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[address@hidden: Re: Corporations using Linux]

From: Bernd Jendrissek
Subject: [address@hidden: Re: Corporations using Linux]
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 16:05:44 +0200
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In article <> Bijan Soleymani <> 
>Liam Slider <> writes:
>> Alan Connor wrote:
>> <snip>
>>> Nicely said and absolutely true: All of our major problems are
>>> systemic.
>>> Industrial-Capitalism is not a good system being mis-managed, (as so
>>> many
>>> would have us believe), it is, rather, rotten from its very foundations.
>> And what system would you have replace it? Can you honestly show me
>> one that *really* works better? Go ahead, give me a good example of a
>> system that works better.
>Before Linux, before GNU, there was a time when there was no
>alternative free OS or software out there. That didn't invalidate the
>idea that Proprietary software sucks and that Free Software is
>inherently better :)

I was under the impression that before GNU, even proprietary software
was largely de-facto free software!  Like all those Unix hackers with
their bootlegged SVR5 sources, distribution tapes with guess what on
them... source.

But yes, just because we can't see a better way to do things doesn't
mean it doesn't exist.

>This isn't something that can be changed overnight. There is simply
>too much to be done:

This too-much-to-be-done syndrome gets me down sometimes, being an
idealist and all.  Sometimes I get the feeling that all the
goody-two-shoeing is rather futile, and that ultimately the only
sustainable way to make progress is to *match* the status quo in every
regard, but then to *move* it.  So that society moves down a slope
towards lower energy, and doesn't fall off a cliff instead.

>Advertising/Propaganda/Entertainment that's not going anyware soon...
>This shapes and limits people's thoughts.

Ban all TV would be my first edict as Supreme Ruler of the World.
(Except for the Imperial Planet-TV, of course. :)

I get the impression that the individual human mind, the consumerist
culture and the mass media are in some frenzied memetic symbiosis (I
realise I've just made up a lot of codswallop).  We all somehow feed
upon each others' perceptions and meta-perceptions and react to
reactions which, really, are just our own.  Sorta like locking a phase
locked loop onto its own output.  The result is a society "hunting" for
how to define and organise itself, without actually *finding* a stable
equilibrium.  Somehow we need to collectively "wake up" and realise that
the war and killing we see on TV news is just our own image in the
mirror; that the lame depravity we see in the brain-dead sitcoms that we
say we hate is modeled after our own empty lives; and that when
Hollywood starts making films about itself, it's time to reconsider our

Why do we go to work every morning?
What do we do once we come home, no longer being *obliged* to work?
Why choose to live another day instead of ending it all?
If one were king tomorrow, what one thing would one do better?
What is the value of time, the one thing we can't buy?

>Suburban sprawl, bix box stores, etc...
>This shapes people's lives. Making it impossible for them to live
>without the fruits of contemorary corporate capitalism: single family
>house, plenty of cars.

While on a vacation in Germany almost a year ago, I was amazed by how
densely people live together there.  Compared to here in South Africa
where (relatively) we have space to burn, one really doesn't *need* a
car (nice to have, but not a must like here).

I almost fell over backward when people greeted me on the street.

>Non-free Software: 
>Again this limits what people can do.

Big corporations "telling" you what you want.

>Isolation and depression from the above:
>Keeps people isolated and oppressed.

This seems to be a result of the emerging "hyperculture" with its mobile
phones, SMS's, email and IRC-type applications.  Society is turning less
and less patient, ever more rushed, and the result is that more and more
people are falling below the threshold of "living fast enough".  They
become isolated, feel cut off from the world in which they live and
wither.  Apparently shyness is rising.  Glad to know I'm not alone. :)

That said, I think the Internet, and probably usenet in particular, was
and could still be the most valuable construct that humanity has ever
built.  Personally, I rank it right up there with the control of fire,
the discovery of the wheel and writing.

>Capitalism as it exists today has brought about these things.

Yes and no.  I see capitalism as a societal admission that we can't
*control* human nature.  Not anymore, anyway.  It's really human nature
that has brought about these things, but capitalism has allowed us to
express our nature with gay abandon.

>So what are the solutions:
>This is what I think (certainly open to criticism)
>Education and a lot of it...

Yep!  And not just the how-to-be-a-good-drone education that teaches us
how to make better mousetraps, but also some more social awareness.  As
an ex science student I used to think that those people studying
humanities were generally there to get just any degree, and that no
other faculty would have them.  I still think that's mostly true, but
I've come to realise that there are probably some valuable things to
learn in such an education, things that us atom-bomb builders should

>Urbanism, biking, building public places...
>Free Software!

Yay!  Who needs a big house with a big garden if you live next to a

>People getting to know each other again...

Case in point: I find it easier doing the usenet thing than actually
walking out the front door and speaking to the neighbours... <gasp!> in
person!  Something feels very rotten about that, beyond the fact that I
just happen to be, erm, "reserved".

>Of course changing one of these things won't automatically get rid of
>capitalism but each is a move in the right direction and gives "power
>to the people" :)

Just make sure the "people" are smart enough to handle the power.  Ergo
the education bit.

>Well I don't claim any of this is universal at all. I'm pretty sure
>people can hold the exact opposite views on all of the above. Those
>are just the effects of capitalism that I don't like and I would like
>changed. I think once those things are taken care of then getting rid
>of capitalism will be very easy.

I don't think it's *capitalism* we need to get rid of.  Rather, it's the
unconditional expression of it that needs to be tamed.  I guess the
biggest thing about capitalism that irks me is how corporations have
taken on lives of their own.  They seem to have become a front for
people to do all kinds of bad things, without personal consequences.

>Once we get to the point where the world doesn't suck so much. When we
>get to a point where you can actually enjoy living your life. Then I
>think that people won't need to work so hard to get so many crappy
>gadgets to keep themselves amused. We'll all work, but we'll only work
>so much that the jobs that need doing get done. We won't sit around
>designing truly mindless crap like tamagotchis, robotic dogs, etc.

Unfortunately human mating behaviour seems to place great emphasis on
these mindless trappings of (presumably) good genes.  Waste is pretty
much the only honest indicator of good genes.  Think about it: to waste
it, you obviously must have had it in the first place.  So now male
peacocks have huge tail feathers, humans drive fancy cars, own the
latest mobile phone, religiously display the latest fashionable
clothing and own robotic dogs.

The drive to propagate one's genes will always provide an incentive to
"defect" in this Prisoner's Dilemma.

>On a side note I know all of this is possible. A year ago I wouldn't

So much pain and suffering, but still we somehow have potential for such
greatness.  I think the reason we haven't been invaded by aliens yet is
that they think we're just nuts.  They're keeping us as pets for a
laugh between planetary conquests.

>Basically I've learned that all those things that seem like a good
>idea but seem too hard, really aren't that hard after all.

We just gotta stop watching TV, get off our butts, rub our hands
together and say, "Right!  Let's make this world a better place!"

>Now all of this may seem inconsequential and lame and personal and
>touchy feely, but hey that's the way life is.

That's what usenet is for.

ObOnTopic: I walked past a wildlife enclosure (practically *in* the city
of Cape Town) but I don't think I saw any GNUs.  Maybe just because I
wasn't paying attention, but I guess they were just chilling out in the
shade where I couldn't see them.


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