Children sharing music

Posted: 21 November 2004 - 10:35am

I looked at Kids Smell Bullshit and saw the article about a 12 year old who the Record Industry Association of America recently pilloried.

If we go back to Spar's book "Ruling the Waves," the waves she spoke of were the oceans and the air waves. In her model she addressed piracy on the high seas. The Spanish and others sailed to the new world to get treasure which was "theirs," never mind the people who already lived here, and to take the treasure home and lo! There were privateers under letters of Marquis who took the "rightful" treasure from the Spanish. And who ran the most privateers? The English.

Yet, when British merchants began to suffer from privateers helping themselves, the British navy was push on until action was taken and Spar tells us that piracy was vanquished from the high seas.

She speaks of gold mining in California and claim jumping. It is inefficient to guard a claim and costly. Hiring guards in one thing, but what about getting tax dollars to support a local sheriff who'll take care of claim jumpers?

And on into the cyber age. She quotes, John Perry Barlow:

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Then cryptically she asks her audience if we have any idea who he is. Well, he's with "The Grateful Dead."

But like the gold mine owners, the RIAA is going to get some sheriffs to get things under control. Spar's analysis of the control of the airways is penetrating. It focuses us on how property rights seem to trump free speech rights and how a few firms ended up owning media.

Shifting gears.

In ancient days there was something called "The Divine Right of Kings." Few probably spoke against it and if they did, they were soon silenced or they wrote a Declaration of Independence, or something. No one spoke, or thought to speak, aganst the divine right of kings - something so self-evident.

Yet, today we have the "Divine Right of Corporations." Why do such things exist? To spread risk, a bit, but why should the State care? Because the corporation operates, in the strict theory, for the common good. Corporations, in theory, pay taxes, create jobs, and build the economy - hence the state has an interest in corporations, but corporations don't do anything any better than institutions such as the government which Americas neocons seem to love and hate, all in the same breath.

Their eyes glaze over in religious reverence as the neocons speak of corporations. I recall a few years back when some college kids spoke of how the student union building had some fast food franchises and that these were better and more efficient because they were run by corporations.

It was Reagan who turned Marx on his side when he said that capitalism is better because government has never produced anything. It is what Marx said about capitalists, claiming the workers produced everything. Reagan said it wasn't government, but corporations that produced wealth and goods.

Yet, where are the people in all this. Well, they have an answer for that, too. Move the corporations over seas and out of the reach of any would-be US regulators. If American workers don't like a polluting steel mill or chemical plant, shut it down and open up a new one in China or India or anywhere else the corporation can put it and the virtual corporation can disappear "virtually" anywhere.

Indeed "cy-corps" (to coin a word) can say, as Barlow did, but I add with irony and some modifications,

We operate outside of national or even temporal boundaries; we declare the global corporate base we are building to be naturally independent of any regulation you seek to impose on us. You no longer have the means of political base with which to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

"From pig to man, from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which."