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Don't overlook the ideological aspects of GPL.

It seems people have overlooked the straight connection of the GPL
(and FSF) to the marxist / utopian socialism.  The GPL makes perfect
sense if you read "The Capital" by Marx, which is perhaps the more
solid arguments against the "free market".

Its not my intention to begin a political discussion regading the
historical maniqueism of "free market" vs. "socialism". And please be
aware that I'm using the word socialism in Marx's definition. For him
Socialism would be the next step of democracy, where no one has has
the control of the means of production / distribution of goods).

If you look throught those glasses, it seem clear to me quite that the
BSD style license are also NOT as free (as in freedom) as many
advocates would think. If the GPL restricts developer's ability to
decide if he wants to control or not de "means of production /
distribution", the BSD style licences restricts the ability of the
"people" to have acess to your code. This is the reason why Bill
Gates's company calls the GPL Viral and "un-american", because, in my
understanding", the core of the "american dream" is that ability to
control your own production / distribution, or in plain english, own
your business, which is something that, technically, does not need to
exist in a socialist society.

Regarding the value of a programmer's work, it has been said that he
looses money when he works with the GPL. But I remind you all that the
value of any Material Good is the sum of all work done on it.  The
only way a programmer is truly paid for his work would be if all the
profit of his software is shared equally among all of those who worked
on it (proportional to their work, of course). Thus all programmers at
Microsoft are eternally underpaid, since they don't get to see mos of
the profit that Microsoft makes on their work. Bill Gates probably
doesn't even program anymore, and he's the one that get the most
amount of Money (or so I imagine).

Now, I could be misunderstood, and I'm definately going to be trolled
(I hope not! I hope people come up with smart arguments.) I'm not a
Social scientist, but I do support the GPL, and FSF because
essencially, they proved that a socialist society is possible, where
people divide their work force, work less for everyone to
profit. It makes sense that most people misunderstand the GPL. We live
in a capitalist society where most values are diferent then those that
the GPL holds high. People are worried about making money, and having
profit for ourselves. IMHO, those are not the most important things in
life. For me, if I can do something that I like, have good food on my
table, and don't get cold in the night, take care of my children, I
have practically 85% of my life in the "happy" status.

Bottom line is, please don't overlook the POLITICAL discussion that
the GPL license brings up. GPL isn't just an ego trip. It comes up
from an over 200 year old discussion about where humanity is going. If
you want to read more, read Adam Smith's book, and Carl Marx's
Book for starters...

Thursday, July 31, 2003

You have it exactly wrong: the GPL is not socialist in nature, it's libertarian.

Stallman himself has argued strongly against socialism and any form of coercion in licencing.  The political idea behind the GPL is that, if you accept it by using the software as foundation for development, you have agreed to a contract and are bound by its terms (namely, that the software you develop will also be GPLed).  If you don't want to GPL your software, don't use a GPL foundation.  It's as simple as that.  Stallman thinks it's wrong not to GPL your software, but he's spoken out directly against forcing anyone to do so.

Stallman has explicitly argued against any form of coercive action towards closed source software or companies.  In a socialist community, the state would require that software be GPLed.  In Stallman's utopia, software is GPLed because you make a free choice to GPL it, either initially or by choosing a GPLed foundation.  The only time the state enters into it is to enforce the contract if it's broken.

Justin Johnson
Friday, August 01, 2003

Acording to Marx, a Socialist society would be a direct consequence of Democracy: people would not be forced to live in socialism, it would eventually happen naturally. Like I said, I'm not talking about how socialism "happened" in Russia, or "happens" in China, or Cuba (I don't think it ever happened for that matter.)  I'm talking about a utopian Socialism, how it "would" happen. Essencially, I am agreeing with your, using diferent terms. (The eternal problem of definitions. Mankind needs to learn telepathy ASAP. :-) ) The GPL is libertarian (which would be the same as saying its "utopian socialism", at least in my reading of it.

Friday, August 01, 2003

If I don't get paid, I'm fucked.  I have a family that depends on me.

OK, who said that?  Certainly not Richard Stallman.

The Realist
Friday, August 01, 2003

I'm not an expert in Marxism, but I sense that you're misinterpreting both, Fabio.  In a marxist, socialist utopia, mankind's natural state is a communal being where his needs are defined by the state, and because this is a natural evolution of mankind, an inevitable progression of history (according to Marx), there is no conflict in this.  It's not the case that man has subjugated his will to the state, it's that, in his enlightened state, he sees that there is no difference between his needs and the state's.  However, in that scenario, the state is still superior.

In a libertarian utopia (where Stallman would be most comfortable), there is no state, no collective needs, no community at all, only the massed actions of free individuals who live and work together because they individually choose to do so.  If there is a government, it's a minimal body with minimal responsibilities that cover the barest necessities of maintaining a functioning locality--courts for resolution dispute, perhaps a national defence, perhaps police, and that's all.  And it's perpetually subject to dissolution by the individuals who chose to support or not support it.

In one, the state is all.  In the other, the individual.  The GPL is tailored for the latter scenario, not the former.

Justin Johnson
Friday, August 01, 2003

Doesn't socialism need state coercion?  I just went through where they explain that enforcing software copyright on normal people, needs a police state with its fingers in everything.  That's one of their reasons against normal copyright.  (I think they see the copyleft as a necessary evil that relies on enforcement too.)  So if socialism needs coercion, that would be incompatible wiht gnu.

You know, I don't know where you're from but socialism and communism are really bad labels in America.  Ends a discussion.  Justso you know.  I think all the recent topics are by trolls...  but if the people here are trollable, that's their right I guess..

rohan j.s.
Friday, August 01, 2003

"In one, the state is all.  In the other, the individual.  The GPL is tailored for the latter scenario, not the former."

well, Marx is complicated, and I'm not a social scientist. You could be right, and I incredably wrong. My main point was that we can't overlook tha the GPL is also ideological. it doesn't come up from no-where. it arrises from a very long, and complicated discussion that is directly, or indirectly, related to the nature of man, and where humanity is going. So, let's agree on the libertarian. . .. :-) (I always read that the true socialism is libertarian. . . but then again, we enter the eternal problem of the complexity of that discussion. . . )

Justin Johnson
Friday, August 01, 2003

"Doesn't socialism need state coercion?"

Like I said before. its quite complicated, and generally, the american press ignores it ("free market" proponents are very strong. See, Baby Bush and his "group". . . . )

"You know, I don't know where you're from but socialism and communism are really bad labels in America."

I needed to point out that the GPL is not just a license or a "copyleft" / copyright, or whatever. Its generally misunderstood because of its nature, which is not the same as the ones we are used to. That's why the hype about it. Its also the reason why people are confused by it as well.

But its true. Generally, to talk about socialism and communism outside the academic circle is frowned upon the US. However, it must be said its a very up-to-date discussion, considering everything that goes on the markets today have been written about before, althought some (very powerful) people enjoy denying it. . .

Regarding the need to work for money to "feed you children", don't you feel like you're becoming a Duracel battery for a machine. . . that makes money? Seen that movie before? . . .

Anyway, good-night to you all.

Friday, August 01, 2003

I am a capitalist.  I expect to get paid for my work, and I also expect to pay for work done for me.

I have used Linux since 1993, and am constantly impressed by the quality of the software.

As a professional programmer, I feel it only right that I "return the favour" already done me.  Anyone who thinks otherwise is just a parasite.

Nobody is forced to use GPL software, and nobody should be *forced* to use Closed Source software either.  This is all about freedom, the GPL is essentially libertarian in all its aspects.

David Basil Wildgoose
Friday, August 01, 2003

Capitalism isn't about money. Capitalism is about the principle of individual rights.

I'm not sure the political debate here is based on the reality - and and academic debate, as ever, has limited use.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Ummm.  Capitalism has nothing to do with rights it has to do with open markets and means of exchange.

The GPL isn't socialist and its true Stallman opines that if you don't want to be part of the GPL stay away from it.  However, the FSF also vigorously promotes the GPL as the only Free Software Licence and looks down its nose at Open Source.

The GPL as a way of licencing redistribution is frequently impossible to use by a commercial organisation that has a mix of open and closed sources.  It becomes increasingly risky to identify that which is closed and that which is open and if an organisation has a set of basic libraries or class definitions which it uses in both then it opens itself out to the charge of misuse of licence.

Yes people can say the copyright still belongs to the original author and they can do what they like to the closed source without let or hindrance.

But consider this.  A company X produces a product which contains a useful set of code that can have application outside of its own products.  Because of its belief in open source it releases a version of that source under the GPL.  it continues to sell its own products and they are a mixture of open and closed.

A third party picks up the GPL source and makes some small modifications, but they are useful.  The original author would like to make use of them in their own product, unused and still within their mixture of open and closed source.  But they are estopped from doing this because the code is only licenced under the GPL.

To take advantage of amendments (which could be bug fixes) the original company would have to negotiate with the third party for release to use their code.  This is probably a good thing in that instance, however, it does mean that if the company doesn't take that code up that it is effectively forked.

The GPL tends to increase the likelyhood of codebases becoming forked, especially if the original source is released by a commercial vendor. 

The alternative to this is to use something like the MPL which allows the combination of licences on a file basis (ignore their nonsense of triple or quadruple licencing) and so allows commercial organisations to make use of open source and closed source.

The GPL has the possibility of locking out the original author from future derivations of their work solely because they are a commercial organisation with sources under other licences (and they could be third party licences and client owned works). 

That is fundamentally why I dislike the GPL licence for my own purposes it is both viral and antagonistic to other licencing even if that other licencing is as free as itself.

Simon Lucy
Friday, August 01, 2003

"The GPL has the possibility of locking out the original author from future derivations of their work"

well, no it doesn't.

The original author can take advantage of their own work whenever and however they want.  It _does_ lock the original author from taking advantage of someone else's work without their express permission.
That seems entirely reasonable to me :)

....certainly if I released code under one license, Id be dismayed to hear that someone wa using it under another...

Friday, August 01, 2003

I think with a bit of luck the SCO / IBM / Linux case will hit court.
Personally I think SCO are wrong (commercially and morally) and I think they'll come a cropper over the fact they distributed Linux and the viral bit of the GPL will bite them. Seems like MS were right to warn over this.

Peter Ibbotson
Friday, August 01, 2003

>>Capitalism has nothing to do with rights it has to do with open markets and means of exchange.

Oh dear.

In an Economic context you're spot on. However in a political context, it's completely about the right of the individual (which incidentally spawns the economic definition).

Friday, August 01, 2003

Capitalism is about money by definition.

There is no other context.

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 01, 2003

Capitalism is not about money, but about markets.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 01, 2003

No! Capitalism is about money markets, in that they are needed to allow capital to flow, but you can have a system of social ownership within a free market economy, and a capitalist system within a closed market.

Stephen Jones
Friday, August 01, 2003

I'm not going to argue over the definition of word.

Although it's important when you use a word to define it's context otherwise people disagree when they're not necessarily disagreeing.

this might help you understand the point I'm trying to make:


Friday, August 01, 2003

"they distributed Linux and the viral bit of the GPL will bite them. Seems like MS were right to warn over this. "

MS had far too broad a warning.  If you follow the rules, you can use GPL code without fear.  However, people want to do a cut/paste and that is not the same.  Isolation of the code is not difficult.  Is it an ""extra" step?  Certainly.  However, hopefully you chose to use the software because it saved you many steps. 

As for SCO, their problem appears to be who owns what, as it appears they did not own as much as they thought, and  they had their own developers writing code for Linux.  It may come down to can they prove this was not introduced by their developers.    Personally, I think they were hoping to get bought out and are now stuck fighting IBM because IBM saw little of value to buy. 

Friday, August 01, 2003

On that topic, I just read that Scott McNealy is reported to have said this week to a group of business people at Sun's Technology Forum that you should not touch any open-source software unless you have a team of copyright experts which is capable of checking every line of code for copyright infringement.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 01, 2003

>>In an Economic context you're spot on. However in a political context, it's completely about the right of the individual (which incidentally spawns the economic definition).

I dont agree, for example slavery is certainly with the realm of capitalism (you can buy and sell everything else why not  other people) , however outside the realm of individual rights (a slave has very limited rights, by definition).

The problem with all debates like this is that Americans and Europeans have different definitions of socialism, and both are different from Marxs definition. In fact what Marx proposed was similar to a Libertarian position, no state, no government, no coercion. The Dictatorship Of The Proletariat was a stage needed to allow the transition from where we are now to where he wanted us to go, preparing the way, getting people used to the idea and then withering away as people ceased to need it. Of course it never quite worked like that the dictatorship remained and the ideals withered away.

The Anarchists claim that dictatorship is bad even if its the Proletariat doing it and so wanted to move from here to there in one go.  The Libertarian position is very close to the anarchist one, (much closer then either would really like to admit, in fact Kropotkin oft quoted by libertarians, was an Anarcho-Socialist). The real difference between the three is the means not the ends.

In Europe being a democratic libertarian-socialist with republican tendancies is easy, in the US its incredibly confused. Politics is like that.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Let's distinguish between free enterprise and unfettered capitalism (accumulation of economic power) which can lead to the absolute antithesis of free enterprise.

Actually let's not.  Sorry I brought it up... the discussion is unlikely to go anywhere.

I believe in fair compensation for intellectual property... I think almost all of us do.  How best to achieve this (hell, how even to define it), while also maximizing the benefit of IP to everyone is a really tough problem... neither profit maximization by whatever monopolist first manages to get a lock on some knowledge (whether by fair means or foul), nor utopian socialist fantasies are likely to provide a very good solution. 

The problem is bigger than software... probably the fiercest debates are shaping up in the area of medical discoveries.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003

Revision: make that fiercest battles.  I hear very little genuine debate, just reiteration of stances based on opposed interests.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003

Read Marx's original Communist Manifesto.  I did many years ago.

He thought the Dictatorship of the Proles would come about because they outnumbered the capitalists and so would win elections, i.e. in a democracy

I seems to remember there were 12 or so key things he wanted initially.  Most of them describe Western European social democratic consensus, e.g. pre-Thatcher UK, etc.

Personally I believe the welfare state and social democratic consensus in Western Europe, was backed even from the right, to strengthen democracy and undermine any communist-appeal.

Eventually he thought the state would disappear as unnecessary.

The Leninist version is the USSR etc. which kept some of his theories, but added the idea of a vanguard party enforcing communism even if against the will of the people.

Lenin was wrong because of complusion aspect, and direct contradiction of the Marxist ideals.

Marx was wrong  because it's a deterministic theory of history, and it doesn't take sufficient account of human greed (which can be a good thing for society if harnassed correctly - Adam Smith) or economics or new things that came after his time like consumerism.

S. Tanna
Friday, August 01, 2003

So now the benefit of GPL is that it is Marxist in nature?

That is it, I give up.

Friday, August 01, 2003

The neo-cons often claim to inherit from Adam Smith, while disregarding his observation that the invisible hand directing personal self interest towards public good can very often be subverted.

I'm having difficulty tracking in down, but I remember a line somewhere in the Wealth of Nations to the effect that 'never shall x men, engaged in the same trade, gather together but there shall be some talk of fixing prices' - or some such.

I agree with S Tanna re any deterministic theory of history being flawed.

Also any overly rigid economic structure will quite soon become suboptimal.  It needn't be socialist.  Communism failed economically not because of social ownership (in and of itself), but because of (inevitably imperfect) central planning.  I would argue that this same failing exists whether that planning is (ostensibly) public or whether the commands come instead from a few large private entities.  To my mind extreme scale, whether driven by left wing or right wing ideology is equally bad... in fact may amount to the same thing.

Unfortunately it keeps naturally arising nonetheless, because it leads to greater static efficientcy in the short term as well as worse dynamic efficientcy in the longer term... less 'todaic' (sp?) fitness in the evolutionary sense.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003

Interesting. I must admit I'm learning a lot here!!

>>I dont agree, for example slavery is certainly with the realm of capitalism (you can buy and sell everything else why not  other people) , . . .

But I guess the way I have interpreted Capitalism is that inidividual rights is the highest level definition From this I would not conclude that Slavery is not part of what I consider Capitalism because clearly it contradicts what I consider to be the very core of Capitalism.

Have a look at this 'tour' of capitalism for how I see it:

Friday, August 01, 2003

I wonder how determinisc Marx's theory is. I asked a professor once about that.  Firstly he told me not to forget that the Comunist Manifesto is only a small portion of Marx's Theory. He said that it was determinisc because he establishes a relationship between the ownership of the means of production / distribution and the structure of society, much like read the definition of capitalism. When he explained it, I understood that Socialism (and comunism for that matter) woudln't happen on its own. That's why he mentions a revolution. Its supposed to instate de Proletarian Dictatorship.  So its not determinist per-se, but rather, and in a sense "evolutionary" in concept. Something needs to "trigger" the revolution (and thus the concept of a revolutionary party... I don't personally believe in this).

Humanity has never been able to pass the "Proletarian Dictatorship". And we could probably list thousands of reasons why: because people were not ready for it, "human nature"  perhaps. Because the Capitalist system is viral in nature as well; Whatever suits your own argument.

However, its no surprise the Bill Gates isn't happy about the GPL. Imagine, if you own Microsoft and have lots of money, you'll use it to stay on top (as he has been doing for so long.) Why wouldn't other "owners of the means of production" do the same to keep a libertarian society from happening? I mean, they are on top, and probably want to stay on top. In a libertarian society they would either have to give it all up, or be forced to give it all up. For me, who live outside the US, it seems clear that the corporations pritty determine how the US government should be, and should work, and I'm sure at least some of you agree. . . Thus, it makes sense that socialism and comunism in the states are "bad labels"

Friday, August 01, 2003

Sorry for that messy post the key part of that should have read:

From this I would conclude that Slavery is not part of what I consider Capitalism because clearly it contradicts what I consider to be the very core of Capitalism.

Friday, August 01, 2003


You cannot judge the US based on what you read. All you are talking about is what the press reports and that only represents the North East and West Coast. Remember that the US is a huge nation.

The fact is that most Americans are either self-employed, work for private individuals, or small/micro companies. The percentage of people who work the mega-corporations is relatively small. And their influence is very much exaggerated.

Travel though the central United States and you'll learn what America is really all about (we can't call it the heartland for nothing).

But whatever you do, don't listen the the crap spewed out by the North East and Web Coast elites. Unless they are from New Hampshire. Anyplace who puts "Live Free or Die" on their license plates understands what it is all about.

Friday, August 01, 2003

stray path off topic cont...

One theoretical solution for the proper value of IP would be profit maximization with perfect price discrimination against every user.  In favour of this is that it would provide the maximum profit incentive to finance large research and development costs in those cases which demand it.  Against this solution would be it's impracticality, the difficulty of attributing proper value to the contribution of supporting or foundation work, it's inequity in sometimes just awarding collosal windfalls to the first past the post...

Another possible solution is profit maximization to the monopolist at a single price.  This doesn't allow those who might reap varying degrees of reward from some innovation
to pay correspondingly... eg. drugs aren't available to Africans, or else full devel incentives aren't available, or both...

Another possible solution might be that research projects, once submitted to some clearing house, are contracted out amongst competing bidders...

And so on, and so on.  I'm not suggesting that there will be one perfect solution, quite the opposite.  I think we need different markets and pricing strategies for different sorts of IP, and that we need to get past the notion of selling it like widgets on the one hand, or somehow just giving it away on the other.

I had a discussion with some Borland guys on some of this the other day.  They're very aware that a widget solution can't ever capture the full value of development tools, that either they'll be giving stuff away for cheap to guys that would pay much more for it, or they'll be losing many of their more marginal users if they charge too much.  One idea they're looking at would be to have licences for X hours use of the tool.

Maybe I'm babbling...  I see all the IP licensing issues as interrelated... even if the connection to GPL is only tangetial.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003

"One idea they're looking at would be to have licences for X hours use of the tool."

What a great idea.

Friday, August 01, 2003

>>One theoretical solution for the proper value of IP would be profit maximization with perfect price discrimination against every user. 

and in English?!

Friday, August 01, 2003

Marc, I see the interests of certain companies as really being quite influential to the Bush administration... even though in general I agree with you that the U.S. is a much bigger and more diverse nation than this sort of elite Washington oriented preoccupation would suggest - ie. that most Americans regard much of it as academic and far removed from their daily concearns.

I'm not much of a conspiracy theoriest.  Ever read anything about the Davos / World Economic Forum or similiar 'get togethers'?  To me the most striking thing is how even the most powerful people in the world at least appear to feel as though they're driven by global economic forces and trends that are largely beyond their own control.  Maybe some of them are partly faking it, but I don't think most are.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003

Marx, capitalism, communism, whatever. I do not know what really drives Stallman and the likes, but I do happen to know that there's an awful lot of pictures of Stallman on the net which show him posing with a gun right in his hands. And yes, eventually he's a member of the NRA. Now try to fit that into the philosophical system you built around the GPL.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 01, 2003

Sorry Yanwoo, just meant that you somehow charge exactly as much as your thing is worth to each prospective customer... not that there is any practical way of achieving this... or that it would (in general) be desirable... I was just chucking it out there as one of the extreme case 'strawman' positions.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003


I haven't built any philosphical system around the GPL.  It sounds as though various people have tried to align somewhat contradictory philosophies with it.  Stallman would seem to be mostly an anarchist.

Me, I'm hoping we might move on to consider and discuss better ways to compensate producers for IP than the widgetish $X.00/copy model.

In particular I wish there was some way that good individual or small company contributors could make a healthy living from it, and have the full benefit of their work realized by the larger community rather than just one individual client at a time.  Maybe some revenue sharing system amongst the writers of separate components or modules.

I don't have a solution, just some thoughts and questions.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003

There's already a means to accomplish that: release your source code without extensive documentation, just to a point where people understand the big picture and trust you, plus provide a license which protects your intellectual property and prohibits commercial exploitation unless a separate commercial license is purchased, plus provide a "DONATE" button on your download site. If you get some 100.000 downloads in 100 days, but only 10 bucks in donations, take the site down. If you can make a living out of it, happy you. If you can't, decide whether you continue work on it, or find a decent employer. In that case, you have at least a nice portfolio and some facts and figures (downloads) to show off.
That's how Movable Type works, and indeed it does work.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 01, 2003


One of the beautiful parts about the GPL is that you might contribute with 5 lines of code, or 10 lines of code, and still get to use "full fledge software that works", so to speak.  You have to bear in mind that its a completely diferent diferent social paradigm. The things that are valued are diferent. You don't have to write the whole software, but you DO have to help out by contributing bits and pieces.

Its as if everyone lived in a farm, and everyone had to work only 3 hours a day for everyone to eat the same amount.  You don't charge for your work, because you profit is bound to the food you eat. Now, we have to remember that in this model, development is slower, however, theoredically, everyone profits equally.

Now, if you apply this model inside a capitalist model society, it wont work. There will always be someone in the capitalist society (the owner of the means of production) who works less, and profits more. Thus you are obligated to sell your work-force in order to survive (and thus, the viral nature of Capitalism). This is why the USSR fell. It was forced to set up capitalist models of development to counter the american development model. Thus leading to the centralization of all the power. And dictatorships are never good.

I think i got it right. Please correct me guys.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Here you are: your concept is utterly idealistic and won't fit into reality. Actually, I do not care about the GPL. I've already lead out some means which I believe might work.

The world which the GPL takes as a premise does not exist. Why? Take a look at your example: you assume that anyone can join in the work at a farm. That's not true for farming, and even less for programming. You need a minimum of expertise, even for doing the most simple task. Do you know how to get cow from a milk? I doubt you can intuitively do it without proper instructions. Do you know which crops to pick up, and when, or even plant new ones? Most certainly you don't know it before someone explained to you.

As someone pointed out previously: a lot of OSS/GPL zealots seem to have never worked on real programming projects. Nor have they a basic understanding of farming.

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 01, 2003

Actually Fabio, it is quite the opposite. When everyone profits equally, there will always be someone who works less and profits more. Capitalists on the other hand usually have to work hard.

Even Bill Gates, Mr. King Of The World isn't sitting on a beach in the Caribbean. If he didn't put in a ton of work, the entire process would collapse.

Capitalism works because your profit is directly tied to your work effort. In other words, if you want to bake cookies and sell them on the street then you can be a multi-millionaire. That is, as long as you put the time and effort into doing so.

The socialist system however does not reward excellence. It punishes it in fact. Why would I work an extra hour if the next result is I get paid just as much as you? It drives people to aim for minimal requirements.

Teachers in the US know all about this. If a teacher puts in 80 hours a week he/she will be paid just as much as someone who works 35 hours and punches out. The extra effort isn't rewarded because teachers are paid on the number of years they teach.

There is no incentive to excel at your job in such a system.

Friday, August 01, 2003


I always viewed the GPL as an example of how, sometimes, even in a relatively laisez-faire capitalist system, people can be counted on to work towards the common good.  I'm coming to believe more and more that certain pieces of software have been programmed to death and should just be open.  The OS kernel (but not necessarily the UI front-end to it) is one of those things that I'm starting to think should cease to be a differentiating factor.

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, August 01, 2003

I do not believe socialism is the answer.

Nor do I share some posters confidence that wholly unregulated market forces can always be depended upon to provide either efficient or equitable solutions... very often there are externialities.

Sometimes a little infrastructure is necessary.

Often what you need is some sort of association or self regulating exchange with rules for fair dealing.  It can be tricky to lay out the rules and incentives such that these don't just become cartels however.

Also I think intellectual property is a bit of a special case, and would argue that more scientific discovery of say the last 400yrs has been motivated by sheer curiosity, the quest for fame and acclaim, altruism, and national public interest (often defense related) than by profit.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm thinking there've been relatively few great innovations where the inventor realized the fortune.

John Aitken
Friday, August 01, 2003


Ok, I'll agree with you that programming needs "special"  sort of instructions. But making usable software isn't just about  programming. You have to write manuals, you have to bug test, you have to bundle the software, you have to build computers, and write compilers.There are many tasks that aren't related just to programming. So yes, there has to be a "kind of" specialization (actually, that's something I question: to what degree do we assume that people can't learn the necessary skills to be good programmers?) What is knowledge was something that anyone could learn at any moment for free?

Similarly, in a farm, there isn't just taking care of crops, or working in the field. There is also cooking, and cleaning, and building houses, and maintaining the machines. Tasks that everyone should have the "right" to learn. Or rather, should have the access ability to learn. As it stands now a days, anything you need to learn, you have to pay for. What kind of democratic society we have where some people have more acess to knowledge than others, only because they accumulated more money than others at some point in their family history? This is true at least in Brasil, where I live.


"Capitalism works because your profit is directly tied to your work effort. In other words, if you want to bake cookies and sell them on the street then you can be a multi-millionaire. That is, as long as you put the time and effort into doing so."

There is a distinction that must be made. The ones who "don't work" are the owners of the means of production / distribution. Bill does work. He probably works as much as all of us, or even more (its actually interesting to see that he works his butt off, even though he is one of the richest man on earth. . . It strikes me as odd.). But why does he get the remaining share of the profit, which is made on top of my work hours? I understand that Free Software generally proves that the result of my work (A), plus your work(B), is much more than A+B.

Imagine we both work for Bill. So I get payed for A, and you get paid for B, but why does Bill get all the remaining profit?

I'm not out to defend a socialist system, even though I believe that a libertarian society.  We can't forget that Socialism is a diferent social paradigm. The very notion of what is a human being would be diferent. The same rules do not apply as in capitalism. People's head would work differently. Progress and profit are measured based on diferent evaluation points. The variables change. Its like changing the structure of your programming language. Everything changes.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Actually, it is true according to a recent study, that at least for scientists and theves they *did* do it.. ehrm..  all for the nookie.  As in, to attract a mate.

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, August 01, 2003

"Similarly, in a farm, there isn't just taking care of crops, or working in the field. There is also cooking, and cleaning, and building houses, and maintaining the machines"

Wait! You compared programming to farming, which is BS.

Which applies for your "corrected" comparison, too:
- cooking --- yes, disregarding personal taste, everyone is a chief
- cleaning --- everyone should be able to do that
- building houses --- perhaps in Brasil anyone can build a house, not so in most countries I know of
- maintaining the machines --- requires profund knowledge, too

Also, if you're not a programmer, and unable to understand what a software does, whether and why it represents a valid solution for a given solution, if you fail to understand implementation choices, or fail to read a UML diagram properly, if you don't know anything about Design Patterns, if you lack understanding of what MVC is and why it is used, if you're unable to comprehend a given algorithm in a given programming language, then I do not see how you could be able to: document, test, compile or even debug some piece of software. It's just not satisfactory to spell HTML correctly anymore to be considered a programmer. Even worse, adding people who have the spirit, but no talent in programming, to a software development project might spoil the efforts of everyone in the team.

Fabio, you're not a programmer, right? That question is not meant as an insult, but at this point I really do wonder why for heaven's sake you defend an idea whereas you seem to lack not only common sense to a degree, but repeatedly claim that "programming is like that ... so if this applies to that, then this applies to programming too!" ...

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 01, 2003

"Imagine we both work for Bill. So I get payed for A, and you get paid for B, but why does Bill get all the remaining profit? "

Because he took the risk and started Microsoft and then spent the time, money, and effort to build the company up. Do you really think you deserve the same level of rewards simply because you work for him?

Capitalism isn't about manipulation of people, it is about empowering people. Sure, people do get manipulated but they set themselves up for it. If you are expect to work for a wage, then you accept the price you pay for that stability.

More importantly, Mr. Gates doesn't take money off the top. He collects a salary just like the rest of us (albeit a large one). On top of his salary he collects money based on the sale of stock and dividends, but this doesn't make him special.

Now don't get me wrong, I've accepted the price for my stability. I am somewhat at the whim of my bosses. But I'm also not complaining that the system is screwed up.

Friday, August 01, 2003


Sorry I wasn't able to reply. I went away for a trip to São Paulo. You're right, i'm not a programmer, I'm a musicitian, and although I have a slight knowledge of programming (i've played with C, and C++ when I was younger, I understand that this does not make me as a programmer.) I understand it when you mean about especialization, because I'm in a profession, that require a more specific know-how, similarly (but not exctly like) programming.

Programming isn't a task for everyone. You have to have special knowledge of computer, and certain notions that people generally don't learn in High School, or just by being out in the street.  I wasn't trying to imply that programming was like farming. Its not. I'm trying to illustrate an idea that in my belief is wrong. The idea was that when you work in a capitalist society you recieve for what you work for. You don't recieve for what you work for. You always recieve less than you deserve.

But it brings up another question which is regarding to specialization: What is specialization other than a means to control the minds of people? I understand that we assume now a days that some people can't learn certain tasks, and that everything we learn needs to have an end. I don't agree with both of these. I have a principles which is that knowledge should be free for everyone.  If we are to live in a truly libertarian society, we should assume that anyone can and should have the acess to learn any skill he likes. He shouldn't even need to have a reason to learn anything.



What I think you fail to see is that its not only money that Bill has gotten as power. He has the power to decide what is " best" for everyone.  So what seems like a choice, like freedom, is actually control. You have the "power to choose your software", but before that choice, there was a choice to make that software the way it is, a process from which you were excluded from. It explains, for example, why the importance of technical support on commercial software.  MS's products doesn't estimulate "smart" users. it actually makes them dummer in relation to software. It makes you dependent on it.  And I percieve that not as democracy, but rather as a dictatorship. 

Monday, August 04, 2003

"I don't agree with both of these. I have a principles which is that knowledge should be free for everyone.  If we are to live in a truly libertarian society, we should assume that anyone can and should have the acess to learn any skill he likes. He shouldn't even need to have a reason to learn anything."

Now I see where your misconceptions stem from. You assume that anyone who is attempting to learn or do something ends up with the same results. If he does not, that's ok, too.

Well, that's not how real life works. Go figure out for yourself.

Johnny Bravo
Monday, August 04, 2003

David Basil Wildgoose:
"I am a capitalist.  I expect to get paid for my work"

Then you're not a capitalist. A capitalist sells a product or a service, and gets paid if and only if people like the product and buy it for high enough a price.

Roel Schroeven
Monday, August 04, 2003

>"I am a capitalist.  I expect to get paid for my work"
>Then you're not a capitalist. A capitalist sells a product or
>a service, and gets paid if and only if people like the
>product and buy it for high enough a price.

No he is,
Skills and work time are commodities - and if somebody hires a programmer, then they bought his product, so to speak.

Michael Moser
Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Fabio seems like a decent enough guy, I'd offer to buy him a beer if I found myself in Sao Paulo.  Some of the other posters sound like pricks.  They can buy their own beer.  Call it an exteriality.

John Aitken
Wednesday, August 06, 2003

My last post may have been OTP / unwarranted.

John Aitken
Thursday, August 07, 2003

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