[Cc-uk] Libre Commons = Libre Culture + Radical Democracy

Tom Chance tom at acrewoods.net
Thu Dec 1 13:16:21 EST 2005


Ahoy,

Some questions / comments written in a hurry. In other words they may not 
convey exactly what I mean to convey, certainly not with the clarity of a 
paper ;-)


1. You (rightly) criticise reductionist tendencies in the Creative Commons 
"movement", but you then seek to make your politics the sole domain in which 
foundational principles can be decided upon. So you say it's wrong for 
FSF-followers to start with supposedly a priori moral pronouncements about 
rights and freedom. It's revealing that you say they do this "on the basis of 
a supposedly shared morality". But you both write this essay on the basis of 
a supposed shared politics, something you admit and explicitly mention in 
your "radical democracy meet libre culture" moment.

No doubt you will think this umproblematic, but I assume that the FSF 
followers would say the same thing. If it's the case that we can come to know 
ethical truths a priori, or even through rational analysis of ethical terms 
without recourse to politics, then they're within their right to narrow the 
scope of the debate in that way. Have you got any arguments against this kind 
of analytical philosophy, or are you operating on the assumption that we 
simply cannot come to useful/true knowledge about these issues if we tackle 
ethics in isolation from the political?

At the moment, for example, I'm attracted to the idea that whilst politics 
ought to inform and check my ethics, ultimately my most basic political 
principles will flow from my ethics. Now I've never come across a good 
defence of the ethics of free software, just lots of analyses of the 
discourses and disagreements of free/opensource/etc. But that's not to say 
that someone might provide a decent account of the ethics of immaterial 
products, which supports the FSF's insistence upon the foundational status of 
freedom and rights.

At times you place politics as a "component" of libre culture, but then you 
say that libre culture is to be "articulated and rearticulated by political 
means". Do you mean here that politics will determine the form of 
articulation, or that other considerations such as moral, legal, aesthetic 
etc. will be excluded from this process of articulation? Your language is so 
dense and buzzwordy that I find it hard to work out if you're equivocating or 
making a clear move either way.

This also pollutes, I think, your point about growing the movement through 
alliances and understanding the wider implications of our ideas. So whereas 
you say at the beginning that Creative Commons has been including too many 
commercial and legalistic interests, you claim later that 'as libre  
culture becomes more inclusive, acquiring new members, allies and  
connections, it grows more political'. This can only be the case if libre 
commons opens itself along purely political lines.

You say later that you reject any universal notion of morals / legal rights / 
cannon of rationality / conditions of truth. Those rejections already put you 
in a *very* narrow intellectual tradition, so far as I can see, and seem to 
commit you to an ultimate relativism of the following kind: let every person, 
every loosely connected community, define their own notion of morals, 
legality and general understanding of culture, of immaterial products and 
labour; let our radically democratic libre culture project foment the 
overthrow of any universalising tendencies in morality, law, aesthetics, etc. 
To me that is way too extreme, a project I'd never feel comfortable with.

On a related by more particular note, you say that "rights are constructed not 
given, they are the result of political struggle, not assertions of moral 
orders". This looks to me like pointless romanticism, making a false 
dichotomy when the reality is more obvious. Rights are won through struggle, 
then granted based upon some general shared moral understanding, and 
protected both by a complex interplay of politics, ethics, social norms, etc. 
"There is no way to bypass politics", just as politics cannot bypass the 
other domains of struggle.

To summarise, I prefer a contrarian way of thinking, whereby contraries are 
juxtaposed with other contraries leading to a fourfold thinking. Just as the 
courtroom juxtaposes the judge-jury with prosecution-defence, we ought to 
seek understanding of different lines of thought without basing our thought 
on an intellectual straightjacket that subjects morality, law, etc. to the 
supremacy of radical politics.


2. I've not got time to go into this, partly because I'm so unsure of my basic 
terms of reference, but whilst interesting your insistence upon the role of 
the commons, and absolute rejection of the individual, needs a clearer 
defence. I'm not in the least bit convinced by the quote from Arendt or your 
explanation of your commons-oriented licenses. I'm also not convinced by 
Creative Commons licenses and their false commons, which is a related matter.

I will just quickly comment that if we cannot fix on a liberal notion of 
community or society, why should we fix on a notion of communal ownership 
rather than non-ownership? Why does it make more sense for all humans to own 
immaterial products, rather than nobody having any control over them? I can 
see the attraction of the former where you have a sense of shared values (be 
they some combination and interplay political, aesthetic, legal, etc. 
values), but we really don't have that in any sufficiently meaningful sense.


3. I'm not going to go into this, but you're aware that I disagree with you on 
the subject of consensus. I see no reason to think that it is any less 
democratic, any more prone to the friend/foe problem, than any other 
democratic mechanism. But I suppose I'll have to read the Mouffe reference to 
see why you think that's the case.


4. Finally, a less waffly-academic point ;) By making radical politics and the 
contestation of culture (to abuse some of your terminology) the central 
theme, the point around which we work and play, you're in effect restricting 
yourself to the armchairs of academics and radicals. Fine, you may say, but 
dangerous in my opinion.

This comes back to the paradox of your desire for inclusivity. You're happy to 
include radicals, but not to include those who will legalise, moralise, etc. 
the "project". In saying this you're really just making yourself an 
irrelevance, a force that won't ever have a significant impact upon 
mainstream culture and therefore on those political and legal structures that 
so impede libre culture. Unless, of course, your overall radical political 
project achieves that for you, which I think is pretty laughable outside the 
scope of creating and broadening your own libre spaces inside the mainstream.

We discussed this a little around Remix Reading back at Music Commons. You 
described RR, I think, as a useful practical exercise, but one that might 
brand (in the burning-a-cows-arse sense) me as a reformist unwilling to be 
radical. To me RR is much more complex and interesting. It's a reformist 
attack on the mainstream, yes, but also an opportunity to explore libre 
culture in ways that connect with non-radicals.

By making it local, by putting us in direct contact with people and existing 
arts communities, rather than creating our own entirely distinctive space or 
opting for the impersonality of the internet, we're spreading libre culture. 
I've been going into creative writing groups, talking about surrealist 
writing techniques and free culture, and getting people to discuss and 
reflect upon all the issues we're interested in.

If I charged in and described the radical political project, rejecting the 
moral, legal, aesthetic etc. as somehow suspect I'd get nowhere. To do so 
would not only be a betrayal of my fourfold contrarian approach, it would be 
wholly impractical.

So RR is more than just pragma, it's an exploration of libre culture issues 
and, as we persuade and energise people, an increasingly large bulwark 
against the incessant march of the creative industries. To me, this approach 
is the better middle path between your political project and Creative 
Commons' apolitical legalistic project.

Kind regards,
Tom


On Tuesday 29 November 2005 12:59, David M.Berry wrote:
> Libre Commons = Libre Culture + Radical Democracy
>
> - David M. Berry & Giles Moss
>
>
>
> We have been encouraged of late to see more critical reflection and
> commentary about libre culture, Creative Commons and the immaterial
> commons coming up on our screens (Berry 2005; Dvorak 2005; Hill 2005;
> Nimmer 2005; Orlowski 2005; Tóth 2005). In this article, we once
> again aim to foment and contribute to this discussion. We maintain
> that the politicization of the project of the commons is a positive
> development and we look forward to more agonistic debate. We reject
> the silencing tactics favored by some, who seem to imply that it
> would best to avoid debating libre culture and, instead, be content
> with playing ‘follow my leader’ or ‘Simon says…’. So many unspoken
> words spell out a problem in our view, rather than a solution.
>
> It’s not surprising that those who question the value of contestation
> and dissensus would read our previous comments on the creative
> commons as negative and destructive (Berry & Moss 2005). This was not
> our intention. We wanted our article on the creative commons to be
> nothing but positive and constructive. Why? Because we think that the
> only way to consolidate the power and realize the promise of libre
> culture is through the creation of a radical democratic project. Such
> a project rejects all bureaucratic tendencies and silencing tactics.
> It is premised on the political as much as anything else, where the
> political is understood in its specificity, as a field of agonistic
> contestation and circuitous re-articulation. Radical democracy offers
> a positive vision for libre culture, and a constructive response to
> the question of how libre culture can deepen and extend itself. It is
> about a multiplicity of singular networks of struggle operating on
> the terrain of civil society who may seek strategic alliances and
> articulate as an active political subject under a ‘common’ radical
> democratic (counter-hegemonic) project.  This stretches libre culture
> out in myriad directions, to form multiple points of passage with
> other singularities who are now struggling against various power
> asymmetries and injustices.
>
> In this article, then, we want to introduce libre culture to radical
> democracy.[1] We hope that a meeting between the two will lead to a
> mutually beneficial engagement. This hope and vision here goes under
> the name of the libre commons to differentiate it from other groups
> and proposals (such as Creative Commons). Libre culture is presently
> being reduced to economic, moral, technological or legal logics, all
> of which (in different ways) claim to circumvent the political and
> move us along effortlessly in straight, non-political lines (Berry
> 2004). In contrast, libre commons (= radical democracy + libre
> culture) makes room for plurality, dissensus and curvature — the
> raison d’etre of the political.
>
> In our view, thinking about libre culture with radical democracy is
> long overdue. True, Micheal Hardt and Antonio Negri  have recently
> penned: ‘Our approach to understanding the democracy of the
> multitude… is an open-source society, that is, a society whose source
> code is revealed so that we can all work collaboratively to solve its
> bugs and create new, better social programmes’ (Hardt & Negri 2004).
> We concur, needless to say, with the sentiment. Libre culture’s
> democratic effects could be far-reaching. But we question the
> prevalent idea that democracy is an essential part of libre culture
> and something that will automatically flow from it. Libre culture can
> be understood in myriad ways and move in various directions. Not all
> of these directly are particularly democratic, neither are they (for
> that matter) necessarily counter to the present. Insofar as libre
> culture eschews the political, we argue, it is not likely to be very
> democratic in its effects at all. In the light of this, it is unclear
> to us what Hardt and Negri actually mean when they invoke the term
> “open-source”. For one thing, their delphic usage ignores a number of
> significant internal differences in libre culture between, say, Free
> Software, Open Source and the Creative Commons, or between eminent
> spokesmen like Richard Stallman, Eric Raymond and Lawrence Lessig.
> Such differences, from our anti-essentialist perspective, are
> critical to the future direction of libre culture. And it is for this
> reason that we here wish to defend an alternative radical democratic
> position. In short, this is the idea of the libre commons.
>
>
>
> 1. Anti-Political Motifs
>
> Our last discussion of the commons took the form of a critique aimed
> squarely at the creative commons (Berry & Moss 2005). We argued that,
> despite the rhetoric, the creative common was a simulacra of a
> commons that was instantiated in private property, contract and
> possessive individualism. The creative commons in no way replaced
> commonalty. Rather than offering us an alternative, the creative
> common movement is a continuation of the process by which private
> property and a neo-liberal worldview colonizes all aspects of life.
> Despite its achievements, the creative commons has a depressing
> inability to see beyond markets and money as steering media.
>
> So our previous article was an invitation to think about libre
> culture in a more critical and political way. We wanted (and still
> want) to provoke contestation and open up libre culture to consider
> all possibilities. Unfortunately, many of the responses we received
> did not welcome the politicization of the issue. They found it
> unhelpful, rather than helpful. Why? The responses were varied and
> came from different directions, but one striking thing that they all
> shared were an insidious anti-political tendency. Again and again, we
> found the anti-political logics of economics (like certain currents
> within the creative commons or open-source movement), moral consensus
> (like certain currents with the Free Software Foundation), and, of
> course, law (as a key nodal or obligatory passage point for libre
> culture, more generally). But nowhere do we find the political. In
> this respect, the reaction we received to our last article reminded
> us of Carl Schmidt’s perspicuous remarks on modern liberalism. ‘In a
> very systematic fashion’, so Schmidt argues, ‘liberal thought evades
> or ignores politics and moves instead in a typical always recurring
> polarity of two heterogonous spheres, namely ethics and
> economics’ (Mouffe 2000).
>
> Many people took umbrage with our previous argument against the
> creative commons for undermining the libre culture movement. One
> person emailed, ‘I strongly believe that we must present a united
> front…you must be prepared to compromise’. It was argued, in
> particular, that our ‘theoretical critique’ made little sense
> strategically and practically. If anything, it would damage the
> process whereby libre culture was now broadening itself out and
> developing a wider appeal. It is quite right, in our view, to
> question the value of overly abstract theorizing, to make hurtful
> quips about armchairs, when theory is entirely detached from
> practical intent and the reality of social (or, more accurately,
> socio-technical) struggle. Most of us share, despite our other
> differences, a hope that the project of libre culture will deepen and
> extend. But the salient question is how, by which machinery, and in
> which direction. In our view, the creative commons has widened itself
> out in such a way that it now bears little resemblance to the
> underlying arguments that should be made for libre culture. By
> opening itself up to a broad membership, especially by courting
> private industry and property, it is following an economic market
> logic that compromises libre culture and encourages multinational
> corporations to take centre stage. It has taken the same path as
> ‘open-source’. (Eric Raymond, of course, distinguished the term ‘open
> source’ from that of ‘free software’ because the latter term was
> unappealing to private industry.)  This results in inevitable
> dilemmas for libre culture in terms of co-option and compromise, as
> we argued in our last article on the subject.
>
> By what other means can libre culture deepen and extend itself? Well,
> we were interested to read the intervention by Hill (2005).
> Thankfully, this article moved away from the narrow economistic logic
> of the creative commons and open source. Hill has another agenda, but
> one that is no less familiar to those versed in debates over libre
> culture. For him, the creative commons had lost touch with a moral
> set of principles that allowed us to distinguish between (what he
> termed) ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.  Some of Hill’s criticisms of the
> Creative Commons tally with our previous remarks. But we are none the
> less skeptical of his proposed alternative. What he does, in effect,
> is displace the problem with the creative commons to a different
> level. Rather than turn to economics, he turns to the order of
> morality. By an over-hasty fetishisation of technology, and the naive
> acceptance of human rights in a metaphysical sense, there is a lack
> of grounding in real concrete political action. His arguments are
> again anti-political. They attempt to close down the space for
> contestation, too, but this time in the name of an ultimate and
> invariable ‘good’ or ‘right’.
>
> This indicates a more general problem with many of the arguments of
> the Free Software Movement: they are overwhelmingly made within a
> moral register. Claims to authority are made by reference to a priori
> human rights divorced from the political realm. Decisions are made
> between “right” and “wrong” (note the quite deliberate scare quotes)
> on the basis of a supposedly shared morality. There is then no ground
> for further discussion as the terms of the decision have already been
> set a priori. This has dangerous consequences. It closes down
> possibilities; it prevents alternative articulations. They are all
> variously labeled dangerous, evil or wrong. Counter-arguments can be
> neatly ignored and an ostensible moral consensus within the free
> culture “community’ maintained. We have assertions made to a ‘right
> to...’, not political claims to struggle to bring into effect these
> rights and liberties. The discourse of rights, used in such a way,
> does not encourage political thinking. Instead, it tends to close
> down debate to a simplistic friend/enemy binary.
>
>
>
> 2. The Libre Commons
>
> The alternative we want to suggest to broadening and extending libre
> culture is the radical democratic project of the libre commons. We
> believe that a political approach should be sought that channels
> dissent within the movement of libre culture towards a vibrant
> political space of agonistic debate, rather than an antagonistic
> friend/enemy relation. Our position is that no movement can remain
> legitimate without a political component; that is, without realizing
> the importance of the struggle of groups asserting and contesting
> their agonistic positions through a political process to reach a
> decision. This is not a decision to be taken by consensus. Moral
> consensus merely invalidates the political as it does not allow for
> opinions to fall outside of its boundaries (Mouffe 2005). When they
> do, and they will do, they are illegitimate or ignored as ‘foe’. We
> argue that the very rights that libre culture movements are calling
> for should be substantiated through political democratic means and
> agonistic debate.
>
> This offers a different way— a ‘third way’ if you like— for libre
> culture to broaden itself out and deepen. But this approach is no
> less productive and constructive than any other. Indeed, we believe
> it to be more so. It is about a multiplicity of singular networks of
> struggle operating on the terrain of civil society. These networks
> can seek alliance and articulate as an active political subject under
> a ‘common’ and counter-hegemonic radical democratic project. The
> common that they articulate under is an ‘empty place of power’ and is
> therefore truly democratic. It is something to be articulated and re-
> articulated, made and re-made, by political means. It is not reduced
> to (possessive individualist) economic or (consensus-based) moral
> assumptions. It is vision where libre culture connects and finds
> points of passage with other singularities (machines of struggle) who
> are coming up against various other power asymmetries.
>
> Strategic alliances can here be drawn through political means against
> the unremitting exploitation of the ‘common’ pool of immaterial
> labour. Which is to say, it is about time that libre culture
> meaningfully engaged with various other struggles against the
> commodification of knowledge, as they are expressed, for example, in
> terms of native knowledge, farmers, the sick, and workers more
> generally.  This will require an articulation of the dangers and
> threats from commodification from knowledge expressed in terms that
> can be valued and understood by a broader constituency. As libre
> culture becomes more inclusive, acquiring new members, allies and
> connections, it grows more political. It clarifies, with ever greater
> sophistication, the various causes of the complaint, and what is
> needed to remedy it. It is no longer good enough to limit the demands
> to a technical concern for computer programming or the freedom to
> make music. Rather, these issues flow out across a number of
> different planes. There is a need to build alliances across these
> different struggles. This may well involve the uncomfortable truth
> that a cozy moral consensus is not reached. But political alliances
> can be drawn and partial closures fixed under the common, as a
> counter-hegemonic project (Laclau & Mouffe 2001).
>
> Fragmentation and contestation, rather than being seen as a weakness,
> is a positive political moment. Through agonistic debate there is the
> possibility for the development of a multi-perspectival approach to
> instantiating a new form of commons for the twenty-first century.
> Debate is never closed absolutely, for there is never a full
> reconciliation. There is only a temporary hegemonic closure which can
> continue to be countered or rearticulated. One condition of this is
> through the development of ‘the common’ as the empty signifier and
> place of power around which numerous diverse groups can
> democratically mobilize. The common is to be articulated through the
> creation of alliances between individuals and groups (i.e., singular
> machines of struggle) formed through political dialogue and action.
>
>
>
> 3. Libre Commons ‘Licences’
>
>
>
> Up to this point we have been oddly silent on law. Somehow or other
> we have got a fair way through an article on libre culture without
> really mentioning law directly. Throughout this article, we have
> argued, along with radical democracy, for a turn away from the anti-
> political language of economics, technology and morality. This means
> that legal rights understood as a priori human rights would fall
> foul, too, since they presuppose the (all too Western and
> imperialistic) idea of a universal moral consensus. We reject the
> ideas of a universal human nature, of a universal cannon of
> rationality, as well as possibilities of a universal condition of
> truth. But rejecting the notion of human rights as given or universal
> does not mean that do not value rights per se. Quite the contrary.
> They can be extremely useful strategic devices in the political field.
>
> We would also support other measures that pertain to legal rights.
> “Why not have a new legislative agenda for a ‘global commons’/ Let’s
> also prevent the world-wide drift to unitary (i.e., US) intellectual
> property rights”. Like you, we want all this and more from the law.
> But even so, we do not forget that it is only through political
> struggle that rights are constructed, invested with meaning and given
> any force. Yes, being political can be arduous and frustrating;
> politics often moves circuitously, rather than in a straight line. Be
> this as it may, rights are constructed not given, they are the result
> of political struggle, not assertions of moral orders. There is no
> way to bypass politics. There is no such thing as a priori human
> rights, just legal promises that we must continually ensure our
> fulfilled for ourselves and for our friends also. We need, in sum, to
> always re-articulate rights as democratic and political rights,
> rather than viewing them as given, universal or reducing them to an
> individualist framework.
>
> These are the grounds on which we have introduced the Libre Commons
> licences into the ether, including the Res Communes and the Res
> Divini Juris licences. Let’s be clear: these “licences” are politic-
> democratic devices. We do not claim that they have legal authority.
> Indeed, our non-legal usage of the term licence has upset some
> lawyers and the like. They have lectured to us that our use of the
> term “licence” is ‘wrong’, ‘incorrect’ and ‘contradictory’. It is not
> surprising that those, who retain power and status by claiming to
> speak ‘correctly’ and with ‘rectitude’ on other’s behalf, would fear
> polysemy and flat-out deny our capacity to think or speak otherwise.
> It is not surprising that those who move in anti-political worlds of
> straight lines would want to deny our political capacity to contest
> and multiply meanings.
>
> We want, in contrast, to here be a little more licentious with the
> word licence than the lawyers allow. For those wonks and purists of
> etymology, with an Oxford English dictionary at the ready, let us say
> that for the purposes of the libre commons we are drawing on other
> connotations of the term. We don’t take 'licence' to mean legal
> permission. Closer to our meaning of license would be licence as in
> ‘poetic license’, as in a poetics of knowledge and politics. The
> meanings proliferate further: ‘liberty of action’, ‘abuse of
> freedom’, ‘licentiousness’, ‘disregard of proprietary’,
> ‘irregularity’, ‘deviation from the norm’ and so on. In any case, let
> us turn to consider the poetic license of the libre commons more
> directly.
>
>
>
> Libre Commons Res Communes Licence
>
> The commons is that which is shared in common with others. This can
> be a resource, such as land or water, that members of “community” own
> and share. The commons has traditionally been limited to a local
> community right and to a physical resource such as a forest. But it
> has also been used to refer to the space of intellectual thought —an
> ‘ideas commons’, an ‘innovation commons’, an ‘intellectual commons’,
> a ‘digital commons’, ‘immaterial commons’ and inevitably an ‘e-
> commons’, ‘the public domain’ or ‘Intellectual Space’. This Libre
> Commons Res Communes Licence commits work that is inscribed with it
> to a shared common that all can draw from and reuse.
>
> We are, to be clear, using the concept of the commons in an inclusive
> and positive sense. The commons is shared in common between us (i.e.,
> positive in being ‘owned’ by us all) and inclusive in that we are all
> included in being able to use the commons (i.e. inclusive in as much
> as it includes the human race as a whole). This differs from negative
> conceptions of ‘community’ relating to the commons, where the commons
> is an unowned space, ripe for appropriation and privatization by
> anyone (i.e. the justification used by corporations for the
> appropriation of common land).
>
> > Res Communes Licence
> >
> >
> >
> > The Res Communes license is designed to reject a state-centred
> > legal construct of a commons (or commons without commonalty) in
> > order to concentrate on creating a common which is shared between
> > us in collective practices (a commons with commonalty).
> >
> > The 'Commune' or the 'Commonalty' originally meant 'the people of
> > the whole realm' or 'all the King's subjects' as opposed to the
> > King, the Nobles or the 'Commons' in Parliament. We here refer to
> > the commonalty to refer to the global multitude, the people of the
> > whole world.
> >
> > 1. This work is outside of all legal jurisdictions and takes its
> > force and action from the constituent radical democratic practices
> > of the global multitude against the logic of capital.
> >
> > 2. All work that is so inscribed should bear the text '(L) 2005
> > Libre Commons Res Communes License'.
> >
> > 3. As a user of this license the work is available to be shared and
> > used as part of a common creative substrate that is shared between us.
>
> Libre Commons Res Divini Juris Licence
>
>
>
> Temples, tombs, religious statues and places were considered to
> belong to no one because they were in the service of the gods. The
> impediment to being turned into property was not natural but divine.
> Following Heidegger's call that only a God can save us, the God in
> question is that that can produce a clearing, the possibility of
> another place, making a different world. Drawn from a concept of
> Species Being, or a shared common practice such as the General
> Intellect (i.e. commonalty), works that are contributed to the Res
> Divini Juris are committed to the human species as a whole. Beyond
> Temporal Law and the liberal legal system, we could think of it as a
> space of the permanent state of exception.
>
> In this case, the space is one which lies beyond a notion of human
> ‘ownership’ at all. Instead, due to their sacredness, there should be
> no attempt to commodify or privatize. We can think here of the
> sanctity of human life, the human genome or the great knowledge and
> literature passed onto us from previous thinkers.
>
> > Res Divini Juris Licence
> >
> >
> >
> > The Res Divini Juris license is designed to so that sacred spaces
> > can be opened up, and offer the possibility of contestation and
> > debate which can discuss matters of public importance as a
> > practical activity. What is endangered under advanced capitalism is
> > a source of resistance. Treating everything as resources makes
> > possible endless disaggregation, redistribution, and re-aggregation
> > for its own sake. This can be seen as a period of de-
> > industrialisation and growth in the communicational and semiotic as
> > generators of surplus value in the period after the second world
> > war. The informational economy has emerged as a moment where
> > capitalism seeks to enclosure cultural texts to maximise profit,
> > the shift from the consumption of goods to the consumption of
> > experiences.
> >
> > Alternatively, background practices work by gathering and so
> > bringing things ‘into their own’ (i.e. uncovering). The gathering
> > of local practices around things produces temporary, self-enclosed
> > local worlds that can resist the totalising and dispersing effects
> > of the flexible and efficient ordering under capitalism.
> >
> > 1. By using this license you are agreeing to allow your work to be
> > shared as a step on the path of revealing. Within the realm of the
> > gods, the work will contribute to a shared new world of collective
> > practices and networks of singularities operating within a non-
> > instrumental and communal life.
> >
> > 2. All work that is so inscribed should bear the text '(L) 2005
> > Libre Commons Res Divini Juris License'.
> >
> > 3. This license operates under a permanent state of exception. It
> > is a result of radical democratic practices beyond the state.
> >
> > 4. Users of the license are committed to political action and
> > social struggle.
>
> 4. Coda
>
>
>
> Working assumptions on our part about the likely readership of this
> paper has made our meeting between libre culture and radical
> democracy rather one-sided. Rightly or wrongly, we assumed that our
> readership would know more about libre culture than radical
> democracy. We have therefore let radical democracy do much of the
> talking in this article. The result has been more of a monologue than
> a dialogue. None the less, we began by saying that we hoped a meeting
> between libre culture and radical democracy would lead to a mutually
> beneficial engagement. The struggle for the libre commons can, as we
> have argued throughout, form the basis for a ‘common’ radical
> democratic project. But to achieve this, radical democracy needs to
> engage with libre culture as much as the other way around. So what
> does thinking about radical democracy along with libre culture mean?
> Well, this is another topic, another intervention, for another time.
> A lot could be said, and needs to be said, but let us conclude with
> one thing that libre culture might say to radical democracy.
>
> As we have argued above, radical democracy underlines the centrality
> and specificity of the political: that is, agonistic debate and
> contestation. Relentlessly, radical democracy keeps saying to libre
> culture: “Don’t forget the political by reducing everything to
> straight lines/ the only way to protect our rights and liberties is
> by acting politically”.
>
> But then Libre culture might say, “Fair enough, I accept that I have
> to act politically and that democratic rights are important/ But
> where does all this political contestation that you talk of take
> place?/ Many of the old ‘public places’ have been privatized, have
> fallen into disrepair or were just plain miserable/ You’re just not
> being practical!/ How are we to construct public-political spaces
> adequate to our time, or much better, how are we to construct
> untimely spaces, adequate for a possible time to come?”
>
> With radical democracy, we stress the need for plural passage points,
> for multiplying the forms and modes of democratic agency and
> subjectivity available in the present. We favor heterogeneity-
> multiple assemblages of humans and non-humans. We question, to be
> sure, the liberal idea of a single, homogenous public. This is for
> the same reason that we have questioned an overly singular and
> concrete sense of libre culture, and the idea that it can move in
> straight lines. Meanwhile, however, thinking about radical democracy
> along with libre culture, gives us reason to look at this through a
> different optic. This is an optic whose focus has been sharpened
> through the struggle against the intellectual property regime.
> Postmodern capitalism, whose chief expressions are the market and the
> commodification of immaterial labour through intellectual property,
> brings an endless spinning off and proliferation of the seductively
> ‘new’ or ‘novel’. On the surface there seems to be the continuous
> reproduction and valorization of multiple passage points and sites of
> power. But then as soon as they are produced these passage points are
> devalued with the next upgrade, the next conceit, the next chance for
> profit, by in-built obsolescence and patents that are in the danger
> running out.
>
> Hannah Arendt, in The Human Condition, was clear on the importance of
> the objectivity or thing-character of the world and particularly
> public space. Along with Arendt, we might say not only does libre
> culture provide the possibility for widespread experimentation with
> public socio-technical space, it also ensures that public spaces can
> (if we want them to) have a relative durability and stability. Common
> ownership is the basis from which socio-technical space can be
> protected, and the stability and durability necessary to democratic
> engagement and agency be ensured (Arendt 1999). Libre culture, to put
> it bluntly, puts these decisions in public and democratic hands.
>
> Libre Commons licences carry the hope that they can be both a way of
> rethinking the commons, beyond narrow conceptions of public and
> private ownership, and also contribute to a stability of creativity,
> a place where things may be placed outside of the ‘system of needs’,
> with its rampant exploitation and reduction of all to profit.  That
> this space can become re-thought as a space of the ‘common-wealth’,
> that is, that all may have access to use the ‘common things’ and
> productively contribute to the common good. This, of course, is but
> one more expression of libre culture’s long overdue political calling.
>
>
>
> Notes:
>
>
>
> [1] Our understanding of radical democracy follows more-or-less the
> various writings of Earnesto Laclau and Chantel Mouffe: it is
> relational rather than essentialist, stresses the agonistic nature of
> the political and is radical as in far-reaching
>
>
>
> More info
>
>
>
> http://www.creativecommons.org
>
> http://www.fsf.org
>
> http://www.libresociety.org
>
>
>
> References
>
>
>
> Arendt, H. (1999). The Human Condition. Chicago, London: University
> of Chicago Press.
>
> Berry, D. M. (2004). The Contestation of Code: a Preliminary
> Investigation Into the Discourse of the Free/libre and Open Source
> Movement. Critical Discourse Studies, 1(1)
>
> Berry, D. M., & Moss, G. (2005). On the “Creative Commons”: a
> critique of the commons without commonalty. Free Software Magazine.
> No. 5. Retrieved 02/06/05, from http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/
> free_issues/issue_05/commons_without_commonality
>
> Dvorak, John C. (2005. Creative Commons Humbug. PC Magazine.
> Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1838251,00.asp
>
> Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2004). Multitude : War and Democracy in the
> Age of Empire. New York: The Penguin Press.
>
> Hill, B., Mako. (2005). Towards a Standard of Freedom: Creative
> Commons and the Free Software Movement. Retrieved 28/10/05, from
> http://mako.cc/writing/toward_a_standard_of_freedom.html
>
> Laclau, E., & Mouffe, C. (2001). Hegemony and Socialist Strategy:
> Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso
>
> Mouffe, C. (2000). The Democratic Paradox. London: Verso.
>
> Mouffe, C. (2005). On the Political. London: Routledge.
>
> Orlowski, Andrew (2005). On Creativity, Computers and Copyright. The
> Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/07/21/creativity/
>
> Nimmer, Raymond (2005). Open source license proliferation, a broader
> view. Retrieved from http://www.ipinfoblog.com/archives/licensing-law-
> issues-36-open-source-license-proliferation-a-broader-view.html
>
> Tóth, Péter Benjamin. (2005). Creative Humbug: Personal feelings
> about the Creative Commons licenses. Retrieved from http://
> www.indicare.org/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=118
>
>
>
>
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