Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Intellectual Property Socialism

SAP shows its true (capitalist) colors. Open source is a non-distributed model of development much akin to anarchism, which is subset of socialism. Read on:
'Intellectual property socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society,' says an SAP executive

A senior executive at SAP has criticised the open source development methodology by claiming that it does not promote innovation, according to reports.

Shai Agassi, president of the product and technology group at SAP, said in a speech at a club in California that Linux is not innovative, according to an article on technology news site VNUNet this week.

"We all talk about how great Linux is," Agassi reportedly said. "But if you look at the most innovative desktop today, Microsoft's Vista is not copying Linux, it is copying Apple."

SAP will not make its software open source as it would no longer have an incentive to innovate, Agassi said.

"Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society," he said. "And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP."

I am currently reading a book on Enterprise Services Architecture written by SAP guys. It is very good. However, I find it very amusing that they have tried to trademark EA and SOA concepts with silly sloganeering like the Netweaver "platform." Clearly SAP in traditional capitalist fashion thinks it is fine to steal other peoples ideas and use IP law to claim them as their own. So what we see SAP doing here is executing Primitive Accumulation (or perhaps more precisely, IP-rimitive Accumulation).

As Marx explains in Capital Vol I:

This primitive accumulation plays in Political Economy about the same part as original sin in theology. Adam bit the apple, and thereupon sin fell on the human race. Its origin is supposed to be explained when it is told as an anecdote of the past. In times long gone-by there were two sorts of people; one, the diligent, intelligent, and, above all, frugal elite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living. The legend of theological original sin tells us certainly how man came to be condemned to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow; but the history of economic original sin reveals to us that there are people to whom this is by no means essential. Never mind! Thus it came to pass that the former sort accumulated wealth, and the latter sort had at last nothing to sell except their own skins. And from this original sin dates the poverty of the great majority that, despite all its labour, has up to now nothing to sell but itself, and the wealth of the few that increases constantly although they have long ceased to work. Such insipid childishness is every day preached to us in the defence of property. M. Thiers, e.g., had the assurance to repeat it with all the solemnity of a statesman to the French people, once so spirituel. But as soon as the question of property crops up, it becomes a sacred duty to proclaim the intellectual food of the infant as the one thing fit for all ages and for all stages of development. In actual history it is notorious that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, briefly force, play the great part. In the tender annals of Political Economy, the idyllic reigns from time immemorial. Right and "labour" were from all time the sole means of enrichment, the present year of course always excepted. As a matter of fact, the methods of primitive accumulation are anything but idyllic.

In themselves money and commodities are no more capital than are the means of production and of subsistence. They want transforming into capital. But this transformation itself can only take place under certain circumstances that centre in this, viz., that two very different kinds of commodity-possessors must come face to face and into contact; on the one hand, the owners of money, means of production, means of subsistence, who are eager to increase the sum of values they possess, by buying other people’s labour-power; on the other hand, free labourers, the sellers of their own labour-power, and therefore the sellers of labour. Free labourers, in the double sense that neither they themselves form part and parcel of the means of production, as in the case of slaves, bondsmen, &c., nor do the means of production belong to them, as in the case of peasant-proprietors; they are, therefore, free from, unencumbered by, any means of production of their own. With this polarization of the market for commodities, the fundamental conditions of capitalist production are given. The capitalist system pre-supposes the complete separation of the labourers from all property in the means by which they can realize their labour. As soon as capitalist production is once on its own legs, it not only maintains this separation, but reproduces it on a continually extending scale. The process, therefore, that clears the way for the capitalist system, can be none other than the process which takes away from the labourer the possession of his means of production; a process that transforms, on the one hand, the social means of subsistence and of production into capital, on the other, the immediate producers into wage-labourers. The so-called primitive accumulation, therefore, is nothing else than the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production. It appears as primitive, because it forms the pre-historic stage of capital and of the mode of production corresponding with it.

So we see what SAP is doing. SAP wishes to transform public domain work done on EA and SOA (social production) into intellectual property or IP (capital which SAP owns). It is primitive in this context because you see above how violently SAP is behaving. Also they are not paying for this social production, they are stealing it. Seeing that it exists in the "commons" they first must destroy the legitimacy of "open source" by attacking its very nature. In this way they can transform the work into IP and get around having to honor the guardians of social production, such as GNU licenses and Creative Commons licenses.

Only by removing these safeguards can SAP "legally" lay claim to these products of social production and thereby capitalize them for their own profit.

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