13 October 2005

Libertarian business models

I find it fascinating how the same thing, but two different names, can evoke such contradictory reactions from people. It's as though people often confuse the spirit of the word with the word itself.

OpenBusiness is a creative commons site dedicated to exploring and cataloguing all the different sources of business models structured around "free" services, such as Google, Flickr, Blogger, and all the smaller ones coming about. I know I've been trying to dig away at how these companies sustain themselves.

And even though I've heard first-hand from political science students that libertarianism is the devil's party, and how it's so feared in the west (it's essentially anarchy) — I'd like to point out the very similar natures of creative commons, open business models, and anarchy. While those that criticise are out there regurgitating what their prof told them, and what their prof before them taught those profs, leave it to commerce and the internet to make inroads into establishing a healthy, diverse, and intelligent way to do honourable business.

To all the naysayers, perhaps you should stop fearing the world and get your hands dirty and make it better. Or get a better education, perhaps. To all the real punks from the '70s and '80s, here's to the burgeoning anarchy for the masses!

Oh, and I'd like to remind everyone that it's of very little use fighting the system from outside. That is, in fact, more of a subjective, personal battle you've chosen on your own and serves no one but yourself. Of course, this is just my opinion…


channel null said...

I'm shooting from the hip here with some theories:

There seem to be two types of libertarianism: bazaar and "'Free' Market." The Open Business model, which seems to avoid leveraging gov't against people/consumers/clients, typifies the bazaar/marketplace approach. It essentially widens the bazaar, making more opportunities for exchange.

The Free Market Libretarians are the majority here in the states. They are simply fascists in business suits: they actively seek to leverage gov't to their favor, and thereby narrow the possibilities; socialized cost for business, privatize profits. Big Pharma using free university research to patent molecules, e.g. These folks are stuck in an old Marxist viewpoint--read Business Weekly and even sometimes the Economist, where they actively discuss "class warfare." These are the people who changed the legal status of fluoride from toxic waste to heatlh additive for drinking water so they didn't have to pay to dispose of it.

To layer terms further, the bazaar model stands firmly as a "divergent" option, while the "convergent," consensus option is the "Free"-Market approach. The "Free"-Market is, literally, qlippothic, heavily tied to gov't, and cannot be addressed on its terms--essentially, participating the divergent market/thinking is the only way to "fight" the system. To the extent that it stands "outside" the system--it's more of symbiote, or a positive parasite if you will.

I think there is something to be said for detaching from the system--i.e., not fighting, but just avoiding the game. At the same time, in my own life, I see that as having built up the amount of chaos I have to order--that's a kingly task, like you mentioned earlier.

Fell said...

Where your Free Market and Bazaar Libertarianism seems to falter, however, is that they both rely on government. The technical definition of libertarianism is sans government. Perhaps the Free Market types down in the U.S. are more in favour of libertarian socialism?

I guess I was excited about OpenBusiness cuz I just finished reading an article on Valve's development of Half-Life. They formed these development/brainstorming groups called "Cabals" and they remove any hierarchy so all could have their say in the game, all while creating a cohesion amongst the game. I see this happening more with new business models. I know Gore (of GoreTex) is a company that follows that structure, where no one has job titles and they all just work more like small research communes.

Any libertarian that relies on a government (as a tool, apparently) is no libertarian.

Anonymous said...

"libertarian socialism" That's exactly it--which, if you ask me, is a form of Fascism. I'm really interested in the Open Business site, though, don't get me wrong, I'm very much for those types of model.

I'm suspecting that "libertarian" means something very different, or that it's gone in a more populist bend in Canada; here in the states, libertarians almost all amount to staunch right-wing elitists who want marijuana legalized, essentially, Law-of-the-Strong types. I think you're far closer to what we'd call an anarchist sans dreadlocks, or maybe anarcho-libertarian, here in the States. None of these words will be heard on CNN.

I'm not sure how my bazaar model relies on gubment--being that I haven't thought it out that well, what's your opinion on it?

Fell said...

I'm not sure, commerce and politics are not my strong points. I figure that my opinions are often malinformed and biased by the effects of the media.

As for libertarianism, I didn't realise it was a term used in the U.S. that often. I think in Canada we use it as the Europeans do, which is essentially how it is described by Wikipedia:

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that holds that all individuals should have the liberty to do as they wish with themselves and their property as long as those actions do not infringe on the same liberty of others. Thus, liberty is equalized among individuals, with no individual having more liberty than any other. As libertarianism is an advocacy of negative liberty, it is asserted that no person (or government) may initiate coercion. Libertarians make "coercion" specific by defining it as the use of physical force, the threat of such, or deception (fraud) that alters, or is intended to alter, the way individuals' would use their property (including their body) if those elements were not present. Coercion is ethically permissible only when employed in defense against an initiation. This ban on initiation of force, called the non-aggression principle, is central to the philosophy of many libertarians and is often predicated on the principle of "individual sovereignty" or self-ownership.


I also equate it with a more fully thought-out version of anarchism.