RE: [OPE] Peer production and abundance

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Fri Jan 08 2010 - 12:44:54 EST

In this sense you are obviously right that open source workers are embeded within an economy that is primarily based on capitalist exploitation,
but I am not sure that this is sufficient to refute the idea of a Keimform.
The Keimform of capitalism arose within and economy that was dominated by feudal exploitation. The guildmasters and journeymen had to
eat, and to do so they depended on food produced under feudal relations, so the very fact of being embeded and dependent is not
itself enough to refute the keimform thesis.
My sympathies are still in your direction politically, I consider political action to be central to achieving socialism here and now, but
I think that Meretz;s arguments are more sophisticated than you give credit for in your point.

There is also the more general question of how information goods relate to abundance in a future socialist economy?
From: [] On Behalf Of Paul Bullock []
Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 4:43 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: Re: [OPE] Peer production and abundance

Paul C,

the system is exploitative, we work in a social division of labour that is
organised to exploit: without being exploited we would not (for the masses)
be allowed to live, OR more narrowly, without the exploitation of the masses
the conditions of the labour aristocracy and new petty bourgeoise would not
be provided for (of course I know there are plenty of those IN these
sections of the population - eg academics - who deny such social
differences and lay claim to better conditions because of 'science' or some
such fetishised idea). Thus all of this is predicated by exploitation and
usually works towards the reinforcement of the system.

However I don't doubt that all this inventive activity is a part of the
process by which the development of the forces of production constantly
strains against the actual relations, its splitting at the seams, so to
speak. For some time bourgeoise state employment plays a role if it can tax
its way forward, but this is transitory.

The whole analysis must be of the social/material contradictions. That
capitalism finds it more and more difficult to incorporate in any seemingly
'rational' way will bring about a social revolution - which of course needs
its political leadership based in the exploited masses. If capitalism can't
adjust and adapt such activity, can't use it draw on it, then we shall see
if it becomes part of the armoury of demands, and capacities of a working
class movement that will be the basis for reducing imperialism.

Paul Bl

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 1:54 PM
Subject: RE: [OPE] Peer production and abundance

>I would agree that the production of GPL material does depend on those
>producing it having both free time and some other revenue stream.
> I do not agree that it depends on the exploitation of other workers
> though.

> In some cases it is work done in the evenings, and in others it is work
> done in academic institutions or government laboratories.
> In the case of a programmer employed by Nokia who writes software for peer
> to peer file sharing in their evenings, this does not depend
> on the exploitation of workers elsewhere. The Nokia worker will have been
> paid for the labour power that they sell to Nokia during the day
> and that labour power will have been exploited by Nokia. If the programmer
> choses to go and help Pirate Bay during the evenings
> as voluntary work, this is not itself dependent on their explitation by
> Nokia. No surplus value from the work at Nokia goes into
> the production of the free software..
> They do need an income to live, but the free software is produced out of
> their unpaid time and is thus a tapping of a potential surplus
> product that could only be extracted by capital as a result of a longer
> working day. Since the working week is legally limited,
> it is rather the constraints placed on capitalist exploitation by the
> limitation of the working day that allow the production of the
> free software.
> In the case of software produced in academic institutions that is placed
> in the public domain, like the BSD Unix operating system,
> and many Unix utilities developed for that, then that labour was paid for
> out of taxes, and placement in the public domain
> was a condition of the tax funded work ( those conditions on US grants
> have I believe been changed in a way less favourable
> to the public domain).
> The model of software funded out of tax revenues seems to be one that
> could be retained under socialism, but the free and voluntary
> work done is spare time is also something that would presumably be
> encouraged in the future.
> ________________________________________
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Paul Bullock []
> Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 1:17 PM
> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
> Subject: Re: [OPE] Peer production and abundance
> Where marginal costs of providing some software is effectively zero, but
> operations require purchase of other tied/ joint commodities I don't see
> where this sort of innovation leads us to 'socialism'.. it becomes a
> marketing issue.
> Furthermore if the production of much software/ sourceware is actually
> done in the free time of the professional middle classes within richer
> states then this is predicated on the exploitation of workers labour power
> elsewhere, ie my free time is someone elses surplus labour time performed.
> So we havn't got out of the capital relation.
> The abolition of large scale private property and the formulation of
> basic democratic social planning is the essential prerequisite.
> Paul Bullock
> ----- Original Message -----
> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing
> list<>
> Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 7:07 PM
> Subject: RE: [OPE] Peer production and abundance
>> I think there is merit to the argument that the 'open source' mode of
>> production conflicts with and potentially undermines capitalist property
>> relations. But a systematic theory of this mode of production has yet to
>> be formulated.
> Hi Dave Z:
> Well, I would call it a type (or form or pattern or system) of production,
> not a
> 'mode of production". Use of the latter expression is unnecessarily
> confusing, imo.
>> If the 'open source' mode of production is to become the dominant mode,
>> the question arises: what share of the total output of an economy could
>> actually be produced in this way?
> Except for the caveat which I referred to above, that's a good question.
> In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Fri Jan 8 13:25:18 2010

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