Why we should abandon Amiga as the fetishist commodity and turn back to the People’s cause.
Krzysztof: Dr. Marx, I am happy that you joined me in this discussion about the present and future development of the Amiga home computers.
Marx: You’re welcomed.
Krzysztof: If you don’t mind, I will present a general overview of the problem. Since the fall of Commodore company, the development of Amiga came thru dynamic stages. Currently, we have several OS platforms like AmigaOS, MorphOS, AROS with all more or less known denominations of that Linux-alike platform. There are several platforms devoted to simulation like AmiKIT, Amibian, Amithlon or WinUAE and much more. We have ongoing development of Workbench. The varieties for Amiga hardware include original Commodore Amiga computers, new Amigas made by A-EON, x86 computers for AROS, PowerPC for MorphOS and Raspberry PI used commonly to emulate Amiga’s systems. Although that development is done by many devoted to the cause people there is a lot of non-solved issues regarding copyrights, mainly… In those conditions, the discussion on the future of Amiga starts to look like waiting for some sort of miraculous way to push Apple and Microsoft out of the monopolist position on the market.
Marx: The first question to answer is the Amiga platform devoted to being the open-source or closed-source type of commodity.
Krzysztof: we cannot simply trust the invisible hand of the market?
Marx: Firstly, The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones. Secondly, I would not mix any ‘miraculous’ as you called it way to achieve anything. Religion is the opium for masses. And the very first thing I would state here, is the Amiga-like users are not typed as the masses.
Marx: because the multi-logical matrix of Amiga-like systems is anti-consumption. This platform is one of the best examples of acts of class struggle in modern society.
Krzysztof: what do we learn from the past commercials or materials for the Amiga seems to be the opposite. I mean, Andy Warhol took a part in the Amiga commercial, then we have the CD32 story regarding XOR patent. The Commodore fall is considered as an example of bad management when their computers were giving best prices compared to the quality same time.
Marx: that is obvious when the market is growing, the expectations grow too. However, when you mention all those historical factors we cannot forget the main scope binding all of them which is bourgeois society. The bourgeois is the most revolutionary drive in the human group. However, it calls for own control over the past forms of feudalism. In that particular case that will be the State. We cannot forget, that computers before inventions done by companies like Sinclair Research, Atari or Amiga were developed mostly by the state – ruled facilities in the shadow of the Cold War era. Look the IBM story.
Krzysztof: What do you suggest?
Marx: Well, where the chips come from?
Krzysztof: Well I think Qualcomm, Samsung, MediaTek, and the others…
Marx: was it always that way? There were computers made beyond NATO influence during the Cold War era. Elwro in the People Republic of Poland based on Zilog Z80 microprocessor, for example. The chipsets were important in the focus of military strategists since the beginning of the computers. It was not a coincidence that Trzmiel after selling his part in Commodore had an influence on Marian Zacharski in moving the Atari PCU’s behind the Iron Curtain in the mid 80’. However, it is not about what do we want to make with Amiga today. It is rather a question of what the civil market can give us without too many troubles. The story of personal computers starts late 70’. However, linear thinking that Amiga is considered as most advanced PCU from the mid 80’ till mid 90’ is drowning the attention from the basic question of what we need a personal computer today for. Till the 90’ thru first years of the XXI century computers were considered as a kind of a ‘combo’ device. A multi-functional object. But, look more closely: many of the Amiga games were rip-offs of earlier projects designed for the arcade bars. That is not another coincidence that Jay Miner started the concept of Lorraine – later called Amiga – as a console. It was often for the male proletariat to spend some coins to raise the attention from the side of the females to start interesting sexual intercourse. Or, at least let’s think that some men believed that they may achieve some attention that way. Amiga changed here a lot. In Central Europe, you could get easily a brawl in the arcade bar when the older and stronger showed up. Not because of games, but because the chicks they brought in. When the teenagers got their first personal computers that were a roll-up for their personal lives. That was one of the first generations when you could invite friends and play with them in Lotus, for example. What technically mean, the user of the computer was controlling their social lives much effortlessly. The user becomes his own arcade bar owner. He could choose who he lets in, or out. Oh, and let’s not forget those STAG discs…
Krzysztof: Could we refer here to the idea of the world of letters by Habermas?
Marx: certainly, that is my point. There is a lot of misunderstanding going around the infamous X-Copy program. There are voices that piracy and crack-scene destroyed Amiga. In the context of ongoing piracy for MacOS and WinOS programs we may risk a claim, that is not correct view on the situation. The Karsten Obarski invention, the Protracker, gave a platform to exchange music and creativity beyond the YouTube users can ever imagine. With Protracker you have a real deal: are you the creator, or you are just listening to the music? With the specification of Protracker, your computer becomes a real audio engine. When listening to music on YouTube is only one-way communication. Your computer is only a CD player for that moment. And then you have the voices, that Protracker solution leads to plagiarism because your musical project can be re-transformed by someone else. That is a fetishist look on a computer. While the musician is reading and playing the notes is doing pretty much the same the Protracker is doing with the Mods. Amiga community is simply not aware of own social power. That power in the 90’ was dangerous for the State for many reasons. Some group of people gathers and exchange information using own sources. That was enough for a serious revolution in the XIX century. And, in the context of the new market for Central Europe at the end of the XX century, it certainly was. We easily forget now, that piracy was extremely hard to detect in post-soviet countries before inviting them to the EU structures. In the Central Europe X-Copy helped to establish a better position of the Amigian proletariat by giving them access to the information. However, it could do nothing for better or worse in the general situation going around piracy.
Krzysztof: But there were some companies trying to dig some coins and could not go further because of limited earnings due to the plagiarism of their work.
Marx: and who survived? Those ones who were off the influence of worker’s control. And that works both ways if we look at the history of companies like Sensible Software. We have some hard days for family or friends-for-friends structured companies today. In that sense, the middle class is shrinking. In the current era of capitalism, large companies go thru silent rebranding less than for a decade. In the 60’ three-generation family company was nothing unusual even for some large projects. The history of Commodore does not stand from the line in that case. The logotype of the company was made in the 1965 nine years after Jacek Trzmiel opened his business. But it becomes a brand in the 80’ thanks to C-64. Same story with Apple and Microsoft and later, the Atari. All those brands came from the family business. Only the companies with a concept for the generational change will go on. That means the bourgeois society already swollen the IT-meant-to-be revolution into their own frame.
Krzysztof: Could you be more specific?
Marx: Let’s look for the other side for a second, the PCs. I consider the strategy for the companies like Microsoft in the 90’ gave them what they are today: a monopoly of the market with many willing and not questioning users. That strategy is founded on the dichotomy. On the one side, we have investments in the education sector and on the second side we have investments in the gaming sector. In the first glance you may think that there is a paradox but in fact, that is a dynamic transition. It’s an upside-down situation where the bourgeois society today reverse that transition backward, making the proletariat back into a position of the dependent from the owner. It is still the situation, where between capitalist and communist society lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. However, the computers were used both in education and leisure areas of human life reversed the transition of the revolutionary process. Any serious investor into the Amiga commune will have to stand in front of it today. Amiga concept will not go on without investments in the education sector, which could be understood in many ways. As a free-trial period for the students for the software to be used, or a specific asset into a hardware solution for medicine robots, space exploration or another user-product binding situation. I think one of the best-informed people in that subject today is David John Braben. That is not a coincidence that the man behind Elite and Frontier is a trustee and co-founder of Raspberry Pi ARM PCU. As you see it is not about ‘puters’. It was always about people and the way how they use their imagination with the tools they use.
Krzysztof: …and what about leisure?
Marx: that is another problem. The retro side of the Amiga community turns to be a fetishist commodity driven group. In a basic, retro side of the Amiga meant to play the role for a generational change. In the 60’ mid-class fathers were finding their old electric trains on their attics. Now they find their old Amigas and show them to their children. That is the natural part. But then comes the clash. Rising prices and capitalists’ strategies on the side of the retro scene of Amiga delude the users. The commune loses by discussions on ‘what the future Amiga could be’ by looking backward into their fetish.
Krzysztof: Loses to who?
Marx: to the mercantilists decedents. Today, sharing an opinion in a public domain about favorite game form the days of the youth is sharing the information about yourself. What do we have new in the gaming sector after Amiga golden age? Nothing. That is a situation where a member of the proletariat loses his contact with the sense of goods of production he is participating with. Since the Doom made such a mental shake into many Amiga users, that ability to port Quake engine into an old PowerPC or 68k become a core of many discussions. From the other side, there is not so much development in the games industry which would not be plagiarism for the early C-64, Amiga or Atari concepts. It became easily forgotten that computers are multi-logical clocks. That is all that they are. Thanks to ?ukasiewicz L3 model and other mathematicians of his kind we may have an electrical device, where a part of that electrical energy called the bit is moved on the wire from one place of silicon matrix to another. But we don’t see that any more clearly and most of the younger generation have no power to resist the charm of ‘graphics’.
Krzysztof: There is no virtual reality?
Marx: that is a catchy term to bind and to delude the computer users, not only in the Amiga commune. Like many other terms. Thanks to Festinger’s research on cognitive dissonance we may try to lower someone’s attitude toward the object by rebranding it. Fantasy love is much better than reality love. Never doing it is very exciting. The most exciting attractions are between two opposites that never meet, as Andy Warhol said once. So that is all about term ‘virtual reality’. The true reality of the computers is all about the term Giordano Bruno died for on the stake: Futura Contingentia. A future, we can determine to be influenced by our present actions. Look carefully. Strongest opinions against the victorious come-back of Amiga are not about motherboards, systems or graphics engines. The question is: how to reach that moment when we were all focused on the discovery of the Amiga abilities. RJ Mical and Dale Luck with their Boing Ball Demo are a symbolic example for such moment. Look the demoscene. The demoscene is beyond control. You will not find demoscene works sold in the art galleries as it happened to Basquiat works. And Basquiat meant to be ‘a man from the hood’ for middle-class New Yorkers. Therefore, the key to the proper path for Amiga is its compatibility. The processors used in the Amiga should work with any platform, not only the AmigaOS. The A.l.i.c.e. laptop concept or Raspberry Pi with AmiKit is considerable waypoints here. However, they are still the projects bind to the control-drive of the bourgeois class. Perhaps the right step after Amiga X5000 in the context of hardware is the move toward full independent AI computer.
Krzysztof: Self-learning processor?
Marx: it doesn’t mean to be HAL9000. Imagine the computer who learns compatibility with devices like printers on its own. Helps you establish the best internet connection via secured VPN on its own. What made a turn toward Amiga computers in the recent decade was related to the information that computers and mobile phones we buy can gather information about us. There is no more anonymity in the net. There is no more privacy there. Our opinions shared in the public domain could be analyzed and used backward to influence our opinions. In that context, the question hanging over the future of Amiga brought us to a new realm. The strongest power of Amiga-like systems including MorphOS and AROS is that bourgeois cannot easily forecast the further movements of the Amiga commune. When Apple bought PWRficient processors used in AmigaOne, the next move of A-EON was an investment into NXP Semiconductors company producing Freescale processor. That moved Amiga commune to become mostly European IT culture. Currently, we may talk about Apple and Qualcomm processors used in AmigaONE, MorphOS, AROS and Raspberry PI used to emulate Amiga environment, where NXP Semiconductors processors are used in Amiga X5000. However, a strong part of the software – especially when we are talking about MorphOS and AROS – are developed in Europe.
Krzysztof: So, we have closed-source hardware and open-source software more likely?
Marx: the dynamics of transition should work differently! That is a very dangerous moment when the process of transition of power against capitalist monopolistic practices could ruin the Amiga revolution. Currently, Android seems to hold the position of the multi-instrumental platform. Why invest Amiga, when we have Android? That is the primal question from the side of the proletariat. Therefore, the impact of the Amiga should focus on the transition of production sources directly to the hands of its users. Investment into the future generation of Amiga commune by the focus on educational purposes and closed-source programs dedicated for academics is a must. Lend-lease agreements on using the AmigaOS, AROS or MorphOS on the compatible hardware is slowly happening, however, it should be more dynamic. Why not distribute a program for self – build Amiga including directives for the 3D print? If the car industry will move there, why we shall not do the same? The next serious step is AI involvement in Amiga development. That should prioritize the safety of personalized information first. Be aware that the current monopolists on the market try to present the AI concept as a ‘shared’ platform. That is a hidden meaning for more control. I suggest the personal AI-like solution which helps to control your own privacy. The self-learning processor or closed-source AmigaOS program helping you to gather data. Simultaneously it could reject Bots and information manipulation sources.
Krzysztof: Are you not asking for too much?
Marx: the silicone revolution is progressing. This process is made by the people in the context of the production potentiality. Amiga means people who are in that process. If you choose that platform with its all positive and negative attitudes that means most likely you made it for the people you want to participate with. Therefore, to gain a proper transition of power, we should abandon Amiga as the fetishist commodity and turn back to the People’s cause.
Krzysztof: Thank you for the interview dr. Marx
Source: Walter Randelshofer, http://www.randelshofer.ch/animations/anims/robert_j_mical/boing3.ilbm.html (accessed 2018.11.22)
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