Date: 2023-08-04 22:16:09
Subject: Knight's Tale
Tags: software svoboda
Desc: Why am I not going to subscribe to permacomputing.

Knight's Tale

The following is a more or less reply to my colleague's kind of manifesto of digital surrealism of 21st century (see below) and the permacomputing manifesto. For the first time I am writing in English so bear with my inaptitude in this strange language.

Reading the open letter on human-focused computing leaves me with strong feeling of beating a dead horse. Its authors clearly see the abyss we are heading to and they rightly want back the human dimension of computing, networking etc. „Free the machine“ as my esteemed colleague puts it. By being its proper master I would add.

But their social and economic critique is almost entirely wrong. Basically, they repeat slogans that helped to build the harsh reality we face today. In response, I am going to tell an allegory.

Be a Knight

I consider myself a knight, not a cowboy. They are both very different creatures although they both have at least one thing in common, namely the horse. In some sense they are both free, in other they are not. The horse can provide some sort of freedom to both of them but I don't think it is the true freedom. They are both fighters and they serve a master, no difference here. The real difference is this:

While the cowboy gets paid a salary, the knight is given a fief, a piece of land, as a reward for his service. It becomes his posession.

To me property is the crucial distinction. Cowboy is a drifter, by nature. Always seeking a new job on another farm. A farm owned by the knight. For in the age of cowboys the farmers were the true nobility. True freedom comes with power and power comes with property.

We live in a society where property is frowned upon and coveted at the same time. And, more importantly, where true property does not exist. Everything and everyone is owned by the omnipotent state, the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes. This is the reason why I am not complaining about corporations all too often. Although they have easier access to Leviathan's power and they are much stronger than we are they are still his slaves. I see the omnipotent state as our true enemy. It is an artificial monster created 300 years ago.

It's important to understand not everybody can have property. I am not talking about some utopian paradise. No, the strong and weak, rich and poor, smart and stupid are part of the reality of this world. The latter usually depend on the former and it is quite natural and just. Of course, it does not mean there is no injustice. It only means you don't sell your (property) rights to omnipotent state for entirely insufficient price of throwing a ballot once in 2 years as supposedly indicated in that virtual, non-existent thing called social contract.

Do you see the difference?

The omnipotent state can do almost whatever it wants as it covers all areas of human life. If it can ban your old car why shouldn't it ban your old computer? The government and those sophists in white coats decide what is sustainable or repairable and what not. It can decide you are not inclusive enough or have an unscientific view of some issue, like the climate change. Legal steps will follow.

We lost our property long ago. Since then we are quite powerless, left to Leviathan's mercy. We are cowboys in the age of industrial farming. At least now we have a proper idea why is all that evil happening to us. And we can share it. That power we still have.