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by excerpt of Clay Claiborne's article
Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011 at 7:50 PM
Clay Claiborne of Linuxbeach looks at free software and the internet as empirical evidence that forms of communism are possible.
The first time I ran the Linux Operating System on a computer was after Christmas 1995. I was mesmerized. Here was something that I previously had assumed was impossible! Here was a complete computer operating system, an interconnected, inter-dependent body of software code, then still in early childhood, that has grown into an adult that is every bit the equal of anything that has ever come out of Apple, IBM or Microsoft, and it has been created by thousands of programmers working in voluntary co-operation without corporate structure or bureaucratic controls. Here was a CDs worth of congealed high tech labor, the kind of thing that I had learned to expect to pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars for, and it was being given to me for free, or at any rate, for the cost of the CD! While every other computer OS that I had previously purchased from a corporation came with serious license restrictions and copy protections, this one allowed and even encouraged free copying and wide spread distribution. And while all of the above companies regarded the source code of their software to be of the highest level of trade secrets, these Open Source people made the source code as available and as free as the software, insuring that anyone can not only see it on demand but modify it as they like as well! The Linux movement even learned from the mistakes that caused Unix to splinter into dozens of sects and have built successful policies that have so far avoided the splits that tend to weaken any new movement. 20 years later, a unified code base is maintained as a commons by dozens of corporations and hundreds of Linux distributions.
Software is also a very unique industrial product. While tools are slowly consumed in its production, almost no raw materials are required. It is almost completely the product of human mental labor. It contains within itself a very special unity of opposites. It is at once the perfect capitalist product and the perfect communist product, and for precisely the same reason: While the development costs of copy number one may be very high because it can be so labor intensive, the utility is generally very wide so those costs tend to amortize toward zero with distribution, and the cost of reproduction for software is extremely low in the case of CDs and DVDs or zero when Internet distribution is used.
Linux represents a philosophy about property rights, openness, equality and cooperation that is an anathema to everything Microsoft and the other proprietary software companies stand for. That is why, in 2001, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." A revolutionary class war has been raging in a key sector of technology for the past two decades and what is even more important, the workers and progressives have been proceeding from victory to victory, even if few people have looked at it that way.
Marxists have always held that the state was the product of class antagonisms and the final form of government or state they advocated for was in fact no state at all, that the end goal of communism was a classless society in which government as we know it is replaced by something almost mythically referred to as the "free association of producers" or some such. "Free association of producers" is actually a very good description of this new model of industrial production that has been created by the Free Software Movement. Far from being a Utopian theory it is being proven to be the most effective organization for creating the most complex systems, all the new super computers run Linux, while the capitalist legacy method, far from being the only workable model for OS development, is beginning to show the real limitations of that system, as exampled by the most recent Microsoft offerings.
Please read the entire article at DKos on the link. You may comment on DKos with registration, or on this site without.
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