Open Society

I’m no sociologist, but I do enjoy the occasional cultural fancy.

I’ve been thinking recently about a concept that I’ve come to call Voluntary Socialism. It’s the equivalent of open source software for general living. There are a couple of things we can notice about open source if we’re thinking in a more general sense:

  • It’s not a law. Sharing your software is a choice that you, the author, makes. You can choose to run a little business and try to get people to pay for your software, or you can share it with everybody for free. There is the GPL, but that’s just to formalize the concept of “share”.
  • People do it.
  • There are freeloaders. There are plenty of people who use open source software while contributing nothing, and it still functions.
  • It costs nothing to copy. Redistributing your software basically means that you have a sourceforge account.

So what if people start mimicing these values on a general scale. People who like to cook just cook, and they give the food away for free. Not “free as long as the person is contributing in their own way”; just free. People who like to assemble computers make computers, and they give them away to people who want them.

So now I’m thinking what it would take for a society like this one to exist within a capitalist system like ours. There would need to be people with money who are willing to contribute those things that need paying for. Modern life depends on foreign goods, and geeks like myself aren’t willing to give up modern life, so nothing could be small and self-sufficient.

And the biggest difference between most social tasks and software is #4 above. It’s not trivial to copy a dish of food; it takes work. And the resounding question above all these musings is: would people do it nonetheless?

Next semester when I have some income I’m going to perform this experiment. I’m not sure how, but I’m thinking I’ll give away food for free once a week. Something cheap and simple like pasta or salad. I’m just going to do it to see what people think about it. I’ll doubtless get lots of questions and remarks, and so I’m looking forward to hearing them. Of course I’ll post my results here. My bigger goal which isn’t very measurable is to affect people’s mindset. Put the idea in their head that they can afford to give something away for free.

In particular, I won’t have a donation box.

So I can theorize all I want, and real sociologists can theorize all they want, but I’m going to try it, because that’s really the only thing that’s going to show us what happens.

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One thought on “Open Society

  1. Hum, sorry for coming to your stuff for so many times :0-)
    Because I made this page as “homepage” of my web-browser, so I often think of your ideologies here.
    I don’t understand what really links to the construction of socialism into capitalism here (Don’t tell me you want to change wholly american’s thought, It’s a extremely big project I have ever seen :). Nonetheless, I agreed and liked the idea of sharing free “cakes”. As suggestion, opened station is now available. I used to planned, even give you authority to take possession of one of my compositions, this seems to be a cheat from us to everyone, so I did not promote the idea until this article is born or you can end up my works and own your own. This is possible an answer to your query above, naturally dual processes: my proverb is similarly to all others from any province “giving free is equivalent to receiving free”, might be at separated times. The scenario that we uploaded our un-published music is a free giving, left hand’s notes of “spinning sonata” was learning from yours but not Liszt’s rhapsody no.2 for instance. Generally, I got the idea 2 years ago!. Give me a disk of salad please! :-)

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