Bruce Sterling on Mon, 25 May 2009 13:50:56 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> The California Ideology is back, in the 2009 edition

*And ladies and gentlemen, this time around, the Californians are  

*Kevin Kelly:

"We're not talking about your grandfather's socialism. In fact, there  
is a long list of past movements this new socialism is not. It is not  
class warfare. It is not anti-American; indeed, digital socialism may  
be the newest American innovation. While old-school socialism was an  
arm of the state, digital socialism is socialism without the state.  
This new brand of socialism currently operates in the realm of culture  
and economics, rather than governmentâfor now.

"The type of communism with which Gates hoped to tar the creators of  
Linux was born in an era of enforced borders, centralized  
communications, and top-heavy industrial processes. Those constraints  
gave rise to a type of collective ownership that replaced the  
brilliant chaos of a free market with scientific five-year plans  
devised by an all-powerful politburo. This political operating system  
failed, to put it mildly. However, unlike those older strains of red- 
flag socialism, the new socialism runs over a borderless Internet,  
through a tightly integrated global economy. It is designed to  
heighten individual autonomy and thwart centralization. It is  
decentralization extreme.

"Instead of gathering on collective farms, we gather in collective  
worlds. Instead of state factories, we have desktop factories  
connected to virtual co-ops. Instead of sharing drill bits, picks, and  
shovels, we share apps, scripts, and APIs. Instead of faceless  
politburos, we have faceless meritocracies, where the only thing that  
matters is getting things done. Instead of national production, we  
have peer production. Instead of government rations and subsidies, we  
have a bounty of free goods.

"I recognize that the word socialism is bound to make many readers  
twitch. It carries tremendous cultural baggage, as do the related  
terms communal, communitarian, and collective. I use socialismbecause  
technically it is the best word to indicate a range of technologies  
that rely for their power on social interactions. Broadly, collective  
action is what Web sites and Net-connected apps generate when they  
harness input from the global audience. Of course, there's rhetorical  
danger in lumping so many types of organization under such an  
inflammatory heading. But there are no unsoiled terms available, so we  
might as well redeem this one.

"When masses of people who own the means of production work toward a  
common goal and share their products in common, when they contribute  
labor without wages and enjoy the fruits free of charge, it's not  
unreasonable to call that socialism...."

*Lots more hot new American techno-socialism right over here!

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: