The arrest of the Michigan militia is, I am afraid, just a portent of much worse things to come (of which Joseph Stack was another). As John Robb consistently argues, global guerrillas are on the rise, the legitimacy of the state is severely overstretched in most places (which Tom Barnett would call The Gap), and the economic crises yet to fully unfold doesn’t make things any easier for the status quo. It seems there is a lot more yet to come.
Kinsella on Intellectual Property:
Boldrin and Levine’s book through Scribd:
I recently discovered Michele Boldrin and David Levine‘s book Against Intellectual Monopoly*, in which they develop an arguably much more radical critique of the current ‘intellectual property rights’ regime than the one proposed by the alternative du jour – Lawrence Lessig‘s Creative Commons platform. I find the differences illustrative of the way our understanding of property has slowly but inescapably eroded, while simultaneously we have expanded the hollowed-out shell of that term.
Lessig’s approach, and that epitomised by the CC platform, is best illustrated by this TED talk where he discusses among other things traditional property rights (as in rights to a scarce good such as land). His argument is about the way technology enacts changes in our understanding of the limits of property rights, and he illustrates it with the example of a court case revolving around military planes trespassing over someone’s property. In the larger context of his talk this particular episode serves as a sort of comic relief, as in – how absurd and inadequate the farmer for suing the air-force for trespassing, clearly he was not aware of the progressive march of technology and its effects on our understandings of property. In a nutshell, Lessig’s point is as follows – property rights evolve with technology, and our laws need to evolve accordingly; copyright and intellectual property have to be protected, but we need to keep in mind the way technology revolutionizes social norms.
Boldrin and Levine on the other hand attack the very notions of copyright and intellectual property at their very root, and their erudite argument exposes these notions for what they are – state-granted monopoly to a non-scarce good. The book is full of historical examples from the dawn of the industrial age, and the authors attack not only the notion of copyright but also its chief support argument – that of defending creativity. They also point out that key to understanding copyright and intellectual property laws is their origin – The Statute of Queen Anne – and its thinly veiled intentions of total state control over dissent of opinion. I am reading their excellent book in tandem with Stephan Kinsella’s Against Intellectual Property, and it seems to me these books represent a growing intellectual alternative to the Creative Commons platform.
* The book is available for free download
“A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also all their sensations and thrills – accompanied though they might be by poverty, hunger, death, chaos, and peril. Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation.” Sebastian Haffner
In the beginning was the explanation. This is not an academic blog, it is not a blog at all, but a list of disjointed remarks. Albeit at first sight quite similar, lists differ from (b)logs in that the latter are always organised around a principle even if that is self promotion, while the former are merely enumerations of entities, ideas, events, inanities not necessarily bound together by anything. The (b)log has its origins in the ship log book and while at first sight discrete, the entries on a log are always subject to an underlying logic. Lists on the contrary, apart from having a longer and more distinguished pedigree in the history of thought, can be and often are completely meaningless or at best truly disjointed. This then, is the first entry in my list of remarks.