Thursday, September 08, 2005

Wikipedia: Putting the "free" in free encyclopedia  

Today's Wikipedia featured post is about anarcho-capitalism, the idea that we should do away with a compulsory state in favor of a society of individuals freely entering into contracts, which would subsume the role of the state while respecting each individual's sovereignty.

While I personally am not convinced we should give up on the umbrella of state as long as we live in a rain of competing states, hostile ideologies and national disasters, the anarcho-capitalist Non-Aggression Axiom and its corollary, The Prohibition of Initiation of Force, are two maxims I try to live and judge by.

Interestingly, though, I think the Wikipedia could be seen as a product of an opposite stance, that of the free software movement, whose ultimate goal would be to eliminate software as property through a compulsory government which disallowed certain kinds of contracts.

Certainly that's not very anarcho-capitalist in its reliance on the state. However ... the minds behind the GPL aren't dumb guys (with a few exceptions), and the GNU General Public License is a great example of how anarcho-capitalism and free software can work together.

In an anarcho-capitalist world, everyone that drank the GPL Kool-Aid would get the whole benefit of the free software world; people entering into non-free contracts would lose out because the "hidden costs" of enforcement built into our traditional intellectual property law would be spelled out, in the open, in the contract.

And if people actually saw what intellectual property law really cost them, no-one would swallow it.

-the Centaur



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