[Marxism] What's So Important about Open Source & Linux?

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Thu Jan 2 07:39:58 MST 2014

*(resending because my reply was over-size due to not eliminating previous
posts, sorry)*
I've got a 15-year old document on the topic of IT and socialism waiting to
be updated, but in the meantime, as a contribution to our latest related
thread, here's another recent example:

In the last week or so (and it may have been mentioned here) various media
reported on how drug companies and others can track data from individuals'
apps as they google for symptoms, and treatment options, for various
illnesses. Using that data, a Big Pharma company could theoretically tailor
their output and product mix to shifts in illness type and location.

Obviously such data could be even more efficiently used as part of a
nationwide socialized medicine system, which could also use it for
democratic planning about provision of services. Instead in the meantime
the app data tracking, like other high-tech, large-volume data schemes,
will help tweak profit margins up.

In a socialized medicine system such indirect tracking of probable illness
patterns would be replaced with a consciously-planned system of data
warehouses and real-time view of illness patterns, number and demographics
of patients, and match them with provider and resource availability.


Instead we have a "system" in which data is fragmented among competing
institutions, sits in silos, or just isn't collected at all -- and all
because of the structure of the industry and our political refusal to take
advantage of that industry's objective socialization (the for-profit
megachains, the VA, Medicare's nationwide computer system, etc.). But
Obamcare actually takes us further AWAY from rational use of IT (as we've
seen with the sign-up fiasco). And the Rube Goldberg apparatus for
insurance sign-up is replicated in every sector of the healthcare
"industry." Sticking with the drugs example, we are in the midst of a
dangerous shortage of drugs commonly used in hospitals, at the very same
time that Big Pharma desperately looks for new or re-branded high-profit
drugs. The point being we KNOW, without fancy app-data-mining, where our
resources need to go. It's the profit system that stops use of existing
data, data whose manipulation doesn't require anything more powerful than
an Excel spreadsheet to calculate nationwide needs.

And I have to add that pro-DP pinheads like Michael Moore (see yesterday's
Times) are abetting this misuse of our social potential by urging tweaks to
what he himself describes as a system that just puts lipstick on a
pro-insurance industry dog.

More information about the Marxism mailing list