Open-Source Socialism?


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Correction of Disinformation:

Here is some shocking disinformation on Objectivism Online. (I can't post there because I was kicked out of OO.) Nobody in OO corrected this disinformation.

Here is the disinformation part.

--- begin quote ---

Stallman is a Marxist, but he's also a bit of a laughingstock. He's the Michael Moore of the open source movement.

The reason he's bitter is he was promising an operating system called GNU from 1985 onwards, and they still haven't shipped it. Despite getting a "Genius Grant" and haveing the support of MIT and foundations... At the same time, Linus-- some random kid from the Stallman perspective-- came out with his own product, beat GNU to market, and did it in a much more open and tolerant way-- insuring its market acceptance and killing off GNU as a potential operating system before it was released.

So, Stallman is bitter. ITs a classic example of a government funded project failing, and an upstart with less resources kicking ass...

--- end quote ---

I don't know if Stallman is a Marxist. He promotes 'free software' (freedom, not price) and is opposed to open source only because open source avoids controversy by avoiding the philosophy of software freedom. So far as I can tell, 'free software' and 'open source' are practically identical except open source avoids philosophy, which Stallman considers important. Stallman started the free software movement. Open source is a take-off from the free software movement to avoid talking about philosophy. Perhaps a wee bit like Libertarianism is a take-off from Objectivism.

Stallman is not bitter. GNU is alive and well. Most people call it Linux. The more complete name is GNU+Linux. What most people call Linux is a combination of GNU and Linux. Linux is the kernel. GNU is everything except the kernel. The 2 are a perfect fit.

There is a minor difference of opinion between Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds. Stallman considers proprietary software unethical; Torvalds does not. But Torvalds made Linux GPL.

GNU was not and is not a government funded project. And it did not fail. Stallman started the GNU project in 1983. At the time he had a university job. He quit his university job so the university could not have a copyright on GNU. But he continued to use university facilities. Now both GNU and Linux have many voluntary contributors. GNU and Linux are not funded by government and have nothing to do with government.

My source of information is mostly Stallman's lectures and Stallman's essays.

Windows 8 vs Xubuntu:

I recently bought a new computer with Windows 8 on it. I find Windows 8 in some ways inferior to Xubuntu, one of 300+ distros of GNU+Linux. No work spaces. Firefox crashes on Windows 8 where it didn't on Xubuntu. Firefox lost its memory. Inferior music player, lacking 2 important features. No equivalent of Synaptic, which easily accessed and installed tens of thousands of software packages, mostly zero price. Installing some programs on Windows 8 causes Firefox and Chromium to get screwed and plasters them with advertisements and it takes a long time to restore the computer to normal. That sort of thing never happened with Xubuntu. Age of Empires, a Windows program, runs on Xubuntu via wine, but does not run on Windows 8. In the list of recommended programming editors on the Euphoria website, there is no programming editor for Windows that comes up to Kate, which gives me all the advanced features I want and only what I want.

For more pro-GNU+Linux propaganda, check out this web page.

If GNU+Linux is socialism, it's not bad; maybe I should rethink socialism. But I don't believe GNU+Linux is what Ayn Rand meant by socialism. I don't see any violation of rights in the GPL.

0 AD:

This is a free software / open source project roughly similar to Age of Empires. It is a work in progress. It works on both Windows and GNU+Linux. Zero price. It is a quality piece of work. Not bad for socialism if that's what it is.

0 AD

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The two major failings of socialism are its over-reliance on altruism and its economic inefficiency. The idea that there can be "property" in a context with no scarcity, such as the digital world, is a contradiction in terms. In the digital world, it doesn't matter if people "steal" software or hoard it on their computers. Once software comes into existence, everyone benefits from its rapid and widespread distribution. In many ways, open-source software is Hayekian economics in action because it utilizes dispersed, local knowledge to improve products from many different angles. The only remotely plausible justification for intellectual property is utilitarian - that it will preserve a financial incentive to create where none would otherwise exist. I think it's an open question whether granting creators content monopolies through top-down government administration is really necessary (I suspect that it isn't), but it's worth pointing out that there are many ways of making money through software that don't rely on selling pieces of plastic, there are ways of protecting software without IP, and not everyone is motivated primarily by money. According to the logic of IP defenders, something like Wikipedia should not be able to exist or would be so unreliable as to be unusable.

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1. Well, yes, the program is free, but technical support is not. Individuals and firms earn money from supporting GNU and other open source and similar products. Expertise pays.

2. Objectivism Online is not much different than OL, just a board for some hobbyists in philosophy who chat about current events. It is not as if any serious firm or individual in software said that. When it shows up on Slash Dot with 100 comments, then give it merit.

3. How much does OO (or any Objectivist message board) earn for its creators? Personally, our complete, collective inability to monetize our beliefs is evidence of something much deeper about "capitalism" (so-called) and the self-defined "radicals" who think that they (we) are its truest proponents and exponents.

4. You probably know this by heart: "Throughout the centuries, there were men who took first steps down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision. The great creators - the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors - stood alone against the men of their time. Every new thought was opposed; every new invention was denounced. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered, and they paid. But they won. No creator was prompted by a desire to please his brothers. His brothers hated the gift he offered."

This is not so well known:
The Creative Genius
Far above the millions that come and pass away tower the pioneers, the
men whose deeds and ideas cut out new paths for mankind. For the pioneering
genius to create is the essence of life. To live means for him to create.
The activities of these prodigious men cannot be fully subsumed under
the praxeological concept of labor. They are not labor because they are for
the genius not means, but ends in themselves. He lives in creating and
inventing. For him there is not leisure, only intermissions of temporary
sterility and frustration. His incentive is not the desire to bring about a result,
but the act of producing it. The accomplishment gratifies him neither
mediately nor immediately. It does not gratify him mediately because his
fellow men at best are unconcerned about it, more often even greet it with
taunts, sneers, and persecution. Many a genius could have used his gifts to
render his life agreeable and joyful; he did not even consider such a
possibility and chose the thorny path without hesitation. The genius wants
to accomplish what he considers his mission, even if he knows that he moves
toward his own disaster.
Von Mises, Human Action, "Action Within the World" (1966 ed., pg 139)
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2. Objectivism Online is not much different than OL, just a board for some hobbyists in philosophy who chat about current events. It is not as if any serious firm or individual in software said that. When it shows up on Slash Dot with 100 comments, then give it merit.

3. How much does OO (or any Objectivist message board) earn for its creators? Personally, our complete, collective inability to monetize our beliefs is evidence of something much deeper about "capitalism" (so-called) and the self-defined "radicals" who think that they (we) are its truest proponents and exponents.



plus your little smear

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Brant, whether you are personally a collectivist or an Objectivist does not predict your success in the marketplace. That is one of the complaints of the anti-capitalists, actually, as noted by von Mises. Mises noted that in his time the intellectuals complained that murder mystery writers they (Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Raymond Chandler), outsold "serious" fiction. But, as von Mises pointed out, they did so by "ripping the lid off high society" and exposing the upper classes to common ridicule. So, it was a two-edged sword.

And here we are.

Today, my wife and I had lunch with a Wireshark study group. Wireshark represents $94 million worth of free software. Is it communism? Is it altruism? Is it the Misean genius at work, pursuing a non-marketed wild goose toward a marketplace?

In The Fountainhead Homer Slottern was a successful businessman.

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  • 5 years later...

Some time ago on Objectivism Online the idea was put forth that Windows is capitalist and Linux is socialist. And Windows is so much better than Linux because capitalism is so much better than socialism.

Seems to me a better comparison would be Unix vs Linux. In a scientific experiment you are supposed to keep all variables the same except the one variable you are testing. Unix and Linux are very nearly the same except one is closed source and one is open source.

Another point is if we think of Windows vs Linux as a race, if it's to be a fair race the 2 runners should start at the same time. MSDOS  started in 1981; Linux started in 1991; so Windows got a head start of about 10 years. Windows 3.1, released in 1992, was a graphical wrapper for MSDOS; then Windows 95 was a thing on its own, not dependent on MSDOS. Linux started with command line, nongraphical, then sometime in the 1990s went graphical and now you hardly ever see a command line but you have it if you want it.Seems to me Windows had a head start of about 10 years but in the foot race Linux ran faster and perhaps now is passing Windows in some ways.

Then to my surprise I saw this video.


If Windows represents capitalism and Linux represents socialism, then what is happening here?


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