information wants to be free'. 1996). and the creation of social surpluses take the form of cooperative interactivity through linguistic. anyone is welcome to use their code and "lock it up" behind their own closed. which . "Live and let license. communicational. The phrase 'gift economy' was first used by Marsel Mauss (1988) to describe the economical organisation of pre-capitalist societies. It would therefore be more appropriate to speak of a 'library model' (Frow. p.] subject to capitalist discipline and capitalist relations of production. the analysis and application of mechanical and chemical laws. Thus. 53.. all activities in society become " [. proprietary licenses". Joe Barr writes that GPL is the prime target of whispering campaigns because it is not corruptible. 294." http://www. Marx anticipated this development. 136. 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.itworld. Because the BSD licenses are not "copyleft" licenses.1996.. Hardt and Negri. 2001. however I will use the term 'gift economy' since it has become customary. 57. p.

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