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Globalism, Corporatism and Open Source 633

Posted by JonKatz
from the can-open-source-save-the-networked-world? dept.
(Second in a series.) Globalism is the least hip political idea around at the moment, perhaps because it has been hijacked so completely by the multinationals. Herd-like college kids and knee-jerk political activists associate the term with a broad range of bugaboos, from cultural imperialism to sweatshops to environmental destruction. But others (like me) see it as the best hope for a world in which gaps between the tech and non-tech worlds are widening, and the have-nots are increasingly enraged at the haves. Philanthropist and open-society advocate George Soros is an ardent supporter globalization, despite its shortcomings. In response to this series, Niklas Saers e-mails this question: "Do you think developing countries will be able to use open source to develop and keep pace with the western world?" My answer: not unless they get open governments to support it. Soros supports globalism, and not only because of the new wealth he believes it can produce. Along with many Open Source advocates -- he believes in what supporters call a global open society that could ensure a greater degree of freedom than individual states can or will. Is it already too late for that?

To Soros, the current state of globalism -- capital is free but social concerns are underfunded -- represents a distortion of globalization, not its true promise.

Corporatism and globalism have become hopelessly confused in the public mind.The many excesses of valueless, greedy, proprietary and unrestrained multinational corporations have become enmeshed with tech-driven networked economies. It's difficult to even imagine what an effort it would take to separate one from another, sadly.

In his book George Soros on Globalization, the billionnaire asks for institutional reforms to address some of the many political concerns globalism raises:

l. Contain the instability of financial markets.

2. Complement the World Trade Organization (WTO),which is supposed to generate equitably-distributed global wealth, with equally powerful international organizations devoted to social goals, like reducing poverty and making necessary goods available all over the world.

3. Improve the quality of public life in countries suffering from corrupt, repressive or incompetent governments.

Free software advocates have argued for years now that open software could help create wealth and promote open societies in once-repressive, impoverished and technologically-primitive regimes. This idea is exciting. It attracted non-geeks like me to Open Source and Slashdot in the first place. That they are right is almost beside the point. How will proprietary software be curbed, and open software developed, in regimes that are corrupt and repressive? Why would these noxious governments support the use of software to develop an open society any more than they would encourage free speech or abandon censorship?

Legal scholars like Lawrence Lessig see the GPL as a major cornerstone of a vast, global "digital commons." So far, this vision has failed to materialize. In fact, new software is creating personalized, fragmented, narcissistic media in which screening and blocking (products, people, differing opinions) has become widely accepted, even epidemic.

In his terrific new biography of Richard Stallman, Free As In Freedom writer Sam Williams quotes Stallman: "What history says about the GNU project, twenty years from now, will depend on who wins the battle of freedom to use public knowledge. If we lose, we will be just a footnote. If we win, it is uncertain whether people will know the role of the GNU operating system -- if they think the system is 'Linux' they will build a false picture of what happened and why. But even if we win, what history people learn a hundred years from now is likely to depend on who dominates politically." So far, the big winners are the big corporations.

But Stallman, the Thomas Paine of the Net, is obviously right in some ways. To many people on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, the GNU project is already a footnote. It remains the most vibrant and exciting political idea on the Net, whatever the obstacles. But it seems that corporatism is too deeply entrenched to really change, and who is going to make it change? Few governments in the world as as powerful as Microsoft or AOL-Time-Warner. The multi-nationals are, in a way, the new nation-states of globalism. In recent years, they have been the primary beneficiaries of globalism -- as Soros concedes -- and for much of the undeveloped world and many political activists, they are the spawn of globalism's first generation of existence.

Soros skirts some major obstacles to his proper and idealistic vision. He recognizes that the networked global economy is forcing market values into areas where they don't properly or historically belong, from copyright to publishing to medicine to the law. These intrusions also occur in foreign cultures where they are distinctly unwelcome. Anti-Americanism has become a staple of life in many parts of Europe, and even more virulently elsewhere, where the United States is equated with evil, greed, corruption and blasphemy.

One of the great -- and widely foreseen -- political consequences of the rise of the Net was a widening gap between developed and undeveloped countries, many of which simply lack the infrastructure to wire up their populations and economies. How can governments in places like Afghanistan embrace open software and an open society if they can't even bring electricity and telephones to most of their citizens?

There's already enormous opposition to ideas like the ones Soros proposes. Market fundamentalists and conservatives object to tinkering with the global marketplace. And the broad range of people who call themselves "antiglobalization activists" don't buy the idea that globalization could conceivably improve lives in impoverished parts of the world. Many don't believe meetings should even be held by governmental officials to discuss globalism.

Soros argues that the world's worst conditions aren't necessarily caused by globalism. It's bad governments that are responsible for exploitive working conditions, lack of social and economic capital, and political repression.

Soros's primary argument is that globalism could be used as a powerful social tool, one that could undermine or circumvent incompetent or repressive regimes. The increased wealth globalization produces, he maintains, could make up for the inequities and other shortcomings of networked, global economies. The problem is that the winners don't compensate the losers, says Soros. "There is no international equivalent of the political process that occurs within individual states. While markets have become global, politics remain firmly rooted in the sovereignty of the state."

The Net becomes a significant political factor in this evolution, because it is both individualistic and trans-national. It permits the rapid movement of capital and, if open source activists are correct, could also use free software and other technologies as a powerful tool for developing nations who want to join the globalization movement.

But it's difficult to see by what process this is going to occur. As a result of globalization, the divisions between the world's rich and the poor continues to widen. According to the United Nations Development Program, the richest one percent of the world's population receives as much income as the poorest 57 percent. More than a billion people live on less than a dollar a day; nearly a billion lack any access to clean water; 826 million suffer from malnutrition; 10 million die annually due to lack of basic health care. Some of these conditions pre-dated globalization, but the new economy has hardly improved matters. And it seems to be generating hatred of the United States, where contemporary notions of globalism were born and shaped.

Next: Getting specific about reforming globalism.

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Globalism, Corporatism and Open Source

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  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:36AM (#3309777) Homepage Journal
    Jon ... I fear your slashdot headline generator [bbspot.com] has become jammed in the "on" position again.
  • quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "Herd-like college kids"

    But then, for the most part, you repeat yourself. As a college student, I'm amazed how often kids who have led sheltered lives, upon finding out there is more in the world, latch onto every new idea they get like its the holy grail of modern thought. I think this explains a lot of the college protests going on.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Essentially, how do underdeveloped countries build a middle class and have a democratic society?

      Ignored by most of the anti-globalism activists is that without a workable legal system, no amount of financial aid, loans, industrial investment, farming assistence, etc., will help create a middle class and a sustainable economy.

      Without the legal system, no other progress is feasable.

      • Absolutely. Many biggest problems that most underdeveloped countries are due to insufficient globalism, not to globalism itself.

        Corruption: One of the big factors of success in Western economies is transparency and lack of bribary. While we're far from 100% free of these, we're doing a lot better than most of the world. Look at the Enron scandal - we agree that it's inapprpriate for an auditor to go easy on the audits in order to gain more consulting work. The richest heads of state in the world are in third world countries. While rich people often hold elected office in the US, they're typically poorer instead of richer after it's all done (elections are expensive!).

        Opaque and bribary-ridden societies mean inefficient uses of resources. If funcionaries see a primary goal of their employment being to maximize graft, the net effect is that anything that involves government approval will take as much time and require as many participants as possible. It also increases the power of the well connected over the competant, so companies who tend to get government contracts tend to be lousy and them.

        Clear title to assets: A lot of the land in poor countries has unclear title, which means they can't be used as assets for loans, sold, or otherwise be treated as a form of wealth. The reasons for these are often due to a combination of a corrupt government (too many bribes to get the paperwork), and well intentioned but misguided attempts to enforce a more communal rural economy.

        Free trade: This is a problem in rich and poor countries, although rich countries tend to at lesat give lip service to free trade. If everyone is free to trade goods across national borders, the net effect is that everyone can do what they're most efficient at. Protectionism enables local producers to be less efficient, with the inevitable effect of empoverishing the many for the benefit of the few. For example, in the new US steel tariffs are estimated to cost at least three jobs in steel consuming and shipping industries for every steelworker job they save. Not only is it a bad thing for our trading partners, it's bad for ourselves. Everyone loses in protectionism.

    • by ADRA (37398)
      You concider collage kids to broadly. I think it is more an individual trying to make a difference in their society. Most people lack the ambitions to cause change directly, so they join groups that already have their acts together to make a difference.

      There will always be followers, that is a given. To exclude them as anonymous cattle would be an over simplification of the issue. They bring with the the morals and values that they have had. Instead of fighting globalization, they could be fighting for the environment, less taxes, more social spending, less social spending, less imegration, etc..
  • This guy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SkyLeach (188871) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:38AM (#3309792) Homepage
    Sounds like a closet communist trying to show that the GPL and open-source support communism.

    I think they are more like democracy, allowing everyone to know the truth and everyone to have a vote. Everybody knows humanity as a whole is greedy and collectivly ignorant of its own well-being. The only reason that open-source really works is because it has more of a republic-style structure. There are very smart people working in a tight-knit group for the good of the software and those that use it. They don't allow just anybody to get their hands on the code (read that as modify the CVS tree), and if the community doesn't like what's going on in it they fork and create a new small tight-knit group that does the same thing a different way.

    The problem with extending this philosophy to government is that software can passively take away the goods of the closed-source guys by the rules of supply and demand. Try to take away governments candy and you are going to pick a fight. They don't have to compete, they RULE. :-)
  • Double edged sword (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Clovert Agent (87154) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:38AM (#3309798)
    Like so many other things, globalisation can be good, or can be bad. Make that "can be great, or can be dreadful". Unfortunately, it seems to swing to one or t'other extremes, and the rhetoric certainly focuses on little else.

    Certainly the removal of trade barriers should be a force for good all round, but not when unrestricted trade allows a masive multinational to come in and crush local industry by running at a loss until the market is "secure".

    The only possible solution is a carefully moderated one, but that's what the EU was supposed to achieve, and it's proving a MUCH more painful process than expected.

    Trouble is, the conglomerates only ever talk about the pros, and the protesters only ever talk about the cons. It's very very rare to encounter a forum which discusses both sides frankly, AND attempts to find middle ground. Which is silly - there's no fundamental reason why everyone couldn't benefit from the process.

    2c, anyway.
    • by Stonehand (71085)

      Certainly the removal of trade barriers should be a force for good all round, but not when unrestricted trade allows a masive multinational to come in and crush local industry by running at a loss until the market is "secure".


      Which happens to be illegal under both US and WTO rules, if memory serves. The findings that other countries were "dumping" steel onto the US markets (selling it at below cost) were what enabled the President to impose steel tariffs.
      • by Glytch (4881)

        Ah, so globalism is good until it upsets bloated, inefficient US monopolies? Ah, I understand now. This explains the new US tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, too.

        For those not in the know, Canadian lumber companies are being [canada.com] punished [cbc.ca] by the US for having efficient, profitable mills, resulting if a few thousand layoffs. But that's okay, they're not Americans, so they don't matter.

        • Indeed. While dumping can happen, it's far from clear it was happening either with softwoods or steel. In the case of the steel industry, it was especially dubious, since minimills are doing just great. It's the old-line integrated steel producers that are having trouble. But this is largely because they signed terribly expensive deals with their unionized workers, including massive unfunded pension and health care deals for retired workers. This is one of the reasons why 401(k) deals are so good - you aren't screwed if your employer goes out of business!

          The big problem is, of course, that the highly paid steelworkers aren't able to add as much value per $ of salary as global competitors (or even local competitors from nonunionized mini mills). Thus, those jobs are inevitably going to be lost in a free economy.

          And as I said earlier, saving these jobs means we're going to lose three times as many jobs in other parts of the economy that rely on cheap steel. And we're going to be paying a heck of a lot more for cars, appliences, etcetera. In essence, tarrifs are taxing ourselves, but with a very, very stupid tax.

          I've always been unclear why those who most advocate a wealth transfer to the third world in the form of massive forign aid are so unwilling to lose a few US jobs in exchange for more jobs in countries that need them a lot more than we do. The third world needs jobs AND aid.

          The US economy should be based on the things we do best. Free trade is a great way to find out what you're good at with great accuracy and low latency. Nothing's worse for an economy than a government industrial policy.
  • Soros supports globalism, and not only because of the new wealth he believes it can produce.

    The cynic in me reads "new wealth he believes it can produce for him."
    • by FFFish (7567)
      Hmmm. According to the United Nations Development Program, the richest one percent of the world's population receives as much income as the poorest 57 percent. More than a billion people live on less than a dollar a day; nearly a billion lack any access to clean water; 826 million suffer from malnutrition; 10 million die annually due to lack of basic health care.

      George Soros has $3000 million to his name. He could rid himself of $2500 million and still be one of the wealthiest men on earth.

      That's seven million people fed for a year at a dollar a day. That'd be clean water for every person on the planet (clean water is easy; there's a sand-filter technology that's perhaps a hundred bucks a pop); that's all malnutrition eliminated; that's basic healthcare for everyone.

      George Soros could singlehandly wipe out most of the starvation/dire health problems on this planet. But he doesn't.

      For that matter, George is #60 on the Forbes list. Imagine if all those ultra-mega-elite rich were to get some compassion and donate 10% of their unimaginable wealth to solving these basic problems of human needs.

      Globalism isn't going to fix a damn thing. The rich will get richer, and the impoverished will continue to drop like flies because the rich don't care to share enough. (Which isn't to say that non-globalism is a cure. It isn't. The only cure is for the ultra-rich to become ultra-generous.)
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:19AM (#3310122)
        > George Soros has $3000 million to his name. He could rid himself of $2500 million and still be one of the wealthiest men on earth.
        >
        > That's seven million people fed for a year at a dollar a day.
        That's 0.1% of the world's population. But let's continue with your altruistic notion that George Soros (who earned his money) should divest himself of his wealth and distribute it "fairly".

        > That'd be clean water for every person on the planet (clean water is easy; there's a sand-filter technology that's perhaps a hundred bucks a pop); that's all malnutrition eliminated; that's basic healthcare for everyone.

        There are 6 billion people on the planet.

        George Soros could give each of them $0.50. (Or, more likely, governments could take his $3000 million, leaving him with nothing, and distribute the fifty cents "equally".)

        Next year, George Soros would have nothing to give. So even if you could provide basic health care, education, food, etc. for $0.50 per person per year (you'd be hard pressed to do it at $0.50 per person per day!) you can't go back to him, because you've drained him dry.

        Now whom will you loot to buy food and health care for the poor?

        > Imagine if all those ultra-mega-elite rich were to get some compassion and donate 10% of their unimaginable wealth to solving these basic problems of human needs.

        I have. Eventually, you run out of ultra-mega-elite rich people to loot, and the system collapses.

        No thanks. Look at the standard of living 100 years ago, and compare it to today. Flush toilets, hot water, antibiotics, refrigeration, crossing the Atlantic ocean in hours instead of weeks, air conditioning in the home and office, a printing press and Cray supercomputer on every desk, and if the price of that standard of living is that the people who made all these things possible get rich as a result of my choosing to purchase them, then so be it.

        • by ahde (95143)
          The problem is that it's not necessarily the people who make things possible that get rich. That's the rub alot of people have, but its misdirected, thanks in no small part to mega-corporate media.*

          And that's where OSS/FS exposes the problem more clearly. Software patents, copyright hording, monopolization, etc. are devices used by those who didn't make things possible (or who used to make things possible, but don't anymore) to maintain or increase their own wealth and power at the expense of new innovation.

          * Think Microsoft is big? GE could buy them outright and not even notice -- instead they've partnered with them

          • by Tackhead (54550)
            > The problem is that it's not necessarily the people who make things possible that get rich.

            No, but it's often likely. Considering myself as an example - I make my employer's product easier to use.

            Should I get all the money? No. I couldn't build that product myself, nor could I ship it, nor could I support it. So I get a portion of that money. It's called "wages".

            Your point about patents is well-stated - just because someone invented the transistor, doesn't mean they should get a royalty on every transistor in every IC ever fabbed.

            Those who invented the transistor were paid what they were worth (in both dollars and "fame" :) - if they hadn't been paid enough, they'd have done something else with their time.

            As for OSS/FS - the notion of a software commons by the voluntary consent of those writing the software in the commons - is great! Because software (unlike transistors) costs nothing to reproduce, if I choose to write something cool with the intention of allowing others to copy it, then everybody has something cool.

            Can I put food on the table that way? Probably not. I'm good at what I do, but I'm not that good. So I trade my labor for dollars, as do about 50-odd other people with whom I work. The guy who started the whole ball rolling (with little more than a good idea and some cash of his own) has made damn good money over the few years. He risked almost all he had, and has been rewarded commensurately ("$BIGNUM in the bank, $BIGHOUSE on the lot, and a fun place to work"). We have also been well-rewarded ("a good paying job in a fun place to work") in comparison with what we risked (which was almost nothing).

            And as a result of his risk and effort (and his willingness to trade some of his dollars for our work - meeting with our willingness to trade our work for some of his dollars), we've created a product that people are willing to trade their dollars for. Most of those dollars (after the looters take 40%) go to the coffers of the company, as well they should. If and when the company cannot support its customer base or develop products its customers wants, it hires more employees by offering them some of those dollars in the form of wages. (Umm, and again, the looters take about 40% of those dollars, too. Funny thing about looters. There never seem to be enough dollars for them to loot, or enough ways for them to loot dollars.)

            Can someone who's damn good at what he does put food on his table via open source/free software? Sure - so long as there's a geek in the bar, neither ESR nor RMS nor Linus will ever have to pay for beer again. :-)

            (And the best part about open source / free software is that because no dollars change hands, there's nothing for the looters to grab!)

            • I'm a looter. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. See, I depend on the police to protect me from getting my hard-earned money stolen when I take it to the bank. A bank that I know I'll be able to get my money back out of thanks to the FDIC. I know if my apartment complex catches on fire, the Fire Department will show up to try and put the fire out. When I eat meat, I know it's been inspected by the USDA. I drive to and from my high-paying job on roads maintained by the government of the city I live in. The reason why I had the knowledge to get the job is because I was educated at a public school, and a state-run university. (which I paid for with government-secured student loans) And I'm able to use the Internet to post this, thanks to the government research done developing it.

              So yes, I'm a looter. And if you've ever take advantage of similar benfits, you're a looter too.

          • Think Microsoft is big? GE could buy them outright and not even notice -- instead they've partnered with them.

            Check one of the stock websites. GE's market cap is only $60B greater than MSFT's. If you have a friend who has $150B laying around (to buy controlling interest in MSFT), let me know.

        • Where does FFFish say that George Soros is at all obligated to provide this service? He merely noted that Mr. Soros is able to provide great good at no impact to his lifestyle and chooses not to.

      • If you want to defeat starvation, health problems, and similar ills, there are probably scores of governments, rebel groups, and other local warlords that need to be hammered into the ground, first. Sending aid doesn't guarantee that ever reaches its intended recipients.
      • I believe that there is a fairly good chance there wont be much left in George's will for relatives. Most will be left to "good causes" (e.g. The Soros foundation...). This is also true of most self made [m|b]illonaires. In fact, Bill Gates - the devil himself - is on record as stating that only $200 million of his will is going to be inherited by relatives. The Bill & Maria Gates foundation overtook the Wellcome Trust as the largest charitable organisation in the world not so long back.

        And that is perfectly fair. We know that capital begits capital. If you are rich - and have good intentions - the best thing you can do is be greedy whilst alive. Then give away your money when you die. It will be a substantially larger contribution to good causes.
    • George Soros the billionaire who made his wealth in the global economy says that it's a good thing. Well, duh! you think the turkeys are going to vote for Christmas?!

      Certainly there's good things about globalisation, like getting poorer countries richer by global companies opening offices over there. Ireland is a good example - piss-poor 20-30 years back, now a thriving technology centre trading off the intelligence of its workforce. If you're contracting your coding out, the result should be the same whether the coders are 5 minutes round the corner or in Outer Mongolia. And that gets more money into Outer Mongolia (or wherever).

      But it also means you're competing against ppl in other countries for work, which screws up richer countries. Why hire a team of American engineers at $50k each when you can hire a team of British engineers at £25k ($35K) each? Or why hire a team of British engineers when you can hire a team of Ukrainian engineers for $10k each?

      Grab.

  • WTF! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Who the fuck says the whole world rates its 'success' by wether it has a DVD player and enough spendies to buy LOTR???

    Globalism is a stupid term being hijacked by any number of minority interest groups. ANY wealthy individual with broad commercial interests sees Globalism as a way to expand markets for consumer goods beyond the 'west'.

    "If only those Africans and Chinese would stop being so fucking self sufficient we could sell them burgers and running shoes! DVD players and Graphics Cards!" - Are we any better off for having these things?

    Admittedly I've just swallowed Noami Klein (tasty!) so I'm a bit fired up on this one - but come on guys - Open Source bringing the 'poor people' up to 'our' standards of living. Get a fucking life!
    • You've badly misunderstood the premise of globalization.

      For a metaphor, it's basically about extending the process that made the US into the world. Under the Articles of Confederation (before the Constitution) states were able to restrict imports from other states. There was no requriement that a state treate citizens from other states with the same rights as their own citizens. There were dramatic variances between states in wealth.

      One of the economic goals of the constitution is to build the US as a big free trade zone, to help with mutual growth, and build a nation as a whole instead of individual states. I think it works.

      So, before critizing globalization, ask yourself "would the US be better if the difference between Vermont and New Hampshire was as big as between the US and Canada?"

      Would we really want to need government permission to buy a house in a different state? Should all states have a high tarrif on furniture, so South Carolina wouldn't be able to win as a low cost producer? How about a 40% duty on microprocessors from other states? A foundry for every county!

      It wouldn't work. Barries to trade always cost you more than they get you.

      It isn't about Africans buying DVD players (although they're welcome to if they want them). It's about them being able to grow, make, and produce what they're best at and buy what others are best at.
  • by killthiskid (197397) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:44AM (#3309840) Homepage Journal

    So OSS had (has?) a chance to change the world, but is failing due to the cooperate-states that globaliazation has created?


    Is that what Katz is saying? This isn't a big surprise to anyone. Multi-national corps. are the new big power. They work outside the realm of any governing body... they can pick and choose the laws & regulations they want to effect a specific activity by choice of location. And what they can't escape, they can easily buy now aday.


    It seems that the trend is to remove the possibility of any significant number of people using 'free' software. I'm not saying it can be done away with all together, if nothing else OSS will move underground.


    And I stuggle to find any a real way in which free software will help those who don't have the fundamentals in life: food, shelter, medicine, etc... who gives a damn about OSS if you're starving? I stuggle to see the connection between the too...


    • by fruey (563914) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:02AM (#3309990) Homepage Journal
      Multi-national corps. are the new big power. They work outside the realm of any governing body... they can pick and choose the laws & regulations they want to effect a specific activity by choice of location. And what they can't escape, they can easily buy nowadays.

      So true. Greenpeace, amongst others, are fighting the fight as it should be fought. Buying up stock in big companies in order to have a legal right to pose questions to the board and have a right to response.

      Governments are all puppets controlled by big firms anyway. Clear as crystal.

      Open Source is anti-commercial, and fights against this, by attempting to remove the power of big firms like Microsoft, who have more power across more countries than most people realise. HUGE amounts of development cash are going to Redmond in order to pay for NT and 2000 licences in Africa, because the braindead US-funded consultants don't know about Open Source, or can't "sell" it because THERE IS NO BOTTOM LINE... just "Linux: FREE" doesn't speak to accountants in the World Bank.

      More development money could go directly to people ON THE GROUND in Africa and elsewhere if it wasn't paying Microsoft / Oracle / Informix / SAP people instead. That's where Open Source can aid development, although I'm sure we'll all agree that these socio-economic development efforts just help put infrastructures in place, but won't feed the starving unless people from the country itself wake up and become philanthropic (and too often they are just as greedy as the US coporations, since the American dream is all about money in your own pockets, rather than helping the fellow man, as far as most people I know are concerned).

      • > Governments are all puppets controlled by big firms anyway. Clear as crystal.

        Actually, Governments are puppets controlled by small firms. Else how would you explain the $35B entertainment industry's gutting of the $600B tech industry, a'la DMCA and CBDTPA?

        That's the real problem - graft and corruption. When men choose to trade favors for favors instead of dollars for merchandise, this is the result.

        The government of a capitalist economy would tell the Eisner/Valenti/Rosen "Axis of Content" that if technological change have rendered business model obsolete, they'd better come up with a new business model.

      • Governments are all puppets controlled by big firms anyway. Clear as crystal.

        Want to know why? Because some people (and politicians) have demanded that government step in and regulate the economy. Once businesses, who once had to mostly fend for themselves in the market, became regulated, a very strong incentive appeared to become involved with the government. The result? More corruption, subsidies, one-sided contracts, and handouts. Do you think for one second that Enron, Disney, the MPAA, or the RIAA would bother lobbying Congress if they knew their actions would be a waste of time? Of course not...they lobby because they know the government can act in their favor and grant them their wishes.

        So in response to this corruption, those citizens and politicians who called for the regulation then call for more restrictions on business activity. Businesses, given a stronger incentive to intervene in order to stay and grow profitable, will find ways to do so. This cycle repeates itself until you get to where we are today: the tired and ill-begotten [opinionjournal.com] march of campaign finance reform [cato.org] legislation.

        Soros, if he were an honest [cei.org] and true [newaus.com.au] capitalist, would know that government intervention in the marketplace does not solve problems, it only creates [cse.org] them and exacerbates [nationalcenter.org] those that already exist.
  • Sigh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:45AM (#3309851)
    Stories With keyword Globalism by Katz 9
    Stories with keyword Corporatism by Katz 49
    Stories with Keyword "Open Source" By Katz 173
  • by MonkeyBot (545313) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:45AM (#3309854)
    First of all, globalism is as much of a dream as communism. It looks good on paper, but people in general are too corrupt to make it work properly, so it will fail. Many Americans fail to see this because we live in a nation where our government's corruption is minimal RELATIVE TO MOST OTHER COUNTRIES (not meant to be flamebait--if you don't believe me, stop over in any South American or African country for a few days). Globalization will merely turn into an excuse to basically turn third world countries into slave nations. There will be no point in the rich trying to make themselves richer by exploiting people in their own country; they can already exploit the wealth gap that will be readily available in other countries! Don't believe me? It's already happening! And don't kid yourself with reform--PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY POLITICIANS, ARE INHERENTLY CORRUPT!
    Secondly, how is this "news for nerds" or "stuff that matters?" Just because you mention RMS doesn't mean we're interested!
    • we live in a nation where our government's corruption is minimal RELATIVE TO MOST OTHER COUNTRIES

      If you were to replace the word "minimal" with "less obvious" you might have a point. Do a web search on the Carlyle Group, United Defense, the Saudi Bin Laden family and George Bush Senior. Then we'll talk about corruption. Never mind the whole Enron/President Of The United States thing. Corruption in American society has become so common place that it is hardly worth mentioning. Not to mention that it is human nature to actively seek out other people's flaws while sweeping your own messes under the rug.

      • While you (and the people who modded you up) seem to have a tin-foil cap welded to your head, anyone who has a shred of common sense will realize that what passes for "corruption" in the US is piffle compared to what is common practice in the rest of the world. Look at what passes for "elections" in other countries. Look at how contracts for government services are awarded. Look how FREAKING PERMITS TO START A COMPANY are awarded. If you get outside of the US, Canada, and Western Europe, it's pretty damn hard (and with the Socialist governments in some of the EU countries, starting up a new company is pretty damn hard there, too; but that's incompetence, not corruption). Fantasizing about some imaginary link between Osama bin Laden and Bush, Sr. is nuts.

        There are regular studies of rates of corruption in governments world-wide. The US comes out close to the top; not at the top, but pretty close.

        There is a strong correlation between standard of living in a country and rates of corruption. The causation is likely on the side of the corruption, not on the low standard of living; countries that had low standards of living but little corruption (say, Hong Kong in the 1950's) raised their standards of living remarkably quickly.

        And, hey, those presidential connections sure helped Enron get bailed out, huh?

        -jon

    • by Knunov (158076) <eat@my.ass> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:40AM (#3310321) Homepage
      I'm with you 100%. If you even mention that America might not be corrupt to its core, you get flamed for being a naive flag-waver.

      The few Americans that have travelled extensively generally get a tourist's point-of-view of other countries. I've been (un)fortunate enough to partake in business dealings with other countries.

      Stuff that would get you fired and/or arrested in America is widely accepted, and even encouraged in other countries.

      I worked aboard a cruise ship and assisted the pursing department when the ship pulled into port. The port agents *expect*, not ask for, not hint, *expect* a bribe to make sure all the paperwork goes through smoothly.

      We kept a stock of whiskey bottles, wine and cartons of cigarettes in the captain's meeting room just for this reason. Some of the nastier agents/ports will require an envelope stuffed with money. Once in Turkey, the captain had to pay $5000 cash to avoid a $40,000 'fine'.

      And this happens in countries you wouldn't expect.

      France, Italy, Portugal and Spain were the 'least worst' offenders, with Italy being a little dirtier. Their port agents held a server that was shipped from the U.S. until we paid a $1000 duty. We told them to shove it, and had it re-routed to France. Their port agents only charged us a $500 duty...

      These fees are negotiable, you see, depending on the scumminess of the particular agent.

      Greece is bad. 50% of the cargo we had shipped to Greece somehow 'disappeared' from the port authority.

      India, Morocco and Turkey are borderline criminal. Want your luggage to get through Customs? Better have a 20-spot in your pocket.

      In fact, Gibraltar was the only port that didn't require greasing some port official's palm. It's run by Brits, so no surprise there.

      I never appreciated America more than when I tried to do business overseas.

      Knunov
      • by cryptochrome (303529) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @12:21PM (#3310632) Journal
        Amen.

        A certain amount of corruption will inevitably occur. What matters is how the government and especially the CITIZENS respond to it, once they become aware of it. Corruption is the single most dangerous threat to any government, and especially democracies, because a democracy that won't control corruption is not a democracy at all. Severe punishment and righteous indignation are the hallmarks of societies which can keep corruption in check, allowing themselves to prosper. Apathy and capitulation are hallmarks of societies which will allow corruption to grow until they can't even function.

        The US is pretty good about corruption, at least where domestic affairs are concerned, but we could be better, particularly with regard to corporate regulations and international concerns. Some spots in Northern Europe may be as good or better, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned they need a lot of improvement. Yes, even and in fact especially Japan.
        • The US is pretty good about corruption, at least where domestic affairs are concerned, but we could be better, particularly with regard to corporate regulations and international concerns.

          Here is an index of corruption [www.gwdg.de] compiled for nations around the world. Can't comment on its authoritativeness, but America is ranked as #16. Northern Europe is 'extra clean'.
    • Secondly, how is this "news for nerds" or "stuff that matters?"

      Are you saying that the future direction of our society isn't stuff that matters?

  • Globalism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mbbac (568880)
    Globalism's whole premise is based upon the presumption that so-called third world countries want to join us in becoming increasingly technologized.

    Secondly, it drives large corporatists crazy with dreams of raizing new nations of consumers -- ready to purchase their wares without sophistication or restraint.
  • "Globalism, Corporatism and Open Source"

    Nuff said...

  • For the life of me, I keep wondering why JonKatz continues to post stories on Slashdot, even though the majority of posts in a JonKatz article are basically cat-calls and color commentary on his relations with *insert any item here*. Is it possible that the editors of Slashdot have bought into the same line that JonKatz believes, that he is a serious Journalism/Editorial Writer?

    I click on ads on Slashdot daily, mainly because I don't want to pay for "editorial content" provided by JonKatz.

    Flamebait, troll, whatever I don't care. The author sounds like my cousin who got hooked on drugs in college and joined the Communist Party of America because they had some "really cool ideas about stuff."
    • Maybe, just maybe, it's because he starts serious, interesting discussion on interesting topics. If you don't like it, then use your preferences to stop reading it, but personally, I like the discussions and input provided by various slashdotters on the topic. Even if you only read Katz's article to gain some sense of context for the impending discussion, at least there are interesting points to be had from the discussion itself.

      Sadly, it appears that increasing my comment threshold to 3 hasn't blocked all Katz-whiners out, and I'm all out of mod points, so if you don't mind, do those of us who enjoy discussion a favour, block the stories out, and don't post to them. You don't have to deal with Katz, we don't have to deal with you, everyone wins.

      --Dan
  • Globalism is great for multinational corporations. Big business depends on cheap labor as a commodity to be sought out and exploited. Globalism removes the weak boundaries that might prevent a company from laying off it's entire domestic workforce and shipping it's jobs and money overseas... ala Nike. A strict utalitarian might argue that it betters the lives of workers in other nations by giving them a slightly better wage. Given the current climate of flag-wavin, USA-cheerin americans, it's hard to imagine people getting excited about allowing more US workers to get the axe just so that corporations can improve their bottom line.
  • Muahhahhahaha! Title says it all!

    Fuck the middle / upper class, let the Nerds rise up, w00t!

    Anyway. In all seriousness, I DO believe that the only halfway decent hope for a future that this already royally f'ed up planet has is to let the academics in charge, but NOT the bureaucratic ones, because bureaucrats suck, something awful. And they blow. At the same time. Yes folks, bureaucrats blow AND suck.

    They need to be shot into the moon with lawyers.

    Oddly enough if you let the Nerds into control you would find yourself in a Globalization style of a world rather quickly, as Nerds generally don't give a fuck about things like artificial boundaries and what not. Hell just look at the Chess masters during the Cold War. . . . ^_^

    (or Scientists during almost ANY war. The idea of cutting off science journal entries and such just because somebody was on an enemy side was / is abhorrent to the large majority of Scientists.)

    Anyway. That is my own personal wacko socio-political theory, what's yours? :)
  • After randomly rearranging the words in the first paragraph, I've found that, amazingly, they make about the same sense as the original version; they have roughly equivalent signal to noise ratios: range that? and multinationals. produce. new moment, "Do world society wealth of and individual perhaps keep least by think cultural western supporters which advocates what others only he a not the develop e-mails he My world?" shortcomings. call haves. it to the open Is it political with late governments to and between Soros the will and Open to it in kids with or it. Source this widening, at political developing able Saers greater best believes been is Soros (like In the the in around have-nots are environmental a series, believes can despite be you has its knee-jerk increasingly the is hijacked countries the hip open-society could as response from activists that George open to bugaboos, of non-tech states enraged Philanthropist many globalism, supports degree the Herd-like tech a an with use Globalism imperialism already than global because this because and the term are But a answer: hope to Along broad unless completely source will. to open can freedom me) they globalization, college ensure the it too idea and Niklas -- worlds gaps at not pace so get associate destruction. for supporter ardent see support for advocate sweatshops of question:
  • by cryptochrome (303529) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:51AM (#3309896) Journal
    People too often confuse globalism with some of its results. But globalism itself is rather simple. Throughout very time an improvement in transportation, shipping, and/or communication came about, the ability of an individual to trade goods and information got wider, leading to new opportunities for collaboration and new sources of conflict. As one region finds itself in a common market with another, it finds differences in culture that both enrich and enrage, and a market in which it may excel or suffer in due to natural advantages or disadvantages. The net result is generally a richer and more productive lifestyle on average - that frequently comes at the costs of individuals, cities, and now whole nations in the process.

    All globalism is is the latest and perhaps last ('til space) iteration of this process. It's just as inevitable as it was before. Fighting against it with favoratist practices just makes things harder. The less competitive nations and companies will naturally have a problem with it, as will anyone opposed to the market system in general (which explains all the neo-marxist college students). One thing is clear: your comfortable and predictable lifestyle (for however long you've had it) won't be there for you forever. Preserve the unique things that matter most, and be prepared to adapt to change and compete in the world.
  • by Knunov (158076) <eat@my.ass> on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @10:56AM (#3309940) Homepage
    Globalism

    Top left square.

    Imperialism

    Bottom right square.

    Open Source

    Center square.

    Corporatism

    2nd row, 2nd column square.

    Multi-nationals

    4th row, 4th column square.

    BINGO!!!!

    If he somehow included 'Post-Columbine', 'Hellmouth' and 'Post-911', I could have filled the entire card.

    Knunov
  • How can governments in places like Afghanistan embrace open software and an open society if they can't even bring electricity and telephones to most of their citizens?

    How can JK embrace open software and an open society when he doesn't even license his harangues under an open content license?

  • But others (like me) see it as the best hope for a world in which gaps between the tech and non-tech worlds are widening, and the have-nots are increasingly enraged at the haves.

    We'll be in the trouble if the have-nots decide to fight amongst each other and, in some cases, the rest of the world because of some sort of perverted religious motivation rather than just pure greed... oh.

    10 million die annually due to lack of basic health care.
    According to my calculations, that's roughly 1 out of every 700 people. Heck, I'd say that's a remarkable acheivement on behalf of the worldwide charities and modern medicine.

    Some of these conditions pre-dated globalization, but the new economy has hardly improved matters. And it seems to be generating hatred of the United States, where contemporary notions of globalism were born and shaped.
    Well, the United States as we know it started hardly a few centuries ago from scratch with a handful of political ideas to empower the people and encourage trade and economic growth. Other nations who have followed this example tends to prosper. The "winners versus losers" view is mostly a sad argument. The fact that the USA started capitalist and is still capitalist attests to the fact that it works and it benefits EVERYBODY. If I had to choose between a world where both Bill Gates and me were forced to live dirt poor, or a world where Bill Gates was mega-rich and I was pretty dang well off, I know which world I would choose.
  • http://www.dictionary.com/search?q=Globalism
    http ://www.dictionary.com/search?q=Corporatism
    http:/ /www.dictionary.com/search?q=Open%20Source

    I thought he was just making words up...
  • People are always fussing over the iniquities of capitalism, but it is the best system we have discovered so far on this planet to yoke progress to human nature, for wealth creation and personal betterment. It is meritocracy writ large: work hard, and you shall succeed.

    The problem is that the pure social darwinists, and there are still a lot out there, unfortunately, have absolutely no cognizance of how capitalism is still a messy, wasteful machine, and not the well-oiled engine of social justice they believe it to be. It is not a religion, and a lot people do get crushed by it, opportunity or not.

    If you think globally, what are you really doing? You are projecting the convergence of societies and technologies and such into the future by extrapolating what has already taken place in the recent past. And of course, it looks like the big bang in reverse: one big global marketplace of work, capital, and ideas.

    You can see that as the end-all evil end-game of the megacorporate republics, or you can see it as the grand equalizer of cronyism, regional chauvinism, virtual caste systems, slavery and human trafficking, chronic poverty, or any other grand injustice at work in the world today.

    The truth is that both visions are probably true, no dystopia, no utopia, just the continuation of the struggle. Except it would be writ large across the entire globe, where something that happens in Shanghai has just as much immediate effect in Caracas or Amsterdam as it does in Beijing. I think Globalism is still progess, because the new iniquities that replace the old ones don't seem as heinous to me.
  • The People of Afghanistan:
    Thank you for your wonderful open-source software. Can we... eat it?
  • Globalism could be good, but the mechanisms for it to work and be fair to everyone do not exist.
    If you really want to create a global economy that is fair you have to start thinking about things like a global minimum wage and global minimum worker entitlements, otherwise the multinational corporations will exploit the poorer countries even more than they do now.

    The current ideas of globalism that the WTO are pushing are the opposite of a democratic society. They reduce the role of the democratically elected government and give more power to corporations. This is not a good thing, as the public has NO control over a corporation, whereas they have some control over a government.

    As far as open source software and technology goes, there will be no extra benefits. They have as much access to that now as they will do in a global economy. For some countries this is nothing. For example if you are a non-government civilian living in Burma and are caught even posessing a computer or a private phone line you will be severely punished. People in Cambodia and many other countries don't want computers, they want their basic rights and needs, like food, clean water, decent shelter, a decent wage for a decent days work. If globalism addresses all of these social kinds of isses then I will give it the go ahead. Until then, lets help those that really need help.
  • by Bimble (28588)

    Herd-like college kids and knee-jerk political activists associate the term with a broad range of bugaboos, from cultural imperialism to sweatshops to environmental destruction. But others (like me) see it as the best hope for a world in which gaps between the tech and non-tech worlds are widening, and the have-nots are increasingly enraged at the haves.

    That's cute. By using derogatory terminology to refer to activists that have protested against globalization, you dismiss their arguments without ever having to demonstrate why you think they aren't important. That frees you to trumpet your own ideas without addressing the drawbacks of globalization as it is currently being approached by the US.

    The reason so many "knee-jerk activists" turned up in Seattle and elsewhere is because organizations like the WTO and trade agreements like NAFTA place an emphasis on global profit over local prosperity. It's an enforceable emphasis, too - under some of these agreements, if a corporation's profits would be hurt by new legislation (such as environmental or labor laws), a corporation can sue the government for compensation. That's had a discouraging effect on such legislation in countries that can't afford such compensation.

    It's great to tout the benefits of globalization, but don't dismiss its drawbacks. At the least, if you are going to dismiss its drawbacks, tell us why instead of hiding behind name-calling. Tell us why it isn't important that globalization agreements are preventing improved labor conditions in these third-world countries, and why they're interfering with environmental legislation in first-world countries (to the point of demanding repeal of laws implemented by elected officials). Globalization as it's practiced today has become an emphasis of capitalism over democracy, and name-calling won't make that problem go away.

  • I think Jon needs a bigger vocab. Although I'm still trying to get over the review he wrote for the movie Panic Room. Here are some of the buzz words in this article:

    Corporatism
    Globalism
    Open Source
    Linux
    bugaboos
    skirts
    electricity
    tele phones
    United Nations Development Program
    technologically-primitive regimes
    knee-jerk political activists

    I could go on and on....but I think you get the picture. Jon, instead of the word "skirts" try using "short dresses". Instead of "technologically-primitive regimes" try using "Amish people". You see? It isn't that tough!
  • .
    Concerned Slashdotter: Your Majesty, the people in the third world are angry, for they have no bread

    Katz: Let them have open source software

    OSS advocacy is one thing, but claiming it's a panacea to everything is ridiculous. People in developing countries need:
    1. Food
    2. Healthcare
    3. Non-corrupt governments

    As for Soros, more power to him and his charities, but when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Soros thinks they need stable financial markets, etc., because he's a capitalist and his only tool is the market.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:29AM (#3310231) Journal

    1. If defined as "using a common standard" globalism falls short for the same reason that monoculture crops, or everybody using the same e-mail program falls short: any failure in the system is exported everywhere.

    2. If defined as "free trade", it falls short because of the hidden costs that don't make it into the accountant's ledgers. For example, allowing international shipping on the Great Lakes seems like the obvious choice until you realize that trout are disappearing because of pests transported from foreign waters [usda.gov]. From the Black Death of the middle ages, to the great flu epidemic of WWI, trade and travel has always brought these increased risks. These risks almost never appear on the balance sheet when free trade proponents make their arguments. The rational way to maintain the benefits of trade and ensure against such losses is to impose reasonable tarrifs. The proceeds of said tarrifs must be used to inspect imported goods, write regulations, etc. That is the only fair way to pay for such activities because the revenue collected will be proportional to trade. Pulling revenues out of the general fund won't work because the temptation to skimp on inspections is already too great. At the very least, import-export companies should pay into some sort of insurance fund to pay for ecological disasters and epidemics.

    3. If defined as "world government" the problem is so painfully obvious that it almost lends credence to the conspiracy theorists who believe that globalism is a plot designed to start a world war and kill a few billion people. It's hard enough to keep Great Britain under one law. Can anyone seriously imagine bringing the entire world under one law without some serious butt-kicking? And for what? All because it looks so good on paper? And then when the government becomes evil where do you run? That brings us back to point 1--a monoculture government with no place for asylum seekers.

    4. Some people have argued that "we have to expand free trade to help the economy". More painfully obvious fallacies. If we need to expand free trade to help the economy, then the economy is helpless because there is a finite world in which to expand.

    5. If defined as "the UN" globalism is just a waste of time. Everybody has been marketed into believing that without the UN the world would sink into chaos. Bollox! Without the UN diplomats would continue to have ad-hoc meetings in times of crisis, and some left-leaning committees staffed by the wives of wealthy CEOs would no longer exist.

    Yeah, George Soros thinks something is a great idea... whatever. These are the same kind of people who brought us Keynes and the "fine tuning" of the economy.

  • One other thing to say; it's interesting that you describe Soros as a philanthropist. It seems like a lot of these wealthy donors favor systems that make it difficult for small business to enter the market. Copylefting software is a tool that does that. I have a theory about why the elites like copyleft. They saw Bill Gates, who was a nerd, rise to a position of power. BG shunned philanthropy until his father browbeat him into it. BG ignored the government until it attacked him. BG lobbied nobody until his enemies lobbied. Plainly, BG is not "one of them" and because proprietary software can allow people with nothing more than a good idea and a few thousand dollars to become billionaires, it plainly represents a threat to the power elites. They have to keep the nerds out of the country club. Nobody talked about the irrelevancy of government until BG got rich. Free Software everywhere would help the ruling class maintain their position. Policy wonks like Soros would become important again, free to force their ideas down people's throats. RMS and Lessig are nothing more than mouth-pieces funded by the power elites. If RMS's hadn't received the MacArthur grant, we might not even be talking about him.

  • here's the problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikec (7785) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @11:50AM (#3310406)
    The last paragraph betrays a huge misunderstanding of reality:


    As a result of globalization, the divisions between the world's rich and the poor continues to widen. According to the United Nations Development Program, the richest one percent of the world's population receives as much income as the poorest 57 percent. More than a billion people live on less than a dollar a day; nearly a billion lack any access to clean water; 826 million suffer from malnutrition; 10 million die annually due to lack of basic health care. Some of these conditions pre-dated globalization, but the new economy has hardly improved matters.

    This is so far from reality that it's hard to know where to start debunking. First of all "As a result of globalization" barely qualifies a hypothesis; it certainly isn't a proven fact. "As a result of disparities in legal respect for property rights" is a better hypothesis.

    Second, growing disparity between rich and poor is not necessarily bad. If you could wave a wand and improve the standard of living of the poor by 8x, but in the process make the rich 10x as rich, would you do so? If not, why not? Just because disparity would grow?

    Third, by almost all objective standards, the amount and severity of poverty in the world has dropped significantly during the era of globalization. There is less starvation; infant mortality is lower; life expectancy is longer; there is less malnutrition.

    Finally, the places where things haven't improved correspond not to hotbeds of globalization, but to regimes so repressive or corrupt that global investment doesn't happen. Globalization has barely touched most of Africa or North Korea because no one will invest. In those places the standard of living is wretched.
    • by delcielo (217760) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @01:23PM (#3311121) Journal
      This whole thing also assumes that money is the only measure of a life.

      The poor farmer in Thailand may know nothing of the internet, may not own a telephone, may not even trade most of his crops for money, trading it rather for other goods and services. Is he poor? Certainly. What's the quality of his life? Well, you'd have to ask him.

      He may live longer than you, may never know the dissatisfaction of being laid off. May never suffer the uncertainty of "finding himself" or the perennial angst of therapy. His soul doesn't need any chicken soup.

      The truth is, he may be richer than anybody we know.
  • by Wesley Everest (446824) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @12:00PM (#3310474)
    The term "anti-globalization" was made up by the "pro-globalization" folks. Unfortunately, many activists use it to describe themselves because that's what the "pro-globalization" media keeps using to refer to us. It's like talking about abortion and wondering how anyone could be "anti-life" or "anti-choice".

    So if the "anti-globalization" movement isn't really against globalization, then what is it really about? It's against a new form of top-down globalization, where ordinary people are stopped at borders, but corporations are free to move jobs whereever wages are kept artificially low (due to lack of ability of most third world workers to move to democratic countries that respect workers' rights). The movement is against new organizations that can veto national and local laws, yet the people affected by these decisions have no power to elect representatives to these organizations.

    In most if not all countries, things are stacked against ordinary people influencing the laws that affect their daily life. But in many semi-democratic countries, it is possible to change the laws if you spend many years building a large movement, forcing politicians to represent us. But imagine our surprise after finally having our voice heard, just the tiniest bit, only to have the WTO decide that our democratic rights are a violation of "free trade".

    You don't have to be a much of a cynic to see the folly in saying "if you don't like the laws the current crop of politicians enacted, vote them out", but at least with local and national governments, that is an option. When the WTO creates new rights for corporations and destroys rights for people, there isn't even a pretense of the ability to "vote them out".

    So, yes, I'm all about "globalism" or "internationalism" or whatever you want to call it. I'm just for a globalism controlled by the 5 billion or so people it affects. And this is hardly a new idea. Internationalism has been a fundamental aspect of the struggle since the early 1800's. We were fighting for it then, and we're fighting for it now. The Industrial Workers of the World [iww.org] had hundreds of members in Seattle to protest the World Trade Organization's idea of globalization, yet the IWW is as firmly committed to uniting working people across the globe as they were at their founding in 1905.

    And, yes, I'm happy that some billionaire likes the idea of a kinder-gentler unelected organization controlling our lives in a way that benefits us. That sure beats the sort of thing billionaires are usually arguing for. But that's hardly a solution. Doesn't anyone remember all that "of the people, by the people, for the people," crap? So this billionaire wants some kind of international body "for the people" but presumably of and by unelected politicians and corporations. That's a third of the way there. Hell, I'd be happy enough if it was at least honest - one vote for every $100,000,000 of wealth.

    As for how to get there... Free software is definitely one aspect of it. The general priniciple is people coming together and collectively creating and controlling the things that affect our lives. Free (as in speech) Software gives computer users the chance to opt out of Bill Gates' orwellian wet dreams, and it also demonstrates an alternative method of organization and creation. It even makes ideas of a sane future imaginable -- and, as a programmer, Free Software is the only method of software production and distribution that makes sense in a (hopefully not too distant) future where people are in charge instead of corporations. The general principle applies in all other spheres of life, as well -- joining together with others working at the workplace, in our communities, and so on.

  • global open society that could ensure a greater degree of freedom than individual states can or will. Is it already too late for that?

    In response to this "Linux myth", Microsoft chairman Bill Gates issued the following press release:
    My minions are already in a position to topple all world government and make me supreme leader. Your pathetic open source movement is powerless to stop me! Bwah ha ha ha ha!

    You can find more information at the new homepage for world domination, www.wehaveyouunderourthumb.com.

    Seriously, Jon, please. Open Source is an anticorporate movement; to the extent that the excessive power of corporations makes the lives of people who like to muck around with computers difficult, open source can help. Open source can even help to make technology cheaper, and reduce the economic clout of certain, particular, monopolistic corporations.

    However, the high price of technology is not the root cause of most of the evil in the world. The profits from selling software are not what props up the international corporations and allows them to subvert the political process around the world to their own ends. Even if the techno anarchists succeed in destroying not just Big Software, but Big Music and Big Media as well, how will that benefit some teenage girl making a nickel a day manufacturing CD player components while she's exposed to heavy metals and drinks cholera contaminated water in a ghetto in the philippines? Oh, the CD player will have Linux embedded in it! AND no big mean corporation will be able to make you embed DRM in the firmware!

    Free software advocates have argued for years now that open software could help create wealth and promote open societies in once-repressive, impoverished and technologically-primitive regimes.

    Like Rock music was going to?
    There is a certain truth to the argument that open source software is such a cool idea that it changes people on a philosophical level. So does la musica rock. I like Rock Music, and I like Open Source. Both of them have a highly positive impact on my quality of life, personally.

    However, when you're talking about injustice on a global scale, call me when Richard Stallman storms the bastille, okay?

    I'm a liberal, not a revolutionary by preference or inclination. I'm not looking for an excuse to promote armed struggle. However, when the institutions for moderate change, which is less disruptive to people's lives and welfare, if that is what you really care about and I do, have been co-opted so completely by reactionary forces, you're not left with a lot of options.

    Recall, global corporations have a serious weakness vis a vis nation-states. Evil megacorps do not engender real loyalty. They try, and you can envisage a (nightmarish) future, where they do, but I don't think that it's likely. They depend for their existence on loyalty to the institutions of law and government which we have erected for the public benefit, and which they are subverting to support their own agendas. There comes a point where significant numbers of people - smart, able, well organised people - begin to lose loyalty to those institutions. This enables conglomerates to seize more control of those institutions; see cycle, vicious.

    Now that the USSR is gone, people forget how close they came to winning, in how many ways and on how many fronts and at how many times. The institutions that protect our civil society, which seem to us so powerful exist purely in our heads; our society is not so different from the USSR is that it could collapse spontaneously based on the fickleness of the public mind; a fortress built of paper burns down in a day. I'm not just worried about the rise of corporate republics, as dystopic as such might be. I'm worried about the backlash from the other side of the political spectrum, which can be very, very ugly, and which threatened to stamp out civil society world wide as recently as 20 years ago. That is less than a generation. If you think that such sentiments are not simmering world wide just b/c the USSR is no longer helping them with their pamphletry, you are not paying attention.

    Can free (as in speech) software help stem the rage of 65% of the world's population against those implicated in their impoverishment? No, it can't. Sorry.
  • One of the problems of the "globalization" movement is that it is really a global capital movement but not a global labour movement.

    That is, all the WTO and G8 talks are designed to make it easy to send capital around the world easily but not allow people to move to different places according to need for skills. As long as corporations have global freedom but not people, we will have the disparity between different people. If a true market in labour existed where people could move anywhere where their skills were wanted, then dicatators would not be able to oppress their citizens so easily, since they could just leave.

    Open Source on a global Internet threatens monopoly power because it allows someone in Brazil to develop software that is used in Australia and that same person to use software developed in Finland. The software goes pretty directly from creator to user rather than having some intermediate owner like Microsoft controlling supply and demand.

    Open Source tends to reduce the tyranny of money, whch allows a controller of money such as a bank to profit without production, and return to a barter system where my labour is directly available to consumers, and their labour is directly available to me. This threatens the global money monopoly a lot. So that is one reason there is such an attempt to block easy flow of information products (DMCA SSCA etc.). Both the banks and Disney want to ensure that information only is exchanged through a medium where they get a cut.

    Remember that money doesn't really exist. It is just a convenient fiction to keep track of the exchange of the real things like goods and knowledge. Any thing that threatens this fiction is very dangerous.

  • > "Do you think developing countries will bable to use open source to develop and keep pace with the western world?" My answer: not unless they get open governments to support it.

    This misses one of the main points pushing open source in much of the developing world: Commercial software has secret inner workings that you can't know about. This puts you at the mercy of the corporation that built the software. It can have all sorts of trapdoors and spy code, and if you're on the network, the software can be sending your data back to headquarters without you knowing it.

    This is especially worrying to closed governments. If you were a third-world dictator, would you want a big American corporation to have a secret pipeline into your computers?

    The only real solution to such worries is to follow the same rule as any high-security installation: You only run programs for which you have all the source code. And you compile them yourself. And you make sure that you have a pool of loyal citizens who have the training to study the software and tell you what it can and can't do to you, and maybe modify it for your own purposes.

    Yeah, some governments are buying Microsoft and other corporations' software. They'll eventually find themselves at the mercy of those corporations. Maybe we should feel sorry for them. The smart ones won't fall into this trap.

    There's also the price issue ...

  • by SmartAs (262534) on Tuesday April 09, 2002 @02:13PM (#3311467)
    ... Woohoo, some meaty civic dialogue on /. I would like to share my ideas on the JonKatz post. I see how he paraphrased Soros as saying:

    "There is no international equivalent of the political process that occurs within individual states. While markets have become global, politics remain firmly rooted in the sovereignty of the state."

    I recommend Mr. Soros look at a mature academic concept called 'Regime Theory' [google.com]

    Any readers interested in connecting this concept to quantitative proof that being good pays, should attempt correlation with 'Game Theory' [teoma.com] as well. That ought to ring a bell with certain computer geeks in our community.

    Anyways, good luck. I know there is a thesis in here somewhere.

    - Later, SmartAs ...

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