Dan Hunter at the Wharton School has written a quite interesting paper arguing that the open source movement’s battle with various bits of the software and entertainment industry is a 21st century version of the Marxian revolution. There’s a lot to argue with in the piece – Hunter’s account of Marxist theory is sometimes a little more metaphoric than precise, and he perhaps overestimates the extent to which a nineteenth century thinker’s insights provide an accurate description of what is happening in open source today. But it’s nonetheless smart, funny in places (talking about the key role of “Marxist-Lessigist theory”), and valuable as an opening move in what I think is a quite important debate. Ever since listening to Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Cory Doctorow hash out the politics of the information age over breakfast this spring (I, a mere political scientist, didn’t feel qualified to intervene), I’ve been convinced that there is something really really important for leftists in the open source movement, and the free culture crowd more generally. The arguments which they are developing about how collective resources provide a basis for individual creativity, and, in an important sense, individual freedom could serve as the seed of a very interesting political program. The left really needs to start paying attention to this stuff, and thinking its implications through.