Linux users are commies?

An article in OSOpinion discusses a common theme from commentators who know next to nothing about history or politics. Linux nerds, he posits, are communists following Marxist ideology of collective ownership.

Unfortunately this assumption is tainted by a century where a number of totalisation regimes have called themselves or others "communist". It is also tainted by the ideology of the US that communism=unamerican.

Equally the notion that free software is anti-capitalist leads to the knee jerking in the communist direction. Free software is in fact highly compatible with capitalism: witness the recent RedHat IPO. It's just that conventional wisdom in the computer business is that your code is the crown jewels, when in fact what people are paying for is the service. Big companies like IBM are slowly starting to realise this.\r\n\r\n

So with all these apolitical nerds around, what sort of politics does cover free software? Why anarchy of course. Before you think of anarchy as simply

chaos you should realise that anarchy is actually an old and respected political theory. It has been defined as a political theory opposed to all forms of government. Anarchists believe that the highest attainment of humanity is the freedom of the individual to express himself, unhindered by any form of repression or control from without. The belief that all governments rest on violence to control their subjects.

If you consider the tyranny of being helplessly locked in to a single vendor and their agenda as violence, the model fits. The concept of free software projects forking demonstrates how everyone is free to do as they please, free of constraints placed on them by another.

So with that said, on we go enjoying the unbounded freedom of controlling our own computing destiny. Vive le Linux!

Just discovered this excellent paper on this issue.