Sunday, December 8th, 2013 06:56 pm
This is a lot of unfinished thoughts.

I didn't agree with all of Cyberlibertarians’ Digital Deletion of the Left but it was throught provoking. It makes the valid point that many "benevolent" technological groups are quite libertarian in effect and motivation. Also any sort of digital utopianism is blatantly bunk, technology is at best value neutral, it's a tool not a complete solution. I am glad of the link to this essay comparing intellectual property to other sorts of property in terms of freedom/enclosure etc, though I've only read the preface. And the idea that "information should be free" is definitely leveraged by businesses like Google to invade the privacy of and profit from everyday people.

But I think it acts like you're either pro-government or pro-business, and there are plenty of people who are neither. Also I'm pretty sure the EFF aren't the unambiguously pro-big-business force for evil they're painted as, they seem to help defend the little guy from oppressive big business a moderate amount of the time, and I know the Chair of the Australian branch is a card carrying member of Labor (and also quite left wing ;))

And...ok, Jimmy Wiles is pro-business and there's lots of obnoxious hierarchies and biases in Wikipedia, but I'm hard pressed to see it as an overall Force for Capitalist Evil. Not that the article says it is, it just mentions Jimmy Wiles and moves on instead of examimining whether libertarian techno-utopian projects may do social good regardless of their founders' politics. Or am I missing something?

Anyway, it got me thinking about what it means for a non profit or anyone to be "left wing".

I read the Wikipedia page on Left Wing (yes despite it's dirty capitalist contamination) and yeah: "left wing" means to be in favour of social equality, and while this generally means being against unfettered capitalism people like anarchists are explitiely anti big-government too, being in favour of little independent local regions instead. Meanwhile Right Wing people think social inequality is either good/traditional or unfortunate but inevitable, and thus are all in favour of power going to the rich since they deserve/earned it.

More compassionate right wing people are actually very pro charity. The problem is (a)The fact they think charity can entirely replace government assistance and (b)the forms that charity takes: the "some people are better than others" mindset leads to top-down charities which don't pay attention to the desires of the recipients eg TED-esque "drop computers from planes" technological utopianism is pretty right wing and imperialist.

Meanwhile I think bottom-up, egalitarian community organisation is generally pretty left wing, with (good) government programs being the same basic idea on a larger scale: the people working together to help the people.

I think a nice example right vs left implementations of similar tech ideas is for-profit MOOCs vs free online courses from government funded universities. But an individual or small non-profit offering free educational materials could be have a wide range of political motivations, and as long as those politics don't infect the information it's useful all the same. Hmmm.