Dan Hunter’s Culture War [via CoCo] — not quite the discussion of alienation that I would have hoped for, but indications that I’m not the only one who sees that there’s a little bit of Marx in the discussion of IP these days:
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto foretold the end of private property and the inevitable rise of a workers’ paradise. Though this failed as a political movement, there are extraordinary parallels between Communist ideology and the current war over the creation of cultural content. In fact I will argue that the various battles of the culture war can best be understood as elements of a Marxist class struggle. One hundred and fifty years ago Marx began writing his fundamental works, and in doing so re-wrote history. His philosophy reacted against the concentration of power in the hands of capital that came about as a consequence of the industrial age. Now, as the information age progresses, we see the same concentration of power through the dominant property form of our era, that is, intellectual property. The laissez-faire capitalists of the gilded age have their direct descendants in intellectual property-based industries like media, software, pharmaceuticals, and the like. And so we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a Marxist response to these developments. Equally we shouldn’t be surprised if Capital, that is the owners of intellectual property, rightly see this as a profound challenge to their position. We can expect to see, and in fact do see, significant resistance on their part.