Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why the OLPC promotes terrorism

When you see a hobo starving in the street, there are two things you can do. One is to ask the hobo what he would like to eat. The second is to hold a Big Mac over his head and say "Dance for your food, bum!". The second method is a win-win: the hobo eats, you get entertainment, and all it costs is the bum's dignity.

This is the philosophy behind the OLPC, the "One Laptop Per Child" project. It's a morally corrupt organization that believes in providing technology to the third-world in exchange for their dignity. It was created by a bunch of PhDs for their own amusement. It was not built by asking the poor what they want.

It's not really a laptop that the rest of the world would recognize. The PhDs decided that the way everyone else uses computers is wrong, so they designed an entirely new user interface. They also decided that the way the rest of the world teaches their children is wrong, and come up with an entirely new education system.

I'm watching a video from their website talking about the "mesh" networking feature of the laptop. One of their PhDs says: "We don't want them just using the computer so they can just use the technology; we want them to use this computer so they can become social with each other and collaborate with each other". The PhDs spend a lot of time talking about what they themselves want, but not a lot of time talking about what the children want. In the end, what the PhDs really want is to rob the children of their dignity.

It's not just their collectivist education philosophy, everything about the organization is rabidly communist. I'm watching a BBC documentary about the project where they describe it as a hope for a 'great leap forward'. Apparently, the BBC means this seriously without irony. The "Great Leap Forward" was name given by Chairman Moa for industrializing China in the 1950s. Quoting Wikipedia: "The Great Leap Forward is now widely seen - both within China and outside - as a major economic and humanitarian disaster, with estimates of the number of people killed by famine during this period ranging from 14 to 43 million".

Their dispute with Intel is particularly illuminating. Like any communist organization, the OLPC suppresses dissent. When OLPC announced their project, Intel announced their competing "Classmate PC" program. The basic philosophy of communism is that there is only one "best solution" for everyone, whereas capitalism believes in different solutions suited to different needs. Thus, OLPC is upset with competition, believing that everyone should work collectively on the best solution, rather than working competitively on different solutions for different markets.

At the heart of the Intel vs. OLPC squabble is the fact that Intel "disparaged" the OLPC. Well, that's what competition means: pointing out your advantages while describing the disadvantages of competing solutions. Nobody is above criticism, no matter how high-minded and moral their goals are.

As a result of their suppression of criticism, the OLPC has a lot of chronic problems that it's unwilling to fix. It's not just whether their Great Leap Forward is a good idea. It's the more basic problems with the computer. For example, it's extremely buggy. I was unable to do anything useful with it for any length of time without having to reboot it. It's painfully slow. The processor is more than fast enough to run software written in capitalistic programming languages like C++, but the majority of the user interface is written in slow left-wing languages like Python. The OLPC has a link to Gmail on its screen, but the system becomes slower and slower and eventually stops working if you attempt to use Gmail. I got a unit to fuzz test the WiFi stack, but the stack crashes often by itself even without me fuzzing it.

The PhDs claim its "easy to use", but this is the same hubris that all programmers have (all programmers claim their software is easy, no matter how difficult the users think it is). Most people can't even figure out how to open the box. I like to hand people the unit and say "it's so easy even children from the third world can figure it out"; it's funny watching them struggle for 10 minutes before I show them how it works.

In contrast, Intel's Classmate PC runs the same Windows or Linux desktops that everyone else in the world uses. Intel's computer has no enforced educational agenda. It doesn't have communist software on it, yet the children collaborate with each other anyway without software forcing them to.

The real danger with the OLPC is that it's like sending guns to terrorists to attack us with. The OLPC teaches the world the ideals of university PhDs. It teaches children that capitalism and democracy is evil and the cause of their problems, rather than the solution. Yet, at its core, it's still a computer than people can use to hack the United States. It is a weapon that can attack our nation's infrastructure much more effectively than a gun would. Here is a picture of us installing Metasploit on it:


EDIT: A lot of people think this last paragraph is a bit of a stretch. I thought it was obvious. A certain percentage of any population of computer users will use their computers for evil rather than good. If you flood the third-world with computers, a certain percentage of them will also use the computer for malicious purposes. As soon as Nigerians got hold of computers in the late 1990s, the rest of the world started receiving e-mail from the grieving widow of Sese-Seko needing help transferring her fortune out of the country.

In places like Russia, there are more skilled computer nerds than there are employment opportunities for those skills, so programmers turn to cybercrime. In other places, such as India, where computers skills gets a well-paying job, cybercrime is less prominent. The recent DDoS attack against Estonia is a good example of the result.

When your choices are $10 a month herding goats or $100 a day herding bots, it's hard not to choose the later. While computers are mostly benign, they also have the potential to be weapons. Dumping weapons on third world countries has rarely turned out well.

We can address these risks. We can find ways to provide further education and employment, to give the best and brightest other opportunities than cybercrime. However, we cannot do so in the current climate of the OLPC that suppresses all criticism and dissent.

EDIT: Look at the comments to this post and how they assume I'm against helping poor nations get access to technology. I'm not. I love free-market solutions (like Intel's) that people freely criticize. While OLPC gets all the press, a lot of companies are designing or shipping low-cost PCs for poor nations; those are the ones we should support. While some computers are purchased by rich nations and sent to the poor ones, the majority are purchased by the poor nations themselves. Instead of textbooks. Because everyone says says how wonderful the OLPC is, nobody criticizes it, so if their education ministers think something is wrong, it's because "they just don't get it".

EDIT: Some people seem surprised at my communist conspiracy theories. I don't think there is a conspiracy, of course, or even that it's very communist. However, if you ever used the OLPC, you'd understand better what I'm talking about.

38 comments:

Pedro d'Aquino said...

Jesus Christ, what the hell. I'm going to set aside your politcal view of programming languages (Pyhton is left-wing? I'm gasping for words), and your other ridiculously far right ramblings, and just focus on the last paragraph which is specially, how shall I put it?, disturbing.

I do so because up until that last paragraph you were defending your point of view with "arguments", or whatever someone told arguments were (back in the Cold War, I suppose). Then you just gave up - writing is harder when you have to pretend you're making sense, I know - and it became just the usual xenophic yada yada that makes the rest of the world think you americans have got some serious issues you need to figure out.

Seriously, wtf?! Giving laptops to the poor will encourage terrorism?! So you say, hey, keep 'em poor 'n keep 'em starvin', otherwise they will just attack us more.

This is absolutely outrageous. You honestly believe terrorist organizations can't afford regular, capitalist, as you'd put it, computers? You honestly believe that these laptops will turn children into crackers? And, even if this absurdity was proven true, why would they attack the US, who philanthropically gave them laptops in the first place? Oh, I see. I guess all poor children are incipient terrorists, waiting for a laptop to go around hunting zero-days to promote chaos all around the Land of the Free, just for the heck of it.

Two advices: wake up, Cold War's gone and you won; stop thinking the whole wide world is constantly plotting schemes to destroy the USA. We're not. We're just curious how the hell you can be so god damn paranoid.

Robert Graham said...

I am not against providing laptops to the 3rd world, I'm just against the OLPC. It's a corrupt organization that who has the goal of indoctrinating students with their own (left-wing) ideology. It's more like the Taliban schools that indoctrinate students with terrorism and gives them guns.

Something like Intel's Classmate PC doesn't come with indoctrination. Students with indoctrination-free laptops are more likely to grow wanting to contribute to society than fight it.

By the way, the new cold war isn't against the US, it's against all of modern society. Europe has experienced much more islamic terrorism than the United States.

kurt wismer said...

i'm with pedro on this one... if you seriously think the "red threat" is hidden within the green and white plastic case of a toy computer then i would suggest seeking professional help...

this post was bizarre...

Robert Graham said...

It is bizarre -- Dave bet me a dollar to do it.

No, there isn't a communist plot of course. The PhDs who came up with this turd aren't smart enough to hatch a plot.

Mark said...

Dave bet you a dollar to post this? He should've held a big mac over your head... ;)

LonerVamp said...

I have to agree with some of the above posters. The article was an decent opinion article until the last paragraph where you say it promotes terrorism. I think providing medical aid results in potential terrorists staying healthy or avoiding famine/disease...which causes terrorism. No...that's a really backwards way of looking at things and if you take that line of thinking fully, it becomes an aristocracy where the privileged make sure the under-privileged remain under-privileged so as not to be a threat.


Moving on, some of what you say makes sense. The OLPC project aims to bring something that is important to affluent societies (the computer and inter-connectivity) down to third world countries. This is a classic example of blinding pushing one's own concerns onto others (something the US collectively is extremely willing and able to do, for better or worse). Do third world children really want such devices to learn and communicate with each other?

I don't think holding a Big Mac up over a bum's head is appropriate enough, I'd go further. It is like holding cavier above a starving kid's head, just because you're used to cavier in your social circles and thus is must be what children want in third world.

But hey, whatever, I guess. It certainly makes the makers feel philanthropic and gives them something to fight for idealwise (something we Americans also cling to, fiercly). I guess it's better than nothing...though I think the monies spent on this project could have been better spent on many, many other things for the third world.

Joel said...

I'm a liberal 'cause I use Linux? Wow, you are so edgy and cool. How 'bout you and my Remington pump have a chat?

Markus said...

Have you ever tried to run a normal Windows XP desktop on the kind of lowest-cost hardware that is crucial to make OLPC practical? It is simply not usable, and the fact that Microsoft has just put together a 40 (fourty!!) people research team trying to prove us all wrong and install Windows XP on <$200 hardware doesn't convince me either.

Microsoft and Intel have for years conspired to create new markets for each other: more bloated OS needs more bloated CPU, which brings unnecessary features that only an even more bloated OS can support. Sure, that's capitalism at its best and keeps us filling landfills with generation after generation of computers that really don't feel any faster (cf. boot time), but it has nothing to do with human dignity or real-world needs.

The OLPC, on the other hand, looks like a wonderful jump back into my own childhood, where 8-bit home computers (with less than 1% of the power of the OLPC hardware!) always came with a built-in programming environment by default.

They were simple enough such that an ambitious teenager could learn within less than a year how every single bit in it worked.

They actually inspired intellectual development ("I really want to understand my machine inside out") rather than consumerism ("I really want to buy this and that opaque, proprietary and expensive add-on product").

I'm not sure the OLPC reaches that goal (battery runtime clearly needs work), but it tries hard and it seems a *lot* closer than the boring and more expensive alternatives by Intel and Asus. I wish them all the best!

Anon13 said...

You ought to be kidding me?! I have read this blog for almost a year and I have liked it so far, until now. You sure have points about OLPC not being all that a good idea and having issues. But what the hell are you talking about bringing in commies and terrorists? Reading this post makes me doubt whether or not you even can reason logically.

If you post that you were drunk or high I might consider continuing reading your blog. But right now you seem like a crazy fanatic upset about imaginary commies and terrorists. Be rational! Or get your god damn tin foil hat!

Anon13 said...

Robert, you call yourself capitalist? How do you think all those IT-jobs will be created if not by upstarts by people with an education and understanding in IT? Why do you want to deny them that? Should we deny them a steel industry in case they make weapons? To read because they might read propaganda?

Here's a nut for you to crack. A certain percentage of the world population is bound to do crime. Should we limit the amount of people born?

The problem with Russia is the business climate, not that people have knowledge.

"Dumping weapons on third world countries has rarely turned out well." Gee, that's a great comparison. An AK47 and a PC is the same then? You can do better than that.

"However, we cannot do so in the current climate of the OLPC that suppresses all criticism and dissent." For crying out loud! Then talk about the internal problems of OLPC. Give examples, say what would work better... don't start ranting like a lunatic about leftist programming languages and PC;s being as bad as guns!

You just lost a reader, I want security. Not a bad securitish rant by someone who confuses facts with fiction and ends up making a fool of himself and is unable to admit that he is ranting up the wrong tree.

Anon13 said...

Sorry to put this is a separate comment, but I thought you'd like this.

http://img159.imageshack.us/my.php?
image=pythoncommunismzf2.png

Robert Graham said...

Anon13, thanks for the picture. I'm printing it out and hanging on my wall. I shouldn't have diverged from my main topic, but programming languages are political.

You correctly identify that "The problem with Russia is the business climate, not that people have knowledge". This is the one of the biggest criticism of charity organizations in Africa: it's the corruption and crime in their societies that cause poverty. All the aid, such as food, tends to entrench that corruption. It doesn't mean we should stop providing aid, it means we should take criticism seriously instead of hiding behind a shield of "how dare you criticize our noble purpose??". Bill Gate's charity is right now the best example of an organization that seems to be getting around that trap.

Anon13 said...

"While OLPC gets all the press, a lot of companies are designing or shipping low-cost PCs for poor nations; those are the ones we should support."

Of course they get all the press, that's bleedin' obvious. It's the same reason that you don't hear on the news that ten people have starved to death in Sudan. OLPC is unique and new, therefore journalists write about it. I am not saying that it's good that they do, but it's for obvious reasons.

And how are we to support Intel's efforts? By buying them and giving them away? OLPC is a non-profit project (although they surely will give profit to hardware makers and PhD;s spending time on it) therefore it gets some funding from companies in order to get goodwill. It's all free market, capitalist logic. Are you surprised? I am not. Frankly, I don't care if we give Intel PC;s or OLPC;s or not give PC;s at all. But you should still claim that it's dangerous due to the increased amount of hackers. Or have you decided to admit that it's a rather silly idea that we should not let them have computers because they might be used for evil?

"However, if you ever used the OLPC, you'd understand better what I'm talking about."

Then explain to us, oh enlightened one. Give us a list of why it encourages communism and why this makes the OLPC useless as an instrument of bringing wealth and education to poor nations.

Darn, Robert just made a comment on my comment. I'll reply right away. God this is a long comment.

"Anon13, thanks for the picture. I'm printing it out and hanging on my wall."

Glad you liked it, I hope to have a office too some day.

"You correctly identify that "The problem with Russia is the business climate, not that people have knowledge". This is the one of the biggest criticism of charity organizations in Africa: it's the corruption and crime in their societies that cause poverty."

Indeed, that's a good point. Giving expertise such as long term planning and direct physical aid such as building schools and infrastructure is a great idea. It's much more difficult to corrupt. Giving money is doomed to fail, let's send some engineers instead and pay their salaries.

"It doesn't mean we should stop providing aid, it means we should take criticism seriously instead of hiding behind a shield of "how dare you criticize our noble purpose??"."

I agree, I am downright sceptic to whether or not OLPC is a good idea. This doesn't mean that I will accept any random rant against it just because it supports my opinion.

"Bill Gate's charity is right now the best example of an organization that seems to be getting around that trap."

I don't know much about that, but the man is not stupid and I have confidence that he will not let his money go to waste.

Bernardo said...

If Intel is paying you to write this, they are totally wasting their money. --bernie

Raffi said...

Robert posts some nice tidbits in there surrounded by the hyperbole. Truth is I agree. Capitalism, self-determination, and individuality (all the things being suppressed in the third world, particularly Africa) is the liberator. Its the reason that the U.S. is the power it is today.

Each culture has to find its own form of democracy and capitalism that suits themselves. Use of technology is no different. Any imposition from the western world is destined to fail whether its political structure, technology development/use, or culture.

This isn't to say that the OLPC is all bad. I played around with it for a day and like Robert found it very unusable (I had to reboot it several times, couldn't connect it to our WPA wireless network, etc.). There are definitely some interesting hardware design ideas that hopefully will make it into mainstream laptops in regards to ruggedness and field repair.

David Maynor said...

I have never gotten so much value for a dollar!

Anton said...

Oh my, that's so stunning I wouldn't even call it crap. It has provided so much entertainment so far - I've given it to all my friends.

You sir are my favorite idiot !

gregdek said...

The truly brilliant thing about this screed is how devoid it is of logic.

Question: how do you put thousands of textbooks into the hands of children in underprivileged villages worldwide?

Answer #1: build dead tree libraries at a comparatively exorbitant cost.

Answer #2: get these kids digital.

Education is how underprivileged kids can pull themselves into parity with the rest of the world. Period, full stop. If you want to argue with that, you might as well argue with the wind. Or the Economist, that well-known socialist rag.

OLPC is an attempt to do exactly that: being better education to kids without access. No more, no less. Is it perfect? Hell no. They've made some pretty big mistakes, and they've learned some pretty hard lessons. They're way too academic in many ways, and not nearly pragmatic enough in other ways.

But give them credit where credit is due: they actually ended up with a product when no one believed they would, and in the process they got Intel off their big fat asses. There's no way in hell, in this day and age, that a functional laptop computer should cost $600 and eat 100 watts of power. The Asus Eee is proof. There's more proof coming. And why? Because Intel got scared that OLPC (and, by extension, AMD) might succeed where they'd failed.

And who are the backers of OLPC, by the way? Red Hat? AMD? Brightstar? Quanta? Google?

That's not communism, comrade. That's steely-eyed capitalism with a healthy dose of big-dollar corporate philanthropy thrown in. I'm surprised that you're not smart enough to see the difference.

Jacobean said...

>>I shouldn't have diverged from my main topic, but programming languages are political.

This is an interesting assertion. I was wondering if you could elaborate on this, or point me to a resource that does.

Of course there are many F(L)OSS projects that are implemented in C++, KDE being one of them. This is possible because there are very good, free C++ development environments and compilers. So it's not clear to me in what way C++ would be on the right and Python on the left.

I would greatly appreciate it if you would let me know what you think. Thanks.

Ma®ía Pastora said...

I think we have to give education to teach to use the Freedom in good things... All the children will be not be in the wrong way to have a OLPC.

Best!

Habib said...

Mr. Graham you don’t need to have a PhD to understand the following –no offense. Please read this objectively
1. It is a fact that education in most of the developing countries is neither child centered nor child friendly – we can see this in the form of school dropouts, student absentees, teachers’ absenteeism – and ultimately a school graduate who is totally disoriented and a misfit in the society.
2. Education is teaching and not learning. Teaching is one way speaking as against Learning that is the function of interaction between (s) student, (t) teachers, and (B) books (learning materials) within a given environment (e). It boils down to something like this: L=f( S+T+B)e. Using this formula one can easily compute the value of each component. And arrive at the fact that L part is missing in our schools and thus schools are rendered as places of teaching and not learning.
3. Do you have an idea WHY?
• Children are demanding and curious to learn but schools are stereotyped, teachers are ferocious and hence boring – so school is not places of attraction for kids. They only love it when they don’t go to school on a rainy or sunny day!
• Lack of parental confidence in schools supports this notion that school is not a better option for their kids
• Lack of political will to commit minimum required funds to education and hence schools are starving
• Teacher are neither better educated nor Qualified as teachers – so they can do what they are supposed to and therefore don’t go to schools
4. I value your observations purely from the perspective of developed country and don’t understand if these can be generalized. In a sense they can be, in light of above facts. From this point onward we can really make the case for OLPC because it of its embedded constructionist philosophy. It makes available toys, cartoons, pictures, musical toys etc implanted in OLPC in the hands of children. Once in use by a child in his/her own way, it triggers the learning potential and enables the child to distinguish good from bad. We have heard about how schools where olpc was deployed were swarmed by children making attendance to an incredible 100%.
5. So we have kids growing with a highly interactive OLPC on the one hand, and kids growing with bad schooling that leaves them thirsty for fun and excitement. Do you know that these children like your children also seek fun and excitement? Have you ever thought where? Outside school they are easily lured into extreme situations that offer "fun" to these innocent minds that create terror. We witness them regularly on TV screens around the world. And I have witnessed them with my own eyes.
6. OLPC is the hope – because it provides fun, excitement, and experimentation to children and as the constructionist would say engage them in learning. I strongly believe as many of the reader do, that OLPC is the most powerful weapon in hands of children against the war on terror – guns, missiles and sophisticated military strategy cannot achieve what OLPC raised children can.

-HK in Islamabad

George said...

My parents were survivors of the Great Leap Forward in China and I find some very striking similarities between the OLPC and the Great Leap Forward.

My parents generation lived through the “great leap forward”. This was the attitude that you don’t need no stinking western technology; we’ll all just crank out our own steel in our backyards. There is a lot of similarity there with the OLPC project where you don’t need no stinking western technology like generators. I mean that’s so passé! We don't need schools with roofs, our LCDs work in the daylight.

We don’t need no stinking teachers Negroponte says, they’re a bunch of drunks anyways. Chairman Mao had a similar plan, we don’t need no stinking books or teachers, we’ll just give them those little red books. As for intellectuals who suppress the ordinary man with their knowledge and the teachers, we’ll just drown them! My father’s teachers were tied to stones and tossed in to the river and drowned.

The kids will teach themselves after you give them an XO, the screens are designed for outdoor usage so you don't need schools. You have cords you can jerk a cord for power. You have mesh networking which is a solution looking for a problem that’s already been solved by cheaper and more effective technologies.
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=777

Great Leap Forward indeed!

George said...

Hey gregdek,

How did you do your cost analysis of computers versus books? Offset printing technology with 1200 DPI output costs 1 cent per page which puts the cost of a book at $1 per book. For the price of an OLPC at $200, you can fill a library with 200 text books which permit 200 students to simultaneously use.

Michael Vorburger said...

WTF ??? This is hilarious. Really funny.

gregdek said...

"How did you do your cost analysis of computers versus books? Offset printing technology with 1200 DPI output costs 1 cent per page which puts the cost of a book at $1 per book. For the price of an OLPC at $200, you can fill a library with 200 text books which permit 200 students to simultaneously use."

Can every kid take the entire library home with them at night? No?

Well, do the books magically change to a puzzle game or a musical instrument when the kids get bored? No?

Well, can Mom or Dad borrow these books to figure out what the market price of their crop is? No?

Hmm. Well, can the kids talk into the books and have discussions with friends in the next village? No?

Compare all you like to "The Great Leap Forward". For every one similarity, there are 99 differences. Does the OLPC project involve forced relocation of peasants to work collectives? No?

Your "argument" is intellectually lazy and dishonest. But hey, you sure have driven a lot of traffic to your blog. Bravo for that.

Robert Graham said...

gredek, you began the argument by claiming that "dead tree libraries" are more expensive than "going digital". You then call George "intellectually lazy" for proving your claim false. I'm not sure you understand what "intellectually lazy" means.

Nobody disputes that providing Internet access to the third world is a bad thing. The only thing that we dispute is how well the OLPC project is doing it. By any rational measure, they suck ass. I mean, try browsing this blog or Gmail on those things, and you'll realize how much they suck. The parallels between the OLPC and communist repression of criticisms like this is heartbreaking.

George said...

Gregdek,

You can't take a library home but you can take any of the books home. It's called checking out books, visit your library and try it sometimes. For $5 you can give every kid all of their OWN school books. I only wished I had some books in my first 2 grades in China. We had to hand copy everything from the black board in a freezing mud class room with a few holes for windows and doors. We don't have $200 to squander and a bunch of poorly designed notebooks.

If your only objection to books is that "they're boring", then you got some bigger problems because you're not going to read anything worthwhile on the computer screen. Reading reflecting technology for prolonged periods of time is far easier on the eyes than a computer screen. Yes I know the XO works in reflective mode outside, but you can’t study outside as there are simply too many distractions.

The computer is like the TV and it very often is a big time killer where you just surf and play games. Computers need to be supervised which is why a computer lab with fully functional computers is far more useful.

FYI, it was the Cultural Revolution that relocated people to places like Xinjiang in the Gobi desert, not the Great Leap Forward. I know this because my parents went there and that's where I was born.

Joe Phantom / Jean-Sol Partre said...

Interesting post.
But:
"It's not just their collectivist education philosophy, everything about the organization is rabidly communist."

¿Do you have any idea what communism is?

José.

Robert Graham said...

¿Do you have any idea what communism is?

Um, yes, do you?

I've read the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital. I've traveled in communist countries. I've read a lot about what really went on in those countries, such as the Great Leap Forward.

Communism is two things. The first is what communists say about themselves, such as Marx's wacky views on the "value" of products. The second is the practical results of communism in action, such as how every communist country has become a totalitarian state. (Then, there is Hayek's interesting views on how the first inevitably leads to the second).

Che Guevera is a great example of the practical reality of communism. People put pictures of him on their T-shirts because they think he is a great liberator, but they ignore the fact that when he was in power in Cuba, that he was a great oppressor. He only left Cuba to go fight in other countries when he ran out of opponents to murder.

The practical reality of the OLPC is that nobody seriously criticizes it. There is first of all the left-wing agenda that countries should sacrifice important economic spending (such as building roads) in favor of the OLPC. There is also the fact that the thing doesn't work (i.e. you can't browse a lot of websites with it, such as Gmail).

Joe Phantom / Jean-Sol Partre said...

I don't want to turn this comment page, of a great security blog into a discussion on communism. I will try to be brief.

Yes, I do know what communism is. I am an anarchist, and in the economic theory I am an libertarian communist.

"Communism is two things. The first is what communists say about themselves, such as Marx's wacky views on the "value" of products. The second is the practical results of communism in action, such as how every communist country has become a totalitarian state."

You are right, every communist country has become a totalitarian state because the people did not support the idea of communism, it was imposed from the State. But, Marx ideas on communism are quite different from the Guevara's and Mao's. You can't criticized one, using the mistakes of the other, as you do. If Mao, or Guevara's implementation of communism doesn't turn well, you can't blame Marx, if Marx idea s were different, as I think they do, from Mao/Guevara ideas.

"The basic philosophy of communism is that there is only one "best solution" for everyone"

I don't know where do you have taken such idea. It would be great if you could explain, or quote, why do you have such idea.

I don't know almost anything about the OLPC, probably you are right.

The second is the practical results of capitalism in action, such as how every country has become a... Well, come to South America to see what capitalism is We will be waiting for you with open, destroyed and poor hands.

José.

Joe Phantom / Jean-Sol Partre said...

"(Then, there is Hayek's interesting views on how the first inevitably leads to the second)."

I didn't know Hayek. I will buy Road to Serfdom. I am reading a little bit on the net, very interesting.

George Orwell, a great anarchist, explains briefly and perfectly, my opinion on capitalism.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Hayek
In his 1944 book review, George Orwell called The Road to Serfdom "an eloquent defence of laissez-faire capitalism" and praised Hayek's criticism of contemporary left-wing and conservative thought.[14]

He then expressed the following opinion of Hayek's solutions: "But he does not see, or will not admit, that a return to "free" competition means for the great mass of people a tyranny probably worse, because more irresponsible, than that of the State. The trouble with competitions is that somebody wins them. Professor Hayek denies that free capitalism necessarily leads to monopoly, but in practice that is where it has led, and since the vast majority of people would far rather have State regimentation than slumps and unemployment, the drift towards collectivism is bound to continue if popular opinion has any say in the matter."

The problem in summary was: "Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war."

Russell said...

Haha! That's pretty funny. I haven't read a rant like this one in at least a year.

But no, seriously, what are your objections to the OLPC when you're not trying to imitate Lou Dobbs or Bill O'Reilly.

Robert Graham said...

The problem in summary was: "Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war."

Except it doesn't. Capitalism correlates well with peace and stability in our world. Sure, the US is a bit warlike, but look at Europe and Asia.

Economics is the modern witchcraft. People blame 'corporations' for their problems in much the same way they blamed their neighbor's practice of witchcraft for their poor harvests in the 1600s.

Poverty is caused by corrupt governments. Countries where governments are transparent and accountable are stable, non-violent, and rich.

Joe Phantom / Jean-Sol Partre said...

"Except it doesn't. Capitalism correlates well with peace and stability in our world. Sure, the US is a bit warlike, but look at Europe and Asia."
I think you must learn a little bit of history...

"Economics is the modern witchcraft. People blame 'corporations' for their problems in much the same way they blamed their neighbor's practice of witchcraft for their poor harvests in the 1600s."

People blamed witchcraft for their poor harvets in the 1600 without arguments. We blame corporations with arguments. I won't explain them here.

"Poverty is caused by corrupt governments. Countries where governments are transparent and accountable are stable, non-violent, and rich."

Poverty is caused by private property (possession right should only exist). A good explanation of this can be found on "What is private property?", a book of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.

I don't mean to turn this into an ideological war. Capitalism is my enemy, reason, words, and education are my weapons. I don't ment to convince you. Every mind in USA is deeply sick of capitalist ideas, capitalism, for me, is terrorism.

A good modern analysis of why capitalism must be destroyed can be found on texts like:
Noam Chomsky: Government in the Future
Talk given at the Poetry Center, New York City, Feb. 16, 1970
http://defineme.joephantom.net/2007/06/government-in-future-noam-chomsky.html

A more economic point of view, of why capitalism must be destroyed, can be found on the book cited early, "What is property?".

There are a million texts with excellent reasons for the destruction of this terrorist system, this two texts are a good introduction.

José.

zob said...

" I love free-market solutions (like Intel's) that people freely criticize"

Yes please, do yourself a favor and go read some Noam Chomsky. You will learn about the so-called free market, no rich country allows it at home, their industries are heavily subsided by taxpayers money (high technologies through the Pentagon budget in the US). However, they love to see free market enforced on poor nations so their corporations can come in and help themselves to oil, uranium, cheap labour, etc...

Joe Phantom / Jean-Sol Partre said...

I agree with zob:
Chomsky:
A: Systems like capitalism and socialism and communism have never been tried. What we've had since the Industrial Revolution was one or another form of state capitalism. It's been overwhelmed, certainly in the last century, by big conglomerations of capital corporate structures that are all interlinked with one another and form strategic alliances and administer markets and so on. And are tied up with a very powerful state. So it's some other kind of system -- call it whatever you want. Corporate-administered markets in a powerful state system.

Actually, the Soviet Union was something like that. They didn't have General Electric, they had more concentration of the state system, but apart from that it worked rather like a state-capitalist system. And do these systems work? Yeah, they kind of work. For example, the Soviet Union was a monstrosity, but it had a pretty fast growth rate -- a growth rate unknown in the Western economies. In the 1960s the economy started to stagnate and decline, but for a long period they had a growth rate that was very alarming to Western leaders.

Does the US system work? Yeah, it works in some ways. Take, say, the last 10 years. One percent of the population is making out like bandits. The top 10 percent of the population is doing pretty well. The next 10 percent actually lost net worth, and you go down below and [it gets] still worse. I mean, it's such a rich country that even relatively poor people are still more or less getting by. It's not like Haiti.

On the other hand, it's an economic catastrophe. The typical family in the United States is working, latest estimates are, about 15 weeks a year more than they did 20 years ago -- just to keep stagnating, or even declining, incomes. That's a success in the richest, most privileged country in the world? But it works. I mean, you and I are sitting here and we're not starving, so something's working. It's a little unfair in my case because I'm up in that top few percent who, like I said, are making out like bandits. But most people aren't. So it's a mixed success.

John said...

great post mate

hope this gets some attention

ONE LINE APPLICATIONS said...

I would tend to agree with most of the comments. The terrorism arguement is beyond weak.

I would however tend to agree with you when you point out the left wing nature of the choice of language and system at the expence of useablility. I feel strongly that the use of python was an error that will not be recovered from easily. There are fundemental flaws in the language itself that prevent it from being vialbe on a system with limited resuorces. To see an example of this simply open brows and zoom. It feels like a memory leak to me. This is due to the way the language handles things like arrays.
I'd like to point out this is not a reflexion on the OLPC coders but rather the politics of the language.
To say politics are not relevant one need ony read the GNU "manifesto". It is a world where people contribute based on ability and not for financial gain. That sounds like many other "manifestos".

The kids getting these things should get one thing above all. A stable system. Unless they are getting a different systme they are not currenlty getting that.