FSRG: Anarchism in Action Followup

In addition to chickpea and okra curry provided by DN, wine, and chocolate cake, the (barely) September meeting of the FSRG contained a meandering discussion around and over philosophy, technical issues, and case studies.

Below are some thoughts I had on the readings and discussion.

I liked Benkler’s “Practical Anarchism” for the most part. It was extremely well written, which made reading it fun. It was very political and didn’t have as many numbers as I wanted to see in a piece talking about what came down to the practicality of anarchism as a governance model–judging the successfulness of a project. How successful these projects are was mostly based around: 1) whether they still exist and 2) trusting the reader to know what they are and assume they are successful.

The biggest problem we had (as a group) was Benkler’s discussion of meritocracy: he worked on the assumption that meritocracies are meritocracies, which is rarely the case, as one can just learn from reading twitter and how people talk about their experiences in FLOSS.

We also spent a lot of time on the idea of whether or not an anarchistic model was sustainable or if you can have a true anarchy within a project (hint: the answer is “no.”) Structures, procedures, and forms are emergent properties of group behavior and, in order to produce something, people develop strategies, best practices, and roles–self-created, but organization nonetheless. Benkler seems to take the stance that “anarchy” really just means “outside of government or corporate control.”

The next topic will be on funding and money in free software.


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