Subject: Re: Lessig (was Re: As if the DMCA wasn't bad enough)
From: Bruce Van Allen <>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 02:05:46 -0700

 Tue, 11 Sep 2001 02:05:46 -0700
At 12:57 AM -0400 9/11/01, Russell Nelson wrote:
>Karsten M. Self writes:
>  > Lessig Is GodŽ.
>  >... he gets it.
>No, actually, he doesn't get it.  He complains that libertarians think
>that the main enemy is government, and that Code Is Law.  Problem is:
>code isn't law.  Law is law, and only law can prevent me from changing
>a program.


>Code isn't law.  Law is law.  Code is mutable unless law says it
>isn't.  Larry's basic blindness can be seen at the end of Chapter
>Eleven where he says ".... collective action is just what politics is
>for."  This is wrong.  Politics is for deciding who gets to use force
>and when.  Collective action is for groups that have collected
>together for the purpose of taking action.  E.g. the EFF.
>There's a reason why I'm a libertarian, and there's a reason why I
>have a free software business, and there's a reason why I run this
>mailing list.  Simply: because I feel that it is immoral to take money
>from people by pointing a gun at them.  Everything political happens
>because of a gun, even if that gun is holstered.

I'm questioning the value of this list, after lurking for a few 
months, and wanted members to know why. As much as I'm interested in 
the topic of this thread as well as the general purpose of this list, 
I'm tired of the infantilism shown above.

I am a software developer looking for a business form in which 
personal integrity and community benefit are not counterposed to 

I gain nothing from a mind infected by a one-thought virus, however 
smart that mind or piercing that one thought.

Does this sound harsh? Not as much as the condemnations one may 
generate by measuring every idea against one compelling insight 
elevated to near-theological principle.

After being engaged in politics of many sorts for four decades, I 
oppose anyone who promotes ideas that lead people to abandon 
political participation. To reduce all politics to 'deciding who gets 
to use force', and to imply that this isn't so in other realms (such 
as business?), is to tell people to choose between armed struggle and 
apathy. Most of the time most people will choose the latter -- how 
about you?

What good is this philosophy for making strategy regarding federal 
legislation? For operating a business in a mixed private-public 
economic system?

To jump deterministically from 'politics' to pointed guns becomes a 
dead-end thinko, not a useful insight.

Truth in packaging: my politics springs from a piercing thought, too: 
all wealth is socially created. Fits the spirit of the open source 
movement. Can also lead directly to the idea that all property is 
theft. "Intellectual property rights"? -- just another bourgeois 
concept to disguise how the wealthy use their power (guns! 
televisions!) to limit freedom for the rest of us.

In my view,  an open source business model is most likely to flourish 
in an intellectual framework that sees cooperation, community, and 
compassion as fundamental organizing principles of human life. I also 
know now that those very words, 'cooperation, community, and 
compassion', hold chillingly oppressive connotations for some people, 
who behind every collective action see raw coercion.

So there you have it. Why should I stay with this list?

  - Bruce

  bruce van allen  santa cruz ca  

"They that can give up essential freedom to obtain a little temporary 
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin, 1759.

"Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." Antonio Gramsci, ~1925