Class, Internet, and the Industrial System

tlmkr at tlmkr at
Wed Aug 2 12:05:02 MDT 1995

>tlmkr wrote:

> 	While the hardware is easily assimilated into the rules
> of bourgeois property, the software is much less so. However, the social
> relations between people, that is the essence of computer networks, is
> developing completely out side of the confines of bourgeois property. It is
> non-bureaucratic and, in the context of work and workers, arises out of
> purely technical considerations.

glevy replied:

>>Some comments:
>>1) software is covered by bourgeois property rules -- its just that some
>>consumers and *many* businesses choose to break those laws (more power
>>to them!);
>>2) the software is non-bureaucratic?  I don't know about that.  It seems
>>to me that bureaucratic structure and language is an integral part of the
>>software programs;
>>3) computers (hardware and software) are not purchased and deployed for
>>"purely technical reasons."  Economic considerations, such as the impact
>>on the productivity of labor and on the labor process, are very
>>significant (non-technical) reasons.

      1) Software is covered by property rules, however they are
much more difficult to enforce because the enforcement mechanisms were
not designed for this type of commodity. Also there is much less
agreement in society in general that software "theft" is a crime at
all that is why it is so common. Software is clearly different than
fridges and automobiles and the general public behaves as if it is.

      2) The social relations of computer networks are (potentially)
non-bureacratic, not the software.

      3)  The technical deals with technique and technology, and the
labor process and the productivity of labor are quite technical.

>>Don't forget all of the people that the software industry employs abroad
>>where they super-exploit mass production workers.  In many cases, since
>>the overwhelming majority of these workers are young women who are
>>brought into the labor market for the fist time to meed the needs of
>>capital, there is increasing proletarianization here abroad as well.

     The software industry employs abroad?? Women?? Mass production
workers ?? I always thought that most software was written by white
males in the "advanced" countries not by women flung into classical
mass production  type "shops" . Do you mean that IBM  and Microsoft
are training peasants in the third world to write C++ code, and that
they are busy hacking out the latest OS's and apps in mass production
shops?. This could be highly significant, please educate us with the

> 	 Workers who lost the first Unix to property, have, 20 years later,
> begun the project again. But it is quite different this time. They are not
> petty bourgeois as before but are being quickly proletarianized. Organizing
> freely on the Internet, they are building an international movement.

>>International movement for what? In whose interest?  Don't most consumers
>>now buy computers for entertainment purposes rather than organizing?

   International movement for a free technically superior operating
system. In the interest of programmers(workers) and every one else
who can benefit from such a thing. Consumers are creatures of the market
This OS is for workers, but it is available to all, free.

> rapid pace at which microcomputer technology is becoming available to all
> workers( in the "advanced" countries) is allowing for unprecedented
> participation of thousands of highly skilled workers in the project. They
> have armed to protect their work from property with the GNU (GNU's Not Unix)
> Projects General Public License (a copyleft ?). This movement has culminated
> in the Linux Community, and its great achievement the Linux operating system.
> It is a direct challenge to property, bureaucracy, and the market. It will
> rise as the single challenge of workers to the monopolistic, proprietary,
> software regime that has become Microsoft. It's strength is its technical
> superiority, the freedom of its membership, and the Unix experience.
> It is a beach head of the Dual Power that will catapult history out of
> its current impasse, into the new beginnings of the Proletarian Epoch.
>>Wow!  Talk about "commodity fetishism"! Software programs will not bring
>>about social revolution.  Technical tools are useless unless they are
>>used in a certain way for certain purposes.  They will not create "dual
>>power" -- that can only be brought about by people.

	The bourgeois revolution had two sides to it. The money side, and
the technique side. In the beginning they were separate, but they were
dependent on each other for development. In advanced capitalism they are
fused. Money dominates and controls technique.

	Workers are hired and forced to produce a commodity for the market to
appease the interest of capital. In the software industry, the market
produced Windows, OS2, and System7.  They suck. They are technically inferior
systems, with very bad user interfaces, designed simply to sell in a mass
market like breakfast cereal, hoola hoops, and disco music; for the soul
purpose of capital accumulation.  Some industries like them because the user
interface is designed to subjugate the worker to preprogrammed decision

	Consumers and the market love Windoze. But workers, whenever they
have had the freedom to choose, have almost always chosen some variation of
Unix. The slogan " Unix: live free or die" is testimony to the strength and
determination of workers to create a free Unix. That ambition is realised in
	It is more than just a matter of property. The market fails to
produce a technicaly superior OS because the user interface contains two
components, man(woman) and machine. In order to take advantage of the mass
numbers of unskilled consumers, the market must design a system and interface
that has as short a learning curve as possible; ie. it transfers control and
decision making into the program, away from the user. But computer technology
only reaches its potential, as man-machine system, by empowering the user,
BECAUSE THATS WHERE THE BRAINS ARE !!  Empowering the user means educating
the user and giving them the skills to use the technology to its full

	With the development of Linux workers have created a tool that is
uniquely proletarian, that demands the integration of education, and training
with production, which eliminates the consumer as an alienated social category.
The Linux community is not a program, it is an organization of workers that
have acted in their own interest, and by doing so have come into direct
conflict with the techniques and conventions of the capitalist system.
If they are successful it means the defeat of capital in this sector of
the economy, and an example for future proletarian activism. If this is
not an example of Dual Power then what is it?

>>All in all, I don't want to trust my fate or the fate of millions of other
>>workers to the promises of new technologies and computers.  If there is
>>going to be a proletarian revolution, we can't wait on this possible
>>development.  We control our own future -- not computers.

	You don't seem to understand what I'm talking about. The Linux OS is
not "new technology" (yet I suspect it will evolve into something "new").
Linux is simply the coding of the Unix OS for the i386 line of microprocessors
There are many versions of Unix for many different platforms. UNIX IS 25 YEARS
OLD!!  What is different about Linux is that workers have created it for them
selves in order to have more power over the computer system and its interface.
They cannot get this from any of the market OS's. Linux is exactly about
workers shaping and controlling their future.

>>On Fri, 28 Jul 1995 glevy at wrote:

> 2) the software is non-bureaucratic?  I don't know about that.  It seems
> to me that bureaucratic structure and language is an integral part of the
> software programs;

Louis Proyect:

Certain words become cheapened by their overuse. One such word is
"bureaucratic". When I was consulting with the Ministry of Construction
in Nicaragua on the only IBM mainframe in the country running IMS, the

tlmkr- Bureacracy is one of the many concepts that petty bourgeois
academia is unable to understand. I use it to mean a certain particular thing.
I intend to give a rigorous account of its technical/social function and
developmental progression.

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