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Re: <nettime> revenge of the concept
Keith Hart on Sun, 26 Jan 2003 13:49:21 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> revenge of the concept


Thanks, Brian, for that forceful restatement. It seems that the form of
the exchange suggested that everything I wrote was directed against you.
Far from it.

>Keith's main point is that we should get working on the nitty-gritty of
actual cooperative production. Strangely, he doesn't see that I am indeed
talking about just that, as Benkler does too.<

I wanted to bring out our shared interest in co-operative production and
at the same time to highlight what seems to me the error of making a
strong contrast between gift and market on the grounds that the latter is
sewn up by capitalism. This is linked to styles of argument too.

>Everyone involved with the Internet knows the paradigm of cooperative
software production associated with Richard Stallman and Linus Torvald.<

Quite. I agree that it is probably a good idea to emphasize their common
agenda. But, as you know, a considerable split has occurred precisely over
the relationship between open source and money (the market, capitalism).
Stallman thinks it matters, Torvalds doesn't. It appears that I am with
Linus and you are with Richard. Bill Gates would love to eliminate them
both, but especially Linux.

There is a huge debate going on in India now, with state governments being
lobbied to introduce Microsoft or Linux software into schools and public
administration. Interestingly, whereas Linux promoters have focused on how
cheap, robust and adaptable their software is, Microsoft stressed their
track record of working with goverments to regulate use of the internet.
Free software is more or less a sideshow, since its implicit economic
basis is not relevant to conditions there. Given India's size and special
relationship to the digital revolution at home and through its diaspora,
the outcome has global repercussions.

You might also consider India's relationship to the three regional blocs
you mentioned -- I would say that India and China are too big to be lumped
together and each will have its say in 21st century world economy. But I
digress.

I tried to locate Mauss's politics between the extremes of Social
Darwinism and Stalinism. You seem to oppose Hayek with Polanyi, pro-market
vs anti-market, no missing middle. It does sound like Richard Stallman to
me. That kind of dichotomy leads to sectarianism and to a fragmented and
impotent left. An old story. What happened to popular front politics? The
way we think and talk about economic possibilities is an indispensable
part of that.

Keith






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