Posts Tagged ‘direct action’

Hackers and Lefties unite!

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Due to the on-going debate on Wikileak’s publication of the US diplomatic cables, it seemed overdue for me to make up my mind on hacking and the ethics behind.Calling for absolute freedom – that is accessibility – of information, hackers stand in the tradition of liberalism. To be more precise, an egalitarian liberalism as supposed to neo-liberalism, which is a liberalism for an elite – in our capitalistic society, the rich.
Agreeing that we live in an information society, asking for free access to information is the modern shape of the old Marxist claim for the collective ownership of the Means of Production. However, the hacker’s revolution is far less radical (in there means, not in there long-term utopia) than its 19th century counterpart, since no expropriation is involved. There’s a difference in taking a steam machine from a private factory owner and socialise it and sharing secret cables from the US Department of State. Whereas the factory owner lost his property,  the US Department of State doesn’t.
As a result, leaking secret information, writing open source software and gathering open knowledge are different forms of direct action for a more social society. Unfortunately, this thinking is pretty much limited to the (relatively) small community, as the classical (in fact, I’d preferred the term “vintage” here) political left – trade unions, socialist and social-democratic parties – are still thinking and acting in the old patterns of the industrial age, which is (at least in most western countries) history. Not to talk about the near, post-peak (oil) age. Until this, “vintage” left and the hacker community teamed up to the new left movement of the 21st century, direct action remains a major tool for social change.