"It may also be that markets are the worst possible solution, except for all the alternatives. (pardon the cliche)" –BillSeitz
To which I responded ...
"Pardoned. Of course, as an aspirant hacker, "this doesn't work too well, but no one's been able to figure out anything better" has a predictable effect on me :-)" – PhilJones
Suddenly this brings a number of things into focus :
That's basically my main(1) political-intellectual project now : to synthesize my hacker intuitions with my socialist ones. That's what's going on on Optimaes and EmpiricalSocialism.
It's an interesting challenge because there's been a lot more intellectual bridge-building between hacker ideology and the right. See a lot of EricRaymond for example. On the other hand, where you might expect the opposite bridge-building from someone like RichardStallman, you really have one great intellectual idea : replenish and defend the commons - which can be embraced by both left and right. And a political commitment that isn't really expressed in hacker terms.
Meanwhile, the rest of the dialogue of the left with hackerdom focuses on the left as users of technology for political organizing. (DeanSpace, MoveOn etc.) (More : TheLeftTheoryOfDisagreement)
But hacking is also about growing the technology. Even, like science, about the intellectual and spiritual growth of humanity. And those are values I think the left should also embrace.
BillSeitz also pushes back on my assertion that the left can claim to be legitimate advocates of decentralization and distribution (DecentralizedLeft) when traditionally they've championed governmental and institutional solutions.
Now there's one way of understanding the left's attachment to government : that the left are highly attuned to noticing problems, which "someone should do something about", but then without thinking things through too much, just kind of assume government is the right someone to do that something.
But you could also look at socialists in the age of the all-powerful NationState as hackers in the age of the mainframe. It's not that hackers particularly dug the organizational structure of mainframe computers (or the military institutions that usually had them). It's just that that's where hacking was possible. In the same way, when the state is the only significant force able to counter-balance the effects of the market, then that's where you have to work.
While personally an anti-socialist, I applaud any non-governmental ideas that increase diversity - BillSeitz:SmallWorld
(1) NB : Of course I have many other non-political intellectual projects :-), most of them are UnfinishedProjects.