Keeping it Small and Simple

2008.04.22

Thank you, Evo Morales

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 00:47

You have stated the obvious, but it needs to repeated again and again. Capitalism harms the planet. Capitalism harms life. Capitalism harms, period.

Capitalism is just a tool used by the rich to dominate the poor, by the few to enjoy the work of the many. Capitalism supports and benefits from other structures of oppression. Capitalism takes delight in war and destruction, because profits can be made. As long as the capitalist system exists, there will be no end to racism, colonialism, sexism, war, famine or injustice. Intolerance will continue to thrive because it keeps the masses blind, keeps them divided. As long as they are divided they can be dominated. And the rich can get richer.

Capitalism must be blown the fuck off this planet.

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2008.04.11

The food crisis

As has been reported in the news, the price of food has become a big problem in many countries, among them Haiti, Bangladesh, Egypt and The Philippines. In Ghana too, food prices have been rising and life is getting harder, especially for the poor. This raises several important questions.

First of all, wasn’t globalization supposed to make the world a better place? Jobs are disappearing in the so-called developed world because companies are relocating production to the developing world. Here they can pay workers less, demand that they work longer hours and under far less safe conditions. But, the end result of this will be that people will be better off, or at least so argue the proponents of globalization. My question then is: which people will be better off? Certainly not the American and European workers who are losing their jobs. And certainly not the new work force that isn’t even earning enough to feed themselves and their families.

The American and European workers have of course brought this upon themselves. They got seduced by the ideas of global capitalism and chose to vote for politicians who wanted to destroy them. What the American and European workers should have done was to overthrow their incompetent governments. That is the peoples right when government no longer cares for them. Not only is it their right, it’s their duty. They won’t do it because the working classes have become docile and obedient.

Some countries regularly have problems with food production due to their geographic location. Some parts of the world, like Bangladesh, see frequent floods that can destroy crops among other things. A different type of globalization, one that was focused on global cooperation instead of exploitation, could help people in crisis areas to overcome things like food shortage. But of course, there are more profits to be made from exploitation. And the rich do need to get richer, even if a few million poor people have to starve to death.

Not only food prices have risen, but the price of oil as well. This affects the food price since it becomes far more expensive to transport food. But the oil companies are making record profits. So I guess we can conclude that the fact that people around the world are starving is a small price to pay for a small selected group to go from extremely rich to even richer. One might wonder what the price of oil might have been if the Bush administration hadn’t launched its illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Or what would happen to oil prices if the U.S were less antagonistic towards oil producers such as Iran, Venezuela or Russia. What might happen to oil prices if living conditions for people were to improve in the oil producing regions of Nigeria?

Another factor that is affecting the food price is climate change. There is a big debate about the extent of climate change, and the extent to which human actions are the cause of climate change. The Decider didn’t want to sign the Kyoto protocol because he felt it would have a negative impact on the profits of American corporations. Again, the survival of the poor in the developing world is far less important than the profits of the filthy rich. In this case the survival of the whole planet is of less importance than corporate profits. One might wonder what the rich are going to do with all their money if all live on the planet dies.

We have people who claim that climate change is real and caused by human activities, and we have people who deny this. (Note that we are destroying the world’s environment in many ways, even if climate change were somehow not taking place.) Both sides are able to present arguments and counter-arguments. As long as we do this, nothing changes. The consequences if climate change is indeed happening because of human activities are so dire that I’d think it would be better to play it safe. If we don’t, the current crisis can only get worse, and will eventually affect more and more countries.

I am of course pretending that the researchers who are denying climate change are not being funded by big corporations who are making huge profits at the expense of the health of Mother Earth. I am certain that the environment is damaged by human activities. And I think that we will be paying a heavier and heavier price for that. It’s the most sinister gift we can give to our children: a dying world.

The long-term solution to this problem is obvious. The people of the world need to launch an attack on their corrupt, incompetent leaders and overthrow them. Then build a new society, with a completely different set of priorities. The new societies will need to prioritize things like the environment and food production, and focus on global solidarity instead of global capitalism. Capitalism should have died together with its twin brother, Leninism. It survived, but now is the time to kill it.

The new societies would have to recognize is that to be human means the same thing regardless of if you are in America, Europe, Africa, Asia or Australia. They would have to recognize this because otherwise we would just start another cycle of exploitation which got us into the mess we are currently in. The right to live a decent life should be guaranteed to all, regardless of where they happen to call home. Anything else is injustice and should never be tolerated.

It may cause some pain to overthrow the current regimes. It will cost some blood. It will even cost some lives, no doubt. Those are the unfortunate birth pains of a new, better society. Yet, we must go ahead, because if we don’t, we will all live in misery. And we will still die. And the rich will still get richer. And our leaders will continue to lie to us. And Mother Earth will continue to bleed until she can bleed no more. Then she will die and take all of us along.

The short term solution to the food problem is this: if there isn’t enough food, eat the rich!

2008.04.06

A storm is coming my way

Dear reader:

I have a strange feeling that tragedy is once again headed my way. This time I’m not sure whether or not I’ll make it. If in a few days this blog goes quiet, then you can safely assume I’m yet another unimportant part of history.

I have let down a lot of people. I have let my anger damage my own and other peoples lives. I have stubbornly refused to change, even when change was necessary. I have hurt and been hurt. I have always been vindictive.

I have tried my best to share as much as possible of the little that I know. I have done so because I believe that knowledge should be shared. It must be shared. This world really could be a better place. But it will require a lot. There are forces that are trying to destroy it all, because of greed. Don’t believe the bullshit. Capitalism is not natural.

My advice to anybody who would bother to read is this: learn as much as you can. Make the most of the life you have. Be prepared to fight for freedom and justice. And love. Fight for those things, because they are the only values that actually mean something. All the other things don’t really mean anything. Borders are man-made, you don’t want to die defending those things. Religion can be a good thing, but only if you tolerate another person’s right to also practice their own religion, or to not practice any religion at all. You surely wouldn’t want to go to war over religion.

Most of you are little more than slaves. And you will always remain slaves, until you learn to unite with each other. If you can see beyond differences in color, religion, language, favorite food, etc., then you can unite and overthrow your masters. Otherwise you are all doomed.

Why do you think your jobs are going? Immigrants? It’s not immigrants. It’s the nature of global capitalism. Read and learn. The very people who you think are your enemies would be your greatest allies, because they are stuck in the same hell as you are. If you really want to get rid of immigration, get rid of borders. Without borders there can be no immigration. And then people would be as free to move as capital is.

Go and read the statistics. Look at the wealth of any of the richest 100 or so people in the United States. Then look at the combined wealth of the poorest 40% of the people. Dig further. Look at how income distribution has changed over time in the world. Do you think that is right? Is that the kind of world you want to live in? Capitalism works. Sure it does, but for whom?

Most of the developing world is stuck in misery. Developing countries cannot progress, because they are forced to open up the markets for cheap imports. These are measures enforced by bodies like the IMF and the World Bank. Local industries cannot survive against this competition and have to close down. Unemployment follows. So the countries need more help and have to open up even more. It’s happening everywhere.

If you have a textbook understanding of what this means, I suggest you come to a developing country and see what the consequences actually are. When you come, come and really live in the society. Interact with people. Find out what is happening. Don’t just come and work with a foreign company or an NGO. They won’t show you anything. They will keep you caged up in “safety”. Come here, and find out how people’s lives are changing for the worse.

In the news, you hear much about “river pirates” in the Delta region in Nigeria. That is a lot of bullshit. The people in that region happen to live on some of the richest soil in Africa, maybe the richest. Yet, they are treated like dirt, so that Shell can make there profits. These people just want justice. They want to be able to live decent lives. Since the profits of big corporations matter more, these people will continue to live in misery and continue to do the only thing they can to highlight their situation and to try to get something out of it all. They are no more criminal then the people who destroying their land in search of riches.

So much research and development goes into the production of machines of destruction. We as humans seem to delight in finding new ways of killing each other. Did you every hear of research and development going into love? No. Only time you heard of a love machine was when W.A.S.P. sang about it. Devastation. That is what we are good at. Love? It doesn’t stand a chance. But you can change that, if you learn to love those who you have been brought up to hate.

War. We have this idea in our heads about brave warriors that will fight with honor to defend a bunch of values that are nonsense if you think about it. But how honorable is war in this day and age. With the industrialization of warfare, you can’t say that warriors look each other in the eye anymore. That was gone a long time ago. We read about and admire the Spartans for how we think they were. But we don’t conduct warfare that way. Long range missiles, fighter jets, mines, etc. keep warriors away from each other. And they can cause massive devastation. Not to mention the nukes.

Water. Future wars will be fought over water. Drink it while you can, because soon it will all be privatized, and most of you won’t be able to afford it. How in the fuck can they privatize something that is a basic necessity to sustain life itself? Because we let it happen. We obediently nodded our heads when they told us that privatization is good, the it leads to more welfare. Welfare for whom? Clean, drinkable water is becoming scarce.

A few authors that I recommend as a starting point are Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Michael Parenti. (There are many more good authors, don’t limit yourself.) If you don’t like reading you can always search for them on YouTube. By all means, also read their critics. Read both, but when you do, look at your own situation and ask yourself which side best represents the life you are living. Also look around you. Where are we all headed?

I have two children (although for a while I thought I had three), Enrique and Vanessa. I love both dearly, and would have wanted to be there to see them grow up. My only remaining dream now is that they will be able to live in a world that is more tolerant, peaceful and loving than this current one.

Enough of my sentimental bullshit now. Make the future.

2008.04.02

Workers at Nike’s sweatshops in Vietnam on strike

Filed under: Anarchism — Tags: , , , , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 10:21

According to this BBC article:

More than 20,000 workers at a factory in Vietnam that makes shoes for Nike have gone on strike demanding higher pay to cope with rising inflation.

Notice how the cowards at the BBC call it a factory.

You can show solidarity with underpaid workers in Vietnam by refusing to by Nike’s overrated crap. The free-market ideas that are commonly referred to as globalization are killing local shoe industries throughout the developing world, as they cannot compete with cheap imports. If you would buy from one of these small shoe manufacturers instead of a big corporate giant, you’re helping somebody somewhere to earn a living instead of helping the rich get even richer.

2008.03.28

Alfresco, business and community

Filed under: Open Source — Tags: , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 20:25

Thank you Russ for responding to my concerns regarding your previous post. Your reply fills in a lot of gaps and shows that our positions may not be quite as polar as my first response implies.

A few quick comments follow.

Is it good or bad for society when companies get this large? IMO, it depends — transparency matters at scale.

I understand that certain types of companies need to be large because of the massive investment required to even begin operations. And I agree the transparency is important. Whether or not businesses overall are transparent today is something that only time will tell. Enron, to take but one example, certainly was not.

First. I don’t work for Alfresco. I’m a community member. My opinions are my own.

Okay, cleared. Not that it would really have mattered much. I wouldn’t stop using Alfresco because of personal opinions. I would be afraid to use Alfresco if I felt that it belittled the community supporting it. More on that below.

I absolutely believe that open source has the potential to create both economic and vast social benefit.

Exactly what I hope and believe as well. I just happen to panic anytime I fear that community is being sidelined.

I like many have trepidation with large amounts of centralized power but this is because “absolute power corrupts absolutely. “ We can’t count of the benevolence of individuals or organizations because it is almost always temporal. In our industry IBM, Microsoft, Google have all struggled or continue to struggle to maintain the balance of scale and public perception. Be transparent, focus on the customer.

Well put. On an individual level I will claim that we can safely assume that within each and every one of us the ability to be both selfish and selfless, greedy and sharing, mean and kind. Often several urges exist within us simultaneously. That is why it is so flawed to divide people into good or bad, virtuous or immoral, etc.

We are also all moral agents. As human beings we can understand the consequences of our actions (if we reflect upon them). If I right about what I said in the previous paragraph, then there will be a constant struggle among different urges. In moral terms, we could say that there is an internal fight to do the “right” thing instead of the “wrong” thing. Sometimes one urge wins, at other times another in each individual, leading us all to have some degree of unpredictability.

With corporations things are very much different. Corporations, at least if we mean the modern business corporation, exists primarily to seek profit. It may have other functions as well, but the struggle for higher profits always take the upper hand.

Further, corporations are not moral agents. One could argue that the individuals behind the corporation are moral agents. But with a board of directors, CEO, stock holders, employees, etc., who decides? The shareholders ultimately want profits, which means that a business is forced to seek the path of profit, no matter what. IBM, Microsoft, Monsanto, Enron, Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Bechtel are just a few examples of businesses that have blood on their hands in the search for profits. Blackwater is an example of a company that is extremely disturbing because of the types of activities it involves itself in order to get more for its shareholders.

The System that is Open Source would not survive on community alone. “It’s not about community” is meant to say that open source is not a hierarchy of components but a network and that community alone does not make open source what it is.

It would be very easy for me to nitpick here and rip this apart, but I don’t think that will achieve anything, because I am sure that I understand what you mean, not what you wrote. Open source in some form could survive even without much business support. But that is not a form that neither you nor I would like to see. We want to see open source thrive and that will require a wide array of interests, including commercial ones.

I like Lorenzo believe that the community should be strong via its rights (example: right to fork, right to vote on direction) and diverse.

Obviously this is the core issue for me. It is what gives the open source community its anarchic nature.

When it comes to software development, I favor the model that is used by the Linux kernel hackers, among others. Each developer is essentially working on his or her own project, each of which happens to be a “fork” of Linux. Linus Torvalds studies each of these different forks and pulls in changes that he feels will benefit Linux itself. Very few people actually use Linux however. Most people use one or more of the “forks”.

This is a highly decentralized model. It ensures the liberty of each developer to work on exactly what they want to work on (obviously within the framework of the kernel). It could be validly argued that this can lead to inefficiencies as developers may be stepping on each others’ toes on some parts of the kernel, while parts are not worked on at all. But I would argue that liberty is more important than efficiency. We are human beings, not ants.

Also, assuming that the Linux kernel generates enough interest and thereby enough developers, in theory each part of the kernel should get worked on.

If my developers want to work on MySQL or other open source software (that is contextual to my business) on their own time – more power to them.

Thanks for a good response to something that became a bit of an unnecessary rant from my side. Part of my comments were not really fair, now that I look at them again. I do have a question about the that is contextual to my business. I hope that does not imply that you would be unhappy if they worked on, say, Battle for Wesnoth on their own time. After all, their own time is their own time.

I believe Alfresco should look for community partnership in core development, but I also believe that it will be rare that they find it. Development is expensive business and both sides must find ways to leverage each other in a fashion, which is symbiotic.

I think you are hitting on something here. The are relatively new relationships, at least on a larger scale. Sure companies like Red Hat have been around for quite some time now, but I think it will take a while before community and business in general learn to coordinate activities, to accept and take advantage of each others’ existence.

I remember a few years ago there was a lot of talk about “bounties” where developers solve specific problems for a company, present their solution and get paid. I kind of liked the idea, since I am a notoriously bad employee. It has since got quiet. I am not sure why. Does the model itself not work? Is it not being done right? Did Google Summer of Code kill it?

Open Source and in general the ideas put forward in Clue Train bring balance to the system by empowering the members of the market with a voice and a recognized lion share of the power. It rightly positions the companies in a position of service rather than in a position of supreme power with the potential for the kind of abuse that is associated there.

I have to admit, I didn’t read Clue Train yet. I will do so. Limiting corporate power, as well as any other form of power that cannot demonstrate itself to be legitimate, is very important to me.

Should people be compensated for their work? Yes, without a doubt in my mind. Should we have a social conscious? Yes Absolutely. I think that open source is capable of accomplishing both.

Difficult not agree with that. Note, however, my comments earlier, about the inability of organizations to be moral agents.

I believe in strong leaders who see social interests as commercial interests hence the Peter Drucker quote.

That one will take a bit of pondering. As you would expect, I ultimately do not believe in leaders at all, strong or weak. Or at least, only a few leaders in very specific circumstances who are forced to be accountable for every action they take.

I think that it would be a very good thing if we could get businesses to be socially aware at the same time as the seek profit. We probably differ on priorities. I would say that social responsibility should always take priority. You are probably of a different mind. At least I guess that you would want to get rid of the word “always”. Today, the general idea in most of the business community is the opposite: commercial interests should always take priority, for reasons I have already mentioned. I am very much opposed to that as I see it to be destructive on several different levels: environmentally, socially etc.

At the foundation, we differ in political beliefs. Not necessarily all. I believe that government and the legal system should be totally or largely eradicated, as I think they do far more harm than good. I believe we humans form societies naturally and that within a society there need to be rules. But I think communitarian forms of deciding an maintaining its own rules are better than laws that are dictated by elites (who also have the power to bypass those very laws).

I also believe that capitalism must be smashed. You will disagree here, no doubt, but I cannot find any way to justify a system that is founded on the principle of “individual greed leads to the common good”. History has shown that individual greed leads mostly to individual wealth. A system that does not put up any limits will by necessity migrate into more and more areas in search for more profits. Hence the assault on labor unions, the attempts to destroy any form of social welfare, the rise of large-scale corporate capitalism, global capitalism, war capitalism and disaster capitalism. New areas where profits can be found, while the individual is trampled upon.

In short, the capitalist system will destroy us all if we don’t dismantle it. I have given relatively little thought to how economic life would be organized. I would not want a situation where everything gets collectively owned (especially not if that collective owner is the state). It must be something that guarantees the freedom from working under anybody, individual, organization or the state.

This was hastily put together. Some of your comments deserve more thought. I am also not certain about exactly how open source can aid and promote social change by itself. I have a bunch of loose ideas, but there is nothing even resembling coherence among those ideas. I will touch upon this more at a later date.

2008.03.27

Open source as social change

Filed under: Open Source — Tags: , , , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 14:43

On alfresco blogs, Russ Danner writes a rather disturbing post. Russ is interested in what the open source community can learn from big business. This is of course very important, at least if we begin with an assumption that we as humans exist to serve big business. Needless to say, this is the prevailing belief among the ruling elites. And, needless to say, the victims of this system, the vast majority of the world’s population, do not agree.

I, on the other hand, am interested in open source as a model for social change. That is not to say that open source “belongs” to one or the other side. Open source is a method for developing software the focuses on the universal right to view, modify and redistribute the source code underlying the software. I won’t go into the details here. Enough has been written on that already.

Open source didn’t exist in the beginning. What did exist was a nameless form of sharing of code and ideas which was probably very healthy for the software development community. Just like the academic community, where researchers share what they write so that it can be analyzed and improved upon, the early software developers shared their code. The code got looked at and improved upon. The original developer also benefited as she or he got access to those improvements. In short, knowledge in the early software development community was accumulated through sharing.

Eventually, business put its dirty hands into the bowl, and all of a sudden the fruit of people’s labor turned into the property of corporations. Programmers came to be seen, not as creators of software, but as labor. Users no longer had access to the source code itself, only the final compiled version of the software. As a reaction to that, the open source movement (or as some prefer, the free software movement) was born as a reaction to the attempts of business to restrict the rights of computer users to freely share software.

It is important to recognize where the open source movement originated. It didn’t start off with companies all off a sudden deciding to share their source code and allow others to modify it for their own and others needs. No. It started as a grassroots movement that was opposed to losing the right to view, modify and share source code. Business only got involved when it realized that it could make big profits.

I think that the world of open source will be yet another battleground between the haves and the have nots. The elites will use the methods that they are historically noted for, fear, intimidation, threats and the legal system (which they control). The masses have resisted in a number of ways: strikes, boycotts, sabotage etc. All justified methods of response to the intimidation by the bosses. Much can also be achieved by forming alternative communities that by-pass the rigid hierarchical structures of the capitalist system, still working within that system, a form of “societies within a society”. A friend of mine once remarked that these could act as cancers that destroy the capitalist system from within. I cannot comment as I have not given much thought to the possibility of that happening.

I am not opposed to the ability for individuals and organizations to be able to earn an income out of their software skills. I myself, do not survive on air. We live in a system where the majority of us, against our will, are forced to become wage slaves in order to survive. What I am against is big business, that thing that ensures that the vast majority of the worlds wealth remains in the hands of a very small group of families. Of course, those families are overwhelmingly white, Christian and have a special set of values that they feel the whole world should accept.

History teaches us that the elites groups have few, if any, inhibitions when it comes to what is allowed in order to get the dumb masses to understand the God-given right of the elites to rule. Bombing Vietnam to bits, causing death a devastation was considered legitimate. Destroying the American labor movement is seen as a good thing. Privatizing water, a foundation of life itself, is considered fully legitimate. (Obviously the market potential for something that none of us can survive without is staggering.) I could mention so many examples, but it will take me off-course.

Russ Danner is a self-proclaimed capitalist (although he never states exactly what capital he owns) and thus sees the elitist system as good, and who can argue. After all, it has helped 0.1% of the world’s population to amass an enormous amount of wealth, at the expense of the rest, the insignificant have-nots that make up the vast majority. They exist merely to serve the rich. The working classes are themselves to blame, for not picking the right parents, as the liberal theory goes.

So what is Russ Danner’s take on open source? He states:

Open Source is not about the bits, it’s not about the community, and it’s not about licenses. It’s about a better way to do business (read: make money via serving customers.)

It’s not about community, because community implies those ungrateful masses who are supposed to serve the elites. The elites have built up a system called wage slavery which is how things are supposed to be done. Community is the start of dangerous dissent against the ruling order. Never mind that those communities wrote the software. Once the labor is done, business can take over.

Licenses are equally insignificant since the elites control the legal system. If these open source licenses cause the masses to actually believe that they can form egalitarian communities without bosses and without being controlled by those who rule, the legal system can be changed. Imaginative lawyers can invent just about anything they want. Like intellectual property. Never mind how mind-bogglingly ridiculous the whole idea is. Once you control the legal system, you decide. The dumb masses, the “uncontrollable herd” have just to obey. That is their lot in life.

It is about a better way to do business. Business is good, because most people are practically barred from entering that field. Very few have the financial means to start a business, especially in a sector like IT. The liberal propaganda system of course tells us differently. It can safely do so since in practical terms the ability for anybody to set up a business is like the “rags to riches” myth: not a practical possibility.

So, in summary, Russ Danner sees in open source the possibility for big business to take the work of various open source communities and use it to make huge profits. The communities themselves are, as we have seen, irrelevant. Any claims they make equally so (remember, licenses are irrelevant). So Russ sees open source as yet another way for the rich to bleed to poor. And that is good.

He goes on to say:

I would be sorely upset if I found my development staff was hacking MySql code.

I guess development staff means “wage slaves”. What does sorely upset mean? That you deny your developers the freedom to work on what they want to work on? Does it mean that the right to choose only exists for the capitalist class, the bosses? If one of your developers worked on MySQL code on his free time, would you punish him or her for that? What if the changes the developer made to MySQL was beneficial to Alfresco in some way, would that developer be credited for that? Or still punished for their insubordination against the elite way?

But could the open source movement work for social change? Well, not in isolation. But it can play a part. One must be careful not to see all open source users or open source developers as a part of a coherent whole. The only thing that connects us all is the fact that we work on or with software that fits the criteria of being called open source or free software. Otherwise you have the full spectrum of political beliefs, including Russ Danner’s capitalist ones, or the outright racist viewpoints of Eric S. Raymond.

A computer is a wonderful machine. It doesn’t do much. But it does have one particular feature: it can be programmed to do a large variety of things. Big business wants to control the programming part. They want a situation where the computer becomes like a television set. You don’t program that. Business gives you a set of channels to choose from. Business wants to give you a set of software applications to choose from. You should not be developing anything by yourself, let alone share your creations with anybody else. That would be bad. That would be evil. Then you become an enemy of the powerful people you are to serve.

But open source communities can revolt against these injustices. Individual groups of loosely-knit developers and users, without any hierarchical structure, that just develop software for themselves and others to enjoy, can challenge the system. Imagine the joy of working on something that you are interested in, without a boss breathing down your neck all the time, issuing threats and intimidation. Imagine the joy of giving freely, not because it gives you “do-goody” points, but because you are a part of a system of gift-giving. Wouldn’t that be so much better than being constrained by a narrow conception of humans as being “dogs in a jungle, locked up in a fight to death over a single bone”?

The fact is that we the people, have the ultimate power. If you oppose the system in any way you can, we can bring it to its knees. Gain and share knowledge. Share the creations of your mind. Build communities based on equality rather than inequality. Read and gain wisdom. Don’t limit yourself. Learn how to program, learn your history, learn about the political system and how it is used to oppress us all. Learn about why we as human beings are divided, see for yourself who’s interests it serves. And against who.

Don’t apply arbitrary barriers to community membership. The other should be equally welcome regardless of color, gender, educational background, language etc. He or she still laughs like you do, cries like you do, has hopes, dreams and fears like you do. They are being controlled, just like you are being controlled. They are taught to fear you and despise you, just like you are taught to fear them, to despise them. They are being fucked in the ass, just like you are being fucked in the ass.

I wonder if these are Russ Danner’s personal opinions or the opinions of the Alfresco team as well. I have been using Alfresco for some time (not the enterprise version, and I never will). I would not mind being able to sell Alfresco and make some money off that. I would of course then want to donate a part of the proceeds to Alfresco, not because there is a contract that states that I must do so, but because it is the right thing to do. That seems a much better foundation for mutual understanding than the implied threat of the legal system.

Of course, there are alternatives to Alfresco in the open source arena. If Alfresco wants to unleash the destructive force of big business on the movement then I will have to look into alternatives. Or start something new. Re-inventing the wheel isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if the current wheel is trying to run you over.

2008.03.24

Ralph Nader on workplace hazards

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 22:15

Ralph Nader write an open letter to the president about the dangerous conditions that many Americans are working under.

An interesting fact for those who still believe that 9/11 was the biggest criminal act to have happened on U.S soil:

Perhaps you are not worried about this lonely epidemic of death, disease and injury day after day, since it is not caused by terrorists. Even if every three weeks, workplace conditions lead to a fatality toll greater than 9/11. Imagine, every three weeks, on average.

In the capitalist system, the vast majority of people are reduced to being units of production. The bosses don’t care if workers get injured or die. It’s just the loss of a few units of production, they can get replaced. Unemployment ensures that there is always a pool of replacement units.

When you go to the ballot box to vote, either for a Republic or a Democrat, keep in mind that in order to be able to run a presidential race, they will have to accept contributions from powerful donors, who obviously want something in return. Whoever ends up winning the 2008 election, even before being sworn in, the new president will know that he or she is merely a puppet to big business. It’s one thing to throw out slogans about “hope” and “change” now, but wait until they occupy the White House.

I can promise that once the new president is installed, whether Democrat or Republican, there will be no hope or change for America’s working classes. Those hard-working people that built the nation. There will be little or no change in working conditions. Corporate America’s assault on labor will continue. The U.S will continue to lose far more lives due to poor working conditions at home than American lives are lost in Iraq. It makes one wonder, who are the real terrorists?

2008.03.22

Tony Blair: wanted for war crimes

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 13:04

We would like to see that this man is made to face trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity:

tblair.jpg

Tony Blair is a war criminal. He took an active part in the illegal war against Iraq. He also took part in the occupation and colonization of that country after it had been conquered. He is also guilty of lying to the public about the reasons for the war. He neglected world opinion and chose to only listen to the criminal in the White House.

Tony Blair is guilty of crimes against humanity. This includes, but is not limited to, crimes against the peoples of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. He is also guilty of neglecting his own domestic population, choosing instead to spend massively towards the extermination of Arabs. Together with important figures in the current U.S administration, Tony Blair was architect of a new style of war capitalism, which saw huge profits for companies specialized in war and destruction.

Under Tony Blair’s leadership, any credibility that Labour might have had as a force for the working classes was turned to dust. Tony Blair stabbed the working masses in the back and chose instead to be a vocal supporter of global capitalism. Recently, Blair has been rewarded a position with JPMorgan as a token of appreciation for being a free market whore.

We ask for justice. In Nuremberg, the Nazi war criminals were hung for their war crimes and their crimes against humanity. We ask that this generation of war criminals is given the same treatment. Put Tony Blair and all the other war criminals on trial and hang them. They must never be allowed to get away with the evil they have done.

2008.03.16

Noam Chomsky on human language learning

Filed under: Anarchism, Linguistics — Tags: , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 00:23

I think most people have heard or read something that has a profound effect on them. The funny thing is that it may not even have been intended to be ground-breaking by the speaker or author. They may, in fact, just have made the statement “in passing”.

Professor Noam Chomsky was once asked in an interview how he, a famous scholar, could hold such a positive view of “the common man”. (I guess the underlying assumption is that as a person from the academic community, one is expected to look with contempt at the large majority of the people that make up society.)

Professor Chomsky replied that his research in linguistics shows that being able to acquire language skills is something that is common to all people, regardless of their social position. (It was a long time ago that I heard this so I don’t remember the actual words. Anybody has a reference to the actual quote, feel free to comment.) He also mentions the large amount of imagination that is required to actively use language.

If you listen to people communicating, you can hear that imagination in practice: the can joke, mock, support, etc. by stringing together sequences of words. People are able to “play” with words. It doesn’t matter what social class they belong to or the amount or quality of education they have. Common to all people is also the ability to communicate about abstract things, to talk about the future and other things that are not immediately available.

While I was a student of Japanese at the University of Stockholm we once had a visit by Kenzaburo Oe, who had won the Nobel Literature prize that year (sometime in the early 1990s). He talked to us about his son who is autistic and not able to talk and shows little or no sign of being able to understand when talked to. But, Hikari Oe, who is a famous composer, is able to communicate through music. Father and son Oe were able to “talk” to each other through music.

I wonder how much the realization that all people share a common ability to learn something as complex as human language has affected Noam Chomsky’s political views. I know that what he said in that interview had a profound affect on me. Modern societies try to legitimize the oppression of the many by reference to “the educated elite” as contrasted to “the bewildered herd” (although, of course, those are not necessarily the terms used). I know that there was I time when I would be be dismissive of people who I did not deem “worthy of attention” (yes, the liberal propaganda system worked very well on a young, ambitious man who wanted to have an academic career).

If the ability to acquire language is a complex process and common to all people, then perhaps the differences between the classes with power and influence and “the rest”, the ones who do not count, is much smaller than what we think. That would of course mean that the legitimacy of societies built on the premise that a small group of responsible men must control the confused beasts begins to erode. Or at least we are able to put a tiny dent into that legitimacy.

Of course, it would take a lot more to dismantle the current power structures. Elites dominate, not only by claiming to in some way being intellectually superior (in itself a false claim), but also through ownership and the ability to use force, as well as other things. Ownership is codified in laws that have been decided by the elites for their own benefit and should be discarded. The ability to use force ultimately depends on individuals who, for most part, have much in common with the very people they are to use force against: the domestic enemy (to use Professor Chomsky’s term).

It is my hope that as the evolving capitalist system becomes more and more cruel and inhumane, when the widening gaps drags us into open, large-scale conflict yet again, that these “enforcers of the law” begin to realize which side of the divide they have more in common with. They exist to brutalize us, but they are not part of the elite. They don’t have wealth. They don’t own. They are not bosses. They are, when stripped of the ability to force, as powerless and unimportant as the very people they are paid to oppress.

One of the effects Professor Chomsky’s words has had on me is to be far less dismissive of things that are said by people that traditionally are ignored in public discourse. And yes, I admit, I do occasionally talk to people who are normally declared to be “mad” or for one reason or another not deemed to have anything useful to say. They do. After all, an anarchist society (however it will look) must be one in which everybody is encouraged to participate, even when they hold ideas that we deem to be “wrong” or even “outrageous”.

2008.03.14

CNN and “black opinion”

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 14:22

Over the last few days the following two headlines have appeared on CNN blogs:

Imagine the outcry if it had been “Clinton apologizes to white voters”, or “Clinton’s standing damages among whites?”. First of all, it would be considered racist, and second no white person would want to be told that they are a part of a single, coherent “white opinion”. White people are “individuals”. They form their own opinions.

But somehow it is allowed to bundle up “black opinion”, to treat black people like a flock of sheep, who move together, think alike and act in accordance with one another. They don’t have minds of their own.

If you read the comment sections to CNN articles, you will often find the sentiment expressed that “black people will vote for Obama because he is black”. They all cohere. They all have a collective mind.

Now, make the statement that somebody will vote for Hillary Clinton or John McCain “just because they are white” and you’ll be called a racist. White people don’t vote based on color. They make rational, informed decisions. Black people have an agenda to take over America and they all vote the same: for a black person (at least as long as one is standing for president).

Add to that Bill Clinton’s comparison of Obama and Jackson, which was totally unfair. For white Obama supporters, this had to be challenged because “Jesse Jackson is a racist”. And why is he a racist? Because we, the white voters say he is. The black opinion, of course, must be supportive of Jackson. We don’t even have to ask. He’s a part of the flock.

What has become increasingly common is that racism is considered part of the “black opinion”. Any black person who criticizes a white person is a “racist”. After all, they, the black flock are “racists”. And racism is wrong (when it is directed against us).

Racism is wrong in all its forms. It is one of a long list of ills that plagues our societies. But it is a natural phenomenon in a system that has realized the efficiency in dominating large groups of people by keeping them isolated. As long as the masses squabble over issues of race, religion, culture etc, they fail to realize that they all share a common relationship to their bosses: they are all wage slaves.

United, the wage slaves, whether black, white, Christian, Muslim, Atheist or Buddhist, Chinese American, Irish American, Arab American or African American, could demand for real change. But no, divided they shall fall.

Media of course, willingly plays its part in this whole game. By making sure that race remains an issue in this campaign, they help to regenerate the divisions. Divided they fall.

If were allowed to vote in the U.S. election I don’t think I would vote for Obama. I have some real issues with some of his policies. I would obviously be looking for somebody far different. Somebody ready to challenge corporate power. Somebody ready to rebuild the labor unions. Somebody with the foreign policies of Ron Paul. But Barack Obama be far more likely to get my vote than Clinton or McCain.

I assume I will reflexively be called a racist for this post. But hey, I belong to the white flock of sheep. I will also be called a pinko-commie bastard for voicing anti-capitalist sentiment. But hey, I don’t belong to any political party, nor do I belong to “left” or “center” or “right”. I’m an anarchist. I oppose all forms of oppression, not merely the capitalist one.

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