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    A few notes:

    The argument that the free software movement is not a political one seems tenuous at best.

    Not only is the software freedom movement not an emancipatory political movement, it probably can’t be described as a political movement at all. We shouldn’t confuse consumption habits — such as the choice to use free software, or to abstain from consuming closed source software — for political engagement. Consumption is not a politically combative act — refraining from consumption even less so.

    To be sure, the struggles against the closure of the information commons and the commodification of socially produced information — as part of the broader struggle between exploiters and exploited — are by nature political. But free software development is not an autonomous site of production that is disconnected from the market.

    It is not clearly explained why a) consumption habits cannot be political (as is implied here), b) why software development being an “autonomous site of production this is disconnected from the market” is necessary for classification of the free software movement as a political movement. This is not to say that they are wrong—they may not be—just that the case is poorly made here, and I’d be interested in hearing more complete and organized arguments on the issue.

    I appreciate that the article acknowledges that free software cannot stand on its own economically. It needs some sort of supporting superstructure. Currently, paid software development and/or donation-based investment are the superstructures, providing software developers with the funds necessary to live life (this is obviously a generalization. Some may earn their income in ways besides these two). This is not to say that free software is bad, or impossible to sustain. Merely that there are real economic issues related to it that need to be addressed in any radical future of free software ascendancy in lieu of paid software. This issue seems to be often ignored by free software advocates (to be fair, acknowledging problems in a philosophy is generally a bad thing to do when proselytizing).

    The discussion of techno-utopianism is also interesting. I agree with the author that the notion of technology as “a force or natural law whose developments are impervious to human control — and therefore above social critique.” is a bad one. Technology, in its design and implementation, encodes the biases and structures of its creators (yes, yes, this may not be true for a future-developed general AI, but that is not what we’re talking about here). What we usually describe as software being “opinionated” could be equally seen as the manifestation of the political and social codes of the creator(s). That is, technology is not only not above social critique, it demands social critique, as do the economic structures around it (looking at you, Silicon Valley).

    I don’t always agree with Jacobin Mag, and I definitely have some problems with the particulars of this article. But it is always nice to see thoughtful discourse in this area, particularly discourse from outside the political bents most prevalent in technology.

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      It is not clearly explained why a) consumption habits cannot be political (as is implied here), b) why software development being an “autonomous site of production this is disconnected from the market” is necessary for classification of the free software movement as a political movement. This is not to say that they are wrong—they may not be—just that the case is poorly made here, and I’d be interested in hearing more complete and organized arguments on the issue.

      I agree. I think that when he mentions the Free Software Movement, he’s talking about people choosing to use Free Software which is far less political than developing it. I’m not sure how separate he sees the FSF from the Free Software movement as it’s definitely a political organization.

      The discussion of techno-utopianism is also interesting. I agree with the author that the notion of technology as “a force or natural law whose developments are impervious to human control — and therefore above social critique.” is a bad one. Technology, in its design and implementation, encodes the biases and structures of its creators (yes, yes, this may not be true for a future-developed general AI, but that is not what we’re talking about here). What we usually describe as software being “opinionated” could be equally seen as the manifestation of the political and social codes of the creator(s). That is, technology is not only not above social critique, it demands social critique, as do the economic structures around it (looking at you, Silicon Valley).

      You may also enjoy this article: Morality and the Idea of Progress in Silicon Valley.