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'margin of margin'

Political Economy and Computing

GNU-Linux and GLT

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Composed by dd/ts, 2010.

One. Some Elements of ‘Theory’

In the title, we have put the word ‘theory’ within quotes, to make it clear that, the elements that we are going to discuss in this introduction come from a very specific kind of theory. The special status of this ‘theory’ comes from the fact that, though it is genealogically related to the family of Marxist Political Economy, it has many things and many ways of seeing that are absolutely of its own. It will hardly suffice just to say that this ‘theory’ has quite a lot of postmodern postcolonial positions woven into it. This whole chapter is, actually, an elaboration of some of the distinct elements that belong to this flavor of ‘theory’. And that too, in a way as simple as possible: I am trying to prepare the readers, not initiated to rigorous theory, in reading this book. But here comes a crucial point it is so very difficult to be ‘simple’. This question comes up so many times through this book: how to define ‘simplicity’, particularly in the context of a book like this, that has no confined discipline of its own. This book grows in the very interstice of two very serious disciplines of human thought, political economy and computing. In the process of writing the earlier drafts of this book, the definition of simplicity that was settled upon, was just another name of a ‘self-contained system’. When a thread is taken up, it is given a sort of completion within the confines of this book. So that, any reader, who goes on reading the book for a sufficient length, can get all the conceptual tools elaborated in one or other part of the book. In fact, there are two different chapters, this one, and the third one, meant for two different groups of outsiders to the two disciplines of political economy and computing, respectively. It has made the text, in places, quite verbose and over-elaborate, specially for the insiders to these disciplines, but that was the price to pay for this ‘simplicity’.

But, now, at this point, before reading the book, we cannot use the technical concepts from any of these two disciplines, and so, it is even harder to describe the content of the book, very briefly, as goes the custom for an introductory chapter. Doing away with all kinds of jargon, it can be said that, this book elaborates the possibility of an entirely new kind of politics of resistance imbibed within FLOSS, Free-Libré-Opensource-Software. And it demonstrates, how FLOSS opens up an entirely new horizon of political economy of resistance that is even outside the comprehension of Marxist political economy. In this book, we are going to use these terms almost synonymously, ‘FLOSS’, ‘Linux’ and ‘GNU-Linux’: qualifiers that mean, for now, software licensed under GPL or GPL-like licenses, licenses that thrive to protect human freedom in the field of software. The politics of resistance, that we are referring to, is the resistance towards the hegemony of capital. The word ‘hegemony’ derives from the Greek root ‘hêgemon’ or leader, that is, it signals a kind of ideological leadership of the ruling class: we will come back to it later. This hegemony of capital or capitalism, that rules us in a market society, threatens to take away human freedom in so many ways. Computing is just one of the areas. And here, GPL, together with other GPL-like licenses, created a kind of resistance towards this hegemony by inventing some methods of saving this freedom.

This book takes up this resistance given by GPL, in full perspective historical, economic, social and otherwise, and discovers in GPL an entirely new theoretical possibility of resistance. And this discovery becomes crucially important, because, as this book shows, the very kind of resistance that came up through the leadership of GPL, was something altogether from outside the scope of human thought till date. This unique resistance gave birth to some entirely new economic and social categories, categories that were never there in human history. Its novelty becomes very pronounced, when we see that, the whole discipline of Marxist political economy, the hitherto context of almost all politics of resistance against the rule of capital, cannot even understand this GPL phenomenon in terms of Marxist logic. This opens up some unprecedented vistas of political economy of resistance, the understanding of which demands a whole new theoretical plane. Sometimes, we name this plane as phenomenology of friendship, and call this newer genre of politics of resistance as the politics of subversion. The difference with the Marxist cannon, that believes in an inversion of capital’s hegemony by creating a counter-hegemony, is quite obvious in the term ‘subversion’. The politics of subversion goes beyond all hegemony of all order, and goes beyond the idea of an inversion of hegemony.

We should note the difference between “the resistance that came up through GPL”, that we wrote, and what we could write, like “the resistance that GPL created”. We believe that, it actually happened that way. All the people and efforts that went into the making of the process that generated GPL and FLOSS, did not know the theoretical implications of the actions involved. In this book we will use the concept of ‘differend’ from the theories of Lyotard to mark the inception of the process. Where the makers of GPL and FLOSS were seeing injustice, were, in every sense, entirely justified in the sense of legality and state, under hegemony of capital. This calls for the concept of ‘differend’. ‘Differend’ resides in a situation, that, by definition, cannot be resolved, because there is no uniform rule of judgment applicable to the two parties in a dispute. The moves of the market were bringing the human freedom under larceny, the freedom that evolved in the earlier era in the world of computing. But, these market moves were entirely justified and legal. Later we will delve deep into the mechanism of state and the legal categories of ‘contract’ and ‘property’ to show the inner workings of the rule of capital, to get a true picture of the moves. The point here is the very irreconcilable nature of relation between the justice expected by the computing world and the justice of market and state. Through GPL, this differend was actually resolved by a deconstruction of the whole mechanism of state and market.

The ‘differend’ between the two incompatible senses and readings of justice, between the realm of the software developers and the rule of the market, started to generate a lot of supplements in the form of scattered, disjointed and minuscule moments of resistance. These supplements went on accumulating, and finally this whole process led to the birth of GPL. The birth of GPL then set in motion the world of FLOSS. And through GPL and FLOSS, emerged some hitherto unknown forms of the categories of property, capital and state. These transformed categories now carried and sustained the resistance inherent in GPL. But, first what we need is a very small section on GPL, about what GPL is in layman’s terms. This section presents just a working definition of GPL. The first draft of this book did not have this section at all. But quite a few of my friends who read the first draft, suggested that there must be a section like that, particularly meant for the readers from outside the discipline of computing.

1. What is GPL

This section about GPL in a nutshell reminds me of an ancient story of those blind people that went to witness an elephant. Some of them considered an elephant as a column, and some others experienced it like a piece of rope. This section very much carries that danger within it. What GPL is, and what are its historical, economic, political and philosophical significance these are part of the most important focus of this book. Through the chapters of this book, part by part, we have taken up this theme, and discussed: what GPL is. And so, it seems pretty precarious to write a section like this. But maybe understanding proceeds that way, and any learning always already means a process of unlearning the primary things that were learned in the square one. This section, as we will see later, is not ‘wrong’ for that matter, but it is outrageously insufficient with respect to its title.

This brief section is necessary in the sense that, if someone does not know anything about GPL, a column or a rope, how the reading can start at all? As an experiment about the necessity of this section, I asked some of my friends from outside the world of computing, from other walks of human knowledge like chemistry and literature, “What things come to your mind when you hear the word ‘GPL’?” One of them answered, is it something related with IPL, Indian Premier League of cricket, and another said, is it something about the General Postal department? So, it seemed, this section is really necessary. For people like that, this section can be a starting point indeed. For them, let it be known, GPL is a kind of a license, General Public License. It came with a project called GNU, with a self-recursive acronym: GNU’s-Not-Unix, and so, at times, we also call it as GNU GPL. We will know later, this GNU project was meant to be the embryo of what we call FLOSS today. The connection with the same GNU is expressed in the name ‘GNU-Linux’, by which we refer to Linux in the book, quite a lot of times. There are many things associated here, we will come back to them later. Linux or GNU-Linux or FLOSS, whatever we call it, popularly comes to us in the form of ‘distribution’ or ‘distro’. Some popular distro-s are like ‘Fedora’, ‘OpenSuSe’ or ‘Ubuntu’. Any piece of software included in a FLOSS distro is licensed under GPL, or some GPL-like license.

As we are saying GPL-like, the ‘likeness’ comes from the purpose of protecting human freedom, that is common to all of them, the purpose that first started to actualize through GPL. The human freedom, in this particular case, refers to freedom of knowledge in the realm of computing. What do we exactly mean by this ‘freedom of knowledge in the realm of computing’ is too complex to take up at this point. We will discuss it elaborately later in this book. For the time being, let us be content with a working definition of this freedom, that tells us, this ‘freedom of knowledge in computing’ means the freedom of use, the freedom of modification, and the freedom of distribution of every piece of software. If a piece of software can be used by whoever wants to use it, as many times in as many ways as one wants, we call it the freedom of use. The freedom of modification resides in the freedom of changing a piece of software in whatever way one wants. The freedom of distribution means the freedom of distribution of both the original and the modified copies of that piece of software. If, for a piece of software, all these freedoms are operative, we call it ‘free software’. We can note a point here, and this will become immensely important later. The concept of ‘distributing in whatever way one wants’ already includes both the possibilities of exchange with price and without price. So, a piece of software being attached with a price tag has got nothing to do with the freedom of distribution involved in it. In the context of understanding the politics of GPL, this point will become extremely important.

GPL and all the GPL-like licenses deploy quite a few legal mechanisms to protect this freedom. And two very important of them are the ‘copyleft’ aspect and the ‘offspring’ aspect. Even before knowing all the details, we must keep in mind, ‘copyleft’ is never the reverse of ‘copyright’. Copyright means, in brief, the right of copying a creation. And copyright laws automatically vest this right of copying on the creator. The aspect of ‘copyleft’ comes up, when the creator, by applying the same copyright laws, vests the right of copying on the social space, for anyone and everyone that wants to copy it. And because, just like copyright, copyleft too is protected by the copyright laws, no one can ever take away this right from the social space, and enjoy it in individual interest. Obviously, it is an oversimplified formulation of copyleft, but this will work for now. A reverse of copyright would imply the nullification, by the creator, of the right of copying of the creation. And so, it would render the copyright laws inoperative. Thus, anyone can claim it now, or a derivative of the original creation, and enjoy a copyright on it, without being the original creator. GPL’s legal structure works as a safeguard against such reclaiming.

In the last paragraph, we mentioned about the reclaiming of the original or any derivative of the original work. While the ‘copyleft’ aspect keeps the original protected from any intrusion on freedom, the ‘offspring’ aspect look after the derivatives. The legal ploy of ‘offspring’, obviously, uses the same copyright laws for its operation. By the same copyright laws, GPL ensures it that, any software developer who is using any piece of software under GPL to create another, this automatically brings the created derivative software under GPL. Coming under GPL means, precisely, coming under both the copyleft and offspring aspect, and thus equally protected from any reclaiming gesture that purports to take away the freedom. So, one piece of software going under GPL means that all other things bred by this piece of software, the whole genealogy, is going to fall under GPL, and so this is called ‘offspring’ aspect. Anyone who is going to use any piece of software under GPL, is automatically using that software under this condition, so GPL gets automatically attached to any piece of software that the software developer develops by modifying on or deriving from the original.

Think of these two aspects together. What they mean, finally, is how to create a distinct species of software with a tradition of its own: a tradition that protects freedom. Later we will see, how in the world of primitive computing, this tradition of freedom was already there, and then it was taken away through the mechanisms of market and capital, and GPL actually rediscovered this lost tradition. Later we deal these things in a full-length way in the later chapters, but, anyway even the most offhand of glances cannot miss the immense importance of these aspects in the context of human freedom. And this is true not just for GPL, but for all the GPL-like licenses too. We will see, how these licenses evolved through history, later in the book. Now let us proceed to the discussion of some theoretical elements specific to this book, elements that will witness a lot of application through the coming chapters.

2. Two Books at a Distance of a Decade

This is a book on political economy. And its raw material comes from the discipline of computing. And so, to remain serious about both the segments of human knowledge, it faces some problems of defining its ground. This job of defining the ground spreads over two entire chapters, One and Three. Both these chapters are, therefore, quite elementary for a practitioner from the relevant field, but necessary for anyone from outside the field. And as it happens, people from the realm of political economy can very well skip this chapter One, while the same thing is true for chapter Three for people from the world of computing. The problem that this book addresses comes from the realm of computing: the world of programming or software development. But, the entire method of addressing the problem and searching for a solution belongs very much to the discipline of Political Economy and Philosophy. The broader area that this book belongs to is commonly known as Postmodern Postcolonial Culture Studies. Even the name of this field may be not very familiar with some readers: we are very soon going to make it as clear as possible. In this book, we are taking up some events and phenomena happening in the area of computing, and seeking to explore and analyze them in a postmodern postcolonial space, with the help of classics of political economy, like Logic of Hegel and Marx, customized and tweaked according to our needs and scope. What political economy is, in a general sense, or, what exactly we mean by a political economic reading of a postmodern postcolonial cultural space, that we are coming to, in a bit.

When relating to the concepts from the discipline of postmodern postcolonial culture studies, one book will be cited so very often, and that is ‘margin of margin: Profile of an Unrepentant Postcolonial Collaborator’, by Chaudhury, Das, and Chakrabarty, 2000. From now on we call it as CDC 2000. That book, written just a decade back, is, in that sense, a predecessor of this one (keeping in mind, though, all the skepticism of Borges about the concept of a cultural predecessor). Foucault, in his famous Lecture, “Order of Discourse”, Foucault 1971, mentioned about the ceaseless and relentless polemical current of Discourse. Within this current, any single discourse moves, mingles, and merges with the bigger whole, and becomes a part of the Grand Discourse. In this polemical flow, any single discourse gets related in upstream and downstream ways with many other instances of Discourse. CDC 2000 is that kind of an upstream link to this book. I was one of the authors of CDC 2000, but the contextual continuity between CDC 2000 and this book does not end here. Maybe, by citing CDC 2000 as the precursor of this book, I wanted to fulfill the very desire that was mentioned by Foucault in “Order of Discourse”.

A good many people, I imagine, harbour a similar desire to be freed from the obligation to begin, a similar desire to find themselves, right from the outside, on the other side of discourse, without having to stand outside it ...

But, there are more to this kinship between these two books than this desire. As we are going to witness, the second chapter of this book has quite a lot in common with the first chapter of CDC 2000. After a book is complete and published, everything there belongs to all the authors of the book. But, while it is getting written, before the completion of the final moment of publication, all the individual parts come from individual authors, conditional to the consent and editing of the other authors. And while CDC 2000 was getting written, the first chapter of CDC 2000 was something directly from my heart. It was mentioned too at the very beginning of the first chapter of that book, so much it belonged to me as an individual. The first chapter of CDC 2000, at that time, stood for quite a lot of my thoughts in the earlier decade, when I was so actively reading the theories of Derrida and others. I was trying to understand these theories in terms of my schooling in Marxist politics, my history of political activism. This activism I left behind, carrying the burden of the so-called political frustrations, shortly before the inception of the writing of CDC 2000. Anyway, the point here is that, the theoretical scheme of a way out from the tight Derridean hierarchy of ContextTextSupplement was so very dear and important to me when we started writing CDC 2000. Maybe the tight causal hierarchy implicit in Marxist politics choked and stifled me too much, and when I groped and fumbled for a way out from there through Derrida, the solution did not give me exactly what I wanted.

In Derrida’s theory, there is a strict one-way causal determination between context and text, and then between text and supplement. In chapter Two we are going to discuss in details, this Derridean relation between context, text and supplement and how we intend to interrogate it. As we get in Derrida’s theory, context is logically prior to text, and text is logically prior to supplement. We will see in chapter Two, this hierarchy of logical priority is never questioned or challenged in Derrida. The first chapter of CDC 2000 proposed to interrogate and challenge this priority principle, and tried to open up a theoretical possibility of a newer kind of relationship between context and text and supplement. It tried to figure out, how such a situation maybe theoretically possible at all, where supplement determines text, and text determines context. Pushing Derrida’s theory to an extreme, and combining it with some motifs from Lyotard, such a theoretical possibility was generated. And then, once the theory was there, the next logical step was to demonstrate the possibility of this theoretical scheme with an appropriate example. But this involved a big problem.

The chapter Two of this book here starts to traverse the route exactly the same way as the chapter One of CDC 2000. The same theoretical scheme repeats in both the cases. But there is a very crucial difference too. Finding an example that fits the alternative theoretical scheme seemed a big problem while writing CDC 2000. And finally, when we got nothing really appropriate, we had to take a forced decision. We chose a text as an example there, but it was never a first choice option. I never liked the example that we used, but, as I said, we got nothing better at that point of time. And all through the coming decade I felt pretty sad about it. The inappropriateness of the example used there went on pricking me. I think, no one felt it more than me, how inappropriate that example was. For me the search went on. I was always trying to find a better example: an example, where, in place of the usual Derridean hierarchy, we can demonstrate a journey of logic just the reverse way: from Supplement to Text to Context, an example that would adequately elaborate and explain the theoretical scheme.

Discovering GNU GPL as an appropriate example was so very precious to me. At that moment it was more like a revelation. I can still feel the thrill when I remember it. Anyway, this search for a proper example went on for quite a few years. But when I finally discovered it, GPL seemed quite worthy of all the wait, the way it fit the bill. Around 2000, when I started using Linux, of course I could never anticipate this discovery beforehand. But, the most important one of all the reasons, for which Linux seems so important to me, is that of providing me with this excellent example of the philosophical marvel called GPL. GPL is a kind of a text that enables philosophy to talk back on real existence, enabling the reversal of the loop of contexttextsupplement to operate. This becomes more interesting because, GPL was never meant to be, and never was, a philosophical text. In fact, maybe it was not a text at all, if a text is meant for the reading pleasure of the reader. It was more in the line of a manual that comes with a machine.

GPL was a legal text, dealing with legal categories, to be used as a manual by lawyers and all. Without any conscious philosophical project of its own, GPL was meant to affect the plane of our real existence, and that it did. The journey of GPL started too from the plane of real existence. Unlike the texts of philosophy, GPL started its journey from some very real problems, in the world of computing. In coming chapters we will trace through many of these steps, where, the very real effort of learning to live with these problems, led to a process of generation of supplements. All these supplements accumulated into the text of GPL, that enabled the real people suffering from real problems to talk back on the reality. And as we will discover, what happened within GPL, was an immense displacement of everything that is there in philosophy. GPL transformed and subverted all the categories of our social existence and its understanding. And, this GPL is the crucial thing that makes the chapter Two of this book very different to the first chapter of CDC 2000, though there is a lot of similarity in their theoretical models. But, there are some other elements too, in the contextual continuity between these two books at a distance of a decade. A lot of components we use in this book were developed and used for the first time in CDC 2000.

The most important component that this book borrows from CDC 2000 is the formulation of a postmodern postcolonial discursive space inscribed with ‘mimicry of overdetermination’. Obviously, this last sentence may seem a bit too much full of technical words for anyone from outside the discipline of political economy, but we will discuss them in a simple manner in this chapter: like, what is ‘overdetermination’ or what is its ‘mimicry’, or, what do we mean by ‘discursive space’. We are coming back to that. This ‘mimicry of overdetermination’ was a contribution of CDC 2000, a concept that goes forward in pointing out the spuriousness of the very concept of postcolonial equality in the overdetermination between East and West. This equality is quite celebrated in the standard postmodern postcolonial theory. For quite a lot of these theories, the postcolonial times signal a break: a break from the continuity of the colonial history of inequality. CDC 2000 declared this celebrated equality as spurious by bringing in the concept of an entirely new formulation of colonization, inscribed with ‘mimicry of overdetermination’.

In order to apply the concept of ‘mimicry of overdetermination’, the other related concepts that are borrowed by this book from CDC 2000 are synthetic hegemony, postcolonization and nameless colony. We are coming to them one by one, as simply and as briefly as possible. This brevity and simplicity will have a price though: a lack of rigor coming out of some sweeping generalizations. But we cannot do away with that in order to communicate the concepts to people from outside the discipline of political economy. Anyone who is interested in more rigorous formulations can consult CDC 2000 or Das 2010. One thing let us mention here: this book has got to say nothing original or creative about these concepts: mimicry of overdetermination, synthetic hegemony, postcolonization, and nameless colony. That is true about the category of ‘saVAge’ too, the savage who is simultaneously a sage, because he is self-conscious, conscious about his limits and limitations, a category that will put to a lot of use in the last chapter of this book. We have taken up these concepts directly from CDC 2000 and applied them to our own areas. Whenever we are using any of these concepts, this should be automatically understood that, these are loans from CDC 2000. Here, in this chapter, we are giving a simple and brief introduction about them, and whenever we apply them to our own areas in the later pages of the book, we will elaborate them in that context.

Other than these concepts on loan, all through the chapters of this book we go on using some concepts that are quite regular in postmodern postcolonial political economy, like hegemony, counter-hegemony and so on. And obviously, because the core of the area of the search of this book lies in the logic of Hegel and Marx, we will use quite a lot of categories from Hegelian and Marxian logic too. Like dialectics, property, state, capital and value. These concepts are the very building blocks of the discourse residing in this book, and so, we are going to develop and elaborate them then and there, as we interact them in the coming chapters. Here, in this chapter, we just try to provide a simple and brief introduction into them in order to grasp the scope of this book in terms of the discipline called ‘postmodern postcolonial political economy’.

2. Postmodern Postcolonial

The term ‘postcolonial’ has a peculiarity of construction. Within its scope of meaning, it carries two mutually exclusive concepts of colonial and non-colonial, simultaneously together. The term ‘postcolonial’ talks about those parts of geography that cannot any more be called a colony. But it signifies more than that. The ‘post’ part proves that at one or other point of their history, they were obviously colony. From that status they have changed, they have become independent and thus postcolonial. And hence, in an obtuse way, the term ‘postcolonial’ refers to their colonial past too. This term ‘postcolonial’ carries within it the two opposite states of affair, ‘colonial’ and ‘non-colonial’ alternating between their past and present. But, this term ‘postcolonial’ does not have any purpose to talk about any opposition of any kind. It is just a qualifier to tag a particular kind of geographical locations or countries. The histories of these locations or countries always already carry this opposition in their very being. Being a postcolonial country means carrying this opposition in an in-built way: the opposition between the two opposing and alternate phases of history colonized and independent.

If anyone and everyone forgot about everything of the past, all countries would be alike: non-colonial. And the very colonial past would be wiped out from collective memory, because colonialism represents a history that has gone by. But ‘postcolonial’ studies does not reside in any such collective forgetfulness. On the contrary, it remembers the colonial past very crucially, and tries to understand the postcolonial present with respect to it. Postcolonial studies counts every continuity and break of this process of transformation from the colonial past to the postcolonial present. As it happens, social science of all orders discern some common patterns of political, cultural and historical development in these postcolonial countries. And hence grew postcolonial culture studies. Then it started touching and encompassing so many strands of human science that try to understand people and life of a very large part of the globe, that has a colonial past. And no doubt, this is the poorer part of the globe. Majority of this poorer part of the globe, till very recently, till before the fall of socialism, had another name. They were called the third world. And now, because there is no ‘second’ socialist world any more, how can there be a ‘third’? This tag ‘third world’ is now erased, but in no way their reality is erased too. In the last chapter of this book we will try to focus the point-of-view of this third world under erasure, and call it as saVAge.

Postcolonial culture studies is a major area of thought and research in the recent years all through the globe, particularly in countries that fall under the scope of this qualifier: ‘postcolonial’. So, this tag in itself means too broad a space for defining an area of study. The qualifier ‘postmodern’ narrows down the domain of definition of our particular field of research. The qualifier ‘postmodern’ in the defining string ‘postmodern postcolonial culture study’, mainly talks about the decentered nature of our study. It refers to a decentering that breaks the tight essentialism of traditional readings of Marxian and Hegelian Logic. This is quite regular stuff in postmodern theory. But, for people from outside the discipline, let us elaborate these two concepts, ‘essentialism’ and ‘decentering’ a bit. This entry of Hegelian and Marxian logic into the realm of postcolonial culture studies may seem a bit sudden. But, it will all become clear enough when we deal with the postmodern postcolonial political economy. First, let us understand the concept of ‘postmodern’ now. Or, better, let us know what ‘modern’ is to understand ‘postmodern’.

In a tight essentialist logical structure, there is always a chronology and one-way determination between cause and effect. Cause is prior, and effect follows from it. So, the causal relation is an one-way hierarchical flow that goes down from the cause to the effect, and never the other way round. We are calling it hierarchical, because, here, ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ are not equal. Cause determines effect, and hence, is more important. In terms of position in the scale of importance, cause always remains above effect, because cause can explain effect and effect cannot explain cause. The action of elaboration and explaining is extremely important here. Because, here, we are talking about theory, theory about the reality, theory that purports to elaborate and explain this reality. Different philosophical systems wanted to interpret this reality, that is, elaborate and explain it, in different ways. While interpreting it, they assumed different kinds of causal relations. When we go to the rendition of causality structure in Hegelian and Marxian Logic, the concept and importance of causality relations will become clearer.

Syllogisms are depictions of logical relations. They can take the form of chains, when they relate one phenomenon to another, then another, then another, and so on, each step depicting a logical relation. Within this chain, every phenomenon is a logical inference of the earlier one, and a logical premise of the next. So, once we admit the one-way causal relation, all syllogisms become one-way, hierarchical and closely structured. In other words, they become deterministic. So, the final effect follows from cause, cause, in turn, follows from its own cause, that cause too following from its own, and so on. There is no way out. If you admit one single unit of this chain, you admit the whole chain. The whole logic becomes one-way, hierarchical, and closed. Let us take an example of a socioeconomic syllogism from Marx 1973, the famous Grundrisse, the ground-work before Marx starts writing Capital.

Thus production, distribution, exchange and consumption form a regular syllogism; production is the generality, distribution and exchange the particularity, and consumption the singularity in which the whole is joined together.

Here the causal chain goes this way: production distribution & exchange – consumption. All through the chain any preceding term causally determines its following term, the following term literally following the preceding one. Any term causes and thus fully explains its following terms. So, production fully explains distribution and exchange, and these two together fully explain consumption. The full implication of these tight causal syllogisms will be clearer to us when we discuss Hegelian Logic in the Chapter Six. But for now, let us understand the tight and linear one way irreversibility of a causal chain. While production can fully explain distribution and exchange, distribution and exchange cannot do that for production. And this linear chain runs tightly one way from the starting point of the syllogism to the finishing point of it. And this whole structure is tight and closed in the sense that the structure of logic in Hegel or Marx do not allow any margin of uncertainty or unpredictability anywhere within these causal chains. Or, even, the possibility of any blind spot of logic, where logic cannot entirely envision the whole thing, is, by definition, absent in Hegel or Marx. For Marxist logic, even hinting something like that becomes a sacrilege. But, as we will see later, once postmodernism starts working, logic becomes quite a habitué, a regular customer, of different forms of unpredictability.

We see later, how, through layers of progressive abstraction, Hegel reaches ‘essence’, and ‘essence’ becomes the ultimate cause, from it follows everything else. And this is irreversible too. The material world is made of ‘determinate being’-s, we witness them all around us through our sensory mechanism. And in Hegelian logic, while the ‘determinate being’-s around us cannot explain ‘essence’, in reverse, they are fully explained and elaborated by ‘essence’. In fact, as we will see, in Hegelian logic, the world of ‘appearance’ or the world of these ‘determinate being’-s is actually an appearance of this ‘essence’ or a ‘shining forth’ of it. And so, ‘essence’ can fully explain and elaborate ‘appearance’, while it can never happen the other way round. This is, in short, the one-way and tight causality of Hegelian Logic. In Marx we witness a different version of this Logic, where we work with a different set of categories. But the nature of causality remains identical to Hegel: tight, one-way, and irreversible. In Marx’s system, in place of Hegel’s ‘essence’, ‘Abstract Labor’ takes the place of prime mover. It causes everything else to happen, we will come back to it later.

For both Hegel and Marx, the rendition of the whole reality becomes one-way, hierarchical and tightly structured. Later we present a detailed exegesis of Hegelian Logic that covers quite a lot of aspects of the constructs of this dialectical logic of Hegel. And, in so many places, we cross-compare the Hegelian categories and constructs with their Marxian counterparts. Let us cite a very popular example here, from the realm of Marxian Logic. The novelty of this often used example is that, in a very simple way, it demonstrates the tight structure of Marxist logic. And as we will see, later, it opens up some strands of discussion that makes distinct the effect of postmodernism on Marxism. Quite a few examples of intricate Marxian syllogisms are available in Grundrisse (Marx 1973) and Capital (Marx 1976). But, here, this simple example will serve our purpose better. Marxian Logic considers the social reality as a two compartment entity. Base and Superstructure are the two compartments. The economy is the root cause in Marxian Logic, and it is named as ‘Base’. Culture is considered as the effect of this cause, flowing from base, and hence, is named as ‘Superstructure’, a structure that is built over the base of the economy. And so, by Marxian logic, culture always gets adequately explained by the root cause of economy. If we know base adequately well, we can thoroughly anticipate, elaborate and explain superstructure: this is the way Marxian Logic goes. Let us remember this example: it will serve us more than this simple demonstration of the nature of causality in Marx.

Homi Bhabha, in Bhabha 1990 and 1994, both as a theorist and an editor, is one of those leading theorists in Postmodern Postcolonial Culture Studies that challenged this one-way, tightly structured and predictable nature of the theory about culture. To these theorists it is a kind of essentialism, variations of which we are going to discuss very soon. Bhabha’s kind of theory calls for a different kind of conception about the social reality, where the social reality is always already marked by overdetermination. This concept of ‘overdetermination’ was elaborated by Althusser, borrowing some concepts from Sigmund Freud’s analysis of dreams. This Freudian connection of the theory of overdetermination is adequately discussed in Althusser 1969, and also Althusser 1971. CDC 2000 had a lot about these things and their relevance in postmodern political economy and here we will just mention briefly how the concept of ‘overdetermination’ challenged the one-way and tightly structured essentialist causality.

Overdetermination operates between two or more entities, when each one is constituted and determined by the other entities. So, here the causality operates multiple-way. And hence, there is no fixity of the traditional categories of ‘cause’ and ‘effect’. Everything is both cause and effect of everything else. Let us cite the Althusserian model of social reality under overdetermination. In this model, there is no single primal cause anywhere. And, society becomes a complex of three complexes, the economic, the political and the cultural. The economic refers to the process of creation, distribution and appropriation of surplus value. The political refers to the process of creation, distribution and appropriation of power. And the cultural refers to the process of creation, distribution and appropriation of meaning. In this overdetermination model of social reality by Althusser, there is no linear one-way causality like the Base-Superstructure model of traditional Marxism. Though Althusser himself brought back the linear causality through a back-door in his own model, but that is a different thing, outside the scope of this discussion.

And if there is no fixity of cause/effect of a category, obviously there remains no causal hierarchy among categories. Or, in other words, there is no essentialist determination any more. So, outside this inequality of hierarchy, overdetermination now talks about a world, where all categories are equal. The leading strand of postmodern postcolonial culture studies, like Homi Bhabha, celebrates this lack of hierarchy. In absence of this hierarchy, it says, the time of ours, the postcolonial time, becomes marked by an absence of inequality. This is unlike the colonial times, when there was inequality: between the colonizer lord and the colonized subject. As these postmodern postcolonial theorists want to believe, the interaction between East and West in these postcolonial times is no more marked with the colonial inequality. For them, a kind of equality of overdetermination now prevails in the socioeconomic and cultural space between East and West. Exactly the way this postmodern postcolonial strand of theory shut the door on causal fixity, it did the same thing to any fixity of identity. This strand of theory considers every category in the discourse of social reality to be a hybrid category. In CDC 2000, we demonstrated that this concept of hybridization is just another version of Althusserian overdetermination, though maybe a bit under-theorized. We can comfortably skip it now.

And this negation of fixity is ‘postmodern’, the whole structure of one-way and tight causality being called as ‘modern’. Actually, the concept of ‘modernity’ is associated with the concept of ‘scientific rationality’. This scientific rationality carries within it this kind of a tight, structured and deterministic logic. This logic follows from the Discourse of Science. This rise of ‘scientific’ society coincided with the rise of capital and capitalism. Capitalist society, built on production through scientific machines, held this ‘scientific’ ideology high aloft. With the rise of technological society, modernity became synonymous with this tightly structured deterministic logic of scientific rationality. What exactly this capitalist society is, or, capitalism is, and how that differs from other societies that happen before or after it, we will come to that later. But, for the time being let us take this society around us, built around a capitalist economy, as capitalism. This society is running on technological industrial production, under the rule of capital. And, all the wealth that is making all this happen, is capital. Capital controls this production. This capitalist economy functions through a market, which operates by exchange of commodities produced by capitalist production. When we say ‘capitalism’, we are referring to this whole thing.

Actually this so-called ‘scientific’ rationality is more characteristic of technology than science, and is a part of a whole mythology. This ‘modernity’ of scientific rationality may be considered as an attribute of modern man in a technological society. In fact this very category of ‘modern man’ is a modernist construct too, a part of the same mythology. This ‘modern man’ manifests in a set of idealized and standardized parameters fixed in order to judge anything and everything, and passing something as ‘modern’ and something as not. It is more of a discursive fiction than a real category representing a real existence. But let us now focus on the difference between science and technology here. Science is a much bigger concept. Science has to elaborate and explain things like fractal, or many stochastic processes, that, by definition, carry some unpredictability within them. These things are unpredictable from the very core of their being. But, technology works in a very predictable and certain world. In this world, one variable invariably leads to another in a very determined structured and causal way. Technology works in a constricted universe, where the very phenomenon of probability emerges from some lack of information. If a switch clicks, it is bound to light a bulb, if there is no lack of information about the state of the circuitry. All machines work that way. But, science has to account for things like Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty, or, Schrödinger’s Cat Paradox. These are phenomena that have some intrinsic randomness or unpredictability in-built inside them.

Modern man is certain. In opposition to this certainty, postmodern theorist proclaims: I am uncertain. Postmodernism is uncertain about any exact determination or predictability of things. And note the very difference of approach here. While the certainty of modernity uses very certain categories like ‘certain man’, the postmodern position is uncertain about the categories too. The category of ‘certain man’ involves some generalization within it: some elements are there that we call as ‘certain man’, and some others we do not. In opposition to the sweeping generalization of the category of ‘certain man’, what postmodernism can serve is a kind of self-introspection. This self-introspection prohibits postmodernity in being certain or deterministic. If the position is uncertain, obviously, it cannot say something certainly about other thinking beings, or, even its own uncertainty. It is uncertain about its own uncertainty. And, some mortals maybe there who are quite certain. And so, this position cannot use some certain category like ‘uncertain man’.

One thing must be kept in mind here. The very word ‘postmodern’ was first used in the context of architecture, and the theories of art, literature, and critical theory have dealt with the theme of postmodernism in many different ways. And all interpretations of ‘postmodernism’ may not exactly fall in line with our way viewing and elaborating the postmodern elements in the field of political economy. But, as we said, primarily the area of our study is political economy, and what we want to present in this book has many contextual relations with the Marxist theory of revolution and resistance. To make it clear what we want to say, we will stick to this interpretation of ‘postmodern’. Postmodern is that what challenges the tight structured deterministic predictability of cause-effect relations. In fact the whole thing will become clearer when we come to our version of political economy.

It is very interesting to note that, Marxism shares this same logic of scientific rationality with capitalism. Marxism wants to overthrow this capitalist society ruled by capitalist class, and wants to bring in a new kind of society ruled by working class. But, the whole ideology of Marxism, the Marxian political economy, shares the same structured causality with its arch-enemy. Marx took up Hegel’s logic, the core of it, though giving it a materialist starting point, and this logic carries within it the Western scientific notion of causality. We will bring up this theme later, when we later discuss the link of complement-relation operating between capitalism and Marxism. Marxism defines itself in terms of a duel. So, outside, this duel, the logic becomes unpredictable in its operation. Marxism needs capitalism in an intrinsic way. Maybe that is why we will try to define Marxism as the most human face of capitalism in the last section of our last chapter. But, we will come to methodical dissection of logic of Hegel and Marx in our later chapters, now let us concentrate on political economy in postmodern postcolonial space.

3. Political Economy

Any standard text book on history of economic thought, like Roll 1946, gives a definition of political economy. Political economy is the discipline that studies production and consumption of commodities, together with the accumulation of wealth in a society. William Petty in the seventeenth century, and Adam Smith in the eighteenth century were major contributors to this discipline of human thought, beside French Physiocrats and people like David Ricardo or Karl Marx. After the Physiocracy school in France, research in political economy fostered in Britain, through Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Mill and others. There are a lot of details involved here, but we are not going into that. It will involve more than a book like this to elaborate the evolution of political economy. What we want here is to strike a straight route into the theories of Marx, that we want to cross-compare with GPL, in terms of their contributions to the realm of philosophy. Later we will see it, again and again, this action of setting these two side by side is nothing original on our part, it was already done quite a few times, we just want to do it in terms of theory.

In fact, in a lot of ways, political economy, narrated more in the line of ethics, was, at one time, the oldest face of what we call economics today. And some spin-off from the British schools of political economy had its influence into Hegel’s theories too. For a very long time political economy was what is economics today. Later, some different approaches emerged around classical political economy. Some new areas of thought grew around them, concepts like ‘utility’ came in, calculus and some other mathematical tools started to be used with them. And, finally, what we got was neoclassical economics. Obviously it is oversimplified, but this is not what we want to discuss here. Wolff and Resnick 1987 can be a good study. Anyway, what happened with Marx is that, he took up the classical British political economy, but more in the way of a critique towards it. Then he constructed his own theory that was built around a Hegelian logic of dialectics, but, with a different take-off point than the journey of Hegelian dialectics. As Marxists call it, it was a ‘materialist’ point of departure, while the Hegelian one is ‘idealist’. We will go into these areas later, for the time being let us restrict ourselves to the discussion of what is political economy.

Adam Smith, the pioneer of political economy, is called the Father of economics. His celebrated book, ‘The Wealth of Nations’, Smith 1977, wants to understand wealth: how the wealth that we witness as capital, as employed in production, was created. The full name of the original first edition of this book was ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations’. This name represents the motive better. In fact, this is one of the major areas of inquiry in political economy: how all this capital was created and accumulated. Capital is the prime mover in a capitalist society. It is the agent that controls production, distribution and appropriation of value. This value is created in production. That means, the total of all the values of all the goods and services used up in production is less than the total value created in the form of commodities through this production. And hence, production adds values to the existing collection of all the values in an economy. Marxian political economy calls it surplus value. The distribution and appropriation of surplus value happens through exchange in the market. Everything in a capitalist market takes place through exchange.

As it happens, in a capitalist society, capital is the sole controller of production. And so, it also becomes the distributor and appropriator of surplus value. So, in Marxian political economy, surplus value, the net addition to existing value, actualizes through production and exchange. And Marxism discovers an implicit injustice here. Capital, as the sole controller of this process of creation, distribution, and appropriation of surplus value, gives to labor only a small fraction of that. This fraction of surplus value is just the amount that is sufficient for the subsistence of labor. Production will cease to continue if labor does not subsist. And this is an injustice in the sense that, labor is the agent that creates surplus value. This is demonstrably true in the sense that, whatever amount of capital maybe there, without labor it cannot create any surplus value. And labor, absolutely without capital, can create surplus value from the mother nature itself. In fact, that is how the creation and accumulation of surplus value started. This process of creation and accumulation then continued through the evolution of civilization.

Labor went on generating and accumulating capital. Here we are using the word ‘capital’ in both its senses, machine and wealth. From the inception of civilization, from the first ever machine in the form of stone flints in the hand of primeval human being, labor has continued generating and accumulating capital through the millenniums. Around the beginning, it was just the machine version of capital, and after a few thousand years of civilization, it started taking the form of money or other variants of wealth. And all the existing capital today historically carries the whole stream of human labor within it, in an implicit way, because without that labor being back there in history, it could never come up at all capital of today was directly created by yesterday’s labor and yesterday’s capital, and this is true for the whole historical continuity. Till we go back to the birth of civilization, when we are left with human labor and mother nature to create the very first generation of capital. So, the whole capital before us is nothing but socially and historically stored human labor.

Marx took up British political economy, primarily in the form of a critique, as we said, and then used the whole methodology of Hegelian dialectics, and created his own version of political economy. We will go through all the relevant details later. But for now, let us just mention it here, once again, the take-off points of Marxian logic became different from that of Hegel’s. Hegel started from an idea: the idea of existence or being in its pure form. And Marx started from matter: the world of determinate beings. It is no more existence in its pure form of idea, but existence as determined by our sensory organs. Marx starts from here, the whole collection of all the things, all the commodities before us. Marx starts from the material world of the market, full of determinate beings. And so, it is called as ‘materialism’, whereas Hegel’s logic is called ‘idealism’. As the take-off point gets different, the end of the road gets different too. While Hegel saw the end of history in capitalism, Marx discovers the end of human prehistory in communism. But this concept of ‘communism’ is at too much of a remove from the ruling reality. And so, for the time being, the end of the road for Marxism happens at a wayside abode, the resting place called socialism, where the human strife of changing the socioeconomic reality takes some rest. Let us just understand the route of the journey of Marxian logic in a simple way now, so that we can compare it with the journey of GPL that actualized in FLOSS or Free-Libré-Opensource-Software. This is sometimes called FOSS or F/OSS too, leaving out the term ‘Libré’. This term ‘libré’ is actually there to recompense a negative connotation of the word ‘free’. It is a common occurrence in the market to get something as ‘free’, like free beer, usually as an instrument of sales promotion. The word ‘libré’ is there to highlight the ‘freedom of speech’ connotation of ‘free’, not the ‘free beer’ one.

So, Marxist logic discovers an injustice working deep inside the entrails of this society. As we will see later in details, Marx was discovering this injustice directly in opposition to British political economy, and of course Hegel too. Hegel discovered the ultimate human social justice incarnated in capitalism. This justice for Hegel realizes through the mechanism of contractual equality operating between individuals when they are involved in an action of exchange in a capitalist market. A capitalist coming into a contract of exchange of wage and labor-power with a worker: this is the epitome of social equality for Hegel. Hegel shows that, the two parties are participating in this contract as two equal partners, where both of them equally own the right to nullify the contract at any point of time. This right of equality, in Hegel’s interpretation, is protected by state. And, as we will see in full details later, state is the ultimate guardian of all social institutions. While the judiciary, as one tool of state, looks after the legal side of the contract, police or military, as another tool protect the rights of the parties entering into a contract. Later we will discuss many more details of this theory of state. Anyway, this contractual equality is the ultimate justice that Hegel discovers in a capitalist society, one that was never to be found anywhere in any earlier form of society. British political economy, through different routes, finds the same justice operating in capitalist market. Sometimes, they name it as ‘hand of god’ that bestows equilibrium, stability, and justice to the citizens of state. By the word ‘state’ we talk about the whole ethical, juridical, political and social institution that operates on and thus controls any nation.

It is an irony of German ideology that Marx, with the same Hegelian dialectics, discovers the very inequality and injustice in capitalism hidden behind this apparent contractual equality. As Marx reasons, because capital controls production, labor has to take the wage according to the rules fixed by capital: just something that covers the subsistence, while capital takes away the surplus value. And, as Marx showed, this contractual equality signals two very different ends of the rainbow to capital and labor. For capital it signals the freedom to hire and fire, according to his motive of maximizing profit. And, for labor, it signals the freedom of either to work in capital’s terms or to get fired and thrown into an abyss. So, in exact opposition to Hegel and all, Marx discovers the injustice in capitalism. He now brings up his political project, known as Marxism, to overthrow this rule of capital and replace it with a rule of working class, putting an end to the capitalist mode of production, where creation, distribution and appropriation of surplus value is controlled by capital. The Marxian alternative to the capitalist mode of production is the socialist mode of production, where all the rights over surplus value belong to the working class. The action of overthrow is called ‘revolution’, through which the working class, under the leadership of their vanguard, communist party, comes to power. Marxist politics consists of preparing the communist party and its sway over working class in order to create the political solidarity that would engage in war against capitalism.

Obviously, this is the standardized, idealized definition of Marxist politics. And, as many of us presume these days, this a fictional category too, exactly the way of ‘modern man’. People all over the globe have their experiences of Marxism. I read about them, hear about them, and see films about them. But, on my part, I have my share of experiences too. The Indian state of West Bengal, where I live, is ruled by ‘Left Front’, under the leadership of Communist Party of India (Marxist) for the last thirty three years, from 1977 to this 2010 when I am writing this book. And what I have seen to happen is more than I could have in my worst nightmares in 1977, when the government came to power, or, in 1978, the year I got involved in active politics, gradually to become a member of the CPI(M). In 1989, I left the party, without renewing my membership in March 1990. Before and after these years as an activist, I have not only seen capitalist injustice, but atrocities of different orders, pre-capitalist, or even pre-feudal, maybe some prehistoric tribal ritualistic violence and horror, perpetrated in the name of this joint-front Marxist politics. In fact, it may be mentioned here as a sad personal anecdote, after two such killing and raping sprees in Singur and Nandigram, where this Left-Front government under Marxist leadership was grabbing and acquiring land on behalf of capital, from unwilling peasants, and killing looting and raping them wherever and whenever necessary, I altogether stopped watching television news channels, or reading the newspapers. It was too much for me, bringing in nausea and all: all this Left-Front politics became more ghastly than any gore flick. Anyway, this is not the point here. The point is on not getting everything as it was supposed to be, from Marxist politics. It was happening everywhere. Like many of my friends, I started to believe, something must be seriously wrong in Marxism. And hence came in the tendency of increasingly more leaning on elements from thinkers like Althusser, or Gramsci.

4. Postmodern Postcolonial Political Economy

There is a classic case of bootstrapping involved in Marxism, or any such theory that predicts about some inevitable change and works towards it. The problem is of a self-recursive kind: can someone lift oneself by pulling one’s own bootstraps? Marxism predicts a change in reality, and is itself a part of that reality. Marxism is a part of that reality both in the two states before or after the predicted change. Now, the question is, would that predicted change involve a change in Marxism itself or not. How Marxism can predict that in a changed reality Marxism itself would remain unchanged? Or, how can Marxism, being a constituent part of this reality, predict or supervise the process of change of the whole reality, of which it is just a part? Leaving these questions aside, there were some very practical problems cropping up through the practice of Marxism throughout the planet. We have already mentioned Althusser and his theory of overdetermination that went forward to interrogate the concept of Hegelian dialectics of one-way causality. This came more as a derivative of a global experience of discovering Marxism as a believer of only one truth, only one true way of reaching a solution, and nothing else.

Later we will discuss in some details, about the history of Marxism’s love-hate with the famous May ’68 Students Movement in Paris. We have seen the same thing to occur again and again in Marxism’s uneasiness about its relations with other human rights’ movements, like the woman’s right, or the right of the queers, or even the anti-apartheid movements. Obviously, a lot of theorists blame it on the essentialist one-way approach inherent in Marxism. As we have already mentioned above, Marxism thinks the social reality in a base-superstructure paradigm. The economic process is the base, and the cultural process is depicted as the superstructure built above the base. For the time being, it will suffice to know that by the term ‘economic process’ we refer to the process of creation, distribution and appropriation of surplus value. Now, this surplus value is generated by abstract labor. This is called value theory. Value Theory proper is outside the scope of our analysis. But, to understand the essentialist scandal here, let us mention one thing or two. Marx interpreted two aspects of labor: concrete labor and abstract labor. These two aspects of labor, concrete and abstract, generate two aspects of value, use value and exchange value. Use value is generated by concrete labor, and this is not the aspect of labor on which the economic process runs. The primal moment of the economic process is the moment of exchange. A relation of equivalence emerges between commodities through exchange, because, at the moment of exchange, they both become exchange value.

This point needs a bit of attention. Use value is produced because it has some use. Because it has some use not only to the producer of this use value, but producers of other use values too. Like, a pen is usable not only to the pen producer but to the book producer too. And a book too is useful to both of them. And hence they are exchanged. Once they are being exchanged, only exchange value remains relevant to the economic process, and, in this realm use value is entirely forgotten. Labor that produces use value, or, concrete labor, gets forgotten too. It is abstract labor that counts now, the labor that creates exchange value. The total amount of abstract labor used up in a commodity gets paid in terms of wage. And the portion of exchange value over and above all expenditures of exchange value in the form of raw materials and capital goods, is surplus value. So, in the realm of economic process the only relevant aspect of labor is abstract labor, and concrete labor is thrown into the pathos of forgetfulness. We will see later, this abstract labor becomes the counterpart of Hegelian essence in Marxian logic. Hegelian essence is the thing in Hegelian logic from which everything else flows, through long syllogisms of causal chains. Exactly the same way in Marxian logic of economic process, everything else flows from abstract labor. And as the superstructure of culture flows from this base of economy, through the causal chain, it flows from abstract labor too. The whole Marxian logic becomes a history of abstract labor. Concrete labor is excluded. And as I, as a student of political economy, like many others in my field, feel, this creates the blind-spot of Marxism. In the living history of Marxist political practice, this blind spot grows into a progressive myopia. It renders Marxism absolutely unable to register anything from outside the realm of abstract labor, from the excluded world of concrete labor. Maybe, the fetish of abstract labor takes the place of god, and it degenerates Marxism into a god-believing kind of philosophy.

But, no exclusion remains indefinitely active. From beyond the pathos of forgetfulness, the prodigal returns. As in “Order of Discourse”, Foucault said, the ‘ungrounded’ discourse becomes ‘grounded’. And this is happening everywhere in the field of political economy. Things from outside the narrowed down field of vision of Marxism has started infiltrating and obliterating the age-old positions and structures in Marxian political economy. In fact, in this book we witness exactly a thing like that, happening in the realm of computing. Our focus is on GPL: how the ploy called GPL enables, through a very deep-acting politics of subversion, so many prodigals to return into the mainstream of resistance. GPL gives birth to a politics of subversion, working from within capitalist value, property, market and state. And the interesting point is that there is a crucial difference with Marxist politics here. The control of surplus value in the economic process, or the world of abstract labor, is not of prime importance here. The most primary issue is freedom of knowledge. Obviously, this freedom has many overdetermined aspects with the economic process, but, firstly it is a question of a very concrete subjectivity. It is the very concrete aspect of labor that feels the pain when the freedom is taken away. This is a very important difference, making the inception of an entirely different kind of politics of resistance.

Starting from these two very different births, these two brands of resistance politics lead to very different end products. Though the resistance politics that GPL creates the biggest displacement that has ever happened to capital or its hegemony, the point is GPL never goes into any fight with it. All through the birth and flourish of this politics of resistance, GPL, not a single time does question capital’s order. Rather it reinstates it in every occasion. Though it is the very beauty of GPL that finally capital and its hegemony get subverted like anything. The details of this process we will know later. But, the point is that, this absence of any challenge on part of GPL to the rule of capital, rather taking resort to the property laws, that is, rule of capital itself, is something very different from Marxism. This is in direct contrast to the Marxist politics of inverting the capitalist society and creating socialism. Anyway, let us come back to the shape of the logic of Marxian political economy in these postmodern times. We have already mentioned the endeavor of Althusser of curing this narrowing down of field of vision by replacing the Hegelian concept of dialectics with a concept brought in from Freud’s world of dream interpretation: overdetermination.

We know, the social process in Althusserian analysis becomes a complex of three complexes: the economic, the cultural, and the political. Each one of them constitutes and determines the others. And we can readily read the effect of it in a better reading of the relation between base and superstructure in place of the Marxian relation of one-way dependence. The economic process runs through contractual equality. This is the sole basis of all capitalist market exchanges. Now, if base is the sole one-way determinant of superstructure, superstructure cannot determine base. But, we see something else to happen in reality. Contractual equality is a legal and ethical concept practiced through the judiciary, and is protected by the institution of state. We will see the intricate points of this process later in the discussion on Hegel’s philosophy of right. But, this is pretty clear even to the common sense view that, this contractual equality is something that happens through the legal and ethical mechanism. And obviously, the legal and ethical mechanisms represent the cultural space of the superstructure. Therefore, in an extremely crucial way, base depends on superstructure. This flouts the logic of Marxian logic. But, if we use the multiple way causality of overdetermination, the whole thing gets pretty straightforward the economic process of exchange and the legal-ethical process of contract always already have mutually constituted and determined each other. This was the power of Althusserian analysis that persuaded a lot of theoretical study into believing that maybe the tight causality is breaking down, and so, appropriately, we must prepare a logical structure more apt to handle the postmodern happenings.

Another very important element in the postmodern mooring of political economy came from elements of Gramsci’s texts, and all the studies and research around them. Gramsci’s ‘Prison Notebooks’, Gramsci 1971, contributed a lot in the very concept of hegemony to emerge as an all-powerful one in postmodern political economy. Laclau and Mouffe 1985 or Žižek 1989 present very bright insights into this realm of thought. The major contribution of Gramsci, in simple terms, resides in the stress on the thought process of the ruled class. Many of Gramsci’s discussions, like on ‘false consciousness’ or ‘Fordism’, brought back a necessary focus on the subject positions within the ruled class. This is particularly important, because of the influence of the ‘abstract labor’ view in Marxist politics. There is a growing tendency in Marxist politics of considering the ruled class just as a monolithic repository that generates new surplus value, while the subject position entirely remains a prerogative of the communist party. Anyway, we here want to present the concept of hegemony, in a simple way, only to elaborate later the Marxian process of counter-hegemony. This will help us highlight the very specificity of the GPL method of resistance, beyond all versions of hegemony.

Marxian political economy characterizes the social stages in the long evolution of civilization and society with a concept called ‘mode of production’. For the time being, let us take it for granted that, some of the prior stages that human society may have passed through, in its evolution towards this ‘modern’ capitalism, are Primitive communism, Slavery, and Feudalism. There are a lot of debates about the universal applicability of these stages all through the planet, but let us forget them. Two of these stages are the Feudal and the Capitalist society. They are characterized by Feudal and Capitalist mode of production respectively. Let us focus on the economic process for the time being. As we said, the control of the economic process means the power over creation, distribution and appropriation of surplus value. In a feudal society, this power belongs to the feudal lords, while in capitalism this belongs to the capitalists. This economic power is very closely related to the political and cultural power. And hence, in feudal and capitalist society, the power in all its aspects belongs to the feudal and capitalist class respectively. So, in these two stages, these two become the ruling class. One thing to note here is that, all the feudal lords together in a feudal society do not make the feudal class, or, all the capitalists together do not constitute the capitalist class. A class is actually a process, not some physical collective. The practice of Marxist politics tends to resort to such a vulgar definition of Marxian logic of class in many cases.

The ruling class rules the ruled class, that is, the working class. That means the class of feudal serfs in feudalism, and the labor class in capitalism. In capitalism, the capitalist class rules the working class. But, how the rule is made possible? Obviously, discontent is bound to happen if the non-laboring ruling class controls over the appropriation of surplus value, political power, and cultural meaning. Why does the discontent not break down the whole fabric? And, how, at the face of this discontent, the ruling class makes the rule happen? In Gramscian version of political economy, this rule is made of mainly two kinds of principles: persuasion and coercion. Coercion is brute force, while persuasion is the rule of the ruling class over the thought process of the ruled class. Hegemony is considered to be complete in its sway over the working class when the ruled class rules the thinking of the working class, and the ruled class thinks the very way the ruling class wants it to think. The point is, the ruled class is not made to think like that by any application of coercive force. We will talk about hegemony later, in full details. Let us just remember here that, hegemony is the economic-political-cultural process through which the ruled class thinks the way the ruling class wants it to think.

Let us take one popular example from political economy to talk a little more about how hegemony is built. This is is the so-called ‘transition’: the process of transformation of a society from feudalism to capitalism. In Hegelian logic of dialectics, transition comes through a synthesis of thesis and anti-thesis. For the time being, before we know them fairly well, let us mention these categories rather mechanically. In the process of transition, the emerging embryonic capitalism is thesis. And the existing feudal network of power is anti-thesis. Synthesis comes in the form of a full-grown capitalism. This happens when the emerging capitalism annihilates the entire feudal order and establishes a capitalist hegemony. The working class now thinks in capital’s way. This is the case of ‘simple hegemony’, an exact replica of Hegelian logic of dialectics. The infiltration of elements of Gramscian theory makes us rethink the whole scenario: maybe everything does not happen exactly this way. The model of simple hegemony starts getting interrogated.

Gradually, we start to realize new situations, where the emerging capitalism may not at all go for a total annihilation of anti-thesis. And this may lead to some surrogate or as-if synthesis. Thesis changes its option, maybe because, it has learned through experience that, the social upheaval generated in the process of annihilation of anti-thesis can endanger thesis itself. The process of purging of the feudal power working within the serf class may gain an uncontrolled momentum. And thus, the emerging working class under the rule of the emerging capitalism may start revolting against these new rulers. Any such thwarting of the process of total annihilation of anti-thesis may lead to another kind of hegemony, called ‘complex hegemony’. This version of hegemony does not at all squeeze out anti-thesis from all corners of the social reality. It rather builds on a kind of a friendship, operating at the micro-level, between the feudal class and the capitalist class. While at the macro-level, at the level of the nation, a hegemony of capital situates itself. Like CDC 2000, we interrogate the very possibility of such a micro-level friendship against the backdrop of such a macro-level enmity, insisting on an entirely new theory of hegemony, with the concept of ‘synthetic hegemony’.

Marxist politics, or rather, any revolutionary politics that wants to change this society, structures methods of resistance against hegemony. The political method resides in re-enabling the working class to think in a way that it actually should, in opposition to the way of thought prescribed by capital. In Marxism, this is what the communist party does. The resistance of the communist party works against the existing hegemony and tries to create an alternative cultural-political-economic ambiance. They need this ambiance to practice and reach out towards an alternative stage of society: socialism. So, this socialism is a counter-hegemony, by which Marxism counters the hegemony of capital. Socialism is the hegemony of the working class. In oversimplified terms, these are the concepts of ‘hegemony’ and ‘counter-hegemony’ that we will put to a lot of use to make out the full impact of GPL on the politics of resistance. As we said, in these postmodern times, the Hegelian logic of a tight one-way causality does not operate any more, and hegemony gets decentered and sutured. Later, we explore the theoretical moorings of hegemony in these postmodern postcolonial times through concepts like ‘mimicry of overdetermination’ and ‘nameless colonialism’ and ‘postcolonization’, particularly in the context of the postcolonial third world.

5. Concepts from CDC 2000

Let us mention here, this whole section is just a retelling of the concepts from CDC 2000, and we are saying not a single original thing about them in this section. We are mentioning it once and for all, for the whole section, in place of doing it on every occasion. Anyway, let us come back to postcolonial theory. We said, how the bright postcolonial theorists like Bhabha, very aptly, discovered the causal overdetermination between entities in postcolonial times. Though, in many cases, their formulation usually involves different under-theorized categories like ‘hybrid space’ and all. They all celebrate the prevailing lack of one-way causality as a lack of inequality in these postcolonial times, in a dramatic contrast to the colonial era. We refuse to believe in this end of inequality in postcolonial times, and bring in a category called ‘mimicry of overdetermination’, or ‘overdetermination but not quite’ to re-inscribe inequality in these postcolonial times. To elaborate this new category of ‘mimicry of overdetermination’ we use a new kind of discursive space called ‘synthetic space’. The ‘hybrid space’ of Bhabha and this ‘synthetic space’ seem very close parallels, if we overlook the concept of ‘mimicry of overdetermination’. Two other new categories that we use to elaborate ‘mimicry of overdetermination’ are ‘postcolonization’ and ‘nameless colony’. They are all defined with respect to the concept of ‘synthetic space’. This book imports all these concepts from CDC 2000.

We already spoke of ‘transition’, the popular topic of political economy, or the discussion on the evolution of a society from feudalism to capitalism. Here we use that discussion once again to elaborate what ‘synthetic space’ is. Later in this book, we discuss the phases of social evolution as recognized by political economy, with a thorough depiction of the dialectics of social development. As we mentioned in the last section, according to the simple Hegelian formulation of dialectical development of society in ‘transition’, thesis of emerging capitalism wants to annihilate antithesis of feudalism, and synthesis of these two is the new society we get: a fully developed capitalism. This is simple hegemony of capitalism happening in a simple space. And, as hegemony goes, it involves no coercion. The capitalist principles persuade the ruled class in such a way that the people start to believe these principles as their very own. And with this public consent thus manufactured, hegemony comes.

Some scholars of political economy like Partha Chatterjee, particularly in the context of the understanding of transition in a country like India, put forward a new concept of ‘complex space’. Chatterjee 1993 is an interesting read in this context. This complex space happens, as we said, when the simple Hegelian thesis of emerging capitalism becomes a bit complex and self-conscious, and hence does not intend to annihilate fully the antithesis of feudalism. A kind of friendship at the micro-level happens between thesis and antithesis. This transforms the earlier nature of both of them. And so, as a result of transformed thesis and antithesis, synthesis gets transformed too. The thesis of emerging capitalism, through the friendship with a part of the antithesis of feudalism, generates a surrogate or as-if synthesis, like the nation state of India. The hegemony of capitalism that operates on this complex space is called complex hegemony.

With respect to simple and complex space, synthetic space is crucially different in one important aspect. While simple and complex space conflate the epistemological and ontological aspects, synthetic space is simply a discursive space. Let us make this difference a bit clear here before we go into synthetic space and synthetic hegemony. Let us say, we are talking some theory about the things happening in simple or complex space, or even in synthetic space. Whenever we are talking, what we are talking is an epistemological exercise, or an exercise involving a discursive space, and whatever we are talking about are things happening in terms of ontology. Let us mention here that, ‘ontology’ is the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of being and existence. And ‘epistemology’ is the branch that deals with the nature of knowledge, and the validity of the categories that this knowledge rests upon. And so, in a simplistic nutshell, ontology concerns our real existence, and epistemology concerns the knowledge and theorization around that real existence. So, if we come back to our example of talking about social space, this talk talks about the real things of real existence. And these real things happen in their own way, according to the laws of real existence, on the real/ontological plane. And the talking, though maybe it describe these very things, has a plane of its own, the plane of the discursive/epistemological. As ontology goes, things happening in a social reality, with their innumerable number of variables, happen independently of the epistemological categories. Now the point is that, the discourses based on simple or complex hegemony do not have the theoretical equipment to take cognizance of this separation between ontology and epistemology. And so, while such exercises are confined solely to epistemology, they work under the delusion that they are inscribing ‘reality’ or ontological presence into the discursive space.

The biggest lack of self-consciousness on part of the theoretical spaces is that, we start to forget, when we are thinking about these spaces and theorizing about and through them, we are going into pure epistemology. Some of the variables (supposedly agents and actions, but in actuality some nouns and verbs) are bracketed together as thesis, some others as antithesis and so on. But, in terms of ontology, all these things are happening together in the social reality. All the agents and their activities, are mixed together, unlike a theoretical binary of thesis and antithesis. For the sake of our discussion, or talking, we are earmarking and streamlining some chosen parts of the reality in an epistemological way into these categories. All theoretical binaries are like that, and also the action of working with different orders of binarism they all belong to the world of epistemology, the world where we theorize about the living ontological space. We tend to forget this so very often, and postmodern renderings remind us of that, again and again. History of human thought have evolved through binarisms of different order. And this has went on happening through millenniums. And now, it has become our epistemological legacy.

In terms of discursive space, Saussure has contributed a lot. The great contribution of Saussurian linguistics to our understanding of the discursive space was its pioneering recognition that, the discursive space is as much overdetermined as the ontological space. Saussure did this within the realm of Western philosophy for the first time. Saussure’s theory of discursive space deals with all the categories together. Here, each of the categories is defined in difference from the other categories and the category itself makes no sense standing alone. This recognition is always already built into the formulation of synthetic discursive space. The second great lesson of Saussure’s linguistic theory was that, in this theory, the reality or referential world or ontological presence can be recognized as a presence but can never be accessed in our thoughts. That is, recognizing the fact that, our talking about them does not create any direct effect on the reality of these categories. The prime reference for this discussion of Saussurian Linguistics is Saussure 1966. For some discussions of the concepts Culler 1986 may help.

In a synthetic discursive space we incorporate these lessons. We try to understand the social reality in the form of a discourse. Within this discursive space, all the elements are intrinsically and inherently mixed together. They overdetermine one another, exactly like the elements of a real-space discourse. We also recognize from the very start that, we are trying to understand the whole process in a discursive way. That means actually two things together. One, we do not believe in any intrinsic distinctness of the categories. We do not believe that there were ever two separate, pure and distinct ontological entities, thesis and antithesis. That these two originally distinct categories were there, and then we start to discuss about them in terms of overdetermined epistemological categories we do not believe the whole thing to happen that way at all. We believe that, as different elements of the discursive space, they overdetermine each other from the very start. So, this is overdetermination working from the word go, not some overdetermined discussion of originally distinct categories. Two, we recognize that we are talking about reality and that this action is different from the reality itself. Within the simple and complex discursive spaces, marked by the over-arching nodes of simple and complex hegemony, the categories or entities are imagined to be separate and analyzable into thesis and anti-thesis. And also there happens a conflation of the real/ontological and the referential/discursive, as we discussed before.

The thematic of synthetic space recognizes that there are no pure or self-refined categories like that in a discursive space. And so, in the case of the discussion of transition, like any discourse on social reality, this space is, by definition, polymorphic. And this space inherently carries many contradictory motions and dynamics. One of the directions of this multidirectional dynamics happens to be towards modernism and one other happens to be towards tradition. And hence, in terms of this discursive space, these two, modernism and tradition, are always already constituting and determining each other, like every other entity here. So, it is not that we are understanding some primarily distinct categories in terms of an overdetermination-conscious epistemology. In a synthetic space, these categories are always already discursively constituted in an overdetermined way.

We call this discursive space, with the contradictory overdetermined dynamics of modernism and tradition inherent in it, as synthetic space. So, now the synthetic hegemony of capital defined on this synthetic space can fully explain the very possibility of a micro-level friendship between such enemies like thesis and antithesis of the complex space. In the binary framework of complex space it is hardly possible to explain this friendship. If they were binary opposites in the true sense, how come such a micro-level kind of alliance is at all possible between two such binary opposites, having nothing in common? And, for complex hegemony to happen, this friendship is a necessary condition. Without this friendship, the construction of the surrogate universal cannot happen at all. Synthetic hegemony explains it fully well. The two entities, tradition and modernism, do always already constitute each other in a synthetic space, and hence the binary opposition is never there. An unavoidable definitional symbiosis is the very medium where both of these categories reside. This is synthetic space, in a simplified nutshell.

This synthetic space is obviously a postmodern postcolonial space, outside the rule of any one-way causal determination of Hegelian logic. So, as expected, the ‘postcolonial equality’ celebrated by a lot of postcolonial theorists, that we mentioned above, is supposed to be found here too, because, the concept of overdetermination operates here in the same way. Synthetic space opposes this innocent and under-theorized belief in postmodern equality with the concept of ‘mimicry of overdetermination’. Synthetic space shows that the discursive categories of West and East do overdetermine, but, East does not overdetermine West exactly the way West does East. This is one instance of what Bhabha would like to call as ‘overdetermination but not quite’. In this kind of overdetermination, capital and non-capital, modernism and tradition, West and East, determine and constitute each other, obviously, but in an asymmetric way. It brings out another kind of inequality: postcolonization without a colonizer. We name this as ‘mimicry of overdetermination’, There is very definite and finite asymmetry working here between the two mutual ways of determining and constituting the other.

Due to this asymmetry in the mutual ways of overdetermining one another, that celebrated ‘lack of inequality’ is no more there in synthetic space. And hence, there is no more that dramatic break between the colonial times ruled by inequality and the postcolonial times inscribed with ‘lack of inequality’. The concept of ‘postcolonization’ and ‘nameless colony’ come in at this point. They describe the continuity of the inequality from the colonial times into the postcolonial one. We like to call this situation as ‘nameless colony’ or a process of ‘postcolonization’. They refer to a situation, where we can no more point our finger to the colonizer, like we could in the colonial times towards the British, in the case of India. But, even with this absence of a discernible colonizer, the inequality of colonial times goes on, manifesting itself through the flow of surplus value from East to West. In the final chapter of this book we discuss this process in terms of the electronic age that we now belong to. Only one more clarification we need here before we end this section: the use of the word ‘mimicry’.

Bhabha, in his postcolonial theory, has used the Lacanian concept of ‘mimicry’ to depict the postcolonial scenario. Lacan 1993 may help to understand the concept better. Bhabha deployed it to demonstrate a tendency of creating a third world as a dwindled substitute of the first world. The postcolonial psyche and social reality of East try to mimic modern and capitalist West. The concept of ‘mimicry’ does have its root in Lacan’s analysis of the ‘mirror stage’. The Lacanian baby looks at the mirror and tries to know and understand itself. To the baby the image of itself in the mirror seems as erect, upright, and full-grown. But, this is actually a fantasy. In reality, the baby is held from behind by one of the grown-ups. The baby adores to forget it. In Lacanian theory this comes out of a lack: the baby in itself cannot stand erect. The baby tries to fill this lack with a fantasy. This fantasy is provided by the mirror through its apparently erect image. But, as Bhabha says, this very desire to fill this lack, this fantasy of becoming erect and grown up, doubly proves the immature phase of the baby. Because, a grown up does carry no fantasy of becoming a grown up. The postcolonial mind in third world wants to become a sahib, and this desire to become a sahib, actually interdicts itself. This desire to become a sahib doubly proves the status of not being a sahib. Bhabha called this as mimicry when the postcolonial citizen sees his own image in the mirror and tries to make it a secret even to himself that he is not a sahib, and this starts devouring away his self-esteem, thus creating a whole nation of mimic men of postcolonial times: sahib but not quite. This concept of mimicry depicts the situation of overdetermination but not quite: how the very third world discourse is created as a mimicry of the Western discourse. This intermittent and ceaseless process of creation of mimicry of Western discourse in the third world shows up in disciplines like ‘development studies’ or ‘culture studies’. Anyway, that is outside the scope of this book.

6. Some Categories and Their Notation

We construct some categories of our own in this book. And to posit their uniqueness, we have to assign some unique notations to them. These categories are all transformations of some traditional categories in political economy. We represent the transformations of these regular categories through some super-impositions on the standard signifiers. The categories ‘value’, ‘property’, ‘capital’, ‘market’ and ‘state’ are regular ones in political economy. We use them in their regular meanings. We have used one blanket term ‘father’ to represent the hegemony of capital. We call this hegemony as ‘rule of the father’ through the later chapters of this book.

In chapters Five, Six and Seven, we talk a lot about counter-hegemony, and the methods and make of this counter-hegemony. To represent the categories of counter-hegemony as different from the hegemony of capital, we call the basic categories in counter-hegemony as value/, property/, capital/, market/ and state/. And we call counter-hegemony as father/, which is built through the workings of these transformed categories. We use the prime notation ‘/’ to denote the changed status, through the change in ownership of ‘means of production’ under the counter-hegemony.

In contrast to the prime notation we have used the strike-through notation ‘ ’ in case of another set of categories: value, property, capital, market, and state, to represent the very deep contortion and transformation within them when GNU GPL starts working. And as a result of these deep transformations in the underlying categories, the hegemony too gets transformed from within, and we call it as father.

7. Plan of the Book

Here in this section we do not discuss the material, we mention the chapters in brief, to represent the plan of this book, to give a sense of the shape of things to come through the later chapters.

One. Elements of Political Economy

It would be a crime on part of this book not to mention this chapter self-recursively, when we are going to explore the very beauty of the self-recursive resistance that GPL unleashed on the capitalist market place: the self-recursive and accumulating subversion of the very categories on which capitalism is built. Anyway, as we already know, this chapter tries to relate to the definitions of some very elementary concepts of postmodern postcolonial political economy, in a very simple way. Anyone with an working knowledge of this field can very well skip this chapter.

Two. Text Context Supplement

This is the chapter Two. In this chapter we interrogate the politics between the categories of ‘text’ and ‘context’, and then the politics between ‘text’ and ‘supplement’, as represented in Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction in particular, and Derridean logic in general. In this chapter we try to structure a theoretical space that intends to invert the context-text-supplement hierarchy implicit in Derrida’s theory. We propose that such an inversion is really possible, and as an example of this possibility we pick up GNU GPL. In the later chapters we refer back to this chapter and try to judge how far this project was fulfilled. Together with Derrida’s deconstruction, we bring in some elements from Jean-François Lyotard too, particularly the moment of ‘differend’ in support of our theoretical construct. As we propose, the unresolved differend goes on generating supplements in the form of bastard texts in search for a father-text. These bastard-texts then accumulate together to generate a father-text or envelope-text like GPL. This father-text now generates a context of its own. And this generated context now becomes the context of reading the father-text, created by the accumulation of supplements in the form of bastard-texts. So, the journey, traversed by GPL, becomes supplement to text to context. With some minimal details of software and licensing, that are necessary to understand this theoretical construct, we describe counter-journey in this chapter. This is the very construct that we read, step by step, through Chapters Three and Four where we present the history of GNU GPL in details.

Three. Some Elements of Computing

Chapter Three is entirely dedicated to the problem of preparing the ground of reading this book for people from outside the world of computing. Anyone with an working knowledge of computing can easily skip this chapter. In so many ways this chapter is so very necessary for the reading or writing or understanding of the chapters Four and Five, where we elaborate the history of GPL. This chapter describes some amount of history of computer hardware and software that are essential for the understanding of concepts like ‘operating system’, ‘program’, ‘source code’, ‘software development’, and so on. This history is necessary to understand the significance of the events reported in the history of GPL.

Four. Politics of Source Code

In this chapter we proceed into the realm of software development. From the materials learned in chapter Three, we now proceed to understand what ‘source code’ is and what is its relevance in software development. This chapter is very heterogeneous in its source in the sense that the material is mostly acquired from the Net. In the early parts of this chapter we start with the history of ‘computer generation’ and then go into the making of the tradition of software development that we call as FLOSS. In this part, through the history of generations, we point out every single element that will be necessary in chapter Five to read and understand the history of GPL. We situate the genealogy of this tradition that we call as FLOSS in the birth of Unix and then discuss about many aspects of FLOSS tradition that will be necessary to read it as a method of resistance in the coming chapters. In the later parts of the chapter we mention some elements from the history of Students Movement in Paris in May 1968, and some elements from the history of the sixties decade in America, at the tip-end of which started the birth of Unix. We take off from the parallelism of errors of Eric Raymond in his celebrated book on Unix, Raymond 2004, and Michelangelo Antonioni in his famous film on America’s student movements in the sixties, ‘Zabriskie Point’, Antonioni 1970, as a cue to understand the resistance dimension of FLOSS. The resolution of the error will come in chapter Six.

Five. History of GPL

As the title of the chapter shows, it is entirely dedicated to different aspects of GNU GPL, particularly the history of it, through which it got written. This is the history of the writing of the father-text, that we mentioned in chapter Two. This chapter proceeds very slowly, pointing out every single aspect in the history of GPL that will be necessary in chapter Six to read it in terms of Hegelian Logic and then in chapter Seven to situate it as the maker of an entirely different kind of resistance to the hegemony of capital. This chapter is even more heterogeneous than chapter Three in acquiring its material, depending in a major way on the two websites of the two organizations, GNU and FSF.

Six. GPL and Hegel’s Logic

This chapter has two distinct parts. The first part is substantially bigger than the second one. This part gives a brief exegesis of Hegel’s Logic, Philosophy of Right, and Phenomenology, with emphasis on exactly those elements that are necessary to read the history of GPL in the light of Hegel’s logic in the second part of this chapter. All through this chapter there are cross-references between Hegel’s logic, Marxian theory and history of GPL. This is only to enable us in the final chapter to read the history of GPL as the source of an entirely different kind of resistance towards hegemony of capital, different to all methods of revolutionary resistance that builds on the concept of counter-hegemony. The second part of this chapter proceeds to read GPL in terms of Hegelian and Marxian logic, elaborated in the first part, and tries to understand the novelty of GPL as an entirely new form of resistance.

Seven. FLOSS beyond Hegemony

In this final chapter we compare the resistance implicit within the FLOSS tradition, under the scope of GNU GPL, as a method of resistance on one hand and the Marxian and other revolutionary methods of resistance on the other hand. We show that for the first time in the history of human power and resistance, GPL enables resistance to go beyond the very concept of war. It is a form of resistance that builds on friendship and community, and thus embodies all the dreams of counter-culture in the decade of sixties. By rejecting violence and taking up community as a form of resistance it creates an entirely new theory of resistance. In the second part of this chapter we now take up FLOSS, this novel method of resistance as a very possible way out, a very tangible route of survival under the onslaught of global hegemony of capital, infinitely more painful in the electronic age. We posit this FLOSS resistance as a survival strategy of the third world under erasure, and the birth of a new philosophy of resistance.