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The Internet and New Socialism

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The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Jazznews » Tue May 26, 2009 7:25 pm

This is an interesting article, about the internet and open source being the new form of socialism...

Bill Gates once derided open source advocates with the worst epithet a capitalist can muster. These folks, he said, were a "new modern-day sort of communists," a malevolent force bent on destroying the monopolistic incentive that helps support the American dream. Gates was wrong: Open source zealots are more likely to be libertarians than commie pinkos. Yet there is some truth to his allegation. The frantic global rush to connect everyone to everyone, all the time, is quietly giving rise to a revised version of socialism.

Communal aspects of digital culture run deep and wide. Wikipedia is just one remarkable example of an emerging collectivism—and not just Wikipedia but wikiness at large. Ward Cunningham, who invented the first collaborative Web page in 1994, tracks nearly 150 wiki engines today...

The Old
Socialism


Authority centralized among elite officials
Limited resources dispensed by the state
Forced labor in government factories
Property owned in common
Government- controlled information
Harsh penalties for criticizing leaders


The New
Socialism


Power distributed among ad hoc participants
Unlimited, free cloud computing
Volunteer group work a la Wikipedia
Sharing protected by Creative Commons
Real-time Twitter and RSS feeds
Passionate opinions on the Huffington Post


...
Wired
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby LLUrbanUnderachiever » Tue May 26, 2009 7:47 pm

Sounds pretty alright to me.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Madsci » Tue May 26, 2009 8:32 pm

Socialism has evolved. I like it.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Jazznews » Wed May 27, 2009 10:23 am

Yeah, it is okay.

The article mentions the site Wetpaint. I've never heard of that before.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Nick Berigan » Thu May 28, 2009 1:10 pm

Let's please keep in mind that the entire national (by)product of wiki-ness, RSS feeds and twitterism would not fill an empty plastic bread bag.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Jazznews » Fri May 29, 2009 11:04 am

Nick Berigan wrote:Let's please keep in mind that the entire national (by)product of wiki-ness, RSS feeds and twitterism would not fill an empty plastic bread bag.


Right, it's virtual, just bits and bytes. And there are many people who don't have computers or access to the internet, so they are left out.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Nick Berigan » Fri May 29, 2009 12:14 pm

My point was that, in debating socialism and capitalism, which are systems that attempt to define the means of production, you might want to talk about some actual products.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby ArturoBandini » Fri May 29, 2009 2:30 pm

I'm not advocating that blogs, wikis, and so on should be the foundation of our economy, but they certainly have marketable value - what are all those ads are doing on the sidebars? Just because the product isn't measurable in tons or gallons doesn't mean you can't measure it in dollars. Are Windows Vista DVD's sold on the value of the plastic disc and packaging? How about newspapers - you're really buying the wood pulp, right? Ideas and idea-tools (like software) have real value. I think that this value is entirely dependent on the production of things of greater value (food, shelter, beer - the real essentials).

On topic - I don't see the internet and the forms of communication it enables (open source, forums etc.) as part of capitalism or socialism, using the traditional economic definitions. "Socialism" is too widely-applicable a term I suppose - the internet enables new forms of social behavior sure, but doesn't really have much to do with central economic planning or owning the apparatus of real production, as you've noted, Nick B. The internet and its offshoots isn't going to control the farming of wheat or the manufacture of shoes (yet), so point taken.

Any actual socialists here have an opinion on internet socialism? I went to a couple of ISO meeting a few years ago, as a learning experience. It seemed to me that they were really wedded to the idea of underground printing presses, as a central tenet of their ideology. Is anyone stopping Socialists from making their pamphlets at Kinkos like everyone else? I hope not. Also - do the proletariat HAVE to rise up to be true-red socialism?
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Jazznews » Fri May 29, 2009 3:46 pm

No. of course the internet won't control the means of production. But of course Marx never foresaw anything like the internet. I wonder what he would do with it? You can organize and get ideas out easily. Not making posters at Kinkos - or better - a Union shop - but sending messages to friends and others. Imagine what Karl Marx's Facebook would look like. :)

Look at what MoveOn has done - getting people to organize against the Bush administration. A lot of young people send messages with computers, cell phones, etc. It's controlling information, not so much means of production. And with jobs disappearing the way they are, it's getting harder to control anything to do with production.

But there are governments that have shut down the internet because they fear it - Iran has shut down Facebook because Ahmadinejad's opponent was using it to communicate. China shuts down the internet - like after the Tibetan uprising - they shut down all sites having any information from Tibetans and sent out their own version of what happened.

I think the problem with the internet and the wikis is that it's sometimes hard to know what's real or not. People can flood it with misinformation as well as real information. But I guess the point of that article is that everyone who uses it has some say in what's out there, as long as it's still free.
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Re: The Internet and New Socialism

Postby Nick Berigan » Fri May 29, 2009 7:00 pm

Your examples are fine examples of people using the internet to organize AGAINST bad government. My limited background in exposure to socialists tells me that socialism argues FOR a concept that relates to having less private ownership in some key areas. If you want to make the argument that the shared experience of some aspects of the internet is training people to become familiar with sharing, then there may be something to that. But at some point, I would think that for democratic socialism to arise, you would have to have a large number of individuals espousing less private ownership (hey, maybe a political party!) to advance socialist outcomes.

After we all decided George Bush actually WAS the madmen that the left had said he was, and threw him out (using the internet a lot) did we find ourselves with a large number of people willing to, for instance, advance the cause of a collective health system? Or are we just going to enrich the insurance industry yet more by making everybody buy a policy from it presuming that their capacity to trot out Harold and Louise again makes this inevitable?

When they tell YOU that you have to pay more taxes for a collective approach are you ready for that? (Whether that is true or not is another debate.) I am but I don't think the internet had anything to do with my attitude about this matter. I happen to think that society is going to fall apart is we don't go down some of these not-for-profit roads.

Would that view of potential damage to society define me as a socialist? I don't really know.
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