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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the GNU-is-Not-Utopia dept.

Roberto Unger is a philosopher, former Brazilian minister, and academic at the Harvard Law School. He is proposing a new left-wing politics informed by Free Software and similar culture (an experimental "technological vanguard" in his language). His agenda is empowerment, and many of his ideas will be familiar eg. anti-IP and wide distribution of cutting-edge tech. His longer term program is frighteningly ambitious it's as if whole industries and economies should evolve towards becoming Free Software projects. He also believes in strong government intervention at the bottom for basic services and the top for blue sky projects. His ideas are methodically explained and seem logical, and they're certainly fascinating.

Unger has written several books, though someone has put together an excellent video summary of his ideas and arguments. Ungers critique of the current state of left-wing politics particularly resonated it's devastating. Is this finally a politics that could speak to us?

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  • (Score: 1) by WillAdams on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:24PM

    by WillAdams (1424) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:24PM (#28794)

    At a guess, it's that sort of optimism which is fueling that: []

    Sadly, the dystopia it predicts seems far more likely.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:44PM (#28865)

      Which of the two dystopias in the story do you mean? The capitalist one (where most people end up vegetating in cheap houses effectively being prisoners), or the socialist one (where people end up under constant surveillance and occasional re-education when they don't follow the rules)?

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by davester666 on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:37PM

        by davester666 (155) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:37PM (#28942)

        Why can't we have both?

      • (Score: 2) by snick on Wednesday April 09 2014, @08:54PM

        by snick (1408) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @08:54PM (#29098)

        Why do you tie constant surveillance to socialism? What part of "google knows more about you than your mother does" is socialist?

        • (Score: 2) by geb on Wednesday April 09 2014, @09:08PM

          by geb (529) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @09:08PM (#29106)

          The story linked in first post describes a socialist paradise in which everybody submits to having an implant in their spine which watches their every move and corrects them if they are violent or impolite. That part is really quite creepy. It's that story that makes the tie to surveillance.

          • (Score: 2) by Pav on Thursday April 10 2014, @04:45AM

            by Pav (114) on Thursday April 10 2014, @04:45AM (#29259)

            It didn't sound socialist to me... the guy was in the near-future USA working at a burger joint for heavens sake. :)

            • (Score: 2) by geb on Thursday April 10 2014, @08:53AM

              by geb (529) on Thursday April 10 2014, @08:53AM (#29331)

              You didn't read to the end then. The first half of the story is all about the failings of capitalism when jobs are taken away by machines. It makes a few sensible points there. The second half is where it gets into socialism, and where the idea of utopia gets creepy.

    • (Score: 2) by geb on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:54PM

      by geb (529) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:54PM (#28871)

      While I understand the point the story was trying to make, if I lived in that world honestly I'd prefer the prison dorms under automated capitalism. It's a much better system than handing over root control of your own body to an automated government that enforces politeness.

      The whole story seemed like a ridiculous parody of both capitalism and socialism. The only problem is that reality is on its way to achieve one of those ridiculous parodies...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Pav on Wednesday April 09 2014, @04:35PM

      by Pav (114) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @04:35PM (#28895)

      The stated goal is "empowerment" rather than the more usual goal in left politics ie. "increasing economic equality" (whatever that means). Something manna-like isn't exactly empowering. Unger is all for automating away tasks that could be done better by machine, but that's only a means to an end ie. empowering people.

  • (Score: 0) by rliegh on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:28PM

    by rliegh (205) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:28PM (#28797)

    Politics is very much about the hearts and minds, and the corporations/corporate culture has begun to poison people against the idea of "Free Culture". This might have taken off between 1999-2005; but certainly not now.

    I just tell 'em the truth and they think it's trolling!
    • (Score: 3) by Pav on Wednesday April 09 2014, @04:18PM

      by Pav (114) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @04:18PM (#28886)

      Unger has already spent time in government implementing some of his ideas in Brasil. The experimental left there has helped raise a whole new "second middle class" which is a very different story to the rest of the world. It's refreshing reading about it... I'd almost forgotten what economic optimism sounded like.

    • (Score: 2, Troll) by Grishnakh on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:13PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:13PM (#28927)

      Maybe in America, where everyone is happy to worship corporations. Elsewhere in the world, I think these ideas might have a good chance of taking off.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by hatta on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:37PM

    by hatta (879) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:37PM (#28809)

    Free Software is not a complicated philosophy. The only political ideal it has is that modifying and copying information is a right. We already have the political capacity to respect and enforce rights in many ways, from Free Speech to equal opportunity housing. Use these tools to protect our right to fix our computers and share those fixes with our fellow citizens, and Free Software is entirely satisfied.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:14PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:14PM (#28844)

      The philosophy of Free Software isn't that new, when you really look at it: Academia has had the value of free distribution of knowledge for a long long time, and all that makes Free Software different is that the knowledge we have (in the form of working code) can also be used directly by ordinary people.

      Really, the strange idea was that thoughts and ideas and problem solving methods should be locked up behind legal protections so that whoever came up with them made a lot of money selling the idea. Throughout most of human history, ideas and thoughts were free, it was doing the work to use them that helped you make money. The few people who were professional thinkers were typically sponsored by very rich people or organizations (nobility, religious groups, early universities, etc), and basically told "Here's room and board and a budget for supplies, do something awesome."

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:16PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:16PM (#28931)

        Academia has had the value of free distribution of knowledge for a long long time

        No, it "had", not "has had". Some time ago, academia gave up on this free distribution of knowledge idea, and instead decided to lock up knowledge in ridiculously-expensive "academic journals" like Nature. There are some movements to change this now, but there's a lot of resistance because many in academia apparently enjoy being tools for a large corporation. Ironically, it seems to have taken CS people to start to reverse course on this, first with the invention of Free software, and later with the invention of the internet making it easy to exchange information freely regardless of physical location.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:24PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:24PM (#28936)

        Interesting. Imagine a world where no one had gotten rich from IP (no Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, etc.) and we replaced their efforts with patronage from nobility, religious groups, universities, etc. Sounds pretty good: we now could watch that Mickey Mouse film that never got shot on the movie camera that never got invented on our iPhone that never got created. And we could do it all for free, and modify it any way we want! ;-)

        • (Score: 2) by moo kuh on Thursday April 10 2014, @12:02AM

          by moo kuh (2044) on Thursday April 10 2014, @12:02AM (#29159) Journal

          I don't think Edison is who you think he is. I would suggest taking some time to read up on what happened between him and Nikola Tesla. I could argue that Edison stifled technological development. I don't know much about Walt Disney. Steve Jobs, meh. He knew how to run a business, market, and sell things. I don't see anything Apple does as particularly innovative. Blackberries were very popular before iPhones. There was an MP3 player with a hard drive before the iPOD. OS-X is just FreeBSD with some GUI tools and a fancy window manager/desktop environment.

      • (Score: 1) by jcross on Wednesday April 09 2014, @07:13PM

        by jcross (4009) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @07:13PM (#29008)

        I'm not sure I would agree that ideas and thoughts were free for most of human history. Consider guild systems, religious mystery cults, or in smaller societies simply guarding secrets from other tribes. It's just that in a world where information flows more easily, and where the information is the product itself (e.g. recorded media), it becomes much harder to keep things secret, so people start looking to legal protections. It's actually kind of wonderful that sharing source code has taken off the way it has, given how easy it is to keep it secret.

  • (Score: 1) by Bill, Shooter Of Bul on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:44PM

    by Bill, Shooter Of Bul (3170) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:44PM (#28814)

    Historically,the primary goal of free software is to protect the user's rights to use, modify, and distribute code they received. This is what makes free software successful. All the other nonsense is ancillary to its success. It could be described as "The popular politics of people who use and develop FOSS". I can still disagree with some of their ancillary politics, but still contribute and use FOSS.

    I very much think that this will end up more like the four clause BSD license, which will impose additional restrictions on the Free software ideal.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by pe1rxq on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:00PM

      by pe1rxq (844) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:00PM (#28832) Homepage

      I don't think these political viewpoints are a result of free software, but a more general approach to some of the ideals behind it.
      On of those ideals is that it is wrong to impose artificial scarcity on something that is not scarce. (trademarks, patents, copyright).
      In this worldview free software is just a way to achieve this and moves focus back to the real scarcity: developpers and the time they spend.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by snick on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:47PM

    by snick (1408) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:47PM (#28818)

    Can't wait for the "democracy" vs "gnu-democracy" wars.

    (democracy is a KERNEL, not a political system ...)

  • (Score: -1) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:55PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @02:55PM (#28825)

    Do you know of any open source governing options []? I was thinking of doing a (free []) governing system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like reps and dems []) for citizens.

    Just brainstorming:

    1) Make your [] own [] legislative [] repository, with custom distributions for each unique use case []. A "Body of Laws Anyone Can Edit."

    2) Allow anyone to freely download, edit, collaborate on [] and upload law codes. Ask editors to maintain good documentation and follow coding standards [].

    3) To start, a small group of law hackers [] can probably decide amongst themselves which changes should make it into each local release [] candidate. But for a future version [], it would be very important to develop a secure, encrypted open source electronic voting system with strong authentication so users of the laws [] can decide for themselves [].

    4) Roll all the release candidate code into a custom release candidate distro, and publish a well documented changelog online so everyone can see it.

    5) Give the release candidate installer [] a name so key decision makers [] can tell their options apart, but make it random [] so they don't take it too seriously (like jury duty, ha!). They're just placeholders [], after all, so it would be ridiculous to be too picky [].

    6) Poll users to see if they like the new changes better []. If they don't, withdraw the release candidate for future improvements. People hate [] rollbacks [].

    7) If users choose to install a given release candidate group [], it should just work [] and merge the updates into the codebase. And why wouldn't users prefer open source codes []? They'll know exactly what codes will be installed in their legal system, with no spyware [], nagware [], adware [], or DRM [].

    8) There will inevitably be bugs [], but many eyes will be looking for them. Plus, we can have regularly scheduled patch days between major releases. There would even be a profit motive for bug hunts [], or bug bounties []!

    9) Since obviously not everyone (like your grandma [], or your boss []!) is going want to run open source laws from the start, be sure to withdraw spoilers so voters can dual boot [], but you should still implement the functionality they wish they had in their closed system [].

    10) Every [] system [] you [] need [] already [] exists for free, but we might need some marketing [] at the start (ugh!). Maybe individually crowdfund [] that? Mostly social [] media [] is fine these days. Catchy ideas kinda go "viral," [] right?

    11) I'm sure there will be inevitable court [] battles [], but that's just an annoyance since we're not doing anything [] illegal [], just a little different, and we're certainly not forcing anyone to use these codes unless they choose to install them themselves in their local legal systems.

    12) It might take a few years, starting with just hobbyists working in their local legal systems [], but eventually larger [] groups [] and everybody else [] will come around and prefer this less expensive and more rational method of governance. The old systems [] might kinda die out, though, but since it's incremental, there's no jarring change [].

    13) We could use a catchy name. Maybe call it, New/America?



    "Why will someone bother to edit all these obscure laws and regulations?"

    Why not? Wikipedia exists, as do thousands and thousands of other wikis on all kinds of obscure topics. Some people have a lot of time on their hands, and are really passionate about their hobbies.

    "But can hobbyists make laws better than professionals?"

    Have you seen the kind of miserable laws the professionals come up with? You'd think that many monkeys with that many typewriters...


    It certainly works that way in software. []

    For example, the closed, bloated, but flashy Windows "Professional" is famously unstable []. But if you're trying to run a large, distributed, interconnected network (like a nation []), the open source GNU/Linux system is trusted to run the world's commerce, communications, [] and so very many aspects of our daily lives []. Open systems are less flashy, but far more stable, and isn't that preferable for your system of governance?

    "Surely regulations are a job for experts."

    Exactly. And unfortunately current regulations are written by self-interested third parties []. Experts, like a handful of doctors could write better health regulations in their spare time than, say, insurance companies and for-profit hospitals. Might as well give 'em a shot, anyway, right? The rules don't go into effect unless voters okay them.

    "If I choose to install Open Government, do I have to get rid of my closed government?"

    Absolutely not! That would be incredibly tedious and messy, and nobody wants that. Heck, I don't think it would even be legal!

    Open Government codes work with closed government codes as long as they obey standards []. We hope people choose to install Open Government [], but we'd never force anyone to. That kind of defeats [] the purpose [] of it [] being [] "open []."

    "Is distributed, open source lawmaking a good fit for the Internet?"

    Middlemen [] don't really add a lot of value [] to systems. And the Internet has a strong track record of putting middlemen [] out of business [], and this has generally been a very positive result for users.

    "If this is such a good idea, why hasn't anyone done this before?"

    The enabling, connecting technology of the Internet is still a very new thing. Also, the closed government business is very, very profitable [], and they're quite adept at spreading fear [], uncertainty [], and doubt [] about using [] open systems [].

    "Is this free?"

    It's free as in "freedom." That is, self-determination, the right of every individual to know what's going on in the systems that are very important to their lives. The entirety of their potential as human beings depends on the stability and utility of this system [].

    It's almost free as in "doesn't cost anything." There are certainly some maintenance costs involved to users, but they're far, far lower than the heavy costs [] of closed systems.

    "But we don't have any of that maintenance money."

    Crowdfunding [] might work. If we meet our funding goal, you get a free and open society. Flex goals: flying cars; world peace; space elevator.

    "Isn't that kind of utopian?"

    Do [] you [] prefer [] the [] alternatives []?

    "Wait a minute. You've used words like 'free' and 'sharing.' Is this communism?"

    No, this is purely a political system, and you're thinking of an economic system.

    No particular economic system is involved with Open Government. Pick any one you like. It's just not fascism.

    "Is this some-ism-i-don't-like?"

    No. See above.


    No. See above.

    "So it's capitalism?"

    No. See above.

    "But if it's not capitalism, how does anyone make a profit off it?"

    Well, that shouldn't really be the point of government, should it?



    "So you can run any kind of economic system you like on top of Open Government?"

    That's the idea. Some might like pure capitalism, others might prefer socialism, but most will probably prefer a healthy mix of the two, like a free market with a safety net. Regardless, that's for the users of the system to decide. We'll just make the system itself.

    "You must be dreaming."

    I like to think I'm not the only one.

    "Wait, is this the tyranny of the majority I've been warned about?"

    No, it's liberty. You don't hate freedom, do you?

    "Direct democracy is bad!"

    Who told you that? Wait a minute. Was it those closed government guys?

    Newspeak, amiright []? I wish we could bring back oldspeak.

    It's true, though. Worst system in the world. Still better than all the others.

    "But if you publish the laws you want to live under, won't the closed government parties see them? What's to stop them from just copying your ideas, implementing the reasonable rules you so desire and claiming credit?"

    Wouldn't that be a refreshing change!

    "But amateurs? Making a political system? There might be bugs!"

    The closed governing system is rife with those [].

    In an open system, many eyes will be looking for mistakes, and patches may be applied. It's generally much more stable.

    "Who will find time to read the release candidate laws and argue about them?"

    I was not aware there was a lack of people arguing on the Internet.

    "How will citizens make informed decisions?"

    By pursuing independent investigations and backing up their arguments with facts and data.

    Why, a whole industry might even spring up to inform people on important topics instead of just horse race drivel.

    I suggest we call it "investigative journalism."

    What other criteria would they use to decide? Some popularity contest based on hairstyle and dick pics? We would be insane to run a government that way!

    Don't you know there are lives [] at stake []?!?

    "But people make terrible decisions!"

    Can't [] argue [] with [] that [].

    "People are too busy to pay attention to the laws! What if self-interested people try to sneak in bad ones?"

    That's the problem. Exactly. You get it. I knew you were smart. Welcome to the club.

    "Ohhhh a club! Are there rules to this club?"

    The first rule of Open Government is "don't be a dick."

    The second rule of Open Government is "be excellent to each other."

    The third rule of Open Government is "Talk about Open Government."

    The fourth rule of Open Government is "Talk about Open Government."

    "This seems too simple."

    Why shouldn't it be? Complexity [] is fraud [].

    "The people who are not already open users might not like the features of these laws."

    Anyone can join. Invite them in to make their own edits. Service guarantees citizenship. For everyone.

    "But the users aren't technically literate."

    Help them. Your grandma can hit "like" on FaceBook. This is barely harder. Tech support is only a basement away.

    "People might not like this new system."

    They're happy [] now []?

    "People are so locked in to their current vendors, [] they just won't 'get it.'"

    You'll need to explain it to them.

    We're going to need memes. Lots of memes.

    "i can haz demokitty?"

    "I'm from the Internet and I'm here to help?"

    "But they might actively oppose it."

    Indeed []. The very people [] you are trying to save []. They are so inured, so hopelessly [] dependent [] on the system, that they will fight to protect [] it. Wake them [] gently.

    "This won't be very inclusive to the unconnected."

    You're right, so very, very many are not well represented. Connect them. Surely you've got a laptop collecting dust somewhere? Give it to someone, and that's one more citizen.

    "There's too many laws. Too many regulations. How can we ever sort the good from the bad?"

    But we are many. They are few. You have a keyboard. Use it.

    "This is madness."

    Madness?! This is the United States of America.

    "It's impossible."

    See above. Anything is possible. We're exceptional, remember?

    "But what about exploiters?"

    Indeed, dangerous [] criminals [] can exploit [] holes in the system, gain access to your personal data [] and even drain [] your bank account. [] They could use the system [] for their own ends [] to launch attacks on others or even cause the system to crash! []

    We need some security [] experts [] to help [] us out []. The stability of the system [] is far too important. Sloppy [] codes [] and malicious [] intent can lead [] to terrible mistakes [].

    "But what about trolls?"

    Dullards who just want to spread [] hate [], ignorance [], fear [], and [] discontent []? There are a lot of those, yes. Don't feed them, and they will go away.

    "Shit's bad, isn't it?"

    Always darkest before the dawn.

    "The closed government proponents won't like it."

    They will hate it [].

    That's a very good reason to do it.

    Write better laws.

    Put those specific, actual, definitive improvements in front of voters each and every election.

    What good are slogans, slander and a perfectly coiffed mane [] against reason, logic and data?

    Call it a real choice.

    "Gosh, I'd love to help! Should I hold a bake sale, put on a costume, wave a flag, and petition my government for redress?"

    Well that's a neat idea! So do you have enough cupcakes to sell to raise the billions of dollars it takes to change the system? No? Then don't bother. There is only one lord of that system, and he does not share power.

    "They might arrest us!"

    For sitting quietly in our pajamas and writing better codes? And voting on them? Then again, the way things [] have been going [], they just might. []

    Help me, couch dweller. You're my only hope.

    "Politics is dirty! What about character assassination?"

    Against whom?

    We are anonymous, and our candidates are randomly selected silent public servants.

    "Actual assassination! Prison on trumped up charges!"

    Against whom?

    The Internet? For speaking and voting?

    That seems excessive.

    The public might not like that.

    And if they strike [] any of us [] down we will become more powerful than they can possibly imagine [].

    "I can't do it!"

    No one will do it for you. You know that.

    "Somebody else should do it!"

    It has to start some place. It has to start some time. What better place than here? What better time than now?

    "Should I occupy the streets?"

    Can you dodge bullets? No? Then that's a terrible idea! This way, you won't have to.

    "Should I occupy anything at all?!"

    Yes! Do you have a couch?

    "Sure do!"

    Great. Occupy that. Well, get some snacks first. It's going to be a late night. Hell, there'll be a lot of late nights. Buy stock in Mountain Dew.

    Is there a TV on?

    "Yeah, there's this great show about these hillbillies who bike from junkyard to junkyard looking for stuff celebrities threw out."

    You realize it's 2014, right? Why do you still have cable? Turn that crap off.

    Now, is there a computer nearby?

    "Of course!"

    Is it connected to that system we've been building for the last sixty years? The communications network that puts you in touch with every single person you know and almost all the ones you don't, and contains the sum of all the world's knowledge? The most powerful tool, the most powerful weapon in the history of civilization? The one you've been trained to use since you were born?

    "Sure is!"

    Are there cat pictures on it? I love those.

    "Yes, but what does that have to do...?"

    Oh. Right. My bad. Where were we?

    "WHAT CAN I DO?!"

    Lots of things!

    1) Create your code repository [].

    2) Get your laws [].

    3) Hack [] them [].

    4) Argue about them. []

    5) Explain them. []

    6) Promote [] them [].

    7) Show [] them [].

    8) Convince [] them [].

    10) Monitor [] it.

    11) Nullify [] them [].

    12) Prove to them [].

    13) Troll [] them [].

    14) Protect [] us [].

    15) Be excellent [] to each other [].

    There. Now you know what to do.

    "It'll never work. The problem is too big. No one will care. No one will help."

    Your laws were written by people who failed kindergarten and skipped civics class. You didn't. How hard can it be?

    Let go of your fears and self-doubt.

    You know the path. Now walk it. From your couch.

    Linus stared at a blank .c file.

    GNU was just a crumb in Stallman's beard.

    Jimmy edited one wiki.

    Aaron posted one cat.

    moot trolled one troll.

    But you're right, no one will pay any attention to a handful of online malcontents discussing laws they'd like to see passed.

    So first they'll ignore us.

    It won't be difficult for the Openers. They're really smart. Their parents taught them well.

    They won't quit their menial jobs or spend hours at boring meetings. The Openers know that would change nothing.

    The Openers looked at their neighborhoods and their cities. They saw problems.

    Decay. Rot. Crime. Poverty. Sickness. Hunger. Corruption. Deceit. Hopelessness. Despair.

    The Openers saw that these problems are caused by bad codes underlying the system.

    They rewrote the rules that created those problems.

    After all, they had nothing better to do.

    They posted proposals for the new rules. They shared a link on FaceBook. And they were Liked.

    And their small town in middle America elected the first Open Government slate to city council.

    They had written the laws, argued for them, and got them accepted by the public from the comfort of their parents' basements.

    Then they'll laugh at us.

    "In lighter news, some tiny hick town elected a bunch of kids from the Internet to their city council! I hope they can look up from their cell phones long enough to run the place! Ha ha! Next up on Fox Decides, tragedy struck today as a roadside bomb killed 16 brave soldiers on this 427th day of Operation Iranian Freedom..."

    Laugh. Please, please laugh. It will make the tears all the more delicious later.

    But the Openers did not laugh. They walked into City Hall and patched in the new rules. It took an afternoon.

    The new rules removed the tax subsidy from the golf course where the old city council had free memberships.

    That freed up resources to fix the potholes in the streets.

    And the new rules replaced the ancient, expensive, lying schoolbooks with better open source options on cheap eReaders.

    It wasn't magic. Problems are bugs, and they fixed them.

    It's what hackers do.

    They. Solve. Problems.

    So the output was better. Performance, too. The system ran more smoothly.

    It's not hard to convince your neighbors you've got a better plan when your opponents have no plan at all except lies and greed.

    It was the best set of rules the townspeople had ever seen. So the next round they closed City Hall and moved the voting sessions online. Crowds didn't cheer. They didn't even notice.

    But word spread. A few other towns even decided to try this little experiment in democracy.

    And one day, an Opener, chosen at random from his district, took a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    He had one job that he gleefully executed. For the lulz.

    He stood in the halls of power and spoke truth.

    He proposed the current preferred Distribution of Laws as written by the most interested, informed and passionate citizens of the United States of America.

    Not consumers, not travelers, not shoppers, not workers, not owners, not investors.


    He submitted the requests of the Citizens of the United States of America to the powers that control the United States of America.

    Then they'll fight us.

    They'll panic. Those better laws will end their bribes. The politicians would have to live under the same rules as the commoners.

    This will never do.

    The talking heads on Fox will decry the "commie anarchists."

    CNN will rail against the "dangerous radicals" who dared to draft laws themselves without the approval of their betters.

    After a court skirmish or two, the realists of the closed system, in their benevolence, will permit into the televised debates the average, unassuming man or woman who won (lost?) the random selection to be the Open nominee for President of the United States of America.

    And that man or woman will stand at the podium in front of the world and say...absolutely nothing at all. Not a damn word. We Do Not Speak. And the silence will echo through the ages.

    Speak? Why? The body of just laws is already online. It's already been read. It's already been approved.

    Did you think the Revolution would be televised?

    Of course not. It'll be liveblogged.

    Then we'll win.

    After that we'll have a terrible unemployment problem.

    There'll be no Situation for the Situation room.

    There'll be no spin to not spin for the No Spin Zone.

    The lobbyists will have no one to bribe.

    All those poor politicians will be out of work. They'll have to get jobs, but they don't have any marketable skills.

    Maybe the politicians can work at Wal-Mart or McDonald's.

    But since people with no skills trapped in dead end jobs like that tend to get dangerous, we might want to consider drafting a "Former Politicians Education and Reemployment Act of 2021."

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by joshuajon on Wednesday April 09 2014, @04:34PM

      by joshuajon (807) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @04:34PM (#28893)

      I think the "Read the rest of this comment" link should probably show up before page 5 of a comment...

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by carguy on Thursday April 10 2014, @01:39AM

        by carguy (568) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 10 2014, @01:39AM (#29195)

        I think the "Read the rest of this comment" link should probably show up before page 5 of a comment...

        If any of our excellent developers dig into this part of the code, it would be helpful if the message said, "Read additional xxxx lines/characters of this comment".

      • (Score: 2) by lhsi on Thursday April 10 2014, @07:16AM

        by lhsi (711) on Thursday April 10 2014, @07:16AM (#29312) Journal

        In your preferences you can apply modifiers to short/long comments. You could give an additional -1 to particularly long comments if you didn't want them to show up by default.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by tomtomtom on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:13PM

    by tomtomtom (340) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @03:13PM (#28843)

    One of the most interesting books (really an extended essay) I've seen recently is "The Three Languages of Politics" by Arnold Kling. His thesis is that there are three core ideals which motivate different groups of people, and most people identify with one or other of these core ideals and tend to see all issues through this prism. As a result they are often talking past each other. The three lenses are freedom/coercion, civilisation/barbarism, and oppressor/oppressed. For me, Free Software ideology most closely allies with "freedom" - it is classic libertarianism.

    The interesting thing is each of these lenses is claimed by different people on both the "left" and the "right" of politics. The distinction between "left" and "right" these days is largely tribal ("I trust my friends more than your friends to do the right thing" at the extreme) and the distinctions *within* each category/party are much more important. Therefore the idea that "Free Software" is somehow a left-wing (or alternatively a right-wing) ideology to be claimed is profoundly unhelpful because it will immediately turn off everyone who identifies with the other "tribe" even if they agree with the idea behind it.

    Free Software's ideas are strongly aligned with the "freedom/coercion" lens (on the "freedom" side in case it wasn't obvious). Arguably this is the lens which has most commonality between "left" and "right" parties in politics today. It therefore needs to be thought of as an ideology which is open to everyone, not only the "left" or the "right". Equally, calling this a "new politics" is unhelpful; none of the ideas proposed are really new.

    • (Score: 2) by Pav on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:38PM

      by Pav (114) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @05:38PM (#28944)

      Wikipedia (and a couple of online dictionaries) define [] right wing politics as "positions or activities that accept or support social hierarchy or social inequality". Ungers stated aim is "universal empowerment"... how is that not left wing?

      As to how he wants to tinker with societal structure... he suggests a number of things to push society towards being more collaborative rather than top down. He believes an empowered population is more productive and creative. His program is just a bunch of policies aimed at trying to achieve this. Some examples: more direct forms of democracy, no private donations in politics, supporting small/medium business to adopt cutting-edge tech rather than lagging behind the corporate world, encouraging cooperative technological development, a small guaranteed income from the government to minimise uncertainy while encouraging self-directed contracting rather than wage labour (which is regards as disempowering). He also wants to see heavy government involvement in the bottom and top (ie. basic services and blue-sky research).

    • (Score: 1) by zsau on Thursday April 10 2014, @01:32AM

      by zsau (2642) on Thursday April 10 2014, @01:32AM (#29194)

      I can't agree with the claim that Free Software ideology is classic libertarianism. I think that the Free Software/GPL vs BSD distinction is fundamentally about the left vs the right wing.

      Free Software says "you can do anything with this software expect use it to oppress others", where "oppression" involves adding restrictions to it that prevent you from redistributing/changing it. Or alternatively, Free Software is the many trying to prevent a few people from getting too much power over them.

      It's BSD that's about freedom: you can do whatever you want with this, just don't plagiarise.

      And Open Source is probably the civilisation/barbarism option. Free software is too revolutionary; open source takes the "best" of it while rejecting the bits that have the potential to undermine capitalist incentives.

      (Note: I'm not saying I think the Three Languages are a good way of viewing these ideologies, or indeed any; just that, if I was going to use them, this is how I'd do it.)

      • (Score: 1) by tomtomtom on Friday April 11 2014, @08:46AM

        by tomtomtom (340) on Friday April 11 2014, @08:46AM (#29921)

        I'm not so sure. Many (but by no means all) classic libertarians would say that one appropriate constraint on freedom is the enforcement of reasonable rules to prevent the formation or exploitation of monopolies (including monopolies on the provision of labour, ie trade unions), since those prevent markets from functioning correctly/optimally. The protections built into the GPL but which are not in the BSD licence seem analogous to that to me - it's more "we all have to compete on the same terms" than "you can't oppress others" (although the two do overlap there, I'll admit). A more left-wing licence to me would say things like "you can't charge for this software".

        Both left-wing and right-wing politics have views which go both ways on this though, which was my original point - on the left there are people who view competition as "bad" for example and therefore favour monopolies (enforced communal production). On the (lbertarian) right there are those who believe the government will always be unable to perform the task of regulating monopolies effectively without being subject to function creep and so should never start down the "slippery slope". Likewise there are those on both the left and the right who think laws (and enforcement) which act to promote competition are appropriate.

  • (Score: 1) by jummama on Wednesday April 09 2014, @09:15PM

    by jummama (3969) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @09:15PM (#29110)

    I have thought for a long time that it would be great if the people were inserted in between the authoring of a bill and the actual voting on a bill, such as this:

    1) Put the original bill into git, with collaboration functions similar to github
    2) Interested people/groups fork it and make revisions
    3) Interested people vote on pull requests up until a certain deadline
    4) The bill has now been modified by the people, and is ready for the rest of the process

    It wouldn't completely eliminate corruption, but it would theoretically make the people a bit stronger as a check and balance. It would also hopefully prevent things being bundled into otherwise unrelated bills.

    • (Score: 1) by VitalMoss on Wednesday April 09 2014, @10:18PM

      by VitalMoss (3789) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @10:18PM (#29127)

      Sounds good.

    • (Score: 1) by marcolinux on Thursday April 10 2014, @04:09PM

      by marcolinux (2729) on Thursday April 10 2014, @04:09PM (#29514) Homepage

      Dont forget the unit tests

      InPower=[benevolent,tyrannic,naive, elite, corrupt]
      TheSubject=[uneducated, gamer, honest, dishonest]


      for (all in InPower){
              for (all in TheSubject){
                    print Here is your cake, $subject: $outcome .Kisses, from +$power

      }catch{//always there is a catch :)
              print(cake is a lie)

      Voynich script is openSource. Ultrasound, can see u "exercise".