I’ve recently heard some conversation trying to sully or tarnish the idea of openness by associating it with socialism. (Of course, if there’s anything you don’t like in the US today the standard response is to label it “socialist,” despite the fact that many labelers can neither define nor spell the term properly.) However, from my perspective some of the most important forms of openness are simply about obeying one of the standard laws of capitalism: if I pay for a good or service, I am entitled to the good or service. Could the market (or society) survive if we didn’t obey this rule?
David WielyThe Twice-Paid Paradox
Mr. Wiley is one of the good guys whose ideas we can only hope prevail. But I have to say this recent post drove me a little batty. After the election of Obama last year, you would think that we would all be rushing to create a new, more challenging rhetoric that would push the ideals of democracy forward rather than simply reacting to the wing-nut tea beggars whose masters only wish to create a false sense of outrage behind which they can hide obstructionist policies. The longer they wait, they think, the most tarnished the liberal majority in Congress and the more successfully they can promote their reactionary policies.
Mr. Wiley’s argument is an old one with a certain veracity. This looks like radicalism, but if you look closely, it’s not. Open culture and software is simply capitalism repeated, with a difference. I don’t think that argument has ever worked with anyone other than true believers (and some of the believers are probably being cynical). I think he should just keep working on articulating the positive effects, economically, socially, and politically, of not allowing private property to dominate technological development. It took a generation to make capitalism a good word again. It’ll take another to clean up democratic socialism.