[-empyre-] OSW: open source writing in the network

Mike Stop Continues mikestopcontinues at gmail.com
Fri Jan 13 06:39:55 EST 2012

It is in the interest of capitalist proponents to mark Free Culture as a
unique and modern phenomenon--as a philosophy that rises and falls with the
unregulated internet.

But we know Free Culture isn't new because we implicitly recognize all
culture as free. If it wasn't free, it couldn't be culture, as in order for
a particular belief, habit, or work of art to be cultural, it has to be
enacted by a member of a culture. This enactment must first be congruent
with the culture which surrounds it and second, be congruent with the
version of that culture as expressed by the enactor, lest it appear as
irrelevant in the former case or else as satire/parody in the latter case.
(The fact that satire/parody can be reabsorbed by culture does not distract
from the fact that the act of satire/parody must exist outside of the
culture it critiques). Third, enactment must exist within the public space.
A custom performed in private is not culture; only the indicators that the
custom has been performed can be. Fourth, culture must be reenacted in
variation to persist.

Capitalism necessarily requires culture, but culture has existed and will
exist far beyond capitalism. Capitalist institutions seek to create
culture--for instance, the public act of owning a GE dishwasher--and seeks
to have that culture reenacted in variation with cultural congruence in
public. GE would not approve of a kitchen full of dishwashers without any
dishes. Nor would GE approve of keeping one's dishwasher a secret.

The trouble with culture, from the capitalist perspective, is that culture
is the free market capitalism argues that it creates. The very mechanism
that allows GE to introduce a culture of dishwasher ownership also allows
what is alternatingly referred to as brand dilution, libel, copyright
infringement, Free Culture, piracy, etc, but which we truly know as *culture
*, plain and simple. Thus, capitalism seeks to regulate culture, because
only be unleveling the play of consciousnesses contributing to culture's
production can capitalist enterprises maintain control of production. If
culture were unregulated, it wouldn't make sense for there to be capitalism
as we know it today.

In a world without such regulations, current business practice would give
way to a model akin to the Open Book model as described here. Publishers
would be replaced with vanity presses whose purpose is not to "decide"
quality, nor to any longer be to "produce" quality, but merely to
manufacture specific artifacts desired and created by the public. Revision
and presentation in a given "performance" would have weight equal to
authorship, much as it does in the OS world, where a "fork" will often
outmode the originating project, to the benefit of end users, forking
programmers, and ultimately, the original programmers as well, who are just
as free to develop from the fork's code.

If the GE logo was as open to variation as any other signifier,
corporations could be judged only by their ability to produce, with
specificity, quality, and relative inexpensiveness, precisely the artifacts
desired by the public. In some sense, the experience would be synonymous
with the promise of capitalism (as distinct from its execution), but in
another sense, the demise of the product in favor of the act of production
would insist upon precisely that which could only be described as culture.

Mike Stop Continues
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