24C3 - 1.01

24th Chaos Communication Congress
Volldampf voraus!

Tomislav Medak
Toni Prug
Marcell Mars
Dmytri Kleiner
Day Day 3 (2007-12-29)
Room Saal 1
Start time 12:45
Duration 01:00
ID 2311
Event type lecture
Track Society
Language en

Hacking ideologies, part 2: Open Source, a capitalist movement

Free Software, Free Drugs and an ethics of death

The Open Source initiative re-interpreted Free Software to include it into the neo-liberal ideology and the capitalist economy - whose aims are contrary to the FS starting axioms/freedoms. This platform will focus on ideological and political aspects of this. It will also suggest FS recovery strategies.

Believe. "The World is Yours." (Ian Brown, 2007)

What is Re-interpretation of FS by Open Source ?

In The Revenge of the Hackers, Eric Raymond talks about Open Source goals in clear terms: "In conventional marketing terms, our job was to re-brand the product, and build its reputation into one the corporate world would hasten to buy."


The move of the Open Source initiative to bring Free Software closer to capitalism shows that:

a) there is a gap between the Free Software movement and capitalism;

b) without a significant institutional intervention and re-interpretation that gap can not be overcome;

c) it is the founding documents (practice of Open Source doesn't differ), ethics that Richard Stallman stands by so fiercely, that are the bite that capitalism can not subsume, swallow in its original form.


Open Source is a neo-liberal, parliamentary capitalist social movement.

Neo-liberalism claims they're "just doing it" for the sake of a better economy, without any ideological beliefs. As if any economy, or any act, was possible without decisions determined by a set of ideas and beliefs.

This is why Nike's slogan "just do it" is the best summary of the capitalist ideology ever.

And this is why "Open source is a development methodology; free software is a social movement" (Stallman), misses the crucial point.

Open Source is not just a development methodology, but a social movement too, a social movement of a different kind, with different, parliamentary capitalist, goals.

Another problem lies in the claims that Open Source separates ethics from the technical side of Free Software (Stallman, "Why 'Open Source' misses the point about Free Software"), thus making it acceptable to corporations.

This implies two wrong statements about Open Source:

a) it has no ethics of its own;

b) there are purely technical solutions which can be used without any ethical, political, or ideological commitments.

The result of these mistakes is widespread comparison of Free Software and Open Source on false, crucially misleading terms:

  • one (FS) operating under the weight and demand of its ethics;

  • the other (OS) getting away without being examined at all, basking in the purity of its technical attributes and various business-friendly tags

This is how the ethics, the ideology and, indeed, the politics of Open Source slip through unexamined and unchallenged -- like the capitalist ideologies whose key strategy has historically been to accuse any political opponents of ethical commitments, while insisting on their own "pragmatism" and on the purely technical aspect of "just getting things done".

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