Is OS Grid full of Techno-Communists?

This post is inspired by some of the comments to Fleep Tuque’s blog posting “Why Anyone Who Cares About the Metaverse Needs to Move Beyond Second Life; Now, Not Later” I was appalled at some of the obnoxious redneck views expressed there. True, there were some moderate voices there, I didn’t agree with them, and they also tended to support and buy into the anti Communist/Anarchist world view – without bothering to actually know what the heck they were talking about!

Is OS Grid really full of Techno-Communists? I seriously doubt it. If one delves a little and considers the kind of behaviour usually dubbed ‘Techno-Communist’ one finds that this label is usually attached to people who share similar political views to that of Barack Obama, that well known Marxist currently domiciled in the White House.

Let’s get one thing straight. Communists and Anarchists DO NOT condone theft. They may have some difficulties with the idea that profit is an OK idea, becasuse, and proponents of the profit motive conveniently forget this, profit is theft. It’s the difference between what a worker is paid for their work, and what that worker has actually earned – the ‘excess’ being appropriated, i.e. stolen by the capitalist employer. This is of course a gross simplification, but it serves to illustrate

Many proponents of the ‘for profit’ motive in virtual worlds also sound too much like corporatists, who see the only role of government being to protect their proprietorial rights, including their profits, and their ‘rights’ to exploit. This is of course a description of the corporate state, but we’ve been here before in recent human history, only that time it was called by it’s proper name: Fascism. Perhaps it’s becasue they are Repulicans, (they all sound like redneck bastards to me) though from my perspective as a Welsh Anarchist, I can’t see much difference between them and the Democrats. But then I have difficulty in telling Labour and Tory apart in England!

OS Grid is run as a ‘not-for-profit’ which is a concept that is probably the best approach to business. It may say that it’s not for making a profit, but one thing is certainly sure, and that is that it certainly isn’t out to make a loss! A good nor for profit enterprise will almost certainly make a ‘surplus’ which usually gets reinvested, or passed back to consumers in terms of reduced charges, or maybe invested in other projects of a social nature. Not for profit means just that. There is no need for the profit motive, only a need to cover costs, and not make a loss. Sometimes a ‘surplus’ might be made, and that’s nice, so long as no-one has lost out becasue of that- it’s a real bonus, treats all round! But I believe that profit should not be the raison d’etre. (Oh what a silly European cuddly leftie I am!)

This leads me to the oft regurgitated lie that OS Grid, (and by implication, Open Sim) is a haven or rampant copybotters ditributing stolen content all over the grid. I can’t deny that it exists, but it isn’t at alnywhere near the level you’ll find in Second Life. And the reasons it exists at all in OS Grid is probably because of the dearth of decent content, though what is available as original content created by OS Grid creators for use by OS Grid, (and Open Sim) residents. I’ve also noticed that those most vocal in complaining about IP theft are usually the ones with an over-inflated view of what their content is worth, but like in RL, if you charge an unjustifiable price for your product you stand a big chance of being ripped off. Don’t complain, you started it by buying into the culture that values ‘excluisivity’ and the ‘must have’ label culture. I’m not for one moment condoning theft of content, but I would be lying if I said that I wept tears when I hear that some inflated ego of a ‘creator’ is moaning because they’ve been ‘ripped-off’ by a copybotter. Perhaps if they didn’t try an elaborate form of extortion for a living they wouldn’t be ripped off. On the other hand I do genuinely sympathise with the creator of decent content who sells at a reasonable price who then has their content stolen. I would be more than happy to support the creators I buy from in SL if they ventured to OS Grid – I have signed up to VirWox, but so far have not spent anything, as there is so far no content I would wish to purchase, and those items I would willingly pay for, happen to be free.

Whatever, I think the whole content security issue is largely a red herring, an excuse for not dipping the toe into the water and experimenting, by those who have a vested interest in the status quo. I for one certainly don’t want the status quo that allows creators the freedom to extort several times for the same content on different grids, which is what has to be done in order to have a similar look in say, SL and InWorldz and Avination – try doing that with a few Redgrave skins and DE outfits! (And anyway, Claudia Sanz’s freebie skins in OS Grid knock Redgrave into a cocked hat – they look so amateur by comparison!) It rapidly gets very expensive. In RL we don’t expect to have to replicate our wardrobes in each and every country we visit. I hope that soon some enterprisong creator of decent, reasonably priced content from Second Life decides to put a toe in the water and takes a bit of a punt on OS Grid, or another Open Sim grid that’s part of the Open Metaverse. It’s my guess that they’d be very pleasantly susrprised. I for one would be more than willing to pay again for content like, say that of Guu Nishi of House of Curios in Second Life, or the amazing Jade hair by Topaw Jewell. If a few creators like these ventured to the Open Metaverse and discovered what most of us already know, that it is populated largely by decent people who know the value of content and are prepared to pay a fair price for it. Yes, there is a bit of copied content here, and I don’t condone it, but it isn’t driven by any kind of greed, merely by a desire to have nice things, things often paid for ‘somewhere else’ and copied because there is no other option. All the wailing and gnashing of teeth by the misanthropic malcontents will change nothing – if someone wishes to copy something, they will, and no technical or legal measure is going to prevent them from doing that. The only safety we have is to create content and sell it at a fair price. It won’t remove the possibility of having your creations stolen, but it will severely reduce it. The vast majority of people are honest and will respect fairness – we all need to pay the rent and put food on the table, what they won’t do is condone greed. HG 2.0 may persuade some creators to come here but if the Metavers, Open and free is to really take off then it will make no difference, as those grids that go for restricted access will inevitably shoot themselves in the foot. I don’t want to go to any virtual world equivalent of North Korea where the grid owner dictates what I can do with the items I have bought and paid for, and whether I can take it home with me. A little trust goes a long way.

And I vote that we oppose Fascists (corporatists who want ‘government’ and ‘police’ in virtual worlds) in Open Sim worlds – they don’t know they’re Fascists, and very few yet realise they are Fascists, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are Fascists. Keep Open Sim Anarchist… so we don’t want the Commies either… nor the so called Anarcho-Capitalists. Total security cannot be assured, but most people want to be seen as playing the game. Given that, anyone peddling dodgy ripped-off content will not be viewed as doing that, especially if they are ripping-off the hard working creator who sells at a reasonable price.

So, is OS Grid a haven of Techno-Communists? No, it isn’t, unless you have political views to the Right of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Is OS Grid Anarchist? Maybe but that’s understated, and often misunderstood – I’m quite glad it’s as free and as open as it is, with no Linden-like figure presiding over it. Rules are made by individual region owners, and it is they who decide who goes and who stays. If you don’t like that, then don’t come here, stay in your closed, and soon to be sinking walled gardens.

I create content, and I like to do that. Some of the items I make are available in OS Grid gratis, but I do charge for them in SL – after all being in SL costs me Lindens, and that is the ethos of that place, (though I often give my items away for free in SL too).

In conclusion, OS Grid isn’t the hotbed of Techno-Communists that those of a right-wing dispositon think it is. Techno-Anarchists are probably pretty well represented though!  Are Anarchists bad at business?  Well, to be honest, they’ve had even less of a chance to prove themselves than so called Communists, (who were really just corporatist capitalists in disguise = another form of fascism really), They did have some limited success in 1930s Spain in Catalonia, where despite being handicapped all the way by the Communists and there being a war on, managed not only the formerly capitalist enterprises more efficiently, but generated enough of a surplus to invest in other industries, reduce prices and reduce working hours and still remain viable – all this in a middle of a war against the corporatists/fascists whilst being undermined by the Communists.  So much surplus wealth was created that there was enough to start investing in social wellbeing, such as affordable/free at point of need healthcare – something that the so called Land of the Free still hasn’t managed!  If it came down to a choice about who I’d rather ran the economy it wouldn’t be the capitalists, or the Communists.  Neither really believes in freedom. Anarchists do.

A Caveat.

There will no doubt be those who see this article and me as condoning theft. I do not. I am an Anarchist, but that does not mean I condone chaos, misrule or any of the other common misconceptions surrounding Anarchism. As far as economics go, Anarchism favours no particular economic system, they all have their merits and demerits, but all forms of exploitation are condemned. Anarchism is not a free for all, there are rules, but the only ‘laws’ Anarchists respect are the so called Natural Laws that can be basically summed up by what most of us know as the Ten Commandments, but tempered with Justice – e,g, Killing is wrong, full-stop. Murder is killing, and the death penalty is murder, and is therefore morally wrong. However, though killing is always wrong it is sometimes justified – such as in the heat of the moment when one’s own life, or the life of another is threatened. Premeditated killing is an abhorrence, no matter who commits it. Theft is always wrong, but can sometimes be justified if someone who is poor and starving steals in order to eat. Not all these laws can be broken in the name of justice, as I fail to see how greed could ever be justified, or for that matter adultery. Get the drift?

Want to know more? Ask for a notecard inworld, SL or OS Grid.



~ by susannahavonside on October 8, 2012.

One Response to “Is OS Grid full of Techno-Communists?”

  1. Very good commentary Susannah. I miss everyone, I had a flood at home hope to be back soon. I hope you didnt have a flood too, I saw there were some near you. Prayers are with you and yours and hope to see you all soon. Jess

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