Capitalism vs corporatism

“Linux stands on the verge of ousting Apple in the OS stakes…. As Linux continues its apparently unstoppable march over the server and desktop market, more and more people are writing to PC Plus asking why we don’t try hardware out on Linux for compatibility checks. Questions like these make sense after all, with so many users weighing the pros and cons of ditching Windows in favour of Linux, they want to know how good Linux hardware support is, and particularly for cutting-edge kit.”

PC Plus provides some reasonable answers as to why they will not be providing the same sort of coverage to Linux-compatible hardware that they do to Microsoft and Apple hardware, but it is certainly interesting that they even feel they need to address the issue at all. It’s also interesting to hear that the writer believes that Apple – “so fragile, and yet so vicious” – is on the verge of being pushed off to the side, although we’ve heard that death knell before, and I, for one, imagine that they’ll be around for a while, if only to market hardware to those who believe that style, sophistication and moral superiority can be purchased from a computer manufacturer.

I was more intrigued by the following paragraph:

“…it’s a sad fact that some manufacturers have no wish to be associated with Linux. Over on my day job at Linux Format, we recently ran a ‘Linux on laptops’ feature, for which one particularly big name suddenly refused to send us a review unit when we mentioned we’d be installing Linux on it. “We don’t support Linux, and don’t want our customers thinking we support Linux,” they explained, despite the fact that the same company had previously made a big deal over its new line of dedicated Linux systems.”

I’ve been working on a column delving into the strange quasi-capitalist, quasi-socialist corporation-centered economy in which we currently live, and I found it very curious that a laptop maker would: a) not support the fastest-growing operating system, and b) not want their customers who are interested in that operating system to know that they could run that OS on their products. Far from being the champions of the free market, it seems that corporations are increasingly focused on supporting centralization, government regulation and standardization even if this means they must sacrifice customers in the short term.

There are some real doubts about whether modern corporations and the corporatist system are truly compatible with human liberty, capitalism and the free market. I think that the next stage of the thirty-year OS saga may prove to shed some interesting light on whether corporatism finally sheds its capitalist facade in the 21st century and reveals itself as the true Third Way or if capitalism again throws off another challenger to its throne as the optimal means of secular human progress.