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Dot-Communism Is Already Here

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-in-soviet-russia-jokes-i-swear-to-god dept.

Social Networks 554

thanosk sends in a story at Wired Magazine about how online culture is, in many ways, trending toward communal behavior. Sharing and collaboration have become staples of active participation on the Internet, while not necessarily incorporating a particular ideology or involving a government. "Most people in the West, including myself, were indoctrinated with the notion that extending the power of individuals necessarily diminishes the power of the state, and vice versa. In practice, though, most polities socialize some resources and individualize others. Most free-market economies have socialized education, and even extremely socialized societies allow some private property. Rather than viewing technological socialism as one side of a zero-sum trade-off between free-market individualism and centralized authority, it can be seen as a cultural OS that elevates both the individual and the group at once. The largely unarticulated but intuitively understood goal of communitarian technology is this: to maximize both individual autonomy and the power of people working together. Thus, digital socialism can be viewed as a third way that renders irrelevant the old debates."

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Anonymous Coward (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110553)

Fellow Comrades,
We have finally achieved Karl Marx's Dream.

Nothing new, but encouraging (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110569)

Most people in the West, including myself, were indoctrinated with the notion that extending the power of individuals necessarily diminishes the power of the state, and vice versa.

I'm not quite sure where the author got that idea. The US has always been based on the idea that the individual is paramount. In our popular culture, we have always derived our strength from the individual and his willingness to help others.

A perfect example of this is our super-heros. Developed during a time of great uncertainty and world wars, our culture developed personas who were both empowered and selfless. Whether it be an accident of birth (Superman), a millionare who puts his own life and fortune on the line (Batman), or a scientist dealt a bum hand by fate (Hulk), they all are shown to make the most of their unique abilities in service to others.

Such thought processes have traditionally permeated our culture to the point where every child strives to be that hero. To save the world as it were. The results can be seen in everything from local government (simply amazing small towns built out of nothing) to the larger scale of US resolve during WWII and the later Space Race. Thus the communal aspects of working together have always been a strength for us.

The idea of a Big Brother culture is a relatively new one imported from more socialist countries. As if the population needs protection from itself. And for all intents and purposes, it's been causing more harm than good. The government has frustrated more airline passengers than they've prevented terrorists, all while trying to convince the populace to roll over when someone takes over a plane. (THAT is never going to happen again.) They've seized money from countless honest businesses and individuals in an attempt to stop drug trafficing. (Which has been more or less ineffective.) And they've generally created a situation where the populace is either looking for their next handout (excuse me, "bailout") or their trying to cheat their way out of paying their taxes.

Our system hasn't completely fallen yet, but I think the communal internet is a great wake up call for the system. It allows individuals to aspire, self-organize, and express their individuality in a helpful way. So in that respect, I agree with the article. I just don't think it's anything new or anything to do with Communism as a system. ;-)

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110681)

or a scientist dealt a bum hand by fate (Hulk), they all are shown to make the most of their unique abilities in service to others.

Ummm....how did the Hulk service others, exactly?

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110801)

Ummm....how did the Hulk service others, exactly?

By defeating the Iron Sheik [youtube.com] .

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (1)

FireFlie (850716) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111281)

Ummm....how did the Hulk service others, exactly?

Hulk has gone through a number of various phases throughout his history. The Hulk you're probably thinking of is the mindless, violent brute. Hulk has fought numerous villains, and at some points has been able to retain much or all of the intelligence and control of Bruce Banner while Hulked out.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (4, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111339)

Ummm....how did the Hulk service others, exactly?

Without getting into specifics, let's just say that the Hulk's anatomy was affected everywhere, and there is a large subset of the Marvel Universe that has trouble sitting down to this day.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (1, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110687)

Developed during a time of great uncertainty and world wars, our culture developed personas who were both empowered and selfless.

...and Captain America is now dead.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110771)

A perfect example of this is our super-heros.

Or rather, the degeneration of them. Superman started out relying more on brains than on his physical skills in the '50s, now he's an indestructable braindead wimp. Especially compared to the JLU Batman.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110829)

Our system hasn't completely fallen yet, but I think the communal internet is a great wake up call for the system. It allows individuals to aspire, self-organize, and express their individuality in a helpful way. So in that respect, I agree with the article. I just don't think it's anything new or anything to do with Communism as a system. ;-)

Oh, I could play the devil's advocate and think of a stupid roundabout way of showing that Communism is more about empowering the individual to pursue their dreams than worry about possessions. Such flawed and impassioned exercises began to bore me long ago though--so I'll spare you the inanity.

I thought that the majority of Americans have come to terms that absolute Communism and absolute Capitalism are both bad systems?

I mean, even the most wing-nut conservatives believe in some sort of tax or anti-trust laws and even the most bleeding hearted liberals believe that we should be left a sizable share of our income to our own responsibility and desires.

So why do we move back to a stupid argument between the absolutes of Capitalism vs Communism when the correct solution is somewhere to be found in the middle? And different peoples enjoy different solutions. It so turns out that corruptibility of humans by nature dictates we should be closer to capitalism that communism. If the author of this article thinks the internet has far too much communal activity, so be it. But make rational arguments and don't play on the red scare ... we're adults now, we're past that.

I tire of the return to young idealist zealotry and yawn at the attempt to evoke fear from me of one side over the other. The absolutes are both dangerous and stupid.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (5, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110921)

I thought that the majority of Americans have come to terms that absolute Communism and absolute Capitalism are both bad systems?

Who said anything about Capitalism? I was referring to the general culture of the US. The culture of individual empowerment that makes the empowerment of the greater whole possible. Of which "Capitalism" as it has been named is merely a side effect of how such a culture operates economically, not a system in of itself.

I'm sorry you have wasted your time on such a long and pointless rant.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111119)

Quoth eldavojohn:

So why do we move back to a stupid argument between the absolutes of Capitalism vs Communism when the correct solution is somewhere to be found in the middle?

Quoth eldavojohn. [slashdot.org]
He supports compromise only when it backs up his argument.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (2, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111215)

Who said anything about Capitalism?

Well, the article you and I are discussing mentions it several times, including:

In fact, the work-reward ratio is so out of kilter from a free-market perspective-the workers do immense amounts of high-market-value work without being paid-that these collaborative efforts make no sense within capitalism.

Which seems to more or less directly tie it to the culture (ours) you discuss. I would contend that if your post is not to be taken in the context of concern for economic measures of dot-com transactions then it is off-topic. I also find it amusing that you claim superheros are possessed by the United States and do not enjoy popularity in other countries. A US invention, perhaps, but embraced worldwide.

Of which "Capitalism" as it has been named is merely a side effect of how such a culture operates economically, not a system in of itself.

I do not think I present a false dichotomy when I assume that an argument (and I'm referring to the argument of the article we are discussing) against "dot-Communism" is an argument for "dot-Capitalism" but I am open to your alternative dimensions to this--and yes, I'm talking economics here--aspect of online interaction.

I'm sorry you have wasted your time on such a long and pointless rant.

The pleasure is all mine, apparently.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110869)

"The idea of a Big Brother culture is a relatively new one"

Yeah, only since 1948.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (4, Interesting)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110885)

Such thought processes have traditionally permeated our culture to the point where every child strives to be that hero. To save the world as it were. The results can be seen in everything from local government (simply amazing small towns built out of nothing) to the larger scale of US resolve during WWII and the later Space Race. Thus the communal aspects of working together have always been a strength for us.

As a Brazilian bombarded everyday by USA-imported-mass-enternainment-industry, I've noticed that this is true indeed. I find it very interesting that it seems important to find a 'hero' in almost every situation - for instance, in 'the most amazing videos', there was a car with something stuck in the accelerator and the car kept moving in circles over and over. Then, a policeman came, entered the car by the window, and stopped it. The thing is: when you hear what the narrator says, it seems that the policeman saved a thousand people.

I've recently read 'The Quiet American' [wikipedia.org] , which further investigates this. As I read it, it seems that Graham Greene thought that Americans can't imagine how other people could want something different from what they have, and how could they think different from what they, Americans, think. I don't know if it's true, but it's a very interesting POV.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (2, Informative)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111315)

Americans can't imagine how other people could want something different from what they have, and how could they think different from what they, Americans, think. I don't know if it's true, but it's a very interesting POV.

sounds more like a Christian view rather than just an American view, but I guess since a large portion of our population is Christian it may still hold up. Either that or its just easier not to try to think about other's POV. Take your pick, I'm too lazy to pick for you :P

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (4, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110905)

I agree with you for the most part. I'm a little concerned with the idea that not attacking hijackers by default was a bad idea.

Until recently, hijackers did not hijack in order to blow up buildings and commit suicide. Hijackers in the 1980s were very much looking to make a point. You *could* die or be wounded in a hijacking, but for the most part, you would live through it. They might be willing to die for their cause, but it wasn't a foregone conclusion.

Of course, after 9/11, that strategy has changed. And perhaps the government should have known to change their story. But lets be clear here. When the people fought back over Pennsylvania, they still died. I would have been fighting with them, because I know I'd be dead either way and I wouldn't want to let them get away with that, but it didn't help them.

What that story shows is that it's never been a case of us simply being sheep and letting them blow up our buildings and take us hostage. These people are armed and trained how to take over aircraft and to hold hostages. They have little or no fear of death, and their family members are back in the Middle East instead of sitting right next to them on the plane.

On the other hand, I am not trained to take on armed combatants in an enclosed cabin. I'm willing to do it with little regard to my safety, but when it means that others get hurt because of my lack of training and experience, I would think twice. And you should think twice.

Chances are, if this happens again, there's really going to be no choice but to attack. The terrorists have upped the ante and now the equation favors fighting back. Indeed, you may well be racing against time to either dodge a suicide attack or a Sidewinder up your plane's intakes. But that does not mean that the day has been saved, it just means that the stakes are higher.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (-1, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110935)

Whether it be an accident of birth (Superman)

Somebody save me, don't care how you do it just save me... How about some "the ends justify the means, the violence is forgivable, integrity be damned" propaganda?

a millionare who puts his own life and fortune on the line (Batman)

A millionaire whose rampant excesses are taking food from the mouth of the poor and oppressed, leaving them desperate and forced into a life of crime, operates above the law and brutalizes those who attempt to operate outside the rigged game with weapons that make the whole thing an exercise in shooting fish in a barrel.

scientist dealt a bum hand by fate (Hulk)

An amoral scientist who manufactures terrible weapons for the military spends his life on the run attempting to hide from them and not be noticed when they turn on him.

Face it. Your national heros are just as disgusting as your national ideology.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (2, Interesting)

chaim79 (898507) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111331)

Who wizzed in your cereal when you were a kid?

Superman was never "ends justify means" superhero, he was always trying to save the innocent and would take the hard road if it meant more lives saved (hard as in much harder to do, harder on him, etc.).

Batman was a millionaire by birth and by being an intelligent businessman... he didn't "steal food from the mouths of poor and oppressed", he made his money and used it. I will admit that he was very much 'outside the law' and a vigilante, more concerned with taking out the bad guy vs saving the innocent.

It really seems like you have a twisted view of the superhero genera, and the ideology of the USA (though I will admit that the ideology of recent times is pitiful in comparison to the ideology that this country was founded on).

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111173)

"I'm not quite sure where the author got that idea." The same place as you presumably as you're supporting his argument.

I disagree about "Big Brother" being imported from socialist countries; it happens naturally as government becomes more paranoid regardless of the politics. There are plenty of current examples of socialist countries with better human rights records than the USA or UK.

Re:Nothing new, but encouraging (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111297)

In our popular culture, we have always derived our strength from the individual and his willingness to help others.

I think you've done only a very selective review of historical pop culture. Please explain the pop culture of the 80s that saw the rise of selfishness as a desirable trait (Madonna's Material Girl, the idolization of the Wall Street culture, even the Pop Art movement as expressed by Warhol and others as a means of making cold hard cash). Or the same attitudes reflected in the pop culture of the 1920s. Or the same attitudes reflected in the culture of most of the 19th century (manifest destiny, etc). Note -- of course it's hard to assess the pop culture of the 19th c., as there was no mass media; however, the popular writings of the time often included a 'manifest destiny' aspect which I believe lies counter to your premise of altruism as a source of strength.

Anyway, pop culture doesn't necessarily reflect the actual underpinnings of our system. I contend that the actual underpinning is the inherent selfishness of man. It's tempered, in a good way, by cultural values of selflessness, charity, good will, etc. But our economic system is based upon selfishness, pure and simple. Our culture, however, is protected by a willingness to help others (within our culture, of course -- or as a means of spreading our culture & influence).

In short, our economic system is all about selfishness, but our cultural system also includes some measure of altruism.

Communal != Communism (5, Insightful)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110573)

Adding an -ism to the end of a word completely changes the concept. Doing something communally and sharing is not the same as being forced to share by the government.

Re:Communal != Communism (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110657)

Not necessarilly. Bullshitism would certainly make a nice name for the topic the article could be filed under.

Re:Communal != Communism (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110665)

Communism is a socio-economic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.

Let's get that definition here, so people don't go off on a tangent, talking about stuff that isn't actually communism. ... Like this bullshit / flamebait article.

Re:Communal != Communism (4, Insightful)

LifeWithJustin (969206) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110867)

geoffrobinson is correct here.

Think about it this way.

When you choose to help your fellow man you are happy. You feel a kinship with them.

But when I'm taxed or forced to help in another way... I get no joy from this. Most of the time you feel put out. (Get off your and do something to better yourself ! -- for example)

Re:Communal != Communism (5, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111043)

It's not only that.

When I choose to help, it's efficient.
When forced to help, there is an inefficiency; and usually someone making a parasitic living off of doing the forcing.

Re:Communal != Communism (2, Funny)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111117)

Hmmm... Would libertarianism mean "being forced to do whatever you want to"?

Re:Communal != Communism (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110943)

Adding an -ism to the end of a word completely changes the concept.

A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, "I don't believe in Beatles, I just believe in me." Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus. I'd still have to bum rides off people.

My apologies to John Hughes and all fans of the movie

Re:Communal != Communism (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111049)

Dot-Communism is better then Dot-Netism?

Re:Communal != Communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111051)

In fact, it's trading in a very capitalistic sense. You do something for other and you get something in return - whether it be the respect of peers, a good feeling inside, a friend, or the possibility of favours in return... it's still a trade or you wouldn't do it of your free will. It's the opposite of communism.

Anonymous because of moderation :(

Re:Communal != Communism (1)

mackil (668039) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111095)

Adding an -ism to the end of a word completely changes the concept. Doing something communally and sharing is not the same as being forced to share by the government.

Good old 'Ism-mania' [moviesoundclips.net]

Re:Communal DOES == Communism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111115)

Adding an -ism to the end of a word completely changes the concept. Doing something communally and sharing is not the same as being forced to share by the government.

This is a common misconception. A Communist society does not have a government.

Being forced to share by a government is Socialism, not Communism. Communism is a society where everybody pitches in together so that nobody is in need and private ownership not only does not exist, but is not needed. It's a nice idea, and actually works very well in small groups where all members can police each other, but breaks down on any type of larger scale.

Unfortunately many people still think that the USSR was a Communist country, even though the name itself says "Socialist" not "Communist", and it's to the point where the term is horribly misused. Kind of along the same lines as most people thinking the USA is a Democracy when in fact it is a Republic (or a "representational Democracy" if you prefer more politically 'correct' terminology).

"Cultural OS" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110581)

Ha. Yeah. Wow... that's quite some... yeah. Ahem.

Not sure if I'd call it communism. (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110593)

It is really the desire to not have to re-invent the wheel every 3 or 4 years.

Re:Not sure if I'd call it communism. (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110743)

Also, any capitalist system will recognize basic principles of the free market - like how the price of something approaching its marginal cost, if the system is efficient. So "free software" makes perfect sense.

no. (5, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110599)

Socialism is state control. What we have on the web is anarchy. Fun, friendly anarchy.

Re:no. (3, Informative)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110647)

Which - to quote the tragically overlooked Star Cops [imdb.com] - means "without ruler", not "without order".

I'm sure you knew that, but it's frustrating how many people don't.

Re:no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111247)

Or frustrating how many people realize that the two things are basically equivalent. Frustrating if you're an armchair anarchist, anyway.

Re:no. (3, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110697)

Techincally, Communism it the political structure, socialism is the economic structure. As such, socialism can be anarchy.

Re:no. (-1, Flamebait)

countvlad (666933) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110883)

...No, in Communism, there is no private property and all property is publicly owned, and everyone is paid according to their need and not necessarily their ability. I'd say that's a bit more than just a political structure.

Socialism is a stepping stone towards Communism.

Re:no. (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110985)

Socialism's no more a stepping stone towards Communism than carnivory is a stepping stone towards cannibalism.

Re:no. (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111323)

I'm not sure that example proves your point -- I'm pretty sure carnivores *are* more likely to be cannibalistic than herbivores, unless you know of plants that consume other plants without an intermediary decomposition phase.

Re:no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111055)

In much socialist/communist/anarchist literature *property* is stuff you own that generates surplus value. That is the means of production, houses that give rent capital invested to give return and so on. It does rarely mean your tools, clothes or food.

Re:no. (5, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111159)

economic man and political man are the same man. If you must dictate a man's economics to him, you've dictated his life and his politics as well.

Challenge: implement economic planning without the coercive power of government. a plan is useless if people won't carry it out.

the real issue is statism vs. individualism. communism and socialism, to the extent that they are different, both lead to suppression of the individual.

Re:no. (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111195)

Not that political and social structures are on completely distinct axes. If you're oppressed after all, it doesn't matter much whether your oppressor is a government or corporation.

Re:no. (4, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111277)

Socialism is state control. What we have on the web is anarchy. Fun, friendly anarchy.

Capitalism, socialism, and anarchism are ways of structuring an entire society. The web isn't a society, it's a tool. This is the same fallacy as talking about "netizens." You can't be a citizen of the net. That would be like being a citizen of your screwdriver.

The main thing that makes anarchism different from, say, libertarianism, is that anarchists are against private property. The typical anarchist analysis is that the accumulation of private property leads to social inequality, the runaway concentration of wealth in the hands of a few people, and war. The Microsoft monopoly, for example, is something that's definitely completely antithetical to anarchist ideals of how society should work. Given that microsoft.com is part of the web, and that they'll take your money in return for their software, I don't really think the web qualifies as an institution that would be typical of an anarchist society.

Since copyrights, trademarks, and patents are generally thought of as a kind of property, I really doubt that an anarchist society would have them. And yet I guarantee you that the computer I'm using, the computer you're using, and the computer that runs slashdot.org are all full of copyrighted software. For instance, my computer is running Linux, x.org, and Firefox right now. All that software is copyrighted, and the only reason it was legal for me to copy them off of the internet was that I was offered an opportunity to do so under licenses like the GPL. Doesn't sound very anarchistic to me.

Socialism != Communism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110623)

The summary seems to ignore that socialism and communism are actually two different things.

Not important (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110627)

Change the world. Let other people put labels. You'll be called a liberal, a communist, a nazi, a heathen, a bigot anyway...
Open Source (I think that is what it's about) is not communism, it is open source. Putting labels or trying to over-simplify things hinders correct thinking.

Re:Not important (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110903)

Absolutely! I freaking hate labels. If Aliens from zebnar landed on the national mall, the first question our media would ask them if they were liberals or conservatives.

Re:Not important (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111143)

In addition, they would likely be labelled illegal aliens.

False opening statement (4, Insightful)

chatgris (735079) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110645)

"Most people in the West, including myself, were indoctrinated with the notion that extending the power of individuals necessarily diminishes the power of the state, and vice versa"

What? Western culture has been about empowering the individual, about heroes. Conversely, communist nations such as Russia and China are less about individuals, and more about "the good of many outweighs the good of the few".

Additionally, the "free" software you see isn't an affront to free market principles, in fact it is an application of "when a product has an infinitely increasing returns to scale, cost tends towards distribution costs", and since distribution costs are free, well, hello open source.

Open source is very much a product of western, capitalist countries that PROMOTE the power of the individual.

Re:False opening statement (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111077)

What? Western culture has been about empowering the individual, about heroes. Conversely, communist nations such as Russia and China are less about individuals, and more about "the good of many outweighs the good of the few".

Actually you've just beautifully illustrated his point. He was saying that we're indoctrinated with a false dichotomy that either it's the state or its the individual, and there's no compromise. He's arguing that in actual fact the greatest benefit to both comes somewhere in the middle, which is what you're going on about yourself in the rest of your post. By failing to see that point you're actually illustrating his idea.

Incidentally, the USSR wasn't the fucking Borg. There wasn't some Marxist Hive Mind in which individuals are inidentifiable. There's a lot of hero worship in Russia and China, in much the same sense that there's plenty of group pride in the USA.

Re:False opening statement (3, Interesting)

jadavis (473492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111079)

Western culture has been about empowering the individual, about heroes. Conversely, communist nations such as Russia and China are less about individuals, and more about "the good of many outweighs the good of the few".

I think that's a simplification. The one thing that stands out to me about Western society is the rule of law, rather than the rule of man (I know that's a simplification as well).

Re:False opening statement (2, Interesting)

maharb (1534501) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111171)

Someone is paying to distribute electronic files. It may not be the open source developers but to say that there are no distribution costs is plain wrong. Tons of people work every day to maintain the infrastructure that sends data. These people are paid one way or another.

Don't get me wrong I agree with the idea of your comments but I think that the confusion about why open source is free needs to be cleared up. Even open source can generate revenues that help pay distribution costs or pass distribution costs to the consumer by asking them to seed torrents. Open source is free because many see it as a better solution than what is available for money and are willing to contribute one way or another to the open source cause(code or money). Open source does not exist due to distribution costs.

Re:False opening statement (1)

chatgris (735079) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111283)

That was taken into consideration. From the viewpoint of developers and users, distribution costs are free. Yes, someone pays for it, but the cost is so low that it is provided for free to the participants. Even if we are talking p2p distribution, the distribution costs are at least fixed, which has a similar effect (sorry, it's been a while since I've taken economics).

There's always a fine line when to keep your post simple, and when to write an essay :)

Sokal hoax? (3, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110673)

Did anyone else get a flash of Alan Sokal's genius upon reading the quote from the summary? So many words, so little content.

The problem with Communism (4, Interesting)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110679)

... is that the word no longer means communism. Now it means oppressive government, ala Soviet Union, China, North Vietnam. But these places show no sign of following the idealist philosophy people like Karl Marx set forth.

The concept of owning resources in common isn't anti-individualistic - having neighborhood parks or sharing roads and pipes and cables is just smart resource usage. Probably few people want absolutely everything to be publicly owned and managed, but most slashdotters probably like software and the internet that way.

Re:The problem with Communism (2, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110989)

The concept of owning resources in common isn't anti-individualistic

There's nothing wrong with owning a resource in common - for example people in certain states resort to owning "shares" of a cow in order to legally get raw milk (you know, the stuff your grandparents drank without worry). But that's not the same thing as being *forced* to give up your property to a communal share. That is anti-individual and anti-man.

having neighborhood parks or sharing roads and pipes and cables is just smart resource usage

Well, that is obvious. I doubt anyone would disagree with you on that. So why the need to force it to happen through a government-backed monopoly?

Re:The problem with Communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111073)

The problem with communism is that it just does not work in societies where people want to be free. Communist governments maintain control on society through oppression and fear.

Re:The problem with Communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111121)

Communism/Socialism represent equality of restriction and misery.

Free markets represent equality of opportunity and freedom.

Oh, and by the way, we haven't had completely free markets in the U.S. in a long time.

Re:The problem with Communism (2, Interesting)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111183)

three simple examples of 'communism' come to mind.

1) the communal lives of monk and nuns ( from various faiths in many cultures).
2) the communal lives of certain religious communities ( ex: Amish)
3) neighborhood contracts, condominium boards.

all three have worked. It is interesting that the 3rd works the least well from what I've seen.
If people are acting in common because they want to believe it is of value to do so , communism works well. If people are sharing and acting in common because they are forced to by a contract or a government , it doesn't seem to work as well.
My guess would be because it is too hard to actually enforce a sufficient set of rules so that things run smoothly when people don't police themselves.

Re:The problem with Communism (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111201)

You seem to be conflating socialism and communism, there. Communism is (in its simplest form) a totally communal policy, where failure to share everything means you must be depriving your fellow man of something. Socialism is the more general idea of shared resources.

He is describing Anarchism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110707)

Uneducated writer. Communism without government is Anarchism (simply put) and it's not new or about death and destruction. What he describes is Anarchism

Re:He is describing Anarchism (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111069)

That's not right though. In anarchist systems, capital tends to outweigh labor, so power (and the ability to make decisions) is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy.

Socialism places the capital (and the power) in the hands of the state.

Communism, in theory, places decision-making in the hands of labor.

Communism, without government, is just communism with a lack of enforcement. Government is the structure by which people in a communist system may choose to enforce decisions.

As much as the writer seems to not understand socio/politico/economic terms, it appears the readers suffer form the same...

Re:He is describing Anarchism (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111285)

Indeed, few people recognize that one of Anarchism's greatest proponents was a leader in the International Workingmen's Association, along with Marx. Their political (but not economic) differences eventually led to a split in the International. And Bakunin predicted quite early that Marx's "Dictatorship of the Proletariat" would simply be a dictatorship. He best summed this up by saying, "Freedom without socialism is privilege and injustice, socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality".

Torrents (2, Insightful)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110715)

How about torrents?

Torrents are after all based on share to get. If you upload you get to download.

Communism at it's best.

Re:Torrents (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110891)

No, it is communism in practice.
One guy has a seed grows a plant, gets more seeds, he gives the seeds to ten other dudes so they can grow their own seeds. They plant their seeds then a hundred more dudes come in and strip the crop clean and don't even leave any seeds.

Re:Torrents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111003)

No, it is communism in practice. One guy has a seed grows a plant, gets more seeds, he gives the seeds to ten other dudes so they can grow their own seeds. They plant their seeds then The DEA comes in and strips the crop clean and doesn't even leave any seeds.

Fixed that for you

Re:Torrents (0, Offtopic)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111267)

Why would the dea confiscate your corn?

Re:Torrents (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111191)

Okay, that made waaaaay more sense in my head.

summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110745)

*snore* reads like a immature college essay... maybe sophomore year at best.

Freedom to change (1)

zerosomething (1353609) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110749)

-ism does seem to color all this. Communism is an all or nothing system. Either you are part of that group or you aren't and there isn't any option to have a different group inside that group, unless you run things. The difference with online groups is the freedom to be part of any of them and leave at any time. Try leaving your current country and it's form of government if they don't throw you in jail they certainly won't welcome you back. One of the founding ideas for the USA is the idea of freedom of assembly. Online communities are just part of that freedom

seems to play well together. (0, Troll)

fish_in_the_c (577259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110761)

There are certain inherent problems with the ideology commonly called socialism and communism and capitalism respectively.
But the basic problem of balancing out the individual within and against the context of the whole remains.

I only know of one organization that has really proposed a lot of well though out solutions and technology certainly can help get us there.
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_01051991_centesimus-annus_en.html [vatican.va] [vatican.va]

Completely confused (3, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110763)

The "power of working together" comes from shared individual resources and individual insights. There is no collective consciousness, no collective ideas. Voluntary collaboration is capitalistic and leads to progress. Communism/socialism, on the other hand, demands forced collaboration.

Re:Completely confused (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110971)

Voluntary collaboration is capitalistic and leads to progress.

Trite, and not always true. Voluntary collaboration does not always lead to progress. Sometimes it leads to collusion that prevents progress.

Communism/socialism, on the other hand, demands forced collaboration.

Which can also lead to progress.

I'd like to note that, with the exception of anarchical systems, capitalism also demands forced collaboration. There are choices removed by force in any system that contains a legal system.

Re:Completely confused (4, Informative)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111111)

Sometimes it leads to collusion

I don't think that word means what you think it means... How can total volunteerism lead to anything forced, as through fraud or the violation of rights?

Which can also lead to progress.

That is no justification for the inherent violation of individual rights that comes with such actions, though. That is why free market capitalism is the only moral system.

capitalism also demands forced collaboration

Words have meanings, regardless of whether you choose to acknowledge them. Any examples you could label as "force" under capitalism would be restrictions on the violations of individual rights - ie, self-defense or government retaliation against force.

Re:Completely confused (1)

Littleman_TAMU (589126) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110973)

You're spot on. The author shoehorns some sharing concepts such as CC and Wikipedia into his definition of "New Socialism" presumably to fit with his fancy opening graphic morphing everyone into neat puzzle pieces that all fit together.

open source/Chinese communism (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110779)

Once I had a friend from China who really liked to talk about politics. He told me about the Chinese government, and how they are mostly becoming capitalist, even though they keep the name of Communism.

Once he heard about open source, and so I explained it to him, finishing off with, "so in reality America is more communist than the Chinese." He got this shocked look that quickly turned into a bitter vengeful sort of look, and said nothing.

journalist pay is so low that (1)

qqi239 (1397769) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110791)

now it could attract only brain-dead pinkos.

communism? (3, Interesting)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110807)

"He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density at any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

Quote from one of the biggest Communists: Thomas Jefferson

Swing and a miss (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110811)

Wow, it feels like flashback in here!

I remember when Wired first came out, it was a "modern" magazine layout (i.e. scattered, glossy, and with articles indistinguishable from the ads interspersed throughout). I tried to read it a few times, and found that the articles were fluffy, hype-riddled garbage.

Strangely (or not), it survived--stranger still, some of the writers got quite good and occasionally insightful. Still a pain to read in print, but their website makes it bearable.

This article, is just like the good ol' days--hype-riddled garbage. Amongst huge numbers of other fallacies, he conveniently forgets the fact that the social(ist) media are first and foremost, capitalist advertising platforms.

Thank you Wired, for reminding us of your roots.

No more top-down central-planning and coercion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110819)

Sounds downright libertarian.

Voluntary relations to form voluntary communities organized from the ground-up with the property rights to make things stick.

Words are just words, but I find this the polar opposite of what we've gotten from socialism in the past. I do expect that Wired would call it "socialism."

ls -al (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110853)

.comrade

utter crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28110865)

This is utter crap. Which socialist or communist country has been been successful without letting go of some power in order to empower the individual? Even then they still are very oppressive denying rights that we all take for granted in the US.

I love Slashdot (1)

tthomas48 (180798) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110895)

It's not socialism when Slashdot users do it. It's libertarians pursuing a common goal without losing site of the individual within the constraints of an organization that while providing rules and standards is not a government.

Communal != Communism (1)

jadavis (473492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110913)

Communal behavior is encouraged in many forms in all social systems, regardless of the government-enforced economic system. It's called "being a good citizen", "being patriotic", "being polite", "being good", etc.

There is nothing anti-capitalist about good social behavior or working together without explicit payment. Many people could be strongly libertarian, yet give to charity, participate in community organizations, etc. -- and there's nothing inconsistent about that at all.

Are people really so one-dimensional that they can't see that "good idea" does not equal "good law"? Laws are only a last resort incentive to solve a problem, because they give government the power to take your possessions, freedom, and even your life.

Web vs. Meat (4, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110919)

Communism did not work in meat-reality for several basic reasons.

1. "...To each according to his needs." ignores luxury items, which no one needs, but people want. The existence of them makes people happy, and encourages work.

2. It discourages individuals from working hard, as you gain nothing by doing so. Only those with a huge altruistic streak, or similar need for approval have incentive to work.

3. "From each according to his capability". One of the major problems people have always had is to determine who is actually capable, as opposed to simply satisfactory. Capitalism, by offering HUGE incentives, tends to accurately discover who has capacity beyond minimal, while communism does not, resuolting in mediocre people being thought capable, thereby giving them authority.

When you look at the web as opposed to meat-world, certain realities appear.

First, everything on the web is at heart a luxury item. So what is going on is not "to each according to his needs", but instead "To each according to his desires."

Second, The work at heart is realtively easier and ENJOYABLE to some. Anyone that has spent an hour digging a hole and an hour writing code will tell you that. So you don't need to actually encourage people to work hard.

Third, capability on the web is easier to detect. More of it is one-person projects, and those are often signed. Software can be measured for speed, GUI can be easily be examined for ease of use.

Fourthly, most of what is offered on the web is relatively low value, not high value. Honestly, we use socialism a lot in the Meat world - for low value things. People don't pay money for a better subway seat. We use socialism to assign movie theater seats - people in wheel chairs get the wheel chair seats for free, they are not forced to pay more for them - even if they are in prime spots.

The web is not the meat-world. What works in one place will not work in the other.

That said, I find that capitalism still tends to triump over socialism even in the web for most areas where money, the requirement for capitalism, exists. No socialist effort is going to make a web site that beats Google, Apple's itune Store, or Amazon.

Yeah (2, Insightful)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110931)

I wonder how North Korean Slashdot readers would respond to that.

Oh, wait..

liberty (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110947)

There's nothing wrong with VOLUNTARY communal organization. So long as individuals can freely part ways, it's not abusive. Trying to lock people into it rapidly makes it evil.

Communism doesn't fail... (4, Interesting)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110949)

Communism doesn't fail, people who had power failed communism...

Every political ideology is right.... the people who have power, uses that power until they overuse it to their own profit so much that the majority of the people use their personal power ot overthrow them...

The only good thing that democracy has right now is: it's not crooked enough to have the population revolt against it.

I'm sure there will be one day that the people will wake up and know that their system is so corrupt, that the elected officials are only idiots who are popular and that the majority of the electorate refuse to vote because they know that no choice they can make will the right one, when every choice is a bad one...

I've heard similar language before. (1)

buttfscking (1515709) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110951)

One of my buddies wrote his thesis on how 4chan and other anonymous image boards have created a new variant of Communism. This has inspired me to go dig it up for another read.

I can't believe I'm saying it, but.. (4, Funny)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28110957)

from the no-in-soviet-russia-jokes-i-swear-to-god dept.

In soviet Russia, god swears to you?

Nice vocabulary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111033)

Me use many big words from dickshonary and me sound smarter.

Already got that covered... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28111065)

Wrote this article a long time ago : Link [wordpress.com]

Ummm no (3, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111071)

"Thus, digital socialism can be viewed as a third way that renders irrelevant the old debates."

No it doesn't. Why? Because on the one hand you're talking forms of government and on the other you're talking digital collaboration. Try comparing apples to apples and your analogy rings truer. What may work for pooling resources within a piece of technology may not fair well in societies at large. The main reason being that there are very real political differences not only between groups of individuals but individuals themselves. At the risk of being as guilty as the author, you see the same things within collaborative technologies as forking is prominent. Furthermore, even within companies there is such collaboration so "collaboration" need not equal "communism."

Like a fortune cookie... (2, Interesting)

philipkd (528838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111085)

Just add "on the Internet" to the key sentences and it all makes more sense.

The frantic global rush to connect everyone to everyone, all the time, is quietly giving rise to a revised version of socialism.

... on the Internet

These developments suggest a steady move toward a sort of socialism uniquely tuned for a networked world.

... on the Internet.

he aim of a collective, however, is to engineer a system where self-directed peers take responsibility for critical processes and where difficult decisions, such as sorting out priorities, are decided by all participants.

... on the Internet.

I wonder if these shocking cultural changes aren't as big of a deal as the Wired article makes it out to be, in that they're scoped only to the online world. The offline world may barely change in response. Then again, if everybody is more and more conducting most of their activities on the Internet, that's a different story.

Not a zero sum environment (1)

nkovacs (1199463) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111141)

In the digital realm it isn't a zero-sum game. If I help you write some code or share information with you then I don't lose it. In the physical world, if I share a cow or chicken with you then I have less food. It's easier to share when you don't lose that which you share.

Comments, lol (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111185)

Good thing the internet is communal and not communist, I couldn't imagine what the world would be like if the Government FORCED me to comment on slashdot articles. ... Wait...

Communism? (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111187)

Hardly. Do the people own the cables? The cell towers? The servers and routers? They even have control over their own hardware?

We're at the mercy of international conglomerates with government-granted monopolies and utility right-of-way, who censor our speech and interfere with our commerce, and what they can't do themselves they buy politicians to legislate for them.

But when any small municipality attempts to free themselves from the corporate stranglehold by erecting their own network infrastructure, they are sued into submission for "unfair competition".

That is the kind of communism we should strive for. It should be about the communal ownership of real things, things with measurable value, the very infrastructure on which we will base the future of the increasingly augmented human race, not a bunch of hippie-dippy nonsense about sharing and social media.

Free people cooperating does not socialism make (1)

KingFeanor (950059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28111193)

I think the author is making a large mistake based on not understanding the difference between free people freely acting and government enforcing of behavior. The government forcing me to 'share' my money with others via taxation and redistribution is very different than my voluntary donation to another person. Likewise, free people may decide that it in their best interests to cooperate on certain development (technological or otherwise) and share the results. That cooperation and sharing doesn't become socialism or communism until the government says that people MUST cooperate and share. The difference between cooperation and socialism then is law. Being coerced is much different than voluntary participation.
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