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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 . 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 idea that class struggle is crucial to understanding social change is grounded in historical materialist claims. But because the forces of production develop continuously. 2000). Historical Materialism Historical materialism  starts with the assumption that human consciousness is conditioned by its physical environment. The struggle between the ruling class and those classes it submerged (which has been ongoing) now burst into revolutionary change. In order to . though. raw materials. i.e. Privileges and tradition prevented free social and geographical mobility and fuelled the resistance to factory discipline. The class that dominates the relations of production favour a certain legal. and therefore that primacy in society flows from its material base to its organisation of social life. and knowledge). political and ideological constitution of society (superstructure) that will support their social order. The prime example of this transition is that from feudalism to early capitalism. while Christian values despised capitalist virtues. At the core lie the 'forces of production' (predominately machinery. give a full account of the controversy surrounding the theory. but merely highlight parts where it relates to my inquiry into free software development. I will not. the organisation of society will increasingly become at odds with its material production. A point is reached when the old establishment fetters the emerging productive forces. labour power. A new social order emerges that better corresponds to the material basis of production (Cohen. these concepts and ideas would lack adequate foundations" . If historical materialism where rejected altogether. that influence the 'relations of production'. while the established order tends to conserve its position. the composition of ownership in society.
such as the bias in capitalism towards consumption at the expense of leisure. in practice certain features of the Information Age. Nevertheless. Wright. 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. the theory claims. will capitalism be fettering the future forces of production . If so. marked by the autonomy of culture vis-a-vis the material bases of our existence" . reflect and strengthen some of its features.flourish. Instead he leans towards Use Fettering. Cohen has difficulties in assuring that fettering could fuel a successful revolution against capitalism. the irrational deployment of productive powers. I have no such ambition here. the information age. Levine.. Still. In the same way. He says... in general. reluctantly. also implies that historical materialism up till now has been working. that restriction to the pace of development in productivity is not a sufficient cause of destabilization. This argument. There are numerous difficulties with this theory. a case must be made that. and market exchange.. 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 ". the theory should not be discarded hastily. the bourgeois class had to tear down these barriers to the free flow of capital. but its failure ought to be closely examined in order to unravel the precise changes. Use Fettering is more promising: ". 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" . even if the basic assumption is true. wage labour. far from rendering historical materialism obsolete. since the . however. in this article I maintain that though historical materialism is difficult to defend theoretically.
Great Britain developed the first advanced copyright law. but for the purpose of ensuring the authenticity of information. Copyright in a non-trivial sense can only be realized within the context of a capitalist society. especially the printing press. 1996). sedition. and technological breakthroughs. the spread of market relations. With the emergence of a bourgeoisie consciousness of individuals and property. In the sixteenth century religious conflicts spurred the circulation of pamphlets. In Talmud tradition. and did not originate from an individual creator. and treason. which seldom could be credited since most culture was built on religious myths or common folklore. and change than. therefore. since its function is meaningless without a developed market economy (Bettig. the shortfall in rate of development ." . for example.. and is. 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. Brendan Scott (2000) argues that this censorship bears . History of Copyright Intellectual property rights were invented in the Italian merchant states and accompanied the spread of early capitalism to Netherlands and Britain .discrepancy between capacity and use is more perceptible than. sources of information were thoroughly documented. Consequently. For most of human existence oral tradition has dominated. Performance was regarded more highly than authorship. the need of copyright was created.. Early forms of what has become copyright can be traced further back into history. Narratives were in constant flux. protest. a more potent stimulant of unrest. as is sometimes done by copyright champions. closely followed by legislation that banned writings of heresy.
to forget that information is the result of human labour. in 1994 (May. 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. It entered a new stage with the signing of the TRIPs Agreement. For example. The expansion of patents and copyright has grown since. the custom of printers and authors to have their name listed with their creations began as a law demanding this practice. Limiting the number of publishers was a key strategy in the government's arsenal to regulate writings (Bettig. but in order for the king to keep track of disobedient writers. 2000). Marxists rightly criticize the post-industrialist advocates for failing to take account of power relationships. and (not without cause) the post-industrial hype was often written off as a hegemonic smokescreen. a global treaty on intellectual property. 1996). Claims that information would replace labour as prime source of value helped to raise suspicion among Marxists.the legacy of copyright. to ignore that a staff of 'symbol-analysts' require a labour force that satisfy society's material needs. 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 notion of a post-industrial age has become associated with apolitical futurists. Marxists on Information Marxists have been dismissive of literature giving priority to information over labour and capital in production. and to downplay the continuity of capitalist industrialism in the new era . not to ensure the originator due credit. In 1556 a royal charter established the Stationers' Company and granted it exclusive control of all printing in the United Kingdom.
partly by transferring knowledge from labour to machinery. 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. is to study how technology is deployed to aid capital against labour. Implicit to this view is that information as a resource has remained constant. However. the importance of information in production can no longer be ignored. pioneered by Harry Braverman. 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. and information as a commodity. Shiller criticises those theories for failing to distinguish between information as a resource. Like other resources before. machinery comes into the world not as the servant of 'humanity'. and the vulgar Marxist position discarding information as a mere surplus-eater of the industrial production  is no longer tenable. The change lies in that information has been commodified. Technological utopias have been touted before to justify the destructiveness and smoothen the acceptance of new technologies (Stallabrass. something of actual or potential use. partly through surveillance. but as the instrument of those to whom the accumulation of capital gives the ownership of the . information is claimed by capitalist expansion to be produced by wage labour for and within a market. Another Marxist approach to information technology. since humanity is divided. 1995). it takes information to make a flint axe too.. and nowhere more divided than in the labour process: ". 1999). Shiller rejects the claims that information commodities have an immaterial element inherent to them.(Dyer-Witheford. However..
which are then sold back in the form of commodities [. Concerns are raising that multimedia and recording technology may mechanise education. The pessimistic view on information technology as a tool of capitalist control. so that the labourer/user is left without influence over the functions that the machinery imposes on her. Furthermore. has lately . is now entering a new and more pervasive stage . when skilled craftsmen were forced into unqualified and fragmented factory work.. shared by many Marxists. 1979). hitherto most apparent in the capitalist labour process. 1999). computers make even highly intellectual and artistic professions vulnerable to the deskilling process (Rifkin. 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"  From this perspective. turning it into a 'digitalised diploma mill' (Noble. We are talking about a process of social deskilling. 1995). the Information Age is refining a process that started with the Industrial Revolution.machines. Robins and Webster describe this new era as 'Social Taylorism': "Our argument is that this gathering of skill/knowledge/information. 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. 1998). the depredation of knowledge and skills.]" . Technology is designed into 'black boxes'.. blue-collar workforce operating the machinery (Sennett... now expanding capital's influence through mechanisation into society at large and to ever-higher tiers of intellectual labour . Recent studies shows that user-friendly but impregnable automation has escalated a defeating sense of helplessness among the deskilled.
I believe .] 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" . counter to some Marxists. Marxist tradition thus strongly emphasises the social construction of (information) technology. However. technologies are: "[. In DyerWitheford's words. and argue that the hacker community plays an important part in it. this technological power is disseminated to ever-wider circles of the (western) population. that information has become inherently valuable. Stallabrass correctly points out that falling costs is met with more computer capacity for a sustained price. The keyword is malleability... Information as a Resource Though I stress the importance of recognising the social construction of information into a commodity. the objection fails to acknowledge the mounting pile of perfectly operational but out-fashioned.. which grants the subject autonomy over her use of the technology.been matched with an interest in counter-use of those technologies. 1995). second-hand computers that will 'trickle down'. and therefore that new computers never will reach the poor majority (Stallabrass. "[.] The malleability of the new technologies means that their design and application becomes a site of conflict and holds unprecedented potential for recapture" . In particular the general-purpose personal computer with its network capabilities has empowered a small section of the population with technological skills . Thanks to falling production costs. I will focus on this struggle later. But first I wish to give my case why I believe..
oil. railway. high-tech machinery and cutting edge science. This marks the emergence of what Marx called the 'general intellect' as a productive source in itself. Writing in this tradition. sharply rises. and organisational forms of that whole period. Perez and Freeman introduce the idea of 'Techno-Economical Paradigms' . information. The shift can be extrapolated from capital's ambition to replace the workforce with machinery and science. but depends rather on the general state of science and on the progress of technology. and combustion engines as key technologies of previous TechnoEconomic Paradigms. iron.i. 1996). electricity. Different scholars have suggested coal. The common denominator of these key technologies is that they are located in the . A Techno-Economic Paradigm stretches for 50-60 years and centres on a major technological breakthrough in one sector that affects the economy. A consequence of the replacement of labour with robots is that the cost of labour in production falls while the expenses for fixed capital. Furthermore. 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.e. or the application of this science to production" . More clues are offered in a marginal (non-Marxist) theory within political economy known as Kondratiev waves .that the post-industrial advocates are right in that information as a resource has qualitively changed. primarily to suppress labour militancy. 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. whose powerful effectiveness is itself in turn out of all proportion to the direct labour time spent on their production. industry. Thus comes a rapid shift of relative costs (exchange value) from labour to fixed capital . steel. building on the classic work of Thomas Kuhn about scientific evolution (Kuhn.
1990). Grubler and Nowotny. inspecting the latest Techno-Economic Paradigm. During the industrial period. 1987. However. a near consensus exists among scholars that its key technologies are manifested in microelectronics and possibly microbiology (Volland. not the other way around. Or. The increase in costs/exchange value of information (fixed capital) in relation to direct labour is the cause for capitalism to commodify information. But because of the intangible nature of . to be more specific: "Just as the processes of industrialization transformed agriculture and made it more productive. The broken continuity can be explained in terms of Marxist value theory. However. It is a general illumination which bathes all the other colours and modifies their particularity" . (while the exchange value of material goods is becoming peripheral relative to information) those sectors lose in importance. Computer networks become both the factory and distribution channel of exchange value. materials and energy were essential to the creation of exchange value. so too the informational revolution will transform industry by redefining and rejuvenating manufacturing processes" .areas of materials. information and communication are the very commodities produced. This tendency was essential in Marx's analysis. the network itself is the site of both production and circulation" . "At the pinnacle of contemporary production. and the transportation of this value depended on infrastructure. "In all forms of society there is one specific kind of production which predominates over the rest. whose relations thus assign rank and influence to the others. The characteristics of the information sector will gradually encompass most of the economy. energy and transportation. when the highest exchange value is extracted from information.
Excludability is the power to prevent usage of a desirable utility. which assumes that cost rises linearly with increased production. and is required for the property holder to force payment of the user (extract exchange-value). Bradford De Long and Michael Froomkin. a presumption in economist theory that buyers and sellers have perfect information .information.e. The words of Thomas Jefferson sum up the unique features of information. it is the action of the thinking power called an idea. considered the consequences in their paper "Speculative Microeconomics for Tomorrows Economy". contradictions emerges out of attempts to enclose it. Information. which an individual may exclusive possess as long as he keeps it to himself. 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. the immaterial nature of information has undermined the capacity of policing. clearly nonMarxist economists. but the moment it is divulged it forces itself into the possession of everyone. two goods are made at twice the price of one. This is intimately linked with the abolition of rivalry. Thirdly the concept of transparency. i. rivalry and transparency. Without rivalry two users can consume the same information product without compromising each other's consumption. Information Microeconomics "If nature has made anything less susceptible than all others of exclusive property. and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it" . challenges the three pillars that market economy rests on: excludability. Digital information can be duplicated infinitely in perfect copies at a marginal cost approaching zero. they argue.
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed in 1998 . architecture (including technology and code). though they function differently and the effect of each is distinct. architectures constrain through the physical burdens they impose. and law. markets. As then. the new enclosure is concerned with creating conditions for excludability. material property . The privatisation of cultural expressions corresponds to the enclosure of public land in the fifteenth to eighteenth century. "Constraints work together. May demonstrates. Norms constrain through the stigma that a community imposes.on what they want and what is for sale. Lawrence Lessig lists four methods to direct the behaviour of the individual to comply with property regulation: social norms. is concealed by information capitalists whose interests are best served if ideas are treated as analogous to scarce. and law constrains through the punishment it threatens" .S." 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" . In the U. Several new national laws have been passed in recent years on intellectual property rights. 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. is failing because of the complexity of the high-tech market. markets constrain through the price that they extract. This contradiction .
Similarly. previously outside market relations" . the non-existent constriction of the market. 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. "Code can. The European Patent Office circumvented scheduled political decisions to be taken by European governments. Despite the rigged debate on intellectual property in the mainstream media . the rhetoric of 'piracy' has not transformed social norms to any greater extent. i. that information technology is inherently anarchistic. common among hackers. These national laws were implemented under the direction of what is known as the Uruguay Round agreements . and decreed a regulation that authorises patent claims to computer programmes . displace law as the primary defence of intellectual property in cyberspace" . 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" .and has been imitated by legislation in Europe. and will. TRIP was backed by American and European pharmacy companies and entertainment industries. established by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). However. It is predominantly this struggle that I now will attend to.e. and unsuccessfully opposed by the developing nations and northern civil society. The failure to curb copying is linked with the low costs and low risks for individuals to copy. The industry is determined to redesign hardware and software to command compliance with the intellectual property regime. Lessig warns against the false reliance. Simply by coordinating national regulations on a global level the net of intellectual property is tightened. . As a part of the bargain came the treaty of Trade Related Intellectual Property (TRIP).
rights management languages (some on machine language level). to ensure that the person is sanctioned for a particular function. to ensure the identity of the person you are dealing with. encryption (scramble and then de-scramble file information). We can expect the same strategy to be deployed as consumer technology is now disseminating throughout society. In short. and watermarking (helps tracking down copying and distribution). A committee appointed by the U. This form of regulation.Technology Tailored In the history of factory production. (4) integrity: to ensure the transmission is not altered en route. 1979). Capitalists need to utilize the Internet.S. But to accomplish their vision of the Internet as an ethereal market place. government lists five different methods: security/integrity features in operating systems (file access). A number of technologies are being used to realise this agenda. as it is believed to be the major production centre and distribution channel of exchange value in the future. the architecture of the Internet has to fulfill five requirements: "(1) authenticitation. and (5) nonrepudiation. (3) privacy: to ensure that others can not see what exchanges there are. surveillance has to replace the anonymity and anarchy of the Internet. (2) authorization. 'technological control'. to ensure that the sender of a message cannot deny that he send it" . examples abound on how machinery was tailored to direct the behaviour of workers. was of particular importance to domesticate the workforce in the first half of the twentieth century (Edwards. The . persistent encryption (allows consumer to use information while it is encrypted).
immediately replaced it .problem for designers of secure systems is that encrypted information has to be accessed at some point. law will urge stray capitalists to fall back in line . and so far hackers have kept up with encryption (National Research Council. Freenet and Gnutella. 2000). these programmes are not dependent on any central server. and convenient to operate for users with the lowest possible skill. The future outcome of security systems will be resolved in present conflict. 2000). with state coordination backing the common interest of the property regime. A technology supporting the property regime must build a black box not comprehensible to the smartest user. Users must be deprived of their technological knowledge that grants them control over the product. 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 . Pressure by the record industry convinced the . Such devices would have to be designed for special purposes (one machine for playing games. However. and then turned into a commercial outlet. Unlike Napster. One suggested strategy to prevent circumvention is to bind software in hardware devices and thereby introduce a material component to the immaterial goods. This leaves a potential gap that is possible for hackers to explore. or else they will bypass the security systems . When Napster was closed down by legal action from the recoding industry. two new file-sharing programs. and thus there are no central administration to put pressure on (Markoff. 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. 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" .
military funded research that eventually led to the invention of the Internet. It is time to examine the other side of the conflict. It appears as if capital increasingly will rely on technology to regulate social behaviour in general. Ripping off the system was so convenient that it out-lived the anarchist ideology. 1994).manufacturers of digital audio tape (DAT) to install a chip that restricted copying (Samuelson. In the following decade some evolved into phone phreaks. female employees because of frequent mischief. and in major corporate research facilities like the Bell Labs where the researchers had considerable autonomy. These . primarily at Berkeley and MIT. University campuses became a main breeding ground for developments in the functionality of the Internet. It was in the 60's when the U. 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. but soon replaced with more reliable. In this power struggle resistance must increasingly be fought with technological skills. Operating software was developed in academic settings. that cyberspace emerged 1876 with the telephone. 1996a). The Internet initially resided in military and academic circles and eventually spread to phone phreaks through students and dropouts. History of the Free Software Movement One could argue. like Bruce Sterling. It is in this context that the hacker community and the Free Software Movement are critical.S. The heritage of the hacker community could then be traced back to boys employed as phone operators. increasingly the drive of phone phreaks was the empowering rush of mastering technology (Sterling. a subculture specialised in tapping phone lines and other high-tech petty theft.
Apache. Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation in 1985. Even in the highly organised and hierarchical corporate sector. and music are released under this license . the institutions demanded control over its distribution. Linux. Essential to file sharing was softwares secondary status relative to the computer. a program for Web servers. also known as copyleft . programmers were linked together in a network. has merely 20% . scattered over 90 countries and five continents. holds 50% of the web serving market while the largest commercial operator. which further encouraged sharing (Lerner and Tirole. Maybe of even greater importance was the invention of the General Public License. The Foundation was based on a software toolbox. For example. The diffusion of the Internet in the early 90s spurred the movement and realized its greatest accomplishment. images. In response to this efforts toward control. Software was a by-product. GNU. Being an operating system. And of major symbolical importance. it is hard to find engineering developments comparable in size and geographical reach to that undertaken by the Linux project (Moon and Sproull. it was the machines that encapsulated the real costs. GPL is applicable everywhere where copyright is used.early computer users largely created programs for their own needs and for the needs of their colleagues. Linux is based on the efforts of at least 3.000 major contributors of code. Linux is challenging Microsoft's key product. 2000). consulting each other was an essential part of the learning process. When Usenet was developed in 1979. 2000). Microsoft. When software became more valued than hardware. Linux is of relevance to a wide range of computer applications. Today free source programs dominate several computer applications. The program is the biggest and most widely recognised free software project and is of particular significance. Windows. which is now the backbone of the free programming community. books.
in extreme cases with one new version every day. The current trend is a growing engagement with the computer underground by corporations. partly to reduce costs. Thus. a zero-budget free software project often involves more working hours from skilled programmers than a big corporation could afford. To fully utilise the feedback from the users. Strengths of Free Software In "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". a more business-friendly licensing scheme. In 1998. anyone with Internet access and programming skills can be engaged in the process. Another proof of its success is that highly demanding users prefer free source code. that chose Linux to run their computers. Open Source was launched. They believe that capital investments and the respectability of corporations could benefit free software and help diffuse it into the mainstream. IBM and Oracle support Open Source projects financially. and Netscape supplies its Web browser with the source code (DiBona et al. Sections of the hacker community seem interested in including business in the community. the cathedral model of commercial programming and the bazaar model of free/open software programming... the high-energy physics laboratory. Fermilab. and improvements are . To some developing countries. The Open Source offensive has been successful in attracting large multinational corporations. Eric Raymond compares two opposed styles of software development. 1999a). 1999). free software offers an affordable alternative in the course of developing an information infrastructure (Bezroukov. and partly because free software allowed them more control . The large number of betatesters and co-developers is a major advantage because it critically speeds up the time of identifying and fixing bugs. bazaarmodel versions are released frequently. In the bazaar model.
they leave us with explaining how Linux and other free software projects have come to outperform commercial million-dollar equivalents. One such case is the BSD Unix that effectively was absorbed by the success of Linux.] 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. 2000). However. ego is an important motivation and status hierarchies within the community the organising principle. The free software community is not as pluralistic as it appears. maybe even stronger than in commercial developments. shrewdness and technical skill play an important role in directing any free software development.. A reasonable expectation of an anarchic mode of software production is that it eventually must balkanise. .made continuously.3% of the total code base. "[. Raymonds paper has been criticised by some as being simplistic. Relevant as these objections are. Neither does the egalitarian outlook withstand facts. with a further disproportion at the top (Ghosh and Prakash. contacts.. it is the other way around. Power relations based on reputation. Not at all. In property developments innovations are kept enclosed. Young insists. First mover advantage is strong. One survey found that the top 10% producers of free software programs contribute 72. In contrast. 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. Raymond attests. In the end free/open software will triumph. 1999b). because a successful project tends to cannibalise similar projects.. upgrades of cathedralstyle software cannot be released before long periods of testing to ensure that all bugs are removed. 1999).
. The common interest of corporations to maintain intellectual property rights extends narrow market .. "Producing unprotected software increases the total number of users.and removes the intellectual property barriers that would otherwise inhibit this convergence" . companies and universities will always be paying customers. The firm can thus charge a higher price for the software than it otherwise could. an open standard . networks gets more valuable the more nodes it includes. it becomes more useful the greater the number that speaks it. According to what is known as the 'network externalities assumption'. thereby increasing the value of the software" . 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 .in effect. "In Linux the pressure is reverse.and as commercial projects develop they diverge from each other. The ideal model of this logic is the language. 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. His argument is that the market will force the software industry itself to decommission copyright on their products. But institutions. Oz Shy also touches upon comparability although from a completely different angle. the other Linux vendors will immediately adopt that innovation. Users desire compability and not excludability. Therefore Oz concludes that "in a software industry in which all firms protect their software. since all consumers who were excluded from the market by not wanting to pay for the software now becomes users. This is part of the power of Open Source: it creates this kind of unifying pressure to conform to a common reference point . If one Linux supplier adopts an innovation that becomes popular in the market. a software firm can increase its profit by removing the copy protection from its software" .
Like the activity of many 'alternative' subcultures that are not directly defined by their political engagement.analysis. the joy . struggles over the form of life. The rightwing drift. They are constituent struggles. is a recent transition. political. 1999). the Internet is credited solely as a mobilising tool for traditional protest movements. 1999a). dubbed as the Californian Ideology. creating new public spaces and new forms of community" . Unfortunately. However. The hacker community is positioned at the forefront of this contested field. it runs counter to the roots of hacking. 1994). However. "the struggles are at once economic. resistance must become technological too. and from high-tech libertarianism. and not surprising given the hegemonic dominance of the corporate sector in the United States and the greater stakes in free software for business. Basic motivations to engage in free programming are the rush of technological empowerment (Sterling. Free software has an immense advantage over property software in not having any economic barriers to entry. and cultural and hence they are biopolitical struggles. The Ideology of Hacking Earlier I have stressed that as command increasingly is executed through technology. The hacker movement is a political project. which essentially is a reaction against Taylorism (Hannemyr. radical theory often overlooks the potential of free software and hacking. The chief uniting and mobilising force for the hacker underground is the common enemy of Microsoft (Bezroukov. Oz's reasoning applies neatly to the non-market existence of free software. and in the low technological threshold that allows amateurs to engage in it actively. Opposition to Microsoft draws both from socialist anarchistic principles. which in turn puts pressure on the commercial products on the market.
and their existence is linked to the burgeoning material surplus of informational capitalism . Paradoxically. as dropouts getting by on social benefits.of un-alienated creativity (Moglen. the surplus wealth is appropriated by non-producers. while the activity in the United States in relative numbers are surprisingly low . A prerequisite of free programming is that those involved are sustained outside of market relations. 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" . Social surplus is defined as the material wealth produced in society above the level required by the direct producers of that wealth . or even employees within computer companies . as students living on grants. 1999). Britain and the Commonwealth are less involved in free programming than countries on the European continent. despite that the operative .e. A recent study shows that the most frequent contributors to Open Source. a community).by their parents. 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. in relation to their population. are social democratic north European countries. i. Hackers are generally supported financially in diverse ways . and therein lays the origin of the class society . However. and the sense of belonging to a community (commonly recognised by hackers themselves as 'ego'. 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. but they are on collision course with the commercial agenda of turning the Internet into a marketplace. Those values may not seem political at first sight.
is the wealthiest country in the world.S. Is this just another example of what Schumpeter labelled capitalism's 'creative destruction'. whose business models are founded entirely on free software. numbers) disproves notions on post-scarcity gift-economies. Pamela Samuelson discounts the copyright industries as "dinosaurs of the Second Wave" . 2001). not absolute. Therefore the hacker movement is political in a second sense. where young new enterprises challenge and replace old business practices? That is the view of many reformist critics of copyright.language is English (Lancashire. (in relative. Quite to the contrary. Lancashire alleges that the low engagement in free software in the U. we have to examine how companies exploit free software. even when hackers do not take direct part in that struggle. because the U. This irrational but non-coercive source of income. To confront this position. Robert F. Users prefer to pay Red Hat as it provides them with a sense of reliability. Young. Capital and Community The antagonism between free software and property software can be questioned when recalling that big corporations are now backing Open Source. Cygnus and Red Hat being the most prominent. Chairman of Red Hat. suggesting that their lobbying for copyright protection is isolated and ultimately doomed. the study supports a connection between general welfare systems and commitment to non-commercial projects. through branding. explains that his company persuades customers to buy software that they can have for free. 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. There are even companies.S. Young adds in a critical comment. generates only a fraction of the .
Certainly then. inhouse and waged labour will be pushed out by the market imperative to cut down on personnel expenses. Though this is not the place to develop this thought further. instead they can enlarge profits in other ways. Another way to put it. the employment and wage situation for software programmers. is that companies seek to slash labour costs . major companies utilise Open Source if a market leader. and therefore that corporate engagement in free software prerequisites an existing monopoly. If communities become direct producers of value for capital. Corporations established in a property software regime would be stupid to decommission copyright. but from its agents (communal or commercial). unless forced to (Young in DiBona et al. The dangers of not making a critical analysis could not be demonstrated more clearly. such as distributing software to promote sales of hardware or sell supportive services. there are contradictory interests between the two sides. 1999). accessibility. for the innovative capacity of the community. Other companies have little to lose. monopolises the market. innovative labour of the community. usually Microsoft.. Inevitably. will be dumped .profit of property software. Open Source proponents exclaim. Companies like Netscape are attracted to free software. Supporting Oz's prediction. I suggest one central point of struggle. But since the profits are inferior. If companies are allowed to tap the unpaid. and flow of profit allowed by the license especially as companies try to . the livelihood of many in the free software community. 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 . not originating so much from the formal activity (free or closed software). lost to would-be Open Source revolutionaries. having property monopoly themselves.
On the contrary. whether it is multimedia entertainment. the contradiction of intellectual property strikes at the heart of the 'Third Wave' industries. becomes a producing entity in itself. entrenched capitalists. In the last section I will bring in historical materialism to outline the likely conflict. and thus offers a pure model of the network externalities assumption. backed by the capitalist state. Intellectual property seeks to establish the necessary conditions for sustaining a market exchange economy of the future. software producers. The free software community provides the first and most complete example of how a collective learning process. It is not a last stand of singular. . It is daft to believe that multinational corporations would broadly support counter-strategies against this agenda.maximise the distance between the free labour pools engaged in any project while narrowing the conditions of use of the result . communication. 'Second Wave' dinosaurs. To put it in a catchphrase. we are not witnessing a death struggle. That assumption. as opposed to an economy based on free gifts. is a consequence of non-rival goods. but the coordinated will of the universal capitalist class. other than incidentally when they stand to profit from 'crossing the line'. or the general intellect. biomedical conglomerates or other industries based on cutting-edge science. the core of the future economy. What reformist critics of copyright like Pamela Samuelson miss is that the sectors troubled by unauthorised copying are not entrenched. but preparations for birth. Code is essentially a language. 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 . stating that comparability rules over excludability.
. 1984). It is also a Use Fetter.. Of course. so enforcing equal exchange would hurt everyone (Barbrook. which could be supplied for a . 2000). Self-interest ensures an 'economy of gifts'  as opposed to exchange. research and innovation becomes the heart of the economy . which for most part has been structured on a reward system independent of market demands (Shavell and Ypersele. there can be no such thing as an ideally beneficial patent system [. as in the case when poor people in the Third World are denied life-saving drugs..] what happens when the friction becomes the machine?" (DeLong and Froomkin. In the case of the computer industries.. companies have occasionally suppressed new technologies to ensure resource dependency (Dunford. But if the prediction is correct that "[. that the intellectual property regime has become a Development Fetter to the emerging forces of production. 1999).because "everyone takes far more out of the Internet than they can ever give away as an individual". For example. 1998). capitalism has never worked optimally even when measured with its own narrow benchmark. "[. innovation in the industry slowed down .] specific to the informational mode of development is the action of knowledge upon knowledge itself as the main source of productivity" .then we are justified to ask..that is. . The strengths of gift economies in organising immaterial social labour is suggested by academic research.. Since it is rooted in a contradiction. In the last three decades scientific research has rapidly become privatised  through patents and the transition of funding from governments to the corporate sector (Nelkin. 1987). a MIT study suggests that after it became common practice in the sector to enforce patents.. 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 now plausible to claim..]" .
Arguably.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. Take the fast food industry for example. the distinguishing and most promising feature of free software is that it has mushroomed spontaneously and entirely outside of previous capital structures of production. Since the rise of capitalism. Social labour is making inroads within capitalist production itself. but is equally potent in agriculture and manufacturing. what will happen when workers. It has built a parallel economy that outperforms the market economy. but are withhold in order to preserve the exchange value and commodity form of the medicine. there is a shift today from property to leases. The ascendancy of leasing is evident not only in the information sector. Without the coordinating function. capital loses dominance over labour. we are required to examine the accuracy of its prediction that the relations of production are affected too . which needs to utilize the cooperative and communicative capacity of the workforce in order to stay competitive . as the dominant form of control over the means of production. However. with all their new responsibilities for quality. This can be taken as an indication of how the productive forces are undermining established relations of production. which leads Lyon to muse: "The question is. Small units of self-owning . 2001). 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" .negligible cost (Bailey. ownership assigned to private property has been the primary vehicle to enforce 'effective power'. From Property to Licenses .
By allowing that the product can be sold. to preside over the development of the productive forces at the given time" . one supporting a proprietary regime and the other a communal. Capital does not own the installations per se. and shorter product life-cycles. more diversified products and services. whether it is software made by hackers or crops that has been cultivated by generations of farmers. but still reap the lion's share by commanding the license. 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. Similarly. from the farmer to the franchised outlet. but between opposing forms of licenses. whether it is a brand. and disposed. 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" . This leads Christopher May to a drastic proposal. 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. or emerges triumphant after epochal conflict. and thus owned.producers run most of the supply chain. patent. There are some real advantages on the production side to capital in transcending the property regime: "In a world of increasing competition. This strategy is essentially the route taken by the Free Software Foundation and copyleft. is the class best suited. most able.different incarnations of the intellectual property regime. or a copyright . Who will prevail? Recalling historical materialism. The line is not drawn between property and licenses. one of its foundation states that "the class which rules through a period. 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" .
Initially. and supports their case of a rising mismatch between collective labour power and an economy based on private property. but is contested and resolved in struggles between social actors. on one hand it prospers from the technologically skilled. foreseen by Marx 150 years ago. on the other hand it must suppress the knowledge power of those users to protect the intellectual property regime. other parts of the community will be radicalised and pitched into the conflict. the direction of history is not reducible to emerging productive forces. It is to this cause that the cheerleaders of the Californian Ideology so readily line up to serve. 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). It underpins the claim by Autonomist Marxists that production is becoming intensively social. But for every successful 'management' of social cooperation to boost profits.Conclusion Marxism offers a theoretical framework to analyse the contradictions inherent in the current intellectual property regime. To have it both ways. communities will turn into hotbeds of counter-hegemonic resistance. conveniently mapped out by historical materialism. The productivity of social labour power impels corporations to subjugate the activity of communities. unpaid. It is here that Marxism has its role to play as a toolbox of critical analysis and ideological awareness. Ultimately. The success of free software in outperforming commercial software is a showcase of the productive force of the general intellect. In this struggle the hacker . But here rouses a contradiction to capital. which makes the demarcation line between friend and foe harder to draw. social labour of users. capital can only rely on its hegemonic force. Inevitable.
I stress.movement is important. because they can challenge capital's domination over technological development. .
htm.uwo. 1999) offers a convincing argument of why and how information technology can be transformed from its present.About the Author Johan Söderberg is currently finishing his second degree in Illustration at the Falmouth College of Arts. is Richard Barbrook. The most informed writer I have come across who directly addresses hacking issues from a radical perspective. whose works from the 30s are still stunning in their actuality and perceptiveness.com Recommended Reading I would like to recommend four books for further reading. Nick Dyer-Witheford's book Cyber-Marx. . Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High-Technology Capitalism (Urbana.fims. 1999) is what you are looking for.: University of Illinois Press.ca/people/faculty/dyerwitheford/in dex. anarchistic state into a mechanism for regulation and surveillance. Lawrence Lessig in his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (New York: Basic Books. E-mail: soderbergjohan@hotmail. well-researched overview on contemporary Marxist's response to the Information Age. In addition. I would like to promote Lewis Mumford. His texts are easy to find on the Internet. Ill. England. It is available on the Internet at http://www. The material for this article draws from several years of research and will eventually be part of a book on the subject. To get a comprehensive.
1993. 8. Wright. The origin of the word 'patent' is equally intriguing It derives from 'letters patent'. and Sober. slavery. When it has reached this point. 266. p. 478.cnn. p. 1992. see Shiva. 2000. Cohen defined it in his book Karl Marxs Theory of History: a Defence. 1998. see also J. "Beyond a certain point. 1997). and Sober. 7. "Opinion: Is free software communist?" at http://www. 749. serfdom. Braverman. although to be fair he claims he never made it. 3.S. the development of the powers of production becomes a barrier for capital. 37. and is necessarily stripped off as a fetter. according to James Wallace. hence the capital relation a barrier for the development of the productive powers of labour. quoted by Barbook (1998). Attributed to Bill Gates. 1992. .e. volume I. Castells. p. 1996. Marx's writings on the subject are sketchy. p. (New York: Wiley. 331. enters into the same relation towards the development of social wealth and of the forces of production as the guild system. accessed 4 March 2002. 5. Cohen. 6.com/2000/TECH/computing/02/11/free. Kelly. italics in original. 2000. capital.s oftware. p. Levine. Wright. I will follow the authoritative. 9. 4. Overdrive: Bill Gates and the Race to Control Cyberspace. orthodox interpretation of historical materialism as G. i. 11." Marx. wage labour. open letters granted by European sovereigns to conquer foreign lands or to obtain import monopolies. Advocated by Baran and Sweezy as criticized by Shiller in Mosco and Wasko. 2000.idg/. 1988. and opinions among contemporary Marxists differ on what he really meant. p. which notes that "That infamous assertion is often attributed to Bill Gates. 133. Levine. 10. p." 2.Notes 1.
14. 65 and 66.. Illich mentions the telephone. They do not require previous certification of the user. p. 1973. Robins and Webster in Mosco and Wasko. 72. Dyer-Witheford. 22: "Tools foster conviviality to the extent to which they can be easily used. as often or as seldom as desired. 221 ff. p.. 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. pp. 1999. The intensive expansion is the colonisation of culture. But as soon as the outside is engaged it becomes internalised into the capitalist economy and the search starts for a new 'outside'. consisting of workers. 2000. and this expansion is thus intensive rather than extensive" (Ibid. see Hardt and Negri. p. p. 15. p. but instead of collapsing "capital no longer looks outside but rather inside its domain. Their existence does not impose any obligation to use them. For a comprehensive overview of capitalist expansionism. Dyer-Witheford. 1999. Hardt and Negri propose that globalisation is this point where the whole outside has been internalised." As an example of a convivial tool. . by anybody. 272). Expansionism (imperialism) is driven by capital's simultaneous need to push back labour costs (wages) while refining the production capacity. Arguably. p. Rosa Luxemburg predicted that capitals infinite expansion would collapse when confronted with the finite boundaries of earth (Ibid. 1988. 12. Illich. 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. Consumer markets in the capitalist nations. They allow the user to express his meaning in action. The use of such tools by one person does not restrain another from using them equally. 13. 180.11. 228).
New inequalities will be created in the accessibility to information (Rifkin. 88. 2001. Marx. 1984). 1988. 28. Lessig. 1999. 29. 20.eurolinux. 2000. as well as the education system (Noble.wto. 106-107.com/wired/archive/2. The efforts made by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to 'educate' the public. borders at times on the absurd.. May. See the EuroLinux Alliance. scarcity had to be endured.ideas _pr. accessed 4 March 2002. 298. pp. the means made available by the computer revolution (Lyon. 42. Hardt and Negri.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/legal_e. 37. pp. 1994. 1977. 19.html. 25. Cultural expressions are expropriated and branded (Klein. The privatising of information will have wideranging consequences.16. Bo Göransson and I have further explored this approach in a paper yet to be published. 1994). today. Marx.org/. 24. Anarchists in the midst of the consumer society foresaw this contradiction already in the purely material sphere. Hardt and Negri. 1998). 17. 27.hence the importance of the state in the present era". accessed 4 March 2002. 2000. according to . And surveillance becomes necessary to guard immaterial property. Jefferson quoted in Barlow. 30. 18. 72. 2000).03/economy.wired. p. 1990. 23. p. p. 704-705. In Dosi et al. 1999). See http://www. May. 26. it has to be enforced . at http://www. p. 21. Bookchin. p. at http://www. 285. Science is dependent on commercial interests (Nelkin. 1993. 2001. For example 26 April. "A century ago.htm accessed 4 March 2002. 22. p.
directed against the hacker community (Sterling. 37. see http://www. .htm. a nationwide law enforcement campaign in U. my emphasis. accessed 4 March 2002. this is precisely the reason why strong incentives exist to create a finegrated.int/news/en/worldip/world_ip. 147. 1999. p. as is expressed in the deceitful phrase 'user-friendly technology'.. 35. Gail L. 31. should be seen in this light. 1999. 36. full-scale panopticon. .P. no one which is worth pursuing. May. Lessig. 33. In Kahin et al. One crucial difficulty to the I. 40. Operation Sundevil.. 34. However. If we fear that computers provide such capabilities.. Where before a copyright holder may have had a distributor who was selling tens of thousands of copies of a work." This reflection is only reassuring if we assume that regulating tens of thousands of individuals is an impossible feat. p. 126. 97. Its real momentum lies in lessening the skill level demanded of the average user. 32.S.wipo. p.. "an opportunity to highlight the significance of creativity and innovation in people's daily lives and in the betterment of society". There are simply too many targets.. Bettig. p. 1994). 1997. Grant.WIPO. 2000. is the World Intellectual Property Day. 2000. p.] [A] large part of infringement is being shifted from profit making activities to cost reducing activities. 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.. agenda was identified by Scott in "Copyright in a Frictionless World": "[. quoted in Lessig. direct repression against highly skilled users plays only a minor though complementary part in the agenda of securing the system from independent subjects. 140.
confirms this prediction. Congress made it a felony to write and sell software that circumvents copyright management schemes". 45. 476. Castells. any more than blacklegs and informants prove that capital and labour live in . global networks where everyone is able to report local news. DiBona et al.fnal. p. volume I. 2002). Another novel initiative is the encyclopaedia Wikipedia.38. The start-up of independent media centres.gov/fss/documentation/linux/. and Young in DiBona et al. p. see http://www. Young in DiBona et al.. 44. p. 41. because the media conglomerates "[. 9. 2000. 46. Moglen stated that news reporting is the next area where anarchy will triumph.. p. 59. 1999. 17. Lessig. "In the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.. "Copyleft uses copyright law. 1996. but flips it over to serve the opposite purpose: instead of a means of privatising software. 119. 105. 43. 1999. Moglen. 42. 1999.. accessed 4 March 2002. Hardt and Negri. p. 1999. See http://wwwoss.. a soft drink supplied with its recipe. Ockman and Stone. 2000.. p. p. 40. 124. cit. p. 49. it becomes a means of keeping software free". The latest experiment involving copyleft is OpenCola. which is written and edited in an Open Source manner (Lawton.. 1999. Richard Stallman.indymedia. 39. 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'. 47.] with their overpaid pretty people and their massive technical infrastructure. in DiBona. Op. are about the only organizations in the world that cant afford to be everywhere all the time:quot. 108.org/. 56. accessed 4 March 2002. p. p. 1999. Shy in Kahin and Varian.
151. 364-365. Mumford. but not large enough to sustain a capitalist accumulation process. 48. the modern classless society. Cohen. which is nonprimitive communism.. of a size sufficient to support an exploiting class.. 2000. orphans and 'prudent sedentary people' constituted a rentier class independent of the wage labour relation. "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." This stage comprises slave and feudal societies." This epoch of history is sometimes thought of as 'primitive communism'. In .. Cohen distinguishes four historical stages based on the quantity of surplus that the society generates. Mumford wrote in 1934 that widows. p. 50. therefore notlabour and surplus wealth are posited on the other.]" and "the extension of this system to the community as a whole is what I mean by basic communism". and this class contributed for a disproportionate part of the societies' cultural production.harmonious marriage. pp. 49. the small incomes of the rentier classes have been an obvious help in the arts and sciences to their recipients: a Milton.] indeed.. Just as there always will be some that abandon their convictions for personal rewards. "In the second stage of material development. the antagonistic relationship guarantees that others are radicalised and will 'join ranks'. "[. a Ruskin existed by such grace [. a Shelley. "At the first stage. 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. emerges". It then grows still further until it becomes so massive that capitalism becomes untenable. and the fourth and final social form. 1986. a surplus appears. a Darwin. productive power is too meagre to enable a class of non-producers to live off the labour of producers. "At stage 3 the surplus has become generous enough to make capitalism possible.
"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. code writers tend to be absorbed into the commercial sector. Indeed. 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". and that in the United States with its cutting-edge computer industry.. manufacture and information. and to a secondary degree European. If predominantly American firms. italics in original. Lancashire's observation that geography matters in terms of where Open Source programming takes place. its development is the possibility of the suspension of these opposites". Marx. 52. . p. Part of the explanation to this paradox. 54. is that the software industry is bigger in the U.. 55. The location in which it operates is outside in the society at large [. offered by David Lancashire and to which I concede. embark on a model of tapping the free labour power of global communities. Slashdot is part of the Open Source Developers Network (OSDN).] is not defined by the four walls of a factory.]".. it could add another pipeline of resources from the poor nations to the powerful ones. and more likely to requite Open Source programmers. "The organization of the cycle of production of immaterial labor [. actualises a different concern. Lancashire. Samuelson. p. 51.reality the development of wealth exists only in these opposites: in potentiality. 2001. many Marxists would repel this claim. In this case 'the Second Wave' refers to the futurist Alvin Toffler's (1980) three waves of agriculture. Lazzarato in Virno and Hardt. 401. 53. but it is a central concept in Autonomist Marxist thinking. 191. while to some extent paying in-house labour back home. 1996b.. 1993.S.
which . 294. The gift economy has been actualised anew by the hacker community as captured in the phrase 'information wants to be free'. 2000. 1999.. The term 'gift economy' is not entirely applicable since the central function of a gift is the personal obligation it imposes. proprietary licenses".itworld. 1996). however I will use the term 'gift economy' since it has become customary. Thus. anyone is welcome to use their code and "lock it up" behind their own closed..1996. the analysis and application of mechanical and chemical laws.. 136. Hardt and Negri. and affective networks". Joe Barr writes that GPL is the prime target of whispering campaigns because it is not corruptible.. communicational. arising directly out of science. The phrase 'gift economy' was first used by Marsel Mauss (1988) to describe the economical organisation of pre-capitalist societies. accessed 4 March 2002. p. and wrote "[. firstly. Hardt and Negri. This fact of being within capital and sustaining capital is what defines the proletariat as a class". 2001. 56. "Why does Microsoft care about these differences in open source Licenses? Well. It would therefore be more appropriate to speak of a 'library model' (Frow. "Live and let license. 59.] It is. and the creation of social surpluses take the form of cooperative interactivity through linguistic.com/AppDev/350/LWD010523vcont rol4/.] subject to capitalist discipline and capitalist relations of production. p. p. 53. all activities in society become " [. "Today productivity. 57. 58. Barr." http://www. 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. 1992). Because the BSD licenses are not "copyleft" licenses. wealth. they have made good use of code from the various BSD projects. Later situationists adopted the term in their criticism of the alienation in capitalist society (Debord. Marx anticipated this development.
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