Cyber-Communism: The New Threat In The New Millennium Essay, Research Paper
My expedition into cyber-communism began when I read Brock Meeks’ “Hackers Stumble Toward Legitimacy”. The article addressed a recent hackers’ convention. Interestingly, the keynote speaker was Eric Boucher (alias Jello Biafra), a rock star with no technical background. Numerous questions ensue. Who is Eric Boucher (alias Jello Biafra)? What does he believe? More importantly, why schedule someone with no technical background to speak at a hackers’ convention? Addressing his beliefs, his proposed Green Party platform is not inconsistent with the “Manifesto of Libertarian Communism”. This answer produces a more troubling question. Was his speech against corporate America mere socialist babbling or was his speech part of something more sinister, a subversive cyber-communist movement?
I am not the first to see possible communist subversion of the digerati. Corey Winesett’s “Are Linux Users Really Communists?” questions the nature of the relationship, if any, between open source and communism. Scott Billings’ “Heresy and Communism” ponders that the Linux community’s knee-jerk reaction to negative opinions about Linux could be the result of being “under the [communists'] spell.” Before I can evaluate cyber-communism’s merits, I must define communism’s true nature and communism’s real threat to America.
Theoretical communism and practical communism have long been held as different political sociologies. Despite Marx’s call for the working class to revolt, the communist revolution’s leaders always ascend from the intelligentsia. John Stormer’s “None Dare Call It Treason” supports this fact saying:
“Fidel Castro was a product, not of the cane fields of Cuba, but of the halls of Havana University.”
“Joseph Stalin was not a simple peasant rebelling at the oppression of the Czar. He became a communist while studying for the priesthood in a Russian Orthodox seminary.”
“The membership of the first Communist spy ring uncovered in the U.S. Government was not spawned in the sweat shops of New York’s lower east side or the tenant farms of the South. [The conspirators] came to high government posts from Harvard Law School.”
Communism’s fallacy is the belief in everyone’s benevolence; yet, human nature proves otherwise. Communism cannot create a perfect society with imperfect people. Hence, to direct Utopia, communism produces a totalitarian government over the less-perfect people, ruled by the perfect people – communists. Thus, communism’s true nature creates a controlling government in the name of a better world.
Not every supporter needs be a knowing conspirator. Supporters could be “under the [communists'] spell.” Therefore, the true communist threat comes from people who can be deluded into supporting a controlling government in the name of a better world. John Stormer’s “None Dare Call It Treason” concurs with this conclusion saying:
“Communism is a disease of the intellect. It promises universal brotherhood, peace and prosperity to lure humanitarians and idealists into participating in a conspiracy which gains power through deceit and deception and stays in power with brute force.”
From Communism to Cyber-Communism
Richard Barbrook’s “The::Cyber.Com/Munist::Manifesto” and “Cyber-Communism: How Americans are Superseding Capitalism in Cyberspace” (parts 1, 2, 3, 4) draw parallels between communism and cyber-communism. He associates the Soviet Union’s gift/communist economy, where people freely exchange material goods, with the open source gift/cyber-communist economy, where people freely exchange source code. He concludes that cyber-communism promises a digital Utopia.
However, like communism’s promises, cyber-communism’s promises are not manifesting themselves. Monty Manley’s “Be an Engineer, Not an Artist” cites poorly designed code to assert that unpaid programmers will work only on “sexy” projects. Scott Billings’ “Where’s the Creativity?” challenges Linux supporters to show one original idea in Linux, reminding us that Linux itself is not an original idea.
Now, I am not condemning open source itself. Cyber-communism’s fallacy is funding the open source development method. Xavier Basora’s “Open Source and Nag Screens: Contradictions of the Bazaar” mentions a shareware open source program to demonstrate the difficulty of funding “free” software. Eric Raymond’s “The Magic Cauldron” provides many theoretical economic models, but he fails to provide any case studies to demonstrate their practicality. Red Hat follows Eric Raymond’s economic model and still suffers fiscal losses. Richard Stallman’s “The GNU Manifesto” admits programmers will “not [be] paid as much as now.” Therefore, cyber-communism’s true nature moves software development to an unfeasible economic model. Andrew Leonard’s “The Cybercommunist Manifesto” concurs with this conclusion in his critique of Richard Barbrook saying:
“Barbrook’s analysis does jibe well with fears expressed by some software programmers concerning the possibility that free software could prove to be an economic disaster for the software industry.”
Cyber-communism, like communism, is about control. John Zedlewski’s “Winning the Open-Source Support Game” proposes that one company provide technical support for all open source software. Instead, his plan would only create an open source support monopoly. Liviu Andreescu’s “What to do about Monopolies?” says, “Communism has nothing to do with turning… [Microsoft's] code in open source.” To the contrary, cyber-communism wants all products to move into open source to shift control from the corporation to the digerati. Thus, the true cyber-communist threat comes from the digerati’s members who can be duped into supporting an economically unfeasible development method.
Subversion is already in progress. “Hacker” originally meant highly skilled programmer. Eric Raymond’s “How to Become a Hacker” redefines “hacker” as a programmer who supports open source. Robert Lemos’ “The New Age of Hacktivism” observes hacking being done for political reasons. Still, halting cyber-communism is not difficult.
Halting the Red Menace
Stopping cyber-communism is simple. We need only break the cyber-communists’ source of control. End-users depend on the digerati/hackers to provide technical support. To break the dependency, we need to made technology so easy that everyone can use it, as said in John Holmes’ “The Age of Everyman Tech: The End of Geekdom As We Know It”. However, Michael Kellen’s “Death to Wizards!” illustrates that some, mostly cyber-communists, will oppose easy-to-use. Besides, an easy-to-use program translates into little technical support revenue for an already failing economic model.