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Open Source: Many of the benefits of socialism without the baggage

I wonder how much Open Source has contributed to the massive decline in global poverty.

I suspect it's role is not at all trivial. The ethic of "let solve problems because they are worth solving, with or without profit" and "let's share those powerful tools to the masses" Changed the game in exponential ways.

How many business decisions are made in the world today without the use of Linux, apache, mysql, php, or another free variant of such? Nearly none. We have cheap smartphones in the pockets of the poor and developing world powered by linux or a variant.

When I was a kid, It cost dollars to call a state away. I recently watched my kids play 'Magic the Gathering' with over video chat with their friends in Australia for several hours. If technology can be used this trivially, How big of an impact is it having where it generates goods and services? If you can afford to negotiate for hours over a game, you can afford to negotiate for seed, tools, medical missionaries, well drilling missionaries, and all kinds of things that will make life better, freeing people from doing subsistence tasks and being able to move to more exponential endeavors of building tools and infrastructure.

There is a libertarian socialism that has emerged without the need for government revolution or force. It is handing the means of production to the masses. Those tools being distributed allow communities much better ability to solve problems locally and to communicate and coordinate with others to obtain resources that are needed.

You get many benefits of socialism without the the need for government involvement at all. We still have a ways to go. As Open Source ethos spreads outside of the software realm, and into hardware, we can expect it to further accelerate it's compounding interest of making things cheaper and better. Gradually we will let go of the old way of doing things, and migrate to the new. It only makes sense -- Even the big oligopoly software companies are joining the movement. The old expensive systems will be circumvented by the path of least resistance.

This thought was inspired by Mike Overby's post

Top comments (2)

ivanbodnar profile image

What you are describing is a byproduct of capitalism and individual liberty, it could have never existed with socialism.

jreighley profile image

The open source movement is nearly by definition "socialism" Public ownership of the means of production.

I think the problem we have is that we always conflate economic systems with statism. Laissez faire may bring about socialism where it makes sense.

When we look at the world via a state down political lens we have to choose between capitalism and socialism. But If we ignore the state and go about business as it makes sense, we see a lot of co-operation and free sharing of the tools of production. You can get your tools from Github, or you can get them from Oracle.

It is the State that Corrupts both systems. The state is nearly always going to be a tool of the oligarchs that can afford to "educate" the state, because the State doesn't know how to do anything without being told by an expert. The regulated use the state to require businesses operate like they do, making it too expensive or illegal for start-ups to try to compete via different business model or method. Patents also corrupt freedom via state interference. The state corrupts socialism by using coercion to attempt to bring it about. The state seems to excel at making unintended consequences. Laissez faire brings about darwinistic progress.. That which works works, that which fails fails.

Politics isn't the answer- The free sharing of technology is. As we shift our focus away from politics and towards enjoying solving problems, the politics becomes a lot less important and a lot less dangerous.

The main issue we have now is that the public doesn't know about the insane exponential progress, and talking about it is dismissed as political rhetoric..