Is open source communist?

Is open source communist?

Summary: Is open source Communism in software form? (I had Karl Marx join us to set the mood.

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TOPICS: Open Source
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Karl Marx

Is open source Communism in software form? (I had Karl Marx join us to set the mood.)

That's the question asked by Kenneth Brown's Alexis de Tocqueville Institution,which draws backing from leading right-wing foundations.

Brown has been after open source before.A recent TechWorld column charges his whole argument is a Microsoft plot.

Would that it were.

Brown's new report, dubbed Intellectual Property - Left?is a political tract suggesting open source is the product of disgruntled employees, leftists, and those who hate the idea of private property.

So I want to aim this question squarely at political conservatives. Does this idea resonate with you? Is there something unsavory about open source, with Linux, and with the public domain, something politically incorrect?

Let us know in TalkBack.

Topic: Open Source

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Talkback

9 comments
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  • Awesome.

    Let's move away from the assumption that communism is
    inherently evil or wrong. If open source is communist, more
    power to it. The communist methodology seems to be producing
    pretty high quality software. Pointing to archetypal "evils" is
    always a sign of a desperate argument.
    somedudehere
  • RE: Is open source communist?

    Yes. Do you buy an open source car? Or house? Or go to an open source movie? Or wear open source clothing? Why should the creation of software be so devalued?
    softwareguy09
  • RE: Is open source communist?

    Of course it is, and the reason it works for software and not for real life is because with software, once the work of designing it is done, production costs nothing.

    If programmer A makes a good piece of software that programmer B needs, and programmer B makes a good piece of software that A needs, they trade, and both get a fair return on their labor.

    But their software can also be copied and distributed to huge numbers of other people essentially for free, even though those other people didn't produce anything of their own. In reality, it's better than this, since a handful of those other people will also be programmers, and will contribute back to the original authors, who then benefit even more from it. It's a win-win scenario.
    ZDnet Reader 43
  • Yes... and No

    From dictionary.com:

    Communism: A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.

    Technically, open-source can be attributed to communism, in that the source of an application is owned by the community as a whole, rather than held privately by a corporation.

    The stereotypical attitude on whether communism being "right" vs. "wrong" (or if you prefer, "good" vs. "evil") is another matter, however. What is the intent here, to get folks to agree that "communism is bad. open source is communism. therefore, open source is bad."? Correlation definitely is not causation in this case.
    stormwarestudios
  • RE: Is open source communist?

    Open source software is a communal form of ownership -
    so it is clearly a form of communism. Putting aside our
    Cold War biases, the issue with communism is that our
    society is based upon the principles of free enterprise - th
    e opportunity to make a buck. The engines of our
    economy are dependent upon this. If all commerce were to
    take a similar course to open source, there would be a
    complete breakdown of our society - without wealth
    creation (manufacturing and IP) there would be no wealth
    to distribute (services) and we would collectively get
    poorer and poorer.

    So why is this an important consideration? Because it is
    already happening. We are transforming into an
    information-based society and away from a manufacturing
    one. By downplaying the value of wealth creation and
    ownership in the information age, we are robbing
    ourselves of our standard of living. The stock market
    bubble was caused by the proponents of a free information
    economy getting rich by robbing foolish investors of their
    real wealth which they traded for hype instead of wealth
    creating potential. The housing bubble that followed was
    caused by our misguided government using the
    accumulation of debt as a solution to the shortfall of
    wealth generation was we shift into a new age. Only when
    we understand that the only form of "free" that works is
    "free enterprise" will we truly fix what is going wrong.
    JSALZ
  • Is open source communist? No.

    Economics 101. The economic problem is to satisfy unlimited needs with scarce goods. If you have unlimited goods, there's no economic problem. Since the cost of replicating software tends to zero and it can be replicated ad nauseam, the supply will be infinite-1, and for a given level of demand, the price of the equilibrium point will tend to zero. Please, draw your old school supply-demand curves. This is Economics 101, after all, and this has nothing to do with communism.

    If your price is so low, you have rational choices to make money and cover your costs, earning a profit too. One of them is to create an island where you can, through DRM and technological measures, create an artificial scarcity. Later, you sell your now scarce goods at the monopolist price. Apart from drawing the monopoly critics, this scheme has the risk of breaking. You must use the legal system to transfer the cost of this breaking to the hacker via lawsuits. DRMs have been broken in the past and will be broken.

    Another rational choice is to cooperate. Instead of designing from scratch a full-scale system, you design a small part of the system and engage the other players in a cooperative scheme (the GPL). All of them cooperate, share the costs of developing a full system, and enjoy the near-zero profits. In addition, they can support the software with real services, costing money, and they can use the scheme to share the costs of fixing bugs and to lower the support costs.

    Both options are rational and are well supported by neoclassic economic theories. This is compatible with neoclassic teachings, and, again, has NOTHING to do with communism.
    alejandronova
  • It's not about political agendas, it's about the value prop

    I think Alejandro makes some good points. To expand on it a bit, I think it's more of a question of value and how one perceives it. I value the resiliency, performance and flexibility GNU/Linux provides me in a number of ways, both technologically as well as philosophically. But that doesn't mean that I expect to get it for "free" from an economic standpoint. As a user who values FOSS, I have a vested interest in supporting the folks/businesses who create it. So,I donate. And whether it's called a donation or not, I'm still in some way exchanging money for goods or services. But I also get the satisfaction of thoroughly testing the software to ensure it works the way I need it to, and when I donate to the developers, I also get the satisfaction of knowing I helped financially support something that the world community at large could also benefit from. All while being able to do it in an affordable manner. I see all wins with this model.

    An apt analogy might be the case of the Fender Guitar Company. In a nutshell, they've made guitars that almost every other guitar manufacturer has either copied or improved upon in the course of 60+ years. And many of those copies have also made great contributions/additions/etc and have even done it cheaper. Yet Fender still outsells the competition year after year. Why? Because people *value* the brand name. There's a certain expectation of an experience, a "community" of Fender players, even a mystique. All of which keeps consumers coming back.

    I think that companies like Red Hat and to some extent Ubuntu get that. Compete on value and not on patents and artificial restrictions, and you can make a good living while doing the right thing for everyone.

    GNU/Linux doesn't need a political agenda, it needs a marketing team. :-)
    antistar10
  • RE: Is open source communist?

    Browns new report, dubbed Intellectual Property - Left?is a political tract suggesting open source is the product of disgruntled employees, leftists, and those who hate the idea of private property.<a href="http://tnxinvitationcode.wordpress.com/"><font color="white">tnx invitation code</font></a>
    zakkiromi
  • Ok..what is the Analysis

    someone mentioned that , There are no open source cars, no movies,
    First its not about Materials used, or Man hour put into making of Cars or MOvies,

    Second thing, most of the things people use could easily be shared ..atleast the knowledge and intangible things.

    This is Humanistic approch not political one ...
    Syed Nayab