Openness, Socialism, and Capitalism

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, Jan 27, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

David Wiley makes the argument that, in certain circumstances, open educational resources and open content are not socialism. Essentially, the argument is that it is central to the principle of capitalism that if you pay for something, you get that thing. In the case of academic content, people pay for it, but currently do not get it - the output is instead transferred to some third party who will in effect charge you again for that content. The adoption of an open resources policy changes that, so that taxpayers actually get what they pay for. So open resources and content function essentially to restore the fundamental principle of capitalism. The argument could use some refinement (we also pay for F-35 fighter jets, but we don't receive those either; they are instead handed over to the Air Force). And ultimately, I think it fails to show that open resources and content are not socialist, as socialism affirms that people should get what they pay for in government. But the point is sound, that open content and resources are not at heart a refutation of capitalism, or at least, a contractarian (as opposed to a libertarian) view of capitalism.
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