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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [OT] _happy_ poltical things

From: Michael Poole
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] [OT] _happy_ poltical things
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2004 19:31:46 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) XEmacs/21.4 (Security Through Obscurity, linux)

Robin Green writes:

>> The "Intro to ParEcon" page there links to an essay titled "Socialism
>> as it was Always Meant to Be."  That essay, for example, spends a fair
>> amount claiming it is a workable system because nobody has bothered to
>> debunk it yet -- and ignores the historical counterexamples.
> Such as?
> The Soviet Union was not socialist, it was state capitalist.

That is the kind of semantic game that seems to distinguish ParEcon
from honest socialism: ParEcon wants to use loaded words in a crude
form of verbal judo (calling the Soviet Union "state capitalist"
because that demonizes capitalism).

The original goal of the Soviet Union was socialism.  The problems in
implementing a socialist system are in transition.  Worker-oriented
socialism appears unstable, so somebody comes along and takes over.

>> If you want an example of a current system that operates similarly to
>> socialism, look at Debian.  Pay close attention to the acrimony over
>> licenses, release policies, and semantic distinctions in the core
>> documents.  Then think how it would be different if it were a matter
>> of life or death rather than a hobby in peoples' free time.
> There is a field of study called conflict resolution: much neglected 
> compared to, say, military strategy, but still, it's an active research
> area. I think it's clear that many conflicts can be resolved without
> resorting to violence.

I was not talking about violent conflict.  I said "life and death" --
for example, making sure food gets on everyone's table.

> Beyond that, without knowing what your specific problems with the Debian
> process are, I can't really respond to those insinuations.

I don't have objections to the Debian process being used for something
like Debian; on the whole, it works fairly well there.  I think the
weaknesses it has shown lately would prove fatal to any project where
it had to feed people or structure their lives.

If you want to know what weaknesses I am talking about, they mostly
revolve around two things.

First is the definition of free software, which for Debian is a core
issue (there would be parallel defining policies for any ParEcon
group).  The Debian Free Software Guidelines take up about half of the
Debian Social Contract.  Debates whether software X is freely licensed
or not are frequent and noisy, even when software X is used by a tiney
fraction of the users.  Current example: O'Caml.

Second is perceived lack of progress by critical workers (accounts
maintainers, ftpmaster, etc): Every four or six months, someone
suggests a General Resolution to somehow force another Debian
developer to do what the first person thought needed to be done.  This
falls flat because the only stick is to remove the second DD, and
there is no guarantee that a replacement will be found or will do the
thing being demanded.  This effect will go away in small enough groups
because everyone knows everyone else and knows what they do, but I
suspect that critical group size is about 20.  Current example: amd64.

For Debian, that kind of discussion and debate is acceptable.  People
are passionate about free software, but since they are bound to
disagree, there is a lot of stress.  Yet most people are not as
passionate about free software as they are about eating, so there's a
bound on the desire to leave.  If the decisions affect whether a
person can eat (or give their children presents, etc), that bound goes

> Do you think that freedom to participate in collective decisions on topics
> inasmuch as those topics affect you (what pareconists call "self-management"),
> is a bad freedom to have? Do you have a problem with freedom?
> If so, sorry - you are not the "libertarian" that you paint yourself as
> being with your last paragraph.

If you remove the "collective" before "decisions," I would say that
that is a critical freedom for any mature society.  But why do you
think that decisions must be collective?  No matter who makes economic
decisions, if I disagree strongly enough about the decisions, I should
be able to go on my own.  My chance of starving then becomes
relatively greater, but so does my chance of becoming rich.

In my ideal country, the government would be very small and mostly
leave people to do what they want.  I suspect that would allow people
to have ParEcon enclaves if they want, but an enclave could not compel
its members to stay beyond terms agreed upon in advance, and that is
fine with me.  A ParEcon government, though, seems to disallow any
other model.


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