Thursday, February 15, 2007

IP is the DNA of Corpse USA

He begins by quoting Goethe in the 1830s about his writings as "the work of a collective being that bears the name of Goethe" (quoting Goethe) vs. Emerson in "Self-Reliance" writing, "Insist on yourself; never imitate..." Lewis says our protocols around "intellectual property" side with Emerson. Defending "IP" against being enclosed can be seen, Lewis says, as defending a particular way of being human.
Which could suggest -- though David Weinberger doesn't choose to go there in his interesting post on Lewis Hyde's take on Intellectual Property -- that propounding the enclosure of IP is tantamount to putting forward a way of not being human.

Corporations are not human, and they love closed IP. They love trapped workers too. See, if the worker has nowhere else to go, for employment, for health care coverage, for socializing, then he is truly deprived of essential and basic modes of freedom. He has the appearance of freedom -- he can choose to come in at 8 a.m., or 8:30 a.m., or 9 a.m., or 9:30 a.m., so long as he leaves at the requisite time, 8.5 hours further on into the day. A measure of his life is lost; he gets to "choose" which measure - within "reason".

He, like the rights to "Leader of the Pack," is the property of the corporation, because without it, the structure of his existence would collapse. In the US, the corporate form was allowed to develop freely to the point that it no longer was a creature in a democratic landscape, but instead made the landscape into a service industry dedicated to the rapid and unquestioning support of the corporation.

That is to say, the corporate form requires the absolute Emersonian emphasis upon the singular individual, because by telling You to Be All That You Can Be, it is dissolving the general bonds of human mutuality that gave all of us collective power, common ground, the freedom from fear of penury that binds individuals to corporate death.

The paradox, then, is that the benefits of human community, the interlacing of needs and mutual support, have been vacuumed from the general society; removed from people, they are in the service of corporations, which now have the status of persons. Where once humans were persons, and the social net supported their personhood, now corporations, by subsuming healthcare, retirement budgeting and other basic needs to their own private spheres, are the only persons that matter in the society. Non-human persons, to be sure, but still, persons. The rest of us, isolate singularities of protein, bowl alone and fear evil.

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