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

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

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

For example. the custom of printers and authors to have their name listed with their creations began as a law demanding this practice. but in order for the king to keep track of disobedient writers.the legacy of copyright. Limiting the number of publishers was a key strategy in the government's arsenal to regulate writings (Bettig. The expansion of patents and copyright has grown since. 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. Marxists on Information Marxists have been dismissive of literature giving priority to information over labour and capital in production. 1996). 2000). and to downplay the continuity of capitalist industrialism in the new era . a global treaty on intellectual property. It entered a new stage with the signing of the TRIPs Agreement. not to ensure the originator due credit. in 1994 (May. Claims that information would replace labour as prime source of value helped to raise suspicion among Marxists. to forget that information is the result of human labour. 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. 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. 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. Marxists rightly criticize the post-industrialist advocates for failing to take account of power relationships.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and thus there are no central administration to put pressure on (Markoff. immediately replaced it [35]. Freenet and Gnutella. 2000). two new file-sharing programs. or else they will bypass the security systems [34].problem for designers of secure systems is that encrypted information has to be accessed at some point. with state coordination backing the common interest of the property regime. 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 [36]. 2000). Pressure by the record industry convinced the . and convenient to operate for users with the lowest possible skill. and then turned into a commercial outlet. Such devices would have to be designed for special purposes (one machine for playing games. these programmes are not dependent on any central server. A technology supporting the property regime must build a black box not comprehensible to the smartest user. One suggested strategy to prevent circumvention is to bind software in hardware devices and thereby introduce a material component to the immaterial goods. law will urge stray capitalists to fall back in line [38]. However. This leaves a potential gap that is possible for hackers to explore. When Napster was closed down by legal action from the recoding industry. 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" [37]. The future outcome of security systems will be resolved in present conflict. and so far hackers have kept up with encryption (National Research Council. Unlike Napster.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

as well as the education system (Noble. the means made available by the computer revolution (Lyon.hence the importance of the state in the present era". And surveillance becomes necessary to guard immaterial property. 24. 23. pp. May. p. 1998). 26. Jefferson quoted in Barlow. Anarchists in the midst of the consumer society foresaw this contradiction already in the purely material sphere. p. 2001. today. 1999. 298. 42. 1990. 17. 106-107.htm accessed 4 March 2002.wto. 2000). Hardt and Negri. 1994). 28. borders at times on the absurd. Marx. Bo Göransson and I have further explored this approach in a paper yet to be published. accessed 4 March 2002. p.org/. 2000. 18.html. pp. 20. 22. p. according to . at http://www. 25. In Dosi et al. New inequalities will be created in the accessibility to information (Rifkin. p. 2001. 285. it has to be enforced . 1988. See http://www. The efforts made by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to 'educate' the public. 1984). 30. 1994.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/legal_e. 27.16. 19. 72.wired. 704-705. See the EuroLinux Alliance. Lessig. at http://www. For example 26 April. 37. 1999).ideas _pr. p. Hardt and Negri. 2000. May. Marx. 1977.eurolinux.com/wired/archive/2. Science is dependent on commercial interests (Nelkin. Cultural expressions are expropriated and branded (Klein. 1993. The privatising of information will have wideranging consequences. 29. 21. "A century ago.. Bookchin. 88. accessed 4 March 2002.03/economy. scarcity had to be endured.

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

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

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

1993. In this case 'the Second Wave' refers to the futurist Alvin Toffler's (1980) three waves of agriculture. Marx. offered by David Lancashire and to which I concede. "The organization of the cycle of production of immaterial labor [.]". and that in the United States with its cutting-edge computer industry. its development is the possibility of the suspension of these opposites". Lancashire. Slashdot is part of the Open Source Developers Network (OSDN). p. many Marxists would repel this claim. embark on a model of tapping the free labour power of global communities... 401. is that the software industry is bigger in the U. 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". 2001. manufacture and information. it could add another pipeline of resources from the poor nations to the powerful ones. while to some extent paying in-house labour back home. Lancashire's observation that geography matters in terms of where Open Source programming takes place. If predominantly American firms. 54. p. Indeed. italics in original. The location in which it operates is outside in the society at large [. Samuelson.. 53.. actualises a different concern. .] is not defined by the four walls of a factory.S. 1996b. Lazzarato in Virno and Hardt. 191. and more likely to requite Open Source programmers. but it is a central concept in Autonomist Marxist thinking. 55. Part of the explanation to this paradox.reality the development of wealth exists only in these opposites: in potentiality. code writers tend to be absorbed into the commercial sector. "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 to a secondary degree European. 52. 51.

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

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