[Fsf-friends] [FSUG-Bangalore] visit to Ambetkar Centre

Nagarjuna G nagarjun at gnowledge.org
Wed Dec 17 14:45:15 IST 2008

On Wed, 2008-12-17 at 13:43 +0530, Senthil Sundaram (sensunda) wrote:

> Dear dr nargarjun..thanks much for initating this dialougue.  I would
> like to bring in another aspect of the debate.
> as we talk about free ICT...we need to talk about free society - the
> lack of toilets in the area - the wage injustice - lack of clean
> water...so there is a rights approach as well - as the center exists in
> a society which is not just - and we will be wrong in only speaking
> about the encoding and decoding of the digital word - but not the
> working class/caste/gender world . 
> In some sense its the rights approach that has helped the
> center..Sarasu's book "The future is ours" has glimpses of this.  The
> peoples movements songs we sing..are also important part of the work -
> as much as gimp. 

We are workers and what work we do depends on what skills we have.  And
what skills we have depends on what access we had.  Unless we are born
rich, access to what we need is denied.  What free ICT does is to make
that access possible by giving the right to access for more people to
participate in active social life.  

If we analyze carefully how surplus gets generated, and look at the
cause of it, we do realize that it comes from the worker's skills (This
is of course from Marx).  Except for labor (unskilled work) the rest of
the skills are controlled by the owners of the workers, by holding the
tools we use in their custody, and by owning the workers (all the
non-disclosure agreements workers sign when they join as employees).
workers do not have the freedom to transmit the skills to others without
permission from the owners.  If you look at this issue a little more
closely, we see that the transmission of these skills actually requires
the right to read and write, for learning a skill requires a right to
interpret.  my suggestion is to support the transmission of skills using
free ICT.  which will eventually help people to learn the skills they
need.  ICT made the access almost zero cost.

My theory is that the divisions that we see in the society are primarily
due to lack of free flow of knowledge, because it is knowledge that
creates the added value.  Rich may like to give away their material
wealth often, but they seldom share their knowledge.  For them knowledge
is the ultimate means of exploitation, that is their real capital. Stock
exchange is another place where knowledge is frequently bartered.
Knowledge ceases to be a means of exploitations once it is freed.  That
is the reason why I consider freeing knowledge leads to free society.  

Take away the tools human beings use, take away the languages, songs,
and paintings we use, what remains is a the brute animal with flesh and

Briefly, the human beings in the so called slums do not have many other
rights, I do agree with you on that, but my analysis suggests that those
rights can not be and will not be available to us unless we free
knowledge.  Software being a small subset of that knowledge, but with
huge exploitative potential, holding that in people's hands rather than
in the hands of the MMCs or with Govt is a very important step.
Therefore imparting this new skill will not deny them the other rights,
in fact this skill will help them to gain control of the social

One of the reason why I emphasize the need for entering into wikitrade,
because it will take care of subsistence requirements as well as the
flow of knowledge and eliminates the possibility of exploitative

All other rights are subservient to the right to read.  Right to
information does not still give you the right to read, since the means
of reading are held by someone else.

Bottomline is: No one can compete with us in sharing knowledge (or
transparency). This is our hack. By amplifying this in every social
department we can achieve what we want to achieve.  I have very briefly
outlined the logic in gnowledge manifesto presented in the first FSFS
conference in Trivandrum.
http://db.hbcse.tifr.res.in/gn/gnowledge-manifesto.html One day I will
elaborate this into a full essay. 

Even if I am wrong, we are not loosing anything by providing one of the
fundamental rights.  Right?


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