From a Marxist-Hegelian angle, Barbrook saw the high-tech gift economy as a process of overcoming capitalism from the inside. The high-tech gift economy is a pioneering moment that transcends both the purism of the New Left do-it-yourself culture and the neoliberalism of the free market ideologues: “money-commodity and gift relations are not just in conflict with each other, but also co-exist in symbiosis.” Participants in the gift economy are not reluctant to use market resources and government funding to pursue a potlatch economy of free exchange. However, the potlatch and the economy ultimately remain irreconcilable, and the market economy is always threatening to reprivatize the common enclaves of the gift economy. Commodification, the reimposition of a regime of property, is, in Barbrook’s opinion, the main strategy through which capitalism tries to reabsorb the anarcho-communism of the net into its folds.
This early attempt to offer a polemical platform from which to think about the digital economy overemphasizes the autonomy of the high-tech gift economy from capitalism. The processes of exchange that characterize the Internet are not simply the reemergence of communism within the cutting edge of the economy, a repressed other that resurfaces just at the moment when communism seems defeated. It is important to remember that the gift economy, as part of a larger digital economy, is itself an important force within the reproduction of the labor force in late capitalism as a whole. The provision of free labor, as we shall see later, is a fundamental moment in the creation of value in the economy at large—beyond the digital economy of the Internet. As will be made clear, the conditions that make free labor an important element of the digital economy are based in a difficult, experimental compromise between the historically rooted cultural and affective desire for creative production (of the kind more commonly associated with Gilroy’s emphasis on “individual selffashioning and communal liberation”) and the current capitalist emphasis on knowledge as the main source of added value.
wish i had read this before writing my open source piece lmao. it's a similar thesis but so much more eloquently put