“How did Bill Gates become the richest man in America? His wealth has nothing to do with the production costs of what Microsoft is selling: i.e. it is not the result of his producing good software at lower prices than his competitors, or of ‘exploiting’ his workers more successfully (Microsoft pays its intellectual workers a relatively high salary). If that had been the case, Microsoft would have gone bankrupt long ago: people would have chosen free systems like Linux which are as good as or better than Microsoft products. Millions of people are still buying Microsoft software because Microsoft has imposed itself as an almost universal standard, practically monopolising the field, as one embodiment of what Marx called the ‘general intellect’, meaning collective knowledge in all its forms, from science to practical knowhow. Gates effectively privatised part of the general intellect and became rich by appropriating the rent that followed from that. The possibility of the privatisation of the general intellect was something Marx never envisaged in his writings about capitalism (largely because he overlooked its social dimension). Yet this is at the core of today’s struggles over intellectual property: as the role of the general intellect – based on collective knowledge and social co-operation – has increased in post-industrial capitalism, so wealth accumulates out of all proportion to the labour expended in its production. The result is not, as Marx seems to have expected, the self-dissolution of capitalism, but the gradual transformation of the profit generated by the exploitation of labour into rent appropriated through the privatisation of knowledge.”
Woahhh, woah now, hold on there a second Mr. or Ms. Unpronounceable Crazy Moon-Name.
I have to be a dork now, I apologize in advance.
“it is not the result of his producing good software at lower prices than his competitors, or of ‘exploiting’ his workers more successfully. If that had been the case, Microsoft would have gone bankrupt long ago: people would have chosen free systems like Linux which are as good as or better than Microsoft products.”
Ha ha ha, whew! That’s pretty good! But you need to leave a little pause after funny joke time before you dive into the smarty-man talks about Marxian envisagings of intellectual capitalism and so forth or people might think you are being serious. :|
I use and have used various flavors of Linux, and I have also used every one of Microsoft’s OSes since, I dunno, MS-DOS version 6? And I can assure anyone who wants to know [read: nobody] that there is no real debate to be had, here; while certain bits of Linux may indeed have certain advantages over Microsoft products, at no time has any Linux OS been “as good or better than Microsoft products” for the average end user. Only very recently has any flavor of Linux begun to be at all usable in any practical, daily way for Joe Schmoe. (We’re not counting OSX, but even that has only come around recently, and it’s certainly not free.)
Microsoft would most certainly not have “gone bankrupt long ago,” because “long ago” Apple and Microsoft were the only real games in town if you weren’t a giant fuckin’ nerdlord typing away at your unix command line in a basement somewhere. Apple was hardware-locked and pricey, and Microsoft’s platform was hardware-agnostic and less expensive.
If you want to argue that once Microsoft had dominated the personal computer world, they clamped down and have done everything they can to keep it that way, then fine. But Microsoft didn’t get its start by waltzing into a room and pushing all its competitors out a window so it could run away with all the mindshare.
sorry, that bit of the quote just triggered some kind of spergy spaz-out, i am backing away slowly
You guys, Toby just yelled at Žižek.
- infoneer-pulse posted this