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22C3/Free Software and Anarchism

Free Software & Anarchism, a lecture held at 22C3, (29.dec.2005 21:00 ) by Sandro Gaycken

The Connotation:

Industrialised development:

- Corporate interests - Hierarchically ordered - By leadership - Expencive - Secret

Free Development

- Users interests - not hierarchically ordered - by consensus - cheap - open

anarchical elements:

- no leadership or hierarchies - consensus-based - individual design options - open for participation

negative notions (FUD-initiative/Microsoft)

- orderlessness - no stability - no quality


- Openness implied: - new models of buisness & production - connection to communities - new concepts of ownership & copyright - challenges fundamental social structures - thus easily extensible to social reform and "revolution" - open X-initiatives, Oekonux, institutions

References to anarchy: - "Is a step toward the post-scaricity world" - Stallman - Counterfeits anarchical methods" - Milsom - "Has anarchists benefits" - Moglen

Preliminary criticism of the connotation:

- Not a genuine anarchical programm - no references to anarchical theories - rather methaphonical uses so far - rather colloquial understanding - rather superficial connection

Is Free Software really anarchical??

How can technology be political? - as part of the productive force - as medialising power structures - as technically demandint/predetermining certain structures for political/social actions (ingerent necessities) - as a conceptual or ideological paradigm

Anarchical Technology

Primary goal of Anarchism Individual liberty which is only limitid by liberty of others

Negative freedome: Abolition of.. Authoritarianism & hierarchies of all sorts, implicit or explicit Inequalities Capitalism, Competition, ....

Positive demands: self determination decentralisation Communities in free association Free agreement

What is an anarchical technology?

It's a technology which supports the positive anarchical demands while trying to abolish the negative sides

Minimal demands:

- Power structures: not medialising power principles - size and proportion: fitted to decentralized, local demands and a few workers - complexity and needed skill: fitted to little organizations, training and maintenance - ressources: fitted to local ressources with little energy and infrastructure

Maximal demands: - Full automation and full mechanization of any production - Fully sustainable local production, renewable energies and no pollution - Emergence of "possitive" technologies which allows people "to further develop their creative and human potentials" - Bookchin which proliferate "autonomous and creative intercourse among persons" - Illich

Anarchical Technology:

Negative example:

A large steel factory compound...

many workers hierarchical order, decisionmakers, specialists only one product a big market

positive example:

a sun furnace... just a few workers only basic organization no special skills to operate a variety of products little ressources, energy and infrastructure

Free software as a technology:

is a component of copmputers Computer production demands: Division of labour hierarchies global ressource infrastructures high energies big markets

Use presupposes: Money Energy, Infrastructure Specialists for maintenance

Other characteristics: predetermined in its possible uses often medializes power proliferating social and ideological paradigms regarding hierarchy, authoroty...

Free software as a technological deisng method:

is partly anarchical because: consensus based unguided individually variable open (non profit)

But freedom is enframed by:

Rules (GPL, Creative Commons) Often implicit hierarchical structures requires specialis knowledge often capitalist measurements software as a technology

Free Software is not a genuine anarchical technology!

as a technology: it happens only in computers wich need extensive capitalistic production methos, are still luxury commodities and often medialized

Capitalists & authorianists argue:

"Effective production & development need hierarchical structres, competition and financial stimulus"

Free Software has demonstrated the opposite:

Quality and productivity do not need interest in profit, competition or authoritative structures!

Free software as a case study against the alleged connection of production/development and profit and authority

Supported claim:

A non-capitalistic, non-hierarchical society is productive

Ideas for Anarchical Computing:

Further liberate free software by abandoning rules & implicit hierarchies and by...

Making programs & programming a lot easier so everyone can participate

Writing free machine software wich works on specific production machines to free communities from company dependance

Designing free (=patent free) hardware which embodies anarchical principles to promote anarchical communities

Designing sabotage software and devices enabling people to sabotage surrounding technologies they to not approve of (Hacking for Everyone)

Opening up the choice to sabotage

- Slightly helps people to control inherent necessities in political and social contexts

- allows people to de-medialize power structures around them

- gives people more choices towards technological determinism

- has strong and substantial demonstrative value as social protest against technological determinism


Anarchism, Free software, GPL

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