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« Free software activists should accept that software freedom is not an isolated issue, with its own, completely independent value set, but is just one aspect of a wider struggle for justice, and that we can never achieve full software justice under capitalism. Once freed from this isolated logic, the next obvious step is integrating it into our advocacy, critiques, and educational material. »
flowing.systems/2016/09/24/a-s

@lunar I don't understand where the argument against capitalism plays out in this article. It wasn't a short article, and yet it didn't really make an argument. Libre software exists because of capitalism. There was demand and developers stepped in to fill that demand. People like Stallman and others have benefited from libre software.

@h4ck3r9
Capitalism is based private property and making profit. Libre software was born out of challenging private property and volunteer work.
I'm puzzled on how you can say that libre software exists because of capitalism.

h4ck3r9 @h4ck3r9

@lunar it exists to fill a need. Capitalism is not a synthetic construct, it is an organic construct. Within the construct of capitalism libre software can exist because it is offered by some and consumed by others. But I think I realize now that our terms may not be mutually defined. Perhaps the article is considering capitalism as some sort of over lord structure with masters and slaves?

@h4ck3r9
I'm still not sure I understand. As soon as something is produced to fill a need, it exists because of capitalism?

@lunar not exactly. Capitalism is simply the term. It is defined by action and reaction. A lot of people seem to think that capitalism is some sort of political viewpoint. It is simply a term that describes an action and reaction. That is my problem with the article really. The author seems to think that capitalism is a faction that drives a political ideology, but in reality it is simply a descriptor of an observation. He really isn't making an argument.

@h4ck3r9
Still trying to understand:

So because we live in a capitalist society, libre software was produced by capitalism?

@lunar I think the disconnect is in definition. For the past couple of decades the term capitalism has slowly been redefined. Now it has a pop definition and its actually definition. We don't have a capitalism society. In fact I rather despise the word. Society is based on give and take. Economy, relationships, government, and etc. A number of political scientists observed this phenomenon and called it capitalism because they saw that all transactions are based on what is

@h4ck3r9 are you suggesting capitalism is a word to describe the natural dynamics of society?

Because it's not, really. Capitalism is not the whole thing and other things can exist outside of it (there were societies even before capitalism became a thing).

@alxcndr I never said that it describes everything about society, simply that it is a descriptor of a norm in society. It is neither right or wrong. It belongs to a segment of society that deals with our transactional life such as economy, relationships, and etc. I can expand on it if you'd like, but blaming capitalism for things is just ridiculous because capitalism is simply an objective reality. It is not a power structure. Nor is it a device of government or corporation.

@h4ck3r9 but it's not an "objective reality". If it was, then it would be natural and it's not. Most of western governments pass laws following capitalism ideology. The result of that can't be an "objective reality".

@alxcndr it is natural. It doesn't need the laws that are passed. In fact, most laws passed in defense of capitalism are actually anti-capitalist. They hinder the natural flow of transaction. Like I told Lunar, the idea of capitalism is simply an observation of nature. The problem comes into play when you consider the different forms of capitalism. Anything other than simple capitalism becomes a device rather than an observation. Even within socialism, there is capitalism.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr Nooooooo. Market economies could be argued to be natural- though applying that term to anything composed of humans seems a little silly to me. (Unless you applying it to everything, in which case the term is redundant.) But capitalism? The free market? No. That is an artificial construct. The 'natural' state of markets is to be unfree - for power and wealth to have accumulated to the greatest possible state, for there to be significant barriers to entry and extensive anticompetitive practices, etc, etc. Anything else requires constant human effort.

@Angle @alxcndr why is applying the term natural to humans silly? Are we not natural?

Also, do you not enjoy owning a cellphone? Or owning the shirt on your back? Do you not enjoy being an individual?

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr Because the commonly accepted use of the term natural is "Not made by humans". Now, I actually agree that we really should consider ourselves natural - but in that case, literally everything is natural, so the term is completely redundant.

As for owning things, that has nothing to do with capitalism or market economies. You can own things in a gift or command economy. You just can't sell them. Same with being an individual. Being allowed to sell things in no way implies that you're allowed to have your own opinions, tastes, and quirks. Thats a product of the society and government you live under.

@Angle @alxcndr actually, look up the definition of capitalism. If you claim that you own your hat or phone, then you are a capitalist.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr No, thats not how that works. People under the USSR had possessions. People under pre capitalist societies had posessions. Hunters and gatherers living in gift economies had posessions. Thats not unique to capitalism or market economies. :/

@Angle @alxcndr I didn't say that you don't own things as a communist. Communism is a construct. Capitalism is simply a term for the observation that people own things and own themselves.

As for the booms and busts, you have to follow the markets and you will find out that the majority of booms and busts were either inflated by government or a corporation of some sort. The government of course is a form of a corporation, so I guess we could just blame corporations.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr Inflated? Sure. But the boom and bust cycle is inherent to capitalism.

On another note, blaming corporations is all well and good, but it seems corporations are an inevitable product of capitalism, so. :/

@Angle @alxcndr corporations are indeed a construct of man. But shouldn't we tend more towards non-violence? The kind of power corporations exercise over people which manipulates the free-market and causes things such as poverty and so on is violent coercive force. That is when we get into political philosophy.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr I mean, yeah, I'd agree with getting rid of corporations - but thats easier said then done. Here, lemme give you an interesting link:

slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/

This is about some of the ways that human endeavors can go wrong. It tells us why we're living in the society we're living in, instead of a utopia like we all feel we should. And not just capitalism, but all manner of human endeavor. It's very interesting, I'd recommend everyone read it.

@h4ck3r9 @Angle so would you agree that forces against capitalism is also natural? I mean governments and people with guns and such are also humans, so it is also the product of nature, don't you think?

Using the "natural" argument is silly in itself, since there is no creation that is not natural.

@alxcndr @Angle oh of course I agree. It is natural for those in power to lust for more power and seek to control the people through their markets. However when one natural force subverts another natural force which is the underpinning of natural order, then chaos will ensue.

@h4ck3r9 @Angle I don't see the point of following a natural order.

Also, it just feel like you're paraphrasing Adam Smith. But no anthropologist found any primitive society satisfying the description of a natural capitalism. Most of these societies were close to anarchism, or reciprocity. Capitalism has been born, slowly, but born nonetheless. It is as much of a construct as socialism.

@alxcndr @Angle I don't think we are using the same term to be honest. We use the same word, but the semantic implementation is very much different. Adam Smith did observe capitalism and write about it. The only thing that makes capitalism seem to fade into the background is governmental ideals such as Feudalism, socialism, monarchy, and even democracy.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr No, I agree. You';re using capitalism to refer to market economies in general, while I'm using it to refer to a particular kind of market economy.

@Angle @h4ck3r9 I agree as well, but the one h4ck3r9 refers to never existed in the first place.

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 Ehh...? Thats a point of dissension. I'd say it did exist - to a degree, for some people. :V

@Angle @h4ck3r9 no anthropologist ever encountered a primitive capitalism. Maybe there had been initial accumulation but it was far from a "natural order".

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 No, I'd agree - capitalism is a thing for advanced societies, not primitive ones. It requires a lot of technology, population, a stable government, etc. Basically, look at the Nordic countries if you want a good example of how capitalism is actually supposed to work. (And yes, I'm using capitalism differently from most everyone else here, who just use it as "The economic system we currently live in." I guess you could argue I'm using it wrong? Eh. :/)

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 Ironically enough, the most capitalist countries in the world are probably the Nordic countries - also agreed to be some of the most socialist countries in the world. funny how that works... :/

@Angle @h4ck3r9 no that makes sense. Capitalism has to save itself to be sustainable. The nordic countries use socialist measures to prevent capitalism from collapsing on itself.

That's why the basic income is slowly making it's way in the front of the stage. One day, most western countries will have some form of basic income to avoid having ultra poor people while producing tremendous amount of economic value. If they don't they will have to face riots.

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 Mmm, I agree? I'm skeptical of basic income alone to do it. What we really need to do is minimize wealth inequality - and with it, inequality of political power. Basic income might be a good way to do that, but it might also be a way for the wealthy and powerful to avoid doing that. I don't know... :/

@Angle @h4ck3r9 a good way to tackle all of that is to forbid lucrative property. That is, if you work in a company, you have to own part of it. There should not be an arbitrary separation between the one who own the means of production and the one working on it.

But that either mean you have a more modest society, or you use economical value surplus to invest in the previous described cooperatives in a global public way (subventions). Of course this surplus has to be democratically managed.

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 Eh, I don't think figuring out how to do wealth redistribution is particularly hard. A highly progressive tax rate works fine. The problem is finding the political will to get there, and keeping that from changing. :/

@Angle @h4ck3r9 uh no. The problem with taxing capitalism is that you don't get rid of it. And someday it just comes back at you.

Reforms don't work or we would be there already. (A good example is France righ *now* which is going backward on social protections for workers).

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 Mmm, that's true. I'm not sure that forbidding lucrative property will really work all that better, though. As I said earlier, I think that a just and equal society is an artificial construct, and as such will need constant effort to maintain. I suppose there are probably ways to minimize that? Not sure which ones would be best though. :/

Actually, I've been working on a thing for exactly this kind of discussion! It's a new kind of Internet forum designed to allow large number of people to discuss complicated topics and reach meaningful conclusions. You cn see it here, if you're curious:

agora-2866.nodechef.com/forum

@Angle @h4ck3r9 yes it requires constant effort. The thing though, is that we don't have to live with the lies of nowadays capitalism. There are terrible cognitive dissonance in our societies that prevent us from just cooperating. People are willing to do good. But following dogmas kills all of that. A better society organize such cooperation, culture and understanding such as the effort needed is reduced in the end.

Thanks for the link, I will take a look.

@Angle @alxcndr what about www.minds.com

I'm on there and I would love to discuss these things with the both of you! I'm glad to find people who actually engage and challenge my thoughts. Sometimes I am in an echo chamber because no one ever challenges me.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr Huh, I've never heard of minds.com. It looks interesting? Though obviously I'd prefer my own site, of course. :/

@Angle @alxcndr true. I only suggest it because I tried your site and it wouldn't load on my phone.

@h4ck3r9 @Angle of course he did observe capitalism. But that doesn't mean he was right about it's roots or origins. Also Smith never discussed about slavery and colonialism, how so?

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 This is why we constantly see markets trending in that direction - because it's easy and natural for them to go that way, like a rock rolling downhill. You can push a rock uphill, but doing so requires constant effort, and sooner or later it will slide back down again. The same with markets and being free or unfree.

@Angle @alxcndr the markets slide downward when unnatural force has been pushing them upward. That is what is called an "economic bubble". It is created by governments and corporations alike to drive a false growth in the economy. It is false because there is no natural need for the goods or services being produced.

@alxcndr @Angle the markets can also slide down when something that was a perceived need or want has been filled and that need or want no longer exists. The market tends toward equalization. It is actually very similar to the natural laws of physics.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr No, markets having a periodic boom-bust cycle is indeed an inherent part of capitalism. From investopedia, "The boom and bust cycle is a key characteristic of today’s capitalist economies."

investopedia.com/terms/b/boom-

@alxcndr @h4ck3r9 Furthermore, when I say that markets trend towards being unfree, thats not at all what I'm talking about. I'm talking about fewer and fewer people owning more and more stuff, and less and less capability to start your own business or compete with vested interests - both things that are integral to capitalism.

@Angle @alxcndr why do you think both things are integral? They are certainly integral to the economic construct called "state capitalism" or in more demeaning terms "crony capitalism". But not the simplest definition of the term, which is the term we are discussing.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr To be specific, the boom and bust cycles is a result of people investing in new businesses and creating competition - integral parts of capitalism. This means that you'll see periodic swelling of economic growth followed by busts as some companies fail. In capitalism, this isn't even supposed to be a bad thing - it clears away the companies that are under performing so their resources can go to people who will more effectively use them.

@Angle @alxcndr that is true. But the booms and busts would be more like waves if coercive force were not used to take from the many and give to the few. If you remember, the major driving force for the busts of the last 100 years have been from giant corporations used regulatory power and special financing to fund their ventures. Think Housing Crash of 2008 and Internet Bubble pre-2000.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr Oh, that I'd agree with. But again, geting rid of said coercive power is easier said then done. :/

@Angle @alxcndr it is nearly impossible to be fair. The coercive force is empowered by both the Democratic and Republican governments. It is empowered by the EU and across the world. The problem is that the government benefits way too much from helping other massive corporations at the expense of the population. There really isn't a way that I can see of curing it. Voting for the hot new candidate won't change anything.

@h4ck3r9 @alxcndr Well, again, read that article, the Meditations on Moloch. And yeah, I agree, but I don't think all hope is lost. We can beat Moloch the way we always have - by coordinating.

@Angle @alxcndr I will read it, but I have to say that I have always had my doubts. I think the evolution of this society will have to come to a close and be reborn before the evil can be cleansed.

@alxcndr but that is simply because socialism is based around the idea of controlling the natural order and replacing it with a synthetic system that only exists with the guns of government which enforce it. Capitalism in its purest sense needs no guns because it is not a construct.

@lunar given and what is received. Then came the Keynesianism and socialism and communism. Those were not new observations, but rather ideas imposed to control. So you see that capitalism is different because it was not directly or synthetically created like other theories. It was merely an observation.

@h4ck3r9
Honestly, I don't care if “capitalism” has an actual definition. What I know is that this very world where one is denied access to food, shelter, and health based on wealth, where very basic human needs like air and water are being spoiled for the benefit of a tiny fraction of the population, is not a world in which I want to live in.

@h4ck3r9
And there's no amount of libre software that will create a “free society” until that's the world we have.

@lunar that has nothing to do with capitalism.

@lunar that is why I didn't this morning explaining what capitalism is. Because it has absolutely nothing to do with any of that. Capitalist is not an entity or a theory of living. You can only attribute things like poverty to the governing body and the ones in power. Capitalism is a back end protocol, not a frontend driver.

@h4ck3r9
I care about making the world a better place. You seem to care about which word one must use. I'm not interested in such a conversation.

@lunar That's interesting. Why do you jump to a conclusion of what I care about? I also care about those things, but the poison generated by the misuse of a word drives a lot deeper than you may think. When you use the word capitalism and strap all of the world's woes to it, you are deferring the responsibility from the true culprits. The reason I care about a word is because the word capitalism has become a scapegoat for the true social illness.

@h4ck3r9
The article is about how some discourse around free software doesn't help either free software nor making the world a better place. Yet you engage in a discussion about the proper use of the world capitalism, or if capitalism is the issue. I don't think that's helpful. It's not helpful for me, and I don't think it's helpful for the world. Sorry.

@lunar the article was just a bunch of disconnected thoughts without any true unity or purpose. He may have had a point, but it was easily lost with his disjointed form of discourse. It is an example of very bad writing.