Article: A definition and criticism of cybercommunism

Authors: Tere Vadén and Juha Suoranta

Keywords

Questions

Slavoj Zizek:

However, does capitalism really provide the ‘natural’ frame of the relations of production for the digital universe.’ Is there not also an explosive potential for capitalism itself in the world wide web.? Is not the lesson of the Microsoft monopoly precisely the Leninist one: instead of fighting its monopoly through the state apparatus (recall the court-ordered split of the Microsoft corporation), would it not be more ‘logical’ just to socialise it, rendering it freely accessible.’ Today one is thus tempted to paraphrase Lenin’s well-known motto, ‘Socialism = electrification + `the power of the soviets’: ‘Socialism = free access to internet + the power of the soviets.’ (Žižek, 2002b)

Does the universal fungibility of the internet demand the erasure of local cultures?

How does the idea of a social wage manifest itself in FOSS?

Does the publish or perish system in academia devalue or shorten the shelf-life of new ideas?

How can we encourage the increase of technoliteracy needed sustain a form of cybersocialism?

Concepts

Principles of ‘liberal communism’

  1. You shall give everything away free (free access, no copy-right); just charge for the additional services, which will make you rich.
  2. You shall change the world, not just sell things.
  3. You shall be sharing, aware of social responsibility.
  4. You shall be creative: focus on design, new technologies and science.
  5. You shall tell all: have no secrets, endorse and practise the cult of transparency and the free flow of information; all humanity should collaborate and interact.
  6. You shall not work: have no fixed 9 to 5 job, but engage in smart, dynamic, flexible communication.
  7. You shall return to school: engage in permanent education.
  8. You shall act as an enzyme: work not only for the market, but trigger new forms of social collaboration.
  9. You shall die poor: return your wealth to those who need it, since you have more than you can ever spend.
  10. You shall be the state: companies should be in partnership with the state.
    • (Žižek, 2000b, citing O. Malnuit in the French magazine Technikart)

The hunger for knowledge driven by the needs of a competitive global market is so great that it eclipses almost all other considerations.

In today’s America, the hunger for a college degree is so great that many young men and women are willing to kill – and risk being killed – to get one.

Information society ‘for all’ promises a lot: freedom and servitude at the same time. ‘We’ will be freed from fixed identities locked into the structures of the old bureaucracies of nation states; from the old models of one-way broadcasting; from the supremacy of the power centres. But simultaneously, freedom becomes a constraint: ‘there is no alternative’ to economic globalisation, perpetual networking or interactivity. This form of freedom has very little to do with actual freedom: often it is a mere façade for formal freedom; that is, the freedom to choose from ready-made alternatives. Participation in a never-ending chain of short-term projects is the name of the game.

The information society lets all the flowers bloom, as long as they are information society flowers.

…the step fro a media constrained by liberal communism to socialist media needs not only basic welfare but also actual control of life gaols and non-physical needs.

Thoughts

There is a systemic disincentive for unfettered access to information and those who can teach. The knowledge inequality gap between Developed and Developing nations are what enforce the global economic status quo.

TODO flesh out argument more

Regarding the example given of the Debian developers, it strikes more at the heart of the tech industry as a whole rather than the FOSS movement. Operating system development is not accessible in the way that web development – a category with a very large open source community – is. To be an operating system developer requires a deep knowledge of hardware, CPU chip architectures, and low-level programming languages. To users of a computer, this information is abstracted away, and the principles guiding modern operating system development are most often learned in a university setting. Web development, however, only requires access to a browser and a text editor ( though one could argue that today there exists many free online services that can replace even the text editor requirement ). Anyone with access to a browser can inspect web pages to see human readable code that shows how it the page is constructed, whereas the only way to see the human readable code of the GNU/Linux operating system is to have familiarity with the project and view the relevant source code ( even this option is not available to users of proprietary operating systems such as MacOs and Windows ). The sophistry of holding up operating system developers as a representative sample of colonialism open source development is that they often represent a highly specialized field with high barriers to entry. Perhaps a more suitable example of Western colonialism in open source is the fact that the vast majority of programming languages and open source projects require a relatively high level of understanding of the English language.

Regarding Table 1: Levels of freedom, YouTube, Google, etc. are still very much media as corporate business. The main difference here is that they only costs they incur for content generation is the cost of hosting the platform. YouTube and other platforms still generate enormous amounts of revenue and will block, take down, or de-platform videos and creators that threaten that revenue stream.

#review

#cybercommunism

#tech & society