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Capitalism

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libervisco's picture
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Eh, a yet another libervisy topic. Eye

Well, when I didn't knew better I actually thought Free Software was basically anticapitalism. I didn't think it was communism or socialism either though, but something entirely new.

However, what I eventually realized was that there is a difference between capitalism that we have today and the original idea of capitalism. Capitalism that we have prevalent today is actually not a real capitalism at all. It is distorted and perverted. If free market is one of the core features of capitalism then Free Software was supposed to be dominant from the very beginning. Instead though we still have a widespread proprietary software which may be all but it's NOT pro free market. Therefore proprietary software is anti-capitalist, at least if you'd consider capitalism to be what it was originally meant to be.

But apparently the term has been spoiled. Capitalism today doesn't bring up the picture of original capitalist ideals, but rather one of the distorted capitalist ideals. So when you say "capitalism" today, you mean proprietarization of everything for the sake of money (and power) - the world centered around selfishness so much that the sense of community is practically lost. It is about self and nobody else.

So, I think capitalist ideals were mostly good ones and developed with good intentions. The only problem is that they relied too much on human selfishness to work, and thus it didn't work because human selfishness was in the end what corrupted it.

Capitalism missed the balance.

What we need is a slightly modified capitalism where free market truly works and emphasis on selfishness (benefit of an individual) is more balanced with emphasis on selflessness (benefit of the community). Free Software movement is fighting for that kind of world!

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True, capitalism has indeed changed, although it now poses a greater problem. Small shops, small businesses, and people are being moved out of where they live, and the shops closed, businesses are bought and people are losing their lives.

Large companies do this, and need to be regulated more, or, shut down, still new to anti-capitalism/anarchy(not so new) and animal rights so bear with me Smiling

libervisco's picture
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Yeah, big corporations and industry is pushing small and medium businesses out. It's a common trend.

Big corporations aren't inherently bad though. Sheer size of them and their success is not what is the problem. The problem is that the system allowed many of them to succeed in ways we can't exactly call a fair business. Microsoft is probably the best example of a corporation that was allowed to develop itself to where it is by abusing these system loopholes and often even go around the system when they grew to a point when they're powerful enough to do that.

Microsoft is in my opinion the embodiment of the capitalist system we are in (the ill-capitalism actually). It is like when you look at Microsoft you're looking at the face of the distorted capitalism we have.

That said, it is apparent that it needs a huge reform.

supermike's picture
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Freedom is the independence of man. Liberty in the sense of the early USA referred to a concept of natural rights given by God, which is to mean to say that liberty was better than freedom because it was controlled by only what God wanted you to have and yet was protected by God. It was to also say that no government could take that away from you. USA's brand of justice referred to the separating and defining of one's freedoms against another's. USA's brand of capitalism, honed by these three concepts, were supposedly to have a hands-off approach at first, oddly enough. Much later on, the concept of a free market controlled by justice and a legislature was introduced. Unfortunately that's not what happened. Justice didn't prevail. Thus you see our era of Robber Tycoons like J.P. Morgan, the Vanderbilts, Carnegie, Rockefellers, etc.

In the example of Microsoft, a court should have decided long ago, from all the obvious proof that's clearly laid on the table, that it was impinging upon the freedoms of other capitalists, not providing a fair market. One successful way to defeat such a huge monopolist is to pretend that the thing they sell you for your money has no value. FLOSS is an example of this, to some degree.

Unfortunately, somehow, somewhere along the way, the USA lost its brain. They used to be such a smart bunch of folks up until the 60s. But come the 70s, they lost their brains on too much humor, laughing themselves into stupidity while the rest of the world got serious. Now we have a citizenry here who know little about the value of protecting free markets, and we have legislators who know extremely little about technology. If you try and explain to legislators why you can't tax the local goods on the Internet, for instance, because there is no concept of geography when it comes to the Internet, because people can just leave your tax zone on the Internet and go to a tax-less zone -- these legislators give you a blank stare and then say, "Well, I have to protect my revenue system that pays the bills, and it's losing money to the Internet every day." They just DO NOT GET IT!!! Sorry to shout, but it's exasperating. Almost makes me want to become an ex-patriate. I've spoken to quite a few county, state, and federal legislators and they don't get what I'm trying to say.

As for huge reform, I doubt highly we're going to see it. It would require a world populace that actually cared about technology so much that they'd vote about it, and I don't see that happening. We need a lot of tiny reforms. I really think that's the only way to fight this.

I surely do hope, at least, that Microsoft is broke up. That would be a first step. However, it doesn't just end there, however. There are a few other companies, and their practices, that one can find fault with as well.

What would be fun is if the EU decides that the Microsoft that exists in Europe should not be considered the Microsoft that exists in the USA, and, therefore, should be broke up under antitrust laws, as well as have each of these trusts have limits placed upon them in order to control the free markets.

I also don't want to see monopoly break-up shams. For instance, in the USA, when Standard Oil (owned by Mr. Rockefeller) was broke up, it was mostly broke up and each part was given (or bought soon after) by each of his sons and relatives, thereby nullifying the breakup. Another example is that when AT&T (the main phone company) was broke up, the RBOCs were given too much power and no one could compete against them. Those are breakup shams, if you ask me. We don't need that with Microsoft. We need a real breakup.

Now if anyone could find the papertrail that corroberates something I heard recently, that the encouragement of USA H1B Visas was mostly to push out the older mainframers and UNIX stalwarts in favor of new blood with newer technology (Windows), then you may have a case here in the USA for an antitrust. A lot of USA tech workers have been laid off in the USA since 1999. You'd hear a massive uproar if this papertrail were every found and publicized.

a thing's picture
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My social studies (sciences) teacher has a quote of the day every day on the board. Today it was:

Quote:

Under capitalism, man exploits man.
Under communism, it's just the opposite.
(forgot who said it)

supermike's picture
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I'm not a fan of socialism, either, though. I don't trust large governments and believe in provincial governments. The USA, unfortunately, has fallen away too much from that, perhaps because the provincial governments started acting like retards with laws like "no chickens in the front seat" and so on. Socialism, to me, only means huge taxes and graduated tax systems. I would prefer everyone being taxed equally by a percentage, flat tax, or being taxed by sales taxes, or a combination thereof.

Communism, to me, means fake communism, with a secretly wealthy, secretly murderous tyrant and his secretly wealthy sycophants, while everyone else stands in huge lines waiting on a government that cannot provide for them because the sloths don't want to work without profit incentive.

To me, profit incentive is just who we are as humans. We compare ourselves to others and want a ladder rung to step up on if our neighbor does better than us. We work harder, earn more profit, and defeat our neighbor. It's just our nature.

We may end up giving the software away for free in FLOSS, but darn if we ever give the tech support away for free. We are capitalists by nature, each of us.

BTW, imagine how bad off we'll be if Microsoft ever says, "We'll give away free Linux and *nux open source project tech support, and actually provide this really nicely." We'd be up the creek.

a thing's picture
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"supermike" wrote:

Communism, to me, means fake communism

Remind you of anything?

"supermike" wrote:

To me, profit incentive is just who we are as humans

...that live in a capitalist society all our lives.

libervisco's picture
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Thanks for an insightful post about US capitalism situation supermike!

"supermike" wrote:

One successful way to defeat such a huge monopolist is to pretend that the thing they sell you for your money has no value. FLOSS is an example of this, to some degree.

Actually I don't believe software ever had the kind of value that proprietary software companies like Microsoft in cooperation with the bad law give it. They have artificially created a situation in which proprietary software can be treated as if it was a physical property so that they can charge for every single unit of that property. We all however well know that software is not like that. It is basically information and there's not "number of units of software". There may just be number of copies, but one copy of software simply cannot be compared with one unit of a physical product.

So, who is pretending here is not FLOSS, but the proprietary software industry. FLOSS is actually exposing the reality and fighting this Microsoft led industry with that - a plain simple reality, a truth that must hurt them bad!

"supermike" wrote:

They just DO NOT GET IT!!! Sorry to shout, but it's exasperating.

It is the same here in Croatia and I believe many other countries. It indeed poses a question; how can these politicians and legislators make good laws regarding technology when they don't even know what it is? It seems to me we need to have engineers upthere in the government as lawmakers for the tech fields of industry or if nothing else their prime advisors.

"supermike" wrote:

We need a lot of tiny reforms. I really think that's the only way to fight this.

I tend to agree to that. As much as I'd prefer a huge and sudden reform it may not be possible. But as long as we are able to move forward instead of backward then we ought to be ok, ultimately. The question is, do we move forward? Well I think Free Software movement indeed does move forward, but the industry that opposes us keeps arming itself as we do (with more legislations and things like DRM). Seems like the gap is getting bigger. It *might* explode at some point, hopefully to our advantage.

"supermike" wrote:

What would be fun is if the EU decides that the Microsoft that exists in Europe should not be considered the Microsoft that exists in the USA, and, therefore, should be broke up under antitrust laws, as well as have each of these trusts have limits placed upon them in order to control the free markets.

Well, I think it has every right to do that, or at least in other ways severely restrict Microsofts operations in EU.

libervisco's picture
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"supermike" wrote:

I'm not a fan of socialism, either, though.
(...)
Communism, to me, means fake communism

Socialism and communism are yet another examples of failed social systems, ones that missed the balance.

I've said it a few times (or many) on libervis, but I'll repeat my stance on it here. The balance we need is the balance between what I called "cooperativism" and "individualism". Tbuitenh later started writing an article that gave me another way to describe it - as balance between selfishness and selflessness.

As long as a system allows too much of either it fails to work in the end. In my view, capitalism gave too much leevay to human selfishness over the apparent need to exist as part of a community. As a result we have people who care so much more about themselves compared to how much they care about the community that they ultimately still depend on. It's very bad.

Communism on the other hand did it in an opposite manner. It emphasized this community-ism, the existence as part of a community much more than ones individual rights and needs. And of course.. in order for this to work, somebody had to enforce the rules, and since individuals were too stripped of their individual rights, the community wasn't able to run itself. The government took on the role and with all that power and control, you know what the effect was. Even today, we see a form of this failed system in place in China.

I see the fundamental principles of the Free Software movement as principles that can give birth (and already are) to the modified system that actually does hit this balance. It builds on capitalism and uses the fact that this is a technology-powered world, an information age, to its advantage. This system meets the two opposites; the cooperativism (selflessness) and individualism (selfishness) into a mutually dependant symbiosis.

In other words, it is in ones self interest to cooperate. Therefore in such a system, to fully be able to satisfy this human urge for profit, you NEED to respect the community in order to be able to cooperate. You wont be able to satisfy your self interest without cooperation. That's the kind of system that the Free Software, and the new Free Culture movements are transforming the current system into.

supermike's picture
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Well put. Cooperativism and individualism. I'll make a note of that. Note also the sayings that are on the side of the oracle temple at Delphi in Greece. Nothing in excess.

libervisco's picture
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I've never been to Greece. :smt001

Whistler's picture
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just to quote some guy from that "Red Flag Linux" company in China:

"The only way to solve the current problem of Linux is to make it under the monopolic control of a big company."

I know this is totally absurd, but again this guy is an influence guy among Chinese GNU/Linux users!

btw I don't think China is still "communist" in any way. It has actually gone totally too far from what Karl Marx said, and IMO it's just another monopolic system. And neither do it encourage any kind of "community" anyway, only controlling (just like the above quote from that "Red Flag Linux" guy).

free-zombie's picture
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ok, I was too lazy to read this all.
(this will contain a few historical notes)
Let's start on communism. As such, fine principles. Social Democracy is fairly widespread, and communism is just a little more. What makes communism bad has nothing to do with the principles that it is based on, it's its history: Lenin creating a dictatprship that greatly influenced the world. In 1917 or '18, the SPD, the German social democrats, split. Some were for Russian communism, some were for German (Marx => original) communism. This illustrated how distorted the word communism is. Same goes for capitalism. which was nicely explained here before.

Let's see, America dumbing down. If you look at the 14 points of Wilson (call for world peace by US president in WW1), and then at the Iraq war, the obvious reaction is WTF. The Kurds should be independant as a seperate "nationality", especially as the Ottoman Empire was emphasiced here. Recently, I read the wikipedia entry on Antitrust (and related stuff). Read that, look at Microsoft => WTF.
While we're talking about big evil coorporations, AOL is another candidate. A prominent AOL buisiness strategy is to swallow possible competitors (M$ comes to mind again), see Netscape (which is now not even properly Mozilla based) and ICQ. Modern capitalism: crush those who didn't get a chance to build up capital while the money was still green (play with cows... no ... words) and take the customer's money. Censor the Internet as prople could talk negatively about Capitalism or the Chinese government.

so, who will compose the "NXFDo rant about the World's system"

supermike's picture
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Whistler, it's especially interesting for me to hear your perspective. I don't often hear the perspective from China.

libervisco's picture
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Well indeed. It's probably fair to say our capitalism is not any much better than the chinese system (whatever to call it). It is bad, just in a different way.

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