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[liberationtech] Copyleft and Capital: The free software and free culture movments’ orientation towards liberty and rights at the expense of coherent ideology and meaningful transformation

彭裕洪 pang_yue_hung at riseup.net
Wed Jan 17 13:30:56 PST 2018


Hi Emaline,

It would be great to get our thoughts on my direction so far. I'm attaching
the pdf (they're all in one) but please don't feel obligated to read the
other chapters. Looking forward to getting your feedback!

On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 1:27 PM, Emaline <emaline at riseup.net> wrote:

> Hey there,
>
> Your work sounds really interesting. I'm versed in the thought you've
> mentioned, and would be happy to provide some feedback. A little bit about
> me: I'm a researcher/activist currently working with a tech group
> developing free software called Holochain (a post-blockchain alternative /
> commons transition digital enviro). My background is in psychoanalysis, so
> the reactionary and self-defeating tendencies are of great interest to me
> :) Perhaps I could begin with your first chapter?
>
> Take care,
>
> Emaline
>
> On 01/16/2018 11:31 PM, Kyra wrote:
>
> Hello all,
>
> I've been working on a multi-part analysis of the online privacy and free
> software/culture movements critiquing a lot of the reactionary and
> self-defeating tendencies within them, and (hopefully) offering some
> possibilities for stronger ways to organize around these ideas. I'd love
> feedback from others who are well versed in critical race theory,
> postcolonial studies, and dialectical and historical materialism.
>
> It's called Copyleft and Captial, and is made up of three parts for which
> I will paste the summaries below. Please let me know if you would be
> interested in reading it, or a section of it, and I can send you a copy!
>
> 1. Treachery of the Commons: Media’s Commodity and Ideological
> Characteristics
>
> The free culture movement advocates for copyright and intellectual
> property reform, or total abolishment thereof. In doing so, its proponents
> celebrate democratizing, decentralizing, and utopian qualities of digital
> technology and the internet. While they argue for greater artistic freedom,
> creativity, and innovation, they ignore the greater part of the damage
> inflicted by, or rather through, intellectual property. The continued
> legacies of colonialism, racism, and slavery live on through whatever
> commodity forms exist within capitalism, and a holistic critique not only
> of private IP such as copyright, trademark, and patents, but also of the
> commons, public domain, and free culture is needed for a movement against
> the former to have salience for those marginalized peoples who have endured
> the brunt of economic and cultural devastation enabled by private
> immaterial property.
>
> 2. Some Were Already Anonymous: The Liberalism of Privacy Rights and the
> Persistence of Surveillance
>
> The rise of user tracking, data mining, and other forms of digital
> surveillance has, in some capacity, been met with a growing movement for
> online privacy, digital rights, and cyber security. Digital technology is
> often offered as an empowering force for the public while also constituting
> the vast majority of the broad and ubiquitous apparatus of mass
> surveillance. Examining the work and messaging of prominent technologists
> and technology-focused organizations in the arena of free software (also
> popularly marketed as open source software) as they tackle issues of
> privacy, this paper considers the types of surveillance that are challenged
> by technology-focused approaches, their limits, and the extent to which
> these projects address the stratified use and impact of different forms of
> surveillance across populations.
>
> 3. The freer the software, the freer the user:The self-defeating
> liberalism of the free software movement
>
> The free software movement, while rarely expressed in these most critical
> terms, opposes outright the private ownership of software and, to a lesser
> extent, any means by which technology users are detached or restricted from
> having full control over their data and computing. While that may not sound
> particularly reformist in its own right at that fundamental standpoint, and
> with some modification or alternative approach may even hold some value for
> radical leftists, the reactionary liberalism of the free software movement
> as a whole becomes evident when pulling into examination its foundational
> texts, formative contributors, and contemporary advocacy materials. This
> paper interrogates the motivations, rationale, tactics, ideology, and
> impact of  this particular movement to outline its contradictions,
> limitations, and shortcomings. In unpacking the so-called philosophy of
> free software (also called libre software), the movement reveals itself to
> be detrimentally single-minded, politically innocuous, and ultimately
> self-defeating. What possibilities lie in potential attempts at salvaging
> or towards recalibration of some driving concepts behind the constructions
> of “free software” and “user freedom,” or what valuable affinities with
> other struggles might be forged from an entirely different starting point?
>
> Warmly,
> Pang Yue Hung
>
>
>
>
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