[iDC] "recursive publics"

Christopher Kelty ckelty at gmail.com
Fri Jul 10 04:48:24 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jul 9, 2009 at 3:55 PM, Dean, Jodi <JDEAN at hws.edu> wrote:

> Another question:

there is no question here? :)

> Your account of Free Software is celebratory rather than critical.

actually, I want people to see that Free Software is itself a kind of
critique, which is why I think the language of publics and public spheres is
the appropriate one (perhaps in this sense more so than that of markets).
If I celebrate it, I celebrate it as critical.

> That is, it seems like you endorse and applaud the geek mentality you
> describe.

this I don't do. if I describe a geek mentality (which I don't think I do,
or others do much better than I), I would neither endorse nor impugn it as
such.  particular uses of it, maybe.

> It seems as if
> you think that markets and publics share enough of the same ideals as to be
> thought together. This, then, makes it seem as if collective interest were
> only
> the aggregation of self-interest (and as if this could happen immanently,
> as if there were no fundamental antagonism).

this I don't think. whether or not this is an accurate description of some
variants of liberal thought might be arguable, but it is not fair to say
that because I observe and analyze this kind of rationality, that therefore
I think that way.

> That publics (I think the term society is better here)

I don't.  at least, I don't think they should be confused.  "society" as
something that emerged in the 18th and 19th century as an object of both
governance and scholarship is quite distinct from either markets or public
spheres, and I think liberal thought in western europe, in all its variants,
treats them as three different kinds of things.

> and markets can be treated as spheres into which governments should
> intervene minimally does not mean
> that they should be treated this way or that they are symmetrical or that
> minimal v. maximal intervention is the best way to describe matters or even
> that
> intervention is the best term (insofar as markets and societies depend on
> forms of law and legality).

this i agree with.  I'm not endorsing classical liberalism, neoliberalism or
the form it takes in free software, but I do think these ways of thinking
are operative in Free Software, and attenuated versions in lots of other
places all around us. I would like to understand how it is possible to think
this way, and how it became possible to be opposed to thinking this way

> Another way to put this: the justice of the market is not the same as
> political justice.

okay, i'll bite, what is the difference?

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