Open Source and Constitutive Productive Democracy

In What is Democracy, Alain Touraine presents a theory of the constitutive necessities for a capitalist democracy. This paper argues that Open Source as a property system based in licensing parallels and extends the Touraine’s theory and in that matter enables more fully the theory of equality found there, but it moves the property relationships from those prominent in monopoly capitalism to those prominent in late capitalism. Open source goes beyond the models of equality of nature, or equality of opportunity that constitutes democratic culture and introduces several forms of equality of access, such as an equality of learning, an equality of innovation or creativity. These modes of equality are also foundational to the development of the democratic state. Where the development of proprietary systems, and their institutional technics based in absolutist models of property are perpetuating in monopoly capitalism and centralizing wealth thus promoting economic inequality, they do not provide for the equality of innovation which perpetuates the growth of equality in the state. Touraine promotes education as a primary tool to move toward an equality of access to capital, but in the information age, open source combined with cheap access to computers becomes access and control of the means of production. This moves the possibility of the unification of the conceptualization of the productive act and the democratic act in a very profound way. In this paper, I describe the open source system of property relations as an entryway into the unification of the constitutive requirements of production in the information age with the the constitutive elements of democracy in any age.